I tried to post the below article in response to the earlier FDA thread, but that was closed, so I am going to post some excerpts I wrote from an article entitled "SIDE-FX: The Drug Industry's Influence on Health Care. Whenever you see anti vitamin/supplment news items, it tends to come from the pharmacetical industry.If anyone wants the entire article, which includes illustrations and charts, I can e-mail it to them-PM me. KW
SIDE FX: THE DRUG INDUSTRY’S INFLUENCE ON
AMERICAN HEALTH CARE by Keith Wassung
The United States has the most extensive health care system in the world. Americans pay more for health care than citizens of any other country. In 2002 we spent over 1.5 trillion dollars, an average of 5,300 dollars for every man, woman and child.
Yet the United States ranks as one of the least healthy nations in the developed world. Our infant mortality rate is worse than 20 other nations. People live longer on average in 25 other countries. We are in the top five in incidents of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune disorders.
What has gone wrong? Why are U.S health care costs rising faster than any other country even as our overall health declines?
It is important to note that the United States has the best emergency health care system in the world. Medical doctors are very successful at repairing damage to the human body and at saving lives.
But these types of trauma cases represent a very small percentage of all health problems.
The majority of health problems are treated with drugs, which is a major cause of our health care crisis.
-There are currently 25,000 prescription and
200, 000 over the counter drugs on the market.
-3.05 billion prescriptions are written each year.
-The average family has 29 different drugs in
their medicine cabinet.
-Americans consume 68% of all of the drugs in the world at the rate of twenty five million pills each hour, twenty four hours a day.
Drugs are foreign to the body. Drugs work by altering the body’s natural biochemistry in order to suppress symptoms. Even with suppressed symptoms, the true cause of the problem may grow worse with the body’s natural healing mechanism compromised by the drugs. In, fact by interfering with normal cell function, drugs cause cellular malfunction which is the same as causing disease.
Unfortunately, when drugs cause disease, we have been trained not to call it disease. Instead we use the deceptive term “side effect”. In 1984, the drug industry attempted to obtain a legal exemption from the liability laws that apply to virtually all manufacturers. Why? Because even the people who make the drugs know they are not safe.
In addition to toxicity, drugs also cause severe nutritional deficiencies by depleting the body of essential nutrients. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and steroids all damage the human digestive system by impairing the ability of the body to digest food and absorb nutrients.
“There is no healing force outside of the human body.”
Dr. Issac Jennings
Healing only occurs from within the body, never from the outside. Symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and pain are methods that the body uses to eliminate germs and other foreign materials. When drugs are given for relief, the body’s natural healing process is interrupted and this can cause even more health problems.
“Symptoms represent the body’s best efforts to heal itself. By treating symptoms, you are suppressing the body’s natural response and inhibiting the healing process. Instead of treating symptoms, doctors should stimulate the body’s defenses to allow for completion of the healing process.” 1
Dr. Stephen Cummings
Iatrogenesis is a term that is used to describe a health condition that is physician or drug induced.
JUST HOW SERIOUS IS THIS?
"Adverse reactions to prescription drugs are a major cause of death in the U.S. An estimated 106,000 hospital patients die each year from adverse reactions, making adverse drug reactions the fourth most frequent cause of death. 2
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine stated that drug-related morbidity and mortality costs are 136 billion dollars a year-more than the cost of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. 3
According to the National Council on Patient Information and Education, over 50 percent of all prescriptions are used incorrectly. Misuse or noncompliance is a major health problem in the United States, resulting in 218,000 deaths and the hospitalization of 1 million individuals annually. The total cost to the economy is approximately $177 billion annually. 4
A 1994 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and the Journal of the Federation of Experimental Biology warned that antihistamines and anti-depressant drugs (including Prozac) contain chemicals known to accelerate tumor growth. While these drugs do not directly cause cancer, they can speed its growth. 5
Not all adverse reactions to new drugs can be anticipated or avoided under the present system, according to medical experts. "It is simply not possible to identify all the adverse effects of drugs before they are marketed," according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, "Overall, 51% of approved drugs have serious side effects not detected prior to approval. 6
Side effects from new drugs cannot be anticipated for 2 main reasons: (1) Individuals vary greatly in their reactions to chemical substances; and (2) drugs are tested where side effects may not appear in such a small group but may become painfully obvious when millions of people start taking the drug.
