Posts Tagged ‘mainstream medicine’

When did your doctor last talk to you about your diet? We ask that very question in our no-holds-barred book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures.

 

Image result for overeating

 

Most are aware of the old adage, You are what you eat. It seems to us, though, that many members of the medical profession aren’t aware – or, if they are, they consider it an old wives’ tale.

In Medical Industrial Complex  we devote a whole chapter to this vexing issue. Here’s an excerpt:

We suspect that, more often than not, doctors only deign to discuss diet when a patient dares to raise the subject. And then, if your experience is like ours, you’ll be greeted with a frosty stare or, at best, a few mumbled banalities about not over-eating or the importance of a balanced diet or cut down on fats.

Which leads to more (related) questions: How long do doctors-in-training spend studying nutrition at medical school? And why isn’t nutrition on the curriculum alongside biochemistry, pathology, physiology and the like?  

These questions and more are raised in a very appropriate discussion thread on the ResearchGate.net site. A random selection of comments from that thread follows:

  • “We need clinicians to remember to consider nutrition when seeing/treating a patient rather than being a full nutritional expert. However they should know basics such as basic nutritional needs and guidelines, calculating and interpreting BMI, when to give nutritional support and be aware of the importance of using nutritional screening tools to see if referral to a dietitian is required.”
  • “I would be a staunch supporter of making nutrition a major field of study in a medical doctors pursuit of their degree.”
  • “Before health care providers can get into…details about individual response to nutrients and talk about personal nutrition, they need to establish their nutrition knowledge and clinical skills foundation. For physicians this needs to happen in medical school and requires a serious effort.”
  • “Considering the importance of nutrition for a patient’s recovery from disease and maintenance of health it is surprising that nutrition isn’t a bigger part of conventional medical school education.”
  • “It should be within the core responsibilities of doctors to address nutrition in patient care and it is essential that all doctors know the appropriate time to make a dietitian referral.”
  • “Why is it so hard to understand that robust familiarity with nutrition is equally or even more important (than surgery training)?”

To add some balance to the discussion, one contributor (from the University of Jordan) to the above thread observes that nutrition is “a specialized field and huge in its content.” He adds, “Medical students (are) overwhelmed by texts, labs, and courses. It requires an evolutionary plan to incorporate nutrition with medicine curricula”.

Medical educators at least pay lip service to the importance of nutrition, and they appear to be in general agreement that there’s not enough instruction on this topic in today’s medical schools.

For example, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) addresses this via its official online site AAFP News. In an article dated May 17, 2010, the writer reports that although most medical schools (in the US) offer some form of nutrition education, only one-quarter require a dedicated nutrition course.

The article continues, “In fact, the amount of nutrition education that medical students receive is so ‘inadequate’ that ‘medical school graduates feel unprepared to intervene in their patients’ care with regard to nutrition,’ according to the UNC preliminary survey results”.

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“I actually like how doctors talk. I like the sound of science. I like how words you don’t understand explain things you can’t understand.” –American author (Ms.) R.J. Palacio

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Another 2010 report – this one published by the US National Library of Medicine in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health – concludes that “The amount of nutrition education that medical students receive continues to be inadequate”.

That report summarizes a survey of 109 medical schools, which revealed that “most (103) required some form of nutrition education” of their students. The most disturbing revelation, however, is that “Overall, medical students received 19.6 contact hours of nutrition instruction during their medical school careers”.

19.6 contact hours of nutrition instruction? During a med school course that takes, what, four or five years at least?

Let’s face it, sensible eating is probably the best single thing we can do to help ensure a healthy future as food governs the functions of our organs and figures prominently in both the contracting of illness and disease, and in our recovery from those ailments.

T.B.C.

 

Medical Industrial Complex  is Book #3 in The Underground Knowledge Series  and is available exclusively via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

 

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

 

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Healthcare is not a privilege, it’s a human right. We champion this philosophy in our contentious book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures.

 

Image result for health insurance cartoons

 

In a chapter devoted to the health insurance sector, appropriately titled “Health insurance – the devil’s in the detail,” we remind readers that officially, some 18,000 American citizens die every year for no better reason than not having an insurance card. Many have suggested that number is a very conservative estimate.

 

More on this in the following excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex:

Approximately 45 million US citizens, or one American in every seven, do not have health insurance and are therefore all at risk.

Here’s another statistic: besides being the number one cause in the US for bankruptcy, medical expenses are also the number one cause of homelessness.

The medical insurance system, which regularly tries to wriggle out of paying fully insured patients by using creative lawyers and loopholes buried in the fine print of contracts, is a big reason for all these horrifying statistics.

