The fountain of youth. The allure of the do-nothing, just-drink-this, little-effort-required fix for health problems is as deceptive as it is intoxicating.
We all like to look and feel good. And it would be great if all we had to do was take one of these supposedly magic elixirs advertised on television to make our troubles melt away. The appeal of pharmaceuticals can be very compelling. That’s a big reason the drug industry has become one of the most powerful in America.
Americans spend hundreds of billions on medicines each year. Over $2.3 trillion is spent on “improving” health. That is about 16 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
However, the sad reality is that if you are taking drugs, you are probably getting a whole lot more than you asked for.
Reduce Cholesterol—and Get Cancer
2008 was a dangerous year for drug-takers.
Take the Vytorin scandal, for example. That disaster put drugmakers Merck and Schering-Plough at number six on Fineman pr’s list of 2008’s top 10 public relations blunders. In a year of public relations disasters that included automakers flying to Washington in private jets to ask for taxpayer bailouts, big banks paying out billions in bonuses while accepting government emergency money, and aig executives lavishly partying it up on the taxpayer’s dime, that is no small feat.
If you recall, the two drug companies ran extensive advertising campaigns that claimed Vytorin was the remedy for high cholesterol from two sources, “food and family.” The miracle drug was supposed to block the absorption of cholesterol from food, and also reduce the type of cholesterol that our bodies naturally produce.
What did the drug pushers do to deserve such a ranking?
After spending an astounding $100 million to win friends and influence doctors, the drug producers withheld study results—for 21 months—that showed the drug did not work as claimed. Meanwhile, the two companies pulled in a whopping $5.2 billion in sales in 2007 alone.
But it gets much worse. Later, three studies indicated that people who take Vytorin may be more likely to die of cancer—40 percent more likely.
Additional side effects associated with Vytorin—beyond the possible headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and pain, possible liver damage and allergic reactions—now include “widespread consumer backlash, around 140 civil class-action lawsuits, and the unwelcome attentions of Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of 35 state attorneys general,” reports Fineman pr.
But not to worry. As pharmaceutical companies are only too happy to point out, patients can find relief from many of these side effects by taking other drugs such as pain relievers for headache and muscle pain, antiemetics for nausea and vomiting, and antidiarrheals for diarrhea.
Relief from cancer is much more elusive, however.
In Case You’re Healthy and Want Diabetes
The makers of Vytorin are not alone on the 2008 pharmaceutical wall of shame. AstraZeneca, makers of the cholesterol-busting drug Crestor, also deserves a place.
Believe it or not, pharmaceutical companies and some doctors may now be prescribing Crestor to healthy people who have no inkling of heart disease. Why? As USA Today reported, it cuts the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death roughly in half. Bloomberg News trumpeted that Crestor is “potentially opening a way to save the lives of thousands of seemingly healthy people.” msnbc News blared the same announcement and then quoted a high-profile doctor saying: “This takes prevention to a whole new level.” The Wall Street Journal added: “The findings could substantially broaden the market for statins, the world’s best-selling class of medicines.”
Instead of revolting at the idea of giving drugs to perfectly healthy people with normal cholesterol levels, the media engorged itself on magic potion. Unfortunately, the magic potion turned out to be two parts deadly poison.
The basis for the recommendation of this drug to healthy individuals was a study produced by the drug’s maker! Of nearly 18,000 healthy people monitored, the drug supposedly cut the risk of heart-related problems roughly in half—or so we were led to believe. But what we were not told, and what was largely missed or glossed over by a media in search of big headlines, is that the drug not only offers little benefit, but also has—you guessed it—a costly side effect.
Among people with normal cholesterol levels, the drug apparently reduces the risk of cardiovascular trauma from 1.36 percent of people to 0.77 percent. That is a difference of just 0.59 percent of individuals. And unfortunately, even this tiny fraction of potentially helped people is offset by a comparable increased risk of getting diabetes (0.6 percent).
According to Donald W. Light, writing for AlterNet, real headlines should have read: “Major study finds patients taking Crestor for systemic inflammation experience less than 1 percent reduction in cardiovascular events and an equal increase in diabetes.”
And that headline wouldn’t take into account all the other known side effects that go along with taking Crestor, including kidney problems. There have been more reports to the Food and Drug Administration (fda) of kidney problems from taking Crestor than reports for all other statin drugs combined. This led the Health Research Group in Washington, d.c., to recommend that it be taken off the shelves.
Beware Those Nasty Side Effects
Here are some other goodies, straight from the fda’s Medwatch site, compiled by Tracy Woolrich for the Tampa Wellness Examiner.
January 2008 brought us news that bone-building drugs Boniva and Fosamax could cause severe and sometimes incapacitating bone, joint and/or muscle pain. And the kicker, according to Woolrich: The pain may or may not go away when you stop using the drug.
February brought warnings of agitation, depressed mood, suicidal ideation and attempted and completed suicide with Chantrix, a drug designed to help smokers quit. February also brought us the first warnings about the diabetic drug Avandia.
In March, it became known that the influenza drug Tamiflu was, according to the fda, “associated with a variety of neurologic and behavioral symptoms leading to injury, and in some cases resulting in fatal outcomes, in patients with influenza who were receiving Tamiflu.”
As the year progressed, the fda also issued warnings about the arthritis drug Enbrel, which included serious infections leading to hospitalization or death. In addition, the entire class of arthritic medications such as Remicade, Enbrel, Humira and Cimzia were linked to the development of lymphoma and other cancers in children and young adults.
Then there were more warnings about the asthma drug Singulair relating to suicidal tendencies. More warnings came about Fluoroquinolones and Floxin, Levaquin and Cipro.
Finally, December 2008 brought reports of suicidal behavior in individuals taking anti-seizure medications such as Tegretol, Neurontin, Lamictal and others.
Remember, this list is only a sample of some of the revisions and new revelations about side effects that came to light over the past year.
The lesson: Drug companies don’t always know the ramifications of putting foreign chemicals into your body, especially over the long term. Even when they are known, Big Pharmaceutical is adept at creatively interpreting the facts, and at using big money in all the right places to ensure its message gets out.
And Big Media—and even your doctor—may unknowingly buy the magic pixie dust.
An Ironclad Promise
The fact is, the medical industry is woefully inadequate. More pills just cause more problems.
But if modern medicine can’t be relied upon to fix society’s health problems, who or what can be?
There is only one Being who has all the answers: the one who designed and created man in the first place—who created the physical laws by which our bodies function correctly. Following these physical laws eliminates the causes of many of the diseases afflicting people today.
These laws include regulating what and how much we eat and drink, upholding cleanliness and hygiene, getting plenty of sunshine and fresh air, sufficiently and properly exercising, sleeping and resting the right amounts, avoiding bodily injury, and maintaining a positive mental attitude.
In addition, only God has the power to heal you—and in His Word, He has spelled out ironclad promises to heal those who satisfy certain basic conditions. Herbert W. Armstrong expounded upon these in his booklet The Plain Truth About Healing, which we offer to you free upon request.
There is a time coming when all disease will be eradicated and perfect health will be the norm. For a vision of this soon-coming time, request our booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.