I’ve created web content and graphics for a wide variety of clients including Nestle Purina Pet Care, the Organic Center, the Magaziner Center for Wellness, non-profits such as Citizens for Health, Alliance for a Living Ocean, the LBI shack restoration effort and the Truth in Labeling Campaign.
Ghostwriting gigs include crafting the premier e-letter for NewMarket Health, a publishing company based in Baltimore. Health editorial topics included statins, flu vaccines, the dangers of many OTC drugs, natural cures, supplements and dozens of other subjects (see three samples below).
Expecting a cure from Big Pharma? Don’t hold your breath
While the best minds in the world have been able to figure ways to get a man to the moon and back, see our exact location on a GPS device, create a TV as thin as a matchbook cover and make robots a reality, certain discoveries have remained elusive.
A cure for cancer is one.
And what about heart disease, which still kills over 600,000 Americans a year? How is it that high blood pressure requires life-long pharmaceutical intervention?
Sure, there are treatments… but I’m talking about cures. Going on to live your life without being tethered to a drug or a shot or more surgery.
The human body is still a mystery, you might say… it’s extremely complicated. Yes, that’s certainly true.
But quantum physics is no piece of cake, either!
These thoughts occurred to me recently after reading one of the most shocking articles I’ve seen in quite a long time. It was in the financial section, a story about a report just issued by the investment firm Goldman Sachs.
And it tells us something that we’ve suspected all along: Cures aren’t what Big Pharma is after.
The business model for medicine isn’t about making us well… it’s about keeping us sick and dependent on spending more and more on drugs and treatments.
A lifetime commitment
I guess Big Pharma realized somewhere along the way that our trust in the ethics of drugmakers is at the bottom of the barrel.
So, it did what any other business with millions to spend on advertising would do: It went directly to Madison Avenue to get a spinetingling commercial made (complete with music and a dramatic voice-over) to “prove” how sincere and caring these multi-billion-dollar drug companies are.
But it took financial analysists to be able to tell the real story. And while what they said wouldn’t make for a very good television ad, they hit the nail on the head!
When it comes to making money, cures don’t pay.
As an example, the Goldman Sachs money men cited the drug Harvoni. This med, while it can come with some serious side effects, does something most drugs can’t – it cures a life-threatening disease.
In this case, it’s hepatitis C. And it can do that for over 90 percent of those who take it.
Putting aside for a moment the obscene price tag of the med ($1,000 a pill!), the bean counters whine that the Harvoni cure is so successful that is has “gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients.”
Ah, but there’s more!
Not only isn’t providing a cure good business sense, but by restoring all those people to good health (which cost just shy of $100,000 a patient), it decreased the “numbers of carriers” who can transmit the virus to new patients.
And while we keep hearing about wonderful treatments coming down the pipeline, such as gene editing and cell therapy, the report warns about how those “one-shot cures” aren’t good for pharma’s bottom line either.
One analysist said that while these health-restoring innovations are great for patients, any company that wants a “sustained cash flow” will find that financially speaking, curing people is a “challenge.”
I guess it’s like expecting a wigmaker to come up with a cure for baldness or believing that your computer or phone or car should last longer than it took to pay it off.
Not going to happen!
What all this tells us is that it’s time to take a good, long look at any drug or treatment you’re being asked to take. Antidepressants, acid reflux drugs (such as Nexium) and statins are three good examples of meds that pharma expects you to make a lifetime commitment to.
Yet there are plenty of ways to treat these conditions without “marrying” a drug!
It also shows why you need to ask your doctor some hard-hitting questions:
Will this (fill in the blank) cure my condition?
Will it involve continued treatments? And if so, for how long?
What were the outcomes for other patients given this drug or treatment?
But perhaps the most important thing you need to determine is what other options you might have, especially ones that don’t involve drugs.
Because until the time comes when lives become more important to pharma than the almighty dollar, you need to become the CEO of your own body – and have your own business model for being healthy!
These natural antibiotics can do what drugs can’t
You could say that we’re at the 11th hour when it comes to the superbug crisis.
The overuse of important, lifesaving antibiotics has resulted in creating killer microbes that can survive even the most powerful drugs in our arsenal.
If things keep heading towards this doomsday scenario, it could turn common medical procedures deadly. And all doctors will be able to do is just stand by helplessly.
But sometimes the answers to our biggest problems can be right under our noses… and, by the looks of the latest findings, under our feet. too!
Digging for drugs
If you want a good scare, don’t bother searching Netflix for a horror movie – simply check out the CDC’s webpages on “antimicrobial resistance.”
There you’ll find lists of the top drug-resistant threats in the U.S., including Clostridium difficile, or C. diff – also referred to as “deadly diarrhea.” That bug causes over 250,000 infections every year, and 14,000 of those patients don’t survive the ordeal.
The CDC lists that one as “urgent.”
Another deadly microbe on the list is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE.
CRE bacteria, have now become resistant to nearly every available antibiotic. And half of all hospital patients who come down with a CRE infection will die.
It’s no wonder that scientists are starting to look at what first might appear to be a very unlikely place to find new miracle drugs – the soil right under our feet!
It turns out that dirt isn’t just “dirty”… but contains a “reservoir of antibiotics” that we’ve only just begun to unearth.
Microbiologist Dr. Sean Brady has already made a remarkable discovery that could eventually save untold numbers of lives.
