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Drugs

Over The Counter Drugs

 

 

 

 

Psychiatric Insanity

 

 

 

 

 

 

FDA-approved prescription drugs kill 290 Americans every single day, meaning that for mass shootings to approach that number, you'd have to see a Colorado Batman movie massacre take place EVERY HOUR of every day, 365 days a year.

 

Or, you'd have to see a jumbo jet airliner with hundreds of passengers crash into the ground every single day in America. That's how dangerous doctors and FDA-approved prescription medications really are.

 

Americans take more prescription drugs than anyone else on the planet. According to the CDC, approximately 750,000 Americans are rushed to the emergency room each year because of reactions to prescription drugs.  At least 200,000 Americans each year end up dying from reactions to prescription drugs.  Unfortunately, the big pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars advertising their pills in the mainstream media, so the mainstream media has a very strong incentive to cover up the truth.

 

The answers are not to found in the world of pharmaceuticals. Combination or a protocol approach to medicine is theoretically impossible with pharmaceutical drugs because it is impossible to predict how toxic poisons (drugs) will mix together to worsen side effects or create a toxic shock that kills a patient. Over one hundred thousand people a year in the US die from properly prescribed medicines. When we take several drugs simultaneously we only increase the dangers.

 

 

 

 

British drug company giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was forced to pay one of the largest of a growing series of US Government fines ever levied on a pharmaceuticals company at home or abroad – in order to settle a trio of legal disputes with the US government. The company will now have to pay $3 Billion dollars US, (1.88 Billion British Pounds) to end three separate legal cases over the sales and illegal re-marketing of nine drugs. The long-standing claims involve their side effect riddled anti-depressant “wonder drugs,” Paxil and Wellbutrin, as well as the controversial and sometimes fatal diabetes “wonder drug,” Avandia, which was taken off the market throughout Europe amid findings that while Avandia had little impact on diabetes, it did provide a significant increased risk of heart attacks. Some of the US government’s allegations dated back to as early as 1997.

 

GSK chief executive Andrew Witty said: "This is a significant step toward resolving difficult, long-standing matters which do not reflect the company that we are today. The legal disputes being settled for the $3 Billion include a US Government investigation that started in Colorado and moved to Massachusetts regarding GlaxoSmithKline’s illegal re-marketing of drugs between 1997 and 2004. Another government probe charged that GlaxoSmithKline manipulated the Medicaid system to make additional profits from sales to the federal program, while the Avandia case covers government investigations into the way the drug was developed and then re-marketed. Avandia was once the world’s best-selling diabetes “wonder drug” and generated $3 billion in annual sales.

 

GlaxoSmithKline is not a novice to being forced to pay for their criminal negligence, corrupt business practices and government Medicaid fraud schemes. Recently, the company took a unprecedented $2.4 billion US (1.5 Billion British Pounds) hit after being forced to settle a number of the outstanding patient liability claims relating to their Avandia drug. It also resolved an investigation into its former factory at Cidra in Puerto Rico, and anti-trust and product liability litigation over antidepressant Paxil.

 

Other leading European and US drug makers have also been forced to pay enormous fines and agree to significant settlement deals in the US in recent years, or have been forced to take big fines in anticipation of such deals.

 

Recently, Abbott Laboratories took a $1.4 Billion (£800 Million British Pounds) fine related to attempts to settle a US federal investigation into marketing of its Depakote anticonvulsant drug.

 

In 2009, Pfizer also paid $2.3 Billion (1.43 Billion British Pounds) for pitching its now-withdrawn Bextra arthritis drug and another dozen medicines to patients and doctors for unapproved uses.

 

 

 

Following a long line of reports finding pharmaceutical drugs to be deadlier than traffic accidents and many illegal drugs, it has now come out that many asthma drugs are actually killing more patients than asthma itself. It may be hard for you to believe, but many popular asthma drugs like Symbicort, Advair Diskus, Serevent Diskus, Dulera and Foradil actually warn customers on their labels that they cause an increased “risk of death from asthma problems.” Killing around 4,000 per year conservatively, the drugs are killing more people than the disease itself. The FDA has known this information for years. Of course the FDA has failed to pull the drugs from the market while doctors are calling for a complete ban of the pharmaceuticals.

 

Instead of listening to the warnings of many doctors and recalling or even just ending the production of these products, the FDA has simply forced the makers to include heightened warning labels on the drugs while holding several hearings over the possibility of a ban yet following through with nothing. For an organization that is supposed to protect your health, the FDA seems to be allowing deadly pharmaceuticals to run rampant.

 

The history of pharmaceutical-induced fatalities is quite extensive, and truly tragic. Most shocking is the fact that legal drugs like painkillers have actually killed more individuals than illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin combined. With 3 million deaths from pharmaceuticals and 0 from vitamins over the past 27 years, it is clear that the media campaign intended to demonize high quality organic-based multivitamins and supplements is absolutely ludicrous. Instead, the media should be focused on the needless deaths of many individuals taking deadly legal drugs who unknowingly trust the well-intended advice of their doctor.

 

With painkillers now more deadly than cocaine and heroin, shouldn’t we change the direction of our ‘war on drugs’?

 

 

 

 

 

Prescription For Disaster

Big Pharma has put millions of non-”drug” users on hallucinogenic prescription drugs and instituted new forms of addiction and dependency, challenging our outdated notions that is only “illegal” drugs doing harm to our people.

Since the ancient Greeks, humans have dreamed of medicines so powerful they could make illness vanish. This was how a daughter of the Greek god of medicine came to be named Panacea. Three thousand years later, the public still yearns for a panacea. The U.S. society has invested in developing wondrous new pharmacologic therapies but has failed to invest adequately in their safe use. Forty-six percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug daily. That's more than 128 million people. Most of these people are taking medications long-term, so their exposures aren't brief. Twenty-five percent of Americans take multiple prescription drugs every day. In 1999, Americans purchased 2,587,575,000 prescriptions--that's nine prescription drugs for every person in America every day. Americans paid $125 billion for these prescriptions--$50 per prescription on average. The public likes to believe that our hospitals and medications are safe and that our doctors are taking every reasonable precaution. However, prescription drugs pose one of the greatest human-created dangers outside of war and pose a major peril to public health. Fifty-one percent of approved drugs have serious adverse side effects not detected prior to approval. More than half of our drugs, after being deemed "safe" by the FDA and then prescribed to millions of people, are subsequently detected to have previously unrecognized, medically serious side effects.

Prescription For Disaster Part 1 of 9

 

 

Think About This One: A car company can move it’s factories to Mexico and claim it’s a free market. A toy company can out source to a Chinese subcontractor and claim it’s a free market. A shoe company can produce its shoes in southeast Asia and claim it’s a free market. A major bank can incorporate in Bermuda to avoid taxes and claim it’s a free market. We can buy HP Printers made in Mexico. We can buy shirts made in Bangladesh . We can purchase almost anything we want from 20 different countries. But, heaven help the senior citizens who dare to buy their prescription drugs from a Canadian or Mexican pharmacy. That’s called un-American! And you think the pharmaceutical companies don’t have a powerful lobby? Think again!

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2005 there were 2,326 registered pharmaceutical lobbyists. That amounts to 4.3 lobbyists for every member of Congress, and the drug companies spent $146,783,853 on their efforts. And the Center for Public Integrity reports that between 1998 and 2005, the industry spent over $675 million on federal lobbying — with the top twenty corporations and trade groups accounting for 70 percent of that spending.

Throw in another $133 million in federal and state campaign contributions during that time period (nearly 69 percent went to Republicans) and some key jobs offered to members and their staffs, and it's easy to see how Big Pharma gets such a stellar return on its lobbying investment (i.e. tens of billions of dollars in additional profits; a ban on the reimportation of cheaper drugs from Canada; and barring Medicare from negotiating bulk drug prices for seniors.)

When observing the state of modern medicine and the unprecedented influence of pharmaceuticals, an interesting paradox arises. The drug companies claim that pharmaceuticals can do wonders for people: lower their cholesterol, end clinical depression, reverse osteoporosis, eliminate allergies, calm your children and many other similar promises. But if prescription drugs are so good for people, where are all the healthy medicated customers?

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There aren't any to speak of. There's nobody taking twelve prescriptions who has a clean bill of health. In fact, the more prescriptions a person takes, the worse their overall health. And if you approach the healthiest people you can find in a local fitness center and ask what prescription drugs they're taking in order to be so healthy, they'll give you a rather confused look: they don't take prescription drugs!

To rely on the drug companies for unbiased evaluations of their products makes about as much sense as relying on beer companies to teach us about alcoholism. Taking prescription drugs ranks as one of the most hazardous activities of modern society. Because so many millions are exposed, drugs have a potential for disaster that dwarfs most other risks of modern society. In a prescription drug disaster, tens of thousands of people may die and literally millions are placed at risk. In the hospital environment, multiple drugs are used in aggressive treatment--with a patient typically getting ten to fifteen drugs during a hospital stay. The intravenous route of administration of many of these drugs makes adverse effects occur more rapidly and with greater severity. Street drugs kill only 10% as many people every year, as legal, prescription drugs (6-times more than those Americans killed in the Vietnam War). Americans are dying, one every three to five minutes, from the effects of FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs, used as directed!

 

 

 

Prescription medications have become the leading cause of illness, disability, and death. Many medications’ side effects are worse than the conditions for which they are prescribed. These deaths are from accidental overdoses, from the inherent side effects of the drugs, and also taking two or more prescription drugs at the same time. Most drugs approved by the FDA are under-tested for adverse drug reactions, yet offer few new benefits. Drugs cause more than 2.2 million hospitalizations and 110,000 hospital-based deaths a year. Serious drug reactions at home or in nursing homes are not counted in this number, so certainly the number of deaths is significantly higher.

 

Dr. Bryan A. Cotton, a trauma surgeon in Houston, had not heard much about the new anticlotting drug Pradaxa other than the commercials he had seen during Sunday football games. Then people using Pradaxa started showing up in his emergency room. One man in his 70s fell at home and arrived at the hospital alert and talking. But he rapidly declined. “We pretty much threw the whole kitchen sink at him,” recalled Dr. Cotton, who works at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “But he still bled to death on the table.” Unlike warfarin, an older drug, there is no antidote to reverse the blood-thinning effects of Pradaxa. “You feel helpless,” Dr. Cotton said. The drug has contributed to the bleeding deaths of at least eight patients at the hospital. “And that’s a very bad feeling for us.” Pradaxa has become a blockbuster drug in its two years on the market, bringing in more than $1 billion in sales for its maker, the privately held German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim.

