The Gary Null Show Gary takes on the real issues that the mainstream media is afraid to tackle. Tune in to find out the latest about health news, healing, politics, and the economy.

December 31, 2018  

In this episode of The Gary Null Show, Gary opens up with the latest in health and healing and after a musical break Gary plays a couple of audio clips on Disturbing video of interrogation of Dr. Stanley Plotkin about using fetuses in vaccine research and manufacture.  In a January 2018 expert witness deposition, Dr. Stanley Plotkin admits to using 76 normally developing aborted fetuses to develop human cell lines to make vaccines. They harvested fetal hearts, lungs, kidneys, skin, and spleens to develop vaccines. To wrap up the program Gary takes a look at 2018 as a whole and what we should expect for 2019. 

December 28, 2018  

Update on Syria -- the US pullout, will anything really change

Rick Sterling is a retired aerospace engineer and investigative journalist who writes primarily on international relations.  who has been involved in the struggles against imperialism and supporting justice in the Middle East, Latin America and US-Russia relations.  Rick is currently the president of the board of Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center and a co-founder and steering committee member of the Syria Solidarity Movement.  He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com  His organization's website is SyriaSolidarityMovement.org 

December 27, 2018  

death by medicine part 2 

 

Something is wrong when regulatory agencies pretend that vitamins and nutritional supplements are dangerous. Many in the media, without scientific basis, denigrate the use of supplements, yet these “vitamin critics” ignore published statistics showing that the real hazard is government-sanctioned medicine.

 

In many respects, however, these regulatory agencies act as their own critics. The government is not blind to its own deficiencies in healthcare delivery. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), a part of the United States National Academy of Sciences, states:

 

“Healthcare in the United States is not as safe as it should be.... Among the problems that commonly occur during the course of providing healthcare are adverse drug events and improper transfusions, surgical injuries and wrong-site surgery, suicides, restraint- related injuries or death, falls, burns, pressure ulcers, and mistaken patient identities [all of which exact] their cost in human lives.”1

 

The IOM refers to “the nation’s epidemic of medical errors,” many of which involve adverse drug reactions (ADRs). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that “ADRs are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in healthcare.”2

 

Archives of Internal Medicine published  “A Special Article” by Curt D. Furberg, MD, PhD, et al., entitled “The FDA and Drug Safety:  A Proposal for Sweeping Changes.” The section, “Problems with the Current System,” begins: “We see eight major problems with the current system of assessment and assurance of drug safety at the FDA.” The first problem states that the initial review for approval often fails to detect serious ADRs: “A study by the US General Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that 51% of all approved drugs had at least one serious ADR that was not recognized during the approval process.”3

 

The irony is that safer and less expensive preventive alternatives are often attacked or strategically ridiculed by regulatory powers, even—or perhaps especially—when proven effective. This condescending stance toward alternatives may be fueled by their relative lack of side effects in a competitive marketplace.

 

Until recently, health researchers could cite only isolated statistics to make their case about conventional medicine's dangers. No one had ever compiled and analyzed all of the published literature dealing with injuries and deaths caused by government-protected medicine.

 

One group of researchers meticulously reviewed the statistical evidence, and their findings, included in this book, are absolutely shocking. In Death by Medicine, we present compelling evidence that today’s healthcare system frequently causes more harm than good.

 

This fully referenced book reveals a number of startling facts:

The number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs annually: approximately 5.9 million4 5

The number of annual adverse drug reactions taking place outside hospitals: 4.6 million6

The number of unnecessary and/or inappropriate antibiotics prescribed annually: approximately 46 million7

The number of unnecessary surgical procedures performed each year: 5.4 million8 9

The number of people unnecessarily hospitalized each year: 5.0 million10 11

 

The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is over 900,000 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US. By contrast, the number of deaths attributable to heart disease in 2016, the most recent year for which final data is available, is 635,260. The number of deaths attributable to cancer is 598,038.12 The National Cancer Institute projects 609,640 people will die of the disease in 2018, an increase of 11,602 cancer deaths. 13

 

We originally decided to publish Death by Medicine to call attention to the failure of the American medical system. The almost complete lack of response from the medical industry was surprising, and we are updating the book to call attention to the fact that these problems have not been addressed in any meaningful way.  By exposing these gruesome statistics in painstaking detail, we provide a basis for competent and compassionate medical professionals, such as the courageous Dr. David Graham, to recognize the inadequacies of today’s system and at least attempt to institute meaningful reforms.

 

On November 18, 2004, David J. Graham, MD, MPH, Associate Director for Science and Medicine in the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, testified before the US Senate. Dr. Graham graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and trained in Internal Medicine at Yale and in adult Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. Later he completed a three-year fellowship in pharmaco-epidemiology and a Masters degree in Public Health at Johns Hopkins, with a concentration in epidemiology and bio-statistics.14 His education and extensive experience qualify him to offer an expert opinion on pharmaceutical drugs.

 

Dr. Graham, who had spent twenty years working at the FDA, told the Senate:

 

"During my career, I believe I have made a real difference for the cause of patient safety. My research and efforts within FDA led to the withdrawal from the US market of Omniflox, an antibiotic that caused hemolytic anemia; Rezulin, a diabetes drug that caused acute liver failure; Fen-Phen and Redux, weight loss drugs that caused heart valve injury; and PPA (phenylpropanolamine), an  over-the-counter decongestant and weight loss product that caused hemorrhagic stroke in young women."

 

" My research also led to the withdrawal from outpatient use of Trovan, an antibiotic that caused acute liver failure and death. I also contributed to the team effort that led to the withdrawal of Lotronex, a drug for irritable bowel syndrome that causes ischemic colitis; Baycol, a cholesterol-lowering drug that caused severe muscle injury, kidney failure and death; Seldane, an antihistamine that caused heart arrhythmias and death; and Propulsid, a drug for night-time heartburn that caused heart arrhythmias and death. . . ."

 

"I have done extensive work concerning the issue of pregnancy exposure to Accutane, a drug that is used to treat acne but can cause birth defects in some children who are exposed in utero if their mothers take the drug during the first trimester. During my career, I have recommended the market withdrawal of twelve drugs. Only two of these remain on the market today—Accutane and Arava, a drug for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis that I and a co-worker believe causes an unacceptably high risk of acute liver failure and death."15

 

The Los Angeles Times reported that witnesses told the Senate panel that "Merck & Co. and the Food and Drug Administration knew before the agency approved the company’s Vioxx® painkiller in 1999 that the drug could have serious adverse effects on the heart. . . . But the FDA gave its approval without resolving the concerns, and Vioxx® was aggressively marketed to point up its pain relief qualities, not its risks. "16

 

Testifying about Merck’s Vioxx®, Dr. Graham states:

 

"Today . . . you, we, are faced with what may be the single greatest drug safety catastrophe in the history of this country or the history of the world. We are talking about a catastrophe that I strongly believe could have, should have, been largely or completely avoided.  But it wasn’t, and over 100,000 Americans have paid dearly for this failure. In my opinion, the FDA has let the American people down, and sadly, betrayed a public trust."17

 

In the same way the FDA attempts to quash vitamins, they allegedly attempted to suppress scientific research, presumably to keep Vioxx® and other drugs afloat, according to Dr. Graham. “Not only did the FDA ignore known risks from Vioxx® and related drugs but . . . it tried to prevent Graham and others from publicizing their own research that proved the extent of these risks.”18

 

When it comes to new medications, Attorney Blake Bailey observes:

 

"The FDA . . . uses the studies of the companies who stand to gain billions of dollars and are under intense pressure to beat a competing company to make it to the market with a similar product. Many of the scientists and medical doctors go to work for these companies after a tenure with FDA."19

 

Dr. Graham made it clear in his testimony that, throughout his career, he had only worked for the FDA, not for any companies.

