I was chatting over lunch with a girlfriend of mine, a very elegant and smart woman named Joanna, and another good friend, Robert. Over the course of lunch the subject of a doctor’s prescription came up. The doctor was adding a medication to Robert’s regimen of daily medications.
Joanna objected. “You’ve got to get off all that stuff. America is so overmedicated, it’s ridiculous,” she proclaimed. “It just can’t be good for us to take all those drugs.”
I thought for a moment before I said something that would offend her. I value her opinions, but on this subject I felt I had to say something. I looked at her squarely across the table and said, “I think you’re 100% wrong on this.” Joanna looked back at me as if I had just punched her in the nose. I had her attention. “I don’t think we take enough meds.” Her eyes widened as she listened. “Almost half of doctor’s prescriptions don’t get taken in this country, for a variety of reasons and it winds up costing all kinds of money in emergency and otherwise unnecessary medical procedures, to the tune of over $300 billion dollars a year in this country. In fact, the problem is so big that solving this problem has a greater financial consequence to this country than curing any of the top diseases we hear about every day. Non-adherence is a huge problem.” Joanna sat back slowly and gave it some thought. But didn’t let go of her perception entirely. “I think we have too many painkillers in our society,” she told me.
I agreed with her, “… but you can’t confuse painkillers and sleeping pills that somebody might be taking with a host of medications that doctors prescribe for their patients that will help manage a chronic illness. We can’t be telling people with diabetes or high cholesterol not to take their meds on the basis that some fools mismanage some pain killers that they might be getting from multiple doctors. That would be like telling people not to drive a particular brand of car simply because you have a friend who had an accident in theirs.”
Not all doctors are equal, meds are different, patients and their diseases are distinct. Find a great doctor to work with you and your situation. And take your meds because they don’t do any good if you don’t take them.