How Many Pills Are Too Many?



In running this series on the drug industry, I am not suggesting in any way shape or form that you should stop taking your medicine. I do not tell people what to do. For the most part, I do not believe in ‘shoulds.’ Only you can make decisions about your health. “Be kind,” Plato said, “for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I simply writing about topics that are topical, or are interesting to me and that I think you may be interested in too. I am simply discussing this topic with you as I do with friends. Your comments, pro and con, are always welcome in the Comments Section of the post.

I do not think there is any definitive number that can answer that question. The answer is highly personal to each individual and is based on many criteria.

I know when I had a severe herniated disc with nerve damage I was in incredible pain 24/7 for almost six months. I took three different pills to help me through those days and night.

However, I also wonder why Americans take more pills than any other country on earth.
I also wonder why pills and drugs are more expensive in America than in any other country.

I also have to wonder why, given those first two facts, our health outcomes are below most other developed countries in the world. Americans are no healthier, and in fact, we lag behind many other countries as evidenced by the fact that we rank 36th in life expectancy in the world.

Looking at these three facts I have to conclude we are not getting our monies worth!

In actuality, these facts have more to do more with business than with science or health!!!

J. Douglas Bremner, M.D., who wrote the book, Before You Take That Pill has asked these same questions in that book and in a paper titled, Why Do Americans Take So Many Prescription Drugs?

According to Dr. Bremner it started in the 1980’s and is a combination of budget cutting, deregulation, money, and a merger of the FDA + the pharmaceutical industry + their team of sales reps  + doctors. The relationship between the three is blurred to say the least.

The pharmaceutical industry pays the FDA $576,000 (1992 numbers) for each drug application it sends to the FDA.

Here’s how it works:

FDA officials sometimes move to jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, which means they may not want to burn their bridges with industry. The same FDA officials who approve the drugs are responsible for monitoring them after they are on the market, which gives them an obvious disincentive to say that the drugs they earlier certified as safe [are] now unsafe. Finally, the FDA gets input from outside advisory panels made up of doctors who are experts in their fields. Most of these doctors receive payments as consultants, research grants and support for travel to conferences from drug companies. In some cases, the doctors are working as paid consultants to the same companies whose drugs are coming up for approval by their advisory committees.


The result of this co-mingling was a boon for drug makers, approval time of their products decreased from 20 months to six months right after the law changed. However, the number of drugs that had to be later withdrawn also increased from 2% of drugs to 5% of drugs. [All emphasis mine.]

What is even more incredible is that number of adults with diseases is not increasing, yet the number of adults taking pills has increased.
For the drug manufacturers it is about market share.
Not your health. But how much money that can make in the market.

To gain the most market share, companies have to invent drugs for diseases that previously had no treatment (or treat problems that may not necessarily require drug treatment, such as “restless leg syndrome”)…..


,…..the potential benefit of medications to treat these conditions is often exaggerated, side effects are minimized, and in some cases recommendations are applied to people based on evidence from different groups of people (e.g. women with risk factors for heart disease are urged to take cholesterol lowering medications based on studies in men). [All emphais mine.]

The result of all of this is a lot of errors:

One hundred thousand Americans die every year from the effects of prescription medications. Over a million Americans a year are admitted to the hospital because they have had a bad reaction to a medication. About a quarter of the prescriptions that doctors write for the elderly have a potentially life threatening error. [Emphasis mine.]

And We Are No Healthier For All This

Despite the fact that Americans spend twice as much on health care as any other country in the world, we have some of the worst healthcare outcomes in the industrialized world, including total life expectancy, and survival of children to their 5th birthday. In a survey of 13 industrialized nations, the US was found to be last in many health-related measures, and overall was 2nd to the last. Countries with the best health care included Japan, Sweden, andCanada, in that order….

