What have you come for – to be treated or for sugar balls?

Лікар-інтерн, автор науково-популярних лекцій та статей, блогер
Олександра Бойко Лікар-інтерн, автор науково-популярних лекцій та статей, блогер

While studying at university, I made a little extra money at the night pharmacy. There was such a quite simple system there: you sell for such-and-such money – you get such-and-such bonus. If you fail to reach the lower threshold – you get the base salary all the way to your next shift. Everything is “transparent” and clear, and hence consequently you shall foist to people the medications costing as high as it is possible, you shall recommend more expensive analogues and so on.

To my great joy, I committed such acts on quite rare occasions – midnight visitors got me out of this situation. They used to come for different “night” medications (for example, sexual stimulants or pills for emergency pregnancy prevention – any night-shift pharmacist will tell you that this is the major part of his sales revenue). There was also the customer category, who finished their work late and could go for medications only after 10 p.m. Once a girl came to me. She was holding the long treatment sheet with medications prescribed for several months. The list was long, she needed everything, and I started to search for her purchases in medication storage cabinets.

It was exactly that period of time when during several weeks almost all the homeopathic medications were on re-registration (it’s so ironic! – if there was anything to register), and half of the medications in the treatment sheet – are just the very same at a dilution of one million to one.  Moreover, without them and with them the sum of the order varied about 2-3 fold.

The devil may play any trick, I decided, and asked the customer whether she was aware of what medications were prescribed to her? I do not know, she said. I tried to drop a delicate hint that those medications that are available (not homeopathic, but good ones, sorry, allopathic ones) – will remedy her, and with the medications that “we unfortunately do not have noe”, she will just spend 600-700 UAH more with zero increase of effect. The customer chewed her lips, looked at me and said that she trusted her doctor and therefore she will take either everything or nothing and went out seeking for the adequate treatment.

It’s easier for me to pile up the bare facts here about Avogadro constant, homeopathic dilutions pseudo-“water memory” and to make it clear in lay terms why homeopathy cannot work and does not work. But this is too simple, and was done by the persons much clever than me. Therefore, let’s engage in self-reflection.

Imagine – you have to go to doctor. And have no time to choose – right here, right now. There is no time (or there is no one) to call and ask for the telephone number of the expert proved to be true. Only the nearest hospital, the first available doctor. What are your chances to meet the doctor, whose telephone number you’ll want to save? Yes, like in an anecdote about the elephant – fifty to fifty. You’ll either meet him or no.

This is the first trouble. Patients either do not trust doctors at all, or over trust them. Like any extremeness, these two are bad.

The second trouble – total absence of punishment for improper or unnecessary treatment. In fact, no one may control medical disposals –treatment guidelines are out of favor at our place… internet is full of contradictory information… How the person with no medical education may understand – whether he is being treated in the right way? Shall he address to other doctor? And is the any chance that such doctor has not skipped classes and has any clue at all? Please refer to clause one. It turns out that “the average citizen” has no real choice – and people drag themselves to pharmacies to purchase everything per the list.

And it seems that in in this very situation the most favorable decision (except for the fundamental change of medical treatment scheme) – enlightening of the masses. After all, our secondary education is compulsory, and it could and should be explained in lay terms why homeopathic medications cannot treat at all. We shall tell to the people that phytotherapy and homeopathy – widely different sorts of things. And if for more than 200 years this branch of alternative medicine has not become just a medicine – then, probably, something is wrong with it.

Official community of the Ministry of Health has already tried to bring things of this nature to public notice. This ended up in a bad way. You see, this is dishonorable to cry shame upon homeopathy for no serious reason at all, if “it helped me”.

There is such a thing, which was invented in the last century by quite intelligent persons, it is called “evidence-based medicine”. This is when the medication undergoes multistage check for the side effects, dosage, and, in fact, effectiveness, and only after that it is offered for sale (this is for new medications) or is declared as active/inactive (for old ones).

In fact, anyone can browse the Cochrane Community database (this is such a large online library) and look whether the treatment prescribed to him is effective. You may do it! But you are not obliged to do so! It’s the principle. Because all this (in a spherical vacuum, of course) was already done by doctor instead of him. And doctor has prescribed everything in good faith, for a reason and for a small fee. Such an ideal health care.

And in the reality of our life, where the one is not always punished for medical mistakes, stupid prescriptions are unpunishable at all. Maybe you shall apply to a lawyer with odd medication names? Or shall you go to another doctor for him to examine you? He will definitely make out another diagnosis. And will prescribe another treatment. Will you trust him?

Multi-year researches has evidenced that homeopathy showed no treatment efficacy in each of the in-depth (not those for advertising purposes) studies. That’s a fact. Homeopathy and homoeopathists has helped numerous of people – this is the second fact (no one has canceled placebo effect). After all, this course of study is even taught in medical universities. What’s to be done?

The only solution I see now is to formalize on legal grounds the relationship between the patient and medicine that the stupidity and unprofessionalism of one party not to envenom life of the other party. If you do not want to go to the allopath (this is how homoeopathists say about traditional doctors)? Written denial letter, I’m warned of the consequences. Date, signature. If you came to the homoeopathist to treat yourself? Written statement – I’m aware of unscientific nature, I believe, I hope, I wait. Please put a signature on the dotted line.

Compulsory vaccination is already introduced in our country – why not to introduce compulsory medicine? Not alternative, not non-traditional, not folk. But usual, without adjectives medicine. It seems that this would be a good start.

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