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Following the success of natural health practitioners in getting cancer patients to consider alternative therapies (why would anyone consider anything else?) one London cancer Prof has taken it all to heart.
Professor Jonathan Waxman (Imperial College, London, UK) seems to have taken it all a bit personally. Not content with killing his trusting patients (doctors are now the leading cause of death, especially cancer doctors), he seems to object to anyone else helping them either, especially if his pharmaceutical buddies aren't getting any profit from them!
This is just another sign of the total control exercised by big pharma on "modern" medicine accross the World - if it doesn't mean giving drugs, it must be wrong!
Of course, the good prof would have us believe that he is doing this for the patients and that we should let big pharma get on with finding that elusive cure. but . . wait a minute . . if you were making billions a year from treating peoples symptoms without affecting the course of their disease (except making it worse, which then requires more drugs, etc. etc.) would YOU be trying to find a cure?
And whilst we're on the subject, do we really think Prof Waxman and his friends are actively trying to find a cure that would put them out of work . . . make you own mind up.
A senior US Government scientist has been charged for accepting $285,000 from drug company Pfizer without the necessary approvals.
Dr Pearson Sunderland, head of the National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH) Gerontology branch, which studies alzheimers and related disorders, apparently accepted the money from the alzheimers drug manufacturer without disclosing it to the agency, as required. He now faces a fine of up to $100,000 if convicted. Ah, doesn't the justice system work well - he'll only be $185,000 in profit at the end of it!
Nevertheless, we should be pleased about this situation, because cases like this rarely see the light of day
The fact is that doctors take money, gifts, travel, "sponsorship" and other bribes from the pharmaceutical industry every day. Indeed, the state of medical education is such that it is utterly dominated by Big Pharma:
- Almost ALL medical education is paid for by pharma companies (either officially or not
- Virtually every "Professor" in a medical school has either his salary or several of his staff (or both!) paid for by one or more pharma company - are they likely to produce independent results when their livelihood depends on it - you decide!
- With few exceptions, absolultely ALL the "clinical evidence" you hear about for any pharma product has been prepared by the company themself. Doctors are paid by the company to participate in trials designed by the company to show a specific outcome.
- At every stage of every day, doctors are bombarded with advertising, PR, medical reps, "clinical study" opportunities and other means of propaganda from the slippery pharma marketing machine.
So, one doctor has been caught, and even he stands to make a profit from his misdeeds. Unfortunately, it still happens every day in every clinic, hospital and operating room, where doctors continue to be the leading cause of death in the Western World.
Reference - doctors the leading cause of death Natural Health Information
All the recent caffuffle around the "revelation" of Prof Sir Richard Doll's backhanders from grateful pharmaceutical companies comes as no surprise to some, ouselves included who have been only too aware of these dubious goings on for quite some time.
Rather than being the exception, collusion between industry and academia is very much the norm, with very little done either to police it or even to ensure that conflicts of interest are even declared in relevant proceedings. Just a few examples are clear from some of our messages just last week - US Government Doctor charged for taking drug company money, Cancer Prof shows his true colours and many other examples show that this kind of academic prositution is rife in the medical field.
Whether it is taking drug company money for clinical studies (which are VERY well paid, let me assure you), trips abroad, equipment purchased for departments, "discounts", "sponsorship2 of academic positions or even the funding of complete departments, there are extremely few doctors who do not benefit ,either directly or indirectly from pharmaceutical connections.
Add to this the revolving door between Government and big pharma (see aspartame for more info on this), and what emerges is a pretty clear and disturbing picture of conflicts of interest in virtually every case.
Unfortunately, it seems that our super-ethical medics don't seem to regard the ethics of this as an issue, as their own reviews show that a pitiful percentage actually declare these conflicts of interest, or even consider them to exist, despite overwhelming evidence that it affects their clinical decisions (if it didn't would the drug companies really be spending billions on it every year?).
It is high time these intellectual whores were brought to account and if the actions of the late Prof are followed up, it can not fail to become clear just how innocent he was, at least in comparison with todays "independent" medics, whose educational is entirely bought and paid for by those whose profits they ensure day after day.
Is it any wonder that simple, natural remedies are poo-pooed by these puppets, despite (as in the case mentioned above of the cancer prof) copious evidence that modern medicine does far more harm than good and equally copius evidence that traditional forms of medicine do far more good than harm.