 

Pradaxa has been linked to more than 500 deaths in the United States, demonstrating that in our current civilization it is fine to make a fortune killing people. Though a chorus of complaints has risen from doctors, victims’ families and others in the medical community, the FDA is not worried that its approval process was not sufficiently rigorous.

 

“Pradaxa was identified as the primary suspect in 542 patient deaths reported to the FDA in 2011, and was linked to more reports of injury or death than any of the more than 800 drugs regularly monitored by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit based in Pennsylvania that monitors medicine safety,” reported the Times.

 

The hidden subject, and one of the most important for the world of medicine, is that this anti-clotting anti-stroke medicine is no match for magnesium chloride when it comes to either treating or preventing strokes. Magnesium chloride is a true medicine where Pradaxa is a true pharmaceutical poison especially designed to make money not heal people of their diseases. Researchers believe that magnesium slows the chemical process that can kill 12 million brain cells per minute during an untreated stroke, leading to long-term disability and death. So every moment is crucial to outcome. At least nine preclinical studies have examined the effect of systemic magnesium sulfate upon final infarct size in animal focal ischemic stroke models. Eight of the nine demonstrated substantial decreases in infarct size in treated animals, with reductions ranging from 26-61% in studies.

 

The response to a lack of oxygen and nutrients (i.e., ischemia) by the brain includes a local release of chemicals which can damage brain cells, even beyond the damage that can be expected by ischemia alone. Perhaps the most harmful of these chemicals is glutamate, an amino acid used in very low amounts by brain cells to communicate with each other. During a stroke, however, the massive amount of glutamate released produces a flood of calcium inside brain cells, which in turn causes them to die prematurely. Magnesium is thought to have the ability to prevent glutamate from causing this flood of calcium in the cells, thus protecting them from premature death.

 

If magnesium infusion is found to be an effective approach for the treatment of acute stroke, it would be a much needed addition to the current armamentarium of medical therapies. Currently, less than 10% of stroke patients can benefit from tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) infusions partly because of the 3-hour limit after the onset of stroke symptoms in which it can be used, and partly because it is contraindicated in hemorrhagic strokes.

 

 

Prescription Drugs

 

Poisoning from prescription drugs has risen to become the second-largest cause of unintentional deaths in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, February 9, 2007, researchers found that deaths from prescription drugs rose from 4.4 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 7.1 per 100,000 in 2004. This increase represents a jump from 11,000 people to almost 20,000 in the span of five years.

Among the 20,000 that died, more than 8,500 – double the number from 1999 -- were from "other and unspecified drugs." Psychotherapeutic drugs, like antidepressants and sedatives, nearly doubled from 671 deaths to 1,300.

Age-wise, the biggest jump was among people aged 15 to 24, which the CDC report says relates to recreational prescription drug use and a jump in cocaine use. However, all other age groups except the elderly over-75 group saw increases of more than 35 percent on a per 100,000 scale in prescription drug deaths – including a nearly 90 percent jump for the late Baby Boomer generation (ages 45 to 54) and a more than 90 percent for people aged 55 to 64.

Deaths from all major airline crashes in the United States average less than 300 annually, but one airplane crash gets more media attention and governmental scrutiny than the 300 medication-related deaths that occurred not only the same day as the crash, but also every day before and after for decades.

Of the 30 million individuals admitted to hospitals each year, approximately 10 percent or 3 million are admitted specifically because of adverse drug reactions. Patricia Harris, past secretary of Health and Human Services, stated that 6 million people in the U.S. are affected by adverse drug reactions each year. The FDA's estimates are the same at 6 million per year. In one large hospital, 25% of the deaths recorded came from adverse drug reactions. Injury and disability are a much more common complication of prescription drugs than death. Over a lifetime of drug taking, the average American has a 26% chance of being hospitalized from a drug injury. Long-term use of just one class of drugs--anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin, Ibuprofen and Naprosyn--causes an estimated 70,000 hospitalizations every year. In fact, prescription drugs are ten times more likely to put you in the hospital than an automobile accident. The incidence has remained stable over the last 30 years. These estimates do not include the millions of people who suffer severe adverse reactions that do not require hospitalization but nevertheless cause major human suffering or permanent disability.

Deaths from medication reactions rarely look any different than natural deaths. There's no visible wreckage to videotape, no crash sites to horrify and fascinate viewers. Medication deaths often occur quietly in hospitals, emergency rooms, and homes. How many decades did it take to recognize the drunken driving problem; to bring the dangers of cigarettes to public awareness; to mandate seatbelts in cars? Maybe with medication side effects it's the same--we'd rather not know. Nowhere else in professional lives are mistakes so easily hidden, even from ourselves. The result is that only one in twenty side effects is reported to authorities. It might be different if a few bad drugs caused the side-effect epidemic, but, the problem extends well beyond a few. Instead, it involves hundreds of drugs including top-sellers like Viagra, Premarin, Prozac, Lipitor, Celebrex, and Motrin. Because the problem is so large and so many drugs are involved, blame is difficult to assess.

 

Has America become a nation of psychotics? You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux. Once upon a time, antipsychotics were reserved for a relatively small number of patients with hard-core psychiatric diagnoses—primarily schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—to treat such symptoms as delusions, hallucinations, or formal thought disorder. Today, it seems, everyone is taking antipsychotics. Parents are told that their unruly kids are in fact bipolar, and in need of anti-psychotics, while old people with dementia are dosed, in large numbers, with drugs once reserved largely for schizophrenics. Americans with symptoms ranging from chronic depression to anxiety to insomnia are now being prescribed anti-psychotics at rates that seem to indicate a national mass psychosis.

 

It is anything but a coincidence that the explosion in antipsychotic use coincides with the pharmaceutical industry's development of a new class of medications known as "atypical antipsychotics." Beginning with Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Seroquel in the 1990s, followed by Abilify in the early 2000s, these drugs were touted as being more effective than older antipsychotics like Haldol and Thorazine. More importantly, they lacked the most noxious side effects of the older drugs—in particular, the tremors and other motor control problems.

 

The atypical anti-psychotics were the bright new stars in the pharmaceutical industry's roster of psychotropic drugs—costly, patented medications that made people feel and behave better without any shaking or drooling. Sales grew steadily, until by 2009 Seroquel and Abilify numbered fifth and sixth in annual drug sales, and prescriptions written for the top three atypical antipsychotics totaled more than 20 million. Suddenly, antipsychotics aren't just for psychotics any more.

 

As it turns out, the atypical antipsychotics may not even be the best choice for people with genuine, undisputed psychosis. A growing number of health professionals have come to think these drugs are not really as effective as older less expensive medicines which they have replaced, that they themselves produce side effects that cause other sorts of diseases such as diabetes and plunge the patient deeper into the gloomy world of serious mental disorder.

 

Premarin is perhaps the most prescribed drug ever; in 1999 alone, women purchased more than 47 million prescriptions in the United States. Yet even in 2000, after Wyeth-Ayerst finally reduced its recommended starting dose for hot flashes to 0.625 mg, (down from 1.25 mg until 1999) this amount remains excessive for some women. Similarly, the recommended doses of Premarin for preventing osteoporosis have been unnecessarily high for many women. Estrogens like Premarin have been linked to increased rates of breast cancer--the higher the dose of estrogen, the greater the risk. The story is the same with many drugs--not just obscure drugs, but many top-selling drugs. The problem encompasses the entire field of medication therapy, as recognized experts have attested.

Prozac has been linked to an astounding 242 different side effects, including 34 different medical problems in the genital and urinary tract alone. Over a ten-year period Prozac was associated with more hospitalizations, deaths, or other serious adverse reactions reported to the FDA than any other drug in America. Two similar drugs for depression, Paxil and Zoloft, are of similar toxicity. Scientific record shows they have few equals in their capacity to produce unpleasant and sometimes dangerous adverse effects. One of the most deadly poisons routinely available to the public can be found in any large supermarket among household goods. It is closely related to a chemical called warfarin, and is used as rat poison. It is available in prescription form as DuPont's Coumadin. Each year it is used 3 million times in office medical practice--more frequently than Valium or Tagamet. It can cause gangrene, fatal internal hemorrhaging, hideous birth defects, and life-threatening allergic reactions.

There is no such thing as a safe drug. In a free market, where non-toxic therapies can openly compete with toxic therapies, and information is not suppressed, consumers will make informed choices. This is exactly what the pharmaceutical companies don't want. Dancing to their tune, the FDA ferociously keeps off the market effective, nontoxic therapies that might provide formidable competition for patented, and often toxic, pharmaceutical drugs. By keeping these therapies off the market, the FDA is not protecting the public from harm. It is protecting the pharmaceutical companies from effective competition. With an average of 65% to 75% of FDA employees working for drug companies upon their retirement, that's not surprising. Lancet editor Richard Horton wrote, "The FDA is not only compromised because it receives so much funding from industry but because it comes under incredible Congressional pressure to be favorable to industry. That has led to deaths."

 

Drug-Free America

 

 

What happens when a slick sales force of 87,000 is set loose with billions of dollars to wine and dine, entertain and educate the US 's 600,000 doctors? The short answer is that in 2000, Americans spent $89 billion on prescription drugs. In 2003 the amount exploded to $149 billion.

The US accounts for half of all global profits for Big Pharma, as the pharmaceutical corporations are known. "The result of all those attractive women in short skirts armed with pseudo-science invading the practices of doctors is that Americans are over-medicated, taking far too many drugs, most of which they don't even need, and they are paying too much for them," says Jerome Kassirer, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine and prominent critic of Big Pharma.

 

Beyond the skyrocketing profits, however, lies a darker picture of a virtually unregulated omnipotent industry whose questionable practices–some call them criminal–in the quest for higher revenues has turned Big Pharma into the latest corporate villain. As a growing army of critics–and the courts–fling open the doors of the world's leading drug companies to reveal unfavorable buried studies, the parallels to Big Oil, Big Banking and, the most notorious of all, Big Tobacco are striking.

"These guys and their ethics are precisely where Big Tobacco was 20 years ago," says Peter Breggin, a prominent New York psychiatrist who has campaigned against the spread of controversial antidepressants. Scandals, such as US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co yanking its $2.5billion ($3.3 billion) a year blockbuster painkiller Vioxx off the market on September 30, 2004, after the company belatedly conceded it was causing heart attacks and strokes, have led to an unprecedented erosion in public trust.

 

"For decades both the public and physicians thought the pharmaceuticals were looking out for the health and welfare of society and never challenged what the industry claimed," says Arnold Relman, emeritus professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Now everyone is starting to wise up to an industry that is hugely profitable and driven, obsessed with making more profits and to do that by any means it can, even if it means stretching laws, stretching ethics."

A flurry of new books by high-profile authors–including Kassirer and Marcia Angell, another former editor at The New England Journal of Medicine–as well as court cases, such as the one against the antidepressant Paxil brought by New York's crusading Attorney-General Eliot Spitzer, reveals the way in which Big Pharma has managed to generate profits and cover up its skeletons.

The entire drug industry, including the monopolistic drug giants and their FDA co-conspirator, has clearly become the single greatest threat to the health and safety of the American people. And yet the FDA continues to push more drugs onto more Americans than ever before, all while pretending these drugs are safe and effective when, in reality, they are neither. Today's pharmaceutical industry is a massive fraud being perpetrated against the American people, propped up by illegal trade practices, monopolistic behavior and outright criminal behavior on the part of the FDA.

 

The system is enabled, say reform-minded doctors, by the US Food and Drug Administration–which generates most of its budget from drug companies and has proven to be "nothing but a lapdog," Angell says–as well as by physicians who blithely accept dubious studies provided by drug company sales representatives. "Suppose you are a big pharmaceutical company. You make a drug that is approved for a very limited use. How could you turn it into a blockbuster?" Angell says. "You could simply market the drug for unapproved, or off-label, uses even though it's against the law to do so. You do that by carrying out 'research' that falls way below the standard required for FDA approval, then 'educating' doctors about any favorable results. That way you circumvent the law (because doctors can prescribe whatever drugs they see fit).

 

"You could say you were not marketing for unapproved uses; you were merely disseminating the results of research to doctors, who can legally prescribe a drug for any use. But it would be bogus education about bogus research. It would really be marketing."

Nowhere is this better illustrated than with the antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, a class of drug of dubious benefit that, through savvy marketing, has become a multi-billion-dollar cash cow. A staggering one in 10 women in the U.S. and 11 million children worldwide are on these drugs.Yet, says Breggin, who has appeared at trials on behalf of people who commit crimes or of families who have lost a family member to suicide while under the influence of SSRIs, "not only do these drugs not work but they're also dangerous."

 

Karen Barth Menzies, a Los Angeles lawyer who is perhaps the leading antidepressant litigation attorney in the world, explains the disease is marketed and sold in order to sell the drugs. "That's why it's been so successful," she says. "The drug's a narcotic, it's an upper, so no wonder you feel better."

Kassirer says drug companies–the most powerful special interest in Washington, with an army of 700 lobbyists–have public relations firms draw up "research papers" based on selective studies, conducted by medical researchers who dare not go against the company line, to promote their drugs and then have "experts" put their names to them, often just parroting what the company wants disseminated. "These councils with the official sounding names, the alliance of something or the foundation for something, what are they doing?" he asks. "They're doctors who are being paid to promote awareness of some condition that invariably is treated by a drug made by the drug company that is bankrolling the council. The system is awash in drug company money and it's corrupt. All this money and favors is forcing doctors to do things that I think are pretty terrible. It creates deception, erodes professionalism and is destroying the profession. If anybody is up to their ears in conflicts of interest, it's psychiatrists."

 

Critics say some mental illnesses are invented by panels of psychiatrists–who in turn are paid large sums by drug companies–to sell drugs. Kassirer cites the example of executive dysfunction, a new-found disease supposedly marked by fatigue, apathy, bad mood and an inability to communicate clearly. Yet even those who diagnose executive dysfunction say that it has no standard medical definition and is better regarded as a concept, he says. "But it doesn't stop them prescribing drugs for the so-called condition," Kassirer says.

 

Barth Menzies says she has seen evidence for years that the drug companies knew their antidepressants not only didn't work but were causing suicidal or violent tendencies among some users, yet tried to hide the evidence for fear of financial loss." The internal documents we've found through discovery show what a total sham these antidepressants are," she says. "The science is bought and paid for, experts are willing to sell their names and their souls, the whole thing's been an amazing web of lies and fraud." I used to think, 'How many people have to die before someone does something about it?' And then I saw the answer. In their greed to find new markets, they started pushing SSRIs on kids. I knew that once kids started dying, someone would finally say enough is enough."

 

Authorities in Britain were the first to ban the prescribing of SSRIs–except Prozac, although even the FDA now agrees that Prozac works in the same way and has the same inherent dangers–to children and adolescents. In the US –where more than 1 million youngsters are on these drugs–the FDA was forced to issue a black box warning on the SSRIs, while Spitzer has filed fraud charges against GlaxoSmithKline, the world's second largest drug maker, for blatantly hiding or trying to spin negative findings of clinical trials of Paxil's effects on children and teenagers.

 

GSK settled the suit but is facing an avalanche of lawsuits from people whose children hurt or even killed themselves–or others–while on the drugs. Part of GSK's settlement forced it to publish findings of all trials on its website, though critics say this needs to be independently monitored. Meanwhile, Big Pharma is fighting efforts in Washington to force all trials, irrespective of their results, to be made public.

 

"I'm not that hopeful for any real change," Angell says. "They have bought politicians and doctors. They've looked at everyone and anyone who could stand in their way and they've thrown money at them. The only hope we have is a grassroots revolution that will make the politicians decide they love votes more than drug company money.

From the New York Times, December 18, 2004 we learn: The worldwide drug industry is ailing.

”Three major drug companies - Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly—each disclosed serious problems with important medicines yesterday, throwing a spotlight on the fact that the $500 billion drug industry is stumbling badly in its core business of finding new medicines.

The decline in drug research and development has been an open secret among analysts and scientists for years. But drug company executives have insisted that their industry is fundamentally healthy and their expensive research efforts will pay off.

They have tried, meanwhile, to offset their weakness in creating profitable new drugs by pursuing aggressive campaigns to market existing drugs to doctors and patients, impose big price increases and make efforts to extend patents on existing medicines. Those tactics have protected their profits but irritated consumers and governments that pay for drugs, causing a political reaction in the United States and Europe.

In less than 12 hours, Pfizer said that it had found increased risk of heart problems for people taking Celebrex, a painkiller that is one of the world's best-selling medicines. AstraZeneca reported that a trial of Iressa, a lung cancer drug approved in the United States last year, showed that the drug did not prolong lives. And Eli Lilly warned doctors that Strattera, its drug to treat attention deficit disorder, usually in children, had caused severe liver injury in at least two patients.

Investors punished all three companies, sending Pfizer stock down 11.2 percent, AstraZeneca down 7.7 percent and Eli Lilly down 2.4 percent. Collectively, the declines reduced the market value of the three companies by more than $30 billion, worsening the industry's weak performance in 2004.

The sequence of events is a sign that the companies must confront their difficulties in finding new drugs, said Richard T. Evans, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, a Wall Street research firm.

"Their R&D productivity is just terrible," he said.

No major drug company is exempt from the problem. The number of new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration has declined sharply since the mid-1990's, falling from 53 in 1996 to 21 in 2003, even as the industry has nearly doubled its annual spending on drug development, to about $33 billion.

The Food and Drug Administration on December 23, 2004, ordered a review of all prevention studies involving drugs such as Celebrex and Bextra, which have been associated with increased risk of heart problems. The agency also urged the public to limit use of over-the-counter pain medications.

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"Consumers are advised that all over-the-counter pain medications ... should be used in strict accordance with the label directions," said Dr. John K. Jenkins, FDA director of new drugs. That means the drugs — including such popular products as Aleve, ibuprofen and even aspirin — should not be used longer than 10 days without consulting a doctor, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the agency will review dozens of studies now under way in which the so-called Cox-2 inhibitors are being tested as possible ways to prevent various illnesses. These drugs, sold by prescription, have been implicated in higher rates of heart problems and stroke. One of them, Vioxx, was pulled from the market by its manufacturer, and the FDA has advised caution in using the others, Celebrex and Bextra. In addition, naproxen, a popular pain killer sold as Aleve and Naprosyn, has also been implicated in heart problems in a National Institutes of Health study.

Jenkins said the FDA will convene an advisory panel in February 2005 to thoroughly study the available information on the drugs. Pain killers such as aspirin car carry a serious risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding, Jenkins noted, and doctors must balance this with the potential heart risk of some of the other drugs.

 

Pharmaceuticals Drive Magnesium Levels Lower

Magnesium is a vital mineral whose lack leaves us open to not only damage from radiation but also damage from heavy metals and the thousands of chemicals to which we are commonly exposed. Without sufficient magnesium, the body accumulates toxins and acid residues, degenerates rapidly, and ages prematurely.

 

Because magnesium deficiency wreaks havoc with our cell physiology and worsens as we age, appropriate magnesium supplementation will not only help ensure we don’t age so fast but it also will prevent many of the major diseases we are facing today. Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2002 showed that when the diets of 2,566 children ages 11-19 were studied, less than 14% of boys and 12% of girls had adequate intakes of magnesium.

 

When magnesium is deficient, things begin to die, but when our body’s magnesium levels are topped off, our body physiology tends to hum along like a racecar yielding higher performance along many physiological parameters. Most doctors do not want to acknowledge that magnesium deficiency can lead directly to cancer, thus to a significantly shorter life. The same goes for diabetes and heart disease—magnesium deficiency brings on these diseases.

 

Magnesium operates at the core of physiology offering us what can only be called scientific miracles in medicine. All of life collapses around its loss.


Almost all the prescription drugs currently taken by millions of people lead to a gradual depletion of vitamins and other essential cellular nutrients in the body. Anything that drives down magnesium levels is going to hurt us. Many pharmaceutical drugs drive magnesium levels into dangerous zones.

 

Surgery done without increasing magnesium levels is more dangerous than surgery done when magnesium is administered before, during and after surgery.

 

The most perfect medicine in the world is the one you have to have—no matter what—to continue your life. There are certain substances, all nutritional in nature, that provide essential lifelines to happy and fully functional cells. Though contemporary medicine does not want to admit the truth and reality about diseases and their causes, it is clear that nutritional law holds the key to the resolution of disease—not pharmaceuticals that are toxic and damaging to cellular environments.