 

Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R–Iowa) said he was concerned that the FDA “has a relationship with drug companies that is too cozy.”20

 

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D–New Mexico) said the problem was within the FDA’s own culture: “The culture within the FDA, being one where the pharmaceutical industry, which the FDA is supposed to regulate, is seen by the FDA as its client instead.”21

 

In Graham’s view, the drug safety problems began in 1992 with the passage of a law aimed at getting lifesaving drugs onto the market faster. To speed up approvals, the law forced pharmaceutical companies to foot most of the bill for the review process. That left the FDA “captured by industry,” says Graham. “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”22

 

Edward J. Markey (D–Massachusetts) noted that a 2006 survey conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists reported that 18.4% of FDA scientists surveyed reported that they had been asked to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information or their conclusions in an FDA scientific document.23

 

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists reports that Graham testified “in February [2007] that, had it not been for the protection of Sen. Charles Grassley (R–Iowa), FDA would have fired him for publicly speaking out about his concerns about Vioxx® and other drugs.”24

 

Dr. Graham says, “You need to weed the garden patch of drugs that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. The FDA has not been very good about that; it likes to cultivate all these weeds.”25 Dr. Graham “named five other drugs whose safety is suspect, and noted that the FDA as currently configured is incapable of protecting America against another Vioxx®.’”26 Many media sources present at the hearing, such as the Los Angeles Times and Medscape Medical News,27 report that Graham then added, “We are virtually defenseless,”28 but this sentence does not appear in the final transcript and may have been stricken from the record. One report begins, “The American public is ‘virtually defenseless’ if another medication such as Vioxx® proves to be unsafe after it is approved for sale, a government drug safety reviewer told a congressional committee.”29

 

Lest we believe the tragedy of Vioxx sparked a tightening of regulations and much-needed soul-searching on the part of the FDA, it is instructive to examine one of the most alarming new public health crises of our time, the opioid epidemic. Since we first published Death By Medicine, drug overdose has grown to eclipse all other causes of accidental deaths, including automobile accidents and firearms. In 2017, 70,237 Americans died of drug overdoses, setting a new record over the previous year,30 when the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths was more than three times what it was in 1999.31

 

While opioid painkillers have legitimate therapeutic uses, they are known to carry a high risk of addiction and for this reason were seldom prescribed to non-terminal patients until the mid-1990s. In 1996, when Purdue Pharma unleashed OxyContin, its extended-release formulation of the opioid painkiller oxycodone, doctors had just been told that pain was the “fifth vital sign.” Along with blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiratory rate, pain would be assessed with the “same zeal” at every doctor’s visit, according to the American Pain Society. In conjunction with the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the group issued a statement endorsing the use of opioids for treatment of non-cancer chronic pain in 1995, part of a nationwide “Pain is the Fifth Vital Sign” campaign that had soon penetrated to the depths of the medical establishment, from the Veterans Affairs system to the Joint Commission.32

 

Everything about treating pain was suddenly up in the air; doctors were hit with a marketing blitz warning of this hidden epidemic. Here was a major problem that no one had given much thought to, and here was a pill advertised as a non-addictive, one-stop solution.33 But as journalist Chris McGreal documents in his book American Overdose, and unbeknownst to many of the doctors undergoing this pharmaceutical re-education, Purdue Pharma was working behind the scenes from the beginning of the Fifth Vital Sign campaign, “essentially writing the policy that promotes the prescribing of its own drugs,” shaping the new medical orthodoxy to cut themselves in for a bigger share of the profits.34

 

OxyContin sales rocketed from $48 million in 1996 to $3 billion in 2010. A victim of its own popularity, the drug had by 2004 become both the most popular opioid painkiller and the market and one of the most abused drugs in the US. Even then, it had its doubters: the Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics found as early as 2001 that OxyContin was no better than other opioids, including morphine and instant-release oxycodone, in relieving chronic back pain and cancer pain when given at 12-hour intervals. That was the same year Purdue Pharma spent a then-unheard-of $200 million to market and promote a single drug.

 

During the first five years OxyContin was on the market, over 5,000 doctors, nurses, and pharmacists attended over 40 national pain-management and all-expenses-paid speaker-training seminars sponsored by Purdue, as estimated by the General Accounting Office, which undertook a comprehensive study in 2003 to assess the problem of prescription opioid diversion. That study also found that the distribution of branded material such as hats, plush toys, and even CDs was “unprecedented for a schedule II opioid.”35 While many physicians think themselves above being influenced by corporate such gifts, a 2017 study found a marked change in prescribing habits in medical centers that banned or limited pharmaceutical gift-giving (a practice euphemistically called “detailing”). In some cases, prescribing of drugs that were heavily detailed declined by 8.7 percent. Changes were even more profound in centers that not only prohibited detailing but punished violators.36

But Purdue’s marketing genius extended beyond showering doctors with gifts. Using “prescriber profiles” documenting the prescribing patterns of medical professionals, they were able to single out doctors in a given area with the highest rate of opioid prescriptions and focus on targeted marketing to those doctors. Dr. Art Van Zee, writing in the American Journal of Public Health, refers to a “lucrative bonus system” that in many cases eclipsed representatives’ entire salary, leading Purdue to pay $40 million in sales incentive bonuses in 2001 alone.37

 

Primarily, though, Purdue Pharma cashed in on OxyContin by breaking out of the cancer pain market – the traditional domain of opioid painkillers – into chronic non-cancer pain, which represented 86 percent of the total painkiller market in 1999.  The move was facilitated through more than 20,000 educational programs on pain-related topics, which the company either sponsored directly or supplied with financial grants, and through financial contributions to influential bodies like the Federation of State Medical Boards, the Joint Commission, the American Pain Society, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and the American Geriatrics Society, which changed its prescribing guidelines in 2009 to recommend opioids for “all patients with moderate to severe pain” where previously it had touted over-the-counter pain relievers.38 Their “educational programs” glossed over the lack of studies demonstrating OxyContin was effective in treating chronic pain. A 2010 study by insurer Accident Fund Holdings found that when medical care and disability payments were taken into account, the cost of a workplace injury was nine times higher when an opioid pain reliever was prescribed – to say nothing of the very serious risk of developing a physical dependency on the drug. If anyone asked, however, Purdue Pharma merely claimed the addiction risk was minimal – “less than one percent,” according to its marketing materials. This was a key factor to consider when prescribing opioids for non-terminal patients. Purdue’s cherry-picked data ignored existing studies showing that chronic pain patients taking opioids developed addiction at rates up to 50 percent.39

Purdue Pharma wasn’t stupid. A Justice Department investigation found the company knew its pills were being diverted, abused, stolen, and over-prescribed even during those early years, but continued to market OxyContin as non-addictive. Internal company emails suggest the company was already aware of the drug’s illicit popularity by 1997, with reports of doctors stopping prescribing it altogether because of the amount of drug-seekers entering their clinics, doctors getting arrested for writing excessive prescriptions, and patients caught “doctor shopping” – cadging scripts from multiple physicians for the same complaint. Indeed, Purdue’s predicament in 1999 is best summed up by one of its own sales representatives, who wrote in an email, “I feel like we have a credibility problem with our product.”40 From 1997 to 1999 alone, sales representatives’ communications contained over 100 instances of the words “crush,” “snort,” and “street value,” while the Sackler family that owns Purdue Pharma received multiple reports about abuse of OxyContin and an earlier drug the company had produced, MS Contin. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that despite the marketing materials describing OxyContin as providing 12-hour pain relief, the company knew it lasted eight hours at most. This left the patient craving more and setting the stage for addiction. However, Purdue Pharma executives testified the company was unaware of the abuse potential of its blockbuster drug until 2000, when the Maine State Attorney General issued the first statewide warning.

