I think what people are trying to say is that if there were real cards, you could go to a hobby shop and buy a Kolos individually out of a box. That might sound problematic...
...Until you realize that it's worked okay for every other CCG, and that good players *already* have enough good cards to compete with the average players. If a good player loses his competitive edge just because his opponent also drew a Kolos, clearly he wasn't all that good to begin with.
As for "leveling them up," there's no reason for physical cards not to come at max level. Unleveled cards don't see much action these days unless it's in an event, so they're not all that essential.
Easy solution: take a folded up piece of paper and write your pill count on it on your turn. Then reveal what you wrote at the same time as your opponent does.
Hard but nice looking solution: a starter deck could come with some kind of fancy cardboard "pill counter" with two spinning cardboard wheels... One for pills you used that turn and one for pills remaining... It, too, would need some kind of cover so that you and your opponent could reveal pill count at the same time.