Yesterday, I posted a controversial blog and I hope it has helped many of you. Drugs that many consider quite dangerous have become the new “candy in a glass jar” at the nurse’s station in many doctors’ offices today. Simply put, I believe that our stressed out, returning home soldiers now represent a large and lucrative “target market” for drug companies. To treat a malady with drugs is one thing and sometimes understandable. But to turn ones back on this unquestionable link between PTSD drugs and increased suicide rates in incomprehensible and it makes our doctors look bad. Mind you, doctors are not bad people, but they do tend to robotically follow the advice of their teachers.
Teachers? Following medical school, every doctor must attend continuing medical education (CME) classes regularly. This sounds good on the surface. Alarmingly, the pharmaceutical industry teaches these CME courses to our doctors. On a daily basis, our doctors learn which drugs to prescribe to which patients and for which malady…all by the very industry that benefits from their use. I find this practice unethical and these “courses” unquestionably represents a conflict of interest. Doctors rarely question what drug companies teach them. But it goes beyond this.
Where, for example, are all of the medical statisticians and epidemiologists (who often work as teams) that fail to report on the parallel between the increased numbers of veterans being prescribed Benzodiazepines and the massive increase in suicide rates of that group?
As one who has experienced it, I’ll be the first to tell you that war is hell. A young person sees things that perhaps a young person shouldn’t see, and most, like me return home dazed and confused (D&C). Yep, I had D&C syndrome. But sadly, D&C syndrome has a new name and a new treatment. I believe this new group of returning veterans is now serving as an untapped and profitable market for drug companies because their students are quickly diagnosing and treating a dazed soldier as having PTSD.
One prestigious medical organization said this about the side effects of the overprescribed class of drugs called, benzodiazepines:
“Benzodiazepine medications may also cause memory impairment, increased excitement, hostility, aggression, impulsivity, depression and even suicidal thoughts.”
So, we’ve known that the drugs we currently prescribe for PTSD cause suicidal thoughts? And our veterans are committing suicide at alarming rates? Why would any statistician, epidemiologist or physician deny that we are rushing to diagnosing PTSD in returning veterans and that the drugs we prescribe for it are intimately linked to the increase rates in which our military veterans are committing suicide? This does not require genius!
To make matters worse, doctors have known since 1997, as published in the Annals of Epidemiology, that “The association between benzodiazepine use and attempted suicide is especially high for the non-benzodiazepine users, for the young, and for males.” Drug companies know that returning soldiers are non-benzodiazepine users who are mostly young and mostly males. This is how drug companies bestow honor to our veterans.
Yesterday, this medical headline caught my eye.
Not on my watch! Apparently, there are about 300,000 Vietnam veterans that “qualify” for PTSD medical treatment-including benzodiazepines. In their effort to capitalize on yet another new and profitable venture, in honor of our veterans, of course, drug companies will stop at nothing. Keep that statement in mind the next time you visit your doctor. They are good people with very questionable educational systems in place. BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!