 

After the four-year investigation, federal prosecutors wanted to indict the top three Purdue Pharma executives on felony charges for misrepresenting OxyContin’s addictiveness and effectiveness, but George W. Bush’s Justice Department declined to aggressively pursue the case. Instead the court chose to settle with the company for $634.5 million in 2007. Purdue Pharma’s defense team included former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.41

 

The settlement was supposed to send a message, according to prosecutor Randy Ramseyer, that drug companies were going to be held “to a higher standard.” Instead, it was business as usual, and Purdue Pharma was far from the only company making money in the opioid gold mines. From 2007 to 2012, drug distributors flooded West Virginia with 780 million opioid pills; that is equivalent to 433 pills for every man, woman and child in the state. Over those five years, the rate of overdose deaths from oxycodone and hydrocodone (marketed under brand names including Vicodin and Lortab) skyrocketed 67 percent. Three drug distributors - McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen – made $17 billion shipping pills to West Virginia.42 Even after State Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed a lawsuit against twelve of the pill wholesalers alleging they’d shipped an excessive quantity of opioids to West Virginia – millions of pills to pharmacies in towns that in some cases had residents numbering in the thousands – it took years for the gravy train to stop running as distributors began tentatively cranking out reports of suspicious pharmacy orders only to have the state pharmacy board do nothing.43

The government’s mistake was expecting a $634 million slap on the wrist to deter a company that was raking in billions of dollars a year from the sale of these drugs – OxyContin had netted over $31 billion for Purdue Pharma by 2016 – or to deter copycats who knew a tasty market when they saw one. Hook a non-terminal chronic pain patient and you have a customer for life. Doctors went along with the program because the appearance of propriety was scrupulously maintained. When the protocol wasn’t followed, as with the doctors who quit prescribing the drugs because their waiting rooms were flooded by addicts, their decision to abandon chronic pain patients had less to do with concern for popular welfare than concern for their own reputations. No prescriber wants to be tagged as a “pill mill.”

 

OxyContin itself fell off in popularity after 2010, when Purdue Pharma reformulated the drug to make it impossible to crush, snort, or inject. By then, other opioids had stepped in to fill the void: Vicodin, Roxicodone, Lortab, Opana. But more popular than these was heroin. Economists William Evans and Ethan Lieber have suggested that OxyContin’s reformulation actually kicked the heroin epidemic into high gear, as addicts, desperate for the high they could no longer get by crushing and snorting or injecting the pills, were driven to the streets in search of stronger and cheaper highs. In a paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research in April 2018, Evans and Lieber found that oxycodone deaths dropped off after August 2010, just as heroin deaths began climbing.44 Certainly the heroin epidemic that currently has America by the throat grew out of the prescription opioid problem: according to a 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study, a full 75 percent of heroin users began their addictions with prescription pain pills.45 Other studies have placed the number as high as 86 percent for young users,46 and the number of heroin users under 25 doubled during the last decade as the prescription opioid wave began to recede. Heroin users are at higher risk than prescription pill addicts even though the drugs are chemically almost identical. Not only do they face varying potency, especially with street supplies frequently laced with the ultra-potent synthetic opioid fentanyl, but because their drug of choice is illegal, they are treated as criminals if they do turn up in a hospital. Heroin-related overdose deaths increased threefold from 2010 to 2014, and a 2017 RAND Corporation study blames the reformulation of OxyContin for up to 80 percent of those deaths.47

 

By 2016, another prescription drug had eclipsed heroin in overdose deaths. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine, was once prescribed only to the most hopeless cases – cancer patients in hospice care, at death’s door, with nothing modern medicine could do for them any longer except alleviate their suffering a little. The fentanyl that has permeated the illegal drug market, however, is different from pharmaceutical fentanyl, according to law enforcement. Manufactured in Chinese labs and smuggled into the US through methods as pedestrian as mail-order, it is used to cut street drugs, giving heroin an added punch that’s often tragically unexpected. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is believed to have died from injecting fentanyl-laced heroin after a long struggle with addiction. Non-methadone synthetic opioids – a category that includes fentanyl and its analogs – killed over 19,000 people in 2016, almost twice as many as the previous year and more than heroin or pills.48

 

Instead of dealing with or even trying to understand the causes of addiction, the CDC has emphasized the need to expand access to naloxone, an opioid antagonist that can reverse overdose if given within a certain time window. While the patent on naloxone expired long ago, drug companies have been experimenting with novel formulations of the drug, combining it with other drugs (Suboxone), creating extended-release versions (Vivitrol), and patenting innovative delivery systems to keep profits high (Evzio). The cost of a two-dose package of naloxone auto-injectors spiked from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 in 2016 as US states began to adopt laws meant to expand access to naloxone, allowing third-party prescribing and standing-order (no prescription needed) access.49 As the price goes up, it’s worth noting that fentanyl overdoses frequently require more than one dose of the life-saving drug, meaning even more money doled out by governments with the best intentions of fighting the opioid epidemic ends up in the pockets of the drug companies fueling it. Meanwhile, pictograms alerting passersby to the presence of a naloxone kit behind the counter now appear in the windows of businesses in many large US cities.

 

In September 2018, Richard Sackler, a member of the wealthy family that owns Purdue Pharma, acquired a patent for a rapid-dissolving wafer of buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid dependence. The drug is not new, but the delivery system is. As of late 2018, Purdue Pharma faced over 1,000 lawsuits (with plaintiffs including 30 US states) for essentially creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. Now the company is poised to cash in on one of its most lucrative “cures.”50 While it is beyond the scope of this book to speculate as to why, with 5 percent of the world’s population, the US consumes 80 percent of its opioid supply, it is depressingly predictable that the medical industry also avoids such speculation, instead preferring to develop new drugs to treat dependency on the old. This is not surprising, given that pharmaceutical companies are major donors to groups like the American Society of Addiction Medicine ($100,000 from Reckitt-Benckiser, makers of Suboxone, which combines buprenorphine with a naloxone “booby trap” so it cannot be crushed and injected) and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (whose board includes three directors who serve on pharmaceutical companies’ speaker boards).51

Another transparent “solution,” rehab clinics are a wellspring of unlimited profits. Largely unregulated, depending on the state in which they are located, most provide some version of what passes for the “gold standard” of addiction treatment: 12-step therapy, which costs nothing and has a relapse rate of over 90 percent. Anything beyond that is up to the facility, and some charge as much as $60,000 for a 28-day stay, competing for wealthy patients with the promise of “equine therapy” and other spa-like amenities. Insurance often does not cover these stays. From 1997 to 2011, there was a 900 percent increase in patients seeking treatment for addiction to opioids.52 The number is almost certainly higher today. With an estimated 2.1 million Americans addicted to prescription opioids as of 2015, plus another 500,000 addicted to heroin and as many as a quarter of the 92 million adults who were prescribed opioids in 2015 hooked on their meds, business is booming.53 54 The legal trend favoring treatment over incarceration is promising and should be applauded, but the flaws in the current rehab model are so numerous it would take another book to list them all.

 

Viewing the opioid epidemic as a mass iatrogenic plague is not as simple as the example of Vioxx, because the drugs themselves have therapeutic potential and many take them with no ill effects. But over-prescription, greed, and pharmaceutical mission creep turned tens if not hundreds of thousands of patients into addicts, reduced to scoring their pills (or heroin) on the street when the legal route became too expensive or troublesome, and pills diverted from legitimate channels started a generation of heroin users on the road to perdition. With upwards of 70,000 Americans dying of drug overdoses annually, this epidemic can be laid at the feet of the medical profession, and everyone in the chain of care must share the responsibility. In 2010 alone, 254 million prescriptions for opioids were filled in the US, enough to medicate every adult for a month.55

 

While prescription guidelines have changed - the CDC no longer recommends opioids for most chronic pain conditions, and the American Medical Association dropped pain as a “vital sign” in June 2016 – the damage is done.56 Those 70,000 overdoses actually brought down the American life expectancy in 2017.

 

The expedited rollout of Dsuvia (sufentanil), an opioid 10 times stronger than fentanyl, was announced in October 2018. Dr. Raeford Brown, chairman of the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Advisory Committee, stridently opposed the drug’s approval, warning the agency, “I predict that we will encounter diversion, abuse and death within the early months of its availability on the market.” The medical industry would be wise, Brown wrote, to learn from the past: “Once these drugs get past the FDA, there’s very little, if any, control over them, no matter what the sponsor says prior to the time they come on the market.”57

 

Yet the FDA crusades to prevent us from taking dandelion root.

 

Natural medicine is under siege, as pharmaceutical company lobbyists urge lawmakers to deprive Americans of the benefits of dietary supplements and bioidentical hormones.  Drug company front groups have launched slanderous media campaigns to discredit the value of healthy lifestyles. The FDA continues to interfere with those who offer natural products that compete with prescription drugs.

 

These attacks against natural medicine obscure a lethal problem that until now was buried in thousands of pages of scientific text. In response to these baseless challenges to natural medicine, here is an independent review of the quality of “government-approved” medicine. To support the bold claim that conventional medicine is America’s number one killer, every count in this indictment of US medicine is validated by published, peer-reviewed scientific studies. The startling findings from this meticulous study indicate that conventional medicine is the leading cause of death in the United States.

