Pharmaceuticals creating illness?

Everywhere I read that rates of different illnesses are going up. It seems like everyone I know is on allergy medication, including myself. When I was a kid I was the weird one for having allergies. Asthma seems to be on the rise too.

My girlfriend, who is very liberal, thinks it is because of all the pollutants that George W. is allowing into the air. I am not political one way or the other, but I find that hard to believe. I think that the “rise” in illness is due to the ridiculous amount of money spent by pharmaceutical companies on research, development, and marketing of these new drugs.

When I was a kid there were no commercials for allergy medication, and it seemed like less people had allergies. I guess it is like the chicken or the egg question. Are the rates of these illnesses really skyrocketing, and that is why all of these new drugs are coming out? Or, are the pharmaceutical companies convincing everyone that they need these drugs, and that is 1) causing more people to go to the doctor, and 2) causing the doctors to “diagnose” and prescribe more of these medications?

The same can be said for mental disorders. Just a few years ago bipolar disorder was something that I knew of, but wasn’t confronted with everyday. Now, I know at least 3 people that have it. Do you think mental illness is on the rise? Do you think it is even possible for someone to just be a little bit “F-ed” up anymore?

What do you think?

PS - I was taking Allegra for my allergies and I felt like crap. Since I ran out I have just stopped taking anything all together and I feel 100 times better. Do I really need it?

I also take Advair for asthma, and I can say that it has truly helped me.

yeah this is true. Pharmaceutical companies try to create a need for their product so they can sell more. I think the makers of valium tried to market it to stay at home moms in the 60s under some invented disease ‘mothers syndrome’ or something.

Prozac was marketed as a drug to alleviate menstruation after its patent wore off.

That, combined with the fact that people are more forthcoming of their problems, combined with the fact that the threshold of what is a problem is much lower now (general anxiety disorder was probably just considered innappropriate 40 years ago and not a medical disorder) give rise to more health problems.

In the “good old days,” people just had to bear up under circumstances that, today, we can remedy.

We bathe more often, and have deodorants: in the past, people simply stank.

Now, people with severe depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, can find remedies. In the old days, they were chained up in Belam and allowed to scream themselves to sleep.

I vote for progress and applaud the drug companies.

(My grandfather died of a trivial infection, something that penicillin would have cleaned up in a trice. Please don’t ask me to go back in time.)


I am not proposing that we don’t treat any illness at all. However, I think that some people are diagnosed with diseases and put on medications when they really do not need to be. I feel like we are moving toward a society where everyone will eventually be “doped” up on something even if they do not need it.

The advertising by pharmaceutical companies is creating a false impression that we should, or could, feel perfect all of the time. All it takes is more and more drugs. Should we feel perfect all of the time? Do the benefits of the drugs outweigh the potential problems of having a society dependant on them? The article I read in Time actually focused on giving children prescription medication for emotional problems (i.e. bipolar, depression, ADHD). Granted, some of these kids NEED these drugs to function, but the article also mentioned that the human brain is not fully developed until the 30’s, and that using these chemicals could alter the growth of the children brain.

It just seems to me that people are turning to medications for problems that we used to deal with naturally, and it doesn’t seem healthy to me. I think it is important to feel the ups and downs of life, and learn how to get through them using you mind, not just popping some pills and acting like everything is fine and dandy.

By the way. I work at a pharmaceutical CO.

Personally, I think the rise in allergy cases is partially caused by the cleanliness of the American home. We’re not exposed as children to the amount of allergens our grandparents were, and thus don’t build up an immunity to it.

Compared to 100 years ago, the American home is amazingly clean. Instead of beating the rugs twice a year, we now vaccuum them once a day. We wage a constant battle against dust, and disinfect every surface to the point where operations could be performed on the kitchen counter.

We also are exposed to less outdoor allergens than people in the past. Instead of working in the fields, or even playing outside with friends, the American child now spends a great deal of time indoors. (The advent of air conditioning had a lot to do with it, as well.) City children are exposed less to allergens than those in rural areas. (It’s less likely you’ll be exposed to pollen in a concrete enviornment.)

This is only a theory from personal observation, so YMMV. I have noticed, though, that kids who grew up in an immaculately clean home with no pets, or those who spent large amounts of time indoors seem to have more trouble with allergies than those who grew up on a farm, or had less-than-spotless homes with shedding dogs.

horhay_achoa: I apologize; I was unclear on your point. I agree with your second post, and also with Lissa’s.

I thought you were suggesting that drug companies were deliberately selling us a bunch of nostrums and “feel-good” meds that they knew were useless (or worse) and I just don’t agree. But, yes, they are selling us what we, as consumers, want, which is a cough-drop for every sniffle and a pain-killer for every ache, when, to be honest, these are silly little luxuries that we could very well get along without.

The fault, as nearly always, is our own: we buy these things!