Americans consume over 15 tons of aspirin a day, 34 billion aspirin tablets per year. NSAIDS, which include drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are thought to be harmless drugs, but in an average year they will:
-Be responsible for over 200,000 cases of
gastrointestinal bleeding, 107,000
and 20,000 deaths. 7
-Be the leading cause of kidney disease. 8
-Cause stomach ulcers, toxic headaches, and
Reye’s syndrome in children. 9
The elderly are especially likely to be medicated. Their average prescription rate is 13 per patient per year. Elderly Americans spend over three billion dollars a year on prescription medications. Adverse drug reactions especially trouble the elderly because they are more likely to have multiple underlying health problems and also tend to have a weakened liver and kidneys, which break down and eliminate medications.
Public Citizen Health Research Group reports the following prescription drug induced conditions per year for people over the age of 60.
• A million adverse reactions to prescription drugs.
• 243,000 hospitalized due to prescription drugs.
• 163,000 mentally impaired due to prescribed drugs.
• 2 million addicted to prescription drugs. 10
Why have drugs become such a big part of our society?
The drug industry has been able to heavily influence our health care system. 50,000 pharmacies and 700,000 outlets for drugs add up to a 125 billion dollar a year industry, which has the highest profitability margin of any business in the United States. In 2002, drug companies had the greatest return on revenues of any industry, reporting a profit of 18.5 cents for every $1 of sales, which was 8 times higher than the median for all Fortune 500 industries, easily surpassing the next most profitable industry, which was commercial banking with a 13.5% return on revenue. The top 10 drug companies are reported to have profits averaging about 30 percent of revenues -- a stunning margin. 11
IS THEIR BOTTOM LINE HEALTH
In 2002 Drug companies spent over 19 billion dollars (more than 52 million a day) to persuade consumers to buy their products. One third of all television commercials are advertisements for drugs. The average 18 year has been exposed to 20,000 hours of pharmaceutical advertising.
Articles touting new wonder drugs are usually press kits sent out by drug companies. “Expert” physicians are normally paid company spokesmen.
Many newscast segments about prescription drugs are nothing more than canned promotions called “video news releases” put together by the drug companies for promotional purposes. These segments rarely warn consumers that the drugs are potent agents that can cause severe,
even life threatening reactions.
Drug companies spend an average of $10,000 per year on each and every medical doctor to persuade them to use their drugs. In addition to free samples, TIME magazine reported that:
-Wythayerest Labs gives Medical Doctors 1000 points on American Airlines frequent flyer programs for each patient they put on the hypertension drug Inderal LA
-Roche pays Medical Doctors $1200 if they prescribe Roecephin for 20 patients. (Roche makes over $11,000 on 20 patients treated for only 10 days)
-Ciba-Geigy offers free Caribbean vacations to Medical Doctors in return for their sitting in on a few lectures about Estraderm, an estrogen patch. 12
Drug companies also sponsor continuing education medical education courses which doctor must attend in order to keep their certification.
A recent Wake Forest study showed that medical doctors who attend these classes altered their prescription habits to the products sold by the sponsoring company. 13
MIS-LEADING DRUG ADS
Medical researchers reported in the latest issue of The Lancet that nearly half of all drug advertisements published in medical journals cite studies or other evidence that does not support their promotional claims. As part of their research, co-author Dr. Salvador Peiro and colleagues with the Valencia School for Health Studies reviewed 102 promotional claims made in numerous medical journal advertisements.
According to the study's findings, references in advertisements did not support promotional claims 44 percent of the time. 14
Effective marketing has created a drug oriented society. But can we really blame a profit driven industry? Isn’t health really our own responsibility?
