This week, we’re pleased to run the article “How to Fix Our Failing Health Care System?” by holistic dentist Dr. Steven Green, starting with today’s installment, “The Great American Drug Culture.”
Besides providing general dental and health care, Dr. Green has been treating functional somatic facial syndromes involving fatigue, pain, inflammation and spasm for more than 40 years. He has the perspective of a second generation family primary care practitioner, with four generations of patients (and now he has four of his own grandchildren to observe).
Dr. Green’s father, Henry Green, DDS, practiced dentistry in Michigan during the time of “focal-infection” philosophy of wholesale extractions in the 1940s and then moved to Miami to “start saving teeth” from 1946 to 1979. It was Steven’s admiration of his dad as doctor that led to his interest in dentistry. His parents encouraged early development of fine nerve-motor development and artistic balance by enrolling Steven in many art classes through the years, especially at the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum.
Dr. Steven Green learned all he could about teeth, gums, bones, jaws, occlusion and treating facial pain (at Dad’s behest) and graduated with honors from the University of Detroit School of Dentistry in 1969. He was awarded membership in the honoraries, Omicron Kappa Upsilon and Alpha Sigma Nu, and was asked to teach clinical periodontics until he entered the Navy.
During the Vietnam War and Navy service, with rotations in operative dentistry, periodontics, endodontics and oral surgery, along with a year in prosthetics, his dental skills were honed. Wartime experiences created life-long interests in relieving pain and improving human performance with nutrition. The toxicity of seven mercury-containing vaccinations received in one day combined with spending a full year on the “amalgam line” in the clinic wing where 20 operatories ground, mixed and placed mercury amalgams all day long fueled and accentuated his combative passion for perfection. Dr. Green returned to Miami in 1972. He practiced under the strong wing of his father for a year, then opened his own practice.
Eventually diagnosed with lymphoma, he recovered his energy and immune balance using a combination of therapies. Although writing, research and teaching are burning interests, Dr. Green’s first love is “doing good work,” being constantly educated and grounded by making a difference one on one consulting in primary family clinical care.
President Obama said at the Healthcare Summit this past February, “Almost all of the long-term deficit and debt that we face relates to the exploding costs of Medicare and Medicaid. Almost all of it! That is the single biggest driver of our federal deficit. And if we don’t get control over that, we can’t get control over our federal budget.”
And yet, the legal drug industry generated well over one half trillion dollars profit last year.
When the relatively weak public option was still on the table – the one limited just to the exchange indicated in the House health care bill – the option would have gained roughly one-fifth of that market (around 6 million people). It would have taken in roughly $300 billion in direct premiums, exchange subsidies and risk adjustment payments from 2013-2019.
However, with the public option removed and just the individual mandate remaining, that $300 billion will instead go straight to the private insurance corporations’ books. It is likely that the popularity of the public option was underestimated, however, and that the actual amount taken away from the insurance companies would have been closer to $500 billion. No wonder it was shelved!
Our insurance and pharmaceutical companies have used insurance codes owned by the American Medical Association to become a functional medical cartel and have captured the very government regulatory agencies meant to monitor them.
Whether the issue is fluoride, mercury or bisphenol A, the revolving door at the FDA supports corporate industrial growth over individual safety rights almost every time. FDA has become little more than a policing arm of the pharmaceutical industry, repressing any meaningful alternative method to drugs. The fox is guarding the henhouse.
Big Pharma has repeatedly been caught giving generous, secret payments to prestigious doctors to dishonestly promote expanding uses of their drugs (based on faked statistics or disingenuous interpretations of the scientific evidence). Drug companies pay plush honorariums at and directly support prestigious medical conferences. They advertise heavily in peer-reviewed journals, as well as on TV and in newspapers and magazines.
These corporations pay sophisticated professionals millions to mold their public image positively, and make us accept, forget and forgive all the depression, pain, suffering and death that their drugs create as side effects.
Pharmaceutical interests emerge worldwide through infiltration of UN committees that promote WHO initiatives. Pharmaceutical cartel money secretly supports various governmental and medical association health pronouncements, and funnels proceeds of many nonprofit and charitable organizations to its own ends.