 

What you are about to read is a stunning compilation of facts that documents that those who seek to abolish consumer access to natural therapies are misleading the public. Over 900,000 Americans die each year at the hands of government-sanctioned medicine, while the FDA and other government agencies pretend to protect the public by harassing those who offer safe alternatives. A definitive review of medical peer-reviewed journals and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good.

NOTES

  1. Institute of Medicine, US National Academy of Sciences. November 1999. To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. http://www.iom. edu/Object.File/Master/4/117/ToErr-8pager. pdf (accessed January 25, 2009).
  2. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Preventable Adverse Drug Reactions: A Focus on Drug Inter- actions. Last updated July 31, 2002. http:// www.fda.gov/cder/drug/drugReactions/default. htm#ADRs:%20Prevalence%20and%20Inci- dence (accessed January 25, 2009).
  3. Furberg, C. D., A. A. Levin, P. A. Gross, R. S. Shapiro, and B. L. Strom. 2006. The FDA and drug safety: a proposal for sweeping changes. Arch Intern Med 166 (18):1938–42.
  4. Miguel, A. et.al. Frequency of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety: Nov 2012; 21(11):1139-54. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22761169/
  5. American Hospital Association (AHA). Fast Facts on U.S. Hospitals, 2018. AHA. https://www.aha.org/statistics/fast-facts-us-hospitals (accessed 21 Dec 2018)
  6. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Prevent Adverse Drug Events. Health.gov. https://health.gov/hcq/ade.asp (accessed 21 Dec 2018)
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC: 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions unnecessary. CDC, May 3, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0503-unnecessary-prescriptions.html
  8. Lyu, H. et.al. Overtreatment in the United States. PLoS One. 6 Sep 2017. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0181970
  9. Hall, M.J. et.al. Ambulatory Surgery Data from Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers: United States, 2010. National Health Statistics Reports. 28 Feb 2017; 102(1). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr102.pdf
  10. Fingar, K.R. et.al. Trends in Potentially Preventable Inpatient Hospital Admissions and Emergency Department Visits. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Brief #195. November 2015. https://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb195-Potentially-Preventable-Hospitalizations.pdf
  11. Schlesinger, Robert. https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2011/12/30/us-population-2012-nearly-313-million-people
  12. Heron, Melonie. “Deaths: Leading Causes for 2016.” National Vital Statistics Reports. 26 Jul 2018; 67(6). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_06.pdf
  13. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Statistics. National Institutes of Health. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics (accessed 21 Dec 2018)
  14. US Senate Finance Committee. Testimony of David J. Graham, MD, MPH, November 18, 2004. http://finance.senate.gov/hearings/ testimony/2004test/111804dgtest.pdf (accessed January 30, 2009).
  15. Ibid.
  16. Alonso-Zaldivar, R., FDA Called ‘Defenseless’ Against Unsafe Drugs, Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2004. http://www.mcall.com/topic/ la-111804vioxx_lat,0,7473253.story (accessed January 31, 2009).
  17. US Senate Finance Committee. Testimony of David J. Graham, MD, MPH, November 18, 2004. http://finance.senate.gov/hearings/ testimony/2004test/111804dgtest.pdf (accessed January 30, 2009).
  18. National Coalition Against Censorship. FDA Sup- pressed Vioxx Studies Despite Evidence of Serious Health Risks, November 25, 2004. http:// www.ncac.org/FDA_Suppressed_Vioxx_Studies (accessed January 30, 2009).
  19. Bailey Esq, B., Bad medicine, Texas Injury Law, July 27, 2008. http://www.txinjurylawblog.com/ tags/drugs-accolate-accutane-arava-1/ (accessed January 30, 2009).
  20. Alonso-Zaldivar, R., “FDA Called ‘Defense- less’ Against Unsafe Drugs,” Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2004. http://www.mcall.com/topic/la-111804vioxx_lat,0,7473253.story (accessed January 31, 2009).
  21. Associated Press. F.D.A. Called ‘Defenseless’ Against Unsafe Drugs, New York Times, 18 November 2004. http://biopsychiatry.com/bigpharma/fda.html (accessed January 31, 2009).
  22. Yale Medicine. FDA’s top safety critic keeps a watchful eye on the public good, Summer 2005. http://yalemedicine.yale.edu/ym_su05/faces. html (accessed January 31, 2009).
  23. Young, D., Safety Experts Call for Accountability from FDA, Drug Firms. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, March 23, 2007. http://www.ashp.org/import/News/HealthSystemPharmacyNews/newsarticle.aspx?id=2503 (accessed January 31, 2009).
  24. Ibid.
  25. Loudon, Manette, interviewer. The FDA Exposed: An Interview With Dr. David Graham, the Vioxx Whistleblower, parts of this interview appear in Gary Null’s documentary film, Prescription for Disaster, Garynull.com, August 30, 2005, reprinted by Natural News. http://www.naturalnews.com/011401.html (accessed January 31, 2009).
  26. US Senate Finance Committee. Testimony of David J. Graham, MD, MPH, November 18, 2004. http://finance.senate.gov/hearings/ testimony/2004test/111804dgtest.pdf (accessed January 30, 2009).
  27. Yale Medicine. FDA’s top safety critic keeps a watchful eye on the public good, Summer 2005. http://yalemedicine.yale.edu/ym_su05/faces.html (accessed January 31, 2009).
  28. Alonso-Zaldivar, R., FDA Called ‘Defenseless’ Against Unsafe Drugs, Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2004. http://www.mcall.com/topic/la-111804vioxx_lat,0,7473253.story (accessed January 31, 2009).
  29. Kelly, J. Harsh criticism lobbed at FDA in Senate Vioxx hearing, Medscape Medical News, November 23, 2004. http://medgenmed.medscape.com/viewarticle/538021_print (accessed January 31, 2009).
  30. Hedegaard, H. et.al. Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999 - 2017. NCHS Data Brief No. 329, November 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db329.htm
  31. Hedegaard, H. et.al. Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999 - 2016. NCHS Data Brief No. 294, December 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db294.pdf
  32. Kolodny, Andrew et.al. The Prescription Opioid and Heroin Crisis: A Public Health Approach to an Epidemic of Addiction. Annual Reviews of Public Health. 12 Jan 2015; 36:559-74. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031914-122957
  33. Van Zee, Art. The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy. American Journal of Public Health. February 2009; 99(2):221-227. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2622774/
  34. Big Pharma’s Opioid Tragedy Now Plaguing America. The Gary Null Show. 21 Dec 2018 http://prn.fm/gary-null-show-12-21-18/
  35. Van Zee, op.cit.
  36. Larkin, Ian et.al. Association Between Academic Medical Center Pharmaceutical Detailing Policies and Physician Prescribing. JAMA. 2017;317(17):1785-1795. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2623607
  37. Van Zee, op.cit.
  38. Kolodny, op.cit.
  39. Højsted, J. et.al. Addiction to opioids in chronic pain patients: a literature review. European Journal of Pain. July 2007;11(5):490-518. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17070082/
  40. Meier, Barry. Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused. New York Times. 29 May 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/health/purdue-opioids-oxycontin.html
  41. ibid.
  42. Eyre, Eric. Drug firms poured 780m painkillers into WV amid rise of overdoses. Charleston Gazette-Mail. 17 Dec 2016. https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/cops_and_courts/drug-firms-poured-m-painkillers-into-wv-amid-rise-of/article_99026dad-8ed5-5075-90fa-adb906a36214.html
  43. Eyre, Eric. ‘Suspicious’ drug order rules never enforced by state. Charleston Gazette-Mail. 18 Dec 2016. https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/health/suspicious-drug-order-rules-never-enforced-by-state/article_3c9f1983-9044-5e97-87ff-df5ed5e55418.html
  44. Evans, W.N. et.al. How the Reformulation of OxyContin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic. National Bureau of Economic Research. April 2018. https://www.nber.org/papers/w24475
  45. Cicero, T.J. et.al. The Changing Face of Heroin Use in the United States. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(7):821-826. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/1874575
  46. Compton, W.M. et.al. Relationship between Nonmedical Prescription-Opioid Use and Heroin Use. New England Journal of Medicine. 14 Jan 2016; 374:154-163. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1508490
  47. Alpert, Abby et.al. Supply-side drug policy in the presence of substitutes: Evidence from the introduction of abuse-deterrent opioids. National Bureau of Economic Research. January 2017. https://www.nber.org/papers/w23031.pdf
  48. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids Drug Overdose Deaths. National Institutes of Health. May 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/fentanyl-other-synthetic-opioids-drug-overdose-deaths
  49. Denvir, Daniel. These Pharmaceutical Companies Are Making a Killing Off the Opioid Crisis. The Nation. 15 Dec 2017.  https://www.thenation.com/article/these-pharmaceutical-companies-are-making-a-killing-off-the-opioid-crisis/
  50. Schott, Paul. Sackler family member faces scrutiny for opioid-treatment patent. Stamford Advocate. 7 Sep 2018.  https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/business/article/Sackler-family-member-faces-scrutiny-for-13212975.php
  51. Sontag, Deborah. Addiction Treatment with a Dark Side. New York Times. 16 Nov 2013. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/health/in-demand-in-clinics-and-on-the-street-bupe-can-be-savior-or-menace.html
  52. Kolodny, op.cit.
  53. Thompson, Dennis. More than 1 in 3 Americans prescribed opioids in 2015. CBS News. 1 Aug 2017. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-than-one-third-americans-prescribed-opioids-in-2015/
  54. Eban, Katherin. OxyContin: Purdue Pharma’s painful medicine. Fortune. 9 Nov 2011. http://fortune.com/2011/11/09/oxycontin-purdue-pharmas-painful-medicine/
  55. ibid.
  56. Garrett, Linda. Pain Management in the Era of Opioid Addiction. California Hospital Association. https://www.calhospital.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/garrett-3_up-painmanagementslides.pdf
  57. Goodnough, Abby. FDA Approves Powerful New Opioid Despite Warnings of Likely Abuse. New York Times. 2 Nov 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/02/health/dsuvia-fda-opoid.html
December 26, 2018  

