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SO . . . what's in YOUR bag?
There's a much bigger story than you might think about the recent hoo-ha concerning Vioxx being pulled from the market. It's not just about Vioxx or Merck, the drug's manufacturer. Virtually all prescription drugs that are heavily marketed by pharmaceutical companies today are harmful to human physiology. Every drug has unintended side effects, and almost no drugs undergo thorough testing. This is one of the great misunderstood points about modern medicine -- people think that the FDA approves drugs only after they have been adequately tested on large numbers of people for several years. They think that drugs must be "proven" safe before the FDA will approve them. But this is not the case at all; in fact, the FDA is increasingly approving drugs after very short trials. I've seen drugs approved after 12 weeks of testing on a couple hundred people. That's hardly the threshold of credibility that should be required of prescription drugs before they are unleashed on the public and marketed to tens of millions of people along with instructions that tell people to be taking these for life.
That's one of the big scams in the pharmaceutical industry -- these drugs are tested on a few hundred people (or sometimes only a few dozen people) for very short durations, such as a couple of months or weeks, and then they are approved by the FDA on fast track programs and heavily marketed to the general public with instructions that they should be used for a lifetime. Vioxx, it turns out, was a sleeping giant of a problem. It was a hidden landmine that people were taking on a daily basis, thinking it was doing them some good. But the real risk to Vioxx only became apparent after people were taking it for a period of years.
Well, the question remains -- what other prescription drugs have the same problems that are only going to become apparent years later? I can give you the answer to two of those right now, and that is antidepressant drugs and statin drugs. On the antidepressant drugs front, the evidence is now starting to emerge. We're finding that drug companies distorted clinical trials, withheld information from the FDA, and then suppressed negative studies that would have shown quite clearly the correlation between antidepressants and violent behavior / suicides.
In contrast, there is very little talk about statin drugs and the hidden dangers they pose to human health. We have tens of millions of people now either taking statin drugs or considering taking them in order to lower their LDL cholesterol, based on advice from their doctors. For their part, doctors and physicians are heavily hyping up statin drugs and claiming that nearly everyone should be taking these for life because "they're so good for you." There's even been talk of dripping statin drugs into the water supply -- an idea that is so outlandish as to be truly bizarre, even for Big Pharma.
People who take statin drugs today are going to learn something quite interesting five or ten years from now. What they're going to learn is what people who have been taking Vioxx are learning today, which is that these drugs are not adequately tested, that there are severe side effects, and that a person's total health is actually reduced when they take prescription drugs.
Let's face it -- drug companies sell the promise of health, longevity, and cures for diseases. They use imagery that makes you think you might be healthy by taking their drugs. They spend billions of dollars on promotion to convince people that their lives will be happier and healthier if they would only purchase these pills and take them on a regular basis. They promise all of this, but they deliver none of it. In contrast, what they actually deliver is liver toxicity, brain confusion, birth defects, imbalanced physiology, and a chain reaction of biological side effects that are only now beginning to surface in the scientific community.
Patent medicines are toxic chemicals that are not suitable for human consumption. And the more heavily marketed a prescription drug is, the worse it ends up being for you.
Patent medicines are toxic chemicals that are not suitable for human consumption. And the more heavily marketed a prescription drug is, the worse it ends up being for you.What we need to do as a society is learn from these mistakes. It's time to take a much closer look at the highly corrupt relationship between the FDA and pharmaceutical companies. It's time to re-examine the drug approval process and demand a much higher standard of safety. It's time to hold pharmaceutical companies financially accountable for the death and the harm they cause to tens of millions of customers who consume their products and who suffer the health consequences as a result.
