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    How much of pharmacy theory is really based on science?

    Dennis MillerDennis MillerThe long and sometimes peculiar history of the pharmacy profession has included salves, potions, powders, tinctures, and elixirs of doubtful safety and effectiveness. Has our profession effectively disassociated itself from the days of unproven and unsafe remedies? Some critics believe that many of the products on pharmacy shelves today are nothing more than modern versions of snake oil.

    I would argue that much of pharmacy today resembles a religion far more than a science, in that religious belief requires a suspension of critical thinking and the reliance on doctrine, tradition, and authority. 

    See also: What I wish I had learned in pharmacy school

    Where our definitions come from

    Pharmacy students are told from day 1 that pharmacy is based on science, with the double-blind placebo-controlled trial being the gold standard for determining what is true. But what if large pharmaceutical manufacturing concerns routinely massage data derived from controlled trials?

    Do you believe that all the products on our shelves are indeed “safe” and “effective” as required by law? Or do you believe that the terms “safe” and “effective” are relative?

    Do you believe that the FDA’s definition of “safe” and “effective” is the same as the laymen’s definition?

    Mechanism of action

    When reading the pharmacology section in the official prescribing information, one is struck by how often the precise mechanism of action for so many drugs is unknown or is described in terms of speculation and conjecture. So much is unknown about drug action at the molecular and cellular levels, yet it is at those levels that drugs are active.

    Take the commonly prescribed drug Xanax. The official labeling for Xanax states, “CNS agents of the 1,4 benzodiazepine class presumably exert their effects by binding at stereo specific receptors at several sites within the central nervous system. Their exact mechanism of action is unknown.”

    This vast reservoir of uncertainty about cell biology and drug action doesn’t seem to discourage the pharmaceuticals industry from persistently promoting its products.

    In my opinion, in light of the fact that various pharmaceutical concerns have too often suppressed and manipulated data about potential drug risks, a pharmacist is well-served by a healthy dose of on-the-job skepticism. Yet, in my experience, many pharmacists become angry when pharmaceutical products are criticized. It is almost as if someone is criticizing their religion.

    See also: Drugs or lifestyle changes? Are pharmacists pill-happy?

    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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      I am in the similar ship as you. I by no income actually intended to get a gap year. I practical to Canada and Australia for Biomedical Sciences as an global scholar. http://www.essaythinker.co.uk
    • MarkBurger
      Dennis, I couldn't have said it better! Good article. It's been amazing to me how truculent pharmacists are about their Science. How desperately they cling to what they have been taught and how reticent they are to open up to new possibilities. It seems like every couple of weeks, now, another Medical Myth bites the dust: Fat causes heart disease, Cholesterol causes heart disease, Salt is actually good for you, PPIs DO cause heart disease, Statins actually CAUSE plaque, Bacteria (microbiome) are good for you, and there is not a one-drug-cures-all solution to many ailments (epigenomics). On top of Myth Busting News comes the burgeoning realization that Drug Research from Pharma on up to the CDC and the FDA is tainted, skewed, or fraught with exaggerated, minor statistical anomolies. Just look at the Conflicts Of Interest of the vaccination schedule committee members.{Marcia Angell, MD} One of these days, soon, we have to let go of the mechanistic, Newtonian, linear approach to health and accept the quantum nature of our Universe and admit that our bodies DO function according to these newly discovered physics. Keep up the good work!
    • TrumanLastinger
      Dennis, You voice very effectively what I have been touting for years. The pity is no one apparently cares about all this. The only thing that is cared about is the bottom line "money". This includes our organizations, academia and even individual pharmacists. Truman Lastinger, Pharmacist
    • MarilynCoffman
      AMEN! Have you been reading my mind??