Drugs and truth

I was not looking for this kind of a book last time we were at the library, I was just browsing slowly, trying to help Baby Blab to go to sleep.

And then I saw it, it grabbed my attention and I plopped it on top of the pile of books we had designated to cart back home – usually quite a sizable load.

What an eye opening read this was. I was already quite suspicious of the drugs being flung here and there for just about any ailment (real or not) under the sun. I didnt need any convincing to keep them away from my and my loved ones’ bodies. But this cemented my view with quite a lot of substance.

This book goes into quite a lot of detail about the pharmaceutical business – its set up, premise, wheelings and dealings, influence and tentacles probed deep into just about every crevice of the government and medical establishment. Its about the abuse of tax payer money, that are funding the vast majority of research into discovering drugs, which are later sold back to them at exuberant prices. About the lack of innovation on the part of the drug companies themselves. Its about the diseases they sell us and a whole heap of disturbing facts surrounding the industry. The author, Marcia Angell, M.D., is the former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine and as one would expect, her claims are well backed up and palatable for the mind. This aint some crazed drug rep, scorned by an untimely dismissal a girl that didnt want to put out on the second date.

I will not even attempt to give you a short version of “The Truth About the Drug Companies”, you just need to read the whole lot, as its all connected and part of the big picture.

But here are a few quotes:

“The ALLHAT study was eight years long and involved over 42,000 people at more than six hundred clinics, the largest clinical trial of the treatment of high blood pressure ever done. It compared four types of drugs: ..Norvasc, the fifth best selling drug in the world in 2002; …Cardura, and also sold generically as doxazosin; an angiotensin-converting-enzime (ACE) inhibitor – sold by AstraZeneca as Zestril and by Merck as Prinivil..; and a generic diuretic (*water pill”) of type that has been on the market for over fifty years.

The results, reported in 2002 in The Journal of the American Medical Association, were startling. To nearly everyone’s surprise, the old time diuretic turned out to be just as good for lowering blood pressure, and actually better for preventing some of the devastating complications of hight blood pressure – mainly heart disease and strokes…

Yet over the years the newer drugs had largely supplanted diuretics as treatment for high blood pressure. “

And:

“…Prozac lost its patent protection in August 2001 and is now sold as generic fluoxetine at about 80 percent less than it used to cost..

But that doesn’t mean Eli Lilly just gave up. It tried to stay in the SSRI business by patenting a weekly dosage form of Prozac. And in a move even more audacious than the switches from Prilosec to Nexium or from Claritin to Clarinex, it renamed Prozac Sarafem, colored it pink and lavender, and got FDA approval to market it for “premenstrual dysphoric disorder,” its term for severe premenstrual symptoms. Same drug, same dose, but priced three and a half times higher than generic Prozac at my local pharmacy.”

Most people will find it hard to look at this information with clarity. It is hard to shake off billions of dollars spent on making us believe we need all these drugs, bribing and ‘educating’ our doctors and supporting the most powerful lobby groups in Washington.

I know you wont run out and read this book, but will you at least pay attention to this – the author’s advise on how to protect your interests. When your doctor is suggesting a certain drug for you, how about asking a few simple questions, before putting it into your body:

” What is the evidence that this drug is better than an alternative drug or some other approach to treatment?

Has the evidence been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal? Or are you relieing on information from drug company representatives?

Is this drug better only because it is given at a higher dose? Would a cheaper drug be as effective if it were given at an equivalent dose?

Are the benefits worth the side effects, the expense, and the risk of interactions with other drugs I take?

Is this a free sample? If so, is there a generic drug or an equivalent drug I can use that is cheaper when the free samples run out?

Do you have any financial ties with the company that makes this drug? For example, do you consult for the company? ..Are you being paid to put me on this drug and enroll me in a drug company study? Do you make time for visits from drug company representatives?”

Feel funny about it? Dont. Its your body and health at stake, dont allow it to be used and abused for the sake of profits. It doesnt help drug companies and doctors when you are healthy, think about it. They dont have interest in your health. You do.

And to finish a serious post, here is the same message, but with a smile: