Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen
Just two days ago, in my newsletter article The Coming “US Health Movement v. Big Pharma” Codex War…, I announced the demise of Big Pharma’s attempt to shut down the supplement industry. But little did I know at the time that that day, Tuesday, April 5th, 2005, would go down in the annals as a double-whammy of Big Pharma’s murderous intent. Wait ’til you read this.
Sit up straight. For, this story you are almost NOT going to believe. I’m going to have to convince you with data. To do that I’m going to tell you that you are going to have to do what I just did – you’re going to have to read a 126 page report just issued by the British government titled “House of Commons Health Committee – THE INFLUENCE OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY”
The British government is setting up the “guillotine.” There’s going to be a “Bastille Day” in London. Sell your pharmaceutical stock – quick.
This morning I received an e-mail from health freedom advocate Larry Hanus (firstname.lastname@example.org) who said:
This is a most important document. I encourage you to read it in it’s entirety. Please make time to do so. You might want to read through the conclusions and recommendations beginning on page 97 of the report, then go back and read the entire document.
Please ensure that your legislators have a copy of this. The UK has provided an excellent blueprint of what can and MUST be done here in the United States with regards to restoring the proper balance between the pharmaceutical industry, it’s regulatory agency, our political leaders and the public trust. As those who worked on this document conclude – the welfare and health of the people is of paramount importance. All decisions made should ultimately be to benefit the public health.
I did just what Larry said to do – and he was absolutely right. This report is dynamite. The conclusions and recommendations are ASTOUNDING. They sound like they came out of the mouth of the North American Health Freedom Movement. For example:
The commercial success of the industry is not in doubt, nor is its ability to produce excellent science and important drugs; however, its ability to put the health of the nation consistently before the needs and expectations of its shareholders may be questioned. The evidence to this inquiry indicated that, in recent years, large pharmaceutical companies have become ever more focused on a marketing-based approach. In our view, this is the source of many of the problems we have identified. However, these problems are global and we received no evidence that the situation in the UK was worse than in other countries.
In Chapter 8 we examined the overall influence of the pharmaceutical industry. It is widely welcomed and relied on, but it is also pervasive and persistent.Our over-riding concerns are about the volume, extent and intensity of the industry’s influence, not only on clinical medicine and research but also on patients, regulators, the media, civil servants and politicians.
The failings we have described have consequences, in particular: The unsafe use of drugs; and The increasing medicalisation of society. These problems have existed in many countries. The UK may have a better record than many others. Drugs have been used unsafely in every country and we have no doubt that the drift towards medicalisation is a global phenomenon.
I won’t go into what the report said about “the unsafe use of drugs” – for the Vioxx scandal, et al, are common knowledge. Read the report about those findings. But what I find terribly enlightening is their section on “The increasing medicalisation of society.” For example:
A major and recurring issue raised during the inquiry is the increased ‘medicalisation’ of our society – the pill for every problem.
The belief that every problem may be solved with medication seems particularly relevant in the context of antidepressants. While we readily accept that antidepressants can be effective medicines and have been successfully used by many patients,… Unhappiness is part of the spectrum of human experience, not a medical condition.
This trend has not been created by the pharmaceutical industry but it has been encouraged by it. The industry has acted, in the words of some witnesses, as a “disease-monger”, with the aim of categorising an increasing number of individuals as ‘abnormal’ and thereby requiring (drug) treatment. This process has led to an unhealthy over-reliance on, and an over-use of, medicines. It also diverts resources and priorities from more significant diseases and health problems.
The “Conclusions” section of the report reads like one of my opinion pieces. But, what will stun you is the report’s “Recommendations.” There were forty eight (48) of those, all told, which, basically, would shut down Big Pharma’s pervasive influence and control, and provide attention to non-drug therapies. These included: (1) removal of most drug advertising, (2) tighter monitoring of drugs before and after launch, (3) government funding for non-drug alternatives, (4) monitoring of funding of “patient” groups, (5) training in medical schools on how to evaluate drugs versus non-drug therapies, and much, much, much, much, more.
We are heading for a health care “Nuremberg…” And, it’s about time…
Tim Bolen – Consumer Advocate