Why does this happen? It happens because I, along with the rest of my colleagues in the medical field, practice profit-based medicine. We put profits before patients.
If this makes you angry then good. If this disappoints you then good. If you're a fellow colleague of mine and me calling it like it is pisses you off then good. Quite frankly, I don't give a damn how it makes you feel as long as it makes you feel something. That way I know I've fulfilled my purpose in writing this article because maybe, just maybe, you'll do something about those feelings which will positively influence how you live your life from this point forward.
Before you go thinking that this is going to turn into a one-sided rant against my peers I'll have you know that it's not. I have a lot of respect for the individual people I work with in the medical field. We're only trying to do the best we can for the patients we serve. The only problem is we operate in a dysfunctional healthcare system. We're a product of a system centered upon greed and corruption at the top (read more about this in my articles below).
Big Money, Special Interests, and The American Healthcare Crisis
Our Taxes - Are They Making Us Sick?
The other problem is we rarely step back, take the time to look at the big picture, and evaluate how our approach towards treating disease and sickness fails those we serve.
How did all of this happen? How did we come to a point where patients fail to get the results they deserve? It all comes down to one word - MONEY. Ultimately, we focus on money as the end result in our medical system instead of health. Ask anybody in charge of running a business, medical practice, or corporate healthcare entity in our country on what's most important in keeping their efforts afloat and you'll get the same answer... PROFITS. Without them you have to close up shop. With them you can continue to grow and prosper. So in the end it comes down to this - RESULTS = PROFITS.
As a healthcare provider I think we're capable of more than this. Let me rephrase that. As a human being I know we're capable of more than this. We need to refocus our priorities so that RESULTS = HEALTH. From my experience these results DO NOT include pushing more pills, more procedures, and more surgeries on patients. Instead, it includes educating others on the healing properties of healthy diet and lifestyle choices so that they can live a life free of disease and sickness.
Don't get me wrong. There will always be individuals in need of medical tests, surgical procedures, and prescriptions. People will be born with birth defects. People will suffer from rare and mysterious illnesses such as Dravet's Syndrome or Wilson's Disease. People will also continue to get wicked cases of life threatening pneumonia or fall victim to a crippling car accident. It is in these rare cases where pills, procedures, and surgeries are needed. And I'm proud of the fact that we in modern medicine can put Humpty Dumpty back together again when these occasions arise. But back to my original question... how did we get to the state we are in today with such a dysfunctional healthcare system where people get fatter and sicker by the day while healthcare professionals, organizations, and corporations get richer and richer by the minute? More importantly, what can we do about this to change our current course?
I may not have all the answers, but here's how I've gotten to my current state and what I've done as an individual and as a healthcare provider to change what's going on....
Dreams Of Success
When I was in 4th grade at the ripe old age of 10 years old I had dreams of success. Big dreams! When people used to ask me, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" I used to answer enthusiastically, "I want to be like Todd!"
Todd was our family pharmacist. He was located in the small town of Baker, Montana where I grew up. Baker had a population of only about 1,800 give or take. It was located in the middle of nowhere... literally. I found myself in the middle of farmland and oil fields. There wasn't much to do there. We had one grocery store, a movie rental outlet, and of course the big, red stoplight in the middle of town signifying "city" life. There were only two small, independently owned pharmacies in town and Todd's was one of them. Todd was great! Always friendly, always smiling, always helpful. He always wore that pristine white coat that pharmacists always wear. I liked Todd. I wanted be like Todd. Todd was a good man.
And so time passed. I went to middle school and then junior high and finely to high school. I still wanted to be like Todd. I loved math and science. Biology was my favorite class and the medical field really intrigued me. Pharmacy was sure to be a great fit. I could help people, make lots of money, and wear that coveted white coat. Success was only a few years away.
I received a lot of respect and admiration at a young age for making such a big decision in life. A decision to go to pharmacy school. Few people from my surroundings or even my family had made such a leap of faith when it came to going off to college. I was someone they looked up to. That was a good feeling to be held up so high. On the inside my ego got a little bigger even though I did my best to remain humble on the outside. Dreams of success were really happening.
As I entered college I had no idea what was in store for me. It would be six of the most grueling years of my life. Quizzes, exams, projects, homework, studying, studying, and more studying. It was exhausting and extremely challenging to say the least. I remember wanting to give up one day after taking the final exam in my organic chemistry class. It was my sophomore year in college. I didn't do so. Instead, I found it within me to keep going.
I learned a lot in pharmacy school. I learned about hundreds of drugs and how these drugs treat diseases. I was told that heart disease and type 2 diabetes could not be cured, cancer was heavily linked to one's family history, and that those with autoimmune diseases would eventually become crippled by their disease despite the use of the best and most expensive medications on the market.
