Saturday, July 15, 2006

Big Pharma: Who Prophits? Part 3

Big Pharma has seen, particularly in the USA and Australia, a public shift away from its dubious drugs to more natural therapies. People have recognised the value in traditional cures that have stood the test of time for generations in resoving our health problems with unparallelled efficacy and safety and preventing many health issues in the first place. Modern drugs cannot compete in this area. Seeing their prophits tumble in recent times because of this public vote of no confidence, Big Pharma has struck back in a multi-pronged approach!
  • Method One: Launch a "Negative Publicity Campaign" against all natural therapies. This includes widespread publication in the popular media of reports and trials involving any natural therapy [whether that be vitamins & minerals, herbs, acupuncture, homeopathy, etc.] which indicate that it is either ineffective, or worse. These trials/reports always originate from individuals/organizations that are subsidiaries of, tied to or sponsored and paid for by Big Pharma and its affiliates. They are hopelessly biased, innaccurate and utilise sloppy unscientific methods.

  • Method Two: Despite their stance above, Big Pharma muscles in on the non-drug market itself! Go into any supermarket or department store that sells medicines and you will find cheap generic vitamins and minerals for sale, including items like cod liver oil capsules, garlic capsules and so on. The manufacturers of these cut price "natural" remedies are usually the Big Pharma companies or their subsidiaries and are usually formulated using cheap, ineffective "synthetic chemical versions" of the nutrients in question: i.e., ferrous sulphate as an iron supplement!

  • Method Three: Using orgnizations like CODEX ALIMENTARIUS and the World Trade Organization to reclassify certain natural remedies and supplements so that more control can be exercised on what can be legally sold, what health claims can be made for them and at what level of potency they can be supplied. This means that many natural supplements will become illegal and others will be in potencies so weak they will no longer be effective. Also, the list of allowed supplements are usually made up of the ineffective synthetic chemical versions that the drug companies are peddling!

  • Method Four: Where drugs have been shown to be ineffective for the purpose for which they were developed, or have such potentially life-threatening side effects that they have had to be withdrawn or have their licences revoked, Big Pharma attempts to repackage these same deadly chemicals for other uses and thus recoup its losses! As one example that most people will be familiar with, Thalidomide was a drug developed and prescribed to pregnant women to treat morning sickness (hardly a life-threatening disease in the first place - see points below!). Shortly thereafter a significant number of these women gave birth to children with extensive physical defects. For a long time, the drug company responsible for developing the drug denied their product had anything to do with it until the evidence continued to stack up against them and they were forced to pay out millions in compensation and lost lawsuits and the drug was withdrawn. Like me, you may have thought that was the end of the matter and Thalidomide was no longer produced. Wrong! The company is now attempting to market this same drug as a treatment for many other illnesses and symptoms - but not for consumption by pregnant women! Talk about flogging a dead horse!

  • Method Five: Long ago, when it became apparent that synthetic drugs were not going to be the incredible cure-all that was promised, Big Pharma changed tack and instead of trying to develop a cure for heart disease, cancer and so on, decided to concentrate their efforts on developing palliatives for many of the symptoms associated with these illnesses! So now we have a plethora of drugs touted as painkillers, anti-inflamatories, anti-histamines, antacids, beta blockers, selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors, cholesterol production inhibitors, etc., etc. The beauty of this system, as alluded to in part two, is that your customers will continually come back for more! As many of these people will end up taking these drugs for life, assuming they don't die from its toxic effects, they may eventually become resistant to the drug and will have to switch to newer versions (which, coincidentally, is usually about the time a drug's patent runs out and becomes less prophitable!). Secondly, many of these patients will develop distressing side effects to these drugs and will, no doubt, be prescribed still further drugs to treat these side effect symptoms!

  • Method Six: Big Pharma, working hand in glove with medical associations, food manufacturers and government agencies, promote a highly unnatural and unhealthy dietary paradigm which causes many of the health problems the industrialised nations succumb to in ever-increasing numbers in order to increase its customer base. Again sloppy pseudo-science is employed by Big Pharma sponsored/biased individuals/organizations to promote and reinforce this hopelessly skewed and unhealthy dietary phenomenon: High carbs/low saturated fat. Processed food manufacturers offer us "low fat" heart-healthy "food" that is usually high in sugars, sodium, chemical additives and refined starches - all elements any unbiased, free-thinking expert will tell you are disastrous for health!

  • Method Seven: Treat numbers, not illness! This is the most arbitary and unscientific of the approaches used - and is blindly endorsed and enforced by the medical profession! For instance, until relatively recently, anyone whose blood cholesterol level was above 220 (US system) would be prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs called statins - one of the biggest money-spinners for Big Pharma. This figure was then arbitarily lowered, on the back of some very dubious statistics, to 200. Not very significant you may think, but this actually meant that millions more people, in the US alone, automatically and overnight, became candidates for statin therapy! How's that for a simple, low cost way to increase an industry's prophits! The same is true for blood-pressure: there was a time when doctors would be content to call an otherwise healthy and happy patient's blood-pressure reading of 140 over 90 a high normal reading and leave it at that. But no more! Any reading between 120 (textbook normal) and 140 over 80 (textbook normal) to 90 has now been arbitarily reclassified to pre-hypertension and requires treatment with blood pressure lowering drugs!

There are probably far more underhand techniques and strategies being employed to keep the cogs of Big Pharma's multi-billion cash machine turning and the majority of its customers in a state of sickly dependance, but I need to bring this section to a close.

ADDENDUM: I have just returned from my weekly shopping trip and, while breezing past the shelves of fish oil supplements (omega-3 is VERY important for a healthy heart and circulatory system!), I spied a wolf in the fold! Yes, my local branch of a famous UK health food store chain was selling Haliborange Fish Oil supplement. As I quickly pointed out to the assistant, Haliborange is the trademark of Seven Seas (who also market cod-liver oil for healthy, supple joints and relief from arthritis, etc.) and if you look at the small print on the bottom of the box, Seven Seas is a division of....MERCK one of the key players in the BIG PHARMA team! Look again at the first three bulleted points about hypocrisy and double dealing!


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