Doctors and drug companies: too close for comfort? Did you know that most doctors have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that can directly influence what drugs they prescribe to patients? Some questionable tactics used by the pharmaceutical industry are geared to increase THEIR profits at the expense of YOUR health and wallets.
When we go to the doctor, we go with the belief that they have our best interests at heart. And for the most part, they do.
But unfortunately, among the chaos and confusion of the current health care system, the pharmaceutical industry is turning doctors into "middle men" that should have you thinking twice before agreeing to prescription drugs.
Big Pharma and Your Physician
Recent drug scandals (like the Vioxx lawsuit) have brought to light the conflicting interests at play between consumers, physicians and the pharmaceutical industry.
Pharmaceutical companies sway doctors to prescribe their drugs using a variety of tactics, including:1
- Free small gifts like pens, notepads and water bottles.
- Free meals at the office or restaurants. Usually a drug rep will talk about the benefits of a new drug during these meals, or they will just drop off pertinent literature while the office staff eats.
- Free drug samples. Drug reps give out billions of dollars worth of free samples to doctors each year, especially for more expensive drugs. Once a patient starts on a drug, they tend to stay on it, even if it is more expensive than a comparable brand.
- Attractive and personable sales reps. Doctors admit that if one rep is nicer than another, they will prescribe that rep's drug, all else being equal.
- Paid consultancies for no specific work, published articles, board appointments, and paid speaking engagements are other ways that the pharmaceutical industry financially rewards doctors who prescribe their drugs.
- Travel and entertainment. These tactics are becoming less acceptable, but lavish "meetings" take place at resorts where big pharma picks up the tab.
Overall, pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $13,000 per year per physician on marketing and promotions.2
From an industry standpoint, estimates show that promotions and marketing cost the pharmaceutical industry $27 to $57 billion a year in the United States alone. World wide, estimates are as high as $739 billion!3
The medical field claims to voluntarily regulate their involvement with big pharma, but the obvious conflict of interest has begun to pose major problems and result in patient deaths.
You probably remember the highly publicized cases involving Vioxx, antidepressants for children, and spinal implants made by Medtronic. These drug company scandals occurred because doctors over-prescribed some medicines AND because drug companies withheld negative side effects about others.
The most significant outcome wasn't that one drug company profited more than another based on superior marketing; the real significance was that patients died unnecessarily.
You see, doctors are in many ways only as informed as drug companies want them to be, and even though physicians mean well, they frequently lack the time they need to really examine the drugs that are available and are sometimes motivated by the money.
Recently, however, the Journal of the American Medical Association featured an article that contains a call to action, asking doctors, medical schools and the pharmaceutical industry to re-examine their ties. This call to action asks all parties to do a better job of policing these connections, to be more informed and to provide unbiased information to their patients.
Still, as a consumer, it's in your best interest to take an active role in your health care decisions. With second opinions and resources like the Internet, it's getting easier for consumers to take charge of their health.
Big Pharma and YOU
If you're a regular reader of the Body Ecology Newsletter, then you've probably realized that we have a healthy appreciation for doctors and health care providers. At the same time, we also urge you to look at your reasons for taking antibiotics, prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.
For the most helpful and in-depth insights on your nutrition and health, sign up now for the FREE Body Ecology Newsletter. You'll also get a BONUS GIFT worth $14.95 FREE!.
While many drugs are life saving, ALL drugs have a positive and a negative side to them. And prescriptions taken over a long period of time have harmful affects on your health. To learn more, read: How this All-Too-Common Habit is Making Your Blood Dangerously Acidic.
Our society finds it infinitely easier to pop a pill for any ailment, rather than addressing the root cause of the symptom or symptoms. This applies to everything from minor symptoms to chronic disorders, whether physical or emotional.
Prescription drugs, though, are often not the best or only answer. The first and foremost step is assessing your diet and improving it. Add proper sleep, some daily sunshine and exercise, and then see if your symptoms don't disappear. A gluten-free, casein-free, sugar-free antifungal diet often solves even long term health issues like diabetes, obesity, autism and heart problems. Tests and visits to your holistically-oriented physician can confirm this.
