Monday, February 07, 2005

Corporate Greed and the Synonymous Nature of the Pharmaceutical Industry

The underhanded behavior of the Pharmaceutical Industry has only recently reached the forefront of mass media. For at least five decades, these greedy and ruthless corporations have been hiding important information that would require extreme caution on behalf of the consumer. They have blocked research data that would reveal the true dangers and nature of the very drugs that they vehemently push upon the American public. Only through recent widespread news, has the truth come out on the manipulation exerted upon the Physicians and Patients that have been tricked into a false sense of security regarding the effects of their products.

The recent news that Vioxx and Celebrex, touted as the "next generation anti-inflammatory drugs", are over prescribed and have had a large part to play in recent heart attacks was known for many years. Further research and unbiased data reveals the damage that these products can do to the heart muscle, resulting in an increased rate of heart attack and stroke. There are a number of reasons these drugs were prematurely pressed on the public, and few outside the industry understand the reasons. Many physicians were pressured to switch to the "new generation", because Aspirin, used as the primary anti-inflammatory, often had the side-effect of stomach and intestinal distress. As many know, Aspirin is not the friendliest drug on the stomach, and can lead to bleeding ulcers, and pain. Another reason for the proliferation of "next generation" anti-inflammatory was the dependence of patients on opiates such as Vicodin and Codeine. Physicians are split between different treatment methods to joint and body pain. For example, when a patient with a chronic history of lower back pain is examined, some physicians prescribe a combination of Anti-Inflammatories and Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for the pain. Others, especially physicians who have lower back pain themselves, and can sympathize with their patients, prescribe opiates for the pain. Since the advent of the Next Generation Anti-inflammatory, more of the latter physicians were encouraged to switch treatment methods, because of the reduced side-effects by the new medication (remembering the stomach problems that the previous treatment, Aspirin, had on the patient). As it happens, all this prodding and encouragement was a result of manipulated data on the safety of the "new and better" treatment method. (

Many may question how Physicians, an intelligent and trusted group of people can be manipulated into dumping their time tested medication, to new and rather experimental drugs. This is where the Pharmaceutical Representatives come in. Physicians, being trapped in their offices all day, seeing sick and infirm patients not on their best days, light up when a very well dressed and attractive woman arrives selling a pharmaceutical product. They come with "free gifts" and expect to eventually receive some recognition of their product. The amount of money spent on advertising and marketing by these corporations is much greater then the national product of many countries around the globe.

Not only do pharmaceutical companies manipulate data, but they function as any ruthless corporation would. First, their research labs are fortified with security barriers, electric fences, and thick concrete walls. Further, they have their employees sign confidentiality agreements, with no right to privacy if they are suspect on leaking data. This means that they can tap phone lines, and have private investigators intrude upon their private lives. The prices for the products they sell are hyper inflated, and only with significant monetary resources can one take the recommended treatment offered. Another method of generating great income is through expanding an existing disease to include "new" standards. The current trend in prescribing drugs on children for various "diseases" need not be fully elaborated upon. Any learned person knows the over prescription of Ridalin and Prozac because the parents and educators of these children do not have the patience to deal with the issues. There may be a few individuals who are truly in need of such medication, but they are highly outnumbered by those that do not need these drugs. Recent news has also revealed the increased rates of suicide that results from adolescents taking anti-depressants such as Paxil (

As one scans through the isles at the store, it's hard to avoid the large amount of space devoted to pharmaceutical products. Many of these are typical treatments, which do not aim to cure the underlying ailment. This is where alternative medicine, often times used in conjunction with contemporary treatments, works. Alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and herbal remedies, aims to cure and soothe the ailment in a natural and homeopathic way. Even if the treatments don't work chemically, the placebo effect they invoke of those that use them is instrumental in a patient's recovery. Building and acquiring immunity is not solely based on chemical means, but also, on a stronger immune system. As long as patients believe in the treatment or cure, the process itself, goes a long way in recovery. These are not attributed to magical means, but the natural act of one's immune system strengthening based on a suggestion from their mind.

The best way to counteract the dominance of Pharmaceutical companies is first, to realize when it's important to avoid taking medication (such as antibiotics) for simple things as the flu, and limiting the amount of relief obtained through drugs. Further, it's important to realize that some medicine, such as those involved in Chemotherapy, are important, but can be used in conjunction with alternative sources (as long as they don't counteract each other). And of primary importance is Preventing, and not just treating an illness. A good diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle are important ingredients for prevention of most illnesses.

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