Monday, December 27, 2004


Pankillers: The Gateway Drugs to Surgery?

Thanks to Jim Borgman, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, longtime friend and creator of one of the best cartoons to lampoon the drug industry and the current fiasco of risky drugs on the market. Jim has a knack for capturing in a few ink-pen brush strokes what many people feel about a lot of issues.

Other tidbits for this week:

The FDA is ordering a review of all painkillers and urging consumers (that's YOU!) to be mindful when taking both prescription painkillers and over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc), acetaminophen (Tyelnol, etc.) and even aspirin. Read labels. Read up on side effects. Use Google or other search engines to look up drug databases that include the patient information sheets that drug companies must publish for each drug. One of the best is the National Institutes of Health's Medline drug information web site. Look up drugs alphabetically.

And remember: painkillers are often the gateway drugs to more risky medical procedures, including surgeries. Doctors have a knack for saying things like, "Well, we'll try painkillers/anti-inflammatories/muscle relaxants for a couple of months and see how that works. If you're still having problems, we may have to try some coritsone injections for a few months...and if that doesn't produce long-term relief, surgery might be the only other option for us to look at...."

My advice? Look the other way for no-risk alternatives. They're out there.

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