A story in US News & World Report caught my eye last month because of the precedent-setting implications it has for healthcare in the US. An Irish pharmaceutical company sued the FDA for “First Amendment” rights to promote “off-label” uses of a drug. They won.
To quote one of their lawyers, James Beck, “This is the first case where a company has achieved the right, for First Amendment purposes, to engage in off-label promotion.” “Off-Label” use is one for which the drug has not received FDA approval.
That used to be illegal! As a matter of fact, the largest criminal and civil judgments in history have been against pharmaceutical companies for doing that very thing. And now it isn’t – at least in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.
The problem is that now, legal precedence has been set. Other courts will tend to review cases with this one in mind and may very well conclude that the question of “off-label” promotion has been (in legal language) “asked and answered.”
The US is the only significant market in the world without any price controls on pharmaceuticals. We are where Big Pharma makes its billions in profit. That’s why every US television channel is inundated with drug ads. Where there are billions to be made, there are millions available to advertise.
That kind of advertising is one of the reasons 25% of everyone over 40 in the US is now on a statin cholesterol-lowering drug – in spite of the alarming side effects and lack of impact on mortality. Advertising creates demand, demand fuels sales, and sales justify even more advertising!
Now that the pharmaceutical companies may be free to promote even more vigorously, who knows what they’ll be pushing down our throats next? These are some of the largest companies in the world, and they are designed to make money, period.
Doctors in the US are already overloaded between patient care, government-mandated paperwork and fighting with insurance companies to get paid for their work. (Trust me, I’ve been speaking with them almost daily for the last 8 years or so.) As evidence of this overload, consider that 440,000 of the deaths in the headline above are the result of “preventable adverse events” in hospitals. Our doctors simply can’t personally investigate every claim made at medical conferences and echoed across 300 million TV sets. They are working hard to keep their practices open amongst all of the regulations and paperwork while still trying to maintain the highest standards of patient care.
What does this mean to you and me? It comes down to this: To survive and thrive in a world that has increasingly become a Pharmacracy, we have to take care of ourselves and our loved ones personally. We have to think and investigate, not simply follow the propaganda we see on TV, in magazines, etc.
When you do, we think you’ll see the undeniable logic to a more natural way of achieving and maintaining your health. A way that optimizes your own body’s ability to heal itself, rather than becoming addicted to more drugs with fewer results year after year.