The Pharmaceutical Emperor has no Clothes

I remember the days of excitement, when the clinic staff would wait for the drug pusher to show up and dole out the goodies: would it be pens, maybe some of those cool refrigerator magnets that hold reminders, a clock, branded note pads? The really good days would be when they showed up with lunch – everyone enjoyed that. Those drug pushers were otherwise known as pharmaceutical sales representatives. I was a young doctor in training, and in those days the drug salesman was loved by staff and a trusted adviser of the busy doctor.

For me the pinnacle of those times came when I had an opportunity to take my family to see the first Harry Potter movie. I know that sounds odd, but let me set the stage. It was opening day for the movie that had people everywhere on edge with excitement. Many were camping out at theaters waiting in huge lines for tickets. That wouldn’t have been possible for my wife and me with our four young kids and my hectic work schedule, but it also wasn’t necessary. You see, a pharmaceutical company had rented the entire theater for a private showing, and they invited me and my family. The physician’s families were treated to a VIP experience with magic shows, kid’s games, refreshments, and cake. The movie was great, but it was the experience of that VIP treatment that sticks in my mind. That wonderful cake with the colorful logo that reminded me the party was brought to me by an exciting new drug… I think prescriptions for that drug got to be pretty common in the hospital after that.

Those days are gone now. The clinic staff doesn’t get treated to lunch. I’m buying my own pens and notepads, but you know as I look out at the world the pharmaceutical business is still growing. The funny thing is that they just found a new group of people to bribe – it’s called direct to consumer advertising. Now, instead of giving goodies to doctors and their staff, they pay for people’s magazines and television shows – they bribe the consumer. The brainwashing (marketing) continues.

The truth that I want people to know is that no prescription drug will make you healthy. There are damn few that will even make you better or cure a disease. They all have negative health effects on your body, brain, and mind. Most importantly, when you choose to enter into the relationship of dependance on a company that makes a drug and a medical professional that grants approval to take it (bet you never thought of a doctor’s prescription as a permission slip), you give up control of your health.

I see patients in an occupational health clinic. So I only take care of people that are in the working world – only the people that are healthy enough to work, and we know that those people have less disease than the general population. 43 percent of the patients that I see in my clinic take prescriptions drugs. Another way to look at that is nearly half of the people that produce things in our community can’t function (or least think they can’t) without Big Pharma keeping them alive and going. That horrifies me.

My personal mission is to change that. I want to open people’s eyes and show them that they control their own health. They DO NOT need to depend on magic pills and medical experts. We all were created to be healthy – it’s an individual responsibility. Come along with me and learn how to own your own health.