I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Health "Care" Industry

Over the past two decades the pharmaceutical industry has moved very far from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs. ... Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the U.S. Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself.
~Marcia Angell,MD

My mother is 85 years old. She has had some cardiovascular difficulties and a history of high cholesterol. About nine months ago her doctor increased her dose of medication to reduce her cholesterol level. Almost at once her health started to deteriorate. The doctor ran multiple tests in an attempt to determine what was wrong with her all of which came up negative. All the time we told him that her problems started when he increased her medication but he continued to insist that the medication could not possibly be responsible. Finally about three months ago he agreed to take her off of the cholesterol medicine and within days her symptoms disappeared. She feels good and walks one or two miles a day, something unheard of a few months ago. This brings us to a must read article at alterNet:
How Scientific Is Modern Medicine?
The following is an excerpt from The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy, by Dana Ullman.
Conventional medicine adherents have consistently asserted that its methods are scientifically verified, and they have ridiculed other methods that are suggested to have therapeutic or curative effects. In fact, conventional physicians have consistently worked to disallow competitors, even viciously attacking those in their own profession who have questioned conventional treatments or provided alternative modalities.

And yet, strangely enough, whatever has been in vogue in conventional medicine in one decade has been declared ineffective, dangerous, and sometimes barbaric in the ensuing decades. Surprisingly, despite this pattern in history, proponents and defenders of "scientific medicine" tend to have little or no humility, continually asserting that today's cure is truly effective.

The good news about conventional medicine and one of its remarkable features for which it should be honored is its history of consistently and repeatedly disproving its own treatments. The fact that only a handful of conventional drugs have survived thirty or more years is strong testament to the fact that conventional medicine is honorable enough to acknowledge its mistakes.
So what is the truth about these "truly effective cures"?
Medical history uncovers an obvious pattern in the discovery and application of drug treatments. Initially, there is great excitement about a new drug's discovery. Research has seemingly proven its safety and efficacy and leads to widespread appreciation for the drug's ability to provide relief. Over time, there are minor concerns about the drug's side effects, until more research and clinical practice uncover more serious concerns about its side effects. Then, more research and clinical experience lead to more serious questions about the drug's real safety and efficacy, until there is general acknowledgment that the drug doesn't work as well as previously assumed, and there is recognition of an increasingly long list of serious side effects over time. However, these problems are not really problems because a new drug emerges, with short-term research that suggests it is a better drug after all. That is, until new research con- firms that it is neither as effective nor as safe as previously thought. And the cycle has continued like this for a century or more.

Like the fashion industry with its regular changes in style, the drug industry makes its profits on the newest drugs rather than on the older ones -- and not just any profits, but sickeningly high profits.

So go re-read the quote at the top of this post. There is a great deal of talk about the failures of the US health care system. The insurance companies that contribute nothing to health care and make a great deal of profit get much of the attention but the problem goes much deeper than that and even a single payer system won't fix it. The entire system is broken. That includes the pharmaceutical industry which is more about marketing and profit than it is about health care. Big pharma spends millions of dollars on TV advertisements for prescription drugs. Now they really don't expect most of these ads to actually sell drugs - it's primarily a way for them to slip some money to the TV networks in exchange for favorable editorial treatment. Big Pharma spends even more to sell physicians on the latest and most profitable cure and they have to make the profits quick because they never know how soon those cures will be shown to be ineffective or even hazardous. It would be easy to blame the physicians but thanks to the capitalist version of socialized medicine, HMO's, they work longer hours for less pay than they used to and they have those huge student loans to pay off.

The article goes on to point out that there is an alternative to the medical industry, homeopathic medicine. It is under constant attack by the "scientific" medical community and that attack is driven by the profit oriented medical industry. There not a huge profit to made selling fish oil and garlic which is what my mother is taking now to replace the Lipitor that was killing her. And of course there is the fight against medical marijuana.

Related Update
No. 1 Book, and It Offers Solutions

But here was the stunner: Vermonters who lived in towns with more aggressive care weren’t healthier. They were just getting more health care.


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