Any objective audience would say that the difference is clear, but then there is no such thing as an objective audience when the whole field is slanted towards just two treatments - drugs and surgery (which , of course, required lots of drugs) surprise, surprise, surprise!
Natural Health Information
Today, we are publishing our first article from outside NHIC. This is the result of a special request from the Alliance for Natural Health, whose attempts to talk reason to the detractors of natural medicine in the UK national newspapers has met with scorn, abuse and total, head-in-the-sand ignorance. Here, at their request, we publish their letter in full.
Dear Brian, We have exhausted the national press in an attempt to rebut the Daily Mail, UK article of 14th Dec which, with the help of Professor Ernst, again slammed complementary medicine. We've been told that the national press won't publish an article that opposes a purported leading expert, such as Professor Ernst. And we live in an age of apparent freedom of information... Please help us to get the word out! The article can be downloaded in full, complete with one of Emma Holister's cartoons, at the following link: http://www.alliance-natural-health.org/_docs/ANHwebsiteDoc_262.pdf Please email this link to anyone you think might be interested! By Robert Verkerk MSc DIC PhD, executive & scientific director, Alliance for Natural Health
PROFESSOR EDZARD ERNST, the UKs first professor of complementary medicine, gets lots of exposure for his often overtly negative views on complementary medicine. Hes become the medias favourite resource for a view on this controversial subject. Yesterdays report by Barbara Rowlands in the Daily Mail (Complementary medicines are useless and dangerous, says Britains foremost expert, 12 December 2006) is par for the course.
The interesting thing about Prof Ernst is that he seems to have come a long way from his humble beginnings as a recipient of the therapies that he now seems so critical of. Profiled by Geoff Watts in the British Medical Journal, the Prof tells us: Our family doctor in the little village outside Munich where I grew up was a homoeopath. My mother swore by it. As a kid I was treated homoeopathically. So this kind of medicine just came naturally.
Even during my studies I pursued other things like massage therapy and acupuncture. . . ..As a young doctor I had an appointment in a homoeopathic hospital, and I was very impressed with its success rate. My boss told me that much of this success came from discontinuing mainstream medication. This made a big impression on me. (BMJ Career Focus 2003; 327:166; doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7425.s166).
Here we see Ernst responding as a clinician working in the field of alternative medicine and also as a consumer, like the millions of Daily Mail readers who have remained passionate about this form of healthcare. The question is: why is there so much controversy over these non-pharmaceutical therapies? Why is it that users keep coming back to food supplements, herbal remedies, homoeopathy and all the therapies medics refer to as "complementary", while a relatively small group of doctors attack such therapies as if they were some form of illicit witchcraft?
The answer may lie in the cloudy world of the scientific method, which is perhaps not as objective as many of the alternative medicine sceptics might claim. Being a skeptic (let us not forget that Ernst gave the keynote address to the 11th European Skeptics Congress on September 5/7, 2003) might suggest less than an open mind. The divergence in views might also have something to do with the variable and often positive experiences of users of these therapies.
After his early support for homoeopathy, Professor Ernst has now become, de facto, one of its main opponents. Robin McKie, science editor for The Observer (December 18, 2005) reported Ernst as saying, Homeopathic remedies don't work. Study after study has shown it is simply the purest form of placebo. You may as well take a glass of water than a homeopathic medicine.' Ernst, having done the proverbial 180 degree turn, has decided to stand firmly shoulder to shoulder with a number of other leading assailants of non-pharmaceutical therapies, such as Professors Michael Baum and Jonathan Waxman. On 22 May 2006, Baum and twelve other mainly retired surgeons, including Ernst himself, bandied together and co-signed an open letter, published in The Times, which condemned the NHS decision to include increasing numbers of complementary therapies.
Six months on, Professor Waxman, in an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), said on 24 November 2006 that he wanted peddlers of food supplements consigned to "the cobra filled dustbin of oblivion". I have to say, Im not sure that such an attitude towards human life is particularly compliant with the Hippocratic Oath, but Professor Waxman has made it clear he feels very strongly about this issue. In the BMJs Rapid Responses to the same article, my colleague Dr Damien Downing and my responses reminded Waxman that orthodox medicine was not well known for its spectacular curative properties. We cited, by example, a recent s tudy of the effectiveness of chemotherapy in Australia and the USA which showed it contributed less than 5% to the 5-year survival rate (Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2004; 16(8): 549-60).