 

Drug/Substance 

Nutrients Depleted

Antibiotics

Vitamins A, B-12, C, E, K, Biotin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium

Chelators

Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc

Anticonvulsants

Vitamins B-2, B-12, C, F, K, Folic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium

Antidiabetics (Oral)

Vitamins B-2, B-12, C, D, Folic Acid

Antihistamines

Vitamin C

Aspirin

Calcium, Folic Acid, Iron, Potassium, Vitamins C, B Complex

 

Other drugs or substances that cause loss of body magnesium

Cocaine

Beta-adrenergic agonists (for asthma)

Corticosteroids (CS) (for asthma)

Theophylline (for asthma)

Diuretics

Thiazide

Phosphates (found in cola drinks)

Nicotine

Insulin

Alcohol

 

The FDA is informing the public that prescription proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs may cause low serum magnesium levels (hypomagnesemia) if taken for prolonged periods of time (in most cases, longer than one year). Information about the potential risk of low serum magnesium levels from PPIs will be added to the WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS sections of the labels.

 

In 2009, approximately 21 million patients filled prescriptions for proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs that drive magnesium serum levels down. In approximately one-quarter of the cases reviewed, magnesium supplementation alone did not improve low serum magnesium levels and the PPI drugs had to be discontinued. This would not have been the case if researchers had been more knowledgeable about magnesium supplementation and how to more effectively administer it.

 

Hypomagnesemia is under-recognized and under-reported, yet clinically serious adverse events are commonly reported symptoms of hypomagnesemia. One of the hidden dangers of hypomagnesemia is that it produces impaired parathyroid hormone secretion, which may lead to hypocalcemia.

 

A low intake of magnesium increases the risk of developing and/or dying from cardiovascular disease or stroke. Thus increasing the magnesium intake from water is beneficial, especially for populations with an insufficient dietary intake of the mineral, which means everyone. Yet the American government chooses to put highly toxic fluoride in the public water systems instead of magnesium.

 

The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that drinking water contain 25-50 mg of magnesium per liter to prevent deaths from heart attack and stroke. American bottled water averages < 5 mg of magnesium (Mg) per liter, while bottled water in the rest of the world averages about 20 mg of magnesium per liter.

 

Americans are very deficient in Mg, as evidenced by the 23% shortfall from the RDI, yet the FDA and DOJ have covered up keeping silent about the millions of deaths indicated by over 50 epidemiological studies from nine countries. Recent studies clearly confirm that water-borne Mg is far, far better in preventing cardiovascular pathologies than food-borne Mg.

 

Ideally water should contain 100 mg of magnesium per liter. Normally one has to add pure magnesium chloride to one’s water supply to attain such optimal levels. You can just add a few sprays of Ancient Minerals magnesium oil to a little cup of water and chug it down; it can taste pretty strong but it makes an excellent nutritional supplement. You can add some cherry concentrate (which is itself high in minerals) to make it palatable.

 

People who have had magnesium injections for years to prevent spasms in their arteries and veins have been able to get off of the injections by consuming enough magnesium-rich water. When treating oneself for magnesium deficiency, which occurs easily from drinking magnesium-deficient water and eating a host of processed “white” foods, there is nothing like the transdermal approach to recover one’s cellular magnesium levels.

 

Drugs are generally synthetic, non-natural substances that we absorb in our bodies. Our bodies recognize these synthetic drugs as ‘toxic,’ just like any other non-natural substance. Thus, all synthetic drugs have to be ‘detoxified’ by the liver in order to eliminate them from our bodies. This detoxification process requires vitamin C and other cellular nutrients as cofactors. Many of these essential nutrients are used up in biological (enzymatic) reactions during this detoxification process. One of the most common ways for eliminating drugs from our bodies is called hydroxylation. The strongest ‘hydroxylating agent’ in our body is vitamin C, which is literally destroyed during this detoxification process. Thus, long-term use of many synthetic prescription drugs leads to chronic vitamin C depletion in the body, a form of early scurvy, and the onset of cardiovascular disease.

Drug Disposal

The Associated Press (AP) estimates that hospitals and long-term medical care institutions across the United States are dumping 250 million pounds of pharmacologically active drugs directly into public sewer systems each year.

Because the government does not require health institutions to keep records on their disposal of pharmaceutical products, there are no definitive numbers on the volume of drugs going into the water supply. In order to construct an estimate, AP investigators extrapolated from a survey of 14 urban and rural Minnesota hospitals.

The AP concluded that at least 250 million pounds of drug waste and drug-contaminated packaging are thrown away each year. This includes expired or spoiled drugs, leftovers from too-large prescriptions, drugs that are prescribed but not needed, drugs that patients refuse to take or that are halted due to negative side effects, or drugs left over when patients die.

The vast majority of this waste is disposed of by flushing it down sinks or toilets, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A 2006 survey by a water company of 45 long-term care centers found that roughly two-thirds of drug waste was disposed of through the sewer system.

This pharmacological waste is much more potent than the drugs that patients flush down their own home toilets, including not only stronger versions of over-the-counter drugs but also highly toxic chemicals like cancer treatments. Tests of hospital sewers in Oslo and Paris have revealed high concentrations of antibiotics, heart drugs, hormones, painkillers skin medication -- in addition to the well-known high concentrations of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.

Scientists agree that drugs remain pharmacologically active even after disposal, and can have severe effects on humans and wildlife. Studies of wastewater near hospitals in Europe and the United States have found higher concentrations of antibiotic resistant bacteria and of organisms with genetic mutations similar to those that can cause cancer in humans. Another study on antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone family, including best-seller ciproflaxin, found that these drugs could cause changes to bacterial DNA.

Even worse, hospitals and long-term care facilities are only two sources of the drugs that, all across the country, are being dumped in large quantities into the water supply. Vast quantities of unprocessed drugs are excreted by people's bodies into the sewage system, while other institutions such as small medical and veterinary practices and hospitals at facilities such as prisons are also flushing unmetabolized drugs. According to Linda Peterson, a nurse at a prison in Oak Park Heights, Minn., her prison throws out approximately 12,000 pills per year, including antibiotics, heart drugs and narcotics.

"We flush it and flush it and flush it - until we can't see any more pills," Peterson said. "So what are [other] facilities doing, if we're throwing away about 700 to 1,000 pills a month?"

Even after highly diluted with thousands of gallons of water, such drugs remain biologically active. Early research into the problem suggests that in concentrations equivalent to those found in drinking water across the country - according to AP, a minimum of 46 million people are exposed to such water, with most water still untested - drug residue can cause harm to aquatic species like fish and amphibians. Laboratory tests confirm that such concentrations also disrupt healthy growth of human cells.

According to pharmacist and researcher Boris Jilibois from the Compiegne Medical Center, there's enough proof of risk to justify immediate action.

"Something should be done now," he said. "It's just common sense."

The scale of the problem is so large that the EPA has classified pharmaceutical products as "major pollutants of concern."

"Treating the toilet as a trash can isn't a good option," said Ben Grumbles, the agency's head water administrator.

But the agency has stopped short of imposing regulations on the disposal of such products or their contaminated packaging.

"It's strange that we have rules about the oil from your car; you're not allowed to simply flush it down the sewer," said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy. "So why do we let these drugs, without any kind of regulation, continue to be flushed away in the water supply?"

According to Grumbles, the EPA should decide whether to impose some sort of regulations by the end of next year. One measure that has been suggested is requiring pharmaceutical companies to pay for proper disposal of their products, as financial considerations are a major factor influencing hospitals into simply dumping drugs down the drain. Incinerating a pound of drugs in a hazardous waste incinerator, for example, costs about $2, compared to 35 cents in a normal trash incinerator.

No one seems to agree, however, what a favorable method of drug disposal would be. While drugs leach more slowly out of landfills, they do still infiltrate the groundwater over time. Incinerators destroy drugs more thoroughly, but contribute significantly to air pollution and can even eject trace amounts of pharmaceuticals into the air.

"I don't think we're encouraging incineration of anything," Stephen DiZio of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control said. "The public outcry would be so great."

Plutocracy

When the government of any nation forgets its people and, instead, focuses on defending and promoting the interests of powerful corporations, you no longer have a Democracy. Instead, you have a Plutocracy, where the wealthy elite control the political process and use laws to further enrich themselves at the expense of the public.

It's an accurate description of what's happening in America today: The public is no longer represented by the Senate, the FDA, the USDA or the EPA. Instead, each of these governmental bodies (legislative for the Senate, executive for the other departments) is now operating in the interests of corporations. Campaign finance reform, of course, is impossible under such circumstances, since no corporate-controlled Senate will ever vote to cut itself off from corporate money. Thus, the only outcome of the situation is a further erosion of the integrity of U.S. legislative processes to the point where the public is impoverished, the nation is bankrupt, and the corporations run the government.

Big Business and Big Government are now merging to become a unified system of financial exploitation of the people. The corporations financially rape the people, and the government keeps it legal.

Senators of both major parties -- Democratic and Republican – join together in the mass betrayal of U.S. consumers. While Republicans certainly have stronger ties to drug companies, when push comes to shove Democrats will sell out their constituents just the same. The pocketbook of no citizen is safe when Congress is in session, and any voter who thinks one political party or another is going to come to the rescue and actually protect the interests of consumers is hopelessly naive.

Attack On Vitamins

The latest round in conventional medicine's ongoing attempts to discredit (and ultimately outlaw) nutritional supplements is found in a highly questionable study published February, 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which claims that vitamins actually increase the risk of death.

The study claims to have analyzed a collection of previous studies on Vitamin A, beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and selenium, concluding that most of the nutrients are actually dangerous to human health. Of course, this is research from conventional medicine – an industry that promotes patented chemicals as perfectly safe, even though FDA-approved pharmaceuticals are killing at least 100,000 Americans each year. (Imagine the uproar if vitamins killed even a fraction of that number…)

To avoid getting hoodwinked by questionable research on "vitamins," you have to strongly consider the financial interests of the source of this research. JAMA accepts millions of dollars in advertising from drug companies each year, and its pages are absolutely packed with drug ads. The American Medical Association, for its part, has long worked to discredit alternative medicine and has even been found guilty by U.S. federal courts of engaging in a conspiracy to destroy chiropractic medicine. The AMA, which is largely considered a joke by anyone familiar with natural health, is hardly a credible source for publishing scientific findings on nutrition. To protect the multi-billion dollar drug industry, it’s likely the AMA would say practically anything.

