Life as an Extreme Sport

Praying the Prescription Isn’t Poison

Well, won’t you lend your lungs to me?
Mine are collapsing
Plant my feet and bitterly breathe
Up the time that’s passing.
Breath I’ll take and breath I’ll give
Pray the day ain’t poison

My lungs are actively trying to kill me right now, rather than their more typical passive-aggressive approach. This isn’t a terribly uncommon occurrence, and it’s generally the same round of drugs in an effort to remind my lungs that it’s in their best interest to keep me oxygenated.

Not so common is that I’m finishing Carl Elliott’s book White Coat Black Hat, which is full of all kinds of horror stories about medicine and pharma and bringing drugs to market. Seriously, it’s a great read – just not necessarily so great when you are getting a handful of new prescriptions.

It’s not that I haven’t read prescription warnings, precautions and side effects before. It’s just that I haven’t read them with quite so cynical an eye. And oh, let’s just go over the list of reasons to be cynical.

Let’s start with my maintenance inhaler, Flovent (fluticasone proprionate) HFA 110 mcg. In theory, this works to prevent the wheezing and shortness of breath that comes with asthma, by reducing the inflammation in the lungs. Sounds good. Sounds legit. Sounds – wait a minute. Most common adverse reactions are inflammation and upper respiratory infection, cough and bronchitis? Uhm. And thanks for the warning that I should discontinue Flovent HFA if I suffer an anaphylactic reaction. I’m not sure I would have figured that out on my own.

“Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects.” Thanks, Rite Aid. Now can you tell me if my doctor has made that decision based on accurate clinical research and data, or biased drug studies where any negative results have been buried in the deep vaults of pharmaceutical companies?

Surely the prednisone can’t be as bad, right? Oh. Nevermind.