The Problem with Pills
This chapter comments on doctors' propensity to overprescribe, a practice known as polypharmacy. Polypharmacy simply means “many drugs,” and may be quite appropriate in certain cases, such as an elderly patient with an end-stage failing heart and requires six or eight medications plus supplemental oxygen therapy. However, too many prescriptions can cause serious allergic reactions and other problems for the patient. The chapter discusses the pitfalls of polypharmacy as well as its implications for the proper usage of pharmacopoeia. It also considers drug therapy as a physician's uniquely tailored form of care for an individual patient, the problem of exorbitant drug prices, the debate over direct advertising by Big Pharma, and the relationship between doctors and “drug reps.” Finally, the chapter emphasizes the important roles of the Food and Drug Administration and primary care physicians in addressing the problems associated with polypharmacy.
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