Ask The Pharmacist: What’s in your metaphorical meatball?

Suzy Cohen

Imagine a large white bowl where you toss in the ingredients to make meatballs. You expect them to be delicious and juicy if you put in the following ingredients: ground beef, bread crumbs, an egg, chopped onion, parsley and garlic, salt and pepper; right?
That is the basic recipe. You mash that together with your hands, forming meatballs and then simmer them in spaghetti sauce. Does it turn out tasty everytime? Perhaps in your kitchen it does.

Bringing pain relievers and medications with you on vacation helps avoid any unwanted illnesses.

Now let’s consider your health, and you are the meatball. I’ll show you the pharmaceutical equivalent of all these classic “ingredientss” designed to get you healthy. Here goes:

  • Ground beef = Sleeping pills
  • Bread crumbs = Antidepressants
  • An egg = Statin cholesterol drugs
  • Chopped onion = Pain killers
  • Parsley and Garlic = Acid reducers
  • Salt and pepper = Blood sugar pills

What’s in your meatball?
The average “meatball recipe” consists of 13 medications per day. Does this recipe sound good? Many of you have agreed to it, whether or not it resonates with your personal health convictions. Do you feel foolish for wanting to use natural remedies? Do you worry that herbal extracts and vitamins are not approved by the FDA?
There are many reasons you have become this meatball. Probably because 80 drug ads are aired every hour of every day, on American TV. One out of every three people ask their doctor about drug commercials seen on TV.
My recipe above is slim, when you consider that the average person takes 13 medications per day.

It’s not always due to careless prescribing practicers. No fingers are being pointed here. In fact, many innocent mistakes happen because your medication list is not complete, or current at each doctor’s office. Regardless, the mistake affect you and only you.
Mistakes are dangerous. Because we, as a nation, are so heavily medicated, I am confident this meatball recipe needs revisions. It needs a complete make-over immediately! Everyone’s so worried about heroin and other illicit drugs but do you realize that there are 10 times more dealths per year from properly administered prescription medications?
Some people experience a sudden adverse reaction and get rushed to the emergency room; 106,000 people never get to go back home to finish what they were doing. You take it for granted that your pills are safe don’t you? Prescriptions are handed to you super fast. Picture money shooting out of an ATM … super fast like that.
The intention of my blog is to force you to face reality and think about your future. I’m very aware as a pharmacist for almost 30 years, that some meds are necessary, but some are not.
It’s my responsiblity to make sure you understand there’s a risk to taking every pill you take, just like a potential advantage. Your risk is understated at the time the prescription is placed in your hand. Your true risk may not even come to your awareness until it is too late.

Make sure your meatball recipe is right for you.

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit