What’s in Your Meatball?

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  • 4 mins read

Imagine a large white bowl into which you toss in the ingredients to make meatballs.  You expect them to be delicious if you put in the following ingredients, right?

Ground beef
An egg
Chopped onion
Salt and pepper

That is the basic recipe. You mash that together with your hands, forming meatballs and then simmer them in spaghetti sauce.  Does it turn out tasty every time?  Perhaps in your kitchen it does, and you might even be willing to eat a meatball or two every day!

Now let’s consider your health, and you are the meatball. I’ll show you the pharmaceutical equivalent of all these classic “ingredients”  designed to get you healthy. Here goes:

Ground beef = Sleeping pills
Bread crumbs = Antidepressants
An egg = Statin cholesterol drugs
Chopped onion = Pain killers
Parsley and Garlic = Acid reducers
Salt and pepper = Blood sugar pills
Now, does this recipe sound good? The average “meatball recipe” for Americans consists of 13 medications per day. Many of you have agreed to it, whether or not it resonates with your personal health convictions.

Do you feel foolish for wanting to use natural remedies? Are you afraid you’ll become sicker without your prescriptions?  Maybe you don’t want to do the work… as in exercising properly, or giving up junk food and soda. Do you worry that herbal extracts and vitamins are not approved by the FDA?  Or that maybe they are contaminated?

I could go on and on, and I sympathize with all of these arguments for why you find yourself dragged on the medication merry-go-round.

There are many reasons you have become this meatball. Possible because 80 drug ads air every hour of every day on American TV. They’re so effective that one out of every three people asks his or her doctor about drug commercials seen on TV.

My meatball recipe above contains fewer ingredients than the typical number of drugs an average person takes each day.

It’s not always due to careless prescribing practices. No fingers are being pointed here. In fact, many innocent mistakes happen because your medication list is not complete or current at each doctor’s visit. Regardless, the mistakes affect you and only you.

Mistakes are dangerous. Because we as a nation are so heavily medicated, I am confident this meatball recipe needs revisions. In fact, it needs a complete makeover immediately!  Everyone’s so worried about heroin and other illicit drugs but do you realize that there are 10 times more deaths per year from properly administered prescription medications?  It’s true, about 10,000 people die annually from street drugs, yet 106,000 Americans die from the side effects of  their own meds! That’s one bad meatball.

It’s from proper use too, not abuse.  Some people experience a sudden adverse reaction and get rushed to the Emergency Room. And 106,000 of those people never get to go back home. In fact, 16% of hospital admissions are related to adverse drug reactions and yet prescriptions are handed out to you fast and furious.  You take it for granted that your pills are safe, don’t you?

The intention of my blog is to encourage you to face reality and think about your future. I’m very aware, as a pharmacist for almost 30 years, that some meds are necessary, but many are not.

It’s my responsibility to make sure you understand there’s a risk associated with every pill you take, as well as a potential benefit. Your risk is often downplayed at the time the prescription is placed in your hand. Your true risk may not even come to your awareness until it is too late. Make sure your meatball recipe is right for you.