While nurses continue to serve billions of pharmaceutical chemicals to our patients to thwart heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and mental illness author Martha Rosenberg points out this one flaw in the money industry of Big Pharma – the drugs are a problem unto themselves. On the website AlterNet, 15 Dangerous Drugs Big Pharma Shoves Down Our Throats exposes what all nurses who give IV and Oral meds knows – the drugs we give create more problems for our patients. And in some cases, it’s what kills them prematurely. Let’s take one class of drug, the statins such as Lipitor and Crestor. We now know that statins create a condition of muscle wasting. In the elderly, that ‘s already a problem due to lack of exercise and nutritional inadequacies, but now we add more pronounced wasting and resultant aches and pains associated with it. What do we do? We get an PRN (as needed) analgesic with it’s own side effects. We get our elderly into a state of “poly pharmacy” whereby they take 8 to 15 different medications that all interact with each other.
Let’s take another example: Topomax, Lamictal and Lyrica. I have friends on Lyrica. Author Rosenberg points out, “Why would Americans take an epilepsy seizure drug for pain? The same reason they’ll take an antipsychotic for the blues and an antidepressant for knee pain: good consumer marketing. In August FDA ordered a warning for aseptic meningitis, or brain inflammation, on Lamictal — but it is still the darling of military and civilian doctors for unapproved pain and migraine. Lamictal also has the distinction of looting $51 million from Medicaid last year despite a generic existing.”
I have seen children prescribed psychotropics off label for behaviors attributed to mental illness but are essentially caused by either medical conditions or the ignorance of those that parent them. We are seeing children at earlier ages with elevated LDL levels. What’s the drug of choice? Statins. Obesity is rampant and we wonder why teens are depressed? We treat the depression, not the obesity or life styles that promote obesity. I think nurses should rethink the nursing models we operate from and look to really help our patients overcome the assault of mass media telling them that 1 in 5 people have a mental illness, that their obesity is not their fault, or ADHD is a real disease. It will take a revolution in nursing and an insistence for better outcomes for these patients.