Take Back Your Health – The Battle Between Big Pharma and Herbal Supplements

Dr. Mehmet Oz was brought before and criticized by the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection on Tuesday. In the hearing, Dr. Oz was charged with making bogus weight-loss claims. During the hearing, Missouri Senator and chairwoman, Claire McCaskill said,”You are being made an example of today because of the power you have in this space.” This hearing is part of the Federal Trade Commission’s crackdown against fake diet products. McCaskill added, “Oz plays a role in perpetuating scams.” This hearing has left many wondering if all of this was really necessary and an effective use of the Senators’ time.

Why was Dr. Oz singled out?

McCaskill also asked Dr. Oz why he didn’t promote what has been proven to help weight loss, like careful eating and exercise. This question left me wondering if McCaskill has ever seen an episode of the Dr. Oz show. While I don’t agree 100% with everything Dr. Oz says on his show, a large percentage of his show focuses on eating right and exercising.

It’s like McCaskill said, Dr. Oz is “being made an example of”. While there are weight loss products on the market labeled as “natural”, they are not all safe. I can understand the need to address these products. However, I don’t think Dr. Oz should have been singled out and “made an example of”. He didn’t recommend any specific product, he simply spoke of the benefits of coffee beans, which have been proven to aid weight loss.

I’m also left wondering, why weren’t the medical professionals of The Doctor’s show made an example of? They too have millions of followers and a hugely popular show. They too spoke about the benefits of green coffee beans for weight loss; maybe they have better lawyers.

Supplement regulations could one day be tighter than those in place for drugs.

Regardless of the reason as to why Dr. Oz was singled out, the other major concern here should be individual accountability. We all have the right to decide what goes into our bodies. From cheeseburgers to kale, and from supplements to pharmaceuticals, we have the right to decide. By making an example of Dr. Oz and putting the blame on him for exposing the general public to “unsafe supplements” we are stepping closer to losing this right.

Several months back, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin reintroduced a bill that would give the FDA control to approve supplements and remove them at their own discretion. Essentially, this bill [S.1310] would make supplement regulations tighter than those already in place for drugs. Reportedly, the cost of supplements would go up 300% if they become prescription regulated.

Your doctor doesn’t know how to advise on supplements and hospitals don’t want them to.

Dr. Nina Radcliff believes that supplements should be regulated because they can be harmful to consumers who don’t know otherwise. Dr. Sue Decotiis believes the contrary. Decotiis believes supplements are not that dangerous and that physicians should advise on what is appropriate to take for the individual patient. She adds,” Today, unfortunately, your average physician practicing really doesn’t know that much about [supplements].”

Another principal reason the majority of doctors today don’t advise on supplements is because they are not allowed to by the hospital that employees them. Supplements are extremely inexpensive compared to drugs, and hospitals are businesses that need to be profitable just like any other business. Why would the hospital administration allow your doctor to prescribe you red yeast rice, a supplement that helps naturally lower bad cholesterol, which costs approximately $32 (high quality 30 day supply) when they can prescribe Lipitor for approximately $150.99 for a 30 day supply. If you’re thinking to go with generics to save money, a generic 30 day supply would cost about $118. Additionally, the side effects of Lipitor are SIGNIFICANTLY worse than red yeast rice.

Why aren’t pharmaceutical companies called out on their deadly drugs?

While supplements are far safer, cheaper, and more effective than pharmaceuticals, they are still called out by government officials in widely covered hearings such as this recent one involving Dr. Oz. Why are pharmaceutical drugs not called out in the same manner by government officials? Products like Baycol, prescribed to treat high cholesterol, made by Bayer was reportedly responsible for over 100,000 deaths; have you ever heard of 100,000 people dying from green coffee bean supplements? Why weren’t the representatives of Bayer called out in the same manner as Dr. Oz? Baycol spent 4 years on the market and was eventually recalled. Litigation-related damages totaled 1.2 billion.

For every $1 spent on research, $19 is spent on marketing.

Pharmaceutical companies spend huge amounts of money to keep these sorts of things quiet. They also spend exorbitant amounts of money on advertising. Generally speaking, for every $1 spent on “basic research”, $19 is spent on promoting and marketing. The pharmaceutical industry spent more than $27 billion on drug promotion in 2012. Click here for details on how that money was spent.

Hospitals are part of this game, but don’t take my word for it. Here are some excerpts form a Reader’s Digest article titled “50 Things Your Surgeon Won’t Tell You. Click here for the source.

