Big Pharma: Drug Profiteering

I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica as used now, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind—and all the worse for the fishes. — Oliver Wendell Holmes (1860)

Every day there’s a public flogging of one industry or another that provides goods and services, and they’re almost always businesses that are successful and profitable. “Those greedy bankers! They should all be put in jail.” “Those scam artists in the housing industry; we’d be better off without them.” “Those terrible energy producers. They’re not only ripping us off, but they’re destroying the planet!”

No one ever discusses what we would do without the banks that loan us money, the houses that shelter us, and the energy that fuels our homes, vehicles, and just about everything we use. Destroy these industries (“give them the punishment they deserve”) and we’re back in the mudflats, shoeless and starving.

One industry, however, gets an inexplicable pass on public floggings, and that’s Big Pharma: the most profitable—and most harmful— business sector in our society.

The Stratospheric Profits of Big Pharma

In virtually every Fortune 500 listing, Big Pharma, aka the entire pharmaceutical industry, is consistently among the most lucrative. Profit margins average 20 percent, compared to 8 percent for the top 2,000 companies. And just one class of drugs—cholesterol-lowering statins—generate more revenue per year than baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, tennis, and all other professional sports put together!

All companies are in business to make money, but the markups on pharmaceuticals, relative to other consumer products, are stratospheric! For instance, 100 tablets of Xanax, a popular but dangerous and addictive drug for anxiety, run about $135. The cost of the active ingredient is $0.024—a 569,858 percent markup! The active ingredients in Lipitor, which sells for $270 per 100 tabs, cost $5.80, for a markup of “only” 4,696 percent.

Adverse Effects of Drugs

Prices aside, prescription drug dangers are very real. In fact, they are far more damaging than any other consumer goods in the marketplace. It is estimated that 400,000 Americans die each year from the adverse effects of drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter). Folks, this is comparable to 12 airline disasters every day—one every other hour! If the airline industry had a safety record like this, would you even consider getting on a plane?

Alarming as these estimates are, the damage is, in my opinion, far greater. Medication-related deaths and injuries are notoriously underreported. Many diabetes drugs, for instance, require a black box label warning that they increase the risk of heart attack and death. Yet if a patient taking one of these drugs has a heart attack or dies, it is listed as cardiovascular disease. Rarely, if ever, is it attributed to the drug. The same can be said about statins, addictive painkillers, antipsychotics, chemotherapeutic agents, and dozens of classes of drugs with significant profiles of toxicity. Unless the drug’s role is so obvious as to not escape notice—or be removed from the market after killing or harming hundreds of thousands—it is never blamed.

You Don’t Mess With Big Pharma

So here we have an industry with products that are without question far more debilitating, dangerous, and deadly than the diseases they’re supposed to treat, yet it’s immune from the virulent criticism that plagues the banking, housing, and energy industries. Why is no one questioning the obscene markups and outrageous death rates? Where is the outcry?

The answer is simple: No one messes with Big Pharma. If you’re a congressman and you go against this behemoth, you won’t be coming back. If you’re a media outlet and you’re critical of the industry, you’ll see your Big Pharma advertising income dwindle. And if you’re a physician ensnared in hospitals or medical groups and you don’t abide by the Big Pharma “standards of care,” you’d better watch your back.

Avoiding Prescription Drug Dangers

I stopped watching my back 35 years ago, when I made the decision to forgo hospital-based “cookbook” medicine, research all available therapies, think for myself, and do what’s best for my patients. As a result, I prescribe very few medications—so few that I can’t recall the last time a pharmaceutical rep dropped by the clinic to ply us with samples of the latest and greatest Big Pharma blockbusters. Consequently, we don’t have to deal with the adverse effects of drugs (not prescribed by our docs, at any rate.)

Since 1979, we’ve treated close to 50,000 patients at the Whitaker Wellness Institute. Most of them come to us because they’re not being helped by their conventional doctors, who offer only drugs piled upon more drugs. We start them on a therapeutic diet and exercise program, targeted nutritional supplements, and, depending on their condition, therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, intravenous nutrients, EECP, and acupuncture. And we routinely reduce and often eliminate their drugs. Approximately 80 percent of the prescription meds our patients come in on are discontinued.

The overwhelming majority of our patients flourish on this regimen. However, when we discontinue drugs, we don’t throw them in the sea. Per the quote above, I would never do that to the fishes.

Don’t Be a Victim to the Adverse Effects of Drugs

The types of medication that put you at greatest risk are, in my opinion, those used to treat chronic, lifestyle-related conditions and risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, elevated cholesterol, depression, insomnia, and minimally symptomatic heart disease. There are safe, natural options for effectively treating all of these. (To learn more, just click on the links above.)

The only way to protect yourself from prescription drug dangers is to educate yourself about side effects and alternatives, follow your instincts, and make your own decisions. Doctors give suggestions, not orders, which, no matter what they say, you aren’t required to obey.

Because you are not my patient, I cannot tell you or take responsibility for you to stop taking your medications. However, if you want to me to participate in your health care, come and see us at Whitaker Wellness. For more information, call 866-944-8253 or fill out this form for a complimentary consultation.

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