Saturday, August 20, 2005

Death by Deception

Death by Deception
Lyle Loughry, August, 2005

Statistics prove prescription drugs are
16,400% more deadly than terrorists

America was rudely awakened to a new kind of danger on September 11, 2001: Terrorism. The attacks that day left 2,996 people dead, including the passengers on the four commercial airliners that were used as weapons. Many feel it was the most tragic day in U.S. history.

Four commercial jets crashed that day. But what if six jumbo jets crashed every day in the United States, claiming the lives of almost 784,000 people, every year? That would certainly qualify as a massive tragedy, wouldn't it?

Well, forget "what if." The tragedy is happening right now. Over three quarters of a million people actually do die in the United States every year, although not from plane crashes. They die from something far more common and rarely perceived by the public as dangerous: modern medicine.

According to the groundbreaking 2003 medical report Death by Medicine, by Drs. Gary Null, Carolyn Dean, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Dorothy Smith, 783,936 people in the United States die every year from conventional medicine mistakes. That's the equivalent of six jumbo jet crashes a day for an entire year. But where is the media attention for this tragedy? Where is the government support for stopping these medical mistakes before they happen?

After 9/11, the White House gave rise to the Department of Homeland Security, designed to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. The 2006 budget allots $34.2 billion to the DHS.

According to the study led by Null, which involved a painstaking review of thousands of medical records, the United States spends $282 billion annually on deaths due to medical mistakes, or iatrogenic deaths. The word means "doctor-induced", or "caused by the doctor".

The figure of $282 billion is a conservative estimate because only a fraction of medical errors are reported, according to the study. Actual medical mistakes are likely to be 20 times higher than the reported number, because doctors fear retaliation for those mistakes. The American public heads to the doctor's office or the hospital time and again, oblivious of the alarming danger they're heading into. The public knows that medical errors occur, but they assume that errors are unusual, isolated events. Unfortunately, by accepting conventional medicine, patients voluntarily continue to walk, head-on, into the leading cause of death in America.

According to a 1995 U.S. iatrogenic report, "Over a million patients are injured in U.S. hospitals each year, and approximately 280,000 die annually as a result of these injuries. Therefore, the iatrogenic (doctor-caused) death rate dwarfs the annual automobile accident mortality rate of 45,000, and accounts for more deaths than all other accidents combined."

Remember, this report was issued 10 years ago, when America had 34 million fewer citizens and drug company scandals like the Vioxx recall were yet to occur. Health care spending may exceed $1.5 trillion dollars this year, in 2005.

Since Americans spend so much money on health care, they should be getting a good deal ... a high quality of care, right? Unfortunately, that's not the case. Of the 783,936 annual deaths due to conventional medical mistakes, about 106,000 are from prescription drugs, according to the Death by Medicine report. That also is a conservative number. Some experts estimate it should be more like 200,000 because of under-reported cases of adverse drug reactions.

Americans rely heavily on prescription drugs to fix their diseases. For every conceivable ailment – real or imagined – chances are there's a pricey prescription drug to "treat" it. Chances are even better that their drug of choice comes with an assortment of side effects. The problem is, prescription drugs don't treat diseases; they merely cover the symptoms. You need to understand, the overwhelming majority of U.S. physicians provide allopathic health care – that is, they care for disease, not health.

So, anyway, the over-prescription of drugs and medications is designed to treat disease instead of preventing it, and few in the medical profession would challenge that statement. So, the result is that people die unnecessarily because the underlying condition, or disease, hasn't been addressed. And because there are so many drugs available, unforeseen adverse drug reactions are all too common, which leads to the highly conservative annual prescription drug death rate of 106,000. Keep in mind that these numbers came before the Vioxx scandal, and Cox-2 inhibitor drugs could ultimately end up killing tens of thousands more. American medical patients are getting the short end of a rather raw deal when it comes to prescription drugs. Medicine is a high-dollar, highly competitive business. But it shouldn't be.

