Issues

Medical Issues

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble.  It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."    Mark Twain

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

How the Media Deceives You About Health Issues
by Tate Hausman
"By financing and publicizing views that support the goals of corporate sponsors, PR campaigns have, over the course of the century, managed to suppress the dangers of lead poisoning for decades, silence the scientist who discovered that rats fed on genetically modified corn had significant organ abnormalities, squelch television and newspaper stories about the risks of bovine growth hormone, and place enough confusion and doubt in the public's mind about global warming to suppress any mobilization for action."

The Doors Of Perception: Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything
by Tim O'Shea, D.C.
"In America, conventional wisdom that has mass acceptance is usually contrived: somebody paid for it. Examples: pharmaceuticals restore health; vaccination brings immunity; the cure for cancer is just around the corner; when a child is sick, he needs immediate antibiotics; when a child has a fever he needs Tylenol; hospitals are safe and clean; America has the best health care in the world."

Deconstructing Quackbusters & Their Myths about Alternative Health
by Kent Swanson
"Not unlike the zealous churchmen of the Middle Ages, the quackbusters are dedicated to the routing out of all forms of medical heresy."
"The quackbuster's persistent portrayal of the alternative care-giver as some cartoonish snake-oil salesman is both patently inaccurate and an insult to thousands of truly dedicated healthcare-givers across the country."

Where Doctors Fall Short
from Health World
"Whenever I give lectures (to doctors) across the country, I ask, 'How many of you have had any nutritional training?' No one raises their hand, or maybe one person raises his hand," said Dr. Michael Miller, a cardiologist and director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "We lack this information. It's a big issue. It's a big problem."

Docs Often Overlook Nutrition Counseling
from Health Scout News
"Nutrition counseling is an important ingredient in the health of high-risk patients, yet many of them don't receive it and their health suffers as a result."

Drug Pushers in White Coats
by Arthur Luethe, D.C.
"A true picture about conventional medicine is not easily obtained. Pharmaceutical companies and organized conventional medicine spend billions on advertising and public relations. Therefore, most publishers, editors, and broadcasters are unwilling to expose the failures of conventional medicine or to publish critical information."
Detailed.   Recommended.

The Dark Side of Modern Medicine: an Interview with John Robbins
"Our medical system is based on intervention, not on prevention. It's not based on wellness or optimal functioning; it's based on waiting until a person gets sick. You go to the doctor, and expect the doctor to fix you, but many people don't realize that doctors don't know everything. We're still stuck in this passive role relative to our own health. Our belief in Western medicine is stronger than our belief in our own body."

What Doctors Don't Know (Almost Everything)
by Kevin Patterson
"The most radical change evidence-based medicine proposes will occur in everyday visits in doctor's offices -- those simple, scary moments when the most important medical decisions are made. The instant the practitioner stops saying, ''I think you should take this therapy,'' and starts saying, ''The evidence is that this therapy will work this percent of the time, with these complications, this frequently; what do you want to do?'' then the power hierarchy of doctor over patient is collapsed, and autonomy is assigned to the patient. This is how the relationship between doctor and patient could be changed by evidence-based medicine. Just as the idea of authority within medicine is rejected, so too, the idea of the profession of medicine itself having authority over the patient is rejected. Giving authority to the data, instead of other people, empowers everyone, the movement holds."

Drugs and Doctors May be the Leading Cause of Death in U.S.
by Joseph Mercola, D.O.
Includes links to journal articles.

Association of American Medical Colleges Chair Calls for Health Care Transformation
from Health World
"The current practice of medicine is largely reactive rather than proactive. People go to the doctor when they are sick. As physicians, we are taught to identify the defect, whether it's molecular or structural, and fix it. Interventions are sporadic and heavily directed by physicians rather than in partnership with the patient. We have an uncoordinated delivery system, with the relationships amongst the parts not being synergistic. Costs are expensive and inefficiently deployed."

