Pharmacist Larry Frieders doesn’t just dole out the drugs

Posted on October 12, 2012

I am not a drugstore pharmacist. I don’t even look like a pharmacist – no white coat.

Sure, I’m a licensed pharmacist and I’ve maintained a perfect record for over four decades but I am not filling prescriptions for commercial drug products.

I will not take payment from third parties – even the government. However I will fill an order gratis when I want to.

I am not opposed to the proper use of drugs and I am not interested in inserting my views without being asked. I am not a spokesperson for anyone or any movement, group, or industry.

How wouldn’t you describe the pharmaceutical industry?

I wouldn’t describe the pharmaceutical industry as an honest partner in health.

While the vast majority of people, especially those working in the industry, believe the drug companies are helping maintain and restore health, it isn’t true.

Drugs (radiation and surgery too) can be helpful, of course. Sadly, though, they are over-used and often abused.

The underlying goal in the industry today is sales and profits. While this is a fine focus for any business, it isn’t appropriate for one that should be producing services and products for the well-being of its customers.

I conclude that most people go into the health fields for one of two reasons. They serendipitously “fall into” the field or chose to enter because they are motivated to help and to heal.

Once practicing/working they discover they must change their model to that of a for profit basic business. They can learn to love the business model, live with it begrudgingly, or find a way out.

The last group consists of people who either turn their back on the whole health business (I know a doctor who quit to help animals and one who sells cosmetics), or devise ways to stay in and practice under their own rules.

I wouldn’t describe the pharmaceutical industry as a place where people can flourish as individuals.

What commonly used drugs wouldn’t you personally ever take?

I’ve posted on this topic on our website, titled “My Top Three Worst Drugs!“.  The top three are;

  •     Statins – to lower cholesterol.

I find no direct cause-and-effect relationship between cholesterol levels and heart health. The risk of heart attack is the same in people with high, low, or normal cholesterol levels. Cholesterol, however, is a vital component in our bodies and it is the basis from which we all make hormones. Vitamin D is made from cholesterol plus sunlight.

  •     Proton Pump Inhibitors – to reduce the formation of stomach acid.

The digestive system needs acid to work effectively. Inhibiting acid production is harmful on many levels. Indigestion and reflux are demands for more acid, not less. Reduced acid levels lowers the absorption of minerals and many important nutrients.

  •     Synthetic Hormones – especially birth control pills

Synthetic hormones don’t break down in the environment the way natural hormones do. They end up in our food and water. They are not as safe as claimed and many people suffer side effects from them – and don’t know it. Birth control bills deplete vitamin levels and some of the side effects are deadly – blood clots, for example. Many chronic conditions are made worse by regular exposure to these hormone lookalikes. To complicate the hormone effect, our food industry also adds hormones to livestock and many pesticides and plastics have estrogen-like actions in the body.

You say you could never again work in a “traditional” drugstore. Why not?

The traditional drugstore has been co-opted by the pharmaceutical industry – generally the entire health system.

Large stores hire pharmacists because they have to and those pharmacists work in an environment that is almost draconian.

The pharmacist manages staff and is evaluated on his/her ability to produce measurable volumes of filed prescriptions.

In addition to helping the customer with health needs – a shrinking part of the job duties – the pharmacist is regularly dealing with the third parties that pay for the prescriptions.

In the largest stores, management teams handle the billing. In a standard store, the pharmacist makes the calls and arranges for payment.

While getting paid is important, it seems it shouldn’t require more time and effort than assisting people with their health issues.

My intent as a pharmacist is to spend as much time as needed to help a customer learn and understand their health situation and how medicine can be used properly to get better.

On the contrary, I see traditional pharmacists devoting as much time as they can squeeze out to counsel people. Law requires a pharmacist to counsel, but work volume limits the amount of time available.

I’ve long held that pharmacists are health professionals. One important element in the professional model is autonomy.

Pharmacists who work in the traditional environment – filling every drug order that comes their way – work under the guidelines which can limit or eliminate autonomy.

Their freedom to act can be impeded by corporate rules. As an employee they can be forced to sell things they object to. That is a violation of individual liberty that I find repulsive.

You started working in healthcare in the 1970s, and say there was a concern in the industry back then that it was dangerous for a patient to take more than 5 different drugs simultaneously, whereas now people routinely take many more drugs than this daily. Why aren’t health practitioners as concerned about this anymore?

Using multiple drugs is still a problem, but it’s one that is masked by the industry’s primary intent to maximize sales and margins.

One drug may cause a problem that is supposed to be resolved by a second, which can cause another side effect that requires another drug, and so on.

It is far more expedient (profitable?) to prescribe another drug than to delve into the situation and locate a solution.

The approach I’d use – and the one we all adhered to 40 years ago – would be to use the minimum number of drugs in the lowest concentrations to accomplish a goal.

Simultaneously, the health team would work with a patient so he/she would reach a place where the drugs are no longer needed.

Today, many drugs are prescribed and the user is informed that he/she will probably be on them for  life.

That essentially states that the person had somehow developed a deficiency that requires lifelong supplementation with a drug – or combination of them.

In addition to the drugs a person actually takes, there are drugs and chemical in our environment that complicate the entire health situation.

As evidence of this consider that all chronic conditions are on the rise and the levels of drug use are directly correlated. This is good for the pharmaceutical industry profits.

Customers are sicker and use more drugs and require more services from the entire medical industry. This situation can be resolved but I don’t hold out much hope that the current system will do it.

The individual must decide to take steps needed to get clean food and water and live a healthy life.  I recently read that for the first time low income white people can expect a lower life expectancy. This is not surprising.

What don’t you want to change about the pharmaceutical industry?

This is a difficult question because I can easily list things I would change or ask for improvements in.

However, I don’t want to change the research aspect of the industry. I wouldn’t want the industry to do anything that would reduce the levels of safety and purity they strive for.

I don’t want the industry to fail completely.

How wouldn’t you sum up your book the Un-Druggist?

I wouldn’t sum up my book as a medical text and I wouldn’t want it to be considered directed at any specific segment of the public.

It’s a primer for BEING healthy – the absolute basics needed to live well and long.

It is not intended as a guide to preventing or treating specific health problems.

However, there are suggestions for health and for avoiding things that destroy it – like drugs, food substitutes, unnecessary surgery, lack of exercise, and unclean water.

I would not sum up the book as an answer to anything. In the end, it poses questions and some methods for answering them.

For more Larry, check out his website The Compounder and his book The Undruggist


What Others Are Saying

  1. Thomas Cotterill October 13, 2012 at 4:35 am

    Terrific post, Max! Westerners all live in over-medicated societies. As our lack of children makes old people an ever larger proportion of the population, the issue of taking too many pills becomes even more important. Here in Canada, the most common reason for an old person being admitted to hospital is over-medication.

    • Max October 29, 2012 at 12:32 am

      Agreed. My Nan recently passed away, and she was on a cocktail of meds for the final years of her life that were actually hiding her true health problems, according to the last doctor who treated her.

  2. Janet Mitchell October 29, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Here! Here! Thanks for this post! As an RN, I see over-use of medications all of the time. It seems the drugs are focused at perpetuating the problems, not at curing the underlying problems which require the use of the drugs in the first place–what a winning business model for the pharmaceutical industry…. not so much for the patient! I’d sure like to see as much research go into drugs that “cure”–but, then again, that wouldn’t be a very good business model for the pharmaceutical companies, would it? Nope. Cure the diseases, and you put the drug companies out of business!

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