Stay Off the Drugs, Son

This is a line from Coming to America, a classic Eddie Murphy film. The discussion goes like this:

Prince Akeem: Sir, did you happen to catch the professional football contest on television last night?
Cleo McDowell: No, I didn’t.
PA: Oh sir, the Giants of New York took on the Packers of Green Bay. And in the end, the Giants triumphed by kicking an oblong ball made of pigskin through a big “H”. It was a most ripping victory.
CM: Son.
PA: Yes?
CM: If you want to keep working here, stay off the drugs.
PA: Yes.

I am not on drugs, well, not really. I am on a drug, a pharmaceutical, Bactrim, for a pesky infection. Because it is pesky, I am supposed to be on it for 30 days. It is not life-threatening (and not a result of any improper behavior, by the way). Either way,  I was not happy to hear that I had to be on an antibiotic for 30 days.

At any rate, I was ready to rant yesterday. I was a little angry, because when I first went to the doctor, she prescribed Cipro. Okay, I knew all about Cipro, but I wasn’t completely aware of all the side effects. When I got the list of side effects that came with the bottle, I wasn’t too thrilled with taking the drug. For one, the quinolone class of drugs causes tendon degradation, and some people on Cipro have had their tendons snap…not a good option for someone who is training for a 10k. Cipro is also very powerful…I felt as if taking Cipro without trying another antibiotic first was the equivalent of hunting squirrel with an AK-47. I took one at night, and then one the next morning. I felt weird and dizzy.

So I called the doctor’s office, told them I was feeling odd, and that I wasn’t really comfortable taking it, and asked, “could you prescribe me something safer, like Doxycycline, before we move on to something strong like Cipro?” The nurse said she would talk to the doctor, but suggested I stop drinking coffee because caffeine aggravates the symptoms. I said that wasn’t an option. Now, you might say I was being stubborn, but the possible health benefits of coffee aside, I like coffee. I enjoy drinking it, a lot.

They called me back and said they were prescribing me Bactrim, which is safer than Cipro, although it can cause reactions in people allergic to it. I asked what the chemical name of Bactrim was (it is actually a combination of 2 antibiotics), and the nurse became a little agitated when she couldn’t recall the answer and I pressed the issue.

I guess the point of this post is to document the effort it took me just to get a medication I was comfortable with (and even then, Bactrim isn’t as safe as I would like). I also don’t like taking drugs, legal or illegal. While I understand the benefits of pharmaceuticals, and I am not opposed to them, I just prefer to take them only if I have to. It is kind of humorous (and yet sad) that when I looked up the side effects of these medicines, the side effects were often treated with other pharmaceuticals, which had side-effects, which were often treated with other pharmaceuticals. Unless out of absolute necessity, I will stick with diet, exercise, healthy living, and supplements to deal with medical problems I have.

I don’t think my doctor’s office was quite prepared for a patient like myself, who is concerned about these things. I also am old-fashioned in that I believe a patient should have a little time with his doctor to discuss what is really going on.

Drug Company Wants to Outlaw Vitamin B6

A drug company has filed a petition with the FDA to outlaw a form of Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal 5’phosphate) because it is doing research with it, and wants to have it declared a “drug.” Because this pharmaceutical company is researching pyridoxal 5′-phosphate as a drug, then their circular reasoning implies that P5P supplements are “adulterated” with a “drug.” It doesn’t make much sense, but this is what they are requesting of the FDA. I am not opposed to all pharmaceuticals, and use them when I need them. However, I worry when pharmaceutical companies try to use their money and sway to get government agencies to outlaw cheap, safe, natural, alternatives to their drugs.