The Broken Promise of American Medicine

Big pharma drugsThe FDA, the medical establishment, and big pharmaceutical companies have created an unhealthy environment for American citizens. 

While the medical system seems to work well when surgery and emergency lifesaving treatment are required little focus is placed on prevention of illness or chronic disease.  Treatment focuses almost entirely upon the performance of surgery and the prescription of drugs. 

The current environment created by the medical system, big pharma, and the FDA is not just skeptical of natural alternative medicine and nutritional supplements but is hostile to the concept. 

Pharmaceutical companies are motivated by more and more profits.  We’re bombarded every day with outrageous advertisements, many of which include in the “fast talk” at the very end of the commercial a statement of the side effects, including fatalities.

The FDA is heavily influenced by Big Pharma.  Did you know that many FDA and “independent” drug studies are financed by the drug manufacturers themselves?  More than half the budget of the FDA division that approves new drugs is paid directly by the drug companies’ user fees.  In a new definition of the fox guarding the hen house, drug company representatives even participate in study groups and review panels.  Experts with financial ties to the drug companies dominate the FDA’s Advisory Committees and the panels that write clinical guidelines.  In this type of a system the conclusions of these studies and reiviews regarding efficacy and safety should be suspect.  

While Big Pharma’s motivation is greed, and the FDA’s problem is their incestuous relationship with Big Pharma, why do doctors who  enter their profession focused on a desire to serve the health and well-being of others replace that worthy goal with allegiance to a system that trivializes the use of effective natural treatments?  

Many doctors not only don’t take advantage of alternative medicine but aggressively criticize the very idea that anything other than drugs and surgery might be beneficial to their patients.

Little class time is spent on the subject of nutrition in medical school.  Just how little?  In some schools less than 8 hours.  For an example of how little importance the medical system attaches to nutrition look at the food served to patients in the hospital – fried foods, meatloaf, Salisbury steak with gravy, homogenized milk, vegetables with all the nutrition cooked out of them, and dessert.  That’ll help you recover quickly – yeah right!

The pharmaceutical companies start cozying up to doctors early, paying for medical school textbooks and holding special vacations (oops – seminars).  Then they continue to build the relationship paying for more educational junkets and making sure they are assigned a “detail rep” to visit doctors’ offices frequently to drop off free drug samples and many enticing gifts.  In 2004 there was one drug rep for every four and a half office-based doctors.

These companies keep track of how much of their product a particular doctor prescribes to his patients.  Generics are available for most drugs, but the next time you get a prescription from your doctor examine it.  If you see “DAW” written on the prescription, it means “dispense as written”.  Your doctor is telling the pharmacist to give you a particular brand of drug from a particular pharmaceutical company.

As could be expected given their relationship with Big Pharma, the FDA has used any excuse to try to regulate nutritional companies out of business while at the same time permitting the continued sale of drugs discovered to injure or kill people.  Under the law, proponents of natural health products not only can’t allude that their products can be beneficial in the prevention or treatment of chronic disease or illness, they must actually state that they don’t.  On the other hand, according to an article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine published in 1996, 42% of the material given to doctors by drug reps made claims that were in violation of FDA regulations, and only 39 percent of the material gave scientific evidence to support its marketing claims.

Some MD’s want to do the right thing, but they are battling a medical system focused almost entirely on the marketing of drugs and surgical procedures.  Modern medicine has documents called “clinical guidelines”.  Supposedly designed to give doctors confidence that they are making decisions regarding patient care that reflect the best available scientific evidence the guidelines often don’t meet established standards.  A report in The Lancet found that only one out of 20 clinical guidelines examined met established quality.  but the guidelines provide standards by which the quality of a doctor’s care can be judged and they can be used as evidence in medical malpractice cases.  If your doctor violates a clinical guideline that calls for the use of a particular drug he or she could face a malpractice suit and loss of their medical license.

In a recent post I mentioned this short documentary video that tells about a New Zealand farmer with swine flu who was almost killed due to the refusal of the medical team to try high dose vitamin C as the family requested.  The doctors wanted to take him off life support because they said there was no hope he would live. 

Based upon the information above you can issue your own diagnosis of the current medical system in America –  “It is sick with a poor prognosis for recovery under the current treatment regimen”.   Don’t die with it.  Consider alternative medicine and nutritional products for optimal health.  Ultimately, you are responsible for your own health, so utilize information to educate yourself.

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Reference:  “Overdosed America” by John Abramson, M.D., Copyright 2004

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