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A Shift in Pill Culture?

Pills. I trust a few of them. Don’t get me wrong, I take an occasional pill for a headache, but I question everything that I ingest. This stems from a personal and direct impact on my health in my twenties. My viewpoint and action also has a great deal to do with the fact that I’ve worked in the research arm of biotechnology; I follow all types of information on the use of pills in our culture, including any shift in pill culture.

In Florida, I’ve listened to countless family members left upset when a trusted doctor was not giving the time they expected to care for a child. These conversations have covered a wide swath of symptoms, areas of impact, and ages of children. It is not a specialized focus area or small cluster of a population – it is widespread. The families similarly described being given just moments to talk and abruptly handed a prescription that came with numerous side effects (known and unknown). In any situation, medical or academic, I advise families to empower themselves by asking more questions and seeking out additional supportive professionals. In case you’re curious, I walk the talk.

Coincidentally, just days ago, I was seeking medical help for a chronic (and for me, frightening) new health scare that was impacting my daily life for over eight weeks. My trusted primary care doctor was dismissing my concerns, quickly handing over a prescription for a hardcore medication, and openly avoiding spending more time in discussion. She also clearly ignored my request to perform additional testing. The prescription: a newly released medication complete with a treasure trove of potential side effects. The coupon insert had a note to be sure to document any side effect not posted so that the pharmaceutical company could track it. YIKES. I dug deeper into the clinical study results and findings. I made several attempts to reach my doctor to inform her that I wanted more blood work done. She not only refused (through her nurse); but also completely ignored my message informing her that I would not be taking the narcotic. I was shocked that the ONLY recourse was to take a potentially addictive, dangerous, and controlled substance. What has happened to the physician’s oath doing no harm?

Then something interesting happened.

On March 15, 2016, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) posted a perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine on new guidelines to follow for opioid use in the United States. The CDC now takes the stance that the medical community needs to proactively respond to the abuse of opiates. The authors’ state, “We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently.” The guidelines are voluntary, for now, and it’s leading several states to strictly limit the number of pills that doctors can prescribe. This makes me pause and ponder. Will this translate to other meds that are narcotic in nature that are not associated with pain management? Will the view of the CDC modify the reaction of some physicians to spend more time focused on the needs and wishes of the patient?

Have you and/or your family been in a similar situation? Did you share your experience(s)? What do you think of the CDC guidelines? Do you think the medical establishment will change? Governors are meeting about this CDC perspective (July 2016) – if you’re inclined to share, let your governor know about your treatment. I already contacted my governor.

Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., and Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H, New England Journal of Medicine, Perspective: Reducing the Risks of Relief – The CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline, March 15, 2016. ONLINE: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1515917

Written by Heather Lascano

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The information provided in this site is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice and is not intended to provide complete medical information. KidsMisdiagnosed, Inc does not offer personalized medical diagnosis of patient-specific treatment advice. All medical information presented should be discussed with your healthcare professional. Remember, the failure to seek timely medical advice can have serious ramifications. KidsMisdiagnosed, Inc urges you to discuss any current health related problems you or your child are experiencing with a healthcare professional immediately.