The Menacing Mathematics of Multiple Meds
Hello, the following article is published from the permission of Gary Craig, who wrote it.
There’s something scary about drugs that concerns a growing number of physicians and should wobble the knees of every patient on the planet. It’s obvious to any mathematician but somehow has escaped the general scrutiny of the health industry.
It has to do with combining meds.
Ever since I can remember I have been fed the perception that drugs are governmentally evaluated and thus are safe if taken under the guidance of competent physicians. However, even if we accept the presumed safety for the ingestion of one drug, we must ask ourselves how might that safety change if we take multiple drugs?
For safety assurances, proper testing should be done for every drug combination we are advised to take. If we take Prozac and Tylenol, for example, we should be presented with all the possible benefits and consequences before allowing these two foreign substances to mix with the chemicals our bodies already create. Same thing goes for combining Paxil with Viagra or Interferon with Lipitor.
The list of possible problems here is monstrously long because there are a b’zillion drugs and mega b’zillions of combinations. Nonetheless, I’ve never seen or heard of any studies that test any of these combinations … have you?
Thus, if you take two drugs, the odds of their combination having been adequately tested for safety are skimpy at best. But if you take 3 or more drugs the danger possibilities multiply even faster.
Here’s how the mathematics work: If you take 3 drugs then adequate safety testing of the various combinations require 7 separate tests. If you take 4 drugs the combinations require 25 separate tests. If you take 5 drugs it amounts to 121 tests. If you take 10 drugs the number of required safety tests total 362,881.
The conclusion here should be obvious. Namely, there is questionable safety testing if you take 2 drugs and nominal, if any, safety testing if you take 3. Beyond that you are clearly into the land of, “I have no idea what these combinations of drugs will do.”
To me, this tosses our dedicated docs into a tenuous position. They have patients with problems who aren’t willing to exercise, eat right, do EFT for emotional issues or much of anything else to help their own health. Instead, the patients hope the physicians will produce a magic pill (or pills) to make their problems go away.
I have met many patients who are on several drugs and take some drugs to counteract the effects of other drugs. As a non-physician I look at this with a shudder. These folks are being fed chemical cocktails with little or no safety testing behind the combinations. Maybe I need some help with my perceptions here but, to me, they are playing drug roulette.
I don’t know if lawyers have picked up on the simple, but compelling, math here. But I do know that I wouldn’t want to be a doctor in court facing these clear facts.
In the 15+ years I have been involved in the health field, I have had the good fortune to count many physicians as my personal friends. With few exceptions, they agree that it is our lifestyles, diets and emotional stresses that cause most of our health problems … and … the vast majority of these problems would vanish if people would live common sense lives. Yet patients repeatedly abuse their bodies and ask for more and more “miracle drugs” as the convenient solution. I don’t envy the docs at all as I often hear them complain that this is a highway to NobodyWinsVille.
Maybe what we really need are good salespeople to persuade folks to take care of themselves. I suspect that, if truly persuasive, they would do more good than the ocean of drugs at our disposal.
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