This bit from today’s Independence Journal caught my attention:
I’m starting to refocus on developments in
what seems like a battle over money between the pharmaceutical business
and food supplements crowd. What got me started was the recent
headline on Reuters "Suspected
steroid ring to stars busted". The story centers on allegedly
illegal sales of growth hormones, but I read it as only a skirmish in a
much broader battle between big pharmaceutical companies on one side
with compounding pharmacists, life extension advocates, and natural food
advocates on the other.
As I’ve advised you many times, to get the
big picture, it’s easiest sometimes to follow the money – and in
this case, there’s been lots of money to be made in natural compounds
approximating the FDA-blessed lab rat-tested chemicals, many of which
try to mimic the natural effects of naturally occurring chemicals in the
first place. For example, some women I know swear that certain yam
compounds are much better/less dangerous that manufactured chemical
treatments (synthetic estrogen) for menopause. But I have no idea
and make no claims not being a medical professional and such. I
just follow money around.
What does comes into focus are a couple of
pharmaceutical companies have lots of money to throw at statistical studies,
which can be used to amplify even small condition changes.
pressure has been turned up on pharmacists to only dispense what comes from
a drug company with FDA blessing. Local compounding is almost a lost
art. Liability issues abound. Is a compound a "medicine" or a "food
as one source told me: "big Pharma have been agitating for years to halt the
private medical care practiced by doctors of conscience and their methods
which have been driving patients away from the overpriced new
drug-of-the-week television advertisements (in 2004, drug companies were
spending $4 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising, making them the
largest consumer advertiser on TV), directing patients instead to safer and
more effective therapies such as nutritional therapeutics and bioidentical hormone replacement therapies, employing the best of the most innovative
medical approaches from around the world."
personally amazed every time I turn on television and I see commercials telling
me to "Tell your doctor about xxx" or "Ask your doctor is xxx is good for you."
Ad agencies have escaped the wrath of the FDA – they’re on the side with the big
bucks. But why isn’t direct-to-consumer advertising illegal for all drugs?
Not just nicotine, and highest octane alcohols? Answer: $$$
Big $$$ at that.
I’m not trying to knock modern medicine. I like modern medicine. (As an asthmatic, I really need modern medicine to keep plugging along.) Just the same, IP has a great point that can be proved by going through any decent serial. Take a look at a recent issue of JAMA or New England Journal of Medicine and marvel at the sheer number of ads you find as you breeze through the pages. There are considerably more of them now than there were in, say, the 1990s. Advertising of what MeSH calls "Pharmaceutical Compounds" is up, and since we know who the primary audience for these journals is, we can imagine that pharmaceutical firms are using the same selling techniques that consumer marketers do. The purpose might even be the same, namely, to sell you stuff you don’t particularly need to be paid with money you don’t have. The analogy works even if (perhaps especially if) you consider just how much of the drug industry is underwritten by the federal and state governments via Medicare and Medicaid (which is being funded by how many trillions of dollars of U.S. debt?).
Dr. Jeremiah Barondess, former president of the Academy, said it very well at his retirement party last year: "We don’t live in a medically illiterate culture. We live in a medically disliterate culture. There is no other reason for those ridiculous commercials the drug companies put on television at dinner time."