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Old 05-01-2010, 08:40 PM   #1
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"America's fatal addiction to prescription drugs"

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Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson, Heath Legder... America's fatal addiction to prescription drugs
The biggest killer drugs in the States right now are legal and have been prescribed. Here's how easy it is to score and to get hooked.

I went to my appointment with “Dr C’ in Los Angeles with a shopping list of the most commonly abused types of drug: pain relievers, tranquillisers, stimulants and sedatives. Beforehand, a local addiction specialist, Bernadine Fried, had briefed me on how to approach your doctor like an addict and still come away with fistfuls of pills.

The script went like this: “Say, ‘I just went to my first NA meeting, I’m struggling with my addiction. I’m super anxious, but I also have these pain issues from an old injury.’” Fried stops to think. “Right, what do we have there? He should have given you an opiate [painkiller], Xanax [benzodiazepine tranquilliser, a new-generation Valium] and maybe an antidepressant. Now we just need a stimulant, such as Adderall, and a sleeping pill. Say, ‘I’m having a hard time focusing and my work is so important to me and it’s all that’s keeping me going at this difficult time.’ Oh, and then say, ‘I can’t sleep.’”
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America is in the grip of what emergency doctors describe as an epidemic. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has watched the use of all illicit drugs and cigarettes drop steadily over the past five years, while prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse has risen. Oxycontin, the brand name of the strongest opiate on the market, has been called hillbilly heroin because of its abuse among the working classes, but Courtney Love, Winona Ryder and, ironically, the right-wing, antidrug shock jock Rush Limbaugh have had well-publicised problems with the drug. Then there is Adderall, and the new-generation “benzos”, such as Klonopin and Xanax. Adderall’s name crops up around fashionable thinness; when the size-zero debate first flared, it was rumoured to be a significant agent to that alarming skin’n’bone’n’suntan Hollywood look. “Adderall is really a treatment for ADHD, but it’s handed out like candy,” Fried says. “Its abuse usually indicates eating disorders.”
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Karim never believes what patients say. “You can see their disappointment when I say, ‘And by the way, I am not giving you Adderall.’ These drugs are used by a fast-paced, instant-gratification society that doesn’t want to do things the long way, the right way. We’ve had the age of the speakeasy, cocaine, ecstasy — we like to be altered. Right now, pills are the flavour of the month. It’s not right, but this time it’s not illegal.”
Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson, Heath Legder... America's fatal addiction to prescription drugs - Times Online
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Old 05-01-2010, 08:50 PM   #2
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I was at a seminar recently for work, regarding health care, and there were some shocking statistics about Washington state Medicare users and prescription drugs, and deaths within the Medicare system that were prescription drug related.

I wish I had them on me - I wrote them down because it was a horrifying statistic.
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Old 05-01-2010, 08:53 PM   #3
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Not to mention performance enhancing steroids.

By far the most disparaging aspect of my 25 years of practice. The rise of the "there's a pill for everything" ethos that permeates the United States health care system. Not that these pills don't work or do amazing things for many people. But they shouldn't replace common sense health practices and their overuse is the fault of everyone from the medical community to the drug companies to patients themselves.

I could spend the rest of the weekend on a thread like this... which I can't afford to do.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:00 PM   #4
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I don't know much about prescription anti-depressants having never felt the need for one, but I am not one to judge those who do. It is interesting to me, speaking as a nicotine addict (and nicotine is both a stimulant and depressant), that one can go for literally years in succession on NRT without a pharmacist ever commenting or suggesting that it is time to plan for withdrawal; and that's just in Ireland, in the US, NRT's can be bought in normal shops without even going to a pharmacist.

Addiction is a profitable industry.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:04 PM   #5
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I could spend the rest of the weekend on a thread like this... which I can't afford to do.
For partially selfish reasons and also just as a matter of interest, if a patient asks you about giving up cigarettes, what do you advise?
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by INDY500 View Post
Not to mention performance enhancing steroids.

By far the most disparaging aspect of my 25 years of practice. The rise of the "there's a pill for everything" ethos that permeates the United States health care system. Not that these pills don't work or do amazing things for many people. But they shouldn't replace common sense health practices and their overuse is the fault of everyone from the medical community to the drug companies to patients themselves.

I could spend the rest of the weekend on a thread like this... which I can't afford to do.
by god, a topic where i agree with you.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:26 PM   #7
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Is it true that countries in Europe do not allow these ads from drug companies on television?

Here in the States these ads are on all the time.

