Wholly Healthy: Reviewing Our Prescriptions

We live in the age of the prescription. Turn on the television, and you’re likely to see a commercial recommending the latest, greatest pill or injection for everything from psoriasis to bladder spasm. Furthermore, the ads clearly suggest that many of our prescriptions have potential side effects and interactions that are just terrible. Smiling actors and actresses frolic, while the announcer reminds us that the newest drug might cause horrible death or disability. While I don’t think that “direct to consumer” pharmaceutical ads are a good idea, it’s clearly in response to the demand. We like to think that pills solve almost everything.

Sir William Osler, considered the father of modern internal medicine, famously said, “One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.” He would probably view our modern era as a striking failure on that front. On the other hand, we have incredible medicines that he wouldn’t even have imagined, and we survive illnesses and infections that in his era would have involved far more undertakers than medical doctors.

Please sign in or sign up to view the entire article.