This research published in JAMA does remind us of one important point, however: synthetic chemicals are harmful to human health. If you take cheap "vitamins" made of these synthetic chemicals, you are doing yourself more harm than good. These cheap vitamin manufacturers, by the way, are usually owned by pharmaceutical firms.

Conventional medicine researchers try to blur the line between "junk vitamins" and "quality vitamins" by classifying ALL nutritional supplements as "vitamins," regardless of what they're really made from. By discrediting a few synthetic chemicals, they can effectively dissuade the masses from taking ANY vitamins, including the good ones. And that is, of course, their goal: to use F.U.D. (fear, uncertainty and doubt) to scare consumers away from nutritional supplements so that patients will flock to the patented, synthetic chemicals that earn drug companies billions of dollars in profits. Drugs make money for Big Pharma, and vitamins compete with drug sales.

Round up 100 people who are taking multiple pharmaceuticals, and compare their health to 100 people who are taking vitamins and nutritional supplements. Guess who's healthier? The supplement crowd will be healthier every time. It's the obvious question: If vitamins are so dangerous, where are all the dead vitamin takers? And if pharmaceuticals are so safe, where are all the super-healthy prescription drug patients? They are nowhere to be found.

The healthiest people, by far, are those who take supplements, who engage in regular exercise, and who avoid taking prescription drugs.

Only fools believe research about nutrition that comes from the American Medical Association or its journal. Conventional medical researchers declaring that vitamins are worthless is about as credible as Bush Administration climatologists claiming there's no such thing as global warming. With the publication of this research, the distortion of health reality is now complete. According to the American Medical Association, vitamins will kill you but pharmaceuticals will make you healthy.

 

Kids and Drug Abuse

Kids today are flooded with false information about drugs, faced with peer pressure and various media influences. The message kids receive today is that of the quick fix, less effort is better, and that one should not have to work hard for what they desire in life. This often leaves them with little ambition and a feeling that there is no game in life. Drugs can be used as a solution to boredom and the hopelessness they often feel. The risk taking and the effects of the drugs themselves make life exciting again-at least for a short time.

Advertising worldwide pounds them daily with messages to drink beer, smoke cigarettes, to solve any pain, discomfort, inability to sleep, or any emotional or physical problem with some medication instantly and at once. They see drugs and alcohol being used all around them, but are being told that "they" shouldn't try drugs. In the United States, the average age a young person is exposed to street drugs being tried or abuse of medical drugs is 8 years old (the third grade). This could happen even earlier if the child has grown up in a family that abuses alcohol or medications on a regular basis. Helping children to reach a sane and self-determined understanding of the truths about alcohol and other drugs can save them and the world enormous future trouble.

A full understanding of what drugs are really doing to a person and the long-term consequences, allow kids to weigh their options and come to a rational decision about them. The key to this is providing them with the correct information, but also in such a way that it relates to their world and their experiences.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs

First and foremost it is important to be educated about drugs yourself. This site and others can provide you with information as well as the books and materials the Narconon International offers. There are many other resources available, including several government websites that provide basic drug information, current news, and study results.

Also important is how you talk to your kids. What has never worked in any drug education is to tell a person something from an authoritative viewpoint. As soon as one starts in with that approach, the child will immediately tune the person out. A better approach is to ask them questions and then provide basic, true information.

One can just ask "What have you heard about drugs that is good?"

At this point is very important for the parent to simply listen to the child's response without interrupting them. Give them your full attention, no matter what they say, be patient and listen carefully.

When they have finished telling you the good things they have heard about drugs, we have found it is best to just say "thank you" or "I understand" to the communication they just gave you. This helps give your child confidence that they can talk to you and that you are interested in what they have to say. It's like having communication with your best friend, only this one happens to be your child.

Now that they have told you what they heard that was positive about drugs, it is time to get them the correct information. The objective is to give the child correct information so they can make sound decisions on their own. We have found that when young people are given the accurate information about drugs their attitude about them changes and they make their own decisions not to use them. Their own solid decision will carry them a long way.

When providing them with information, ensure that they fully understand it. Consult their understanding and ask for an example of what they have just learned. If they ask a question that you can't answer, it is important that you are honest with them and don't try and make something up. Use the opportunity to work with them to find the answer.

Honestly, patience and good communication are the keys to talking to your kids about drugs. Getting their questions answered will help ensure they make the right decision not to use drugs

 

Television Programming

In all the publicity about fighting the war on drugs, and all the money spent on special police "drug squads," military intervention, on "drug summits," decreasing the supply and demand for drugs, etc., we hear no one address how children learn to use drugs in the first place, nor has there been any effective remedial steps taken. More Americans are hooked on drugs from their physicians, than from all the pushers on the street. Adults are misguided in their belief that young people begin using drugs because of peer pressure. Because our attention is being focused primarily on street drugs, we don"t notice the legal and accepted cause of drug addiction and dependency that is being ignored. The phrase "Just Say No" should apply to drugs dependency of all kinds, not only to illicit street drugs, but to prescription and over-the-counter drugs, caffeine and nicotine... Television commercials have helped to make Americans the most drug-addicted people in the world. Drug companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year trying to persuade Americans that the solution to every ailment from sniffles to sleeplessness can be found in a pill. Many advertisements directed at mothers equate maternal love with dispensing pills to children. When a child is continually given medicines by "Dr. Mom" who tells them that "this is good for you" and "this will make you feel better" when they're not feeling well, while constantly being bombarded with "plop-plop, fizz-fizz" on T.V., plus seeing that it's okay for Mom and Dad to take pills for everything, this sets the stage for using illicit street drugs...

One commercial for a multi-symptom cold medicine shows a young boy in bed, surrounded by literally dozens of medications. He beams, "Whenever I have a cold, my mother spoils me. Look at all these medicines!" Of course, he points out, all he really needs is the one multi-symptom pill. But he fondly indulges his mother's foolishness because the purchase of all those medicines proves her love for him. Then his mother appears and says tenderly, "Got everything you need, son?" It's clear she doesn't mean a back rub or extra pillows--just more drugs. When she leaves, the boy turns to the camera and says proudly, "She's terrific, isn't she?" There is much evidence that this equation of love with drugs has also contributed to the rising use of street drugs. T.V. advertisers are teaching our children to use drugs. It seems that any child or emotionally immature adult subjected to the daily and incessant barrage of messages offering "fast, fast, fast" or "instant" relief from every care of life by simply swallowing pills would be tempted to try them, and, finding they do not live up to the glowing promises, would then resort to stronger ones.

It is estimated that one billion prescriptions are written in the United States every year. Today, hospital and drugstore sales of prescriptions amount to over $20 billion. Americans shell out up to $7.5 billion on nonprescription drugs with an estimated 40% of the U.S. population using an over-the-counter (OTC) product in any given 48 hours. This gives us a combined total amounting to close to 600 pills per year for every man, woman and child. So many billions of pills are swallowed that the mind boggles. Dyazide and Inderal are the two most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs in the U.S. today. All drugs, after they leave the confines of the gut, are swept up by the bloodstream which distributes them evenly throughout the circulatory system in about sixty seconds. The speed of dispersion is due to the action of the heart, which pumps about five quarts of blood each minute. Once they are in the body, drugs can wind up almost anywhere. Nicotine is often found in breast milk. The active ingredient of marijuana, called THC, can be found in the liver, but also in the kidneys, spleen, lungs,and even in the testes. Depending on its chemical makeup, a drug could be excreted in everything from urine, feces, sweat, semen, and saliva, to exhaled breath.

For a drug to have its desired effect, though, it has to travel past the confines of the capillaries, the microscopically thin blood vessels of the body and into the tissues, for it is only at the capillaries that drugs are exchanged between the circulation and the rest of the cells of the body. For most drugs, that is not really a problem. the cylindrical walls of the capillaries are only one-cell thick and the cells are not tightly glued together. There are pores or spaces between them. It is here, through these spaces, that drugs travel into the tissues. Drug molecules are smaller than the pores they have to travel through. As a result, drugs are able to pass through the capillaries and into the tissues rather easily and quickly. The speed at which they do so depends on their concentration in the blood.

The more concentrated a drug is in the bloodstream, the faster it will diffuse into the tissues of the body. In one year, the 50 most frequently prescribed medications account for more than 650 million bottles of medication, or almost three for every man, woman, and child in the United States. Among the 50 best sellers are 9 antibiotics, 8 antihypertensives, 6 painkillers, 5 hormones, and 5 for depression or anxiety. The list also includes drugs for ulcers, epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease, and prostate problems. While a few--notably antibiotics and some painkillers--are used for a short course of treatment, the large majority are intended to be taken for months, if not years on end. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has flagged 7 of the top 50 drugs for their addiction and abuse danger. They are subject to special government controls. They include painkiller drugs containing Darvon or propoxyphene, codeine and other opium derivatives such as hydrocodone. The DEA drug list also includes the anxiety medication Xanax or its equivalent, alprazolam.

The Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Program

There are currently 15 million drug users in the United States and an increasingly large number of those are children. Ours is a nation that largely praises quick fixes and easy relief, which leads to the event of experimentation followed by addiction.

Narconon staff have educated over 1.5 million school children through the Narconon drug education and training programs. The Narconon program has demonstrated effectiveness in keeping kids off drugs.

Outcome studies show that early drug prevention must give young children the truth, the vital information and tools they need to make their own choice to keep away from drugs. Their track record over the past two decades is impressive with key results being reported.

The program steps are entirely drug-free; that is, the Narconon program does not use drugs or medications to solve the problems caused by drugs, but does use nutrition and nutritional supplements as an important component of its delivery. Thus the program is neither a psychiatric nor medical, but a social education model of rehabilitation.

Narconon clients are not considered or treated as “patients” but as “students” who are learning to regain control of their lives. This is an important distinction. A Narconon student does not enroll to recover from an “illness”; he enrolls to learn something that he doesn’t already know. He addresses the disability caused by drug use with new abilities, new skills for life.

Narconon staff prepare graduating students with “re-entry” programs to follow as they re-start their lives on a new foot. But the full Narconon program is intended to produce graduates who can stand on their own feet and live drug-free, ethical lives thereafter. A Narconon graduate does not go to weekly meetings for months after completion, nor does he describe himself as “recovering.”

A student who has graduated from the Narconon program has recovered. He or she has obtained a new orientation in life. The premise of the Narconon model is that a former addict can achieve a new life. This goal applies (and is routinely achieved) whether the program is delivered in a free-standing center, daily after work, or even in prison.

Once well, if he uses the tools he has practiced and learned to use at a Narconon center, a Narconon graduate can stay well. This is not theoretical. There are three decades of graduates who will swear by it.

If graduates do run into serious difficulties, they return to their Narconon center where they inevitably find a specific part of the program that they earlier failed to fully understand and therefore could not apply in the travails of daily life. But the majority get it the first time through.

The Narconon program takes four to six months. During this time, some might consider the Narconon program a “therapeutic community,” but it would be more appropriate to say that Narconon clients are going “back to school”–this time to get real tools for real life..

A Narconon Program Graduate is someone

* Who has completed the Narconon program;

* Who knows he is, in fact, capable of living a drug-free life thereafter;

* Who has improved his or her ability to learn and thus can accept new ideas on how to change life for the better;

* Who has personally absorbed the fundamentals of ethics and morality well enough that he or she can be productive and contributive to society and will have no further troubles with the justice system;

* Who knows how to solve the problems of life in a rational manner to the best of his ability, without the use of mind-altering drugs.

Each narconon program graduate is expected, no matter the severity of his or her earlier life experience, to achieve and to live a stably drug-free, ethical life, one for one.

There is no such thing as a “victim” in the Narconon program way of thinking. Even if life has dealt one a bad hand of cards, the road out is through personal recognition of responsibility for one’s own condition.

Fluorinated Drugs

Many medications are packing a potentially lethal hidden dose of fluoride. Over the past several years, numerous fluoride-containing medications have been pulled off the market for causing deaths and illness. Fluoride is highly toxic to the liver. In the liver all fluorides interfere with the metabolism of thyroid hormones, creating thyroid disorders and associated diseases, such as muscle diseases, heart disease, etc. Other effects can include a serious muscle disease that causes pain and weakness. Many psychoactive drugs are fluorinated. The fluorine atom is attached to the active ingredients in many drugs in order to allow them to penetrate into the brain or other targeted organs more easily. Because the fluoride enhances the penetrating power of the active ingredient, less of the active ingredient needs to be made, and the manufacturer can save money. But the side effects of all the fluoride-containing medications is scarcely ever discussed as a general health issue.

It is now being revealed that siliconfluoride may have links to antisocial behavior in youth. Many psychoactive drugs are fluorinated. The fluorine atom is attached to the active ingredients in many drugs in order to allow them to penetrate into the brain or other targeted organs more easily. Because the fluoride enhances the penetrating power of the active ingredient, less of the active ingredient needs to be made, and the manufacturer can save money. But the side effects of all the fluoride-containing medications is scarcely ever discussed as a general health issue. The primary ingredients of most psychoactive drugs suppress enzyme production, and the fluorine ion is also an enzyme inhibitor. The one particular side effect common to almost all fluorinated drugs, which is mentioned in the Physician's Desk Reference, is memory loss. These drugs, including Prozac (fluoxetene)--and Paxil--antidepression drugs, contain three fluorine atoms in each molecule that quickly kill the brain-issued enzymes that normally maintain mood stability.

Prozac and Paxil contain the fluoride containing Fluorophenyl compounds and are also known to cause liver disease. Organic fluoride compounds undergo extensive transformation in the liver, and in many instances the resulting metabolites may have higher activity and/or greater toxicity than the original compound. Prozac has caused hepatitis and has also been shown to promote tumors in the liver. Rophypnol (flunitrazepam, or "Roofies,")--the date rape drug--is fluorinated Valium, which is about 20-30 times more potent than Valium alone. Phen-Fen (Fenfluramine) a weight-loss drug, fluorinated corticosteroids and fluorinated psychoactive drugs all contain fluoride. In 2000, a U.S. district judge approved a $3.75 billion national settlement of health claims stemming from Fen-Phen. More than 9,000 lawsuits have been filed against American Home Products, maker of Fenfluramine. People taking such drugs might exceed 5 mgs. in just one prescribed application.

We are essentially putting psychoactive drugs into the water supply. If you go in for surgery, you'll usually be given a fluoride-based anesthetic because fluoride is virulent enough to throw you into an immediate coma. Sevoflurane, one of many fluorinated agents used in anesthesia, such as florinated Halothane, is thought to be responsible for renal failure. Hydrogen fluoride is the only toxic element in the nerve gas Sarin (1500 times more poisonous than cyanide) used in the Japanese subway attack. On August 8th, 2001, Baycol--a cholesterol-lowering drug taken by 700,000 Americans--was pulled off the market. It had been linked to 31 U.S. deaths. Bayer AG, the maker of the drug, would not disclose the total number of deaths worldwide. Scientists have found that all fluoride compounds interfere with thyroid hormones. Numerous congenital abnormalities have been reported due to first trimester exposure to Fluconsazole, a systemic anti-fungal agent. There have been numerous fluorinated drugs removed from the market recently. Most have been shown to cause serious adverse cardiac effects, probably due to fluoride's adverse effects on thyroid hormone activity.

 

Once-popular medicines now withdrawn due to safety concerns:

* Cisapride ("Propulsid") was withdrawn because it caused severe cardiac side effects (2000);

* Mibedrafil ("Posicor") was withdrawn after it was shown that patients with congestive heart failure showed a trend to higher mortality (1998);

* Flosequinan was withdrawn in 1993 after it was shown that the beneficial effects on the symptoms of heart failure did not last beyond the first 3 months of therapy. After the first 3 months of therapy, patients on the drug had a higher rate of hospitalization than patients taking a placebo;

* Astemizole (allergy drug) was withdrawn in 1999 because it also became associated with serious life threatening cardiac adverse events;

* Fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were withdrawn in 1997 due to serious cardiac adverse health effects; only the fluorinated compound ("Fen" - fenfluramine) was withdrawn, while Phentermine ("Phen") was not pulled."

* Tolrestat (anti-diabetic) was withdrawn in 1997 after the appearance of severe liver toxicity and deaths;

* In 1992 Abbott withdrew the antibiotic Temafloxacin ("Omniflox"). The drug had caused deaths, liver dysfunction, etc.

* Grepafloxacin was removed from the market in 1999 because of serious cardiac events.

One needs to look at the product insert to see if the actual chemical compound is described. It is usually listed as "fluoro"–something, or as "F" in the chemical formula. The best way is to go to one of the sites on the Internet listing product monographs, such as www.rxlist.com and to look up the product in question. However, the fluoride often is hidden in another chemical additive: gelatin made from cow-bones, or among phosphates. In essence, the consumer, taking medications because of illness, has almost no way to check out whether or not their pills contain a chemical that could potentially make them even sicker–or kill them.

 

Cancer

Cancer is the second safety concern for widely used drugs because drug therapy involves the body absorbing relatively large amounts of a powerful chemical. There might be trace amounts of a suspected carcinogen in the pesticide residue on an apple, possibly a little more in the burnt material on a barbecued beefsteak. That exposure is tiny, compared to swallowing several pills a day for months or years on end. Among the top 50 drugs, human evidence of cancer risk is reported for 4 drugs, animal evidence implicates another 12 drugs, and an additional 2 cause cell mutations. Among the best-selling drugs, 19 were apparently not tested for cancer risk. Therefore, 18 of the top 50 drugs have measureable cancer risks. Among the popular drugs with one of the above-noted cancer risks are Premarin, Mevacor, Dilantin, and Prilosec.

Safety

When we remove from the list of safe drugs those with either addiction potential or positive evidence of cancer risk, just 24 of the original top 50 are left. Next, we will eliminate drugs that are unusually toxic, which includes any drug that has been linked to more than 50 different side effects. To meet the unusually toxic title, these many adverse effects must also occur so frequently that at least 10% of the patients discontinued the drug during testing. This standard immediately claims the three most popular antidepressants--Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. Each causes more than 200 different adverse effects and is discontinued by about 15% of patients.

A drug also qualifies as unusually toxic if it can create a potentially life-threatening medical emergency with little or no warning. This includes all antibiotics that are based on penicillin. Another potentially life-threatening emergency comes from two asthma drugs on the list--Proventil and Ventolin. Instead of relieving the symptoms of an asthma attack, these drugs can unexpectedly producing life-threatening bronchial spasm. The third and last test for unusual toxicity is if a small overdose could occur because a consumer forgets and takes an extra pill, or because some other factor or illness reduced the body's capacity to process or eliminate the drug--leading to a medical emergency of life-threatening crisis. This includes the popular antihistamine Seldane; the most widely used heart drug, Lanoxin,and Coumadin, the drug that prevents blood clots. With all the unusually toxic drugs removed from the shrinking list, our search for a safe drug has now narrowed to just 14. Finally, safe drugs ought to be free of adverse effects on the heart. This standard eliminates all but 4 of the 14 remaining drugs. In fact, cardiac adverse effects are so widespread that this test would have eliminated 25 of the drugs all by itself. If we tally up the risks of the top 50, we discover that 7 can cause addiction, 18 have cancer risks, 18 are unusually toxic, and 25 have cardiac risks. Addiction, cancer risk, unusual toxicity, and cardiac effects are reported for most drugs.

NSAIDs

The consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including aspirin in our society is greater than any other drug class. NSAIDs are used by at least 13 million Americans with arthritic conditions, leading to 16,500 NSAID-related deaths annually (similar to the number of deaths from AIDS). Over 27 million pounds of aspirin (a toxic poison) are consumed by Americans each year. Aspirin is a drug that most Americans take without thinking twice. It's an over the counter drug considered by almost everyone to be completely safe. Aspirin can interact with more than forty other drugs. Over ten thousand cases of serious aspirin overdose occur in this country every year--many of the victims are children. As little as 10 grams (about 20 "extra-strength" tablets, or about 30 regular aspirin) have been fatal in adults, and it takes far less in a child. A major concern with NSAID drugs, though, relates to their well-established ability to induce gastrointestinal injury in the forms of erosion, bleeding, ulceration and perforation. NSAID use increases the relative risk of serious gastrointestinal events three-to-fourfold, and higher for the elderly. 30-60% of chronic NSAID users develop gastro-duodenal erosions; 5-30% of chronic users develop ulcers. One-third of patients over age 60 with bleeding from peptic ulcers are on NSAIDs. Two-thirds of patients over age 60 with GI perforations are on NSAIDs. Over 100,000 people are hospitalized annually in the U.S. for serious GI complications from NSAID use. The mortality rate for patients hospitalized for upper GI bleeding from NSAIDs is 5-10%. Advanced age is a primary risk factor for adverse GI events from NSAID use, and the risk increases steadily with age. This "silent epidemic" appears without symptoms in up to 40% of cases of NSAID-induced erosive gastritis. While 10-20% of NSAID users have dyspepsia (indigestion), this is not a reliable indicator of mucosal injury.

