The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs
Two-part social experiment in which Dr Chris van Tulleken takes over part of a GP surgery and stops patients’ prescription pills
While many drugs undoubtedly do good, he is concerned about the possible side effects they can cause – and also believes many common illnesses are best treated without drugs. Taking over part of a GP surgery, Chris hears the stories of several patients, and instead of handing out their regular pills, he takes them away. In one case, a woman with chronic shoulder pain is unaware that some of her pills are now placebos, while his treatment of a depression-sufferer is more extreme – asking her to swim in a freezing cold lake.
In the concluding part of the documentary, Dr Chris van Tulleken is keen to take what he has learnt by increasing the offer of drug-free treatments to all other patients at the surgery. It proves tricky getting his message across, but he does eventually get a new patient, who is currently taking 30 pills a day for chronic back pain. He also notices that thousands of people are taking drugs to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, so comes up with what he believes to be a more sensible alternative – walking. The group he puts together are not impressed but they agree to take part. Will half an hour a day persuade them to keep off the pills?