It's time to stop pushing drugs onto consumers as something they should be taking for a lifetime, and start reverting back to the only justifiable role of prescription drugs that a society should allow: the temporary, emergency use of them to balance acute metabolic or biological disorders to give the patient enough time to make lifestyle changes that could bring their health back into balance. And finally, it's also time to ban all direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies. These ads, which are plastered across television stations, billboards, and seem to dominate magazines and newspapers these days, do nothing but unduly influence customers, causing them to request overpriced, brand name prescription drugs from their doctors, even when they have no clue whatsoever what the drugs do for them. Direct-to-consumer advertising is partly responsible for this current Vioxx mess, and it is something that should be outlawed in our nation in order to protect the health of the public.
Let's get serious about this. Patients don't have the training to determine whether they should be taking certain prescription drugs -- this is a decision that doctors should be making. So why are pharmaceutical companies allowed to advertise directly to the general public in the first place? The kind of system we should have in place is a system where all drug trial results are publicly posted in an open-source database, and then where doctors can have free and open access to that database to decide on their own what drugs might be useful in certain limited situations. Virtually all pharmaceutical marketing, advertising, and public relations should be outlawed, including the pharmaceutical influence in medical schools and drug rep visits to doctor's offices.
Until we are willing to step up and put a limit on the influence and reach of the pharmaceutical industry, we as a nation are going to continue to collide with results like we're seeing here with Vioxx. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The increase in heart attack and strokes from taking Vioxx was rather small, but there are no doubt other prescription drugs that have far more dangerous side effects, and I believe that includes statin drugs which will someday be the source of a major class-action lawsuit against Big Pharma.
As an end user, what can you do to protect yourself from the hidden, unknown side effects of prescription drugs? The answer is simple: don't work with any doctor who uses drugs as a first resort. Find yourself a naturopathic physician, and do everything you can in terms of changing your lifestyle, engaging in physical exercise, getting natural sunshine, and pursuing a highly nutritious diet in order to enhance your health and prevent disease so that you don't need prescription drugs in the first place.
Remember, the human body has a blueprint for health. All you need to do is provide it with the building blocks it needs and engage in the kinds of activity for which it was designed. Your body can achieve health on its own, without chemical additives in the form of prescription drugs. In fact, the minute you start taking a prescription drug, your health begins to decline, and it is very difficult to reverse.
By the way, for those suffering from arthritis and inflammation, here are two simple things you can do to reduce that inflammation. Number one, drink lots of water, because often inflammation is a result of a state of chronic dehydration. And number two, avoid drinking cow's milk, because dairy products actually promote stagnation -- and to some degree, various allergic reactions throughout the body which may be misdiagnosed as arthritis.
Also, be sure to get plenty of vitamin D, and the best way to do that is to get natural sunlight on your skin on a regular basis. Dr. Colick, author of the UV Advantage, recommends that people with fair skin get 5-10 minutes a day, 3 days a week in order to get adequate vitamin D into their diet. As he explains it, many people who suffer from aches and arthritis are actually suffering from nothing more complicated than a chronic vitamin D deficiency, because they aren't getting sunlight and they aren't getting vitamin D in their diet.
So, if you do these three things -- avoiding cow's milk and dairy products, drinking lots of water each day, and getting vitamin D into your diet through exposure to natural sunlight or by taking cod liver oil as a nutritional supplement -- you will find that most of your aches and pains are fading away in the first place.
Bottom line is, people don't need Vioxx. What they need is an education about what really works, not only to reverse the symptoms of arthritis, but to engage in a healthy lifestyle that prevents chronic disease in the long run.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Obviously, the solution to the Big Pharma Holocaust is to give them even more taxpayer money !
Monday, February 14, 2005 Commentary - author: Mike Adams
Problems with Vioxx prompt Bush's call for beefed-up FDA drug-monitoring programs
In his tightly packed federal budget proposal that calls for deep cuts to many government programs, President Bush asks for a 24 percent funding increase for drug monitoring. Bush cites last year's problems with Vioxx as the main sign the Food and Drug Administration needs more money. FDA officials are still dealing with the consequences of originally approving the arthritis painkiller that was eventually pulled from the market after links to heart attacks were discovered. If you find this article interesting, be sure to also read 'Merck caught in scandal to bury Vioxx heart attack risks, intimidate scientists and keep pushing dangerous drugs; Vioxx lawsuits now forming.'