Death By Medicine, 

By any measure, we are in the worst health crisis in American history. Out of a population of 335 million people, two thirds of us – adults and children both – are suffering from a wide range of health conditions, the majority of which are preventable. Our first effort at explaining how serious the conditions were and indeed to verify that they were real using only the mainstream medical community and the government’s official figures took several years with a group of highly qualified board certified physicians and academics with PhDs with deep experience in research scholarship.
Up until that point, no one had compiled all injuries and fatalities occurring as a result of medical treatment. The best that had been done was by Dr. Lucian Leape, a professor from Harvard who had written a groundbreaking report that had gone virtually unchallenged and unreported in the medical press. Later, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) would publish an article by Dr. Barbara Starfield showing that iatrogenesis was the third leading cause of death. Dr. Martin Makary reached the same conclusions over a decade later, publishing his findings in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). However, it was surprising and disheartening to find that with all the medical and scientific research expertise at these researchers’ disposal, they left out several important causes of death from their statistics. This showed gross flaws in their research methodology.
Our report was the most comprehensive to date published in the US. Once completed, we sent it for feedback and comment to more than 7,000 scientific publications, health reporters, and federal agencies. Not one single response was received. How is this even possible? We expected legitimate challenges and corrections; even admonitions would have been welcome. Instead, we got dead silence. Why?
Years have passed, and the state of American health has only worsened. The latest official reports show more heart attacks, more strokes, obesity, and diabetes including in children. There is more dementia, Alzheimer’s, and cancer than ever before. And yet we spent more on healthcare in 2017 than we’ve ever spent - $3.5 trillion, 17.9 percent of the nation’s GDP, and a number that is on track to further increase in 2018.1 So now we’re perplexed – if we tell people that we have the best healthcare system in the world, with the latest technology, the most pharmaceuticals and medical procedures, state of the art hospitals, and special treatment centers, we should have a population that is far more robust and healthy – but just the opposite is the case.
Then it occurred to us that we were also missing a very important piece of this puzzle. Why are we not preventing disease? How much is all this disease actually costing the patient, corporations, and society? The figures are both staggering and heartbreaking, as there is no discussion of this. We only become invested in a person after they are sick. We have only focused as a society on how to alleviate the symptoms of that person’s illness. When we compare our healthcare program and state of health and longevity with other developed nations, we are near dead last. How is this possible? Those individuals who’ve brought these dire statistics to our attention (Makary, Starfield, Leape, etc) have initiated no wider call for action. Nothing has happened. They too have been shouting into the void. This is a dialogue we desperately need. Our new article expands on the first to include a discussion on iatrogenesis, its causes, prevention, and most importantly how to resolve in part or whole all of these problems.
Costs
Dr. Leape – the first well-known physician to bring the iatrogenesis “problem” into the limelight, only to be largely ignored by the medical industry – notes that while some progress has been made, the situation is by no means resolved. Indeed, it has gotten much worse since 2009, thanks to skyrocketing premiums introduced by the Affordable Care Act and unaccompanied by an increase in quality of care. Depending on the study, medical error is estimated to cost anywhere from $20 billion2 to $980 billion3 a year –a significant sum by any measure. Our calculations place those costs somewhere in the middle, at upwards of $440 billion – but that is probably a low estimate, given how few of the medical errors that take place are ever reported.
But what about when everything goes according to plan? That $440 billion is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the staggering $3.5 trillion Americans spent on healthcare in 2017, more than twice the amount the next two countries spend on healthcare combined and almost 18 percent of US GDP. According to a study published in JAMA earlier this year that compared the US with 10 other wealthy countries, we spend more than four times more on administrative costs, up to three times as much on pharmaceuticals, and yet achieve the lowest life expectancy of the bunch, with the average American living to 78.8 years while the mean of all 11 countries was 81.7 years. We also have the highest infant mortality rate at 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.4
According to the CDC, which does not track iatrogenic deaths, heart disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the US, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths and killing almost 634,000 Americans in 2015.5 When one adds the deaths from stroke to the total, the number climbs to nearly 800,000, amounting to one in three American lives lost every year.6 Heart disease and stroke cost the nation $555 billion per year in healthcare services, medications, and lost productivity. The American Heart Association (AHA) believes these costs could double by 2035,7 a possibility that “could bankrupt our nation’s economy and healthcare system,” according to AHA president Dr. Steven Houser.
”The fact that CVD could singlehandedly bankrupt our nation’s healthcare system is disturbing,” Houser said. “But it’s a real possibility if we don’t act soon to do a better job of preventing what are largely preventable disorders."8
In our medical system, however, doctors are not rewarded for preventing diseases. There is no medical billing code for a clean bill of health. Doctors who keep their patients out of the hospital are, if anything, punished by being deprived of the cash that flows to their peers in in-demand specialty fields like oncology and cardiology. Thus, expecting doctors to shift to a preventative care model without also fixing a system that only rewards treatment of the already-sick is expecting doctors to take food out of their own mouths.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death according to the CDC, killing 595,930 Americans in 2015.9 Direct medical costs in 2015 amounted to $80.2 billion.10 Because more people develop cancer every year, total care costs are expected to reach $173 billion by 2020.11 While not as financially devastating as heart disease, this is another condition we are exacerbating as a society by failing to address the causes or arrest the onset of the disease until the patient is already sick. All of this suffering and expenditure could be avoided if the profit motive was removed from healthcare, but too many people are benefiting on too many levels from the current model for meaningful change to be enacted.
An appeal to the CDC
Since the publication of the original Death By Medicine in 2009, other reports have periodically surfaced to remind the medical industry of the scope of the iatrogenesis problem. Like ours, these warnings have gone largely unheeded, sinking without a trace in the ever-widening money pool of medical spending.
In 2016, Dr. Martin Makary of Johns Hopkins University wrote to Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to request the agency include medical error on its list of causes of death published every year. Makary had published a study earlier that year in the BMJ revealing that a minimum of 251,454 deaths were attributable to medical error annually. He emphasized that this figure was a low estimate because it only included patients who died in hospitals and did not include outpatient deaths or deaths that occurred after discharge.
In his letter, Makary and his colleagues merely requested the CDC allow clinicians to list medical error as a cause of death on death certificates, given its prevalence. The current model limits recording options to diseases, morbid conditions, and injuries, as itemized by the International Classification of Disease billing codes, while causes not found on that list – those he calls “human and system factors in medical care” – are excluded. He recommends an additional field on death certificates that would indicate whether preventable complications of medical care were the primary cause of death, allowing a fuller picture of the circumstances without necessarily creating a legal liability.12
Bringing the high rate of medical error into the open, Makary hopes, will bring to bear the forces needed to begin to solve the problem. Government funding flows to cancer and heart disease research, while medical error is a forgotten backwater discussed only in hospital committees, the proverbial elephant in the room sucking up all the air while the medical profession hesitates to even speak its name. Being able to share best practices, and avoid worst practices, can only help both patients and doctors.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant – literally, in this case. He received no response from the CDC.
Progress?
Leape, who was honored by the National Patient Safety Foundation in 2007 with the founding of the Lucian Leape Institute to study healthcare safety, is losing patience with the industry he’s worked in all his professional life. “It's incomprehensible to me that hospitals can continue to not follow practices that are known to make a real difference,” he told Health Leaders. He believes a depoliticized regulatory agency (he uses the Federal Aviation Agency as a model) is the solution to the medical industry’s problems, a group with powers to inspect and discipline but no conflicts of interest to prevent them from doing their job. And he suggests regulators not underestimate the value of “shaming” – public reporting – in encouraging compliance with safety standards.13
Like Makary, Leape believes it is time to leave the Institute of Medicine’s figure of 98,000 iatrogenic deaths behind and adopt a more realistic number. NASA toxicologist John T. James’ 2013 estimate of 440,000 deaths caused by medical error per year14 is supported by these and other experts. However, they admit that even the Global Trigger Tool James used does not catch all medical errors, particularly those that represent actions that should have been taken but weren’t. The true number of medically-induced deaths is probably much higher.15 Indeed, our calculations found it was more than double James’ statistic.
Yet the medical industry forges ahead with business as usual, in which they take credit for all healing but eschew responsibility for all complications, up to and including death. They cannot have it both ways, yet that has not stopped them from trying. An individual who receives the flu vaccine and does not get the flu is not praised for living a healthy lifestyle, adhering to a healthy plant-based diet, exercising every day, and getting enough sleep – but if he does get the flu, it must have been something he did. Writ large, this is the story of the entire medical system.
Defending the Indefensible
Dr. Haider Warraich, a cardiologist at Duke University, published an editorial in the New York Times that epitomizes this head-in-the-sand approach to medical harms. He reflexively defends ineffective treatments the medical establishment is starting to cast aside while dismissing patients who seek to better understand their condition by doing their research as gullible and superstitious peasants who need a medical specialist like himself to lead them out of the wilderness.
The graphic that accompanies Warraich’s op-ed says it all – an angry-looking overweight woman depicted in red tones, her face lit up even redder in the glow of her iPhone, towering over a white-coated doctor one third her size. Patients who research the treatments prescribed for them, even though they are clearly unhealthy and in need of (faith) healing, are questioning the received wisdom of the doctor as interpreter of divine will. They are effectively cheating on him with their iPhones, and that’s unforgivable. Even though the major scientific journals publish their studies online -- most often for a fee, “the internet” is reduced to a swamp of false information sure to lead the patient off the shining path illuminated by the medical professional.
Warraich focuses on statins in his paean to medical orthodoxy. He describes a patient who has a minor heart attack after neglecting to take her medication because of “scary things she had read about statins on the internet.” Claiming any of the drugs' adverse effects can be ascribed to the “nocebo effect,” Warrach defends the drugs and even proposes criminalizing the spread of information on their harms.
