Full disclosure: I am a former drug addict. It’s not something many people know, including my family.
I began abusing prescriptions after I was prescribed Vyvanse and Prozac without a second thought from my doctor. Since he was my primary physician who had taken care of me since I was a small child, I thought he would have my best interests at heart. I was wrong.
I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder, so my brain chemistry is a bit hot and cold like a thunderstorm. I now know that most neurologists, such as neurosurgeon and former White House advisor Dr. Sanjay Gupta, would agree that the last thing such a volatile and imbalanced biochemistry needs is more stimulants; yet all too often that is what the doctor orders.
Dr. Tinsel of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about 7.5 percent of US children from the age of six to 17 receive prescription medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties. This number has been increasing at a fivefold rate since 1988.
The problem is that, simultaneously, children are not receiving enough treatment. This is part of a larger problem within the medical system of treatment in the US, concludes Tinsel. Far too many doctors prescribe medication to treat the symptoms rather than the root of the problem. It’s not that doctors are doing too much; rather, by simply writing a prescriptions and shunting their patients out the door, they are doing too little.
A large part of this problem stems from a much larger issue plaguing the American people: the unregulated behavior of pharmaceutical companies. Pro Publica’s Doc Dollars is a program which contains a database of all doctors receiving benefits from pharmaceutical companies (accessible at https://projects.propublica.org/docdollars/), and it reveals startling information about the Tulsa area: almost 2,000 local doctors are on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies.
This means they receive gifts, reimbursements and paid vacations in exchange for speaking on the behalf of the drugs they prescribe and recommending the pills to patients.
I checked, and my doctor was on the list. I would recommend you check your doctor as well.
For Oklahoma as a whole, the number rises to about 7,600 doctors who are on the payroll of big pharmaceutical companies. In the US as a whole, about $3.5 billion a year get paid from 1,630 companies to approximately 680,000 doctors. The most money made is from cancer medication prescriptions.
When I delve deeper, I discover that all of my doctor’s payments received when meeting with drug companies are undisputed and written off as meal expenses. My doctor has not received a payment in some time. I hope it stays that way, but this shouldn’t be something people have to worry about. The relationship between the public and corporations has rarely been positive in American history, but no individual should ever have to question if their doctor has their best interest in mind.
Editor’s note: The author’s name has been omitted for privacy and safety reasons.