How many people have to die or suffer unnecessarily before logic finally sets in and everyone agrees too many citizens are falling thru the cracks in this corrupt user pays healthcare system?

It’s a really perverse world where we have almost unlimited military expenditure to finance wars, where our governments readily bail out privately-owned banks with multi-trillion dollar relief packages, and yet we cannot cover the measly costs of our own citizens’ basic healthcare.

People need to stop accepting the BS line that it’s all just “too expensive” for governments and that less fortunate individuals must cover every single Goddamn cost by themselves. The less fortunate individuals we refer to include the mentally ill, abuse victims, war vets, the disabled, many of the elderly, the unemployed and, in many cases, employed citizens struggling to make ends meet.

As with education, you can’t put a price on a population’s health. It should be any government’s first expenditure priority, not their last.

We will never have a civilized society until we create a fair and universal health system in which every man, woman and child – no matter their financial situation – has access to medical services when ill.

Hence our declaration that healthcare is not a privilege, it’s a human right.

 

For more on the perils of health insurance, see our blog of August 14.

 

Medical Industrial Complex  is Book #3 in The Underground Knowledge Series  and is available exclusively via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

 

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

 

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As the healthcare sector is so profitable, why would anyone believe major corruption could not flourish in this industry? We pose this question in our book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures.

Healthcare corruption-free…really?

When considering this question, it’s important you have a grasp of the amounts of money involved in healthcare.

We address this in the following excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex:

Keep in mind total healthcare expenditures across the world in 2013 totaled $4.5 trillion while the global prescription drug market was worth an estimated $550 billion (annually) as long ago as 2006, according to TheMedica.com, the respected global healthcare marketplace site.

An article on TheMedica’s homepage states: “The USA’s medical industry comprises of more than 750,000 physicians and 5,200 hospitals. USA witnesses approximately 3.8 million inpatient visits and 20 million outpatients visit on a daily basis. Furthermore, (America) has the largest workforce – i.e. one in every 11 US residents employed in the health care business.”

These estimates are supported by Forbes, which puts America’s NHE (National Healthcare Expenditure) for 2012 at $3 trillion. (Interesting to see a Forbes.com report dated January 19, 2012, quotes one economist as saying, “We don’t have a debt problem in this country – we have a healthcare problem.”).

Given the huge monies up for grabs in the healthcare sector, is it really that difficult to believe corruption flourishes within it?

Also, why are so many so quick to doubt that certain cures, including cancer cures, have been suppressed because of pharmaceutical companies’ desire to continue profiting off the drugs they produce to manage long-term sicknesses?

Anytime so much money is at stake, we cannot underestimate the lengths certain companies and groups will go to in their pursuit of profit.

The alternative health site NaturalSociety.com has an intriguing post about “an ignored method of treating and preventing most diseases – so potent that it threatens the medical establishment’s tyrannical monopoly”.

Called Ozone Therapy, the treatment was, according to the article, practiced in the US from the late 19th Century through the 1940’s.

The article points out that “all bacterial pathogens, viruses, and parasites are anaerobic and thrive in the absence of oxygen. In fact, they are poisoned by oxygen. Even cancer cells perish with abundant oxygen. The most common and effective therapy for oxygenating is ozone therapy”

The writer states, “But since the 1940s, the FDA and AMA have come down hard on ozone therapy in the USA…The FDA recently warned against using hyperbaric oxygen therapy”…

According to Educate-Yourself.org, “There are a number of alternative healing therapies that work so well and cost so little…that Organized Medicine, the Food & Drug Administration, and their overlords in the Pharmaceutical Industry (The Big Three) would rather the public not know about them. The reason is obvious: Alternative, non-toxic therapies represent a potential loss of billions of dollars to allopathic (drug) medicine and drug companies”.

Referring to what he calls “forbidden cures,” the writer states, “At long last, however, the public’s consciousness seems to have finally reached a critical mass and is now beginning to seriously question the efficacy and appropriateness of using orthodox therapies and allopathic medicine in general”.

The article continues, “The Big Three have collectively engaged in a medical conspiracy for the better part of 70 years to influence legislative bodies on both the state and federal level to create regulations that promote the use of drug medicine while simultaneously creating restrictive, controlling mechanisms…designed to limit and stifle the availability of non-drug, alternative modalities. The conspiracy to limit and eliminate competition from non-drug therapies began with the Flexner Report of 1910”.

And under the heading ‘Natural Healing,’ the writer says, “The patient’s immune system and the immune system alone is responsible for healing and recovery from ill health. The use of drugs and vaccines represents an assault on the immune system.