1. Cummings, S. Everyone’s Guide To Homeopathy, Putnam Publishing, New York, 1997
2. Lazarou J; Pomeranz BH; Corey PN. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. JAMA, 1998 Apr 15, 279(15):1200 5.
3. Johnson, J. Bootman, J. Drug-related morbidity and mortality. A cost-of-illness model. Archives of Internal Medicine 1995 Oct 9;155 (18):1949-56.
4. Colvin R. “Prescription Drug Addiction”
5. Francis, R. “Never be sick again” Health Communications, Deerfield Beach, FL, 2002
6. Alastair J.J. Wood "Making Medicines Safer -- The Need for an Independent Drug Safety Board," New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 339, No. 25 (December 17, 1998), pgs. 1851-1854.
7. Bystrianyk, R. Health Sentinel, Oct. 30, 2002
8. Klhar, A. “Chronic renal failure” Merck Medicus, May 2001
9. Wassung, K. Aspirin: Helpful or Hazardous, Riverhorse
10. Public Citizen Health Research Group, Sidney Wolfe,
Best Pills, Worse Pills.
11. Thurow, L. “Profits” The Concise Encyclopedia of
12. Purvis, A. “Cheaper can be better” Time, Mar. 19, 1991
13. Gray, M.A. Bowman School of Medicine, Wake Forest
14. Talk Paper, FDA, Jan. 13, 2003, Tom Abrams, director, Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications, FDA • The Lancet, Jan 4, 2003.
I was never under the false impression that drug companies have my health and happiness in their best interests. They want money, just like everyone else. A good read though, good info.
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Wow. I've always suspected as such and I guess that's the reason I've never been one to take any kind of drugs, much. I rarely even take ibuprofin or aspirin. Hmmmm...maybe it's no accident that I rarely seem to get sick whereas my wife (who takes pills for everything) seems to have some kind of headache or pains at least once every week or two.
I don't often take NSAIDS either - couple days out of the month, and that's it.
Haven't been sick in over 4 years.
Of course, I'm fit and my diet is really good, which most certainly helps!
I had seen some study recently where an insurance company (maybe CIGNA?) enrolled a group of people with heart problems/diabetes/etc into a fitness program instead of giving them drugs. Basically, most of these people's health problems went away, and they no longer had to buy drugs; which over our entire population would drive down insurance costs.
It seems almost idiotically simple to state that a healthier society would drive down health costs; but it seems people are just now getting the picture.
great read, i usually dont read long articles unless its by Keith. It's interesting to see how some 2nd and 3rd countries can outlive the #1 world power because they can't afford pills, what irony.
Milk is the best Supplement
Well my friends think I'm ugly
I got a masculine face - Tom Waits.
Very interesting article.
I definitely think that our health is our own responsibility.. but it is disconcerting that doctors can be so influenced by the drug companies.
It's all a big ugly mess, and there are a host of factors involved.
In the grand scheme of things, I think getting away from the method most of us use (pay for insurance and pay a flat co-pay) to some other way of paying (essentially, fee for service, with some means of purchasing catastrophic coverage) would solve a lot of the big problems. When you pay $10 regardless of what's wrong (a splinter is $10. The flu is $10. Broken leg is $10. A checkup is $10) you generally aren't going to see much value in spending much time getting involved, as perhaps you would if you had to spend $1000. I'm far more likely to hold a doc responsible when I write a check for a grand than if I hand him a $10 bill, right?
That said, ultimately, your best medical care comes when you are educated and involved. Sometimes finding medical professionals who will accomodate that is difficult, but they are out there, and they are worth finding. In some ways, you have to be your own primary care doc.
Squats work better than supplements.
"You know, if I thought like that, I'd never put more than one plate on the bar for anything, I'd never use bands or chains, I'd never squat to parallel or below, and I'd never let out the slightest grunt when I lift. At some point in your lifting career (assuming you're planning on getting reasonably strong and big), you're going to have to accept that most people think you are some kind of freak." -Sensei
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