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    Drugs or lifestyle changes? Are pharmacists pill-happy?

    Dennis MillerPharmacy gadfly Dennis Miller is back. The author of two massive critiques of retail chain pharmacy (Pharmacy Exposed: 1,000 Things That Can Go Deadly Wrong At the Drugstore and Chain Drug Stores Are Dangerous: How Their Reckless Obsession with the Bottom Line Places You at Risk for Serious Harm or Death), he returns with a question for pharmacists everywhere: Have pharmacists uncritically accepted the pill-for-every-ill mentality?

    It is my impression that many pharmacists are not particularly interested in the prevention of disease, preferring pharmacological solutions to lifestyle changes. For example, in my experience, many pharmacists seem to be far more interested in learning about the (often theoretical) mode of action of a new drug than they are in learning about the enormous potential of disease prevention.

    Pharmacists have been taught to view disease in mechanistic and reductionistic terms involving the manipulation of molecules and cells with powerful pharmaceuticals that overwhelm the delicate processes of nature. These are biological processes that Mother Nature has had well in hand for hundreds of thousands of years.

    Consider the source

    When you are overwhelmed by what seems like a tsunami of prescriptions, ask yourself whether the current system is the most rational approach to health. Modern medicine uses potent drugs to treat health problems that are very often a consequence of the maladaptation of Homo sapiens to modern culture or the mismatch between our genes and our lifestyles. Factors such as sedentary lives, highly processed foods, unrelenting stress, and widespread exposure to synthetic chemicals may be responsible for many of the so-called “diseases of modern civilization” (e.g., hypertension, type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, asthma, many types of cancer, etc.).

    Are pharmacists guilty of encouraging the perception that human health is directly proportional to the per capita consumption of pharmaceuticals?

    Have pharmacists encouraged the view that the most logical approach to health is to overpower molecular and cellular processes with synthetic agents foreign to human evolution?

    A better question

    Pharma marketers have indoctrinated the population well with a response to every symptom that boils down to “What drug do I need to treat this?”

    In contrast, the more enlightened question would be “How can I change my lifestyle or personal habits so that I can avoid taking so many drugs?”

    While your co-workers were filling prescriptions, how many times have you heard them say things like “If people would just get off their butts, lose weight, and eat nutritious food, they wouldn’t need to take so many drugs”?

    I once worked in a store in which the nonpharmacist store manager commented to me, “The further we get from the trees, the greater the health problems.” I presume he was saying that the increasing estrangement of Homo sapiens from the natural world is a threat to our wellbeing.

    Dennis Miller, RPh
    Dennis Miller is a retired chain-store pharmacist living in Delray Beach, Fla. He welcomes feedback at [email protected] His books ...

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    • Anonymous
      Totally agree with this author, not so much as with chains pushing the pill mills, but inasmuch as people not caring for their "temple". There are too many temptations in this world and people readily jump in without thought of the consequences. The key to health is healthy living and prevention. Unfortunately because the current state of the insurance industry people are taking advantage of the quick fix scheme that these same insurance companies, PBM's included, have perpetuated.