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Alternative Medicine Indeed!
Posted: 05 August 2009 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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New York Times

By NATASHA SINGER
Published: August 4, 2009

Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by a pharmaceutical company played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, suggesting that the level of hidden industry influence on medical literature is broader than previously known.
The articles, published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005, emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that paid a medical communications firm to draft the papers, as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001.

Yes we all know about some of the consequences of Hormone therapy in women.
Here is just more of what I and others have been saying in this Forum. There’s also a nice POI podcast called “The Sins of Big Pharma” This is by Barry Beyerstein. Great podcast! Funny these topics don’t come up so much here.
Give me a beak! This is one of the dozens of examples that can be shown, if not hundreds, that “Real” medicine is darn near as corrupt, and broken than most other forms of Alt Meds.
This real medicine is what’s responsible for stymieing health care reform too.

[ Edited: 05 August 2009 10:34 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 05 August 2009 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Vyazma I think its unfair to paint all medical research as corrupt because of a few bad apples. Most researchers that I know are hard working and honest. At least traditional medicine makes an attempt at good science even if there are occasional corrupt influences. In contrast, alternative medicine is corrupt at its very core because it doesn’t even attempt to use the scientific method although they sometimes pretend that they do.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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macgyver - 05 August 2009 10:50 AM

Vyazma I think its unfair to paint all medical research as corrupt because of a few bad apples. Most researchers that I know are hard working and honest. At least traditional medicine makes an attempt at good science even if there are occasional corrupt influences. In contrast, alternative medicine is corrupt at its very core because it doesn’t even attempt to use the scientific method although they sometimes pretend that they do.

Agreed.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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macgyver - 05 August 2009 10:50 AM

Vyazma I think its unfair to paint all medical research as corrupt because of a few bad apples. Most researchers that I know are hard working and honest. At least traditional medicine makes an attempt at good science even if there are occasional corrupt influences. In contrast, alternative medicine is corrupt at its very core because it doesn’t even attempt to use the scientific method although they sometimes pretend that they do.

Well, I’m a consumer. You are a practitioner of these very sciences.
We’ve been round this Mulberry Bush before. Really, sometimes I find it funny that you and other healthcare proffessionals immediately come to the defense of these transgressions. Of course I know that a certain amount of that defense is warranted, and acceptable. But sometimes I perceive maybe a hint of bias.
Besides, I routinely see all forms of Alternative Meds lambasted here as well. When we could easily ascertain some form of benefit from some of these treatments.
If it were possible to determine the percentage of “bad apples”, then we could argue more effectively. However, like alt-meds, traditional medicine has a stranglehold on information, and legislation.
And although you, MacGeyver, and others are an exception to the rule, it is no falsehood to say that line between traditional meds, and alt meds is often blurry in the Greater Medical Industry as a whole.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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VYAZMA - 05 August 2009 11:18 AM

Sometimes I find it funny that you and other healthcare proffessionals immediately come to the defense of these transgressions. Of course I know that a certain amount of that defense is warranted, and acceptable. But sometimes I perceive maybe a hint of bias.
Besides, I routinely see all forms of Alternative Meds lambasted here as well. When we could easily ascertain some form of benefit from some of these treatments.

The bias is in favor of treatments that have been objectively shown to work. Alt med is defined as treatments that have not been tested properly and shown to work. As such, selling them as effective treatments is simply cheating the sick.

Some of them might eventually be shown to work, yes, but until they are shown to work they should not be advertised or sold as medication to treat or cure disease. (And as a matter of fact almost all of what passes for alt med now has been tested, and failed. That is, it has been shown not to work).

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Posted: 05 August 2009 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I agree that most medical researchers are ethical and doing good work.  However, I understand Vyazma’s comment.  Both because of the large amount of money spent by an organization that manages to corrupt a scientist or his/her results then institutes a widespread publicity campaign, and the equally widespread coverage by the news media when such activities are exposed, it appears that the corruption is widespread.  This along with the reports of unbelievable amounts of money the pharmaceutical industry is pouring into the coffers of legislators can’t help but degrade the image of these companies in the eyes of the public.

Occam

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Posted: 05 August 2009 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Occam - 05 August 2009 11:32 AM

Both because of the large amount of money spent by an organization that manages to corrupt a scientist or his/her results then institutes a widespread publicity campaign, and the equally widespread coverage by the news media when such activities are exposed, it appears that the corruption is widespread.  This along with the reports of unbelievable amounts of money the pharmaceutical industry is pouring into the coffers of legislators can’t help but degrade the image of these companies in the eyes of the public.

