In recent years, a lot of information has come to light about corruption in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, but new research is showing it has increased to a surprising level.
We all know that our government leaders are influenced strongly by monies from lobbying groups. We all know that medical doctors have been influenced in the past by bonuses from the pharmaceutical industry. What we may not have known is just how deep and twisting the rabbit hole goes.
CAPITOL HILL- Starting with the obvious, our government policies are greatly influenced by pharmaceutical lobbyists. In fact, from 1999-2008, the “Big Four” medical associations (the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, Big Pharma and Blue Cross Blue Shield) payed out over $650 million to our government leaders to have them set laws according to their needs and desires, not yours or mine.
PHARMAPAYOLA- In the 1960’s, radio disc jockeys were caught taking bribes to play certain records. This scandal was dubbed “payola”. A recent Senate investigation found a similar scandal between medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies. This scandal has now been named “pharmapayola”. 84% of medical doctors are now admitting to accepting financial bonuses for prescribing certain medications over others.
WHY?- Although medical doctors are among the best-compensated professionals in the U.S. ($200k per year for family physicians, around $350k per year for specialists), apparently some feel remorse as they see peers in other industries making more than they do. In addition, many doctors have found out that the pharmaceutical salesmen that sell them their medications often make more money than they do.
Now, only 54% of medical doctors say they would choose medicine as a profession again if they had a chance to do it all over, and financial rewards are one of the main reasons. According to the newest research, this may be the main reason medics justify taking money from the drug industry to promote their wares.
MAJOR PROBLEM- According to Thomas Frieden, MD, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this “payola” scheme has turned physicians into the new “drug pushers on the street corners”, and doctors are now the most important suppliers of illicit narcotics. In fact, pain killer prescriptions and addictions have risen astronomically since this practice began, with oxycodone sales jumping sixteen-fold in some areas of the country over the last 10 year period.
Big Pharma bribing medical doctors has also gotten the attention of the Justice Department, resulting in at least $10 billion in settlements. The largest settlement so far has been GlaxoSmithKline’s recent $3 billion fine and guilty plea to committing felony crimes. Abbott Laboratories and Johnson & Johnson have also paid out similar amounts. However, the Pharmaceutical Industry’s profit level is so high that the $3 billion fine is nothing compared to the profits that doing this kind of dirty business brought in. When the rewards outweigh the punishment, this does not result in a desire to change.
YOUR DOCTOR RECOMMENDS THIS TOBACCO… The pharmaceutical industry is not the first time the medical profession has been bought. Long before the drug industry, the American Medical Association (AMA) was accepting money from the tobacco industry to endorse their products.
In 1930, the AMA partnered with the tobacco industry to get money to go after chiropractors and other competitors in the medical market, and to influence the media and politicians. This “marriage” is what made the AMA so rich and powerful. Until then, the AMA really had very little power, but now they have become rich beyond belief…and rich equals power.
Harper’s Magazine, in 1949, claimed that tobacco money had transformed the AMA from a “panty waist” organization that simply promoted education and research into “the most terrifying trade association on Earth.”
You may remember medical doctors and the AMA promoting certain types of tobacco and cigarettes in those days. There were cigarette and pipe tobacco ads endorsed by the AMA, claiming that a certain percentage of doctors recommended this or that brand of tobacco.
Finally, when the public figured out how bad tobacco was for you, public opinion forced the AMA to stop endorsing tobacco products. When they lost their big money cow, they simply found a new one – the pharmaceutical industry.
EVEN THE SURGEONS- Even surgeons are not free of this. Surgical device manufacturers have been caught giving “dividends” to surgeons base on the number of surgeries they perform using their equipment and devices.
MORAL OF THE STORY- The moral of the story is not that medical doctors are bad people. The moral of the story is that Modern Medicine is a powerful ally, but one that is no longer run by people with our best interests at heart. In order to stay safe, it is becoming more and more important that you do as much research as you can on your own medical conditions and the treatments available. When the medical industry becomes bankers, they only see dollar signs, not your health.
Don’t get me wrong. Medical doctors in general aren’t the bad guys. This seems to be the human predicament – could YOU turn down all that money? Money has a way of turning even the best of us into something other than what we are. The only solution seems to be to get money out of the equation, but with our policy makers in on the money funnel, that seems to be near impossible.
Until our policies change, the best you can do is stay as educated as possible.
Hope this helps,
Dr Matt and Dr Robin
This week’s bit of Useless Information: A Galapagos tortoise that died in 2006 at Steve Irwin’s zoo was originally owned as a pet by Charles Darwin in 1835.
This email is courtesy of Matthew Barnes, D.C. and Robin Barnes, D.C. Neither this nor any of our emails are intended to be medical advice and should not be taken as such. They are opinion and are for informational purposes only. None of the nutrients discussed here are meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.