Dr. Brady and his team have uncovered a brand new antibiotic class that was extracted from “unknown microorganisms” living in the soil. And this dirt “drug” has already proven its ability to kill some deadly superbugs, such as MRSA!
It appears that the potential in finding antibiotics from dirt is practically unlimited. As Dr. Brady explains it, thousands of varieties of bacteria that live in the soil produce unique molecules that have the ability to become lifesaving antibiotics.
While this is extremely exciting research, unfortunately, these meds won’t be landing in your pharmacy anytime soon.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other equally unlikely places to find some very potent pathogen-killing agents.
And you can start by looking right in your kitchen!
It turns out that the herb garlic does a lot more than just send vampires packing! In fact, allicin, the microbe-killing compound found in fresh garlic, is effective against a wide-variety of germs, including drug-resistant E. coli.
While fresh garlic is a kitchen staple for cooking up your favorite pasta or stir fry dish, it can also be eaten raw to help fight colds and sinus infections.
For an effective remedy, combine some chopped garlic with other powerful natural antibiotics.
Another herbal superhero is oregano. It contains the compound carvacrol, a tiny bit of which can not only zap MRSA, but has been found to be more effective than 18 different drugs!
And one of the oldest traditional medicines known to man is, believe it or not, raw honey.
Now, you might think that using honey for infections and as a wound dressing is simply an old wives’ tale. But honey has been scientifically studied up and down and all around… and confirmed to have “broad-spectrum antibacterial activity.”
One kind in particular, called manuka honey, is especially powerful. This type of honey comes exclusively from the nectar of manuka trees that are native to Australia and New Zealand, so it will cost a bit more. But considering that it can vanquish superbugs when antibiotics can’t, I’d say it’s well worth the price!
Whatever kind of honey you buy, make sure it’s raw — meaning unheated, unpasteurized, and unprocessed. Typical supermarket honeys are not only stripped of their amazing health properties, but can also be fakes… mixed with HFCS or sugar syrup!
It’s obvious that Mother Nature’s pharmacy is stocked and ready to provide us with most everything required to stay healthy. We just need to rediscover the bounty that’s been at our disposal all along.
A ‘disease’ that went right from a PowerPoint to your doctor’s office
You might think that new drugs are created to treat diseases. But more and more Big Pharma creates a disease to sell its drugs.
It’s a case of what I call OPM, or “overactive pharma marketing.” And OPM is very contagious.
You might wake up one morning feeling fine only to find out you suddenly have a disease. That’s what happened to over 46 million Americans who suddenly learned they had come down with “OAB” — overactive bladder.
Now maybe that sounds like a real medical issue. But, in fact, overactive bladder came right off the PowerPoint presentation of a drug company VP. It was designed and marketed as creatively as a new iPhone or Kindle is.
And because of that, OAB is now a very important disease. The market is so big that new drugs are being approved to treat it all the time.
Now, a dozen years after someone invented OAB, we’re learning that those drugs don’t work very well and can cause “life-threatening harm.”
You’ve seen the commercials with the girl who walks around putting giant numbers in her purse showing how many times she has to “go” during a night on the town. And that’s from the National Women’s Health Resource Center – it’s a public service announcement!
So this must be an important medical condition, right?
Well, no…overactive bladder came directly from the brilliant marketing mind of a man named Neil Wolf. He was the VP of Pharmacia, a drug company that has since been purchased by Pfizer.
Wolf was working hard to expand a condition called “urge incontinence” to sell more of his company’s drug, Detrol. The market for people who had this problem of accidently “peeing in their pants” wasn’t big enough to sell millions of pills.
And, it’s also kind of embarrassing. People weren’t telling their doctors about it often enough to get big Rx sales.
So Wolf’s idea was to make the market bigger. He rebranded the condition to include those who just had a strong urge to make lots of trips to the bathroom. And he wasn’t shy about what he was doing either.
In 2002 he presented his strategy called “Positioning Detrol: Creating a Disease.”
Wolf became the Don Draper of the pharma world.
One of his slides is called “Critical success factors.” And it lays out what needs to be done. Things like, “establish OAB as a serious medical condition with profound negative impact on people’s quality of life.”
Another part of the plan was called simply “Creating OAB.” And that slide shows a star with the points touching each group needed to make this new disease a success. One part of the star said “regulators,” meaning the FDA.
That part of the plan has worked really, really well. So well, in fact, that the FDA has continued to approve drugs for OAB all these years. Even ones that its own experts say are only a teeny bit better than a placebo!
In 2012 it gave the green light for Myrbetriq to hit the pharmacy shelf. Now this Rx for OAB has a whole bunch of side effects that are pretty serious, like heart problems, cancer, liver damage, UTIs, high blood pressure, and…“trouble emptying your bladder.” Talk about going from bad to worse.
And when the FDA got together its advisory committee meeting to review this drug, most of the talk was about the fact that it doesn’t do much for people with OAB. That’s right! All those risks for a drug whose benefits were called “almost as marginal as is possible.”
But the FDA approved it anyway! Neil Wolf should be very proud of himself.
The committee did spend lots of time commending the drug company for doing a really good job in putting all the studies, facts and figures together.
And many made a point of saying how well placebo seemed to work on this condition.
But then, as one doctor said, “we’re not licensing placebo.”
Actually, I think that sounds like it would have been a much better idea.
After all, when you’re dealing with a made-up condition, licensing placebo for it makes perfect sense.