Where do you find a two-dollar bottle of sodium chloride selling for $928.51? In Big Pharma, of course, where 79 drug companies are now being accused of defrauding state Medicaid programs by artificially inflating the prices of drugs. According to the Department of Justice, the actual wholesale price of many drugs and medical supplies is a mere fraction of what is claimed by the drug companies. The difference -- the "price spread" -- is pure profit for drug companies who are profiting handsomely at the expense of taxpayers.
The scam is being described by the Alabama Attorney General as a "systematic" effort by pharmaceutical companies to defraud states of billions of dollars. It's yet another example of the widespread lack of ethics in the pharmaceutical industry, where seemingly any strategy that makes money is supported: scientific fraud, Medicaid fraud, censorship, bribery, intimidation... and that's just what we've seen in the national headlines in the last month!
You see, the drug racket isn't just about dangerous drugs like Vioxx being peddled to tens of millions of Americans, it's also about financial fraud designed to extract even more money from taxpayers. Like parasites that don't know when to stop, drug companies seemed determined to drain the economic life away from the country in any way possible.
What we're seeing today is unrestrained capitalism at its worst. The so-called "free market" system of organized medicine is really only free and open to those organizations that control the media propaganda, FDA decision makers, medical journal content and med school agendas. And, of course, those are the organizations with the big bucks. What we're increasingly learning is that they got the big bucks by defrauding customers and hyping drugs with fatal side effects that they knew were dangerous long before now. In other words, it's blood money. And you can go right down the line and name all the drugs that are killing people (or seriously harming them) right now: COX-2 inhibitors, antidepressants, statin drugs, NSAIDs, and many more.
Consider where we are today with organized medicine:
There's no doubt that the drug companies are after one thing only: profit. And they seem to be willing to trade anything for it: ethics, safety, honesty, humanity, compassion... you name it. As long as there's money to be made, they're the first in line, regardless of the tactics. This behavior even makes Enron look good. After all, Enron was a fiasco, but at least in the end it was only money, not lives at stake. But with Big Pharma, it's both.
Let's take a closer look at some of the actual figures that reveal just how egregious the drug companies have been in their overcharging of prescription drugs: (this is from the Office of Alabama Attorney General)
Where will all this go? Stay tuned to this site. We'll cover the lawsuit as it progresses and find out whether the drug companies will ever have to face the music on this one. Hopefully, this will have some real bite and not end up being settled behind closed doors with little more than a slap on the wrist.
It is the ongoing tolerance of this sort of behavior by drug companies that has allowed it to continue so far. And it will only be public outrage and legal action that will force changes to occur.
In the mean time, I have some salt... er, I mean sodium chloride on sale for just 1/10th the price being charged by one of the drug companies being sued here. Yep: just $90 per bottle. What a steal! Send me $900 and I'll send you ten bottles of salt!
And if you think that's stupid, just imagine: your state has been sending drug companies $900 checks for one bottle of what is essentially salt water. Those are your state tax dollars at work. Aren't you impressed by the financial efficiencies of state government? No wonder the states are suing over it.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005 Commentary Author Mike Adams
Demonstrating yet again that pharmaceutical companies will do anything to make a buck, six such companies are under fire by the Florida Attorney General who has issued civil subpoenas concerning potential overcharges to Medicaid in the amount of $100 million. Apparently, the pharmaceutical companies involved in this scam inflated the "wholesale" prices charged to Medicaid, thereby pocketing additional profits at the expense of taxpayers.
That pharmaceutical companies would overcharge the government for prescription drugs should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the dealings of the industry. Companies routinely mark up prescription drugs as much as 500,000% over the cost of the raw ingredients, and they engage in monopolistic, mob-like behaviors to block competing, lower cost drugs from Canada and other countries.