In 2015, Diamond and Ravnskov destroyed the case for statins with a seminal article in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology that deconstructs how Americans were tricked into embracing statins as a “miracle drug” for preventing heart attacks. While they acknowledge the effectiveness of the drugs in lowering cholesterol levels, they call into question the accepted wisdom that high cholesterol is a causative factor in cardiovascular disease. The researchers cite dozens of studies published in peer-reviewed medical literature, and outline a diabolically clever campaign of statistical deception using a statistical tool called “relative risk reduction.” During the 2008 JUPITER trial of rosuvastatin (marketed as Crestor by AstraZeneca, which sponsored the study), a miniscule difference in the rate of heart attacks between the control and drug groups was recast statistically as an impressive drug effect, even though more people actually died of heart attacks in the drug group than in the control group:
"[R]egarding fatal and nonfatal CHD, less than one-half of 1% of the treated population (0.41%) benefited from rosuvastatin treatment, and 244 people needed to be treated to prevent a single fatal or nonfatal heart attack. Despite this meager effect, in the media the benefit was stated as ‘more than 50% avoided a fatal heart attack’, because 0.41 is 54% of 0.76."16
Worse, the drug group displayed an increase in diabetes. Although the number of incidences were small, they were not treated to the same statistical magic as the dip in heart attacks. A patient’s cancer risk increases with statin treatment, and a link with central nervous system disease has also emerged. More than one statin trial ended with an increase in suicidal or violent deaths among subjects treated with the drug.17 18 19 20 The researchers note that low blood cholesterol levels are prevalent among “criminals, in people with diagnoses of violent or aggressive-conduct disorders, in homicidal offenders with histories of violence and suicide attempts related to alcohol, and in people with poorly internalized social norms and low self-control,” as well as other psychiatric disorders.21
Cognitive problems are closely linked with statin treatment, to the extent that discontinuing the drugs often alleviates the symptoms. Padala et.al tested their hypothesis in a 2012 study by discontinuing statins in a group of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Twelve weeks later, the study's participants were performing markedly better on cognitive tests. When placed back on the statins, their cognition deteriorated to its previous level.22
Statins deplete the body of CoQ10 and selenium, two essential nutrients required for proper heart and nerve function. CoQ10 deficiency manifests in the muscle and joint pain experienced by many statin patients and contributes to aging, as the nutrient is a powerful antioxidant that normally protects DNA from free radical damage. As statins lower the body's CoQ10 levels, heart and nerve function decline. The consequence is the neurodegenerative side effects so many researchers have observed. Selenium deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cancer, another side effect of statins the medical-industrial complex has unsuccessfully tried to sweep under the rug. These are not mere chance events unrelated to the actions of the drugs, nor are they some “nocebo effect” conjured through the black magic of internet research.
The packaging and selling of statins to healthy people as “anti-atherosclerotic insurance” is one of the most egregious frauds perpetrated on the American public in recent decades. A 2012 advisory by the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ Collaborators suggested expanding the pool of patients recommended for statin therapy, since even the least at-risk population could be shown (using the aforementioned statistical trickery) to benefit. While a 2013 revision shifted the primary treatment criteria from LDL-C levels to a “risk assessment” that takes into account other health factors for individual patients, this refactoring had the effect of increasing the numbers of Americans taking statins, not decreasing it. By 2016, fully half of men ages 60 and older were taking statins – up from 36 percent 10 years ago. The percentage of women taking the drug has increased more slowly, from 33 to 38 percent.23
A further revision of treatment guidelines, issued by the American Heart Association earlier this year, actually emphasized a “heart-healthy lifestyle” before mentioning statin drugs. This was a monumental shift given the exclusively pharmaceutical focus of most of American medicine.24 Yet Dr. Warraich does not utter a word in favor of lifestyle measures such as a plant-based low-calorie diet and regular exercise. To posit that such natural interventions might have a beneficial effect on his cardiac patients is heresy to the phamaceutically-faithful. It is not enough that the next nine points of treatment in the new AHA guidelines deal with when and how to prescribe statins. Dr. Warraich and his colleagues cannot monetize a healthy lifestyle and it is anathema to their phamaceutical-based view of medicine.
That the AHA guidelines for managing cardiovascular disease with cholesterol-lowering therapies even mention lifestyle changes at all is an encouraging development. Their common-sense recommendations represent an island of sanity in an ocean of big-pharma faith-healing.
“Patients should consume a dietary pattern that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, healthy protein sources (low-fat dairy products, low-fat poultry (without the skin), fish/seafood, and nuts), and nontropical vegetable oils; and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats. This dietary pattern should be adjusted to appropriate calorie requirements, personal and cultural food preferences, and nutritional therapy for other medical conditions including diabetes. Caloric intake should be adjusted to avoid weight gain, or in overweight/obese patients, to promote weight loss. In general, adults should be advised to engage in aerobic physical activity 3-4 sessions per week, lasting on average 40 minutes per session and involving moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity.”25
It seems so obvious, and yet it took decades of expensive, flawed medical research, policy and practice to reach this point. How many patients died needlessly because cardiologists like Dr. Warraich wanted to get more people on statins? How many cancer and dementia patients currently in the throes of their illness might have held onto a quality of life a little longer if they hadn’t had these drugs pushed upon them?
But “fake medical news,” to doctors steeped in the orthodoxy of the pharmaceutical based medical model, is more of a menace than the incompetence of their own profession. Similar to “fake news” in general, the menace has been blown wildly out of proportion as the latest trend in fear. Certainly confirmation bias is always a danger. If a patient is seeking out supporting evidence that their toenail fungus is terminal, they will find it somewhere online. However the volume of information available to patients on the internet is a valuable resource that should not be trivialized or demonized. Indeed, patients who do their own research before blindly accepting a doctor’s recommendations should be commended for taking care of their health. Even CNN – hardly considered a maverick when it comes to medical coverage – suggested patients discuss the risks of statins with their doctors before filling their prescriptions after a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this year suggested that the risks outweighed the benefits when the drugs are prescribed to prevent CVD.26
Dr. Warraich moralizes that “Silicon Valley needs to own this problem” and “be held responsible for promoting or hosting fake information.”27 Is this a call to suppress all criticism of medical modalities he favors? Will he own up to his own field’s problems, which are far more numerous and deadly than a few misleading articles (and certainly more detrimental than the looming spectre of the Informed Patient)? While he admits the scientific community has a responsibility to patients to maintain trust, and chides a group of National Institutes of Health researchers who published a study on the benefits of moderate drinking funded by Big Alcohol, he saves most of his venom for the media. After all, the media didn’t have to cover that terrible study, did they? One might argue the traditional responsibility of the Fourth Estate is to warn the people when powerful interests are threatening them, but would Dr. Warraich rather journalists stick to publishing pharmaceutical company press releases?
And why should we subscribe to Warraich’s views? Does he think we are unable to make up our own minds about a particular treatment? His ideal patient takes the drugs they are given, regardless of their effects, even when they are contraindicated by published science. Even as official guidelines have shifted away from prescribing statins to treat moderately high cholesterol, and as the medical community is faced with incontrovertible evidence of the drugs’ negative effects, Warraich stands by this protocol. Why is he so concerned about who is taking statins, anyway?
Dr. Warraich, it turns out, is one of the authors of a 2017 study called “National Trends in Statin Use and Expenditures in the US Adult Population From 2002 to 2013.” Published in JAMA Cardiology, the study decries statin drugs' “suboptimal uptake in higher-risk groups.” Researchers received funding from some of the largest pharmaceutical firms: Sanofi, Novartis, Amgen, and Regeneron.28 Elsewhere in his op-ed, Warraich scolds Tennessee physician Mark Green, recently elected to Congress. The Congressional candidate was the subject of an epidemic of media pearl-clutching when he responded to a town hall question with assurances that he would “get the real data on vaccines” from the CDC. Green stated, “there is some concern that the rise in autism is a result of the preservatives that are in our vaccines.” He never declared that vaccines cause autism, as he is being accused of doing, but merely echoed concerns his constituents had shared with him that the data might have been “fraudulently managed.” Green was forced to eat his words after being torn to pieces by Left- and Right-leaning media outlets alike. Concerns about the HPV vaccine, which has been linked to hundreds of deaths, as well as side effects including paralysis and sterility, are lamented as benighted superstition, even though there is no evidence the vaccine actually protects against the later-life cervical and other cancers it is advertised to ward off.30 By 2014, the CDC had already paid out almost $6 million to severely injured victims of Merck’s Gardasil HPV vaccine.31
Perhaps conceding that the old guard of the medical-industrial complex cannot win the battle for hearts and minds with science – because the science is not on their side – Dr. Warraich ends with a call to arms for other would-be propagandists: “physicians and researchers need to weave our science with stories.”
A note on statistics
Wherever possible, we have updated the statistics used in the original book to reflect more recent studies. However, in many cases newer figures were not available. The vast majority of medical research is still funded by pharmaceutical companies uninterested in bankrolling an examination of how they are failing patients. In those cases where researchers did follow up on one of the studies we used, the updates were often light on statistics and heavy on rhetoric, suggesting their authors did not want to look too deeply into the matter lest they find nothing has changed.
Asked how he would grade the government response to 1999’s seminal Institute of Medicine report, To Err Is Human, one of the first to shine a light on the then-obscure problem of medical error, Dr. Leape was pessimistic. “I would give them an F, at best a D minus, as they have done very little. Although there was some increase in funding for research early on after the 1999 IOM report, since then the federal government has not done much to provide incentives, financial or other, to improve safety,” he said.32
In a 15-year follow-up of the IOM study published in British Medical Journal Quality & Safety, Mitchell et.al. found that while incident reporting programs had proliferated, patient safety had not improved at the same rate. Incident reporting systems fail to record most patient harms, and medical authorities estimate that only 10-14 percent of adverse incidents are reported.33
Our figures, then, while alarming, are extremely conservative. We are not optimistic that this current report will be any more honestly received and reviewed than the first, and we fully expect that this report and its authors will be challenged by those whose job is to defend all existing protocols and medical procedures, irrespective of how deadly they are. Still, we are obligated as principled researchers to call attention to this problem – nearly 1 million people dying every year at the hands of an industry that claims to cure people is a sick joke, a modern-day form of human sacrifice. We cannot dismiss these casualties as the cost of doing business, any more than we can dismiss so-called “collateral damage” in war as the cost of safety at home.