“About 25 percent of operations are unnecessary, but administrators e-mail doctors telling them to do more.”
“This is not an insurance company putting pressure on doctors; this is not a government regulation. This is private hospitals pushing doctors to generate more money by doing more procedures. It goes on at America’s top hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic has said this system of paying doctors is so ethically immoral that it started paying its doctors a flat salary no matter how many operations they do.”—Marty Makary, MD

“Some orthopedic surgeons make millions in soft consulting agreements with device manufacturers.”
“Sometimes the same doctors have performed a record number of implants for that company.”—Marty Makary, MD

“If you need a medical device, ask if your doctor has a financial relationship with the vendor.”
“If so, chances are you’re going to get that type of joint or screw, even if it’s more expensive or not the most appropriate.”—James Rickert, MD

“Some doctors hire practice management consultants to help capture more revenue.”
“The consultants may want the practice to sell equipment like knee braces or walkers at a markup. They may want the doctors to buy or build a surgery center to capture facility fees. They usually want orthopedic surgeons to get an in-office MRI. Every time a doctor does this, he becomes more financially conflicted. As soon as you put in an MRI machine, you order more MRIs so you won’t lose money on it.”—James Rickert, MD

Like I stated earlier, hospitals are businesses and doctors are employees that need to generate money. If the patient lives or dies, the hospital gets their money either way.

“In medicine, you can get a DUI, go to jail for a couple of hours, and walk out at 7 a.m. the next morning and do a surgery.”
“You can be accused of sexual misconduct and drug and alcohol abuse in one state and pop over to the next one and get a license. Some state medical boards don’t even thoroughly research your background; they argue that the less-than-$10 fee to access national data is too expensive.”—Marty Makary, MD

“I always ask at national conferences of doctors, ‘How many of you know of another doctor who should not be practicing medicine because he is too dangerous?’”
“Every hand goes up.”—Marty Makary, MD

“Residents have to learn how to operate, and it’s required that an attending physician be ‘present.’”
But ‘present’ doesn’t mean he has to be in the operating room scrubbed in. At an academic institution, ask whether your surgeon will be actively participating in the surgery or just checking in every hour.”—Ezriel “Ed” Kornel, MD

That’s not to say that all doctors are bad. Some doctors do genuinely care about their patients and occasionally save lives but that’s not the case with many of them. That’s partly due to the fact that the medical system is broken, and that’s an understatement. Many doctors come in eager to help and save lives but they’re beat before they even get a chance. The system sets them up for failure from the get go.

These following excerpts are from a Reader’s Digest piece comprised of shocking short stories where doctors, nurses, & technicians tell their deepest, darkest mistakes. Click here to read the original piece.

“I Could Have Caused Permanent Brain Damage” 
By Peter Provonost, MD, PhD
“I was a young doctor doing specialty training in critical care, and I was exhausted. Partway through a 36-hour shift at Johns Hopkins Hospital, I was hungry and hadn’t slept for 24 hours, but I was facing an overflowing intensive care unit and somehow needed to discharge five patients to make room for more. Mr. Smith,* who’d had esophageal surgery, was a borderline call. But because of the pressure I was under, I decided to remove his breathing tube and transfer him to another unit.” “…Many medical errors occur because hospitals lack standardized checklists for common procedures designed to minimize the chance of bad judgment. Airline pilots and NASCAR teams have them—why don’t doctors? I think it’s partly because it’s so important for us to believe in the myth that doctors are perfect.”

“The Wrong Medication Dose Killed a Toddler” 
By Eric Cropp
“It was a busy Sunday in the pharmacy at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. The hospital’s computer system had been down for about ten hours before I started my shift, and because I was teamed with a pharmacist who was fairly new to the department, I had additional responsibility. But I’d been in busy situations many times before. In fact, I had 14 years of experience and had been president of the Northern Ohio Academy of Pharmacy.” “…But on this day, I made the mistake of not thoroughly checking a saline-solution base that a technician had prepared for a child’s chemotherapy treatment. She mixed it more than 20 times stronger than ordered, and I didn’t catch it. When a nurse administered it, the high concentration of the sodium chloride flowing through the child’s veins made her brain swell and put her in a coma. Three days later, she died. Her name was Emily, and she was two years old.”
“I was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter, for which I received six months of jail time, six months of house arrest, three years of probation, a $5,000 fine, and 400 hours of community service. I also lost my license, career, reputation, and confidence. But most devastating of all is that I have to live every day with the memory of that little girl.” “…….I wonder what would have happened if I had talked to Emily’s family right away and said I was sorry. I was advised against doing that. That’s the way it is in the medical world when a mistake occurs: Hospital management may meet with the family, but the health care worker is often advised not to make a personal apology. Too much of a culture of silence still exists and must change. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others need to be able to come together to confess their mistakes, clear their consciences, be supported, and, most important, work together to make the system safer.”

