We Americans believe in our medical system as progressive, technologically advanced, always available and ready to relieve pain and danger. We may worry about the soaring costs, fat insurance company executive salaries, and unwillingness to provide the country with a health care safety net. But we still have faith that the doctors will still give us some "medicine" to cure the illness and take away the pain.
They used to come to your house to do it but we cannot hope for the moon. They used to give you some of their time and concentration rather than forming groups and seeing 3 people at a time: a few minutes with one, run out, a few minutes with another. It would be nice to feel special but we cannot hope for the stars either.
The fact is that American medicine is now being overseen and sometimes controlled by businessmen (HMOs) and cops. In an article on "Pain Management" from George Mason University,
The question is, what are the 10-20 million Americans who suffer chronic pain to do? The only non-narcotic painkiller left, aspirin, remains an option. However, long-term use of painkilling doses can lead to potentially fatal gastrointestinal bleeding. Some 16,000 people die each year from bleeding related to aspirin and other NSAIDs.
That is a lot of people, a lot of pain (which is difficult to quantify) and very few medications left for the average person. There are also people with an intense allergy to aspirin; even fewer alternatives for them. This present round of worries comes after the big loss in court suffered by Merck, the maker of Vioxx. The drug makers of COX-2 drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex have been linked to "an increased risk of heart attack and stroke". Later the NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Advil and Ibuprofen were found to increase these risks were seen as part of the genre of medication to which belong the Vioxx and Celebrex meds. Since it is a tiny risk factor, we won't mention that people allergic to aspirin are usually allergic to NSAIDs.
So no Vioxx, no Advil, no aspirin. At least for the little aches and pains there is Tylenol (acetominophen). Nope.
And now, the last hold-out, Tylenol (acetominephen) has been linked with kidney problems and with a significantly increased risk for high blood pressure in women in an analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study.
The New York Times reported on the $253 million suit won against Merck but noted that Merck, Novartis, and GlaxoSmithKline continue to invest in these cox-2 drugs and hope to prove their safety. Click over to the David Nalle post on Blogcritics on The Vioxx Verdict. Mr. Nalle's article is less a polemic about the state of pain medication than a reasoned discussion of this high an award and the future for Merck as well as the drugs themselves.