“In some cases, the use of a particular drug might be a wise choice to speed healing and recovery for the patient, but the use of natural, orthomolecular therapies and substances (substances normally found in Nature) that can more effectively address the cause of the disease should be considered first because natural substances work in harmony with Nature. They aid and stimulate the body to truly cure itself, without the terrible millstone of drug side-effects”…

The Northstar Report at nstarzone.com, which makes the claim that “Modern medicine has been made into a god by a population of people who look to the doctors and pharmaceutical companies to save them,” lists natural cures it claims the medical establishment doesn’t want you to know about.

These natural “cures” include: Vitamin B-17, or laetrile, which reportedly has had “amazing results” with cancer patients; ginger, which is supposedly “highly effective in preventing and curing” heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and a variety of other illnesses; and garlic, which is claimed to be “good for virtually any disease or infection”.

And last, but not least, The Northstar Report recommends prayer, claiming “The most important aspect of healing is faith healing”.

Given the state of healthcare worldwide and the dubious conduct of various sectors of the Medical Industrial Complex, prayer may be our best bet at the end of the day.

You have been reading an excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex. The book is available exclusively via Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/ 

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

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It seems mainstream medicine won’t accept that high doses of Vitamin C may be an effective anticancer agent – this despite the fact that there have been some incredible success stories of late. We explore this in our book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures.

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

The following excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex  includes a couple of examples, which, to our eyes at least, warrant the medical authorities taking a closer look at the use of Vitamin C to combat cancer:

On October 12, 2014, Television New Zealand’s ‘Sunday’ current affairs program advised viewers that ground breaking research at Otago University had revealed Vitamin C may be a useful tool in cancer treatment.

The report states, “Professor Margreet Vissers has told the Sunday Programme Vitamin C is unlikely to provide a miracle cure. However it could be used alongside other therapies. ‘We think Vitamin C is potentially another tool in the toolbox of anti-cancer treatments.’

“Lab tests at Otago showed tumours with higher levels of Vitamin C were less aggressive and slower to grow than ones with lower levels of the vitamin. A number of doctors around the country have been running centres which offer the treatment to patients as an alternative or a complement to chemotherapy and radio therapy. They are using high level doses of Vitamin C by intravenous infusion to attack the tumours”.

Vissers also says, “What we want to find out…is if we increase the amount of Vitamin C is that going to slow the tumour growth as well? We suspect it will”.

On May 6, 2014, under the heading ‘Taking on Big C with Vitamin C,’ the New Zealand newspaper The Northern Advocate reported on the incredible case of policeman Anton Kuraia, a family man and cancer patient “who was given only weeks to live” after unsuccessful chemotherapy.

The article reads, “The medical experts described it as ‘wall to wall’ cancer and after two months of intensive chemotherapy there was little improvement. Anton Kuraia was sent home from hospital with weeks to live and told he would slip into a coma and die.

“The 43-year-old Whangarei policeman and father of three was left shattered and broken. ‘I remember asking my oncology doctor if there was anything I could do, anything at all. But it was made clear that there were no other options and that certain death would be upon me’.”

The article continues, “Anton got on the internet and googled vitamin C”.

Anton is quoted as saying, “I naturally looked into high dose vitamin C, therapies and supplements on the other side of the pharmaceutical fence. Why is it that we call everything that isn’t conventional medicine ‘alternative’? When you reflect on the simple methodology of alternatives you soon discover that the term ‘naturals’ is a clearer description. Naturals support, detoxify and gently encourage the body to create an environment in which cancer struggles to survive.”

Apparently, Anton’s diet was given a major overhaul, with sugar being a definite no-go food.

“Fresh vegetable and fruit smoothies became the order of the day as he followed a blood type diet. The high dose liquid form of vitamin C is 90g of clear liquid taken intravenously to bypass the gut…The sessions cost $200 each.

“After 10 weeks of healthy eating and infusions – two weeks longer than experts had predicted he would live – Anton was feeling better and agreed to have a bone marrow biopsy. The results revealed the cancer had dwindled to less than one per cent. The cancer was in complete remission”.

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“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” –Norman Cousins, Author of Anatomy of an Illness

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It’s abundantly clear not everyone agrees that Vitamin C may be an effective anticancer agent. On its website, the American Cancer Society states, “Clinical trials of high doses vitamin C as a treatment for cancer have not shown any benefit.” And it warns, “High doses of vitamin C can cause side effects in some people”.

To be fair, high doses of anything can cause side effects – even death – if consumers overdo it. (Try eating a truckload of apples and see how you feel).

However, the American Cancer Society’s point is taken: high doses of Vitamin C can cause side effects and, it seems, the jury’s still out on the effectiveness, or otherwise, of this vitamin as an anticancer agent.