As high profile as the Ernsts, Baums and Waxmans of this world might be, their views are not unanimous across the orthodox medical profession. Some of these contrary views were expressed just last Sunday in The Sunday Times (Lost in the cancer maze, 10 December 2006). The author of the article, Robert Randall, is a cancer sufferer himself. He claims to be a consumer of services offered by both sides of the divide and it is interesting that from this consumers perspective, we receive a much more balanced debate.
The concept of orthodox medicine relying on the evidence-based gold standard of the randomized controlled trial (RCT) is now wearing thin when it comes to understanding the relevance of this methodology to many forms of alternative medicine. Let's take nutrition, for example. Is it really scientifically valid to condemn the potential role of supplementary nutrients like vitamin E and carotenoids (from carrots, peppers and other brightly coloured fruits and vegetables) because, when delivered in their synthetic, pharmaceutical forms, they have failed to generate strong beneficial effects in RCTs aiming to investigate their role in reducing chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease? Is it fair to do this when copious evidence from epidemiological and observational studies - which are often less prejudiced by bias and confounding factors - have consistently demonstrated strong associations for the natural, dietary forms of these nutrients? I think not - and, as a scientist, I am far from alone.
Natural products work within the human body in a different manner to pharmacologically-active drugs. They often work as complex mixtures in which the components interact with each other synergistically, or they interact with factors in the diet or the body. These sorts of variables are omitted from the pharma-friendly gold standard that Ernst and his colleagues seem to worship. I have no issue with using the evidence base - but I have a big problem with how selective you are being when you view the available evidence.
The real loser in open battles between warring factions in healthcare could be the consumer. Imagine how schizophrenic you could become after reading any one of the many newspapers that contains both pro-natural therapy articles and stinging attacks like that found in this weeks Daily Mail.
But then again, we may misjudge the consumer who is well known for his or her ability to vote with the feet - regardless. The consumer, just like Robert Sandall, and the millions around the world who continue to indulge in complementary therapies, will ultimately make choices that work for them. Survival of the fittest could provide an explanation for why hostile attacks from the orthodox medical community, the media and over-zealous regulators have not dented the steady increase in the popularity of alternative medicine.
Although we live in a technocratic age where weve handed so much decision making to the specialists, perhaps this is one area where the might of the individual will reign. Maybe the disillusionment many feel for pharmaceutically-biased healthcare is beginning to kick in. . . . Perhaps the dictates from the white coats will be overruled by the ever-powerful survival instinct and our need to stay in touch with nature, from which weve evolved.
Dr Robert Verkerk, Alliance for Natural Health, email@example.com
About the Alliance for Natural Health
The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) is a UK-based, EU-focused, international, legal-scientific, non-governmental organisation that is working on behalf of consumers, medical doctors, complementary health practitioners and food manufacturers and distributors, to protect and promote natural healthcare, using the principles of good science and good law.
The ANHs principal objective is to help develop an appropriate legal and scientific framework and environment for the development of sustainable approaches to healthcare. Within this setting, consumers and health professionals should be able to make informed choices about a wide range of health options, and in particular those that relate to diet, lifestyle and non-drug-based or natural therapies, so that they may experience their benefits to the full while not exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.
The Alliance for Natural Health, The Atrium, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1XA, United Kingdom
tel +44 (0)1306 646 600, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The ANH is a not-for-profit campaign organisation that operates solely on donations. If you care about the future of natural health and would like to support our work, please make a cheque payable (in any currency) to Alliance for Natural Health and send to the above address, or donate via our secure server either to our general fund at www.anhcampaign.org or to specific projects at www.anhfund.org. Thank you.
For far too long, the ANH has stood virtually alone as a bastion of common sense and reason against the pig-headedness, ignorance and entrenched error of the pharmaceutical-controlled medical fraternity. Indeed, it is only becuase of the hard work of these dedicated people that the European Directive on food supplements was defeated this year.
We fully support Dr Verkerk and his colleagues and encourage you to do the same to protect your treatments and supplements before Codex Alimentarius gets its way
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