“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent”

Apparently, patients are losing trust in doctors and scientists.

Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer has decided to make the research behind medical treatments ‘much more transparent’ amid concerns that the public increasingly believe that doctors and medical scientists are “untrustworthy”. The reasons, she claimed, were that doctors over –medicate and prescribe medicines too freely, while scientists are distrusted because of Big Pharma funding.

A BBC ‘File on Four’ documentary on Alteplase, which breaks down blood clots seems to have prompted her action. According to The Times, stroke ‘expert’, Alistair Buchan has said that researchers should publish every figure behind their claims about whether or not a new drug is useful.

But, this move to transparency may not be quite what you or I really hope for. Buchan goes on to talk about negative comments in the media “putting stroke treatment back to where we started”.

Let’s get a few things straight. Peter C. Gotzsche, head of the prestigious Nordic Cochrane Centre has published a book entitled, “Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare”. In February there was a report from the FDA stating that at least 40 per cent of clinical trials were flawed, and recently Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-chief of the top rated medical journal, The Lancet, stated that much of the published research data on drugs is unreliable and at least half is false. “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

Gotszche notes that prescription drugs are the third largest cause of death in the Western world after heart disease and cancer.

Patients are right to have concerns.

The smart public knows this – we know that Big Pharma has spent years bribing and falsifying. Fraud seems second nature to some companies. In the last couple of years Glaxo has been hit with massive fines from America to China.

The added problem is that the hierarchy in medicine has made the doctor complicit, whether he is an ‘expert’ oncologist or a local GP.

Doctors – it’s your own fault patients don’t trust you any more. ‘All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent”.

Yes, we are concerned that you over-medicate. Polypharmacy (dishing out a cocktail of drugs to patients) is the number one cause of death in the state of Florida where the average age is higher than most other places. Thirteen drugs per patient is not uncommon. When did you ever see a clinical trial featuring thirteen drugs?!

But the bigger issue is the dismissive nature of many doctors. Offered statins by his doctor, a friend of mine asked about the side-effects. “There aren’t any” came the reply. “Well what about heart and muscle problems”. “They aren’t problems – we have tests for those”.

The doctor didn’t even consider talking about increased risks of diabetes.

I listen to patients offered Taxol and told there is nothing to worry about when they ask about side-effects. Yet German research presented at the European Breast Cancer Symposium a few years ago expressed real concerns on it causing cancer spread.

Meanwhile the same doctors tell patients not to take supplements, when there is no research on conflict. It’s not just that some doctors are corrupted by Big Pharma bribery. Their advice is a mess.

So, what is the answer? Unfortunately, Dame Sally is looking at ‘a proliferation of contradictory claims in the press and scientific journals’. There’s a possible next step.

Stop the media reporting that drugs might be dodgy. Then scientists and doctors will become trustworthy again. Brilliant!

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Stop Drugs Killing People for Profits!

It’s been a torrid couple of years for the drugs companies. For example, there was the Vioxx scandal, where an estimated 47,000 people lost their lives thanks to a drug; then in certain American states ‘polypharmacy’ (taking a cocktail of legally prescribed medicines) actually topped the ‘Cause of death’ charts above cancer and heart disease; next there was the revelation that in the New York Presbyterian Hospital 28 per cent of hospital admissions concerned older people falling ill from their drug cocktails; this comes hot on the heels of a seven-fold increase in deaths from taking cocktails of prescribed medicines with high profile stars like Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson included; then there was the report from the Poison Control Centers about the high levels of deaths from prescribed medicines (but interestingly none from taking vitamins or herbs) and recently we have had the $3 billion payment by Glaxo Smith Klein for various fraudulent practices, where the lawmakers attention was drawn by ‘whistleblowers’ who used to work for the company. Next up it could be Merck facing a similar scenario.

 Phew!

But do we have figures on deaths from Polypharmacy in the UK and Europe? Or large fines for similar fraudulent practices by drugs companies in the UK and Europe? Indeed, do we have the same level of vigilance? Surely these ‘dodgy’ practices, and levels of illnesses caused by drugs cannot be confined to America?

But there’s a bigger point: When do the pharmaceutical companies start putting people before profits and rather dubious and fraudulent practices? When do we get more responsible commentary – homeopathy is criticised by UK Skeptics in articles because as one claimed… “it wastes 4 million pounds that could be spent on safe and proven drugs”. Er…. Safe, by whose standards? Not the standards of Vioxx or Thalidomide, or even those of the thousands of people falling ill and dying from cocktails of drugs that have never been tested in such combinations with each other, surely?

