Medicines are being prescribed wantonly by doctors everywhere. Antidepressants, statins, opioids, acetaminophens (paracetamol), acetylsalicylic acid (Asprin), benzodiazepines (Valium, Seduxenetc), hydrochlorothiazide (Losartan) are consumed in copious quantities by people seeking a quick fix to their mostly self-created maladies. For most modern malaise the treatment lies in the choice of our lifestyle where medicines only provide a temporary relief and are hardly ever the cure. In fact, most medicines have side effects and some of these can be very serious. Yet, more and more people flock to the doctors who are all too willing to write unneeded prescriptions.
On the subject of medicines, I am one of those who subscribe to what is called the “conspiracy theory”. I think that this dependence on medicines is not a coincidence but a part of a sinister design by the corrupt big pharma industry. It is a well planned multi billion dollar scam in which there are actors from many different spheres of the health industry. Professor Marc Rodwin in his report titled “Conflicts of Interest, Institutional Corruption and Pharma: An agenda for Reform” published in Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics deals with the conflict of interest of physicians’ financial relationship to pharmaceutical firms. This relationship sometimes creates incentives to physicians which compromise drug safety and public health. Today the vast majority of trials of medicines are funded by the manufacturers and it is a well established fact that funding plays a major role in the research outcomes.
Let us take the example of OxyContin the most profitable legitimate narcotic in history. Perdue Pharma and the medical researchers who conducted the trials intentionally downplayed the addictive properties of this opioid. The drug company’s unprecedented “brainwashing campaign” got the OxyContin propaganda into the heads of physicians and patients alike and even in medical classrooms giving them hope that a safe, user-friendly pain treatment was finally available. Perdue Pharma reps wined and dined physicians, showering them with expensive gifts and a blitz of marketing materials. Perdue Pharma has now agreed to pay compensation of nearly $9billion to the affected users and has filed for bankruptcy accepting responsibility for fueling the opioid epidemic in America which has led to the death of more than 200,000 people and the serious opioid addiction for millions more.
Millions of people around the world are on statins. Collectively statins have earned the pharmaceutical industry more than $1trillion since they were introduced. Lipitor- which is just one of the several brand names is the most profitable drug in the history of medicine. The “statin empire” is built on prescribing these drugs to people who really don’t need them and are likely to suffer side effects. By simply revising the definition of “high cholesterol” in the USA in 2000 and again in 2004, millions of more people were brought under the net of statin treatment. Industry-biased research and fear-based PR have been used to manipulate public opinion and for doctors to keep them prescribing statins to more and more people.
Doctors are now divided into two camps; One saying statins are life-saving drugs and the other saying that they have a lot of side effects and therefore harmful. It is not surprising that such a schism should occur. The cost of developing and getting market approval for anew drug exceeds $2.5billion and the quickest way to recover the investment and make windfall profits is to broaden the use of the drug by using whatever means possible including dubious data and research.
A vast number of people across the globe regularly take benzodiazepines (Valium, Seduxen etc) for anxiety and insomnia. Doctors are complicit in giving the unsuspecting public the assurance that in mild dosage these drugs are harmless and even necessary for senior citizens. But here are some unsavoury facts which have been confirmed by recent studies-
Older adults who used benzodiazepines for three months or more had a 51 percent greater risk of Alzheimer’s diseases than those who did not. A study also found that senior citizens who used benzodiazepines over a long period of time were 50% more likely to develop dementia and had a 35% greater risk of cancer. Benzodiazepines exert a calming effect much the same way as opioids do and therefore can be extremely addictive.
An estimated 1.13 billion people in the world suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension). It is estimated that 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women suffer from hypertension. Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic medication often used to treat high blood pressure under commonly used brand names such as Losartan. (I know this brand because my mother has been prescribed this medication for her high blood pressure). A recent Danish study, in collaboration with Florida State University found that hydrochlorothiazide which is used worldwide to treat high blood pressure raises your risk of skin cancer seven times. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Association of Dermatology.
My objective in this article is not to create panic but to bring to light the tremendous potential of health damage that can be caused by medicines and to point out that there is a corrupt nexus which exploits the gullible ordinary people who put their trust on their physicians. By and large medicines are not the cure; they are a relief. They do not address the cause of the disease they just deal with the symptoms. This does not mean that I discard the use of medicines. Of course if someone has cancer, it would be unwise to take a chance with alternate treatments instead of going for chemotherapy which has been proven to be the most effective treatment. Neither I am proposing that someone avoids taking the prescribed medication if infected with the coronavirus. What I am saying is that there is a general overuse of medicines which can be avoided in many cases. Whether it is hypertension, diabetes or insomnia, relying on a healthier lifestyle is a far better choice. In my next article I shall try to elaborate on how to pursue a healthier lifestyle.