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Is Suppressing Symptoms with Synthetic Chemicals Losing its Lustre in Healthcare?
By Helke Ferrie, Vitality Magazine, March 2008

Every class of drugs currently used to treat the symptoms of cancer, diabetes, heart and autoimmune diseases, depression and psychiatric disorders is currently under regulatory investigation, the subject of class action lawsuits involving tens of thousands of patients who have incurred harm as a result of legally prescribed medications.

Street drugs kill about 20,000 people a year in North America, which is no surprise. But a much more shocking statistic is that prescription drugs kill about 700,000 people a year, making legal drugs the leading cause of death. As well, the side effects of legal drugs cause about 8.8 million hospitalizations annually, or 28% of all hospital admissions.

Prescription drugs and street drugs are both designed for symptom control. Prescription drug product monographs clearly state: “This drug does not cure.” In August 2004, the New Yorker ran a full-page ad by Novartis with a cartoon showing a castle wall at the bottom of which was a badly broken Humpty Dumpty. One of two courtiers kneeling beside him says: “We can’t put him back together again, but at least we can lower his blood pressure.”

Drug companies know that most drugs are toxic and so are now re-focusing on “biologicals” which contain natural peptides, helpful bacteria, biologically engineered drugs (more new cancer drugs), and even drugs that deliver minerals and vitamins. The more bio-identical a drug can be made, the less toxic it will be to the liver. Merck is hoping for big profits with its new cholesterol-lowering “drug” Cordaptive, whose active ingredient is Niacin (vitamins B3), long known to be nature’s cure for cardiovascular disease.

Pharmaceuticals, like street drugs, are intended to get addicts and patients hooked; many drugs are addictive and some, like Ritalin, work through the same cellular receptor sites used by crack cocaine. At a marketing conference for the managers of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies in March 2004, one of the first overhead displays read: “As a Marketer: which is better for business? Steady continuous use of your drug, or occasional use of your drug?”

There is one way in which street drugs differ from prescription drugs: drug pushers without a medical degree know exactly what their product does, while drug pushers with a medical degree don’t know they are drug pushers and are almost completely clueless about pharmacology. Last November, the Health Council of Canada published a report stating that “people are going out into practice without a comprehensive understanding either of how drugs work or how to use them rationally.”

Only four of Canada’s 17 medical schools require a course in clinical pharmacology. Yet, doctors have sole prescription power over some 20,000 pharmaceutical drugs, which generate 400 million prescriptions annually, costing our healthcare system $24 billion. Even if doctors do sometimes read the Health Canada warnings on a drug, they don’t seem to understand them. How else can one explain what Ontario’s Auditor General found in 2007 – that year over 18,000 alerts on known drug toxicity were provided by pharmacy computers for prescriptions issued for residents of 421 long-term care homes – yet the prescribing doctors ignored these warnings 91% of the time.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada was so shocked by these reports, they changed medical training requirements, starting this year. This is undoubtedly very good news for Canadians because our doctors will learn what synthetic drugs really do – not just what a drug rep tells them over wine and roses. Even with this new breed of doctors soon appearing, you might want some help in understanding drugs.

A Quick Tour Through The Medicine Cabinet

Every class of drugs currently used to treat the symptoms of cancer, diabetes, heart and autoimmune diseases, depression, psychiatric disorders, etc. is currently under regulatory investigation, the subject of class action lawsuits involving tens of thousands of people. These drugs continue to be sold with advisories required by the FDA and Health Canada stating, for example, that:

• Antidepressants may increase the risk of suicide and that they do increase the risk of cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis;
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, and diabetes drugs like Avandia, increase the risk of heart attacks;
• All estrogenic drugs increase the risk of stroke due to the formation of blood clots;
• Cholesterol-lowering drugs increase the risk of most of the above and interfere with sleep;
• Certain cancer drugs can cause heart attacks and brain inflammation.

All of this information is freely available at your local drug store, in every doctor’s office, and online in the annually updated CPS, the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties.

Over the past decade, Big Pharma’s “science engine has stalled”, observed the Wall Street Journal on December 6, 2007. Computer-assisted “rational drug design” can no longer find new applications to known cellular targets in humans, the main reason being the discoveries made through the Human Genome Project. It was formerly believed that about 10,000 useful targets would be available on human cells for drugs to act upon; in fact it is now known that there are at most 1,000.

Furthermore, almost all blockbuster drugs are under increasingly successful legal attack for deaths and injury. Merck paid more than $4 billion (about one year’s earnings) for the human disaster it created with the NSAID known as Vioxx, which killed about 150,000 since coming to the market. And the French government has charged GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur with “manslaughter” for the deaths caused by the Hepatitis B vaccine.

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