Yes, on that we are agreed, although I don’t know how you can stop the industry from lobbying. Likely that would be viewed as unconstitutional by the courts. However, all medical advertising should cease. It’s a vast waste of money.

But this has nothing to do with alt med; the people involved in alt med are just as up to their necks paying off legislators and advertising products. Only in their case, none of the products actually does anything other than make money for the alt med companies.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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dougsmith - 05 August 2009 11:29 AM
VYAZMA - 05 August 2009 11:18 AM

Sometimes I find it funny that you and other healthcare proffessionals immediately come to the defense of these transgressions. Of course I know that a certain amount of that defense is warranted, and acceptable. But sometimes I perceive maybe a hint of bias.
Besides, I routinely see all forms of Alternative Meds lambasted here as well. When we could easily ascertain some form of benefit from some of these treatments.

The bias is in favor of treatments that have been objectively shown to work. Alt med is defined as treatments that have not been tested properly and shown to work. As such, selling them as effective treatments is simply cheating the sick.

Some of them might eventually be shown to work, yes, but until they are shown to work they should not be advertised or sold as medication to treat or cure disease. (And as a matter of fact almost all of what passes for alt med now has been tested, and failed. That is, it has been shown not to work).

This black and white argument is getting old. Here is a NYT article showing, not for the first time, Pharmaceutical Companies using unfair, non-scientific methods to sell their products for billions of $$$ profit, at the expense of peoples health and well being.
Products that were dispensed by Doctors just like Thalidomide, Vioxx, pysch-meds( which cause suicides) horomone treatments that cause breast cancer. These are the ones I can name off-hand.
In the past there have been incidents cited where the FDA was in bed with pharmaceutical cos. Of course, I supoose it is ethical for the massive amounts of Campaign contributions given by the AMA, the Pharma, and other Scientific Med outlets. How about the Universities that have to compete for funding based on the amount of marketable products they can create.
Take the blinders off!! Give me a break!

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Posted: 05 August 2009 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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VYAZMA - 05 August 2009 11:18 AM
macgyver - 05 August 2009 10:50 AM

Vyazma I think its unfair to paint all medical research as corrupt because of a few bad apples. Most researchers that I know are hard working and honest. At least traditional medicine makes an attempt at good science even if there are occasional corrupt influences. In contrast, alternative medicine is corrupt at its very core because it doesn’t even attempt to use the scientific method although they sometimes pretend that they do.

Well, I’m a consumer. You are a practitioner of these very sciences.
We’ve been round this Mulberry Bush before. Really, sometimes I find it funny that you and other healthcare proffessionals immediately come to the defense of these transgressions. Of course I know that a certain amount of that defense is warranted, and acceptable. But sometimes I perceive maybe a hint of bias.
Besides, I routinely see all forms of Alternative Meds lambasted here as well. When we could easily ascertain some form of benefit from some of these treatments.
If it were possible to determine the percentage of “bad apples”, then we could argue more effectively. However, like alt-meds, traditional medicine has a stranglehold on information, and legislation.
And although you, MacGeyver, and others are an exception to the rule, it is no falsehood to say that line between traditional meds, and alt meds is often blurry in the Greater Medical Industry as a whole.

Vyazma, I think unless you have evidence to the contrary you are obliged to assume that most people are innocent of this. A few anectdotal cases does not imply that everyone is corrupt and my personal observation are that they are not. I do not defend these practices. You are misreading my comments. Corruption in any form is a cancer. All I am saying is that you have provided no evidence that these bad apples are representative of medical researchers on the whole.

There is a clear line between alt meds and trad meds as doug has already pointed out. By definition, ad alternative treatment is one which has not undergone the rigors of scientific medical trials. It is incredibly corrupt to promote such treatments to the public since they have never been tested for safety or efficacy. So there is a clear line sperating alt meds from trad. meds.  Its not blurry at all.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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VYAZMA - 05 August 2009 11:40 AM

This black and white argument is getting old. Here is a NYT article showing, not for the first time, Pharmaceutical Companies using unfair, non-scientific methods to sell their products for billions of $$$ profit, at the expense of peoples health and well being.
Products that were dispensed by Doctors just like Thalidomide, Vioxx, pysch-meds( which cause suicides) horomone treatments that cause breast cancer. These are the ones I can name off-hand.
In the past there have been incidents cited where the FDA was in bed with pharmaceutical cos. Of course, I supoose it is ethical for the massive amounts of Campaign contributions given by the AMA, the Pharma, and other Scientific Med outlets. How about the Universities that have to compete for funding based on the amount of marketable products they can create.
Take the blinders off!! Give me a break!