What was left out of pharmacy school was information on the healing properties of the most effective medicines on the face of the planet—plant-based, whole foods. I never realized that heart disease and type 2 diabetes could be completely reversed using diet alone or that foods we ate played a far bigger role than our genetic makeup on whether or not we would get cancer. This was never mentioned, not even once, during the six years I spent pursuing my pharmacy degree.
I don't blame my professors or even my college for withholding this information. They were just doing the best they could with the information they had. After all, it was pharmacy school and not dietetic school. My professors were simply sharing the same information and knowledge they had worked so hard to learn and accumulate over their lifetime. I am grateful for their efforts.
What concerns me now though is what was hidden beneath the information taught to me during pharmacy school. A story of the insatiable quest to accumulate more and more wealth in this country. Again, I don't believe this was at the heart of any of my professors in college. They were good people, making an honest living, trying to make a positive impact on those of us destined to follow in their footsteps.
Money, Money, Money
The drug peddling conglomerates are some of the worst culprits when it comes to this. Here's a look at the top earnings reports for them:
Pfizer's 2011 total revenue = $67,400,000,000
Johnson & Johnson 2011 total revenue = $65,000,000,000
Norvatis's 2011 total revenue = $58,566,000,000
Merck's 2011 total revenue = $48,000,000,000
Abbott Laboratories's 2011 total revenue = $38,900,000,000
Eli Lilly's 2011 total revenue = $24,286,500,000
Yes, those are 11 digit numbers in case you were wondering. Once again, I'd like to remind you that these companies profit from people staying sick and not from getting well.
These corporations also control the type of information that ends up reaching pharmacy and medical schools all across the country or all across the world for that matter. This information is made available in a such a way that always seems to favor the primary interests of these same corporations. Primary interests that involve increasing profits and not ridding the world of chronic diseases. Don't believe me? Read this report from a practicing physician in the UK regarding what really goes on behind closed doors in the "healthcare" industry - The Drugs Don't Work: A Modern Medical Scandal.
In this report, Dr. Ben Goldacre uncovers that:
Dr. Goldacre has nothing to gain and everything to lose in terms of his life's work and reputation by speaking so forthright on this subject. His honesty challenges the interests of a multi-billion dollar industry that will stop at nothing to increase their profit margins and bottom line. That's a big fight to wage. But Dr. Goldacre doesn't care. He only cares about helping patients understand their treatment options so that they can make an informed decision on their health and the medical conditions they face.
The same holds true for Harvard scientist, Irving Kirsch, who has studied the effects (or lack there of) of antidepressant medications on patients. He reported in a 60 Minutes special Treating Depression: Is There A Placebo Effect? that antidepressants are no better than a placebo in a majority of people who take them based on ALL available studies to date. Dr. Tim Kendall, practicing psychiatrist, found the same to be true when he reviewed ALL of the evidence on antidepressants. He brought to light during his interview on 60 Minutes the fact that drug companies are purposely misleading the public and healthcare industry to increase sales of their antidepressant drugs. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
"Dr. Tim Kendall, a practicing psychiatrist and co-director of the commission that did the review says that like Irving Kirsch - they were surprised by what they found in the drug companies' unpublished data.
Kendall: With the published evidence, it significantly overestimated the effectiveness of these drugs and it underestimated the side effects.
Kendall: This is a multibillion dollar industry. I doubt that they are spending $10 million per trial to come up with a poor methodology. What characterizes the unpublished is that they're negative. Now I don't think it's that their method is somehow wrong; it's that their outcome is not suitable from the company's point of view.
Because of the review, new public health guidelines were issued. Now drugs are given only to the severely depressed as the first line of treatment. For those with mild to moderate depression, the British government is spending nearly half a billion dollars training an army of talk therapists."
The drug companies rake in over $11 billion annually on sales of antidepressant medications. That's a lot of money. I don't find it surprising that they refused to be interviewed for this same 60 Minutes special as noted at the end of the segment:
"None of the drug companies we spoke to was willing to go on camera, but Eli Lilly told us in an email that drug trials show antidepressants work better than placebos over the long term and that 'numerous studies have shown that patients on placebos are more likely to relapse' back into depression. The industry's trade association, PhRMA, wrote us: 'antidepressants have been shown to be tremendously effective.'"
Medical schools, pharmacy schools, professional organizations, and healthcare professionals alike rely heavily on evidenced-based data to provide the best possible care to the patients they serve. It's not hard to see that if the information available to those in the healthcare industry is either misrepresented (as shown above) or largely absent in the conversation (as is the case with the evidence on nutrition and health) then patients suffer needlessly because of this. Once again, I remind you that the pharmaceutical industry, medical device companies, hospitals, clinics, and even those of us in the medical field (doctors, pharmacists, allied health practitioners, etc.) will continue to prosper because of such happenings. We all continue to profit off of your sickness.
