I just finished reading a very interesting book called Our Daily Meds by Melody Peterson.  The subtitle is How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs.  I’ll preface this blog post with the following: I am not a medical doctor or doctor of any kind, I have no formal training in nutrition beyond a degree in Kinesiology, I am not a nutritionist, naturopath, or any other health profession. The opinions expressed in this blog post are based on what I have l personally read and learned over the past 5 years working with two internationally reknown nutritional companies.

Ever wonder if everything you read and hear about it true or not? Whether it’s just rumour or fact? Much of what is written in this book confirms much of what I have been sharing and criticizing about the pharmaceutical industry. Melody Petersen is an investigative journalist who wrote about the pharmaceutical industry for 4 years as a reporter for the New York Times.  I’ll share some of the highlights from the book – for some this might be information you’re well aware of and for others, perhaps an eye opening look at what’s really going on in the pharmaceutical industry.

Another new disease

Doesn’t it seem like every time you open a newspaper, magazine, turn on the tv or the internet there’s news about a new disease? It seems like we are all suffering from some kind of disease or disorder that needs pharmaceuticals to relieve us from our symptoms.   Going to the toilet too much? Must be overactive bladder syndrome. Moody, cranky, bloated before that time of the month? No longer just PMS, it must be premenstrual dysphoric disorder and there’s a drug for that too.

The true irony behind all of these new diseases and disorders is that although the pharmaceutical companies can provide us with a pill that with help our symptoms – there is no money or research into finding a permanent cure.  To paraphrase, there are two outcomes of a clinic trial that would be disastrous, first that the drug does not have an effect – or even worse, that it provides a cure.  The industry is not only in the business of creating new diseases that need to be treated, but in creating customers for life by treating the symptoms. Finding a cure would be a financial disaster.

Speaking of symptoms

Now that we have so many different drugs to help us deal with the symptoms of many different diseases, we are running into the challenge of all of the side effects of these drugs.  For example, if you are taking a prescription for Celebrex (for arthritis), there is a good chance you will have to take a second drug to counter the effects on the stomach.

Even worse, some of the side of effects of common drugs mimic the effects of disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, so there is a chance that the patient can be misdiagnosed with one of these very debilitating diseases – when the true “cure” lies in taking them off their current meds. And the cycle continues as they are put on more drugs to treat the symptoms of the “disease” that they now have.

Death by prescription

Most disturbing of all are the number of deaths attributed to prescription drugs every single day (taken as directed by a physician)- an estimated 270 Americans per day, more than Alzheimer’s and diabetes combined. It is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States (and we aren’t faring much better in Canada).

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the “darker side” of the pharmaceutical industry.  There is of course, a lighter side, and in my next post I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the positive points that have come from the industry, as well as a few suggestions on making things better.

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