Discussions about Holistic Health and Alternative Medicine.
I have some questions.
Is the education that doctors receive influenced or controlled in any way by the pharmaceutical industry? If so, to what degree?
Who funds the medical schools that doctors go through? And how trustworthy and objective are they? How do we know they are free of greed, lies, and corruption? What's the proof?
Many assume (perhaps subconsciously) that the medical establishment, FDA, CDC, etc. are institutions that are uncorrupted and free of greed, lies or manipulation. They are assumed to be paragons of truth and objective science which hold consumer protection as the highest ideal, not profit. And of course, the mass followers assume that authority=truth because they are programmed that way and unable to think for themselves.
But how much actual truth is there to these assumptions?
There are claims that big pharma execs can work for the FDA and CDC, thus infiltrating them. Is that true? What's to prevent that from happening? What are the safeguards that keep the FDA and CDC free from corruption?
Here is a damning example:
Most doctors and MD's know nothing about natural remedies. For example, thousands claim that apple cider vinegar works very well in removing warts (do a google search and you'll find that people are unanimous about this). Yet most doctors don't know about this. Instead, they prefer to prescribe expensive medicines and drugs with nasty side effects. Why? If many natural home remedies work just as well, why don't doctors ever recommend them?
Isn't the most logical conclusion that the pharmaceutical companies can't make any money off of natural remedies, and so they do not educate doctors about them?
What's the truth about all this?
Also, didn't Mike Wallace prove long ago that the CDC execs can and do deliberately lie? In this report about the 1976 swine flu hysteria on "60 Minutes", Wallace caught the CDC director LYING red handed about a number of things.
Doesn't that prove that the CDC is not the paragon of truth and integrity that we assume it is?
Finally, why is it that skeptics NEVER have any skepticism/criticism of the pharmaceutical industry?
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Why do you think skeptics are never skeptical about the pharmaceutical industry? I have you ever listened to the podcast Quackcast? For example? The host is one of the docs over at Science Based Medicine and he's talked several times about the way pharmaceutical companies try and influence doctors: through presentations accompanied by free food for example.
There are plenty of court cases out there showing where pharmaceuticals have put forward unsafe drugs where the risks don't match the rewards. So sure there's some nasty stuff out there.
On the other hand: there is some great work out there too- probably most of it. Pharmaceutical companies have to back up their claims through scientific studies. You can search pubmed for all sorts of studies.
And of course the government agencies overseeing all of this are not perfect - few humans are.
We should treat medications skeptically: when my doctor wants to prescribe me or my family some medication that I'm not familiar with, I ask a lot of questions about risks/rewards, etc. I'll look it up on the internet as well.
As for apple-cider vinegar or for curing warts: I've never had warts and don't know about this. A brief internet search certainly has a lot of people saying it works. Let's say it does work: how do you know doctors don't recommend it? Have you asked your doctor about it? Maybe they do recommend it? If they don't recommend it, perhaps there are good reasons.
Vinegar works wonders in many different ways. Apple cider vinegar can cure a multitude of medical problems. However, vinegar is now sort of bastardized in the production process to make it look more appealing so if you want to try it, make sure that it's natural and not processed. The processed stuff off the grocery store shelf will work in many cases but the best stuff looks sort of cloudy.
That said, here is my two cents on your original question:
I'd venture to guess that education here is influenced by big pharma. I don't know about 'controlled' but there is always that possibility. All of the reports and the marketing of drugs comes from the pharma business, so the influence is always going to be there.
I really doubt this since humans are involved. Even if the FDA and the CDC have somehow found the most 'honest' people in the world, it doesn't mean that the information they are given by big Pharma is always accurate.
Let's stick with wart removal as an example. Different companies have chemical treatments on the market to remove warts. They are tested and approved by the FDA for use. They are proven to work. Well, so does cider vinegar but it doesn't get the mass marketing like the 'medical equivalent'. Vinegar companies don't have the research required to make the claim. All they are concerned about is how much better your food is going to taste when it is added to a recipe.
Secondly, if you decide to treat a wart with vinegar, you have already assumed that it's a garden variety wart. Not having a doc look at the thing to determine the type of growth it is can put your health at risk. Here is an example of what I am talking about. My mom had a small growth on her temple decades ago when I was a kid. It looked like a skin tag or a wart. She ignored it until it became a vanity issue and decided to have a doc remove it. Turned out it was a tumor. The small visual bump was nothing but the tumor had grown internally with undetectable 'legs', imagine a spider. Removal of this thing wasn't simple and one of the 'legs' grew into nerves in her face and yes, the tumor was cancerous. Had she ingored it much longer, it would have been a real problem.
