Friday, 29 August 2014

Take your meds. Or else.

It's not often I venture into the Heart Foundation website. It is a surreal experience, and not in a good way. I'm getting consecutive posts on the same visit out of the way so I don't have to think about it for much longer. I'm not a fan of the heebie jeebies. 

There are many weird and alarming things to read, but the HF's "Improving adherence in cardiovascular health" has a smell to it that I don't particularly like.
stop taking your meds = you're fucked
The smell gets a bit worse when you discover that a "Heart Foundation Pharmaceutical Roundtable" exists and their mission is to "to reduce suffering and death from heart, stroke and blood vessel disease in Australia." That's all very noble, but do you think there might be just a teensy weensy conflict of interest among the members of this roundtable?
i wonder what's for morning tea? 
I wouldn't have much problem with this relationship if the advice of the HF was any good. But I don't think it is.

Included in the "improving adherence" project is a series of case studies targeted at doctors and pharmacists and they had my sphincter muscles tightening and my eye brows moving in opposite directions. But maybe that's just me and my paranoia. I should probably be on meds for that.

A summary of the power point case studies can be found here. But don't stare too long or you may end up shitting bricks.

Basically, the presentations depict a scenario where a patient is prescribed some cholesterol lowering medication and eventually gets apprehensive about taking them - because he can't be bothered or can't see the point (I think). 
Mr AB is in serious shit
The pharmacist and GP quiz the patient as to why he's not taking them and convince him to recommence. Victory for the pharmaceutical company!
Mr AB is clearly an idiot and needs to be saved from himself


V is for victory. And also for Vytorin
I'm sure there are very good reasons for doctors and pharmacists to be concerned when a patient isn't taking their meds - people with psychiatric conditions are an obvious example. Not to intentionally stereotype, but I'm guessing the last thing a doctor wants to see on the news is one of their patients rollerblading nude down the freeway and causing accidents. I could therefore understand the GP and pharmacist getting a bit antsy when it becomes evident the patient has stopped taking their Saphris. 

However, when it comes to cholesterol lowering drugs - which I'm not convinced provide any significant benefit to the average human - that someone has decided not to take them is hardly on the same scale. Life threatening to the patient? Unlikely. Life threatening to the general public? No.

Where I'm going with this is - at what lengths will law makers go to ensure the patient takes their prescribed medications? And how much power will the professionals be given to encroach on patients' privacy? It may require the patient's consent now, but it's hardly a stretch of the imagination to see that little rule being over-ridden in the future because "it's for our own good".

It worries me. There's only so much you can do to help people. If they don't want to help themselves or they have listened to your advice and think it is bullshit - that is their problem. I don't think there are any scenarios beyond serious psychological conditions that warrant forcing a person to 'adhere'. 

To clarify:

Am I qualified medical professional? No.

Who am I exactly? An internet nobody. Ranting into the abyss of the internet relieves stress. 

Do I think I'm smarter and know more than these professionals? No. Well, maybe on some things like football, but not generally, no.

Do I get a kick out of endangering people's lives by suggesting they don't take life saving medicine? You have missed my point.

What is my point? If someone wants to take cholesterol lowering drugs and knows the risks and supposed benefits, that is fine with me. What I'm worried about is that the dickheads making laws in this country will give health professionals the power to monitor medication 'adherence' and the slippery slope of privacy invasion leads to an involuntary stay in hospital until adherence is restored. 

Anything else? Yes, glad you asked. The relationship between the Heart Foundation and the drug companies and their noble pursuit of saving lives - I don't like it. 

Do I wear a tin foil hat and have a concrete bunker ready for the zombie apocalypse? None of your business. And no, there is no room in it for you.

Why do I like asking questions of myself and then answering them? 'Cause it's fun and allows me to feel pompous and self-important. 


A roundtable I approve of - a delicious magpie goose roundtable