Welcome to Pharmageddon, Where Pills Make Us Sicker

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Across the Atlantic, the folks over at Social Audit cooked up a neat idea: they invited people to submit a 350-word (or less) argument on “Pharmageddon” and heard from both patients and professionals. Pharmageddon is “the prospect of a world in which medicines and medicine produce more ill-health that health, and when medical progress does more harm than good.” Read the winning entries here.

Everyday it seems like we may be getting closer to a Pharmageddon reality. On any given day you can read about some entity that’s challenging a drug company on their product’s safety. Pharmageddon reminds me of lines from singer Ani DiFranco’s “Decree”: Cancer, the great teacher / has been opening schools / downstream from every factory / still, everywhere fools / are squinting into microscopes / researching cells / trying to figure out a way / we can all live in hell.

Now here’s a thoughtful paragraph from Alan Cassels:

A key problem, which should be of keen interest to students of pharmageddon, is that the radiologist, unlike the truffle pig, can find any fungi with incredible precision but he has no way of knowing in advance if the discovery is a prized truffle or nothing worth salivating over. Also unlike the truffle pig’s hunting expedition which ends in a prize, the radiologist’s discovery is the beginning of the real hunt, stimulating biopsies, surgeries and other invasive examinations that often leave patients worse off, destroying much surrounding tissue and sometimes causing new cancers by the diagnostic tests themselves…

Somewhere between all the microscopes, chemicals, and flying butterflies, I hope we can think of some alternatives to Pharmageddon.