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Are Doctors Influenced By Big Pharma?

Sep 25, 2023 | Blog, Functional Medicine, Uncategorized

There are a lot of things that I used to believe that I now doubt in regard to medicine. Like are doctors influenced by Big Pharma? 

 

As in any profession, there are some unethical people but as a whole, the majority of doctors I’ve come to know are caring people who want to help patients in the best possible way. Most would say they aren’t influenced by Big Pharma.  I would have said the same thing 10 years ago.  But now I believe that I was heavily influenced by Big Pharma, I just didn’t realize it at the time. Here’s how my opinion on this matter was formed and how it’s gradually changed.  

 

My medical education was heavily focused on the diagnosis of disease and matching the appropriate pharmaceutical agent to that diagnosis.  I believed in my teachers and I knew that they fully believed in what they taught.  I, without question, accepted it all then took what I learned, and applied it to the patients I cared for.  Both my teachers and myself would claim we weren’t influenced by Big Pharma. 

 

Occasionally as a family doctor, when I was recommending a drug to a patient they would express distrust in the pharmaceutical industry and my relationship to it. 

 

They would say, “I know you just want me to take that because you get a kickback from the drug company.”  I would emphatically explain that wasn’t true.  Shortly before I entered the profession, doctors were wined and dined by pharmaceutical companies but by the time I graduated from medical school, stricter rules were being enforced. Pharmaceutical reps were only able to provide doctors with educational programs.  The only kickback I received was a lunch for my staff and me in conjunction with some education about their product which wasn’t based on my prescribing patterns.  Doctors realize the information being presented is somewhat biased and that the rep’s job is to sell to us so we tend to take it all with a grain of salt.  We don’t believe these interactions with the reps are influencing us.  

 

Clearly, the marketing campaigns of the pharmaceutical companies work or they wouldn’t keep investing in them. When surveyed, physicians claim that their behavior is not changed by the interactions but admit to believing other physicians can be influenced. Many physicians agree there is potential for some mild abuse here, but now I believe there’s much more.  

 

The truth is that America’s public health agencies have been captured by the pharmaceutical industry.  As teachers and practitioners, we are looking to these public health agencies for unbiased recommendations. We recognize that although the drug reps are nice, highly educated, and savvy they have something to sell.  However public health agencies can be trusted fully.  We accept their data and recommendations as unbiased and in the best interest of public health.  We are mistaken. 

 

There is often an agenda to propagate.  There are drugs to sell.  Sadly these two goals are more important than what is best for you and me and our overall health.  

 

 

Doctors rely on studies published in reputable medical journals for the most up-to-date information with which to treat their patients. 

 

 

Many of these studies are funded by the pharmaceutical companies.  If the results are favorable it gets published.  If the results are unfavorable it gets buried.  If the results are borderline, the data gets presented in such a way as to exaggerate the benefits and then gets published.  

 

Why would these reputable journals publish questionable data? Why isn’t this reported on the news?  You can answer questions like this by following the money.  Who is the biggest advertiser in medical journals and on the major news networks?  You’ve seen the ads. Big Pharma.  

 

Two of the top medical journals are the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and The Lancet.  Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet states, “Journals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.” Dr. Maria Angell who served as editor of the NEJM for 20 years states that journals are “primarily a marketing machine.” 2

 

For years I’ve trusted the science.  Now I realize I’ve been duped. I previously misplaced my trust in the authorities and I underestimated the extent to which money and power corrupt.  I saw this funny, yet true meme on Facebook.  “I tried to follow the science, but it was simply not there. I then followed the money.  That’s where I found the science.”  

 

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) formerly headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci has dominance and control over a long list of agencies including the CDC, FDA, NIH, and the WHO.  He has used his power to reward those scientists who support him and defund, silence, and ruin those who do not.  His policies are focused on developing and promoting patented medicines and vaccines while discrediting natural, functional, and integrative therapies, nutrition, vitamins, and off-patent drugs.  How many times during the pandemic did you hear about the importance of adequate vitamin D4 or the ability of melatonin5 to decrease disease?  Rarely, if ever.  You have to dig deep to find meaningful, useful, safe information like this.  

 

The money is in new drugs.  Pharma partners with government institutions.  These government institutions partner with medical schools to conduct the studies. The journal reports the findings of the studies that are favorable to the drugs they want to sell.  Everyone wins except the patient.  Doctors are pawns in a  game that often, they don’t even realize is being played.  

 

My goal in life is to rely on the pharmaceutical system as little as possible.  I spend every day trying to up-level my health naturally when possible so I can avoid the conventional medical system at all costs.  As I’ve learned more and more about how this system works I’ve gone through all the stages of grief.  First denial–this can’t possibly be true?  Then anger–how dare they!  Then bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.  It doesn’t help to beat myself up for not knowing. I’ve learned from it.  I’ve accepted it and now I spend my time seeking truth and creating true health for myself and my clients.   

 

Doctors aren’t influenced by Big Pharma is another lie I learned in medical school that I no longer believe is true. 

 

References

1. Chimonas S, Brennan TA, Rothman DJ. Physicians and drug representatives: exploring the dynamics of the relationship. J Gen Intern Med. 2007;22(2):184-190.

2. Richard Smith, Medical Journals are an extension of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies, 2.5 PLOS MEDICINE e138 (May 2005). doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020138. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1140949/

3. Borsche L, Glauner B, von Mendel J. COVID-19 Mortality Risk Correlates Inversely with Vitamin D3 Status, and a Mortality Rate Close to Zero Could Theoretically Be Achieved at 50 ng/mL 25(OH)D3: Results of a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2021 Oct 14;13(10):3596. doi: 10.3390/nu13103596. PMID: 34684596; PMCID: PMC8541492

4. Reiter R, Abreu-Gonzalez P, Marik P, Dominguez-Rodriguez A.  Therapeutic Algorithm for Use of Melatonin in Patients with COVID-19.  Frontiers in Medicine, Vol 7, 2020.  URL=https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2020.00226     DOI=10.3389/fmed.2020.00226

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