While 10 billion dollars have been paid by drugs companies in ‘fines’ in the USA in recent years, nothing has yet happened in a similar vein in Europe or the UK. But we all use the same ‘safe and proven’ drugs.

 Avaaz is the world’s largest and most effective online campaigning community for change and they have launched a petition to try and establish some of the American controls in the UK and Europe. Read more, and sign the petition at:  https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Drug_Companies_Killing_for_Profits/?aqvhhab

 As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.’ Now’s the time to look at drugs and pharmaceutical company practices in Europe and do something about it!

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Junk Science 8

Here’s today’s quiz question:

In Florida, what is the number 1 cause of death?

You may guess that, in this American state with such a high senior citizen level, the answer would be heart disease or heart attacks or something like that?

You’d be wrong.

How about cancer –  shortly to be the number 1 cause of death in the Western World? After all, various official cancer bodies tell us that cancer rates are growing because it is an ‘old person’s disease’.

Wrong again. (And it is getting younger all the time.)

How about road accidents?

Wrong again.

Something to do with diabetes?

Wrong again

OK. It’s something weird – alligator bites?

Er. No.

The number 1 cause of death in Florida, which will shortly be the number 1 cause of death in America, is PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. You may know these by another name: You may call them ……. medicines.

Prescription drugs are the things pharmacologists rant on about as having ‘Research evidence’ to support their benefits; while of course telling all of us that natural compounds, herbs and vitamins ‘may be dangerous’. After all, the Nordic Cochrane Institute reviewed lots of research concerning people who bought vitamins and concluded they may not do any good at all, and may even cause harm. That made front page news all over the UK. There are even self-styled ‘quackbusters’ the barmy pharmy brigade, who poke fun like deranged schoolchildren behind the bike sheds at anything ‘complementary’ calling it all ‘non-evidenced based’.

Forgive me. But isn’t there a world of difference between ‘may cause you harm’, and being the actual number 1 cause of death’? Or have I missed something?

Anyway, regular readers will know that, I am hardly surprised that synthetic, deficient high street vitamins (which is, sadly, what most people take) are not as good as the real thing in natural foods or natural supplements. If you are going to buy a Thai copy of an authentic Gucci handbag, should you really be surprised when the handle drops off? High street ‘vitamins’ are most usually synthetic and thus on their way to being drugs anyway. Many do not actually contain the whole natural compound as in vitamin E, or beta-carotene for example. May not do any good? May even cause harm? It’s possible.

The braying  ‘quackbusters’ also fervently believe that a supplement cannot be medicine any more than food can. When did a vitamin ever cure anything?

Er. Scurvy with vitamin C; Rickets with vitamin D, burns with aloe vera, and a few hundred more.

Here’s your next quiz question: What do Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Anna Nicole Smith and now Whitney Houston have in common?

Ah, you guessed it – they all died having taken a cocktail of prescription drugs. Sorry, medicines. Some were aided and abetted by a game of squash, some alcohol, a non-prescription drug or nothing at all.

So what is going wrong?

Well firstly there are doctor prescribed medicines and there are over-the-counter medicines, which you are clever enough to ‘self-medicate’. Whether you have any of the former or not, you are free to take the latter as you wish. Cough mixture, pain-killers, anti-histamines, antacids and the rest.

In Whitney’s case the hotel suite she died in contained virtually empty bottles of an anti-depressant Xanax, the painkiller Ibuprofen, Midol for menstrual cramps and Amoxicillin, an antibiotic. There is also a rumour being investigated that she may have taken a vitamin supplement last year.

A couple of years ago at CANCERactive, we covered the story of a seventy-something lady found unconscious and bleeding from the mouth on her apartment floor in New York. She was rushed to hospital – it was discovered she had a burst stomach ulcer and she survived. She was taking various heart medications, other medicines to stop the side effects, then she developed a cough so added more pain-killers, cough mixtures, and an antacid because her stomach was playing up. No wonder. She was taking a total of 13 drugs. (Sorry, medicines.)

We also covered the story that Dr Stern of the New York Presbyterian Hospital had noted that a lot of older people were coming into A&E at the hospital suffering from a ‘drug overdose’; sorry medicine overdose. So he totted up the numbers and found that 28 PER CENT OF ALL ADMISSIONS AT THE HOSPITAL WERE DUE TO TAKING A COCKTAIL OF DRUGS (Sorry, medicines).

Since there was no ‘official’ disease he decided to give it a name – POLYPHARMACY – in the hope that authorities would take notice.

