Don’t rush to your doctor for more pills until you have read this.
The waitress wants you to get another round of drinks. You get it. She wants to sell more and boost her tip.
But what if your doctor is doing the same thing with medicines? Unfortunately, they too may want to boost their tip – from the pharmaceutical companies.
But unlike the waitress, the doctor relies on a system that, it is becoming increasingly evident, is vulnerable to lies and manipulation.
Some doctors don’t even know what they are caught up in. They perform the tests. They read the journals. The tests say you have a disease. The journals say what treatments work.
But too often the tests are designed by the drug industry. And the journals are written and reviewed by frauds.
All-of-a-sudden, everyone has a disease! What could have caused such a vast increase in hypertension, obesity, and osteoporosis?
The answer is an expanded definition of who is considered afflicted.
You walk into your doctor’s office for a physical exam and step on the scale. Last year, the doctor said you were overweight. Now he says you are obese – at the same weight. A nurse takes your blood pressure. You have hypertension – with the same, previously healthy, reading you’ve had for years. The doctor scans your wrist bone. You have a condition called “osteopenia” – with the same bone density that was fine last time you were measured.
You‘ve got sick simply because the definitions of disease have changed. And behind those changes, a Seattle Times investigation has found, are the companies that make all those newly prescribed pills.
This is nothing new. Unfortunately, the above quotation is from the introduction to a 2005 series of articles. They were sounding the alarm early, but things have only got worse.
Back then, the pharmaceutical industry had a hand in designing the testing tools for osteoporosis. They helped change the definition of obesity. They redefined diseases without any strong evidence. And they did this by giving money to doctors in order to promote their agenda. Some of the doctors who received kickbacks were policy setters in the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Institute for Health, and other medical associations.
Every time the boundary of a disease is expanded – the hypertension threshold is lowered by 10 blood-pressure points, the guideline for obesity is lowered by a couple of kilos – the market for drugs expands by millions of consumers and billions of rands globally.
The result? Skyrocketing sales of prescription drugs. Soaring health-care costs. Escalating patient anxiety. Worst of all, millions of people taking drugs that may carry a greater risk than the underlying condition. The treatment, in fact, may make them sick or even kill them.
Imagine a woman taking a medication to lower her blood pressure. When it was ineffective, the dose was doubled. This caused an allergic reaction which sent her to hospital, and could have been deadly. Her doctor switched her to other medications.
Her doctor is not some evil stooge. He’s a man caught up in an industry crisis. He isn’t sure whom to trust. “I think the days of getting unbiased information are gone,” he says.
But this is all old news. Most people have had a glimpse of such conflicts of interest. Even if your local doctor is not corrupt and money hungry, he may be reading medical journals that are a complete fraud.
The medical journal publisher Springer has retracted almost 200 papers in the last two years because “the peer review process was compromised”.
Sadly, many of the retracted articles have to do with tumour biology. For years, people have been labeled conspiracy theorists for believing in the massive amount of corruption surrounding the cancer industry. This retraction is just the tip of the iceberg.
The most affected journals are Tumour Biology (25 papers) and Diagnostic Pathology (23 papers). The others are Comparative Clinical Pathology (one paper), Journal of Parasitic Diseases (four papers), Cancer Cell International (two papers), Journal of Ovarian Research (two papers), and World Journal of Surgical Oncology (one paper).
Many journals accept paid entries without doing the homework to find out anything about the person submitting the paper, or checking who allegedly peer-reviewed the piece.
Even when the medical papers are not outright lies, they can be quite misleading. According to a JAMA review: “Of the 45 eligible highly-cited studies with efficacy claims seven (16%) were contradicted by subsequent research, and another seven were found to have initially stronger effects. In all 14 cases, subsequent studies were either larger or better controlled (randomized vs a nonrandomized original study). The findings of 20 highly-cited articles (44%) were replicated and 11 (24%) had remained largely unchallenged.
Basically, 66% of the highly-cited studies could not be trusted, while 32% of the studies should have been ruled out altogether, as incorrect or highly exaggerated.
The evidence is mounting to show the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on the medical community.
Most times, yes, it is right to take a prescription the doctor suggests. But your own thorough research should be done on the necessity, risks, and benefits of such medications.
The bottom line is that individuals need to take their health into their own hands. It seems like a good thing to focus on preventative care. Excercise and eating right is a good start.
And for tried-and-tested herbal remedies for some common conditions, check out The Green Pharmacy by James Duke. You might find that ginger and pineapple are a better anti-inflammatory option than those stomach churning over-the-counter pills.
– from The Daily Bell, September 2017, with permission.
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