The society does acknowledge that “Some claim that the vitamin can prevent a variety of cancers from developing, including lung, prostate, bladder, breast, cervical, intestinal, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, and salivary gland cancers, as well as leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Vitamin C is also said to prevent tumors from spreading, help the body heal after cancer surgery, enhance the effects of certain anti-cancer drugs, and reduce the toxic effects of other drugs used in chemotherapy”.

And while the society acknowledges that “people with higher blood levels of vitamin C tend to have a lesser risk of developing cancer than do people with lower levels,” it categorically states, “Studies that observed large groups or people and clinical trials of vitamin C supplements have not shown the same strong protective effects against cancer”.

The American Cancer Society also quotes a 2000 National Academy of Sciences report as saying, “There is not enough evidence to support claims that taking high doses of antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E, selenium, and beta carotene) can prevent chronic diseases”.

Certainly, some doctors recommend high doses of vitamin C supplements to protect patients against, and to treat, the common cold. However, it does seem that few doctors are prepared to accept that high doses of Vitamin C may be an effective anticancer agent.

TBC…

You have been reading an excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex. This top rating book is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

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The unseemly subject of kickbacks, or illicit payments, for doctors – from the likes of the big pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment suppliers – is addressed in our controversial new book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures.

We devote an entire chapter to kickbacks in our book. However, we stress to readers we have no wish to denigrate doctors, or to denigrate anyone who devotes their life to helping fellow man.

After all, it was Cicero who said, “In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.”

Certainly, the medical profession, in its purest form, is a noble one. And doctors are clearly at the apex of the profession.

And we stress that those who do (abuse their position) are very much in the minority. That said, the number of doctors who have brought their profession into disrepute, worldwide, is staggeringly high. Certainly far too many for so noble a profession, we would argue.

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“The vast majority of curricula that are taught in medical schools in this country (USA) were put together by organizations that were founded by, or are funded by, pharmaceutical companies.” –T.C. Hale, natural health expert

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It would be remiss of us not to bring your attention to some, shall we say, gaps in the system – gaps that allow doctors to abuse their position if they are so inclined.

Relevant excerpts from Medical Industrial Complex follow:

The following report was aired by BBC News on November 6, 2014: “Until recently, paying bribes to doctors to prescribe their drugs was commonplace at big pharmas, although the practice is now generally frowned upon and illegal in many places. GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) was fined $490m in China in September for bribery and has been accused of similar practices in Poland and the Middle East.

“The rules on gifts, educational grants and sponsoring lectures, for example, are less clear cut, and these practices remain commonplace in the US. Indeed a recent study found that doctors in the US receiving payments from pharma companies were twice as likely to prescribe their drugs.

“This may well exacerbate the problem of overspending on drugs by governments. A recent study by Prescribing Analytics suggested that the UK’s National Health Service could save up to £1bn a year by doctors switching from branded to equally effective generic versions of the drugs”.

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“Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do practice?” –Grammy-winning American actor/author George Carlin

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The “recent study” referred to by BBC News was a detailed 61-page report compiled by the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and dated January 2014.

This report starts out with the comment that “While rent-seeking behavior may not be surprising generally, that financial conflicts of interest could influence physicians’ advice might be less expected. For one, doctors are highly paid, with most falling in the top 5% of the income distribution within the US”.

The UCSD report continues, “When drug companies have financial relationships with physicians, medical decisions may be influenced by pecuniary motives not directly related to patient health…

“We find that men are over twice as sensitive to payments as women. This confirms experimental and field evidence suggesting that women are, on average, more honest and less corruptible than men”.

The report’s conclusion is that “Using data from twelve drug companies, more than 330,000 physicians and nearly one billion prescriptions, we find that when a drug company pays a doctor he is more likely to prescribe that company’s drug…

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“The purpose of a doctor or any human in general should not be to simply delay the death of the patient, but to increase the person’s quality of life.” –Patch Adams

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A US Federal Government report unveiled in September 2014, detailing 4.4 million payments made to doctors and teaching hospitals by pharmaceutical and medical device companies sheds more light on the vexing kickbacks issue.

ProPublica.com, a watchdog site that prides itself on providing “journalism in the public interest,” analyzes the Federal Government report in an article dated September 30, 2014 by award-winning reporter Charles Ornstein….

Ornstein points out that the Federal Government’s “new trove of data” covers the period August to December 2013. He writes, “According to officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, companies spent a total of $3.5 billion during that period on 546,000 individual physicians and almost 1,360 teaching hospitals”.