Lessons From This Pharmacist
This brings me to a point where I share with you the harsh reality of the situation. In the decade that I've practiced as a pharmacist I've made approximately $1 million dollars (before taxes). That's a lot of money. I appreciate the fact that my hard work has payed off. This is, after all, the definition of the American dream isn't it? You set goals, you work hard, you remain steadfast and persistent, and success is bound to be yours. It's what everyone in our society and culture dreams of. The American Dream. Money, money, money!
I don't know what life has in store for me at this point in time, but I do know this - I may have started my career as a pharmacist, but I'm pretty sure I won't end it as one. Big changes don't happen overnight. It will take years of planning and execution to do more of what I love, especially if I want to provide a living for myself doing it. But with enough patience and hard work I'll get there; wherever there is. Enough about me though. Let's focus on you now. You are the reason I'm here, after all.
The greatest lesson I could ever share with you comes from my desire to inspire and challenge others to be the best that they can be. It's summed up in a statement I've shared with others about what I've learned and experienced up to this point in my life. These words I speak from my heart, with honesty and integrity at their core, so that my true intentions as a provider of health become known to all that read them...
Had I known at the age of 18 (before entering pharmacy school) the information that I know today I would have undoubtedly chosen a different path in life. A path of not having entered the drug pushing field for a career. Drugs do a great job of treating symptoms and acting as temporary bandages, but they do nothing to address the root cause of disease and sickness. This is the very reason why I spend so much of my time, energy, and resources to educate those that I serve so that they can hear the truth. It's why I encourage others to make the lifestyle changes necessary to eradicate many of the chronic diseases that plague them. Because in all honesty, I've never in an entire decade of being a pharmacist ever seen anyone return to an optimal state of health and live a life free of disease by taking more pills. I've seen people 'manage' their disease and delay the progression of their chronic illness by taking more pills, but I've never seen them flourish. And I have to wonder how many individuals would choose a better way if they only knew it was an option. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for everyone having the right to choose whatever it is they want to choose in life in regards to their own health. However, as a healthcare professional I feel I have an obligation and responsibility to present all the facts to help others make an informed decision on what they feel is best for them. There will always be pills in this world so long as businesses and corporations can make money off them. These pills do provide some benefit, albeit very little in the grand scheme of things. There will also be the simplicity of adopting a healthier lifestyle. A lifestyle that has been proven by medical and scientific evidence to prevent and reverse disease with no side effects and at a very low cost to the patient. I hope that all will at least consider this in their journey towards better health.
Changing Habits - Where To Turn For Answers
If you find yourself sick and tired of being sick and tired then I am here to help. If you're a medical professional and want more information to substantiate my claims that lifestyle trumps standard conventional treatments (at least in most cases) then I am here to help. And if you're currently in excellent health and want to keep it that way then I am here to help.
Below is a list of resources for everyone to use in their journey towards a healthier lifestyle. Please feel free to share this information with anyone looking to adopt a disease free life. You now have it within your power to experience a lifetime of health and happiness. No more excuses! Now go make it happen before you change your mind!
And by the way... I still think Todd is a good man.
"Nobody cares about how much you know, until they know about how much you care." - Theodore Roosevelt
The China Study - Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell II
Eat To Live - Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease - Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.
The Starch Solution - Dr. John McDougall, M.D.
The Engine 2 Diet - Rip Esselstyn
Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole - Dr. Matthew Lederman, M.D. and Dr. Alona Pulde, M.D.
Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes - Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition - Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T.
Unprocessed - Chef AJ
The Perfect Formula Diet - Dr. Janice Stanger, Ph.D.
The Pleasure Trap - Dr. Douglas Lisle, Ph.D. and Dr. Alan Goldhamer, D.C.
Healthy At 100 - John Robbins
Eat For Health - Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Mad Cowboy - Howard Lyman with Glen Merzer
Healthy Eating, Healthy World - J. Morris Hicks with J. Stanfield Hicks
Disease-Proof Your Child - Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune Up - Dr. John McDougall, M.D.
No More Bull! - Howard Lyman with Glen Merzer
Solving America’s Healthcare Crisis - Dr. Pamela Popper, Ph.D., N.D.
Thrive Foods - Brendan Brazier
Super Immunity - Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart - Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D.
Eating For Energy - Yuri Elkaim
The Food Revolution - John Robbins
Whitewash - Joseph Keon
Senior Fitness - Ruth Heidrich, Ph.D.
Senior Fitness - Ruth Heidrich, Ph.D.
Forks Over Knives
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
To Your Health
Fast Food Nation
The Beautiful Truth
Jeff Novick’s Fast Food Vol 1: The Basics
Jeff Novick’s Fast Food Vol 2: Burgers & Fries
Osteoporosis Protection For Life - Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Dr. McDougall’s Total Health Solution
Latest In Clinical Nutrition - Dr. Michael Greger, M.D.
Tackling Diabetes with Dr. Neal Barnard
Get Healthy Now! - Vegsource.com
Digestion Made Easy - Dr. Michael Klaper, M.D.
photo credits: Freedigitalphotos.net
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