Just Because Your Doctor Prescribes It Doesn’t Mean It’s Safe
If you were buying a house and had the option of either having an independent inspector assess its condition or just taking the owner’s word for it, which would you choose? Of course, you would hire an inspector.
If you were looking to purchase the safest car for your family, would you be satisfied with only seeing the manufacturer’s safety data, or would you want a full report from a 3rd party testing organization? Of course, you would want to see 3rd party information.
So what about prescription drugs? When a doctor writes you a prescription, how much scrutiny do you give it? Too often it seems, people turn a blind eye to the safety (or lack thereof) of the pharmaceutical drugs that they take. Many people are under the false assumption that doctors and the FDA provide the checks and balances needed to ensure the effectiveness and safety of pharmaceutical drugs. But this really couldn’t be further from the truth.
Unlike the process of purchasing a new home or car, the process dictating new pharmaceutical drug approval defies all common sense. It is so flawed and replete with conflicts of interest, that it’s almost impossible to know if any pharmaceutical drug is completely safe, and whether some are even remotely safe.
Before I continue, just to be certain that you don’t think I’m being overly dramatic, let me be clear about the dangers of pharmaceutical drugs. It’s estimated that in 2011 more than 100,000 deaths were caused by correctly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. That’s almost double the number of deaths caused by the flu and nearly three times the number of deaths caused by car accidents each year. Given these numbers, it’s amazing how many public service announcements and government initiatives are aimed at combating the flu and preventing car accidents, and how few there are concerning prescription drug safety. The bottom line is that it’s entirely unacceptable for something that is administered, sanctioned and controlled by the Federal government to claim thousands upon thousands of innocent lives each year.
Contrary to popular belief and conventional wisdom, the FDA’s review of pharmaceutical drugs is not that rigorous. Why? Because the clinical data they review to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs comes from the drug companies themselves! Sounds silly right? Sadly, this is 100% true. The FDA does not have any access to truly independent data – it doesn’t even exist – and the FDA must rely solely on pharmaceutical companies to provide them with information to assist their review of new drugs.
As much as we’d like to think that drug companies take the high road, conduct unbiased studies and submit all of the data available to the FDA – they don’t! It’s come to light that time and time again, drug companies intentionally bury studies that show their drugs are either dangerous or don’t work, often only submitting to the FDA drug review board the data that gives their drugs the best chances of being approved.
Big Pharma’s deliberate and malicious attempts to hide condemning data from the FDA are troubling enough. But when you combine this with the other inherent flaws in the relationship between Big Pharma and the FDA, it’s cause for significant concern. Here are these flaws as I see them:
- The FDA depends on Big Pharma for its survival. The FDA gets a major part of its funding from Big Pharma – in the form of application fees for drug approvals. The more difficult the FDA makes it for pharmaceutical drugs to be approved, and the more drugs it denies, the fewer drugs ultimately get submitted for review. The fewer drugs that get submitted for review, the less funding the FDA gets. The less funding the FDA gets, the smaller it needs to get, which means people lose jobs. People don’t like to lose their jobs, so the entire process is “greased” by the FDA’s “survival instinct.”
- Government employees don’t make as much as Big Pharma’s. We all know that government employees are not as well paid as those in the private sector. But the tradeoff is job security and benefits. What if you could get the best of both worlds? There exists a notorious revolving door between the FDA and Big Pharma. It’s almost a rite of passage to work for the FDA for a few years and then land a big paying job as a Big Pharma consultant or lobbyist. Knowing this, how many FDA employees are afraid to “rock the boat” with their future employers?
- Drug companies are under pressure to make a profit. The FDA’s red tape-ridden, bureaucratic, lengthy and costly drug review process puts tremendous pressure on drug companies. As for-profit organizations, they almost have no choice but to flaunt the good data, and bury the bad data, in an attempt to streamline the review process and get their drugs approved as quickly as possible. This way they can get a quick return on their investment in research and development.
So if the relationship between the FDA and Big Pharma is inherently flawed, and if potentially dangerous drugs are being approved when they shouldn’t be, then who is really protecting you? If you think your doctor is, think again. Guess who educates and trains doctors about the drugs they prescribe? It’s Big Pharma — through medical school grants and curriculums that are secretly backed by Big Pharma funding, fancy conferences in exotic locations and the legions of sales reps that fan out across the nation “educating” doctors on new drugs.
Think about the last time your doctor handed you a prescription. How much time did he or she spend carefully describing how the drug works and giving you all the details on possible interactions and side effects? Probably not much time at all. Why? Because truthfully, many doctors don’t know too much about the drugs they prescribe, aside from what the drug companies tell them. They are often simply too pressed for time to dig around for information beyond what the drug companies provide – and the drug companies certainly aren’t going to spend too much time developing informational materials that will reduce sales. It’s simple economics – and you are the victim.
The bottom line is that you as an individual are in charge of your own health. We are long way off from fixing the problems in the relationships between Big Pharma, the FDA and prescribing physicians. But what we can do is speak with our decisions and our hard earned money. The entire medical system has become a prescription-writing machine. It’s almost impossible to walk into a doctor’s office and not walk out with a prescription. But you don’t have to accept that as a solution. Here’s my advice to you:
- Ask questions. Don’t let your doctor get away with just handing you a prescription. Ask the hard questions that your doctor doesn’t want you to ask, such as how the drug works, what the possible interactions are and what side effects can be expected. If you doctor can’t answer these questions thoroughly, take this as a huge red flag.
- Do your own research. If you do take that prescription from your doctor, don’t go directly to the pharmacy and have it filled. We live in a wonderful age in which an incredible amount of information is accessible from a home computer. Take advantage of this and do your research! Type in the drug name and add after it terms like “dangers,” “side effects,” “interactions” and “reviews.” What you discover may make you decide to weigh some other options.
- Consider the alternatives. Look into natural alternatives to the pharmaceutical drug that your doctor is recommending. They are out there, they are safe and they work – they just don’t get the government support that conventional medical treatments do. Type “natural alternatives to [drug name]” into a search engine. See what comes up. The list of options may surprise you, and before you take a dangerous, side effect-laden drug, you owe it to yourself to try the natural options.
I want to conclude by saying that I know there are a lot of hard working people at the FDA with good intentions, and that there are a lot of very good doctors out there. I certainly believe that some pharmaceutical drugs have a place in modern medicine. There’s no denying the fact that drugs can save lives and improve life quality in certain situations. However, I think that pharmaceutical drugs should be used as a last resort when trying to resolve your health problems. I personally haven’t taken a pharmaceutical drug, vaccine or even an over-the-counter drug in years, and am in excellent health. Again, just because your doctor hands you a prescription, doesn’t mean you have to take it. Take the time to educate yourself and make an informed and responsible decision. It’s your body and your health.
Joshua Corn – Editor-in-Chief
Josh is a health freedom advocate and veteran of the natural health industry. He has been actively involved in the natural health movement for over 15 years, and has been dedicated to the promotion of health, vitality, longevity and natural living throughout his career. Josh has successfully overcome several personal health challenges through natural means, and believes that sharing information can empower people to take control of their health so they can solve their own problems and live life to its fullest potential. Josh is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Live in the Now. Additionally he serves as CEO of Stop Aging Now, a company that has been formulating premium dietary supplements since 1995. Josh is currently working on his first book about natural health, and is gearing up to launch the Live in the Now radio show. In addition to his work in the natural health field, Josh is an avid outdoorsman, animal lover and enjoys “living in the now” with his wife and two sons.