Under the heading ‘Where Did the Payments Go?’, Ornstein provides the following breakdown of general payments (that drug companies make to physicians) by category. (Amounts in US dollars):

Royalty or licence payments – $302m; promotional speaking – $202.6m; consulting fees – $158.2m; food and beverage – $92.8m; travel and lodging – $74.1m; grants – $38.1m; education – $26.7m; honoraria – $25.5m; gifts – $19.2m; the balance of payments included space rental, charitable contributions and entertainment. (Payments excluded research or fees to physician owners of a company)…

He concludes, “Doctors were paid for more than 200,000 trips by companies in the last five months of the year…Their top destinations were Toronto, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona. Drug and device makers paid for doctors to travel to about 80 countries in all”.

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“An apple a day, if well aimed, keeps the doctor away.” –P.G. Wodehouse

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Ornstein also figures in an item CBS News ran on March 4, 2014. Headed ‘Does your doctor have ties to Big Pharma,’ the report states, “Big pharma routinely pays doctors to promote its products, but soon patients will be able to get a clearer picture about a doctor’s possible connections to the companies that make the drugs they may prescribe”.

The report continues, “The practice of pharmaceutical companies working with doctors to develop new medications to treat conditions and help promote those medications has been in place for decades, but Ornstein, who is investigating this practice, says, ‘The promotion part has gotten a lot of attention in recent years because drug companies have paid hundreds of millions and sometimes billions of dollars to settle lawsuits that have accused them of improper marketing and giving kickbacks to doctors’.”

The same report addresses the all-important issue of trust – trust between patient and doctor. As Ornstein points out, “When you go to your doctor, you trust that the doctor is giving the best medication for you, but there’s a lot of different interests that your doctor has to take in mind in prescribing you drugs”.

In response, Matthew Bennett, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, is reported by CBS News as saying the discovery of new and improved medicines is dependent on research collaborations between physicians and biopharmaceutical companies. “Clinical trials sponsored by biopharmaceutical companies have led to breakthroughs for people suffering from cancer and other life-threatening diseases”.

We don’t doubt there’s some truth to that, but it doesn’t address the concerns held by many – that it’s illegal to give kickbacks to doctors to prescribe drugs.

Of equal concern to us is that it is legal for pharmaceutical companies to give money to doctors to help promote their drugs. How tempting it must be for doctors to put impartiality aside when recommending certain drugs to patients. And how tempting it must be for unscrupulous doctors to recommend lesser or inferior drugs, knowing promotional payments – aka kickbacks – are on offer.

As Ornstein advised CBS News, “Some doctors make tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year beyond their normal practice just for working with the industry”.

Yes, you read that right: tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year beyond their normal practice.

Of course, this is nothing new. The practice has been around for ages, but we’ve limited the bulk of our research to cases dating back to the mid-2000’s.

One earlier case that caught our attention was reported by New York Times on March 3, 2009. Under the heading ‘Crackdown on Doctors Who Take Kickbacks,’ reporter Gardiner Harris writes, “Federal health officials and prosecutors, frustrated that they have been unable to stop illegal kickbacks to doctors from drug and device companies, are investigating doctors who take money for using these products”.

Harris states, “For years, prosecutors rarely pursued doctors because they believed that juries would sympathize with respected clinicians. But within a few months, officials plan to file civil and criminal charges against a number of surgeons who they say demanded profitable consulting agreements from device makers in exchange for using their products.

“The move against doctors is part of a diverse campaign to curb industry marketing tactics that enrich doctors but increase health care costs and sometimes endanger patients. Taken together, the new measures are likely to transform the relationship between medicine and industry”.

Harris concludes with a quote by the US attorney, Mr Sullivan, who said, “Officials hoped to send a strong message to doctors,” and “I have been shocked at what appears to be wilful blindness by folks in the physician community to the criminal conduct that corrupts the patient-physician relationship”.

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“Doctors put drugs of which they know little into bodies of which they know less for diseases of which they know nothing at all.” –Voltaire

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A Washington Post report that was picked up by media around the world in February 2015 points out that Americans spent $329 billion, or approximately $1000 per person, on prescription drugs in 2013. Quoting John Oliver, of the Last Week Tonight show as its source, the newspaper reports that nine out of the 10 big pharmaceutical companies spend less on research than on marketing. (A lot less as it turns out).

The report confirms that US television channels screen ads for pharmaceutical products that require a doctor’s prescriptions. It concludes with the following quote from Oliver: “Ask your doctor today if he’s taking pharmaceutical money (then ask) what the money is for…Then ask yourself if you’re satisfied with that answer”.

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Little mention has been made thus far of kickbacks physicians receive from medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers. As with the relationship between the pharmaceutical companies and doctors, business dealings between medical equipment representatives and doctors are worthy of scrutiny.

