Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Old Fashioned Medicine

When Dr Crippen was a little boy, medically speaking, the treatment of high blood pressure was straightforward. Relatively. You started with either a beta blocker or a mild diuretic (depending on age) and if you needed more, you added a vasodilator.

Was this all wrong? What has changed?

I too have wondered the same. I also maintain we have become a society that is over-reliant on meds that do little more than address symptoms and do nothing to treat the underlying problem.

The first commonly available beta blocker was propranolol. Note the “olol” ending. Now we have atenolol, metoprolol, bisoprolol, sotalol and so on. Cimetidine was a new drug for ulcer treatment; then along came ranitidine with a huge advertising budget and supplanted cimetidine. Omeprazole, another “ulcer drug”, was soon joined by lansoprazole and esomeprazole.

The original drugs, such as propranolol, are long out of patent. Anyone can make them and anyone does. They cost a few pence a month. The profit has gone for Big Pharma. There is nothing to be gained from flying doctors to Acapulco to discuss propranolol.

I have heard similar complaints about sulfa drugs. At one time they were widely used to treat infection. Once antibiotics came along the sulfa drugs were no longer used. Now we have new, antibiotic-resistant strains. Should we return to some of the "old" remedies to combat new illness?
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