All of this is certainly food for thought.
I am not opposed to drug companies making a profit. However, I am very concerned when my health and my well-being is reduced to just getting a higher market share. My life, health, and well-being are worth more than that. In fact, it is priceless!
Featured Recipe        Hungarian Chicken and Rice

Many months ago, I wrote a post about my Hungarian background, Food, Love, and Music. In that post, I told a story about how my grandmother wringed the necks of my pet Easter chick to make this dish. Nevertheless, I still like the dish as long as it is made with store bought chicken and not my pet!!!

You can read about it by clicking the link above.

However, I do love the Hungarian Chicken and Rice. So it is high time I share it with you.

For this dish you can use a whole chicken or two (about 2½ pounds) or use other chicken pieces you like or can afford. It is wonderful with chicken thighs. Or a mixture of thighs and drumsticks. It would also be great with chicken wings.

Today I used a couple of chicken breasts because I had a $2 off coupon.

You can keep the pieces whole, or you can cut the cooked chicken into pieces as I did to make the chicken and meal stretch further. First I cooked the chicken breats, and then cut the cooked meat up and put back into the rice.

Making food stretch is always a good thing in this Never-Ending Recession.

This is what you will need for 4 servings:

2½ pounds chicken, cut up

1 small onion

4 tablespoons of butter*, divided

2 cups chicken broth or stock

2 carrots diced

2 stalks celery diced

Handful parsley, chopped

1 cup rice

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

*May use lard instead

Here is what you do:

Add one-half, or 2 tablespoons, of the butter to a large skillet and melt over low heat. Dice the onion and add to the skillet, raise the heat to medium high and brown them in the butter.

Add paprika and mix well. Isn’t that just gorgeous coloring??? And it smells so aromatic and spicy too.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper the chicken, then add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down, and brown on both sides over medium high heat.

When the chiken is browned on both sides add 1 can of chicken broth (or 1 cup of water)  and cook covered over medium heat until the chicken is partially done, about 20-30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking wash, peel and dice the carrots, wash the celery and dice, and chop the parsley. Reserve a bit of the parsley for garnish of the finished dish.

As always, I cut vegetables into small sections, then cut those sections into narrow slices, and then dice.

Add the vegetables to the partially cooked chicken and cook covered until the vegetables are tender about 10-20 minutes more.

NOTE: Since these were monster sized breasts I cooked an additional 10 minutes so the chicken would be cooked through.

While the chicken and vegetables are cooking rinse the rice. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet and add the rice and sauté for a few minutes until golden.

Add the rice to the chicken and vegetables, mix in, and cover and cook until rice is done about 20-30 minutes more.

If you are going to cut the chicken parts into pieces remove them when the rice is almost finished cooking. See how little water there is left?

Let the chicken cool a bit so you can handle them. Then remove the skin and the bones. Cut or tear the chicken into small pieces. Add back into the rice and mix well.

I really stripped that chicken bone well, didn’t I? By the way, save the bone and use to make chicken broth or stock. Even if you use canned broth, cook it down with some bones in it. It will taste much better.

Serve with a salad and some bread and butter.

Bon appétit!!!


2½ pounds chicken               $3.92*

1 small onion                        $0.13              

4 tbspn of butter                   $0.32             

1 can chicken broth               $0.48

2 carrots diced                      $0.18              

2 stalks celery                       $0.16

Handful parsley                     $0.28

1 cup rice                             $0.48

1 teaspoon paprika                $0.03

Salt and pepper to taste

* I had a $2.00 off coupon.

Also The 2 chicken breasts were 3.1 pounds. Only need 2.5 for this recipe. So now I have half leftovers for later in the week to make creamed chicken or chicken soup. Plus I will have leftover Hungarian Chicken and Rice too. Not a bad deal. Not a bad deal at all!!!!!

Total cost = $5.98
Cost per person = $1.50

NOTE: Without the $2 off coupon the per person cost would have equaled $2.00 per person. Still a good bargain dinner.

Quote of the Day

Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.

Gail Devers


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