In the mean time, the pharmaceutical industry has long since demonstrated its own alarming lack of ethics by, for example, hiding the results of negative drug trials, distorting other trials to show false benefits of drugs, and outright bribing physicians with so-called "consulting fees" if they'll write more prescriptions for their drugs.
I've frequently called for criminal investigations of pharmaceutical companies and even the FDA. This action by the Florida Attorney General is a step in the right direction, but it barely scratches the surface of the extremely profitable criminal operation known as Big Pharma.
In yet another example of a pharmaceutical company found guilty of criminal charges in terms of price-fixing, the drug company Schering-Plough has agreed to plead guilty to federal anti-kickback charges. The company, which makes the popular Claritin drug, had failed to provide the best price to state Medicaid programs for its Claritin drug, and as a result, was overcharging states to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia were involved in this agreement, which requires Schering-Plough to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. The drug company's sales practices will also be under "strict scrutiny" for five years, according to federal government officials.
This is yet another example of a drug company exploiting the system for maximum profit. It's almost a wonder that they were even caught, given that this kind of practice is widespread in the pharmaceutical industry. Personally, I'm wondering who's going to be scrutinizing Schering-Plough for the next five years -- will it be the FDA, and if so, what motivation does the FDA have to make sure Schering-Plough follows the rules from here forward? I wouldn't be surprised if employees of the FDA were shareholders in this company or had received monies or payments in the past for being consultants or employees of this company.
The bottom line is that when it comes to prescription drug companies and the pharmaceutical industry, the American taxpayers are consistently getting screwed by the system. They're being ripped off on a daily basis from over-priced prescription drugs that can be purchased for far less from Canada, Mexico, and European countries. Every once in a while, one of these drug companies gets caught and has to pay back a portion of the profits that it stole from the American public, but by and large, most of these pharmaceutical companies consider this kind of practice to be business as usual. Very few are actually caught for these sort of underhanded deals, and even when they are caught, they are typically only required to pay back fines that represent a fraction of the profits they generated from such activities.
Once again, contrast this with the treatment given to makers of nutritional supplements when they're targeted by the FDA. For example, one company called Lane Labs was targeted by the FDA because it was selling a nutritional supplement that actually promised to cure cancer. It contained powerful immune boosting extracts of rice bran and medicinal mushrooms, and in fact, I believe the product was an effective cure for many cancers. The product was named MGN-3.
When the FDA targeted this company, they not only put them out of business, they made sure they couldn't sell MGN-3 in the United States and they demanded that the company reimburse all customers who had purchased MGN-3 over the last six years, thereby draining Lane Labs of operating cash, and practically ensuring it would go broke.
Meanwhile, when Schering-Plough is caught and pleads guilty to federal charges of ripping off taxpayers, the company is merely fined a fraction of the total revenues it generated from its operations. If this punishment had been consistent with the degree of punishment that is usually dealt out to nutritional supplement companies, Schering-Plough would have been required to actually refund the full purchase price of Claritin to all wholesale customers who had purchased the drug over the last six years. That would have amounted to a far greater dollar amount.
As you can see, there remains a great disparity in the way companies are treated by the U.S. legal system and the Food and Drug Administration, and the treatment they receive depends entirely on whether they are pushing prescription drugs vs. nutritional supplements. When a company like Lane Labs actually tells the truth about a product that helps cure cancer, it is put out of business by the FDA -- it is destroyed. But when a company like Schering-Plough admits to criminal charges involving kickbacks of hundreds of millions of dollars, it is allowed to remain in business to keep on selling its popular drug, and to make good by merely paying a fraction of the total revenues in terms of fines.
And that, folks is just one way in which the FDA makes sure that the pharmaceutical companies continue to thrive while alternative medicine, complementary medicine, nutritional supplements and other natural healing modalities remain suppressed.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005 Commentary - Author Mike Adams