Pharmaceutical companies are biased towards profit, no doubt. I’d be happier if government funded more of the research, as it has in the past, but those aren’t the times we live in. The medical community is influenced by pharma’s money, but not as badly as you suggest, IMHO. It is more difficult to get research done on things that cannot be patented, absolutely, since taxpayers don’t want to fund it and private industry can’t make any money off of it.
None of this, frustrating as it is, means we should just give up on real scientific evidence and take whatever we like facts be damned. And if you think there’s no money to be made selling unproven “natural” remedies, think again. There are plenty of quacks out there who will sell you whatever snake oil they can get you to buy. I’m guessing somebody got paid for making the glucosamine you take. When the pharmaceutical industry or the medical community sells you something, you have at least a reasonable chance of knowing 1) it does what they say it does, 2) how likley is it to hurt you.
I know, I know, “But what about Vioxx and all the other “scandals?” Well, partly the data was messed with by the industry, and doctors were convinced by industry lobbying and patient lobbying (thanks to advertising) to overprescribe these drugs. I am strongly opposed to most of the industry “education” of the public and doctors for this reason. But, the medicines are still effective for what they were tested to treat and the actual incidence of adverse events is predictably tiny. We want something for nothing, and there is no such thing. If a medcine has real benefits, it will also harm some, and the balance between risks and benefits needs to be understood and accepted by doctors and patients. The media loves a scandal, and they have waaaayyyyy overblown the real risks of modern medical treatment. We live longer and better than any time in human history, yet all we do is whine about why it can’t be longer and better still. And we get outraged with any level of risk, with any mistakes however few.
Unproven, untested, alternative medicine isn’t going to solve the problems created by the pharmaceutical industry and its money. It’s just going to waste people’s money on crap that doesn’t help them, lure people away from real treatments with false promises, and hurt people who naively suppose they can get everything for nothing.