In my most recent blog, I said I would quote past editors of the New England Journal of Medicine on their perceptions of the effect Big Pharma is having on the practice of medicine. Marcia Angell, M.D., editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine for 12 years said, "Physicians can no longer rely on the medical literature for valid and reliable information." Jerome Kassirer, M.D., another former editor of this prestigious journal said, "Financial ties between the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and device industries and the medical profession create conflicts of interest that can damage the integrity of medical information, threaten the well-being of people, (italics mine) and inappropriately raise the cost of care."
It's probably clear by now that by publishing, in respected medical journals trusted by most doctors, false reports of the results of clinical studies, big Pharma endangers the health of people who have medical conditions that a certain drugs are claimed to treat. One example is the Pravachol study in which that drug was claimed to reduce stroke risk by 19%. In fact, according to the pharmaceutical company's own data, women who took Pravachol actually had 26% more strokes than women who took placebo.
If you believe, as I do, that this and the other example I have written about are not isolated instances but part of a pattern of deceit and threat to your health, how to respond becomes a very interesting question. I think the first step, and a very important one, is to have a high index of suspicion before taking a pharmaceutical drug. If you just assume that the doctor prescribed a drug that will probably be safe and effective for you, you will probably get a prescription filled and swallow a dose right away. In that case, you may miss subtle clues that warn you that you are in danger. If you knew what the possible side effects are and you have one or more even to a mild degree, you would probably be more cautious about taking the next dose than you would be if you weren't noticing your response to the first one. The high index of suspicion is not an absolute protection but it is a strong first step in responding to the Big Pharma threat to your health. Learning all you can about side effects and listening carefully to what your body is telling you adds another layer of protection.
Here's a suggestion from Genevieve, my wife. Genevieve is an authority on health endangerment by Big Pharma. She is just beginning to recover from a severe adverse reaction to the drug, Reclast, last August. She lost 10 months out of her life, incapacitated by severe exhaustion and constant pain. Her suggestion is: Before you start taking a pharmaceutical, go to Google Advanced Search, pull up the drug you are about to take, and read about the risks and side effects. Google may also be able to find websites and blogs about harm people have sustained from taking that particular drug. This was certainly the case with Reclast.
In my next post I intend to write about another way Big Pharma threatens your health and the most powerful action you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.