When pharmaceutical companies run these advertisements directly to consumers, they know these consumers are going to go to their doctor and ask for the drug by name, and this will result in a sale of that drug. That's exactly why drug advertising on television, in magazines, and so on, remains legal. It used to be illegal, but the FDA legalized it in 1997 in order to generate more profits for the drug companies that the FDA seems committed to protect, no matter what. Since then, the number of prescriptions and the drug industry profits have soared. Now, and this is really sad, we have more than 40 percent of the American population on prescription drugs, almost 120 MILLION people. God only knows how many prescriptions that represents, since most people take more than one, nearly all of which are medically unnecessary, and two-thirds of which are prescribed to cover up side-effects from previously written script.

The Death by Medicine report relates an experiment where researchers sent a group of people out into doctor's offices who told the doctor that they saw the drug, Paxil, in a TV ad. Chemically speaking, Paxil is Paroxetine Hydrochloride, and it's approved for treatment of depression, general and social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder; not for tummy aches or headaches, and it's best prescribed by a Phychotherapist, not a regular doctor, but then, that's just my opinion.

Many of these "patients" exhibited absolutely no signs of depression, but when they named the drug, 50 percent were diagnosed as having depression, and 55 percent were given a prescription for the exact drug they named, Paxil. In fact, it turns out that when people named Paxil, they were more than five times as likely to be given a prescription for it than someone who didn't name it. This simple experiment clearly demonstrates how many doctors are puppet of the pharmaceutical industry; essentially they are glorified, respectable drug dealers!

Medical doctors claim to be scientifically trained. They claim to be rational people. They say that everything's a formula, and that patients are only given prescriptions that are medically necessary. But, when a patient comes in and mentions the name of a drug, all of that rationality, and all of that so-called scientific training seem to go right out the window. Dr. Mull reports that, over half of the time the doctor is just going to write out a prescription for the exact drug the patient named, whether it is medically necessary, or not. In other words, the whole system of prescription drugs, and the use of doctors as drug dealers, is largely a giant con.

Null's report cites the five most important aspects of health that modern medicine ignores in favor of the almighty dollar: stress; lack of exercise; high calorie intake; highly processed foods; and environmental toxin exposure. All of these things are putting Americans in such poor health that they run to the doctor for treatment. But instead of doctors treating the causes of their poor health, such as putting them on a strict diet and exercise regimen, they stuff them full of prescription drugs to cover their symptoms. Using this inherently faulty system of medical treatment, it's no wonder that so many Americans die from prescription drugs. They're not getting better; they're just popping drugs to make their symptoms temporarily go away.

Now, believe it or not, many doctors are just as angry as the public should be - charging that scientific medicine is "for sale" to the highest bidder – which, more often than not, end up being pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical industry is a multi-trillion dollar business. Companies spend billions on advertising and promotions for prescription drugs. Who can remember the last time they watched television and weren't bombarded with ads for pills treating everything from erectile dysfunction to sleeplessness? And who has been to a doctor's office or hospital and not seen every pen, notepad and post-it bearing the logo of some prescription drug?

Pharmaceutical companies claim their drug ads are "educational" to the public. The public believes the FDA reviews all the ads and only allows the safest and most effective drug ads to reach the public, in spite of the plethora of side effects listed by the commercial's narrator, ranging from diarrhea to death. As an example, Paxil's side-effects include nausea, injury, infection, diarrhea, constipation, decreased appetite, sleepiness, dizziness, tremor, yawning, sweating, abnormal vision and sexual side effects. Makes you want to run out and get some, right? Still, people feel they're safe, otherwise they wouldn't have been allowed to be advertised.

It's a clever system: with this advertising, pharmaceutical companies influence the public to ask their physicians to prescribe them certain drugs, and the doctors acquiesce to their patient's requests. Everyone's happy, right? Not quite, since the prescription drug toll just continues to rise.

But advertising isn't the only tool the pharmaceutical industry uses to influence medicine. Dr. Null's study cites an ABC report that said pharmaceutical companies spend over $2 billion sending doctors to more than 314,000 events every year. Let's be honest, while doctors are riding the dollar of pharmaceutical companies, enjoying all the many perks of these "events," how likely are they to question the validity of drug companies, or their products? Again, some doctors are downright angry at the situation, and they're angry on behalf of an unaware public. Face it, major conflicts of interest exist between the American public, the medical community, and the pharmaceutical industry. And although the public suffers the most from this conflict, it is the least informed. The public gets the short end of the stick and they don't even know it. That's why the pharmaceutical industry remains a multi-trillion dollar business.

