The Effectiveness of Pills

When I was under a doctor’s “care,” I was required to fill out a daily chart, which included monitoring every pill I took and my pain level at that time. It was like homework that lasted for 24 hours, and then was graded by the “school principal” every month (while I forked over hundreds of dollars for the privilege). It caused me to be overly analytical about my pain, almost like having to track, record, and analyze my every breath. (I’m exhausted just thinking about it.)

Of course, since I’ve recovered from my addiction to doctors, I’ve been busy analyzing other things. (Seriously, I don’t think I think too much, I know it.)

One of the things I was thinking about today (in my sleepless stupor) was the fact that pills are not as effective as the labels and recommended dosages suggest. When I was taking pain pills, I blamed myself when they didn’t last for, say, 12 hours. But my allergy pills work the same way, in that the effects don’t last for a full 12 (or 24) hours.

So, you’ll be sitting there, breathing just fine — then, all of a sudden, you lose the effect of the medication and it feels like you haven’t taken anything at all…

Wait, did I take a sugar pill? Is Big Pharma trying to save money by replacing some of my allergy pills with placebos? What other explanation could there be?

Even though I’ve been taking allergy medicine for decades, I don’t believe this is about a rebound effect or a problem with high tolerance. Since I recently spent a couple of weeks without allergy medicine, I’m using that as a comparison. When 12-hour Claritin-D periodically stops working within that 12 hours, I feel just like I did when I was without it. (The 24-hour dosage works in a similar way, at least for me.)

Most pain patients and doctors think that 12-hour formulations work better, giving a consistent dosage of medication over a longer period of time than four-to-six hour pills.

Yes, it’s true that you take fewer pills, but is it really more effective?

Perhaps the 12-hour pills are more effective for some pain patients, but I didn’t think so. When experiencing those periods of ineffectiveness, it was easier for me to hold off taking another pill when I knew I would be able to do so in a shorter period of time — something I don’t have the option of doing with my 12-hour allergy medication. And I thought the four-to-six hour dosages gave me more relief for a longer period of time, at least compared with the 12-hour pills.

How much time throughout the day are you getting relief? If the pills worked as advertised, they would work for a full 12 hours. Patients wouldn’t need to take more than the recommended dosage and there would be a lot less abuse and overdoses. Is it how a pill is digested? The length of time it takes to work? If a better way of getting our vitamins and minerals is through food (not vitamins), what would be the comparison for pain and allergy medications? Something to think about. (Free the Weed.)

This just goes to show you that every patient is different. But I also want pain patients to do their own analyzing — is all that we’ve been taught to believe really accurate?

This is also about the new abuse-deterrent formulations for pain medications, which also have a problem with effectiveness. It appears that patients are having problems digesting these new Big Pharma formulations. (And I have to wonder why the allergy industry hasn’t come up with their own versions of these formulations.)

Trying to outsmart those who don’t use drugs as recommended seems illogical to me — has that ever happen? And I just don’t think that patients deserve all the blame in the drug war, whether we suffer from chronic pain, addiction, or a mental illness. If you take prescribed medication or illegal drugs for any condition, it’s important to know the limitations and risks of those drugs. Don’t leave it up to Big Pharma, the government, or doctors to tell you about your medications — you’re only getting their side of the story.

When privileged politicians, law enforcement, and doctors try to outsmart street smarts, they will always end up looking stupid. Maybe that’s not a nice thing to say, but I think it’s the unvarnished truth. If it wasn’t true, wouldn’t the drug war be a success?

Okay, I’m done thinking now. Thanks for reading. 🙂