Three Paydays & Faux Ailments
Some time ago Rick Vermillion told me that I “ate like a seventeen year old.” Since I was in the midst of eating a Frito-chili pie at the time, it was hard to argue with Rick. Further proof of this ailment, Adolescent Eating Disorder or AED, is evidenced by the fact that I recently ate three Payday candy bars in one day. My wife and I both love Paydays. And, on a recent trip to Sam’s, I made the mistake of buying a package of 24 Paydays. Since I am also a victim of BED (Binge Eating Disorder) the consumption of multiple Paydays was inevitable. Like Mark Twain, “I can resist anything but temptation.”
What’s the point? While I made up the AED ailment and its acronym, someone else (perhaps in advertising) is responsible for BED. What used to be called “pigging out,” is now an “official” ailment, complete with its own acronym and—of course—a suggested medication.
Anyone who watches television for any length of time will notice the increasing number of drug ads. It seems every week a new drug is on the market (with a suitably exotic and sexy name) to cure a condition that you previously might have thought was not a serious disease but rather a minor annoyance. For example, rambunctious children now suffer from Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). And, of course, there are plenty of drugs available to treat ADHD, as many as fifteen different medications according to “healthline,” including stimulants, non-stimulants and antidepressants.
I am a member of a board which makes recommendations to courts regarding children who are abused or neglected. Sometimes these children themselves are on as many as six different medications. I am amazed that such a child could put one foot in front of the other, much less function appropriately.
Again, what’s the point? Simply this. Many of us are needlessly, expensively and perhaps dangerously overmedicated. It seems clear that the use of medications has recently been increasingly driven, not by physicians, but by “Big Pharma” and the advertising and influence it purchases. The drug companies have convinced us that mild problems or inconveniences are actually illnesses. Common complaints have become serious medical conditions. And, of course, these illnesses and conditions require new and expensive drugs to treat. And, of course, in addition to the ads aimed at us, “Big Pharma” also woos doctors, medical researchers and the FDA.
I am not oblivious to the existence of real wonder drugs; drugs that have nearly eradicated polio or that have defeated most infections. But I am also aware of the placebo effect and the desire most of us have for a magic pill that will end our troubles. Rather than let television ads drive our thinking about medications or chase the latest magic pill, perhaps we should develop a stronger partnership with our physicians and health care providers based on shared responsibility for achieving realistic goals regarding our health and well-being.