Say it isn’t so! A report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OCED) has suggested that big pharma may be tainting the integrity of medical education and research, as well as threatening the quality of care you may be receiving from physicians.
Now, more than ever, we need to be careful of what drugs are being pushed at us. More, we need to look at WHY they’re being pushed at us.
The notion of the pharmaceutical industry tilting evidence of drugs isn’t news to us, that more organizations are looking into the very dangerous connection and sphere of influence the pharmaceutical industry has over our healthcare is encouraging.
According to a report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OCED), big pharma may be a huge barrier to our optimal health. As reported by The Dr. Rath Health Foundation, the influence pharmaceutical companies have over not only research and treatment, but doctor preference and availability as well, is a problem to our best health. The Dr. Rath Health Foundation is a non-profit organization that is committed to improving human health on a global scale, and defending patients’ rights to choosing natural health therapies. The Foundation is a major force in promoting natural health education, as well as investigating hindrances to our wellness at the hands of poor best practices.
The report indicated that drug companies aren’t necessarily interested in preventing or curing diseases, as they collectively rake in about a trillion dollars a year from ‘treating’ diseases with their medicines.
Which is not a surprise. A September 2019 Gallup poll found that big pharma was considered the worst industry in the United States. In March of 2019, the Dutch bank ASN stopped investing in many of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies as they accused them of being no longer responsible and performing under unethical behaviors.
The report also indicated that the prescribing habits your doctors may have are likely influenced by industry marketing and drug representatives and salespeople. What does that mean for you? Basically, it means that your doctor may be making decisions about your health based on the information you’d expect, and instead making them on the ploys of big pharma marketing and ulterior motives.
So how can we battle the financial conflict of interest?
Most importantly, we have to look at the influence these companies have on testing evaluation, treatments and technologies. Nearly 60% of medical research is funded by the pharmaceutical industry–what reason do they have to downplay the negatives of their drugs, while they talk them up big to doctors and clinicians? Little to none.
The Dr. Rath Health Foundation uses cholesterol-lowering drugs as an example. They refer to a review that looked at nearly 200 studies done on those drugs, also called statins, and found that the pharmaceutical company-sponsored studies were more likely to find favorable results when it came to the sponsors’ drugs. You don’t say? Those companies take those ‘results’ and then ‘educate’ clinicians. These education sessions often also included the ‘stats’ they’ve funded, as well as delicious wine and dinners they ALSO fund. Why wouldn’t your doctor then refer you to those drugs for treatment? Which is scary considering a study of nearly 300,000 doctors showed that the acceptance of just one sponsored meal was associated with more prescriptions of the sponsors’ products. Shocking, but not surprising.
The good news is that there are signs the times are changing. In Norway, doctors can no longer formally use industry-supported ‘education’ and the government funds all independent drug testing and information. As well, some medical journals are no longer accepting advertising dollars from drug companies. Some specific citizen groups are even turning down funds from companies that also sell health care products if there appears to be a conflict of interest.
In Italy, drug companies have taxes on their promotional and marketing budgets. The revenue from those taxes then are used for independent disease research. In Great Britain, there are proposals that the government funds clinical trials as well as considerations about breaking the patents some drug companies have so the government can more fairly and equitably distribute treatments. Here in the United States, the more we bring to light, the better.
But we can also advocate for government policies that demand freedom from pharmaceutical influence of all tests, treatments and technologies. We can advocate for medical ‘education’ to be industry-free sponsorship, and that clinicians can NOT gain professional accreditation or certification from industry/company-sponsored events. We also need to press our regulators to work on new marketing guidelines that will END the practice of companies ‘wooing’ doctors to use their drugs.
It seems daunting, we know. But even at our individual levels, in our own doctor’s offices, we can ask specific questions. We can ask if they were marketed to and we can ask what their personal knowledge and education, industry-free, of the treatment they are suggesting is. As our clinicians see we’re no longer blindly accepting treatments because some salesperson took them to a fancy wine and dine event, they’ll be forced to look deeper into the medicines they’re giving to us.
Look at how the natural lifestyle and product markets have grown–it’s because we know more and we’re expecting more. Do the same of here too, and tell big pharma their days of owning our health are over.