Articles by Peter Chowka
Major US and UK Studies Heighten Concerns About Conventional Medical Care

The Failure of Orthodox Medicine Revisited

Articles from Gary Null, Ph.D.
Iatrogenic Illness: The Downside of Modern Medicine
by Gary Null, Ph.D. & Debora Rasio, M.D.
"This white paper's criticism of the various therapies comes not from the "alternative" world but from the very heart of orthodox medicine itself and from researchers using the gold standard of rigorously set-up controlled studies."
Note full index of topics covered.

Medical Errors & Adverse Drug Reactions
Abstracts of dozens of articles

The Politics of Health
Abstracts of dozens of articles

The High Cost of Medical Care
Abstracts of dozens of articles

Unnecessary Procedures
Abstracts of dozens of articles

Death by Medicine
by Gary Null Ph.D., Carolyn Dean M.D., Martin Feldman M.D., Debora Rasio M.D., Dorothy Smith Ph.D.
"We have now completed the painstaking work of reviewing thousands and thousands of studies. Finally putting the puzzle together we came up with some disturbing answers."
With references and an appendix.

Pharmaceutical Companies' Influence

Coverage by the News Media of the Benefits and Risks of Medications
by Ray Moynihan, et al. in NEJM
"News-media stories about medications may include inadequate or incomplete information about the benefits, risks, and costs of the drugs as well as the financial ties between study groups or experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers."

Influencing Doctors: How Pharmaceutical Companies Use Enticement to "Educate" Physicians
by Brian Ross and David W. Scott
"It's embarrassing, it's extravagant and it's unethical," said Dr. Arnold Relman, a Harvard Medical School professor and the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. "It makes the doctor feel beholden Ö it suborns the judgment of the doctor."

Drug-Company Influence on Medical Education in USA
from Lancet, 2000
"Attempts to influence the judgment of doctors by commercial interests serving the medical-industrial complex are nothing if not thorough. Unfortunately, they seem to work."

Doctors Too Close To Drug Companies
from BMJ, May 31, 2003
"Doctors have an over-cosy relationship with pharmaceutical companies that can adversely influence prescribing and affect research, a leading medical publication said yesterday.   The prestigious British Medical Journal believes regular contacts between drug representatives and doctors can lead to unnecessary use of medicines while industry sponsorship of research may result in biased results."

Targeting Doctors - Interview with Dr. Dick Zoutman
from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
"We want doctors to be prescribing the most appropriate drugs for the condition.  We do know from the literature - not from our own research but from the literature - that physicians who have contact with pharmaceutical drug reps are more likely to be prescribing the newer drugs and which are invariably more expensive and that's been shown."

The Truth About the Drug Companies
by Marcia Angell
"Over the past two decades the pharmaceutical industry has moved very far from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs.  Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the U.S. Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself.  (Most of its marketing efforts are focused on influencing doctors, since they must write the prescriptions.)"

"The sort of thoroughgoing changes required will take government action, which in turn will require strong public pressure. It will be tough. Drug companies have the largest lobby in Washington, and they give copiously to political campaigns. Legislators are now so beholden to the pharmaceutical industry that it will be exceedingly difficult to break its lock on them."

Hundreds of NIH Scientists Accept Drug Companies' Money
from Joseph Mercola, D.O.
"It is becoming increasingly apparent that NIH members, some who travel the world encouraging doctors to prescribe certain medications, advise federal regulators and write articles for well-known medical journals, are not the unbiased resource they claim to be."

Selling Sickness: the Pharmaceutical Industry and Disease Mongering
by Ray Moynihan, et al.
"There's a lot of money to be made from telling healthy people they're sick. Some forms of medicalising ordinary life may now be better described as disease mongering: widening the boundaries of treatable illness in order to expand markets for those who sell and deliver treatments. Pharmaceutical companies are actively involved in sponsoring the definition of diseases and promoting them to both prescribers and consumers."

