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Another reason why I see a naturopath.

March 10, 2010

There was an interesting piece on the radio this morning called Doctors May Not Know Which Drug is Best. Here’s the summary:

Doctors prescribe specific drugs based on how well they think individual drugs actually work. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that in many cases, doctors don’t have enough information to know which drug is best.

You can listen to the story by clicking the link on the story name.

When you’re taking a large number of prescription drugs, as well as many supplements, and getting a huge dose of chemo/poison once a week it’s difficult to know how all that “stuff” floating through your system will interact.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=prescription+drugs&iid=307849″ src=”0304/0000304567.jpg?adImageId=11175313&imageId=307849″ width=”234″ height=”302″ /]For example, I’d love to take advantage of the new information about aspirin helping to reduce breast cancer recurrence, but one of the intravenous drugs I get is Zometa, and taking aspirin with Zometa can cause kidney failure. I asked the oncologist if I should be taking aspirin and if there would be a problem with any of the drugs he’d prescribed. He said I could go ahead and take it if I wanted and he didn’t know of any problems. The naturopath knew about the problems, but we’re still discussing a very low dose that might not have a bad effect on my kidneys.

I don’t think the  the oncologist is ill informed within his specialty nor do I think he’s anything but very smart; instead, I think that his main focus and training is somewhere else and that his field changes so quickly that he needs to concentrate on keeping up with the latest in cancer research and how to treat patients with odd diagnoses (like me). That’s what I pay him for.

There are professionals who are trained to concentrate on drug and supplement interactions and what you need to watch out for. The naturopath is one great source. Another is a a pharmacist.

So, watch what you pop in your mouth. Take a warning from the many famous people who die of an “accidental drug overdose” these days. Sometimes this just a way to put a good face on a suicide, but others are because someone innocently took a combination of drugs that turned out to be lethal. Over-the-counter drugs and supplements, combined badly, can be just as much of a problem as prescription drugs.

Also keep in mind that certain people react to certain drugs and supplements in unexpected ways. For example, I can’t take a common anti-anxiety drug that many cancer patients take because it flattens me with stomach pains for days on end. After a bit of research and a quick discussion with a pharmacist I found out that this is an unusual reaction, but not one that has never been reported. If you have an odd reaction like that after taking a drug or supplement, call the pharmacist or talk with a naturopath if you’re seeing one.

This ends my public service announcement for the day.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    March 10, 2010 2:42 pm

    Another good reason to support an independent local pharmacist, who knows you by name, knows your family, knows every medicine you’ve had in the past 10 years, and gives his/her opinions on medicines and interactions based upon the real person he knows rather than just a listing in the computer (which is probably not a complete listing if sometimes you get your medicine at Target, and sometimes at Walgreens, and sometimes at CVS).

    • March 11, 2010 9:13 am

      Hi, Rachel. The single source is an important point. My pharmacist knows me when she sees me coming and I’m very happy with her depth of knowledge.

      Another good idea is to have a printout of everything you’re taking. This is a tip from my mom, the nurse (or “noyse” as my grandparents would say). It’s nice to have the printout when seeing the doctor and it’s also good to have with you in case you have an emergency and end up in the hospital — that and your clean underwear, of course.

  2. Bemused Boomer permalink
    March 11, 2010 12:28 am

    Good public service announcement! My Bartell’s pharmacist saved me from many a possible problem because I have multiple allergies that doctors don’t often think of when prescribing drugs. I am very sad that my insurance company now requires me to get any prescriptions filled at CVS. Fortunately, I don’t take many drugs because: a) I’m not locked in a battle for my life with a disease, b) I’m allergic to almost everything, so I won’t take drugs unless it’s absolutely necessary to save my life or stop a bad infection. I’m glad you have a naturopath and a pharmacist. We need all the “guardian angels” we can get when dealing with modern medicine!

    • March 11, 2010 9:16 am

      Sorry to hear about CVS. I also get worried when the insurance companies require you to get your drugs through the mail. You really have to be your own defender in that case.

  3. March 11, 2010 10:11 am

    Bill went to school and confirmation classes with our pharmacist, so he’s known her for at least 50 years. You gotta think God is on our side with a good Lutheran, life-long friend pharmacist! (And she’s really fun at class reunions. 🙂 )

  4. Mom permalink
    March 11, 2010 12:20 pm

    I, too, have concerns about Mail delivery. My pharmacy is in Florida. Anyone who worked for the same company I worked for and Dad/Bob worked for would know when You retire from this company you either have to take their pharmacy or lose medical coverage (boo). They do have excellent coverage but getting pharmaceuticals through the mail is not in the best interest of it’s retiree. I could give you a dozen reasons. I sent to the pharmacy a copy of everything I take just to, hopefully, give them information. Have no way of knowing if it worked. I need to depend upon my doctor to determine that and that is why I carry a copy of my medicines to give to him/her. Carry on.

  5. Lisa permalink
    March 12, 2010 9:25 am

    You are so right that it is a very good idea for us all to be very pro-active about our healthcare including medicines, as “we” are the final part of the check and balance system. I also am fortunate as I have had the same pharmacist forever who knows me and my son. She has been at 4 pharmacies, but I just follow her wherever she goes. The kind of service she gives is beyond the call of duty.

    Unfortunately, the VA also is a big fan of mailing presciptions. I am sure it is meant to streamline processes. The outcome often though are medications that are not needed monthly (like allergy medication – my father has a stock by now)pile by, wrong medications or doseages, etc. My Dad also uses that list and almost every month has to call to get something fixed yet again. Of course there are positive factors to, no driving for prescriptions, having to remember to call in for refills each month and others too.

    I see the sun came back today after the latest bout of “winter.” I hope you get some and enjoy your Friday. Continued good thoughts and prayers!

    – Lisa

    • March 13, 2010 10:40 pm

      So they just keep mailing the danged things every month without asking if you still need them? As my grandparents would have said, oy vey.

  6. March 13, 2010 10:18 pm

    Hi Jill!

    I am a new visitor to this space and I am happy you broached this subject.

    It was our local pharmacist who discovered a lethal combination of drugs prescribed to my husband. He warned my husband of the danger and my husband took heed. I am so glad our pharmacist has known my family for years and also knows our aches and pains.

    It is shocking that a doctor would write a prescription without considering or even knowing the dangers of drug interaction.

    Your blog has enlightened me and I will return.


    • March 13, 2010 10:38 pm

      It’s frightening what gets prescribed, isn’t it?

      I’m glad you came to visit.

  7. Lisa permalink
    March 14, 2010 8:49 pm

    Yes Jill, such is the wonders of the VA system. *sarcasm duly noted*

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