It’s quite evident the system is broken and will likely remain that way.

A broken medicare system, skewed priorities, greed, drugs that don’t work, and government regulators that are shareholders and/or sit on committees of pharmaceutical companies are what really expose the general public to danger. It’s appalling that the blame is shifted on natural supplements when all of the aforementioned is going on.

Prescription medications are also addictive and a great portion of them list death as a possible side effect. High quality herbs, when used correctly are never the sole cause of death. Some prescription medications, even when used correctly, can be the sole cause of death. It’s a sad realization but prescription drugs were not created to help people, they were created to generate money. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the numbers.

The following is a list of the top earning pharmaceutical drug companies and their respective earnings for the 2013 fiscal year according to Market Watch. All figures are represented in USD.

Johnson & Johnson
Sales: 71.3 Billion
Gross: 49.5 Billion

Bayer
Sales: 54.69 Billion
Gross: 28.33 Billion

Pfizer
Sales: 51.58 Billion
Gross: 37.63 Billion

Merck
Sales: 44 Billion
Gross: 28.1 Billion

For comparison, the figures below belong to a popular supplement company (we do not endorse). The figures represent earnings for the 2013 fiscal year in USD.

Supplement Company #A
Sales: 4.83 Billion
Gross: 3.78 Billion

As you can see, this top earning supplement company made $40 BILLION less than the lowest top earning pharmaceutical company. Most supplement companies don’t even reach the billion dollar mark, they’re typically in the 250 million range, which mind you, is still a lot, but severely pales in comparison to the billions made in drugs sales.

Prescription drugs have been helpful in some cases, but the risk should not be so high. The other mark that needs to be addressed is that supplements (herbs, vitamins & minerals) help people heal. Supplements not only help fight disease, they also help replenish and regenerate the body so that it can HEAL. Once the ailment has passed and the body is healed, supplements are generally no longer needed if a balanced diet and proper exercise is maintained.

This is one reason supplement companies fail to generate the astronomical amounts of money pharmaceutical companies make. Pharmaceutical medications typically only work while you use them so you need to keep taking them in order for them to work. The only lasting effects are negative side effects. Supplements, on the other hand, help strengthen the body so it can recharge and no longer require supplementation.

I urge those reading this to share it with others and help get the knowledge out there. We, the general public, need to further educate ourselves as to how the human body works so we can know how to help it and heal it in times of disease. Better yet, we need to educate everyone on eating healthy and living healthy lifestyles so that we can prevent disease all together. We need to take the time to do the research; the information is out there at out fingertips.

Many people born with congenital diseases or who are predisposed to certain diseases tend to think there is not much they can do and that their health is out of their hands, but this is not the case. We all need to take back our health, be aware of what we put into our body and stop giving our hope, time, money, and life to people that only see us as numbers and dollar signs.

Sources:
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140205005626/en/Merck-Announces-Fourth-Quarter-Full-Year-2013-Financial-Results#.U6Iscqj2a1g
http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/pfe/financials
http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/jnj/financials
http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/bayry/financials
http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/hlf/financials
http://www.drugwatch.com/manufacturer
http://www.anh-usa.org/fda-huge-conflicts-of-interest-with-big-pharma/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/03/18/americas-100-most-trustworthy-companies/
http://www.naturessunshine.com/us/company/c1/forbes/
http://vactruth.com/2012/08/28/pharma-admits-to-bribes/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikakelton/2013/07/29/is-big-pharma-addicted-to-fraud/
http://247wallst.com/investing/2010/12/10/the-ten-worst-drug-recalls-in-the-history-of-the-fda/2/
http://thedoctorstvon.com/doctors-garcinia-report/
http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/10/27/should-you-need-prescription-supplements
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/pharmaceutical-companies-marketing_n_1760380.html
http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/imported-old/other-resources/2013/11/11/persuading-the-prescribers-pharmaceutical-industry-marketing-and-its-influence-on-physicians-and-patients
http://www.rd.com/slideshows/50-secrets-your-surgeon-wont-tell-you/#ixzz3523kSkRa
http://www.rd.com/health/conditions/doctors-confess-their-fatal-mistakes/2/

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