Prescription drugs are only a part of the U.S. health care system's miserable failings. In fact, outpatient deaths, bedsore deaths and malnutrition deaths each account for higher death rates than adverse drug reactions. The problems run deep and cannot be remedied without drastic, widespread change in the system's money and ethics.

Money is the main reason the medical industry cannot seem to change. Prescribing more drugs and recommending more surgeries means more profits. Getting more drugs approved by the FDA, regardless of their safety, means more money for the pharmaceutical industry. As the healthcare system stands today, physicians and drug companies can't seem to pass up earning loads of money, even if every year a few hundred thousand people lose their lives in the process. Even in drastic cases of deadly drugs, everyone involved has a scapegoat: drug companies can blame the FDA for approving their product and the doctors for over-prescribing it, and doctors can blame the patients for demanding it and not properly weighing the risks.

What ultimately arises is a question of ethics. In layman's terms, ethics are the rules or moral guidelines that govern the conduct of people or professions. Some ethics are ingrained from childhood, but some are specifically set forth. For example, nearly all medical schools have their new doctors take a modern form of the Hippocratic Oath. While few versions are identical, none include setting aside proper medical care in favor of money-making practices. On the research side of the issue, "Death by Medicine" cites an ABC report that says clinical trials funded by pharmaceutical companies show a 90 percent chance that a drug will be perceived as effective, whereas clinical trials not funded by drug companies show only a 50 percent chance that a drug will be perceived as effective. "It appears that money can’t buy you love or happiness, but it can buy you any 'scientific' result you want," writes Null and his team of researchers.

Since 2001, 2,996 people in the United States have died from terrorism – all as a result of the 9/11 attacks (not counting battle deaths in the struggle against the terrorists). In that same period of time, 490,000 people have died from prescription drugs, not counting the Vioxx scandal. That means that prescription drugs in this country are at least 16,400 percent deadlier than terrorism. Again, those are the conservative numbers. A more realistic number, which would include deaths from over-the-counter, makes drug consumption 32,000 percent deadlier than terrorism.

But the scope of the "Death by Medicine" report is even wider. Conventional medicine, including unnecessary surgeries, bedsores and medical errors, is 104,700 percent deadlier than terrorism! Perhaps a little chunk of the homeland security money would be better spent on overhauling the corrupt U.S. health care system, which, after all, is the leading cause of death in America? No one is suggesting that terrorism in the world is not a problem, especially for a high-profile country like the United States. And I don't think that anyone is saying that the people who died on 9/11 didn't matter or weren't horribly wronged by the terrorists that fateful day. But there are more dangerous things in the United States being falsely represented as safe and healthy, when, in reality, they are deadly. One mans prescription could be another man's terrorism!

The corruption in the pharmaceutical industry and in America's health care system poses a far greater threat to the health, safety and welfare of Americans today than terrorism. We're also in a chemical war right now, and we've been engaged in that war a lot longer than the 20 years we've been fighting the war on terrorism. The chemical war has been declared on Americans by the pharmaceutical industry, and we need to deal honestly with both.

I can't think of another "prescription", if you will, that could do more to help millions of uninformed individuals, trapped in a failing (and deadly) health care system, escape to wellness than the simple admonition to "Cleanse the body, nourish the body". Furthermore, I believe that one of the very best places to receive ethical, informed advice and support is The Wellness Group USA.

From the day that The Wellness Group USA began operations, we've been committed to "the ways and means of above and beyond living", and to us that means an "informed and determined pursuit of wellness". On our website, and on our Tuesday and Wednesday night live conference calls, we address any and all issues that affect your life, including learning more about how to attain and maintain abundant health. Learn why Americans are constantly being lied to; why we can't seem to get the truth; why so many in the medical profession who know how to do things the right way aren't sharing this information with their patients; and why millions are dying, unnecessarily, when the solutions are out there.

We invite you to visit website. You'll find more truth and helpful information than you could ever imagine, and you'll learn how to reach our live conference calls, as well. Consider sharing this report with as many people as you can. They need to know, because their health is on the line, as is yours.

The Wellness Group USA