Category Archives: Big Pharma

The Knock On Niacin – Big Pharma At It Again

Two new reports recently came out that said niacin, vitamin B3, is not effective for the prevention of heart disease or stroke. And, in fact, it might be dangerous. The studies also concluded that it might be so dangerous is shouldn’t be recommended at all. This is not an uncommon response when nutrients are studied, especially ones that reduce the market share for billion dollar statin medications.

Two studies recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that while niacin does reduce triglycerides, raise “good” (HDL) cholesterol, and reduce “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, it did not reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Big PharmaI have several problems with the new information that’s been plastered all over the media recently about the recent studies:

Problem #1:

While two studies were performed, the largest of the two was funded by Merck Pharmaceuticals. It had over 25,000 participants while the other study, funded by the NIH, had just over 3,000 people. Merck clearly has an interest in driving down the sales of niacin as it would likely increase the sales of their cholesterol lowering drugs Zocor and Zetia. As an added note, niacin sales have tripled since 2002. Wouldn’t it be a perfect time to get a study that shows it’s dangerous or ineffective?

Problem #2:

These published trials do not reflect the clinical experience of doctors around the country who’ve been recommending niacin for decades. Research and a doctor’s clinical observations are often different. Which one do you believe?

Problem #3:

These trials focused on high-risk patients, almost all of whom were already taking statins and had low LDL levels. Would you see more benefit in clinical trials if these patients had different lipid profiles, or in those who did not already have heart disease? The populations they studied were already being treated intensively. It’s unlikely they were going to benefit by just one more treatment (niacin in this case).  As a matter of fact, in the Merck funded study they clearly state they cannot say whether niacin might be beneficial for patients at even higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke or those with higher LDL levels.

Problem #4:

Statins are particularly ineffective with potentially serious side effects, yet we don’t see reports on the news telling us to stay away from them. This is likely the powerful pull Big Pharma has on media and medicine. A full 98% of people who take statins see no benefit. Zero percent avoid death by taking a statin and only 1.6% avoid a survivable heart attack, and 0.4% are helped by preventing a stroke. Compare that to the side effects where 2% develop diabetes and 10% develop muscle damage as a result of taking that statin and the numbers don’t add up.

I think the real lesson of these studies (both on niacin and ones published on statins) is that inflammation, not necessarily the cholesterol itself, is the problem. If you address those factors, you will live a long, cardiovascular disease-free life.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Pharma, Public Health

3 Common Prescriptions That Don’t Work!

The overuse of medication is getting out of control. Want proof? The 3 drugs listed below are among the most widely used drugs in the world, yet they don’t work! Don’t believe me? Check it out below!

Common prescriptions that don't work JPG

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Pharma

New Guidelines on Cardiovascular Disease Miss Mark

Well, they’re at it again. New guidelines on reducing cardiovascular disease risk have been released. They’ve called these “much anticipated,” however, I call them “inconsistent with research” and “likely to cause more harm than good.” The guidelines, appearing in Circulation, are likely to change clinical practice, unfortunately. They are the result of collaborations among the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and other organizations.

Essentially, it makes it far easier for physicians to prescribe statins (cholesterol lowering medication). It will likely result in tens of millions more Americans begin put on these medications.

Let’s start with the things that I do agree with in the new recommendations.

Obesity

There’s no single, ideal diet for weight loss. Intensive, supervised lifestyle changes for at least 6 months received strong endorsement. This is important. We offer professionally supervised weight loss programs at our office for the simple reason that it reduces the risk of many diseases and it can be very difficult to manage alone.

That’s it. That’s all I agree with. The rest of the recommendations fail to actually focus on the problem: INFLAMMATION! They focus far too much on treating cholesterol without any actual targets in mind to treat.

Inflammation

“The traditional view of atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] as a lipid storage disease [cholesterol accumulation] crumbles in the face of extensive and growing evidence that inflammation participates centrally in all stages of this disease, from the initial lesion to the end-stage thrombotic [clot forming] complications.” This quote is from a great study that reviews the mechanism behind cardiovascular disease. I added the information in the brackets to make it easier to understand.

The pharmaceutically-driven marketing and media would have you believe that high cholesterol alone will cause it simply to accumulate in your vessels eventually narrowing them so much they can no longer deliver enough blood to your brain or heart. Or alternatively, the narrowing causes a clot to form only to be dislodged and sent “downstream” where it gets caught in smaller arteries causing a heart attack or stroke.  This just isn’t true! Want to know what actually happens!!!?

How you actually get atherosclerosis:

Inflammation is central to this process. It begins with inflammatory changes in the cells that line your blood vessels. These cells are collectively called the endothelium. The cells begin to express adhesion molecules. These molecules do what they sound like – they make things stick! However, they don’t make cholesterol stick, they attract monocytes (a type of white cell), which then travel through the walls of our arteries (BAD) under the influence of various proinflammatory molecules designed to attract more white cells. Once within the arterial wall, the monocytes continue to undergo inflammatory changes, transform into another type of white cell called a macrophage, swallow up cholesterol, and they become what is called a foam cell. T lymphocytes (another type of white cell) also migrate into the arterial wall, where they release proinflammatory cytokines (messengers) that amplify the inflammatory activity. Through these inflammatory processes, the initial lesion of atherosclerosis, called the fatty streak, is formed. This continues to evolve to cause the dangerous atherosclerotic plaque, but every step along the way involves inflammation!