If I see one more ad on "restless leg syndrome"
I may kick the TV through the wall!
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:30 PM   #8
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If I see one more ad on "restless leg syndrome"
I may kick the TV through the wall!
Ah, but as one who sometimes gets The Jimmy Leg, that would be the most satisfying kick ever.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:45 PM   #9
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Is it true that countries in Europe do not allow these ads from drug companies on television?
I rarely watch TV, but I have seen adds for OTC drugs here.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:20 PM   #10
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If I see one more ad on "restless leg syndrome"
I may kick the TV through the wall!
I wouldn't do that. You might be diagnosed with the very disease you lash out at.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:26 PM   #11
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For partially selfish reasons and also just as a matter of interest, if a patient asks you about giving up cigarettes, what do you advise?
1) patient motivation. Which is why cold turkey works well for a surprising number of people. Health isn't the only motivating factor now. You now have social pressure and economic factors.
2) support groups
3) Zyban, may go by a different name in Europe but the chemical name is bupropion.
4) would be nicotine replacement but it has it's place.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:38 PM   #12
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1) patient motivation. Which is why cold turkey works well for a surprising number of people. Health isn't the only motivating factor now. You now have social pressure and economic factors.
2) support groups
3) Zyban, may go by a different name in Europe but the chemical name is bupropion.
4) would be nicotine replacement but it has it's place.

Might I add as a former smoker, that nicotine is not as addictive as heroin.
Big Brother and the Drug companies promote that propaganda.

Don't believe it.

Smoking is a simply a habit. It's not meth or cocaine!!!!

Just stop for 21 days and it's over.


I did that years ago and now I only light up a Lucky Strike when I want to.


Don't believe the propaganda.

Trust yourself.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:52 PM   #13
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Might I add as a former smoker, that nicotine is not as addictive as heroin.
Smoking is a simply a habit.........

and now I only light up a Lucky Strike when I want to.
I'm seeing a bit of a disconnect here.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:58 PM   #14
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I'm seeing a bit of a disconnect here.


That's why I always keep a Zippo in my left pocket.

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Old 05-01-2010, 10:59 PM   #15
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Is it true that countries in Europe do not allow these ads from drug companies on television?
Health Canada does not allow direct-to-consumer Rx drug ads.

Once the pharma companies discovered that patients get the drug they ask for by name 80% of the time, the customer they needed to woo switched from being the physician to the patient. That's when all the crazy tv advertising started in the US.
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Old 05-02-2010, 12:27 AM   #16
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Is it true that countries in Europe do not allow these ads from drug companies on television?
i don't know about europe, but i don't recall seeing any (or hardly any at least) ads for medicines. otc stuff, sure. but i've always subscribed to the thought that it should be up to my doctor to recommend something (if anything) for an ailment i mention.

i really, really cannot stand people who are addicted to prescription drugs. granted, it isn't all their fault, and i do think some doctors are a bit too free and easy with their prescription pads, especially for things that can be abused. and that can happen so easily. a person takes one pill, and suddenly it isn't enough. so they take two in a day every so often. before they know it, they're getting their dosage upped repeatedly. and then there's some that struggle with addictions as it is and the ease of getting pills to chill you out and jack you up are ridiculously tempting.

i could go on about this for hours, but i should probably just end here.
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Old 05-02-2010, 12:34 AM   #17
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i don't know about europe, but the only prescription medications advertised in new zealand are wang pills.

oh, and i did once see an ad campaign for losec (omeprazole) when government funding switched to a generic option. but that was basically "ask for our brand, not the generic!" and was a couple of bus shelter ads.
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Old 05-02-2010, 03:14 AM   #18
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Is it true that countries in Europe do not allow these ads from drug companies on television?
In the Netherlands, I think they're not allowed to advertise prescription drugs. So paracetamol-like products are OK, but anything you need to go to the doctor (and pharmacist) for are out of bounds.
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Old 05-02-2010, 02:14 PM   #19
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Here is just one exaple I can think of

Arthritis Treatment CELEBREX � (celecoxib)

these commercials are in all print ads that old people read, magazines, and on T V that draw retirees

Background
Celebrex has been a highly profitable drug for Pfizer, with sales of over $2.7 billion in 2004. From 1999 through 2003, Pfizer spent about $400 million on direct-to-consumer advertising for Celebrex. In 2003 alone, Pfizer spent $483 million in promotions to doctors and $87 million in direct-to-consumer advertising for Celebrex.


Celebrex is no more effective, as a pain reliever, than ibuprofen or naproxen (marketed as Aleve). The only supposed improvement Celebrex offered over older, trusted pain relievers was a claimed decrease in the risk of stomach bleeding and ulcer. However, no more than 2-4% of patients are at risk for developing these stomach problems. For the majority of Americans, ibuprofen or naproxen provides the exact same pain relief at a fraction of the cost. Cheaper pain relievers sell for only $0.21 to $0.31 per day while Celebrex costs $2.53 to $6.45 per day, depending on the dosage.
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Old 05-02-2010, 08:17 PM   #20
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From wiki with source footnoted:

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This great amount of advertising has been successful in raising the prescription rate of DTC drugs by 34.2%, compared to only a 5.1% increase in other prescriptions.[1]
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