Corruption of the health industry

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
Anyone who is aware of Obama's newly appointed head of the FDA and is as gravely concerned as me, as well as anyone who has methodically investigated the long term and global scale corruption of the health and pharmaceutical industry will find some valid points herein. If you are a "pop a pill for all ailments" person i would strongly consider reading this and if you find my research to be in anyway inconclusive feel free to take it upon yourself and further educate yourself on the subject.

Submitted: February 06, 2012

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Submitted: February 06, 2012

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Profit or Health?

The practice of taking a drug for every ache and illness has become too main-stream, especially as some prescription drug’s long-term and immediate side effects are often hastily disregarded when prescribed. Simple ailments such as a headache or stomach ache can be easily avoided by making sure we are giving our body proper sustenance.  Although modern pharmaceutical drugs have proven effective at times they are often unnecessary and readily suggested without proper diagnosis. 

 Our body’s immune system is designed to fight off most diseases and to take care of the body but like a car if not properly maintained its efficiency at doing its job will begin to diminish as it no longer has what is necessary to function. The FDA Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock agrees that “…a lot of drug safety problems are actually preventable, [because] most adverse events are from known side effects. The main health issues happening right now are easily reversed but have become so common due to human error. The release of deteriorating gasses into our atmosphere is letting in more and more harmful and cancerous UV rays, and there is nothing to blame but our own carelessness. Obesity is becoming more and more likely through our everyday diets and it is becoming more and more difficult to keep healthy.

When the food everywhere is becoming bad for us to eat we have a problem.  When even our children’s schools offer  mainly un-nutritious, fatty, sugar filled snacks that provide absolutely no nutrition we clearly are not putting our resources where we need them. Obesity is a very prominent issue in America but fingers are being pointed in the wrong direction. Katie Wilson, President of the School Nutrition Association says “Schools can either provide only healthy foods and go into debt, or allow unhealthy options, which generate revenue but are also a contributing factor to weight gain” (Bornstein). We cannot blame the schools because they have no funding to provide healthy meals to students. Doing so would be a large loss of the schools budget making it unaffordable to offer healthy choices and a necessity to encourage vending machines in order to attempt to regain some revenue.

Schools have the option to purchase lunches from the USDA and offer sufficiently healthier food but at an often unaffordable price. The FSLP(Federal School Lunch Program) offers to reimburse 22 cents per student to schools that are participating in the program(Bernstein). With the cost of school lunch being $2.53 and the cost of preparation for each meal being $2.83 even being reimbursed 22 cents there is still an 11 cent deficit per child. Accounting for the estimated 29.6 million children in schools today, if every school were too sign up for this program the total deficit would be about $-3.2 million per day. This is a known statistic with nothing being done to change it or help fund healthier lunches. Large food companies offer large amounts of processed packaged lunches which require little preparation making them much more cost effective, but also not providing enough to keep a developing child healthy.

Congress recently passed a bill saying that as long as school pizzas have a certain amount of tomato paste on them they can be constituted as a vegetable. As anyone can agree this is absolutely absurd and the only logical incentive for this bill being passed is so that the food companies that do make large profits from school lunch programs can continue making this money. Many health professionals agree that “the issue isn’t about removing children’s ability to make choices, it’s about providing healthy options and making it harder for them to access bad foods” (Schumacher). It is obvious that these extremely politically influential companies have gone through great measures to make sure that their profit margins do not decrease, even at the cost of our youth’s health. So we cannot solely blame any specific part of our countries health industry, when every angle is contributing.

People use drugs to cover up illnesses that can all be reversed with proper diet and cutting out all the harmful chemicals in the foods we eat every single day. So it’s really all a big circle, perpetuated by consumer’s money. And it’s all avoidable. Humans wouldn’t contract diseases and illnesses as easily if we weren’t subject to harmful substances in everything we eat, and in the air we breathe. Therefore, it’s quite simply a paradox where the chemicals in the food people are exposed to daily and the chemicals in the air we breathe keep up our need for excessive drug use, or the belief that these drugs are needed to stay healthy. It is the FDA’s responsibility to be protecting the public from these apparently harmful substances but they have ceaselessly let everybody down as is obvious in Americas unanimous decent into poor health.