There’s no doubt that an honest relationship between these two parties makes for a win-win for all. There’s potential to progress science and technology, and to help ensure the health and safety of patients. However, the key word here is honest. For there is potential for fraud and abuse, and, as it turns out, some are taking advantage of this…

For a snapshot of just how widespread corruption is within the medical equipment supply sector, and unfortunately, amongst their clients within the medical profession, take a look at the website of New York trial lawyer John Howley, Esq. It lists numerous examples of historic kickbacks deemed illegal under the Anti-kickback Statute and subsequently successfully prosecuted.

These examples include the case of a physician and the owner of a medical supply company pleading guilty to a conspiracy to defraud Medicare by submitting false claims for power wheelchairs, a durable medical equipment (DME) supplier being imprisoned for paying kickbacks to co-conspirators for medical prescriptions and a doctor pleading guilty to accepting kickbacks from the makers of power wheelchairs and other DME…

Hopefully, this insight into doctors’ kickbacks from the likes of Big Pharma and the medical equipment suppliers hasn’t destroyed your faith in your family doctor. We stress that those who succumb to the temptations on offer are in the minority and so, statistically speaking, we’d like to think there’s a very small chance your doctor is one of the culprits.

However, if you are tempted to consider alternatives (to conventional medicine) then upcoming chapters on alternative health and natural medicine may well be of interest…

 

You have been reading an excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex. This top rating book is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

 

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Even more depressing than our ever-increasing reliance on drugs to combat high blood pressure is the overprescribing and over-use of antidepressants – especially where children are concerned.  We address this in our book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures, and we examine the role mainstream medicine plays in all of this.

 

An excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex  follows:

Statistically, there’s a very good chance you know someone who is taking Prozac or some other antidepressant right now. It may be a neighbor, or colleague, or a friend or family member, or, it may be you.

This no doubt has something to do with the readiness of people to talk about their depression or even their mental illness – conditions which, thankfully, are no longer burdened by stigma. It no doubt also has something to do with the widespread consumer acceptance of antidepressants as a solution for their depression.

According to some estimates, depression, that most common of mental illnesses, affects one quarter of all Americans.

A March 24, 2014 report in The Atlantic claims Americans are awash in pills. “The use of antidepressants has increased 400 percent between 1988 and 2008. They’re now one of the three most-prescribed categories of drugs, coming in right after painkillers and cholesterol medications”.

The situation, it seems, is little better elsewhere in the Western world. In the UK, for example, more than 50 million prescriptions for antidepressants are written every year if latest estimates are correct.

This figure is “staggeringly high,” according to an article in The Guardian dated April 13, 2014. It quotes Dr Matthijs Muijen, head of mental health at the World Health Organization Europe, as saying prescription levels have gone through the roof, claiming “There’s a degree of fashion about antidepressants”.

Dr Muijen admits his worry is “We are medicalising all forms of sadness in the belief that antidepressants are a safe drug that you just prescribe”.

In a report dated August 3, 2013, BBC News asks the question: “Is England a nation on anti-depressants?” It also asks why we are seeing “such huge and rising numbers of people” regularly taking anti-depressants when GPs are advised to prescribe them only for more seriously ill patients.

The report continues, “In some places the number of patients prescribed anti-depressants exceeds the number of people in that area estimated to suffer from depression and anxiety by the NHS England’s Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (PMS)”.

On June 21, 2013, Healthline News reported that a Mayo Clinic study found that nearly 70% of Americans are prescribed at least one medication, with antidepressants (along with antibiotics and opioids) topping the list.

The article quotes the National Alliance on Mental Illness as estimating one in four Americans experience a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, in a given year. “Typical first-line treatments for mental health issues are medication and some type of psychotherapy…Critics who say antidepressant medications are overused often claim there is a chicken-and-egg phenomenon, saying that antidepressants are prescribed for normal human reactions to life events, leading to a lasting diagnosis of mental illness”.

The article concludes, “However, as the public mindset continues to change, there’s now less stigma attached to getting help for mental disorders, which may help explain the rise in antidepressant use”.

“Suicide rates have not slumped under the onslaught of antidepressants, mood-stabilizers, anxiolytic and anti-psychotic drugs; the jump in suicide rates suggests that the opposite is true. In some cases, suicide risk skyrockets once treatment begins (the patient may feel not only penalized for a justifiable reaction, but permanently stigmatized as malfunctioning). Studies show that self-loathing sharply decreases only in the course of cognitive-behavioral treatment.”Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide

Predictably, the Psychiatric Times, whose audience is American psychiatrists and mental health professionals, doesn’t agree that antidepressants are overprescribed in the US. In an article dated September 1, 2014, that publication’s editor-in-chief Ronald W. Pies, MD, reports that, “by and large”, he doesn’t agree with the allegation that America has become a kind of Prozac Nation – a none-too-subtle reference to the title of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s 1994 memoirs perhaps.