Why You Will Never Get Well Taking Prescription Drugs
by Bill Sardi
"The preeminence of drugs over vitamins, mineral and herbal supplements is rooted in law. Forget that the biological action of virtually every prescription drug can be duplicated with dietary supplements. Keep that fact hidden from the publicís view. No dietary supplement can claim it diagnoses, treats, prevents or cures any disease... "

The HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) Debacle and What It Says about Drug Safety in America
by Jay S. Cohen, M.D.
"The current medical-pharmaceutical system is dysfunctional, but it won't change unless we become informed and demand better."

Three Drug Companies Face Fraud & Bribery Charges
from Joseph Mercola, D.O.
"The companies, Pharmacia, GlaxoSmithKline and Aventis, are accused of consumer fraud, commercial bribery and making false statements concerning inflated wholesale prices to government-operated subsidized health plans."

The Bones of Contention
by Sherrill Sellman
"Contrary to the medical marketing hype, synthetic hormonal drugs, dairy products and most calcium supplements actually weaken the bones and have other harmful effects on health."

Criticism of the Food and Drug Administration
FDA Product Seizure Raises Question of Bias
by Alan R. Gaby, M.D.
"While protecting the public from false and misleading claims is a worthwhile goal for a government agency, the recent FDA action heightens a long-standing concern that current law, or the FDAís interpretation of the law, is biased against natural substances that canít be patented."

The FDA Ban of L-Tryptophan: Politics, Profits and Prozac
by Dean W. Manders, Ph.D.
"The story of L-Tryptophan illustrates a sad and perverse picture of the politics and priorities of public health in America: A safe, dietary-supplement serotonin producer is publicly unavailable to people, while daily fed to animals by corporate agribusiness. A drug patent is approved to use L-Tryptophan to cure the very condition the FDA claims it caused. And, while publicly exclaiming that L-Tryptophan is a dangerous and untested drug, the FDA quietly allows human-use L-Tryptophan to be imported, and then marketed and sold by the pharmaceutical industry.

New Views On Atherosclerosis
by William Faloon
"For years, the FDA battled against folic acid food fortification and supplementation. The only reason the FDA capitulated on the fortification issue was irrefutable evidence that folic acid would prevent birth defects. The FDA still does not acknowledge folic acidís multiple disease-preventing benefits."

"The FDA has been openly hostile to folic acid for decades, and the result has been millions of needless heart attacks and strokes that could have been prevented if a health claim could have been made about folic acid."

Many FDA Scientists Had Drug Concerns, 2002 Survey Shows
by Marc Kaufman
"Almost one-fifth of the Food and Drug Administration scientists surveyed two years ago as part of an official review said they had been pressured to recommend approval of a new drug despite reservations about its safety, effectiveness or quality.   The survey of almost 400 scientists also found that a majority had significant doubts about the adequacy of federal programs to monitor prescription drugs once they are on the market, and that more than a third were not particularly confident of the agency's ability to assess the safety of a drug."

Testimony of David J. Graham, M.D., M.P.H. - November 18, 2004
Before Senate Finance Committee
"The corporate culture within Center for Drug Evaluation and Research is also a barrier to effectively protecting the American people from unnecessary harm due to prescription and OTC drugs.  The culture is dominated by a world-view that believes only randomized clinical trials provide useful and actionable information and that post-marketing safety is an afterthought.  The culture also views the pharmaceutical industry it is supposed to regulate as its client, over-values the benefits of the drugs it approves and seriously under-values, disregards and disrespects drug safety."

Drug Industry's Longtime Critic Says 'I Told You So'
by Gardiner Harris in The New York Times
"He warned as early as April 2001 that patients should avoid taking Vioxx and Celebrex.  He issued a similar warning on Bextra in September.  He has been shouting about deficiencies at the F.D.A. since the first Nixon administration."