There you go – as you can see, it is not caused simply by the accumulation of “too much” cholesterol as it floats through your blood stream. It all starts because of inflammation. Without the inflammatory process the white cells of our body cannot penetrate the walls of our vessels. If they cannot get into the walls of our vessels, they cannot swallow up cholesterol and begin to build plaque. It really is that simple.

So what causes inflammation?

That’s a great question and very easy to answer. Poor diet and low levels of exercise cause inflammation to build leading to atherosclerosis. A diet that is high in refined sugar increases inflammation. A diet that is low in antioxidants (brightly colored fruits and vegetables) increases inflammation. And exercise is inherently anti-inflammatory; therefore, low levels of exercise drive up inflammation. Here are the basic diet and exercise recommendations everyone should follow:

Diet

Every time you eat, have a source of healthy protein (chicken, fish, grass-fed beef, bison, etc.) and a fruit or a vegetable. Make the emphasis on vegetables. Keep grain (yes, even whole grains) to a small portion of your diet (no more than once per day).

Exercise

Combine resistance training with cardiovascular training. Get at least 45 minutes of moderate activity 3 times per week. High intensity interval training is very beneficial.

If you incorporate these things into your life, you’ll avoid inflammation and you’ll live a long, healthy life without statins!!!

1 Comment

Filed under Big Pharma, Diet, Public Health

Supplements Are A Leading Cause Of Liver Injury In U.S.

While the above statement may make some of you uncomfortable, a recent study found just that.  As high as 18% of liver injuries are linked directly to supplement use according to a recent review by the National Institutes of Health. On the surface this sounds very frightening until we consider some of the facts behind this study, not the least of which is that all the authors on the study have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.  Watch the video below for more information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Pharma, Public Health

Prescription Drug Deaths Outnumber Traffic Accident Deaths

Resized image of Ritalin-SR-20mg-full.png; squ...

Image via Wikipedia

For anyone that considers prescription drugs safe and harmless, this is sobering news.  For the first time, deaths from prescription drugs now outnumber deaths from traffic accidents.

Deaths from prescription medication has been on the rise for years.  As a matter of fact, deaths in the last decade have doubled from drugs.  This is in contrast to deaths from motor vehicle accidents which have continued to decline as advancements in automobile safety mount.

In 2009 37,485 people died from prescription medication overdoses.  The primary culprits are anxiety medications and pain killers.  To put this astronomical number into perspective 37,485 deaths would be equivalent to a commercial jet carrying just over 100 people crashing everyday!  Can you imagine if the airline industry had this kind of record? Not only would no one fly but the government would shut them down permanently until the problem could be fixed.

The problem is not that these drugs exist, it’s the way we view health care.  We are too ready to accept the quick fix which, in reality, is not a fix at all.  It is simply a pill that covers up the symptoms we don’t want to experience.

I think we must also blame how easily these drugs are available.  It is all too easy to walk into a doctor’s office these days and walk out with a very powerful prescription.  These drugs are often very addictive and when combined with other drugs that are easily available, like alcohol, they become exceptionally dangerous.

Because these drugs are readily available, people tend to view them as safe.  They feel they can take high doses and not be at risk of any serious adverse event. Traditional medicine has done a very poor job informing the public of these dangers.  And the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want people to know the dangers either.  That might reduce their bottom line!

What if we changed our health care paradigm?  What if instead of getting a pill for every ache, pain or uncomfortable feeling we changed the way we lived, ate well and exercised and sought more conservative but effective methods to our health issues?  Wouldn’t we be significantly less dependent on these drugs?  Of course we would!

I am not naive enough to think that this would eliminate the entire problem.  There will always be people who choose the abuse these drugs despite our best efforts.  But what about the people who die from these drugs who were taking them as prescribed?  Or the people who became addicted to the drugs even though they were taking them as prescribed originally?  Had those people sought alternatives to their conditions earlier, their fate may have been much different.

The answers to our health problems do not lie with the pharmaceutical industry.  Currently, drugs are our primary source of “health care.” Unfortunately, there is nothing healthy about it.  Drugs can serve a purpose.  They can help when used appropriately.  We find ourselves in trouble when we rely on them for everythingas we do now.

Our goal should be to take less drugs, not more.  The pharmaceutical industry is constantly investigating new ways to get us to take more and more drugs. As evidence, Pfizer would like nothing more than for Lipitor to be available over-the-counter. It would significantly increase sales.  Is it a coincidence that their patent is running out and it will now be available in generic form from it’s competitors? I think not. This is not health care.