Damage to the gastric epithelium begins within minutes of taking an NSAID, and hemorrhages and erosions follow within hours. In most people the gastric mucosa adapt over time, but studies show that 60-100% of patients on NSAIDs for 1 to 2 weeks develop submucosal hemorrhage, superficial erosions, erythema (mucous membrane inflammation), or blood in the stool. NSAID toxicity extends to the small intestine and bowel, as manifested in silent ulcerations, colitis-like conditions, and aggravation of inflammatory bowel disease. Doses of aspirin as low as 30 mg. suppress the production of protective prostaglandins in the gastric mucosa. In addition, aspirin's direct contact with the gastrointestinal tract interferes with the hydrophobic "non-wettable" properties that protect the underlying epithelium from gastric acid and other toxins and increase the tissue's susceptibility to the corrosion of gastric acid.

After aspirin, sleeping pills are the most widely used drugs in the U.S. At a cost of more than $175 million, over 1 billion sleeping pills are swallowed every year, enough theoretically to put every man, woman and child in the nation to sleep for 200 hours. Doctors have been far too casual in the way they hand out such prescriptions and not informing patients about proper use. In one survey, less than 20% of the doctors knew the basic action and reason for prescribing one of the most commonly written prescriptions in the U.S.--Valium, popularized even more by ex-first lady, Betty Ford. In one year, over 60 million prescriptions were written for Valium .

One out of eight prescriptions filled--1.5 billion prescriptions per year--is for a drug not considered effective by the government's own standards. Doctors are prescribing drugs by the truckload, but for the most part, they are keeping their patients in the dark about adverse reactions. Pollster Louis Harris conducted a survey for the FDA and discovered that "Only about one out of four patients recalls having been told of side effects by the physician or someone in his or her office." Because of intimidation, only 2% to 4% ask questions in the physician's office. Two million elderly Americans become ill or die each year because of reactions to drugs often prescribed unnecessarily and sometimes taken in deadly doses. Elderly are given mind-altering drugs and thousands have died after getting wrong dosages and others were used as guinea pigs in drug experiments. Doctors are ignorant of the extent of medication-related deaths partly because autopsies are rarely performed on the elderly, leaving physicians to guess the cause. Health Information Systems, Inc., studying side effects of drugs, chose the twenty most prescribed drugs and ascertained that, from that selected twenty, there had been reported a minimum of 121 different adverse reactions. All of those drugs had at least three serious, undesired effects with some of the twenty having up to 12 health-destroying reactions. The very worst were those used in the treatment of hypertension. Tegretol, used to relieve pain and control seizures, had the greatest number of adverse reactions.

Psychiatric Drugs

There is a growing movement within psychiatry to do more medicating of children in the preschool years, and Prozac is joining Ritalin as the "drug of choice." Prozac is now the most frequently prescribed psychiatric drug. Physicians, mostly non-psychiatrists, are now writing a million prescriptions a month for Prozac, which retails in most areas for approximately $63 for a one-month, one-a-day, supply of 20 mg. capsules. Other newer drugs in this class are Zoloft, Paxil, and Luvox. At the same time, psychiatrists are more often saying that adult patients should remain on drugs for many years and often for a lifetime.

Increasingly, the elderly are being treated for depression with drugs and shock treatment, despite their obviousneeds for a place of greater meaning in our society. Psychiatry, not society, is becoming our guardian from the cradle to the grave. Ritalin is a powerful brain stimulant with effects similar to cocaine and the amphetamines. However, in children it has a calming effect. Given Ritalin, children sit more calmly and quietly in class. They have less spontaneity in speech and thought, but focus better on assigned tasks. On short-term measures of attention and retention, they do better. Enthusiasts for drug treatment claim hyperactivity in children is a "biochemical imbalance," apparently corrected by Ritalin, but researchers cannot identify which chemicals are involved, or find abnormal levels in the afflicted children. The chemical imbalance theory has not been established by scientific evidence. The manufacturer declares, "The mode of action in man is not completely understood. Ritalin presumably activates the brainstem arousal system and cortex." Translated into plain English, the manufacturer appears to have concluded that Ritalin "presumably" affects the brain. A drug whose chemical effects are uncertain is being given to children with a condition that cannot be precisely defined and is of unknown cause. Ritalin is being given to almost 10% of school-age boys for short-term control of behavior--not to reduce any identifiable hazard to their health.

The first concern about Ritalin is serious or irreversible side-effects. The best documented problem is a form of brain damage called Tourette's syndrome. It causes tics, twitching, and abnormal sounds or movement, sometimes of a bizarre nature. The manufacturer of Ritalin declares, "Sufficient data on the safety and efficacy of long-term use of Ritalin are not yet available." The Drug Enforcement Administration has publicized its growing concerns about the outright abuse of this now universally available drug to get high. It is astonishing that an uncritical nation has so enthusiastically embraced a drug that can cause cancer in animals, addiction in adults, brain damage in children, and whose long-term safety has not been established. The dangers of biopsychiatry for the individual and society cannot be exaggerated. Beyond causing physical side effects, drugs almost always blunt and confuse our emotional responses--our internal signal system. For the child or young adult, this means delaying and ultimately stunting the process of psychosocial growth and development during the years when self and identity are being formed. Our mettle is formed in the heat of human emotion and conflict, and drugs dampen and put out the fire. This expanding use of psychiatric diagnoses and drugs means that many of our most creative young people will never approach the fulfillment of their creative potential. Instead of struggling through the painful process of working out their personal relationship with themselves and others, they will--like the proverbial square pegs--be forced into round holes. Their edges will be shaved smooth in the process, and with it their uniqueness will be sacrificed. For any age person, taking psychiatric drugs causes a more emotionally shallow life. It has been said that the unexamined life is not worth living.

 

Long-Term Testing Requirement For Psychiatric Drugs Abandoned Due To Big Pharma Pressure On The FDA

The bipolar medication lithium is so toxic that it often causes major kidney damage, yet most patients must use it for lifetime maintenance of manic-depressive disorder. Similarly, schizophrenics often spend lifetimes on neuroleptics with long-term side effects such as tardive dyskinesias, or uncontrollable movement of the face, tongue, lips and extremities.

The point here? Side effects almost always go hand-in-hand with taking a medication for a long duration in order to treat a chronic condition. With that in mind, it seems outrageous that on Oct. 25, 2005, a panel voted to defeat the FDA's proposal to extend pre-approval testing of psychiatric drugs from two short-term studies to six-month trials. In layman's terms, psychiatric drugs will not be tested for a long enough time to determine their safety for long-term use before they are approved. Now, they can be tested for as little as two weeks, then given the stamp of safety approval by the FDA after which they will be used for years, if not decades, on unsuspecting patients.

In a Sept. 26 memo, Dr. Thomas P. Laughren, acting director of the FDA's Division of Psychiatry Products, gave solid reasons for the FDA's desire to extend its required testing time. In fact, he begins the memo with a simple fact that makes the need for long-term testing clear: "Most psychiatric illnesses are chronic." He later goes on to explain that current short-term testing methods advocate stopping treatment of subjects who are responding to the drug after only a few weeks, something that would be considered "ethically questionable" in actual clinical treatment. In other words, real-world patients with mental disorders may have to stay on these drugs for months, years, decades and possibly even a lifetime, so why should clinical testing be limited to the short term?

The current short-term tests also present a problem for psychiatrists who are prescribing a newly-approved drug. As Dr. Laughren explains, "Since most treatment guidelines for chronic psychiatric illnesses recommend continuing patients for four to six months or longer after response during short-term treatment, clinicians have generally not had a sufficient evidence base (from pre-approval studies) to support what is the standard practice of drug treatment of psychiatric illnesses."

When a psychiatric drug first hits the market, prescribing physicians are largely left in the dark about treatment issues after a patient stays on the medication longer than the six to 12 weeks tested during approval trials. Yes, the FDA generally asks for longer-term studies to be completed after approval, but it can be years before this is done. During this time patients are put at risk for side effects that did not emerge in the short pre-approval studies.

How Big Pharma overrules the FDA

Though Dr. Laughren rightly petitioned for testing standards to change, Big Pharma once again flexed its muscles and defeated the FDA's acting director and other supporters of longer safety testing requirements. Pharmaceutical industry executives from Merck, Wyeth and Eli Lilly gathered with academic researchers and presented the 11-member Psychopharmacological Drugs Advisory Committee with 15 presentations, all against extending the duration of pre-approval trials to six months.

Their argument? According to Eli Lilly's David Michelson, executive director for neuroscience medical research, half of all patients switch psychiatric medications after three months of treatment, with the figure reaching as high as 70 percent after six months. According to this logic, conducting six-month pre-approval tests will not benefit enough psychiatric patients to warrant the policy change. In other words, Big Pharma is saying we should ignore the potential health risks posed to psychiatric patients who take these drugs on a long-term basis because they don't make up a large consumer group. This perspective is alarming in itself, but given the scandals surrounding Vioxx and other prescription drugs, it comes as no surprise.

The facts are clear: Mental illness is presently an epidemic in modern society, a result of our chronic malnutrition and ingestion of metabolic disruptors (ingredients that disrupt normal brain function, such as refined sugars, trans fatty acids, chemical sweeteners, artificial colors, etc.). According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in five American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental illness.

To make matters worse, our population's desire for "magic pill" solutions has made us look to chemical cures for nutritionally- and environmentally-based problems. Because of this trend, drugs that we don't fully understand are being prescribed to an ever-increasing percentage of our population. The long-term effects of this could be disastrous.

In this case, the FDA tried to take a positive step in protecting the public, but failed under the pressure from Big Pharma. It's now up to concerned consumers like you to make your voice heard. Tell the FDA that you want psychiatric medication adequately tested, no matter what Big Pharma says.

 

The Insurance/Pharmaceutical Industries’ Influence on Medical Doctors

A doctor’s skills of observation, physical examination and deductive reasoning, which used to be considered his most essential diagnostic tools, have now been replaced by reliance on narrowly interpreted lab tests and lists of numerical diagnoses allowable by insurance plans. The health insurance industry has forced the entire practice of medicine to restrict itself to pre-approved numbered codes for both the diagnosis and the treatment of all health conditions. Drugs or surgery are usually the only therapies offered by modern medicine, even when they are inappropriate. So if an illness does not show up clearly on a lab test or fit a diagnostic code, and if there is no known surgical or drug treatment for the symptoms, then it is as though the problem is non-existent.

