Friday, 18 December 2009

America's Health Care?

America has a drug problem. I'm not thinking about the crack, cocaine stuff young people get and use on the streets, or the marijuana, the older generation smoke in their homes, but the drugs that are advertised all day and night at frequent intervals on the TV and in all publications.

When I was in North Carolina 7 years ago, a work colleague gave me an old TV and the girls watched a few programs regularly - The Gilmore Girls and the series about the pastor's large family. But it wasn't on much.

I'm now living in a home that has the TV on all day and night in one room and a good few hours in the lounge and sometimes in the bathroom too. I switch the set off when the person who switched it on has left the room. (Otherwise I stand there gawping at it mesmerized.)

Something I noticed about the advertisements is that they are very frequent - about every 10 minutes or so, and go on for a long time. And during most commercial breaks you will see adverts for prescription drugs.

These are very good ads. They usually run along these lines. A person (an actor who just looks like an everyday person between 40-55) will be doing some everyday task such as polishing his pickup. He or she will be talking to you as if you were a friend of theirs. They will say how they can do such and such now because they take XYZ medication. They say that "XYZ may not be right for you if you have liver disease", or some other ailment, or your asthma medication already works for you. And then they go on to list, in a conversational way, all the side effects - dry mouth, constipation etc etc, - a whole long list of things, and then end up with saying "Ask your doctor if XYZ is right for you. XYZ is right for me and now I can live my life again." A voice-over will say that the first prescription for XYZ is free, ask you doctor for details.

There are also similar adverts for medical plans where a person can review their prescription plan etc.

My point is that these adverts give the impression that needing prescription drugs is a normal way of life and you're not normal if you don't pop pills to releive you of your little aches and pains etc.

I think that a very large proportion of the population actually do take prescription drugs regularly and call themselves healthy.

When I was here before I had an occasion to get a prescription filled for one of my daughters and was really amazed that so many prescriptions were waiting to be filled at the pharmacy. There is a pharmacy in every supermarket and shops like Walmart, and there are drug stores in every shopping area. This particular prescription took at least 4 hours to get filled and there was loads of staff working very hard. I was flabbergasted.

In Britain, supermarkets have only very recently started to include pharmacies, but there is a chemist (drug store) in every shopping area. However, they have seats where you can sit and wait for your prescription to be filled if you don't have any shopping to do.

The difference is that prescription drugs are not allowed to be advertised at all in Britain. Not on the TV or in printed publications. Prescriptions used to be free to all in the early days of the NHS, but now only those on welfare get them free. Everyone else has to pay a standard fee for each drug collected.

I read that if sugar was eliminated from the diet of Americans then diseases would be reduced by 50%!

Americans think they have the best health care in the world but I beg to differ. Do these people get cured? No, even the doctors don't suggest the drugs will cure them. Their symptoms are 'managed'. A more accurate statement would be they have the most lucrative disease care.