The number of prescriptions issued by family doctors has soared threefold in just fifteen years with millions now committed to taking a cocktail of half a dozen (or more) different pills to lower the blood pressure and sugar levels, statins, bone strengthening and cardio protective drugs.
The paradoxically harmful, if increasingly well recognised, consequences of too much medicine are illustrated by the remarkable personal testimony of the readers of James Le Fanu’s weekly medical column, coerced into taking drugs they do not need, debilitated by their adverse effects – and their almost miraculous recovery on discontinuing them. The only solution, he argues, is for the public to take the initiative. His review of the relevant evidence for the efficacy, or otherwise, of commonly prescribed drugs should allow readers of Too Many Pills to ask much more searching questions about the benefits and risks of the medicines they are taking.
James Le Fanu has combined a career as a General Practitioner in South London with writing about medicine and science for the Sunday and Daily Telegraph. He has also contributed articles and reviews to The Times, Spectator, New Statesman, Literary Review, British Medical Journal and Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine. His much acclaimed ‘The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine’ won the Los Angeles Times book prize in 2001. His most recent book, ‘Why Us?’, was published jointly by HarperCollins in the UK and Random House in the US in 2009. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2014.