NOTES
1 National Health Expenditure Data. “NHE Fact Sheet.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html Retrieved 21 Dec 2018.
2 Rodziewicz, TL et.al. “Medical Error Prevention.” StatPearls 27 Oct 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29763131
3 Andel, C. et.al. “The economics of health care quality and medical errors.” Journal of Health Care Finance. 2012 Fall;39(1):39-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23155743
4 Papanicolas, Irene et.al. “Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries.” JAMA. 2018;319(10):1024-1039. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2674671
5 National Vital Statistics Reports. “Deaths: Final Data for 2015.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 27 Nov 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_06.pdf
6 Benjamin, EJ et.al. “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: 2017 Update.” American College of Cardiology. 9 Feb 2017. https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/ten-points-to-remember/2017/02/09/14/58/heart-disease-and-stroke-statistics-2017
7 American Heart Association. “Cardiovascular Disease: A Costly Burden for America - Projections Through 2035.” American Heart Association. 14 Feb 2017. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_491543.pdf
8 Fischer, Kristen. “Why Heart Disease is on the Rise in America.” Healthline. 3 Mar 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-is-heart-disease-on-the-rise
9 National Vital Statistics Reports, op.cit.
10 American Cancer Society. “Economic Impact of Cancer.” American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/economic-impact-of-cancer.html Retrieved 21 Dec 2018.
11 Mariotto, A.B. et.al. “Projections of the Cost of Cancer Care in the United States: 2010-2020.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2011 Jan 19; 103(2):117-128. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3107566/
12 Makary, Martin. “RE: Methodology used for collecting national health statistics.” 1 May 2016. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2822345-Hopkins-CDC-letter.html
13 Clark, C. “Q&A: Lucian Leape Wants Tougher Patient Safety Regs.” HealthLeaders. 28 Mar 2013. https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/clinical-care/qa-lucian-leape-wants-tougher-patient-safety-regs
14 James, John T. “A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care.” Journal of Patient Safety. September 2013; 9(3):122-128. https://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Fulltext/2013/09000/A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx
15 Allen, Marshall. “How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in US Hospitals?” NPR. 20 Sep 2013. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals
16 Diamond, D.M. et.al. “How statistical deception created the appearance that statins are safe and effective in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology. 2015 Mar;8(2):201-10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25672965
17 Muldoon, M.F. et.al. “Lowering cholesterol concentrations and mortality: a quantitative review of primary prevention trials.” BMJ. 1990 Aug 11;301(6747):309-14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2144195
18 Kaplan, J.R. et.al. “Assessing the observed relationship between low cholesterol and violence-related mortality. Implications for suicide risk.“ Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1997 Dec 29;836:57-80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9616794
19 Davison, K.M. et.al. “Lipophilic statin use and suicidal ideation in a sample of adults with mood disorders.” Crisis. 2014 Jan 1;35(4):278-82. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25113893
20 Boston, P.F. et.al. “Cholesterol and mental disorder.” British Journal of Psychiatry. 1996 Dec;169(6):682-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8968624
21 Diamond, op.cit.
22 Padala, K.P. et.al. “The effect of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors on cognition in patients with Alzheimer's dementia: a prospective withdrawal and rechallenge pilot study.” American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy. 2012 Oct;10(5):296-302. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22921881
23 Carroll, Margaret D. “QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Aged ≥20 Years Told Their Cholesterol Was High Who Were Taking Lipid-Lowering Medications,* by Sex and Age Group — National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2006 to 2015–2016.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 13 Jul 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6727a6.htm
24 Grundy, S.M. et.al. “Guideline on the Management of Blood Cholesterol.” American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. 2018. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000625
25 ibid.
26 Howard, Jacqueline. “Are statins overprescribed? Why the risks and benefits are so complex.” CNN. 3 Dec 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/03/health/statin-side-effects-benefits-study/index.html
27 Warraich, Haider. “Dr. Google Is a Liar.” New York Times. 16 Dec 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/16/opinion/statin-side-effects-cancer.html
28 Salami, J.A. et.al. “National Trends in Statin Use and Expenditures in the US Adult Population From 2002 to 2013.” JAMA Cardiology. 2017;2(1):56-65. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2583425
30 Tomljenovic, Lucija et.al. “Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine policy and evidence-based medicine: Are they at odds?” Annals of Medicine. 2011; Early Online 1-12. https://www.scribd.com/doc/127818325/Annals-of-Medicine-HPV-Vaccine
31 Lind, Peter. “US court pays $6 million to Gardasil victims.” Washington Times. 31 Dec 2014. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/31/us-court-pays-6-million-gardasil-victims/
32 Buerhaus, Peter I. “Is Hospital Patient Care Becoming Safer? A Conversation With Lucian Leape.” Health Affairs. Nov/Dec 2007:26(6). https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.26.6.w687
33 Mitchell, I. et.al. “Patient safety reporting: a qualitative study of thoughts and perceptions of experts 15 years after ‘To Err is Human.’” BMJ Quality & Safety. Jul 2015:25(2). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/

