Monday, September 24, 2012

Another Article on Money and Medication

A few months ago, I wrote a brief blog entry that directed you readers to this article, written by a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. The article, one of the most strongly worded condemnations of the pharmaceutical industry I've ever seen, goes on at length and in detail about how money has corrupted the science behind the practice of medicine. If you've not read it, I recommend it highly. However, this article was written some years ago at this point, and precious little has been done to improve the situation.

I recently came across another article on the topic, again written by a medical doctor who decried the influence that pharmaceutical companies have on research, and thus the practice of medicine. A main example he cites is the use of antidepressants in children - not only have these drugs not been proven to be effective in children, but there is strong, clear evidence that they cause harm by increasing the risk of depression-related suicide in children.

This Monday, I highly recommend you read this piece, which was published in The Guardian last Friday. While Dr. Angell's article from several years ago was excellent, it cited few examples, and this newer article cites many specific cases and a good amount of research - research that shows the biases of research conducted by pharmaceutical companies. If you don't finish the article feeling indignant, you may not have been paying attention.

Of course, the issue is not that drugs don't work, nor that as a naturopathic physician I'm 'opposed' to drugs, but rather that when the lives and health of patients is on the line, we should have access to accurate, unbiased information, be it about pharmaceutical drugs, herbs, supplements or other treatments. Articles like this one and other recent events may be moving us towards an era of unbiased information, but it's still some time off. In the mean time, working with a healthcare provider you trust and know, who stays abreast of current information and is open to learning more is your best bet. Even if research is fallible, individual docs can still sort the wheat from the chaff and guide patients to health.