Why the FDA Has an Incentive to Delay the Introduction of New Drugs
from FDAReview.org
"Thus, in addition to the error of approving a bad drug, there is the error of withholding a good drug. It would be foolish to minimize the first type without minding the effects on the incidence of the second type."

Replace FDA Regulation of Medical Devices with Third-Party Certification
by Noel D. Campbell
"The FDA monopoly over market access is a bottleneck, delaying the introduction of new medical devices for up to three years and restricting the flow of information from manufacturer to user about approved devices."

Questionable Research

The Scandal of Poor Medical Research
Editorial reprinted from the British Medical Journal, January 1994,
from ChiroWeb.com
"Huge sums of money are spent annually on research that is seriously flawed through the use of inappropriate designs, unrepresentative sample, small samples, incorrect methods of analysis, and faulty interpretation."

Is the Evidence Really Evidence?
by Alfred A. Bove, M.D., Ph.D.
"Incentives to reach positive conclusions in clinical trials encompass studies from all sources of support."

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
by John P. A. Ioannidis
"In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance."

Can Accuracy of Abstracts Be Improved by Providing Specific Instructions?
by Roy M. Pitkin, M.D. and Mary Ann Branagan in JAMA, 1998
"We conclude that inconsistencies in data between abstract and body and reporting of data and other information solely in the abstract are relatively common and that a simple educational intervention directed to the author is ineffective in reducing that frequency. Until effective interventions are devised, journals and publishers should incorporate into their copyediting procedures the practice of detailed and specific verification of all data and other information in the abstract."

Accuracy of Data in Abstracts of Published Research Articles
by Roy M. Pitkin, M.D., et al. in JAMA, 1999
"The frequency with which we found abstracts to be inaccurate, in the sense of containing information not verifiable in the article's main body (including tables and figures, as well as text) was surprisingly large, ranging from 18% to 68% in the 6 journals surveyed."

Randomized, Controlled Trials, Observational Studies, and the Hierarchy of Research Designs
by John Concato, M.D., M.P.H., et al.
"The results of well-designed observational studies (with either a cohort or a caseĖcontrol design) do not systematically overestimate the magnitude of the effects of treatment as compared with those in randomized, controlled trials on the same topic."

Bias in Recent Papers on Diets and Drugs in Peer-Reviewed Medical Journals
by Joel M. Kauffman, Ph.D.
"Examples are given to show that randomized, placebo-controlled trials are not free from bias and that the failure to include all-cause death rates can be extremely misleading, as can the use of relative risks in the absence of absolute risks.

Other examples show how the conclusions in an abstract may not agree with the data in the body of the paper, or do not tell the whole truth.  Still others use false surrogate endpoints or faulty trial protocols to favor a desired outcome.  The whole picture may be seen as a breakdown of the peer-review system."

Medical Mistakes Are No Cause for Alarm
by Theodore Dalrymple
"What is new in medicine is not error, for error springs eternal and is the price of progress, but the speed and thoroughness with which treatments are debunked."

Medical Research or Drug Company Secrets?
from Joseph Mercola, D.O.
"Though authors state that pharmaceutical companies' investment in medical research produces a lot of valuable information, they believe that the companies' control over the studies and lack of openness regarding research threatens patients' best interests.  They state that consumers should be aware of the potential consequences of industry-dominated research."

Industry-Funded Medical Research Skewed Toward Industry
from Joseph Mercola, D.O.
"Conflicts of interest that arise from industry-funded medical research are widespread and can affect the outcomes of the research, according to a new study."

Scope and Impact of Financial Conflicts of Interest in Biomedical Research
by Justin E. Bekelman, Yan Li, and Cary P. Gross, M.D.
"Conclusions: Financial relationships among industry, scientific investigators, and academic institutions are widespread.  Conflicts of interest arising from these ties can influence biomedical research in important ways. "

How Drug Firms "Hoodwink" Medical Journals
from the Observer
"Hundreds of articles in medical journals claiming to be written by academics or doctors have been penned by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies."