Medical doctors today are constricted by medical licensing boards, the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and their patients’ expectations of quick recovery. As a result of these influences and a certain bias in their training, they think and practice primarily pharmaceutical medicine, seeking to prescribe the appropriate drug for the condition. Because of the ever-present threat of a malpractice suit and the conservative influence of peer review boards, medical doctors have become much less willing and able to try something different to help their patients.

Malpractice is not decided just on the basis of the harm suffered by the patient, but on the consensus of the medical profession about what would be considered “proper” protocol in that particular situation. So, to protect themselves, most doctors have become much more orthodox in their practice of medicine. Their training no longer prepares them to explore beyond lab tests or routine signs and symptoms, nor do they often, if ever, consider truly alternative therapies. It has become unrewarding and down right dangerous to do any real thinking when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.

In addition to the fact that medical training is now dependent on huge pharmaceutical corporations for funding, modern medicine is currently in the stranglehold of insurance companies. Under our present medical system, most physicians’ incomes come primarily from insurance companies. Paperwork created by the insurance industry and licensing boards that is required of therapists, physicians, clinics and hospitals demands that each patient be given what is called an “ICD” (International Classification of Disease) code for their medical condition. This ICD code puts a name on your disease or condition. No one can fit in the cracks. You must have an ICD code to classify your illness.

Everyone is required to have an ICD. If there is no ICD, the financial medical wheel quickly comes to a halt for that patient and for the doctor treating them. Records are incomplete without these codes and bills cannot be submitted to insurance companies without them. Consequently, physicians must identify the patient’s diagnosis with an ICD code or the insurance companies will not pay them.

Patients also depend on the insurance companies to pay for whatever therapy they receive, but an insurance company will only pay for certain therapies that are approved as appropriate for each ICD code (diagnosis). If the doctor does not use an approved therapy for his diagnostic (ICD) code, there will be no payment. Without insurance coverage of the costs, most patients as well as most doctors are unwilling to proceed with any medical treatment. As a result many conditions rarely get treated, even if the physician knows it exists.

 

Industry Domination

The drug companies dominate the entire process of medication therapy--from early research to ultimate usage--as few other industries control their products today. Drug company research and development often serves marketing strategies more than sound science or patients' safety. Drug companies choose research study designs that are more likely to produce favorable results rather than designs that might provide more accurate results. Drug companies can conduct multiple studies on new drugs, and then select and publish the most favorable ones while suppressing the rest. Drug company studies can measure a drug's effectiveness in multiple ways, then select and publish only the best results. Sometimes these favorable results have little to do with whether the drugs will help patients. Drug companies hire professional writers to prepare articles according to company guidelines, using favorable phrases and terms selected by the companies. Drug companies hire high-profile experts to place their names on drug company-generated articles, although the experts have not participated in the studies and their financial connections with the drug companies are not disclosed. Drug companies underwrite 70% of all medication research today. This gives the pharmaceutical industry tremendous power over the entire medication research effort, including the threat of lawsuits or loss of future funding for physicians wanting to publish unfavorable findings. More and more, drug companies are requiring researchers to sign confidential agreements before receiving any funding, giving the companies the power to suppress findings they don't like. The pharmaceutical industry's ability to amass wealth, while hospitals and medical centers struggle financially, has allowed the drug companies to intrude into the arena of independent academic medicine. Academic medical institutions are themselves growing increasingly beholden to industry.

Some academic institutions have entered into partnerships with drug companies to set up research centers and teaching programs in which students and faculty members essentially carry out industry research. When the boundaries between industry and academic medicine become as blurred as they now are, the business goals of industry influence the mission of the medical schools in multiple ways. The influences of the marketplace should not become woven into the fabric of academic medicine. For-profit businesses are pledged to increase the value of their investors' stock. Drastic reductions in insurance and Medicare payments have placed great pressure on medical institutions and research physicians to accept the money--and terms--of the drug companies. At the same time, the drug companies spend billions targeting office physicians, as well as new interns and residents, with gifts, free meals, travel subsidies, and subsidized symposia, presenting the drug companies' spin on their medications.

 

Deep Pocket Diplopia

New reports on the large number of deaths attributable to a common pain reliever have some health experts accusing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of engaging in a double standard when it comes to dietary supplements. The FDA is now facing an over-the-counter product that every year kills at least 100 people and sends another 56,000 to emergency rooms—acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and some other non-prescription and prescription drugs.

The FDA, the agency responsible for protecting the people are not advocating a ban on Tylenol like a number of herbs and vitamins, but are merely seeking to “educate” the public about it.

In January, 2004, the FDA halted the sale of ephedra products. The ban on the herb is based on claims the dietary supplement was possibly related to two deaths over the last 10 years. An FDA-commissioned study, performed by the RAND Corporation, considered every recorded adverse reaction through 2002. However, researchers could only identify 20 cases of serious symptoms among ephedra users where there was an attempt to rule out alternative explanations.

The serious symptoms included two deaths, “four myocardial infarctions, nine cerebrovascular accidents, one seizure and three psychiatric cases.” However, even the FDA noted that these accounts “do not prove that ephedra caused the adverse event…Other unmeasured factors may have contributed, and such serious adverse events are likely to happen among the millions of users of ephedra anyway.”

Even those critics of ephedra who have accepted all reports of a death “linked” to the herb, believe there have been only 155 ephedra-related deaths. However, when theh fact that an estimated 12 to 17 million Americans have taken somewhere around 3 billion doses annually is taken into consideration, even that questionable number seems remarkably low.

Health experts are now wondering why ephedra was banned on the basis of questionable evidence while Tylenol is allowed to continue unabated despite overwhelming evidence. When users of the 600 or so drugs that contain acetaminophen follow directions, they are urged to read the small print listing side effects—the most prevalent of which is liver damage.

The contrasting attitude dealing with pharmaceuticals as opposed to dietary supplements is most clearly illustrated by the media’s treatment of two recent tragedies. The media went into a frenzy over reports that Baltimore Orioles' pitcher Steve Bechler died of heat stroke that had been widely attributed to his use of ephedra. However, Bechler—though physically healthy—had a history of hypertension and liver abnormalities and had been on a diet. The coroner’s office said a combination of all these factors likely led to Bechler’s death. However, the media laid the blame squarely on ephedra.

On the other hand, acetaminophen is one of the leading substances involved in drug overdose, reports the Institute of Medical Education , a medical think tank established by a health insurance company. In 2001, there were more than 29,000 exposures to acetaminophen reported to U.S. poison centers and 63 deaths associated with acetaminophen overdose.

In 2002 the FDA’s scientific advisors urged the agency to require that bright, bold warnings be placed directly on the front labels of Tylenol warning of overdose. That advice was not implemented. When a 23-year-old Florida man died due to unintentional overdose of Tylenol following a wrist injury, no headlines showed up across the nation.

Critics say that this double standard has nothing to do with Americans’ health and everything to do with economics. Surely those in the media can see what’s going on.

 

Promotions

The drug industry spends more than $10 billion a year to promote drugs to doctors and consumers alike. An army of drug salesmen daily plies doctors with free samples, gifts, and snappy brochures touting drug benefits. Newspapers and television news are filled with direct-to-consumer advertising. National medical specialty meetings are important for the continuing education of U.S. physicians.

The pharmaceutical industry recognizes the importance of these meetings and has devoted increasing amounts of financial support to help underwrite them; in the process they set up exhibits, usually in a large hall near the meeting rooms. At a recent Senate labor committee hearing on marketing and promotion practices, it was revealed that the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $85 million in one year on various symposia, including those sponsored at such meetings. An additional $24 million were spent on gifts distributed to physicians, and $54 million were spent on various reminder items designed to enhance the image of a pharmaceutical company and its products. The bottom line of $163 million represents an increase of more than 500% over the amount spent in ten years earlier. How safe is a system that can't even count the deaths and serious injuries, let alone operate effective programs to prevent them? How sane is a system that provides mind-altering drugs to millions for decades without first establishing the long-term safety and benefits?

Beyond these direct influences, drug companies exert broad influence over the drug information received by doctors and consumers. The vast majority of everything physicians and consumers read and know about medications comes from the drug companies. Medication package inserts, drug advertising toward physicians and consumers, and the information in the ubiquitous Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR) come directly from the drug companies. Where do most doctors turn for medication and dosage information? To the PDR, to drug company representatives who make the rounds of doctors' offices, and to advertising in medical journals. Yet, the medication information offered by these drug company-supported sources is often biased, incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate.

Price Gouging

Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. A recent search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA revealed that a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries. In one independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, data was obtained revealing the actual price of active ingredients used in some of the most popular drugs sold in America . The data below speaks for itself.

Celebrex: 100 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27

Cost of general active ingredients: $0.60

Percent markup: 21,712%

Claritin: 10 mg

Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17

Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71

Percent markup: 30,306%

Keflex: 250 mg

Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39

Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88

Percent markup: 8,372%

Lipitor: 20 mg

Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37

Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80

Percent markup: 4,696%

Norvasc: 10 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $188.29

Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14

Percent markup: 134,493%

Paxil: 20 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27

Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60

Percent markup: 2,898%

Prevacid: 30 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77

Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01

Percent markup: 34,136%

Prilosec: 20 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97

Cost of general active ingredients $0.52

Percent markup: 69,417%

Prozac: 20 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47

Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11

Percent markup: 224,973%

Tenormin: 50 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47

Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13

Percent markup: 80,362%

Vasotec: 10 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37

Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20

Percent markup: 51,185%

Xanax: 1 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79

Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024

Percent markup: 569,958%

Zestril: 20 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89

Cost of general active ingredients $3.20

Percent markup: 2,809

Zithromax: 600 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19

Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78

Percent markup: 7,892%

Zocor: 40 mg

Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27

Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63

Percent markup: 4,059%

Zoloft: 50 mg

Consumer price: $206.87

Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75

Percent markup: 11,821%

It pays to shop around. This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen’s on every corner. Recently, Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit , did a story on generic drug price gouging by pharmacies. He found in his investigation, that some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more. Yes, that’s not a typo.....three thousand percent! So often, we blame the drug companies for the high cost of drugs, and usually rightfully so. But in this case, the fault clearly lies with the pharmacies themselves. For example, if you had to buy a prescription drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills. The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are “saving” $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10!

At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs.

 

 

 

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