Fast forward about 40 years and the wart like bump is back in the same spot. What does mom do??? She treats the darned thing with vinegar, then proceeds to tell me how she got rid of this thing 'again' without surgery. Not good.
Nice post Ninja, you should post more often (ie: more than just welcoming new members)!
The stealthy K-9 is spot on with most of what he's pointed out but I must add to things just a bit here...
For some time I did rather well doing shows for the Pharmaceutical industry, specifically Ely Lilly and their parent company in Japan. They hosted dinners for medical professionals so as to "introduce"them and "educated" them on new treatments/medicines developed by their firm. In reality, these mixers were sales pitches complete with all kinds of give away materials... and we're not talking about pens & t-shirts but in some cases, lap top computers and other high end items, vacations, etc. All of it a tool used to influence doctors to use their product... to encourage patience but primarily, to get them to prescribe their treatments over that of their competitors.
Much of this marketing format has been outlawed across the country after many long years of court argument. Pharm companies can't even give away pens and mouse pads these days... nothing with their logo outside information packs and a bullet-point FAQ card.
Nonetheless, there are those situations in actual training, where MDs and RNs are exposed to a somewhat toned down sales pitch, but it's more of a "this vs. that" kind of thing in which the playing field is levels a bit and the student is forced to look at which brand of a particular treatment would be based for a patient based on their personal situation. For an example, Claritan does not work for everyone the same way, so you may have to prescribe Allegra instead because each patient is different and there is no such thing as a blanket treatment that works for everyone.
Ninja Puppy pointed out another important point re: "Home Remedies"... you'd best know what you're getting into and how to PROPERLY use things. There are certain Vinegars that can kill you vs. heal you... strength of acidity being the key and knowing how to judge which level of strength will work best in your case is kind of hit or miss on one level, but at the same time it requires a good amount of basic chemistry understanding; ESPECIALLY if the patient is taking other treatments (even herbal).
I've been a big one for home remedies for years, but I learned the hard way that you must blend that discipline with traditional medicine to get the best overall results.
Thanks. I've been uber busy the past few months but things are starting to wind down a bit for me.
You know what they say, "too much of a good thing can kill you". From the commercials that I see on television, Big Pharma has formulated a pill for everything. A new pill is now for gout. Here, take this pill and your gout will get better. How about changing your damned diet? Geesh!
I often wonder how many medical problems could be controlled by a better diet, more exercise and a minor lifestyle change rather than a bajillion bucks for pills with almost certain side effects. It baffels the mind.
I'm overweight. Everytime I go to my doctor, he tells me I'm not getting any younger, and that if I don't start eating better and exercising more I will be at high risk for diabetes, high blood pressure,etc. He tells me this every time. But if I get diabetes or high blood pressure, even though I could have prevented it, I still want the meds!
If you've never suffered from Gout, don't joke about! It's freak'n painful!
It's not as much diet as it is how your system can process things. Most people with gout issues have had a history of kidney stones and/or kidney and/or bladder injuries. I've dealt with all the above + the effects of driving long distances and how that subtly jars your kidneys and digestive tract. But as far as pills for gout, I've used .6 mg of Colchicine for years at the on-set of symptoms and rarely have to take more than 3 doses of it before the gout is gone and it generally stays gone for months. I'm certain this "new" pill they are advertising is a variant to said drug that's simply been modified a bit and repackaged so the producers could charge far more on it while likewise appealing to the hypochondria syndrome America (especially) is now in. It we could find a cure for Pharmaceutical & Insurance Company Greed as well as that of Doctors & Hospitals, I be we would no longer be dealing with the myriad of conditions and illnesses we hear advertisers guilting us over each night. Then again, I'd love to know just how much of the new meds being sold to the American consumer are anything more than sugar pills with some sort of addictive additive tossed in for the sake of creating dependency???
They might not call is "Soma" but take a look around
That's what I'm talkin' about! They came out with that weight loss pill, "Alli". It's supposed to block fatty foods from being absorbed into your system. It says, with this pill and a 'sensible' diet, you'll lose weight. Heck, the sensible diet will do that without a pill that causes wicked diarrhea to boot. It has the same effect as eating less and eating a handful of prunes with each meal. Then there is the new pill for insomnia, "Lunesta". Another wicked set of side effects when cutting caffeine consumption might do the same thing.
Both of these things can be avoided by some with a proper diet and exercise but family history usually is what determines your fate. I have what has been diagnosed as 'malignant high blood pressure'. More than likely due to family history as well as other influences such as being a smoker. I know that 10 extra pounds can make it or break it with my BP numbers. If I lose weight, my BP drops way too low with my meds but in a matter of a few weeks it will skyrocket back up when the doc cuts back the script. I eat fairly healthy food, my cholesterol is good, no blockages etc. The blood pressure just has a mind of it's own.
As one with horrid insomnia I do have to take Sonata or Ambien on occasion. The irritant to it all is how the FDA pull L-Triptophane from the shelves some years back (a naturally occurring chemical that you find in Turkey and Milk... it's what makes you sluggish after eating Turkey on Thanksgiving, for an example). Yet, we see that very same "drug" in many of the new "remedies" hitting the shelf. Seems that once the old wives remedies are proven to work beyond a shadow of doubt the chemical companies scoop them up, keep us from being able to get our mits on them (legally) and then send them back out at 15-30 times greater cost than originally...
Heb Teas, Cutting Back on Caffeine, etc. are great and logical starters, but when you have a person like me that can take Ambien and still stay up all night... I don't think those other factors are going to be as effective.
Yes, there are many drugs that have their place in this world. Your above example is a perfect scenario in which something (L-Triptophane) was available and worked fine, yet is constantly replaced with "New and Improved" concoctions that may or may not be better. Not to mention usually at a much higher cost in both $$$ and side effects. But you really hit the nail on the head when you said, As one with horrid insomnia I do have to take Sonata or Ambien on occasion. We all need a little something 'on occassion' regardless of the problem but Big Pharma likes it more when we start to think that we need them permanantly.
I'm not ragging on about the meds that have worked wonders to increase the quality of life for many. It's more the way that pills are pushed as a quick fix by doctors on those who may benefit more from a slight change in diet or exercise. Many of the minor dilemmas of life are caused by allergies. Instead of taking the time to figure out the problem, it's easier to combat the problem with a pill. If the source is never identified, it becomes a vicious cycle. Our lives are now full of chemicals in our homes and our foods. Some get there naturally and some are added for marketing value and increased profit. If I am not mistaken, many of the chemical additives are also created by Big Pharma. They like to get you coming and going.
I'm not going to disagree with a lot of that Ninja: there's no question a lot of that is going on. On the other hand: while Big Pharma (oooohhhhhhh) has been racking in the profits: they've also been systematically eliminating some of the NASTIEST enemies mankind faces. People are living longer and better lives due to these drugs.
We've got to put this in perspective!
And a lot of these abuses can be controlled by simply asking questions. When a drug is prescribed to you: ASK what it does? Ask if there are cheaper or generic verstions? If its the newest version ASK if the old (cheaper) pill would do the trick.
Also, its hilarious that the same people who would shun these BIG PHARMA evil medicines, will also go to the drug store and buy some useless homepathic product or natural supplement (probably not coverred by a drug plan) and - here's the kicker - they're all made by the same companies! Big Pharma is right into the alt-med market!
Plus in trying to avoid BIG-PHARMA people get suckered into all sorts of useless products - and sometimes dangerous. They read "all-natural" and assume they can take it, in whatever combination, with whatever condition. They forget that oodles and oodles of medicines are "all natural" and come from plants etc that are just out there.
Big Pharma is also a Big Employer, keeping a lot of people - including many many scientists who should be supported.
Can they be evil at times. Sure, big companies can get that way. But we need to put this in perspective.
And ASK QUESTIONS!!!!!!
Arouet - I am not saying that medical research and progress is a bad thing. Nor am I saying that Big Pharma is evil or anything like that. Many of us would be long dead without their contribution.
The OP was "Are doctors' education corrupted/controlled by big pharma?" IMO, the answer would be 'yes'. At the same time I feel that we also will take the easy way out (pills) to control many conditions that can also be taken care of with a few simple and non-prescription (diet & exercise) changes to our lifestyle.
I am not an advocate of homeopathy or holistic cures either. I am against the common practice of docs prescribing non-essential meds for borderline problems that can be reversed by other means. Misuse of these meds is another problem that has nothing to do with this topic but in many cases it can be avoided by not going for the quick fix from the start. Also in that not so great category is self medication without a proper diagnosis.
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