December 26, 2018  

Today is December 24th and like always The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment.

 
 
December 21, 2018  

Big Pharma's Opioid Tragedy Now Plaguing America

Chris McGreal is a foreign correspondent for The Guardian in the UK, and now based in the US. Over the years he has covered Africa widely, and Israel and the Middle East from Jerusalem where he was a correspondent covering the second Palestinian uprising. Chris has covered the Angolan civil war, the invasion of Zaire, Nigeria's military rule, the political violence of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and won the Amnesty International award for his investigations into the organizers behind the Rwandan genocide. He received the Martha Gelhorn Award for reporting from the Israeli-Palestinian territories. His series on retracing the route of the Grapes of Wrath and America's modern economic depression earned runner up for Print Feature Story of the Year by the Foreign Press Association. His recent book -- "American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts" -- is perhaps the most comprehensive portrait of the opioid epidemic ravaging communities and exposes how pharmaceutical industry corruption has hooked Americans on addictive drugs and co-opted the FDA. 
December 20, 2018  

The VAXXED team recently interviewed Dr. Cammy Benton from North Carolina who is board certified in both Family Medicine and Functional Medicine. Dr. Benton related that through all of her years of medical training, including 4 years in residency, that the only thing she was taught in regards to vaccines was that they were "safe and effective." She stated that they were told to discard the vaccine inserts, as they were all "lawyer jargon." She relates how doctors are taught to fear not giving vaccines, because they are taught to believe that their patients may die from some disease that is allegedly prevented by vaccines, so this puts tremendous pressure on doctors to get all of their patients vaccinated. Dr. Benton no longer gives vaccinations. She states that it took her "a long time to wake up," but she learned a lot through her three children. The first two were fully vaccinated, but she stopped after 4 months with her third child. With her first child, Dr. Benton states that she waited two months after she was born to give the Hepatitis B shot. Most babies get it in the hospital the same day they are born. Benton explains how her first baby went from a very alert baby who made a lot of eye contact, to becoming less alert and fussy following the beginning of vaccines. When she finally figured out that her children were being damaged by vaccines, she became very angry towards herself and her profession, for not investigating vaccines prior to believing what she had been told about them, and administering them without question. Her own pediatrician had vaccinated her children with the flu vaccine behind her back, because she had stated she was against the flu vaccine. During the interview, Dr. Benton relates how the flu vaccine became mandated during her medical practice. She began to ask questions about the science behind the flu shot, and even asked a senior CDC official about it at an event. But she found no credible studies backing up the science behind the flu shot. When she called the CDC about it, she relates how the CDC admitted that they were not the ones mandating the flu vaccines (employers and public health officials are), and that she admitted there was no science confirming the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, it was simply "all we have" to combat the flu season. Dr. Benton then asked why hospitals were not requiring ALL medical personnel to wear face masks during the flu season, since the CDC was admitting the flu vaccine was not effective. At that point the person at the CDC hung up, and the next Monday Dr. Benton was presented with a four month severance pay. She states that this was the best "vacation" she could have received at that time, because she spent every day studying about vaccines. She became obsessed with the topic, since it had already destroyed the health of her three children. She wanted to learn which vaccines were useful and which ones were not. Dr. Benton finally came to the conclusion that the risks associated with the diseases that were being vaccinated against was not serious enough to risk the side effects of the vaccines.

December 19, 2018  

Today is December 19th and like always The Gary Null Show is here to inform you on the best news in health, healing, the environment. Freedom of speech is thought of as a key part of our democracy. But is one person's version of free speech the same as another's? What if an individual disagrees with another's statement? The Agenda explores the boundaries of what you can say, what you can't say, and how the notion of free speech is changing. U.S. tax law allows television preachers to get away with almost anything. We know this from personal experience. Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption will not be able to accept donations from Church supporters from the states of Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, or South Carolina. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 
 
December 18, 2018  
How the earlier administrations of Clinton, Bush and Obama opened the doors for Trump
 

Ralph Nader is without a second one of the most influential Americans during the past several decades.  He is directly responsible for many of our most important bills that have provided protection to consumers against the onslaughts of corporate short-term profits and the Friedmanite free market, unregulated capitalism. landmark acts for Freedom of Information, Clean Water, Clean Air, Whistleblower Protection, Wholesome Food, and others that have been enacted by Congress.  A graduate of Princeton and Harvard universities, Ralph has been a presidential candidate for five elections, building his platform on consumer rights, humanitarian and civil rights efforts, environmental sanity, and democratic government.  Ralph’s most recent book just released this month is  “To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency and Why It Isnt too Late to Reverse Course” that outlines the key flaws in the former White House administrations, and both parties, have brought us to the edge we find ourselves today as a nation.  His other recent book is "How the Rats Reformed Congress."  Ralph's website is Nader.org and CSRL.org

December 17, 2018  
News Update on the Measle-Mumps-Rubella or MMR vaccine and Autism... and the changing social environment for vaccination critics

Dr. Brian Hooker is an Associate Professor of Biology at Simpson University in California, and a senior consultant for ARES Corporation, specializing in environmental restoration design. Recently his analysis of the CDCs data about the Measle-Mumps-Rubella vaccine and autism was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.  Brian is a prominent leader in the organization Focus Autism, which is investigating the scientific evidence for a vaccine-autism connection. He also has a 16 year old son with autism and has been active in autism community for a decade. Over the years Brian has filed many FOIAs with federal health agencies and has received 1000s of pages of documents that support the need to question the efficacy and safety of vaccination.  He has been a point independent researcher in the recent whistleblower case with Dr. Thompson from the CDC regarding vaccine dangers. His website is FocusAutism.org

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