Corporate Money Co-Opts Nonprofit Groups
from Center for Science in the Public Interest
"Corporate financial support of many of the countryís most prominent health-related nonprofit organizations threatens the independence and credibility of such groups."

Something Rotten at the Core of Science?
by David F. Horrobin
"A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and an analysis of the peer review system substantiate complaints about this fundamental aspect of scientific research.  Far from filtering out junk science, peer review may be blocking the flow of innovation and corrupting public support of science.

Criticism of Milk and Breast Cancer Study
by Robert Cohen
"Often times, the conclusions from published studies contradict their own data."

Risks, Mistakes and Bad Practices

Medical Error & Patient Injury: Costly and Often Preventable
from AARP
"Patient injuries that result from preventable medical errors are widespread and costly. One recent study found that more than one in six hospitalized patients suffered medical injuries that prolonged their hospital stays."

"The systems approach promises significant reductions of preventable medical error and injury in the future."

Doctors Are Reminded: Wash Up!
by Emily Yoffe
from The New York Times
"Hands are the most dangerous thing in the hospital," said Dr. Robert A. Weinstein, director of infectious diseases for the Cook County Bureau of Health Services in Chicago.

Lack of Surgical Preparation Threatens Lives
from The Guardian
"Patients are being put at risk because they are being prepared for operations without the proper pre-surgery investigations, according to a specialist blood doctor."

The Perils of Prevention
by Shannon Brownlee
from The New York Times
"First, doctors discover that a procedure saves lives or effectively treats an acute condition.  Next they begin applying it to patients whose disease is not so advanced in the hope that they will keep the condition from worsening. And then they begin looking for earlier and earlier signs of the disease in patients who feel perfectly healthy.  Prevention has become the doctor's watchword, the mantra that drives the use -- and often misuse -- of procedures and diagnostic tests in every branch of medicine from cardiology to psychiatry.  Its pursuit has blurred the boundaries of medical futility and helped fuel the conviction shared by doctors and patients that it is better to err on the side of doing more rather than less."

Drug Reactions Kill an Estimated 100,000 a Year
from CNN.com
"Serious adverse drug reactions are frequent ... more so than generally recognized," the researchers said.

Documents Show Effort to Promote Unproven Drug
from the New York Times
"Pfizer said in 2000 that more than 78 percent of Neurontin prescriptions were written for unapproved uses. This year, sales of the drug are expected to exceed $2 billion. Pfizer says it is cooperating with investigators and cannot comment in more detail due to the pending litigation."

Auburn Study Finds Hospital Medication Error Rate of 19 Percent
from Auburn University News
"This evidence of a high rate of medication errors in many of the institutions in the sample supports the implications of the Institute of Medicine report that the medication delivery and administration systems of the nation's hospitals have major systems problems."

Medical Errors, for Outpatients
by John O'Neil
from New York Times
"Studies of medical errors generally focus on those in hospitals. But a new study suggests that injuries stemming from mistakes made when patients are discharged from hospitals or in their follow-up care may be more common, though not as serious."

Common Knee Surgery Is Found to Be Worthless
by Ron Winslow in the Wall Street Journal
"The results suggest that patients and doctors consider other remedies for arthritic knees, such as anti-inflammatory medicines, exercise, weight loss and total knee replacement."

How "Modern Medicine" Killed My Brother
by Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.
A story of misdiagnosis, arrogance and ignorance.

The Bitter After-Taste of Lyme Disease
by Georgianna Jensen
"Doctor after doctor after doctor omnipotently and patronizingly treated my daughter for every imaginable ailment EXCEPT Lyme disease."

Articles from Worst Pills
Misprescribing and Overprescribing of Drugs
"For too many patients, the system is stacked against you ó drug companies, doctors, and pharmacists are too often making decisions that ultimately derive from what is best for the drug companies, doctors, and pharmacists, and not necessarily from what is best for you.  This web site has been researched and written to help you come out ahead in the struggle with our health care industry."