“In many respects, the claim that ‘too many Americans are taking antidepressants’ is a myth,” according to Dr. Pies. “…To be sure: in some primary care settings, antidepressants are prescribed too casually; after too little evaluation time; and for instances of normal stress or everyday sadness, rather than for MDD (major depressive disorder),” he says.

“And, in my experience, antidepressants are vastly over-prescribed for patients with bipolar disorder, where these drugs often do more harm than good: mood stabilizers, such as lithium, are safer and more effective in bipolar disorder. But these kernels of truth are concealed within a very large pile of chaff”.

Dr. Pies continues, “For example, the media often report that antidepressant use in the United States has ‘gone up by 400%’ in recent years—and that’s probably true…But the actual percentage of Americans 12 years or older taking antidepressants is about 11%—a large proportion of the population, for sure, but not exactly Prozac Nation”.

So, though Dr. Pies – and by default Psychiatric Times and no doubt the majority of psychiatric professionals in the US – disputes the allegation that America has become a kind of Prozac Nation, there seems to be a reluctant acknowledgement that antidepressants are vastly over-prescribed for patients suffering one type of mental illness at least, and that it’s probably true that antidepressant use has risen 400% in the US.

If that doesn’t constitute a Prozac Nation, not sure what does…

Washington D.C. writer Brendan L. Smith, reporting on the American Psychological Association’s website in June 2012, reports that research shows that all too often, Americans are taking medications that may not work or that may be inappropriate for their mental health problems.

Smith observes that writing a prescription to treat a mental health disorder is easy, but it may not always be the safest or most effective route for patients, according to some recent studies and a growing chorus of voices concerned about the rapid rise in the prescription of psychotropic drugs.

“Today, patients often receive psychotropic medications without being evaluated by a mental health professional, according to…the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many Americans visit their primary-care physicians and may walk away with a prescription for an antidepressant or other drugs without being aware of other evidence-based treatments…that might work better for them without the risk of side effects”.

Smith quotes Steven Hollon, PhD, a psychology professor at Vanderbilt University, as saying at least half the folks who are being treated with antidepressants aren’t benefiting from the active pharmacological effects of the drugs themselves but from a placebo effect. “If people knew more,” Hollon says, “I think they would be a little less likely to go down the medication path than the psychosocial treatment path”.

Smith claims Prozac opened the floodgates. “Since the launch of Prozac, antidepressant use has quadrupled in the United States…Antidepressants are the second most commonly prescribed drug in the United States, just after cholesterol-lowering drugs”.

Smith also quotes Daniel Carlat, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University, as saying health insurance reimbursements are higher and easier to obtain for drug treatment than therapy, which has contributed to the increase in psychotropic drug sales.

“There is a huge financial incentive for psychiatrists to prescribe instead of doing psychotherapy,” Dr. Carlat says. “You can make two, three, four times as much money being a prescriber than a therapist”.

“As James Surowiecki noted in a New Yorker article, given a choice between developing antibiotics that people will take every day for two weeks and antidepressants that people will take every day forever, drug companies not surprisingly opt for the latter. Although a few antibiotics have been toughened up a bit, the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t given us an entirely new antibiotic since the 1970s.” -Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

 

You have been reading an excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex. Watch this space for our take on the prescribing of antidepressants to children. Meanwhile, you can find this book on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

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Is it our imagination or are the goalposts for high blood pressure ever changing?

We address this issue in book three of our Underground Knowledge Series — MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures. An excerpt from the book follows:

It doesn’t seem that long ago the “safe” systolic blood pressure (SBP) reading was your age + 100. So, for a 60-year-old, your SBP could be 160 over, say, 90 DBP (diastolic blood pressure) without your doctor suddenly becoming flustered and informing you a heart attack or stroke is imminent and immediately prescribing a lifetime course of BP medication.

Then the BP safety guideline dropped to 140 over 90. Imagine how many additional patients that little adjustment resulted in for doctors and medical centers. And perhaps more to the point, imagine how much in additional profits that yielded for the corner pharmacies and the big pharmaceutical companies.

Now all of a sudden – or since 2014 at least – the American Medical Association recommends drugs should be used to treat anyone aged 60 or over whose BP is 150/90 or higher.

That tidbit was gleaned from a February 5, 2014 article in JAMA, the Journal of the AMA. In that article, JAMA states the BP recommendation “is based on evidence statements…in which there is moderate- to high-quality evidence…that in the general population aged 60 years or older, treating high BP to a goal of lower than 150/90 mm Hg reduces stroke, heart failure, and coronary heart disease”.