Vyazma, your argument has nothing to do with alt med. Sure, some pharma companies have oversold their medications in some way, although your list of cases is poorly chosen. All medication has side effects, which is to say, for any medication on the market there are some people who will not react well to taking it. That doesn’t make the medication ineffective. (And FYI Thalidomide was not released in the US because the FDA blocked it).

Insofar as pharma companies mislead the public they should be punished. The difference is that alt med purveyors mislead the public literally 100% of the time. They do nothing except mislead.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 11:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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macgyver - 05 August 2009 11:46 AM

It is incredibly corrupt to promote such treatments to the public since they have never been tested for safety or efficacy. So there is a clear line sperating alt meds from trad. meds.  Its not blurry at all.

This is the point. And in blurring the line between traditional and “alternative” meds, Vyazma, you are supporting this sort of unethical behavior.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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dougsmith - 05 August 2009 11:50 AM
macgyver - 05 August 2009 11:46 AM

It is incredibly corrupt to promote such treatments to the public since they have never been tested for safety or efficacy. So there is a clear line sperating alt meds from trad. meds.  Its not blurry at all.

This is the point. And in blurring the line between traditional and “alternative” meds, Vyazma, you are supporting this sort of unethical behavior.

LOL  LOL  LOL  I said my peace, I’ll let it go at that. I’ve tried this before. There is a POI podcast which is sympathetic to my claims.
Wyeth blurred the lines between alt-meds and Science meds-Not me!
I’m outnumbered here. There are plenty of sources and people who understand exactly what I’m talking about.
Again it is a big mystery to me why this “skeptical” community here doesn’t pay more attention to it. Then again the question was raised the other day about CFI’s stance on Healthcare reform. You and others replied it was neutral.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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There is a clear line between alt meds and trad meds as doug has already pointed out. By definition, ad alternative treatment is one which has not undergone the rigors of scientific medical trials. It is incredibly corrupt to promote such treatments to the public since they have never been tested for safety or efficacy. So there is a clear line sperating alt meds from trad. meds.  Its not blurry at all.

It’s not blurry? No? Are there doctors who support chiropractory? Massage? Various unguents? Aloe for example, which I have seen here as being labeled as woo? Now, I don’t know if aloe is woo, or not, I don’t really care. But are you telling me that no doctor has ever recommended aloe. For example!!
Are you telling me that large science based companies, don’t also have their hands in the production, and marketing of items which I have seen described as Woo here?

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Posted: 05 August 2009 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I’m actually kind of stunned at Doug and Macgyver’s commentary on this thread.  I’m with Vyz, the big Pharma is just as corrupt as the alternative med group.  For some reason, both of you are under the impression that because the big Pharma “follow the rules” and have the necessary clinical trials, then they are somehow “ethical” and the alternative med group is not.  I’m sorry but you are splitting hairs on snake oil salesmen.  Sure the big Pharma, in conjunction with legitimate scientific research, have come up with many very helpful pharmaceuticals.  But they are just as motivated to sell b.s. as helpful meds.  Take this link, and I hate myself for even finding it useful, from Fox news (grrr) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525643,00.html?sPage=fnc/health/alternative
In this article, it lists lots of big Pharma who make a lot of the vitamins and supplements that recent studies have shown do very little or nothing at all.  Conclusion:  After a median follow-up of 8.0 and 7.9 years in the clinical trial and observational study cohorts, respectively, the Women’s Health Initiative study provided convincing evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, CVD, or total mortality in postmenopausal women. ( http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/3/294 )

I worked from 1998 to 2001 for a pharmaceutical teledetailing firm.  Everytime we got a new contract with many of the big Pharma (Pfizer, Merck, Wyeth, SKB, Beiersdorf, etc) they would send out the product trainers and we would be trained on not only what the product does, the basics of the disease or illness it treats; but also, we would be trained on what to say to the doctors and staff.  Sometimes, they were completely by the numbers, but other times they would tell us to push different “off-label” uses.  Neurontin was one in particular that I remember that doctors were encouraged to try for a litany of uses, even depression, because it was considered “safe-enough”. They didn’t “follow the rules” and get the clinical trials paid for to prove these uses were safe.  No, the big Pharma was willing to take doctor anecdotal info as good enough.  Of course, we were trained in the exact “right” way to bring this up so that it seemed like the doctor or NP was discovering the use for themselves.  I also remember a similar lack of “ethics” with Ambien prescribers.  Some of the doctors we talked to prescribed that for arthritis!!  The big Pharma are well aware that the doctors aren’t always “following the rules” with prescribing, and, in a some cases, they are counting on it.