Many drug companies have begun to disregard health as the most important issue as well deciding the approval of a drug whereas the wide spread use of their new product has become more important. “The same FDA officials who approve the drugs are responsible for monitoring them after they are on the market, which gives them an obvious disincentive to say that the drugs they earlier certified as safe were now unsafe” (Bremner). The FDA should be more closely and thoughtfully regulated and there should be no immediate personal gain/loss to those in charge of a new products approval. Theoretically this would combat corruption and ensure that the best, safest choice is made.  This is often very prominent in major drug corporations who are in charge of providing the FDA information and case studies on potential drugs. Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock made a public statement claiming that “The nation’s drug-safety system had pretty much broken down”. This is indeed very alarming and calls for immediate attention. The fact that the person in charge of a government appointed department like the Food and Drug Administration can openly make a remark regarding the ineffectiveness of an organization and have no immediate reaction regarding the FDA’s policies should entirely prove my point.

According to the FDA, its standards promise that approved drugs will “…work correctly and that their health benefits will outweigh their known risks.”  However, this is not the case as over 75% of medical devices recalled over the last five years did not undergo FDA pre-market approval based on required clinical testing and inspections according to a study done by the National Research Center for Woman and Families. Why does the main company in charge of protecting us from harmful drugs have such a poor excuse for it’s in depth research? Well according to the New England Journal of Medicine “The FDA, for a long time now, is sort of a revolving door for the drug industry employees, who go through their FDA mandate just to swing back to better positions in the pharmaceutical industry.” (HealthKnot) Seeing as how many officials in the FDA bounce around from department to department, it could mainly be out of fear of burning down bridges to potential future job positions by debunking a drug which would be very profitable to the company.

The majority of doctors who prescribe patients with new drugs often have a miniscule amount of extremely bias information about the drug that is given to them by drug company representatives. Most of these representatives have no medical education or prior experience and are usually attractive college graduates there to hopefully distract and otherwise mislead professionals from the facts. These representatives often bring charts and statistics which are blatantly not supported by any scientific data. They offer monetary incentives such as spa passes and paid vacations to convince medical professionals to stock their hospitals with these new and not always FDA approved drugs. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that “nearly 90% of those creating practical guidelines for U.S. physicians are, in some way, on the payroll of the pharmaceutical industry”. This is much more common than you would think.

Many common cold and flu medications are useless and do absolutely nothing as antibiotics treat only bacteria. Many illnesses that you go to the doctor for such as a simple cold cannot be treated by any medications, but you are still handed a prescription and encouraged to take the drugs when it you are more likely to get better eating chicken noodle soup and cuddling up in bed for a day or two. But to tell a patient that would seem apathetic and may seem apathetic. Viruses are not caused by bacteria and because so, antibiotics do absolutely nothing to help the symptoms but are still the most commonly prescribed drugs on the market.

Now to address the excuses that pharmaceutical companies give to combat skepticism and shoo away naysayers. The first being the cost, why does medicine cost so much more than the cost of production and distribution combined. Well the first fallacy would be that this money perpetuates research which is critical to the discovery and testing of potential new wonder drugs, although the majority of new drugs that are discovered are found at universities which have funding from student tuition as well as many generous donations. Another point that proves interesting is that we need this medicine and we will pay whatever we have to too be healthy, but “Americans spend twice as much on drugs and take twice as many drugs as those in other industrialized countries yet we have the worst health.”(Bremner) So we are paying twice as much to take drugs we don’t need and still are unhealthy.

The vast majority of the money that we pump into pharmaceutical companies is put into luring in more unsuspecting misinformed citizens. Drug manufacturers claim that these highly expensive and often addictive drugs revenue is also necessary to spread information and to educate doctors and people alike, spending an astonishing 80% of their revenue on advertising. But why do we have the worst health, pay half as much as any other country, and are also one out of the only two countries in the industrialized world that legalizes the advertisement of prescription medication on television. The answer is simple, Profit.


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