Dr. Phil MohlerMOHLER'S MEDICATION MAXIMSGrand Junction Free Press Health & Wellness Columnist

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April 18, 2013
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MOHLER: Osler on drugs and the pharmaceutical industry

Sir William Osler (1849-1919) is often considered the pre-eminent physician of the 20th century. A compassionate humanist, an educator with bedside skills that were emulated by his students, Dr. Osler left a rich body of wisdom. His aphorisms about medicines and pharmaceutical companies remain timely, insightful and humorous almost 100 years after his death.On the human desire to take drugs: "Man has an inborn craving for medicine.... the desire to take medicines is one feature that distinguishes man, the animal, from his fellow creatures."He reminds us about the dangers of prescribing and consuming new medications: "Remember how much you do not know. Do not pour strange medicines into your patients." And with tongue in cheek, he mocks using new drugs, "Use them while they still work."Osler argues against the pharmaceutical company dictum that every disease has a drug: "Nickel in the slot, press-the-button therapeutics are no good. You cannot have a drug for every malady."He correctly predicts that polypharmacy is not going away: "The battle against polypharmacy, or the use of a large number of drugs has not been fought to the finish."Osler foretold the continuing heresy of medical education in the 21st century. Many physicians continue to receive the majority of their knowledge of new drugs from the very biased, at best, to outright dishonest, at worst, pharmaceutical companies. "Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is today controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science."Finally, Sir William reminds me to remind you: "One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicines."Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.


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The Post Independent Updated Apr 18, 2013 11:48AM Published Apr 18, 2013 11:46AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.