A recent BBC documentary called Pill-Poppers(2) highlights people’s daily dependence on prescription medication, as it states, “Pills define who we are and what we are.” But, how much do we know about the pills we take? And can we trust them?
BBC takes us into a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) factory where we’re introduced to the “research” and “discovery” of medicinal drugs. Over two million chemical compounds are being kept in a vault. Scientists who work in the lab know little about them. They observe how a very slick machine introduces each and every one of those compounds to a pathogen (disease molecule), to see if anything happens –good or bad. If something happens, more tests are done, more compounds are combined on the same pathogen, and the scientists try to understand what and why.
Literally hundreds of millions of combinations are tried, before a handful are selected and tested on animals and people. Again, reactions are observed and recorded. Combined with packaging and FDA approval it often takes fifteen years and one billion dollars to get a drug licensed.
However, if drugs are not designed but discovered, it comes as no surprise that we only find out what they do to us when we take them. This documentary shows how some drugs are marketed now for different benefits than they were originally researched for. Examples are Ritalin® and Viagra®. Ritalin was discovered fifty years ago to help adults with depression. By accident it showed that it could help children with ADHD, which opened a whole new market. And at universities, now even young adults who don’t have ADHD are using Ritalin as a ‘study drug’ to need less sleep. Part of this is not surprising, since Ritalin is labeled a highly-addictive Class-2-type drug, putting it in the same group with cocaine and methamphetamines.
Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra was originally developed to treat the heart condition angina. But testing the drug on humans, most males developed spontaneous erections. Today, every second of every day, somewhere around the world six Viagra tablets are dispensed!
An interesting aspect of this documentary is how the prescription drug companies, in order to stay competitive in the market, as well as to increase sales, have been working hard to create a need for medications. They invent non-existing diseases and exaggerate minor ones, with the end result making you rush to your doctor to request their drug solutions.
Many people are made to believe drugs are the only option. Viagra is one example. The drug Paxil®was promoted to help overcome the “new disease” Social Anxiety Disorder, previously known as shyness. Statin drugs, used to lower cholesterol, should be taken by anyone over fifty who has a ‘risk’ of heart disease. And, on August 14, 2013, reports came out that most men over forty should start taking the prostate-cancer drug Proscar®, to possibly “prevent” prostate cancer.
PR firms have been hired to create the need, with great success: Viagra ($2B/yr), Paxil ($1B,yr) and the different cholesterol-lowering drugs ($30B/yr), and now Proscar are only the tip of the iceberg.
Each of us will turn to antibiotics an average of sixty times during our lifetime. Every other drug is made for you, the person; however, antibiotics are made to kill a ‘bug’. Antibiotics have become more specific, but our bodies are getting more resistant. So, the better the antibiotics, the less they do for us(?)
Pill-Poppers continues that we don’t have to become dependent on the drug companies; and that most chronic diseases are largely preventable, even curable, with simple lifestyle changes.
Even a GSK spokesperson says: What Risk Are You Prepared to Take for What Benefit?