Saturday, June 28, 2008

Drug Industry Control of Government

How much fun is the drug industry having with the current administration and climate in Washington? Would you believe they increased their lobbying spending by 32% in 2007? The pharmaceutical industry's spending has skyrocketed since Democrats took control of Congress to $168 million and it comes as no surprise that for the first time they gave more to Democrats than Republicans.

The biggest single spender was the industry's hub group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Board which paid $23 million. Their goal is to block the importation of inexpensive foreign drugs and to protect their patents. They're also doing everything they can to slow the growth of generics.

So next time you're spending $10 Oor more) per pill just remember who to thank!

With this kind of financial power is it any wonder that the field of complementary and alternative medicine is under more legislative attacks than ever before? Remember it was only 20 years ago that the federal courts had to protect chiropractors from the attacks of the American Medical Association. They've got the gold, and they're making the rules in Washington and in state capitals all across America.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Daily Happiness Measure

The is a new, daily survey of the happiness (and stress) of life in America that you can look at on the Internet. Healthways, Inc. and Gallup measure out situation nightly with 1,000 interviews. On a daily basis the ratio is about 5:1 in favor of happiness. Happiness Graph

What's interesting in this survey is the detailed information subsets. For example sick people with no insurance 56% reported a lot of stress compared to only 39% of those with insurance.

Too bad they didn't start this survey before the price of gas rolled over $3 per gallon ... that causes all of us a lot of stress!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More To Genes

Researchers have discovered that comprehensive lifestyle changes including a better diet and more exercise can lead not only to a better physique, but also to swift and dramatic changes at the genetic level. The activity was improved diet and exercise along with an hour each day of stress management including such techniques as meditation. The small study involved men with prostate cancer and it found that after the three months, the men had changes in activity in about 500 genes -- including 48 that were turned on and 453 genes that were turned off.

The activity of disease-preventing genes increased while a number of disease-promoting genes, including those involved in prostate cancer and breast cancer, shut down, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is exactly the type of response that Dr. Bruce Lipton and others involved with the field of epigenetics have been talking about for some time. Research is now beginning to verify that disease isn't simply "in our genes" after all. The choices we make in how we live are clearly a factor.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lost Opportunity to Save Lives

The sudden death of journalist Tim Russert was a shock to everyone. He had just passed a heart stress test two weeks prior to collapsing at work. His loss is shared by family, friends and his many media colleagues and my condolences go out to those who knew him.

In reporting on his death the news media has gone into great detail about how heart disease kills 300,000 Americans every year and is still our #1 cause of death. The news stories have gone into great detail on all of the surgical options, diagnostic tests, even prescription medications on this popular topic. In other words they've covered the story from every possible angle ... but one.

I've seen stories in almost every major media and not once has there been any mention of any complementary and alternative therapy for heart disease. I expected to see at least some mention of the Ornish Program which is the only medically-proven treatment to reverse heart disease. Or perhaps Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School or some other proven CAM therapy. Instead all of the media chose to stick to their AMA-approved script. I'm sure all of the drug companies cheered all the reporting on their wonderful medications, they consider it free advertising.

This is just the latest example of how shallow journalism has become. It's sad and ironic that a journalist who always wanted to get behind the photo-op and underneath the press release became the latest example of the surface reporting that passes for journalism today in our country. Tim Russert, of all people, would've scolded his colleagues to do their job and get the WHOLE story, not just the sound bite.

The result of this media failure is another lost opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of people find better health with complementary and alternative medicine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hope for New Doctors

One of the most hopeful trends in medicine is the skeptical eye medical students are casting on their teachers. The American Medical Student Association has conducted its second annual survey on U.S. medical schools, grading them on how strictly they control the relationships between doctors and sales representatives from drug and medical device companies.

Of the 132 medical schools surveyed, 60 received Fs. These schools refused to reveal their policies, or ignored requests for the policies, which the student association contends should be available to the public. Only seven schools received As, while 14 received Bs, four received Cs and 19 received Ds.

The good news is that at least some of the medical students are beginning to appreciate the influence peddling that's going on in the hallowed halls of America's medical schools. Perhaps the next generation of doctors will not only view prescription drugs with more skepticism but maybe even appreciate the healing techniques called complementary and alternative medicine.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dirty Little Secret

Does it surprise you to learn how many doctors are hiding income, often a lot of income, the receive from drug companies? In the news recently is the story about a world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel the explosion of use in antipsychotic medications for children who neglected to report he received at least $1.6 million from drug makers from 2000 - 2007.

Yes, this is a violation of federal and university rules designed to police conflicts of interest, but it turns out several doctors there aren't paying attention. The case has been referred to the university's conflict committee for review and NIH is looking into the that it's been exposed for them.

The situation came to light through the efforts of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. He noted the amended disclosures may actually understate the researcher's outside income because the amounts contradict payment information from the drug manufacturers.

Most of us aren't surprised in the least by such news reports. We know the doctors and researchers are in bed with the drug makers. We're surprised when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar is all, and are deeply grateful to Sen. Grassley and others for shining light on these dirty little secrets.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Must Be Nice

I must admit right upfront that this blog is all about jealousy and envy. As a new author with a small publisher I am very jealous of all the media coverage given to big companies with their expensive PR agencies. It really rubs me the wrong way when it's a pharmaceutical company pushing more drugs down the throats of Americans.

Latest case in point: Erbitux. You have to have heard about this new cancer fighter because it was reported on all major TV news networks yesterday. It was also reported on several of the local TV news programs here in Dallas. It was even in today's Dallas Morning News newspaper. Judging from all of this media coverage you'd think this was a major innovation, but you'd be wrong, it's just more of the usual.

Dr. Roy Herbst, lung cancer specialist at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston had it right when he said "It's a very small benefit. No one should try to make any more of it than that." I would add it's based on an extremely small study so it's very premature too.

There were only 1,125 people in the new study and the drug appears to only extend the average survival from 10 months with standard chemotherapy to 11 months with Erbitux and chemo. Not exactly a huge improvement but from all of the media hype you'd think this was the cure for cancer.

Like I said, I admit I'm envious of all the media coverage! I've been trying for nearly a year to get some coverage, any coverage, about complementary and alternative medicine ... with no success. My book, UnBreak Your Health, can certainly reduce pain and suffering as well as this new drug but without the money to pay a big PR firm for media attention, nobody knows about it. The hundreds of therapies in my book can help millions of people, not just the thousands impacted by the type of cancer involved with this new drug, but the media ignores it.

Welcome to the Golden Rule, pharmaceutical style.