Saturday, August 30, 2008

Drug Company Scam

Drug companies have found a way around the FDA requirement that they warn consumers about the dangers in their products. After all, Eli Lilly's ad for Evista doesn't want to spend 25 seconds of their 60-second TV commercial warning about such side effects and blood clots and dying from stroke. Now companies are using ads that don't mention their drug. Instead the promote the problem, like stopping smoking, and refer consumers to a website that has a link to Chantix. It's a 2-step dance around FDA rules but it more effectively captures potential customers because it doesn't scare them away with side effects of the drug like DEATH.

When are our elected officials and the FDA going to realize the American experiment with allowing direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs has been a disaster for health in our country? We have only 4.3% of the world's population but we consumer 48% of the world's prescription drugs ... yet only rank #30 in longevity (worse in other categories). There are only 2 countries in the world that allow it, and the othe one is already looking at discontinuing it because they're seeing the same pattern of abuse.

WAKE UP CONGRESS! Or are you just too happy with all of the political contributions from the drug makers? Didn't we vote you into office to protect our welfare, not the welfare of the drug companies?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Other Side

One of the reasons I didn't include anything on diets or supplements in UnBreak Your Health is that it is an area ripe for exploitation.

Today's news shows that both sides of the fence can be guilty of unethical behavior. The founder of the company that produced the male enhancement product Enzyte was convicted of fraud and sentanced to 25 years in prison. Turns out all of his natural supplements were nothing but hype preying on the hope of millions.

One more case of a rotten apple spoiling the barrel for everyone else.

Medical Safety

Everyone questions the safety of complementary & alterantive medicine even though these therapies have been around for decades, hundreds even thousands of years. Shall we compare it to the best of mainstream medicine?

Recent front-page article in the Wall Street Journal notes that a new treatment for Sepsis infections may help the 4 million people who die from it each year, or not. When the research came out medical groups endorsed it and hospitals started using it. Now it turns out that the research was done at just 1 hospital and, oh gee what a coincidence, they happen to own the patents on a medical device critical to the therapy. It also turns out that the research started with a standard rate of infection that is much higher than current research standards, a red flag in the world of statistical research.

The situation has become quite public, and pretty ugly, in the quiet halls of medicine. As questions started coming up more statistical issues became apparent in the study that promoted this new therapy. The hospital claims it did a thorough investigation but won't release the report. The groups that supported the therapy were not aware of the conflict of interest in the situation.

And these are the folks that expect us to trust them with our lives?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Health Care Increases to 16.3% of GDP

The journal Health Affairs reports that uninsured Americans will spend $30 billion for care out of their own pockets this year while others, mainly the government, will spend an additional $56 billion.

The bigger picture is that health care now consumes 16.3% of our nation's entire Gross Domestic Product, more than any other nation on earth. When added to our country's poor rating of #30 in the world for longevity it's obvious our return on investment continues to get worse with each passing year.

Everyone agrees there is a huge and growing problem with health care in America but no one can agree on what to do to fix the problem. This election year is the time to make every politician running for office go on the record for what they'll do to fix this crisis.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Faith in Healing

In this week's Archives of Surgery there is an interesting study on Prayer Therapy. In a random survey 57% of adults felt that God's intervention could save a family member even if doctors had said that treatment would be futile. Even 20% of doctors shared the belief, apparently understanding their limitations.

The bigger question is, how can we not imagine miraculous cures? In this era of epigenetics and discoveries about the unlimited abilities of our bodies to heal how can we not have faith in the unseen and unknown? Is this any bigger leap of faith than those 150 years ago who believed that antibiotics might cure a disease caused by evil spirits?

What's sad is that only 20% of doctors understand their are higher powers than theirs.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dallas Child Article

I keep forgetting to mention that if you're in the Dallas area pick up a copy of the current DALLAS CHILD magazine, there is a nice little article on me and UnBreak Your Health. To check it out online visit:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Laughter Therapy Fun

Recorded my 5th podcast last night and I have to admit it was the most fun ever. Nothing like talking to the president of the Association for Applied & Therapeutic Humor about Laughter Therapy to have some fun! Check it out at Podcasts

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors, in other words mistakes that should have been prevented, are costing employers an estimated $1.47 billion each year according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The estimate was reached reviewing records of 161,000 adult patients who underwent surgery in 2001 and 2002 and were enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans. In other words, this isn't the whole picture.

Anyone interested in the hidden costs of mainstream medicine should read Shannon Brownlee's award-winning book OVERTREATED: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sleep and Stress

With the 24/7 world we live in it's not surprising to hear that most of us have trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and awakening too early. The April 2008 survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center was done with a nationally representative sample of 1,466 adults. Fifty percent of those we asked about their most recent night of sleep reported those problems, and for many, they occur repeatedly. When asked about the previous month, 44% said they had one or more of those issues on at least eight nights, making them "problem sleepers." .

What's really sad is that instead of treating the source of the problem most people simply turn to prescription drugs. The survey discovered almost 20%Americans took prescription or over-the-counter medicines at least once a week to help them sleep better.

Treat the source of your problem (usually stress) and you'll not only sleep better, you'll live better.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Drugs Can Kill

The government issued a warning on Friday that patients taking some common medications for high cholesterol and irregular heart beats can suffer severe muscle damage because of a problem in the way the drugs interact. Once again people are guinea pigs for the pharmaceutical industry.

The Food and Drug Administration said doctors should use extra care when prescribing Zocor, generic Zocor, or Vytorin to patients who are also taking amiodarone, a heart rhythm drug marketed as Cordarone or Pacerone. Want to bet the drug salesmen forget to mention this small problem because it might impact their revenue?

When are Americans going to wake up to the fact that drugs have a higher cost than they've ever been told by doctors or drug companies?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Doctor Visits

The CDC reports that the number of medical visits increased 26% between 1996 and 2006a number that is significantly higher than the 11% population growth during that period. Older folks are the main reason and that's because they're making more visits than they did 10 years ago.

What's sad is that the majority of visits were for chronic conditions ... you know, those health problems that complementary and alternative therapies do so well with and mainstream medicine does so poorly. Go to a doctor for a chronic condition and all you're going to get are more pills.

Our current sick-care system shows what it's all about.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Medical Errors Cost More

The U.S. government reported this week that preventable medical errors during or after surgery cause 10% of surgery-related deaths each year and may cost an additional $1.5 Billion each year.

The Director for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Carolyn Clancy, said "Eliminating medical errors and their after effects must continue to be the top priority for our health care system." Looking at records from 2001 and 2002 the agency reported that errors ranged from bedsores to infections and blood clots.

As if medical costs weren't high enough already!