Okay, so that’s a reversal of the downward trend we referred to, but it certainly fits the ‘moving goalposts’ analogy.

That said, we note the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that BP for an adult aged 20 years or over “should normally be less than 120/80” and if your reading is 140/90 or higher “your doctor will likely want you to begin a treatment program”. That’s according to AHA’s heart.org website.

By its reckoning, about one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Little wonder given its BP parameters.

Here in New Zealand, our homeland, the Heart Foundation’s BP guideline for healthy adults, according to its website at heartfoundation.org.nz, should be below 140/85.

Back to the American Medical Association’s take on blood pressure – commenting on AMA’s new guidelines, WebMD, which promotes itself as “America’s healthy living magazine,” confirms on its website the AMA guideline sets a higher bar for treatment than the current guideline of 140/90.

WebMD quotes guidelines author Dr. Paul James as saying the recommendations are based on clinical evidence showing that stricter guidelines provided no additional benefit to patients. “We really couldn’t see additional health benefits by driving blood pressure lower than 150 in people over 60 (years of age)…It was very clear that 150 was the best number”.

We wonder how that went down with the drug companies? Not too well, we suspect. The 10-point upward adjustment of the SBP reading is no doubt costing them millions. Or should that read billions?

Certainly, the revised BP guidelines didn’t go down too well, according to WebMD, which reports the AHA expressed reservations. It quotes AHA president-elect Dr. Elliott Antman as saying the AHA is concerned that relaxing the recommendations may expose more persons to the problem of inadequately controlled BP.

Apparently, the AHA’s concerns aren’t shared by American local government and social issues reporter Aaron Kase who is highly critical of what he describes as the over-prescription of blood pressure meds.

Kase came to our attention courtesy of the American law site Lawyers.com, which ran an article first posted in Medical Malpractice on August 27, 2012. In that article, Kase (the author) states that, according to a new study, tens of millions of people taking BP medication prescribed by their doctors may be consuming the drugs for no reason.

“The report, which was conducted independently from any drug company money or influence, found the vast majority of people who take meds for hypertension (high blood pressure) see no benefit from them, and do not show reduced levels of heart attack or stroke”.

The article continues, “According to the Center for Disease Control, some 1 in 3 adults in America, or 68 million people, have high blood pressure. However, for most of them the condition is considered mild. Historically, even those mild cases are prescribed medication; but the study says the drugs do no good for mild hypertension and could cause harm to patients through side effects”.

Kase reports there are dozens of different medications prescribed for high BP, spread across a number of categories – each with its own side effects, ranging from constipation, excessive hair growth, erection problems, rashes and fever to heart palpitations and other adverse reactions.

“A tall price to pay, if the drugs aren’t actually helping people live longer,” he says.

The writer concludes that, unfortunately, big drugs are big business, and wherever money is involved, motivations can come into question when medications are prescribed to people who might not need them.

Such claims aren’t new of course. On January 8, 2012, the UK’s The Observer reported the BP bar was set at 140/90 whereas 15 years earlier the threshold was 160/100.

And way back in June 2005, The Seattle Times reported that, in recent years, expert panels from prestigious medical-research organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) have called for lower thresholds for blood pressure – and, the report points out, “Behind each of those panels were the giant pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the new and expensive hypertension drugs”.

That report concludes, “The drug industry welcomed the new treatment guidelines and marketed them vigorously. Not surprisingly, as doctors followed the new guidelines and treated hypertension at lower readings, sales of the newer drugs increased”.

High BP is unquestionably a bigger problem in the West, and many experts attribute that to our higher consumption of salt.

This is touched on in The Observer article referred to earlier. It reports that Brazil’s Yanomami tribe, whose members eat a diet low in salt and saturated fat and high in fruit, have the lowest mean blood pressure of any population on earth – 95/61.

Nor, apparently, does their blood pressure increase with age. “By contrast, in the west, where people eat an average of 10-12 grams of salt per day, blood pressure rises with age by an average of 0.5mm Hg a year. That may not sound a lot, but over the average lifespan that is a difference of between 35 and 44mm Hg systolic”.

The article concludes that the most recent meta-analysis of trials involving more than 6000 people from around the world, found that a reduction in salt intake of just 2 grams a day reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 20%.

That may well be the case although we suspect that applies to everyday table salt and not to pure, unadulterated, unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt.

Even more depressing than our ever-increasing reliance on drugs to combat high blood pressure is the overprescribing and over-use of antidepressants – especially where children are concerned.

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

To read more about overprescribing blood pressure pills — and antidepressants too — you can find Medical Industrial Complex  on Amazon. Go to: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

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