Adverse Drug Reactions
"Although some adverse drug reactions (ADR) are not very serious, others cause the death, hospitalization, or serious injury of more than 2 million people in the United States each year, including more than 100,000 fatalities."

Drug-Induced Diseases
"A serious problem exists because both doctors and patients do not realize that practically any symptom in older adults and in many younger adults can be caused or worsened by drugs.  Some doctors and patients assume that what are actually adverse drug reactions are simply signs of aging.  As a result, many serious adverse reactions are entirely overlooked or not recognized until they have caused significant harm."

Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Preventable Drug-induced Injury
Practical suggestions.  Recommended.

Advice/Improvement

When You Need Medical Treatment, Don't Take It Lying Down
by Michael J. Kudlas, D.C.
"Get support for yourself, explore every treatment option, understand the treatment, be a "feisty partner," take responsibility for the outcome."

How to Talk to Doctors
by David Elfstrom
Specific advice to take an active role to improve your health care.

Inspiring Compliance: A New Rx
by Barry Bittman M.D.
"The answer lies in establishing "whole person" or better yet "whole family" comprehensive lifestyle change programs that specifically match the needs of our patients.  The process involves support people as healthy lifestyle changes cannot be accomplished systematically without addressing the framework of the patientís family and environment.  Smoking cessation, proper nutrition and exercise must become established family practices."

Dr. Schor's Guide to Prescription Medicines
by Mark Schor, M.D.

Ways to Minimize Adverse Drug Reactions
by Jay S. Cohen, M.D.
"The great majority of adverse drug reactions are dose-related and occur in patients taking standard doses of medications. These facts suggest that for many patients, standard drug doses may be excessive. The principle of variability among individuals, which requires tailoring the dose to the patient, needs to be reasserted in clinical medicine to reduce the incidence of side effects."

Fixing Healthcare From The Inside, Today
by Steven J. Spear
"..the healthcare system is populated by bright, dedicated, well-intentioned people.  They have already demonstrated a capacity to experiment and learn in order to master knowledge and skills within their disciplines.  One can imagine few people better qualified to master the skills and knowledge needed to improve processes that span the boundaries of their disciplines."

Improvement Stories
from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Podcasts
Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Brownstein on "Drugs That Don't Work and Natural Therapies That Do."

OTHER RESOURCES

American Iatrogenic Association
"Devoted to the study and reporting of illness caused by physicians and other members of the medical profession."

Citizens for Health

FDAReview.org

GaryNull.com

Healthy Skepticism

Independent Drug Information Service

Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Integrity in Science

Life Extension Foundation

Medication Sense

Mercola.com

No Free Lunch
Their goal is "to encourage health care practitioners to provide high quality care based on unbiased evidence rather than on biased pharmaceutical promotion."

Overdosed America
by John Abramson, M.D.

Red Flags Weekly

WorstPills.org

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Please click on the picture of the book or the title to order.

 

Jay S. Cohen, M.D., Over Dose: The Case Against the Drug Companies: Prescription Drugs, Side Effects, and Your Health

Stephen M. Fried, Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs
Atul Gawande, M.D., Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science

Daniel Haley, Politics in Healing: The Suppression & Manipulation of American Medicine

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future

Ray D. Strand, M.D., What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You

Sandra Coney, The Menopause Industry: How the Medical Establishment Exploits Women

Barbara Seaman, The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women: Exploding the Estrogen Myth

Katharine Greider, The Big Fix: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Rips Off American Consumers Robert Wachter, M.D. and Kaveh Shojania, M.D., Internal Bleeding: The Truth Behind America's Terrifying Epidemic of Medical Mistakes
Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., Food Fight: The Inside Story of the Food Industry, America's Obesity Crisis, and What We Can Do About It Marion Nestle, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health

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