The current allopathic approach of Western medicine, combined with the confusion of competing drug companies, means that the real loser in all of it is most often the patient.
While prescription drugs can be necessary and beneficial in some cases, it's best to educate yourself about their oftentimes significant side effects...side effects that even your physician might not even be aware of.
It may be easy to point fingers and place blame: the health care system, doctors, pharmaceutical companies...but that's a recipe for sapping your energy and well being.
Instead, take charge of your own health. Seek out second opinions...including options that are more natural and more tuned into nature. Do your due diligence. And more importantly, focus on prevention. The 7 Principals of the Body Ecology way of life will lead you to the answers you need to be well. The Principal of Cleansing to remove the many toxins our cells are storing and the Principle of Acid/Alkaline to balance the acid/alkalinity of our blood are too musts to focus on. The Principle of Step By Step tells you want to do first and how quickly you step towards wellness. Very importantly, The Principle of Uniqueness reminds us that no one diet, exercise routine or even drug fits all. You are an experiment of one when it comes to what works in YOUR body.
Following a healthy eating plan, such as the Body Ecology program which you will discover in the acclaimed FREE Body Ecology newsletter, can do wonders for boosting your natural immunity and health.
The Body Ecology system takes a preventative approach to heatlh and healing. Learn to use healing foods to help your body NATURALLY regain health. You'll find more information about fermented foods and drinks, probiotics, and plenty of other recipes in The Body Ecology Diet, by Donna Gates.
The New Wave: Integrative Medicine
Across the nation, though, doctors are realizing that 10 minute visits and multiple prescriptions are not the answer to the obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), cancer, and arthritis epidemics.
More and more doctors, prompted by demand from patients, are recognizing that proper diet, exercise, and rest, and alternative therapies can often heal patients more effectively than the band-aid offered by prescription drugs.
I see this demand for better health care as I watch the parents of our BEDROK group. Their children have autism but did not when they were born. The vaccines have played a key role in the lost of their child, and they are highly suspicious of the medical profession, the CDC and the drug companies. They are a formidable group and are leaving no stone unturned. Bright, well educated and successful at what they do, our parents question, doubt, challenge and compare results and information. Working right beside them with the same dedication are the doctors in organizations like Defeat Autism Now and USAAA (US Autism and Asperger's Association). Many of these doctors have an up-close-and-personal interest in what's happening to our children because they, too, have an autistic child. They don't want them on drugs either. These open-minded, open-hearted physicians are changing the face of medicine and the American Pediatric Association is watching them closely. After all, they are providing the kind of care parents really want!
The Body Ecology program advocates healing your body using food as your medicine, both for treatment AND prevention.
Using the wisdom of our bodies and Nature, our 7 Universal Principles, and our fermented foods Body Ecology will help you create and restore true health and vitality from before birth and beyond. We are unique because of our focus on digestion and rebuilding immunity with fermented foods. We show you how to establish your inner ecosystem by populating your intestines with microflora (healthy bacteria and yeast) that keep you healthy and strong.
Body Ecology's fermented foods and drinks are packed with beneficial microflora. These probiotics can boost your immunity and help prevent the root cause of imbalances that lead to illness and disease.
Talk with your doctor about an integrative approach to your health, and keep in mind that there ARE good doctors out there too.
work hand-in-hand with your holistically-oriented doctor or naturopath. Together they can provide you with a team of experts to help you heal and stay well. But remember, YOU are responsible for YOU.
Create your own call to action and let's work together to change the face of medicine: let your friends and family know about the conflict of interest at play in the pharmaceutical industry. Pass this article on to them so that they too can make better choices.
- Brennan, Dr. Troyan, et al, "Health Industry Practices That Create Conflicts of Interest," JAMA. 2006;295:429-433.
- Gagnon, Marc-André, Lexchin, Joel, "The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United States," PLoS Med, 3 Jan 2008.
Campbell, Eric G et al., "Institutional Academic-Industry Relationships," JAMA. 2007;298:1779-1786. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/298/15/1779
Connolly, Ceci, "Distance Sought Between Doctors and Drug Industry," Washington Post, 25 Jan 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/24/AR2006012401483.html
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