3 Questions To Ask Your Prescribing Doctor

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Be Armed With the Knowledge to Make A Good Decision About the Prescribed Medication That You Take.

Interesting Facts About Prescribed Drugs:
  • Number of drugs ordered or provided: 2.6 billion
  • Percent of visits involving drug therapy: 75.1%
  • Most frequently prescribed therapeutic classes:
    • Analgesics
    • Antihyperlipidemic agents
    • Antidepressants [2]

“You will be needing to pick up the following prescriptions from the nearest pharmacy,” says the nurse or doctor.  “Take 6 of each pill and you will be as good as new,” they say.  Even the names of the medicines’ are enough to frighten the toughest person.  These medical directions are becoming more frequent and patients feel obliged to follow these suggestions.  This gives the pharmaceutical industry power like no other. Analgesics are for pain, antihyperlipidemics are for lowering bad cholesterol levels or increasing the good cholesterol levels.

There is a place for prescribed medication.  It can deliver comfort from a variety of symptoms, but medication also carries a bit of health uncertainty.  For example, did you know that the many of the medications are tested on men only?  Women, who take the most prescribed medicine, are at a higher risk for complications.  There are lots of questions you should ask yourself and your doctor about the need for prescribed medication, whether it will actually fix the cause of your health condition and long-term consequences of taking it.  These types of questions are best asked when developing a healthcare plan with your doctor.  Ask these 2 questions every time medication is prescribed for you:

  1.  What is the NNT for This Drug?

    NNT stands for the “Number Needed to Treat.”  Ask your doctor for the number specific to the medication he/she is ordering for you.  The NNT is a piece of data that doctors and pharmaceutical companies don’t like to discuss.  It records the number of people who need to take a certain drug in order for one of them to be helped by it. Consider the example of a statin drug, a class of drug routinely prescribed to lower patients’ cholesterol levels.  The NNT for the most-widely prescribed statin is a jaw dropping 250. That means for every 250 people taking this statin, it helps only one person. [2]

2.  What Are the Side Effects and What Percentage of People are Affected by Them?

Before agreeing to a new prescription, a patient should ask the doctor the percentage of people who suffer from side effects.  To stick with the example of a statin drug, the side effects are pretty serious (severe muscle damage). Each individual patient is 12.5 times more likely to be harmed than he/she is to be aided by the drug.  16% of all hospital admissions are related to adverse reactions to prescription drugs and this is 4th leading cause of death for Americans. The death rate for prescription drugs is 10 times higher than the number of people killed by illegal drugs! [2]

3.  Are You or Your Office Receiving Financial Incentives From the Pharmaceutical Company that Makes This Drug?

“The National Physicians Alliance said that 83 percent of doctors report having accepted food and/or gifts from drug companies. One study showed that the United States has about 100,000 drug representatives, which means about one for every eight doctors—and the average marketing spent on each doctor is more than $12,000. . . . When a drug company pays a doctor to act as a spokesperson for its drugs, that doctor will often feel obligated to that company. It will cause him to make recommendations based on the wishes of the drug company and not his best judgement.” [2]

So, ask your doctor if he/she is receiving money, gifts, speaking fees or other benefits from the company that makes the drug? [Click to Tweet]  This could even include free lunch that pharmaceutical representatives often give for a doctor and his staff.  You may also ask if his or her opinion of the drug is influenced by doctors paid to speak for its manufacturer?

I have family members, friends and people I care about on these same medications and it is frightening. So we should ask ourselves – is this the only option?  What can I do to enhance my health without these chemically made potions? What are the side effects of changing my diet or exercising? What is my medication doing to fix my health problem or is it just temporarily helping with the symptoms?

Nikita Williams
February 24, 2016


Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians

To schedule an appointment, click here.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ahcd/namcs_summary/2010_namcs_web_tables.pdf

[2] Jacques, Jeremiah. “Before You Ingest Powerful Chemical Medications Ask These Questions.” n.d.: n. pag. Web.

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