Pharmaceutical companies are aware that the public, particularly older people, are skeptical of the claims made in advertising. By contrast, nonprofit, community-based organizations are both well known and highly trusted. Furthermore, citizens prefer to support nonprofit organizations and are likely to be positive about drug company campaigns associated with them. Consumers also believe that the products associated with nonprofits are safe and fully endorsed by these organizations.
For these reasons, pharmaceutical companies deliberately use non-profit organizations to: 1) increase sales of specific products, 2) increase their reputation as good corporate citizens, 3) build brand loyalties, 4) help in the differentiation of products and 5) help develop relationships with potential customers.
Existing patient groups or those specifically created by pharmaceutical companies are commonly used to indirectly or directly promote various drugs. Most patient campaigns begin with “unrestricted educational grants” or other funding, and are geared towards increasing recognition of the “disorder.” Patient groups are often used to increase sales by making “disorders” more widely known and to increase pressure on government or private health insurers to pay for drug treatment.
State courts regularly and successfully sue pharmaceutical corporations for millions of dollars of costs incurred by hidden (but later discovered to be known by the maker) long-term side effects of medications (subsequently found to be inappropriately approved and prescribed) in various state-supported “health” programs. Well-intentioned programs, private and governmental, designed to help the disadvantaged are often seen as opportunities for plunder and co-opted by the medical mafia.
The nonmedical use or abuse of mind-altering and addictive prescription drugs is a serious and growing public health problem in this country. The elderly are among those most vulnerable to prescription drug abuse or misuse because they are prescribed more medications than their younger counterparts. Most people take prescription medications responsibly; however, about 48 million people (ages 12 and older) have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons (20% of the U.S. population).
Our elderly are drowning in unnecessary medication – from aspirin and acid-blockers to cholesterol-lowering drugs – that cause all the conditions associated with old age: physical instability, forgetfulness, incontinence and cognitive decline or dementia. Polypharmacy – when more than one drug is prescribed at a time – has rarely been tested and, although frequently practiced, is scientifically unproven.
Theoretically, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases are caused by amyloids composed of misfolded beta peptides. Current drug candidates for Alzheimer’s target these amyloid structures, either by inhibiting the cutting of beta peptides to prevent the formation of amyloids or by creating truncated forms of the beta peptides that do not form amyloids. Unfortunately, these drugs worsen symptoms and hasten progression. They create harmful non-amyloidgenic peptides that form ion channels. These channels encourage the cells to absorb very high levels of calcium ions, which damage synaptic efficiency. Eventually, they kill neurons, causing memory loss.
Also alarming is the fact that the 2004 National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA’s) Monitoring the Future survey found that 9.3% of 12th-graders used Vicodin without a prescription in the past year, and 5.0% reported using OxyContin, making these controlled substances among the most commonly abused prescription drugs by adolescents. “NIDA hopes to decrease the prevalence of this problem by increasing awareness and promoting additional research on prescription drug abuse,” said Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
But there are other forms of drug “abuse,” as well. Gary Null, Ph.D., lead author of the important and fully-referenced report “Death by Medicine,” has shown that the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs is approximately 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year.
Over-medicalization in general carries its own risks. According to Null’s report, the number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million, and the number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually, 8.9 million.
However, what’s most astounding is the total number of deaths due to all causes from medical intervention: 783,936 per year. This is nearly the entire population of Indianapolis, the 14th largest US city according to the last census, and it easily makes conventional medical care the leading cause of death and injury in the US. (To compare, in 2001, the number of deaths blamed on heart disease was 699,697; while the number of cancer deaths was 553,251.) This is, it should be noted, a conservative estimate, for as few as 5% and no more than 20% of iatrogenic acts (harmful results produced when good was intended) are actually compiled. If medical errors were completely and accurately reported, we would have a much higher annual iatrogenic death toll.
Coming Wednesday – “Part 2: Some Unsettling Truths About Western Medicine’s Drug ‘Cures’”