The Donspiracist is back. This time he takes on Big Pharma, and wonders if there is a conspiracy in place to keep us sick.
In the last 15 years, Big Pharma has ramped up their advertising and have flooded the market with drugs treating diseases that were unknown just a generation ago. And they won’t stop until all of you are taking prescription or over the counter medication.
Take this quote from Selling Sickness: How The World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels: “Thirty years ago, Henry Gadsen, the head of Merck, one of the world’s largest drug companies, told Fortune magazine that he wanted Merck to be more like chewing gum maker Wrigley’s. It had long been his dream, he said, to make drugs for healthy people–so that Merck could ‘sell drugs to everyone.’ Three decades on, the late Henry Gadsen’s dream has come true.”
What do we have now? Erectile dysfunction. Acid reflux. Restless leg syndrome. Adult ADHD. Overactive bladder syndrome.
People feel the need to actively treat with drugs such normal conditions as hair loss, obesity, indigestion, toenail fungus, occasional depression (to be distinguished from major or serious depression), social anxiety, and insomnia.
Activist Kevin Trudeau says, “Drug companies are no longer selling drugs to save lives. They are manufacturing and selling drugs that are used to treat the simplest and mildest of conditions. This trend is more than just worrisome . . . Drug companies are taking advantage of people’s vulnerabilities and selling you ineffective drugs that all have negative side effects. These drugs and medical treatments do not work as advertised. They are ineffective. At best they suppress the symptoms for a short time.” You might know Trudeau from his best seller Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About. It’s easy to dismiss him because of his infomercials, until you read his book.
But if you haven’t done that and refuse to, how about this from Dr. Ben Kim’s medical blog: “Here’s how a pharmaceutical sales representative recently summarized his work for me: ‘I take the doctor out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, all expenses paid. As dinner winds down, I ask the doctor to recommend my company’s brand for certain health conditions among his patients. Sometimes, the doctor will say that his office needs new equipment. I say how much? The doctor says $5,000. I say fine, but only if you write 100 scripts (prescriptions) for a specific drug made by our company each month. The doctor agrees, and we get him his new $5,000 machine.'”
What’s stopping the doctor from taking the machine and not prescribing the drug? Kim goes on to explain about IMS, a tracking system that allows big pharma companies to ensure the doctor is keeping his end of the deal.
If you’re still skeptical that this conspiracy has no legs, how about this from the of The Nation in 2002: “In June, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals, made a startling announcement. The editors declared that they were dropping their policy stipulating that authors of review articles of medical studies could not have financial ties to drug companies whose medicines were being analyzed. The reason? The journal could no longer find enough independent experts. Drug company gifts and “consulting fees” are so pervasive that in any given field, you cannot find an expert who has not been paid off in some way by the industry. So the journal settled for a new standard: Their reviewers can have received no more than $10,000 from companies whose work they judge. Isn’t that comforting?”
That was 5 years ago. Things have gotten worse since. Mike Adams reports this on his medical site NewsTarget.com: “[H]ow about the sleeping drug, Ambien, that’s causing people to engage in “sleep driving” (sleep walking while driving a car), where they cause major traffic accidents . . . Even though Ambien is clearly far more dangerous than marijuana, you don’t see people being arrested for taking Ambien. You don’t see our prisons packed top to bottom with people who possessed Ambien. And you don’t see doctors — who sold the drug to patients — charged with dealing drugs.” This site, by the way is not a pro-pot site. In fact, the author is a natural healer who eschews all drugs, legal and illegal. He just recognizes the hypocrisy and sham that we all are being sold on a daily basis.
I say all this not as a purist who hates drugs, but as an active consumer of pharmaceuticals. I have asthma, and as such I take a number of prescription medications daily to control that condition. Without them, my quality of life would be worse than it is. In fact, without steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs, I probably would have died of an extreme asthma attack in 1999.
In addition, without penicillin, my mother very likely would have died as an infant during World War II.
But then there’s this to consider: when the Vioxx scare occurred a few years back, my grandmother, who suffers from chronic and painful arthritis, had to switch from Vioxx to over the counter ibuprofen. In the years since that switch, she reports little difference in her condition. Basic Advil gives her as much relief as a highly touted and expensive medication. So I wonder why did the doctor prescribe the costly and dangerous Vioxx in the first place?
That, my friends, is precisely the problem.
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