We now know that both admissions and deaths from polypharmacy have grown seven fold in the last 5 years in America. And, make no mistake, this problem is coming to a town near you in England right now.

How many of these medicines actually cure? How many tackle the root cause of the illness? I would think about two thirds of all newly diagnosed cancer patients who write to us at CANCERactive first fell ill about 6 years ago and were given a variety of medicines including antibiotics. Most are still taking the lot. So now they have a double problem – they still have the original illness PLUS a daily drug habit. Is it any surprise these people develop cancer?

At CANCERactive we were approached by a lady with oesophageal cancer who had had a stomach problem which started ten years previously. She was given a drug (sorry, medicine), which she took consistently for ten years. The original illness never went away. We looked up the drug on the internet – NOT TO BE TAKEN FOR MORE THAN 6 MONTHS. Can cause acid reflux.

She died. The doctor described the cause of her cancer as ‘Just bad luck’.

Maybe she was also taking those dangerous vitamins. She certainly didn’t visit a naturopath who might have been able to cure her IBS properly.

The fact is that Joe Public doesn’t have the first clue about ‘medicines’. Anything synthetic can have side-effects. But if you have to take more drugs to quell the side-effects, shouldn’t you be asking the question: Is the drug really safe in the first place? No one ever seems to ask this.

A few years ago in my advertising days I developed a stabbing pain in the stomach, lasting 3 days and every six or so weeks. Harley Street’s finest did even medical test known. Their solution was to suggest giving me a drug which would cut the acid production. I said no to this because I could not see how I would ever be able to come off the drug.

It was a good job I didn’t take it. Six months later it was banned. A friend who worked with natural supplements a couple of years later suggested I had a parasite. Sure enough I did. I took some herbs – end.

But of course, drugs are ‘evidenced-based’ unlike those dodgy vitamins. But why do clinical trials quantify the benefit, but not the side-effects? Surely measuring safety is a crucial pert of a drug trial. Why don’t Governments publish tables – we get them for schools in the hope that tables will embarrass the failures and improve standards of education. Why can’t we do the same for drugs in the hope that those with side-effects are ‘outed’ in the same way? Why can’t the scientists who develop the drug and the pharmacologists who study its action be more precise and even accountable?

Breast cancer rates fell seven per cent in America a couple of years ago. Why? Better diagnosis and better drugs (the usual industry claimed rubbish)?  No. Women read about the dangers of the drug HRT and vast numbers stopped taking it. But it took an independent study to tell them about the level of the side-effects; side-effects that had been reported and ignored in the Boston Nurses Study some 12-15 years before. 

It is now NOT COOL to take drugs, of any form. The fans of Michael, Elvis and the rest know this. The only people who argue for their widespread use are people who make a living working in and around the pharmaceutical industry. And doctors, who know about little else. Worryingly, in America some doctors make large sums of money out of group practices having their own pharmacy. If a new cancer drug costs $100,000 a year ,imagine the profit to the group practice. Are they going to stop prescribing the drug? There have already been court cases in America involving financial ‘incentives’ to prescribe one drug over another!

In the coming weeks I will be looking at the truth about clinical trials on drugs. There is no doubt that some drugs do a decent job. But. Suffice it to say here that 85 per cent of drugs have not gone through clinical trials, the placebo effect (often used against complementary therapies) is just as prevalent in Pharmaceutical Research, and maybe we should all worry more about just how many drugs are actually imported from China and third world countries with even the FDA admitting that less than 3 per cent are checked for purity and efficacy at source or on importation.

Should doctors be allowed by law to prescribe more than two drugs at a time, given there is rarely any  clinical research on these cocktails of drugs? Should you even be allowed to take more than two drugs at a time given there is no research on mixing, for example, a statin with an anti-histamine with an antibiotic? Should every pharmacy have warning signs? We could use the line,  ‘These drugs may not be effective and may even cause harm’.

It just seems ever so slightly loopy that you can pop into the tobacconist and buy your cigarettes, then go to the high street pharmacy to buy pain-killers, anti-histamines, antacids and cough mixtures which you are legally allowed to self-medicate, and you can then sit in the coffee shop and be bombarded by WiFi and EMF’s even though EuroMPs have passed a damning resolution against them. Meanwhile natural supplements and herbs are treated as health terrorists and all but banned; you cannot self-medicate these – they are far too dangerous and you are clearly too stupid to avoid that well known disease ‘Vitamin abuse’.

So, there we have it. Did the dodgy vitamin that Whitney took last year play a role in her death? Or was it the equally dangerous yoga class three months before?  

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