The most effective way to stay healthy is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.  Should a health issue arise, seek conservative care first.  Try things like chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, talk therapy or a change in your lifestyle before you resort to a prescription.  It might just save your life.

1 Comment

Filed under Big Pharma, Public Health

NSAIDs raise miscarriage risk

Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman

Image via Wikipedia

A recently published study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has concluded that women who take NSAIDs in the first trimester of pregnancy are more than twice as likely to have a miscarriage than women who do not.

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are a very popular class of pain killers that many people use every day.  They are also used to reduce fever.  The new study investigated use of non-aspirin NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and other drugs.

It is estimated that about 17% of women use non-aspirin NSAIDs during pregnancy despite the already existing knowledge they can cause malformations.

The problem with this is NSAIDs are seen by many patients as basically harmless medications because their use is so incredibly common.  NSAIDs are also available over-the-counter and do not require a prescription to buy.  There is nothing stopping a pregnant woman from going to her local CVS and buying a bottle of Motrin to alleviate that pesky headache or continuing to medicate her chronic back pain.

The Canadian study compared the medical records of 4,705 women who had a miscarriage during the first 20 weeks of gestation with records of 47,050 women who became pregnant and delivered a child. The women in the study were aged 15 to 45 when they became pregnant.

Among women who had miscarriages, 352 had taken NSAIDs, compared with 1,213 of the women who did not experience pregnancy loss.

When calculating the risk associated with NSAID use, the researchers accounted for other factors that might increase the likelihood of miscarriage, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, depression and anxiety.

Taking into account all of that information, the risk for miscarriage was 35% for women taking NSAIDs as compared to the usual rate of 15%.  That jump is quite significant.  Imagine if the average miscarriage rate was actually 35% and not 15%.  That would mean more than one out of every three women who became pregnant would have miscarriages.  That would truly be a worrisome number.

To me, this signifies that we need to stress to pregnant women that they should seek more conservative ways to manage their pain.  Head aches, neck pain, back pain, cramping and many other forms of pain are things that chiropractors deal with on a daily basis with success.  There is very little side effect, if any, to manipulation.  And there certainly isn’t an increased risk of miscarriage!

In traditional medical care NSAIDs are thought of as conservative care.  I doubt there are many responsible medical physicians who would recommend a pregnant woman take an NSAID because of the risk already associated with them, but the problem is they don’t have to.  These drugs are so readily available and people have been taught this is an acceptable form of conservative care.  They are not.  Additionally, they provide only temporary relief. Chiropractic care actually addresses the issues at hand and is corrective.  This is something an NSAID can never claim to be.

Most people, pregnant or not, deal with some form of pain from time to time.  Still others deal with it frequently. Unfortunately, most of those people reach for the bottle of pills to relieve the pain but not actually correct the problem that’s causing it.  Next time that happens, consider trying chiropractic as an option.  Not only will it relieve your pain, it will fix the problem too!

1 Comment

Filed under Big Pharma, Public Health

Bribes from Big Insurance

I had to comment on this.  The scanned in document below comes from a post that I saw from a friend of a friend on Facebook.  To me it illustrates everything that is wrong with the way health care is implemented in this country.  Take a look at the picture below and read it carefully.  I can’t believe this is even legal.

This letter comes from United Healthcare, which is a major U.S. health insurance company.  They are “encouraging” people to get their children vaccinated by bribing them with $20 gift cards, one of which is to McDonald’s!

In one breath they are asking you to do something they say is healthy for your child which is get vaccinated.  Whether vaccines are healthy or even safe is a topic for another blog but let’s forget that point and take the view of the health insurance company.

United Healthcare actually believe vaccines are a good thing.  They believe it so much that they are offering $20 to their clients whose children are not up to date on their vaccines.  One of their offers includes $20 to McDonald’s!  This company is supposed to be getting people healthier, not encouraging behavior that will make you exceptionally unhealthy!

More and more, people are exercising their right not to vaccinate their children.  This blog is not about whether that is right or wrong but suffice it to say, I support parents who make that decision if they feel it is right for them.

This type of letter, sent to thousands of parents, is a way for Big Insurance and Big Pharma to get people to use their products and services more frequently to make more money.  The facts in the letter aren’t even true.  No child “needs” certain vaccines before a certain age.  The current vaccine time line is in place only to provide pediatricians with a template to vaccinate their patients and make it easier to keep track of.  The letter implies that these vaccines are necessary before the age of two or they won’t work.  Do you really think a vaccine given to a 2 year old works any better than one given to a 4 year old?  Of course not.

I also cannot figure out how this is legal.  I was under the impression that medical service companies, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, etc. were not allowed to offer gifts in exchange for any kind of service or product.  Of course, with major insurance and big pharma involved the laws always seem to bend just enough to allow them to walk that fine line between lawful and unlawful.

I hope those of you reading this can see through this type of deceptive marketing because that’s all it is.  The insurance companies do not truly care about your health or else they wouldn’t offer $20 to McDonald’s to go get vaccinated.  This is just another way for you to use their services and for them to make more money.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Big Pharma, Public Health