Well, aren’t we Little Miss Perfect? Luckily, the week-old yogourt containers on my desk are bestowing immunological resistance on me even as I type.

OK, I’m sorry about this in advance. but Lissa’s post reminded me of it and I can’t get it out of my head until I inflict it on others.

I watched a nature special years ago. It described the behavior of very young elephants. Where they would ingest the droppings of the older elephants. Apperently this allowed them to aquire certain benificial microbes that they are not born with.

When you compare the strides that our modern culture has made in sewage treatment…
The implications are <interesting?>:smack:

I was using “we” in the broad sense. I certainly won’t be winning Housekeeper Of The Year any time soon.

I keep my house within health code, and try to dust occasionally. Anything more than that cuts into my reading time too much.

Many families had an uncle, aunt, cousin who Wasn’t Talked About. Sometimes this person was just kept shut in the back attic, sometimes the person was in a “home”, but in any case, the person in question led a lonely, miserable life. Without my antidepressant medicine, I’d probably be one of those people. With this medicine, I am still a bit strange, but I can interact with people and lead a somewhat productive life.

One of my uncles is deaf in one ear from an infection that would have withered up and died had it been exposed to penicillin. I’m still getting over a major case of boils, which only cleared up because my doctor was able to prescribe the latest (and most expensive :eek: ) antibiotic. If I hadn’t had access to these new antibiotics, I very likely would have had to have my arm amputated. I LIKE my right arm, and would be sorry to see it leave. Not to mention the fact that I’m strongly right-handed. I might bitch about the cost of the antibiotic, but I’m still VERY glad that I had the opportunity to take it.

Do I think that people suffer from more maladies of a non-deady nature than 100 years ago? Yes. There are lots of reasons for this: One is what Lissa pointed out: our homes are cleaner. Not only do we vacuum regularly, but our vacuums often have HEPA filters. We have disinfectant sprays, wipes, cleansers, etc. Another thought to consider is that “fragile” babies that live now would have died 100 years ago. These babies may be more likely to have allergies, asthma, etc.

Do I think that lots of meds are over-prescribed? Absolutely. ADHD drugs are most definitely over-prescribed. So are anti-biotics. So are anti-depressants. Does this mean that they should never be prescribed? Absolutely not! My oldest daughter has suicidal tendencies. Without her psych meds, she might not even be here today. I had my first kidney-stone induced blood infection when I was 23. My fever reached 104.7. Without antibiotics, I certainly would have died.

Other prescription meds are probably wholly or mostly unnecessary. For instance, Lamisil for toenail fungus. I have this condition in my great toe on my right foot. Am I really supposed to take pills every day for three months so my toenail will look better? I don’t think so. Having a thicker-than-normal toenail hardly turns me into the social pariah that the commercials for the drug implies.

OTOH, maybe the sales of these “luxury drugs” finance the research for things like the antibiotics that saved Lynn’s arm, or the “drug cocktails” that now allow AIDS sufferers to live something close to a normal life span. If this is the case, then perhaps it’s worth it.

Pharmaceuticals creating illness?
Only in the sense that they are largely responsible for our general belief that artificial infant formula is an acceptable substitute for the real thing.
Species specific milk. Human Breast milk. Exclusively for the better part of the first year and a significant part of a child’s diet through the toddler years seems to be biologically appropriate.
It’s not a magical elixir that will make babies smarter and healthier. This myth is the real genius-stroke of the pharmeceuticals. It is, quite simply, the biological norm and the foundation upon which humans develop normal immune systems.

Of course, it’s a nice perk that after 2 or 3 generations, our largely formula-fed population complains of more allergies and myriad auto-immune dysfunction. But I doubt this is part of the master plan. Just a nice side-effect.

Better living through chemistry!!!

norinew. Check out this link.

Still think toenail fungus medications are never necessary?

Seriously, diabetics with foot problems often keep their feet longer, and are able to continue walking when their nail fungus is attended to properly. There is a legitimate medical need for such products at times.

I didn’t mean to imply that no one needs this medication. My issue comes with the fact that the commercials make it seem like anyone who has toenail fungus needs the medication because it’s just so darned ugly. That’s probably because they wouldn’t see enough if they only marketed it to people who truly need it.

First off, yes. The success at reducing serious bacterial illnesses and tuberculosis, the cleanliness of our homes, is associated with more allergies and auto immune diseases. This has been referred to as “the hygiene hypothesis”

Secondly, we do have a population of “the worried well”

But we also are recognizing and treating what previously was untreated but was treatable.

BTW, ADHD is as often under as over diagnosed. But that would be a hijack.

The point is too narrow. I would recommend debating the degree to which illness in hospitals is nosocomial. (Drat, what’s that word that means “caused by doctors or treatments” again…?)



How long do you have to let things go to achieve THAT?