Anyone Else Think We are Overmedicated?


Mar 31, 2007
Is it just me, or are they actually persuading folks to ask for drugs from their doctors even more lately? I have noticed that the drug companies haven't really let up with advertising drugs the way Sears advertises Craftsman tools. The latest one - pacemakers! I was floored when the commercial aired stating "Ask your doctor if a pacemaker can prolong your life." The commercial showed pictures of a grandmother reading to her grandchild and they offered "more stories, more moments, etc." So they want us all to become cyborgs, eh? I've even seen commercials for drugs that did not even tell what the drug did.
Pacemmakers are saving people's lives everyday. As for over medicating that is the hmo way. Their slogan "If your ill take a pill, you take too long to find what's wrong."
Yes, pacemakers do save people's lives on a daily basis. However, I'm not sure I'd just ask my doctor about getting one. Generally, I'd think that if you NEEDED one, they would bring up the subject, not the other way around.

And, yes, I do think we are overmedicated. It's so much easier to treat the symptoms rather than find out the cause of a problem, and then eliminate the cause.
I'm fortunate enough to have a doctor that will encourage proper nutrition, exercise, and will recommend over the counter medications unless he thinks the situation merits issuing a prescription. He tries to take time with his patients, a a luxury he has since he refuses to sign up with any HMO.

I belonged to an HMO once and it was horrible. You were in and out like cattle. I don't really blame the doctor I had - they threw so many clients at him that he had not choice but to take a cattle call approach to his work. Fortunately, the HMO folded within a year and we got more traditional insurance and I could find a doctor who was able to take more time with her patients.
I think we are overmedicated. It kind of frightens me that whenever something ails my boyfriend, he instantly reaches for some medication. I prefer to try some healthful eating and better rest before drugging myself up. Not to mention, the fact that drug companies *advertise* products in the way they do (ask doctor if xx drug is for you) is disturbing as well.
I suppose growing up in a household where my parents had a whole row of pills to take every morning had a profound effect on me. I am literally scared of getting to the point that I have to take medication every day. I know that if I live long enough that chances are I will have to take something, but I want to put it off as long as possible.
Amen! My parents both take a number of pills. Besides having to pay out the wazoo for them, the side effects are just as bad, if not worse, than the condition they're trying to treat! I try to go herbal, if I HAVE to take anything, but prefer not to take it at all, if possible.
I'm concerned about not so much the medication but our focus on it...despite the economist's assessment that the drugs really have the greatest impact on our health or at least perception of it (supposing you took a "material worth" way of assessing it.) One of the most significant concerns is that the focus of pharmaceuticals is compartmentalisation- specific targeting and isolation of cause etc. To this end, there's a good reason for the rise for alternative therapies- they're generally more wholistic in approach, but the reason most doctors etc. and other scientifically grounded health professionals don't buy into it (yet) is because "it's not science" or rather, not so measurable nor falsifiable. I won't comment on whether it works or not, though, because then this response would be too long!

The way I see it, perceptions on drugs etc. are split- there are those who swear by it, and there are those who think that drugs are the devil (to exaggerate somewhat)...more specifically that it's all part of a giant economic conspiracy to suck us out of the dollar etc. IMO, as far as is measurable, on average the drugs work. The problems are that the dollar is king anyway (but not to the extent that the pharmaceutical world is a giant extortion machine...this is more an incidental happening, not intentional), and that doctors are becoming obselete. We're (doctors, rather) pretty much expected to be the drug givers and so doctors tend to be pawns of a bureaucracy as well as possibly being under pressure from the various pharmaceutical companies for this or that. I know the latter bit doesn't happen quite so much in Australia, but I don't know about the US. I can say that it would be a cause for concern if the drug was bogus, though.
What I've seen is that more and more, society wants a quick fix for everything, and that is what the medication can provide. So, if you are not happy, why not take that little pill? I don't take anything but Aleve when I have cramps. Other than that, I believe we should not help the pharmaceutical companies get richer just because we are "not too good". I'm a fan of natural products and solutions, like exercise and a balanced diet... maybe I'm alone on this one.
I think the take home message here is that drugs and a healthy lifestyle can't really be a substitute for the other, to varying degrees depending on the case.

For example, somebody with B-thalassaemia really needs their iron chelation therapy otherwise they'll go blue and die, and all the healthy lifestyle will do is increase their general quality of life. On the other hand, the individual who is morbidly obese simply because they've eaten a lot and generally been a couch potato can't expect to take Fatbusters and lose everything if they continue to eat a lot and continue to be a couch potato. And then you get the cases in the middle, where everything becomes a lot more does my taking vitamin-B supplements actually help my general health? Is this merely placebo effect? Should I consider that significant? These questions would probably plague quite a few individuals, at which point it's really up to them to decide upon which criteria they should base their assessment.
I think many westerners either lean towards overmedication or self diagnosis/treatment or both.

The fact that doctors seem to give out prescriptions willy nilly does not help things.
I am one who tends to have one foot in the grave before I will see a doctor. Part of this comes from seeing both my parents have a line of pill bottles in front of their plates at the breakfast table every morning that they had to take in order to be operational for the day. I suppose the day will come when I have to take something, but for now I fight it every step of the way.
Polypharmacy is a very common feature of the senior generations, and will only continue to be more so at this current rate. I find it worrying myself, and am writing an article which doesn't address this issue so much as the issues around it. I may include it in full here, once it has been written, and especially if it gets publishing approval (for our local med students' magazine).

Personally I avoid drugs, medications, seeing a -real- doctor etc. etc. (I'm one of the "bad" meddies, haha), but there is one time when I will willingly take drug treatments: bacterial infections and immunisations. Having learnt the basic ins and outs of antibiotics and antimicrobial treatments as well as the immune system, I cay say with relative confidence that this is quite necessary.
Glad to hear that I'm not the only one who avoids the "real doctor" with the exception of immunizations and things that require antiobiotics or some other prescribed treatment.
I'm with you, Fourbear, we don't see a doctor unless we HAVE to. In fact, my youngest son, had not seen a doctor for nearly 4 years. He had all of his immunizations up-to-date and hadn't been sick, so there wasn't a need. Some might think that was negligent, but honestly he wasn't sick with more than a cold the whole time!

Of course, the fact that I homeschool probably had something to do with that. His older brother couldn't bring all the school illnesses home because he wasn't there. ;)