I think there is a little naivety in some of the responses to Vyz.

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Posted: 05 August 2009 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Chicken, I don’t think it is Naivety. I think there is some “party” allegiance here. A strict adherence to a doctrine.
Too many absolutes are being projected, and there are obviously tons of grey areas. The blurriness I spoke of. To say nothing of the complete sham which has always taken place in a Large percentage of “Science-Based” medicines.
The preponderance of threads here concerned with bashing Alt-meds(of which I have no sympathies for)begins to highlight a counter-point; that being the complete lack of any discussion of the “other side of the fence”. Therefore it isn’t naivety.
Aside from that thanks for the props! grin  Occam too!  I know I step out on a limb when I take up this topic, here in this Forum.

[ Edited: 05 August 2009 04:21 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 05 August 2009 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Chicken - 05 August 2009 03:43 PM

I’m actually kind of stunned at Doug and Macgyver’s commentary on this thread.  I’m with Vyz, the big Pharma is just as corrupt as the alternative med group.  For some reason, both of you are under the impression that because the big Pharma “follow the rules” and have the necessary clinical trials, then they are somehow “ethical” and the alternative med group is not.  I’m sorry but you are splitting hairs on snake oil salesmen.  Sure the big Pharma, in conjunction with legitimate scientific research, have come up with many very helpful pharmaceuticals.  But they are just as motivated to sell b.s. as helpful meds.  Take this link, and I hate myself for even finding it useful, from Fox news (grrr) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525643,00.html?sPage=fnc/health/alternative
In this article, it lists lots of big Pharma who make a lot of the vitamins and supplements that recent studies have shown do very little or nothing at all.  Conclusion:  After a median follow-up of 8.0 and 7.9 years in the clinical trial and observational study cohorts, respectively, the Women’s Health Initiative study provided convincing evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, CVD, or total mortality in postmenopausal women. ( http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/169/3/294 )

I worked from 1998 to 2001 for a pharmaceutical teledetailing firm.  Everytime we got a new contract with many of the big Pharma (Pfizer, Merck, Wyeth, SKB, Beiersdorf, etc) they would send out the product trainers and we would be trained on not only what the product does, the basics of the disease or illness it treats; but also, we would be trained on what to say to the doctors and staff.  Sometimes, they were completely by the numbers, but other times they would tell us to push different “off-label” uses.  Neurontin was one in particular that I remember that doctors were encouraged to try for a litany of uses, even depression, because it was considered “safe-enough”. They didn’t “follow the rules” and get the clinical trials paid for to prove these uses were safe.  No, the big Pharma was willing to take doctor anecdotal info as good enough.  Of course, we were trained in the exact “right” way to bring this up so that it seemed like the doctor or NP was discovering the use for themselves.  I also remember a similar lack of “ethics” with Ambien prescribers.  Some of the doctors we talked to prescribed that for arthritis!!  The big Pharma are well aware that the doctors aren’t always “following the rules” with prescribing, and, in a some cases, they are counting on it.

I think there is a little naivety in some of the responses to Vyz.

With all due respect, I don’t think you or Vyazma have been reading my posts very carefully. Your point about multivitamin use is one I made, in the thread on vitamin D. Your point about oversell by pharma companies is one I made as well, and said that pharma companies should be punished for it.

The problem is that this is completely irrelevant when we are discussing alternative medicine. It’s as though I were discussing the fact that Moriarty is a murderer, and you tell me that his neighbor also was a thief. His neighbor’s being a thief is irrelevant to whether or not Moriarty was a murderer. Sure, pharma companies do bad things. They also produce the only drugs that are actually safe and effective. Alt med companies do nothing other than cheat the public.

[ Edited: 05 August 2009 04:46 PM by dougsmith ]
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