Medicine doesn’t fix everything
It’s been a while since my last post; I know. I’ve been trying to put together something about the pharmaceutical industry, so you can imagine that can take a while. The truth is, this topic is so large and complex I had no idea where to start.
Thankfully, while I was thinking about this topic Steven Colbert had a great piece on it on his show last week; check it out! [skip to about 3:05 for the pharma part, even though it’s all funny!]
With that, I’m basically going to stick to some points that are driving me crazy about this industry. Now first things first, I’m not ENTIRELY against the pharma industry. What I am against though is that just like in the video, there is a pill for anything and everything out there. Left toe hurts? Take a purple pill. Have gas? Take a pill before AND after eating that chili. You get my point…
The problem I have is that people are QUICK to jump on the bandwagon and go out and find the pill that will cure their “disease”. Most home medicine cabinets are loaded with things people don’t really need and if they made healthier lifestyle choices they wouldn’t even have symptoms for.
Now, check out this post that was in the New York Times titled Longer Lives for Obese Mice, With Hope for Humans of All Sizes. If you don’t want to read it, cool. Let me summarize. Scientists are researching a drug called SRT-1720 on mice. In the study, the drug protected the mice from obesity, increasing their lifespan by 47%.
I know, crazy right?! Want to hear something crazier? Untreated mice of regular weight still lived longer!
So, in a country where people do not hesitate to get their daily needed calories in one drink, guess what’s going to happen? Yup, people are going to say “oh man, I can take this pill and not get diabetes? SCORE!” All while they head out to all you can eat KFC.
There’s also an opinionated piece in the NYT about How to Save a Trillion Dollars. Look at some of the numbers:
- Costs in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease — the leading cause of death here and in much of the rest of the world — will triple by 2030, to more than $800 billion annually.
- Type 2 diabetes is projected to cost us $500 billion a year come 2020, when half of all Americans will have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
- The National Institute of Health pegs obesity-related costs at about $150 billion.
- Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard-affiliated pediatrician and the author of “Ending the Food Fight,” says, “The magnitude of the deficit is small when you consider costs of nutrition-related disease; the $4 trillion that the Republicans want cut over a decade is about the same as the projected costs of diabetes over that same period.”
Look at the cost of NUTRITION related diseases!
Now, ready for something even better?
The National Consumer League recently launched a nationwide 3 year campaign called “Script Your Future”. They claim that 3 out of every 4 Americans don’t take their prescriptions as directed which costs an estimated $290 billion a year!
What’s more; “the campaign focuses on helping patients with diabetes, COPD, asthma, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol reach better health outcomes”.
OK, so first let’s take an industry that relies on people’s crappy diets*. Then, since people are too lazy to eat healthy they are too lazy to take their pills too so a campaign is needed to get these people on track right? Hmmmm, I wonder what’s in it for the pharma industry???
Doctors (and yes, I have a brother who just got into med school – awesome!) need to get a little more education on sound nutrition practices**. Look at a typical 4 year curriculum:
Year 1: Anatomy, biochemistry, cell biology, etc… the basics. Cool.
Year 2: Clinic Medicine & Microbiology. / Pathology & Pharmocology. WHAT?! A full year of medicine? I wonder who sponsored this year…
Year 3: Family medicine (oh crap), internal medicine (really?) & Neurolgy. OB-GYN & Pediatrics.
Year 4: Acute care & ambulatory care. Medicine subinternship (get the %&$& out of here?!).
There you have it, 3 years of medicine classes, and not one nutrition class…. Now why can’t we just add a semester or 2 on smart nutritional choices, and how making the right choices can help prevent many diseases. Oh yeah, because the pharma industry won’t make as much money by selling this.
Now again I want to clarify: I think that many lives have been saved due to the inventions in the pharma industry. There are quite a few diseases out there where taking medicine has undoubtedly helped save people’s lives, or at least their quality of life. But the truth is that eating healthy is going to go a long way for everyone out there.
A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time – pills or stairs. ~Joan Welsh
*I realize COPD and asthma are not nutritionally related, but the other ones certainly are!
**Looking forward to the heated debates over dinner brother!