Once upon a time…
Before I discovered the healing power of nutrition, energy medicine, and lifestyle changes, I believed pharmaceutical drugs were the only thing capable of keeping me alive.
If you had told me, “Did you know that the drugs you’re taking might actually worsen your disease over time?”
I would have said, “You don’t get it, this drug saved my life! It was my only option.”
And if you had continued and said, “You might have had an opportunity to prevent developing this disease in the first place. After all, you were exhibiting digestive problems as early as six years old when your pediatrician told you to take laxatives. Have you considered the scientific literature suggesting pharmaceutical drugs you’ve taken in the past, like vaccines (1, 2) or heartburn drugs (3), can make a body more susceptible to autoimmune conditions?”
I would have likely fumed, “Are you saying it’s MY FAULT that I’m sick!? I was just doing what my doctors told me!”
There’s a time in the healing journey where we aren’t open to taking more responsibility, because it feels like taking the blame. We aren’t open to seeing facts, because it threatens our identity. And we aren’t open to recognizing the absolute corruption of the medical industry, because it threatens our sense of safety.
But if we want to move forward with healing, we need to have the courage to see how we’ve been brainwashed, misled, and coerced into choices that didn’t serve us.
Consider the following ways Big Pharma has manipulated the American public:
1. Direct Marketing To Doctors
Like many bloggers, affiliate programs help me pay my rent and grocery bills. This means that when I recommend a health products or services, I often get a small commission when people purchase from my link.
You might expect this to be the case with bloggers… but did you know that your doctor is often incentivized to recommend certain drugs to you?
But in this case, the stakes are much higher than choosing the right water filter based on my recommendation. Your doctor is prescribing products with potential side effects like suicide, erectile dysfunction, weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, and nutrient deficiencies.
Big Pharma pays big bucks to influence what your doctor prescribes you to you. Of the $30 billion pharmaceutical companies paid on advertising in 2018, $20 billion of that went to schmoozing doctors (4).
Pharmaceutical companies offer doctors meals, travel, and gifts to introduce new drugs or medical devices. The companies also sponsor doctors to speak at educational events.
According to a ProPublica analysis:
More than 2,500 physicians have received at least half a million dollars apiece from drugmakers and medical device companies in the past five years alone. More than 700 of those doctors received at least $1 million.
In particular, the industry likes to make doctors familiar with their brand-name drugs, which create higher revenues that prescribing generic drugs. These brand-name options, however, are often newer on the market, and the long-term effects — and risks — are often less known.
That article also reports that drug companies pay out hundreds of millions of dollars for paying doctors bribes and kickbacks. Perhaps the companies considers these legal payouts simply the cost of doing unethical business — tawdry little fines that pale in comparison to their profits.
2. Direct Marketing To Consumers
The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing. This means that you’ll find pharmaceutical advertisements on TV and in magazines (5).
We like to believe that we are free and independent thinkers, but marketing propaganda is extremely powerful and coercive. I realized this in researching my upcoming book, which delves into the marketing tactics of the beauty industry.
Psychological studies show that mere repeated exposure to something makes it more familiar and likable (6), and to our subconscious mind, familiarity equals safety. The more you are exposed to pharmaceutical advertisements showing pretty, smiling people, the more you start to like that drug, and the more your subconscious mind associates that drug with safety.
Although Big Pharma spends 2/3rds of its marketing budget to influence doctors, the remaining 1/3 (~10 billion per year) goes to consumer marketing (4).
3. Buying out politicians and lobbying
Did you know that Big Pharma tops the charts on lobbying spending? In 2019, the pharmaceutical industry spent over $298 million dollars lobbying (7).
Any business, activist group or corporation can hire lobbyists — typically lawyers — who have the connection necessary to influence policies and laws. The upside is that some lobbying can help pass important policies, like the Americans with Disabilities Act.
But the system is exploited by major industries in order to sway policies towards profits, instead of protecting Americans’ wellbeing. If you’ve wondered why so many harmful additives, ingredients, and wireless frequencies are allowed in U.S., consider that fast food, biotech, and telecommunication industries spend millions on lobbyists.
In addition to lobbying, Big Pharma funnels money directly to politicians in both parties. In 2018, of the U.S. 100 senators, 30 received more than $75,000 directly from the pharmaceutical industry (8).
Let me rephrase that: 30% of senators — the individuals making laws about Big Pharma — made more from Big Pharma than the average citizen’s salary.
4. Funding Bias and Biased Trial Design
A few years ago, I came forward with 12 other women in an educational organization to report sexual abuse by an instructor. The ensuing investigation revealed pattern of abuse within the organization, and reports against the founder.
But when an investigation was made towards the founder’s actions, he used his own lawyer instead of using a third party. News of the investigation was private, so students and graduates didn’t have the opportunity to participate. He also insisted upon being in the room with any women who were reporting.
This is the perfect analogy for the kind of corruption present in studies funded and designed by Big Pharma.
The New England Journal of Medicine — one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world — published 73 studies of new drugs. Of those studies, a pharmaceutical company funded 60, 50 had drug-company employees among the authors and 37 lead researchers had accepted money from a drug company, according to a review conducted by the Washington Post.
In 2012, pharmaceutical companies paid $39 billion for drug trials. The same year, the National Institute of Health (NIH) spent about $31 billion funding pharmaceutical drug trials. Yep, that’s your tax payer dollars at work, funding drugs that will then be heavily marketed by the pharmaceutical industry so they can reap the profits (9).
5. Infiltrating Medical Education
In 1910, The Carnegie Foundation and The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research funded the infamous Flexner Report on the American medical system. The stated intention was to make American medicine more scientific and cohesive.
In reality, it condemned mainstream medical practices of the time, including herbalism and homeopathy, as quackery. It considered only drug-based allopathic medicine as “valid.”
Why? Because pharmaceutical drugs were oil-derived, and Rockefeller owned 90% of global oil refineries at the time (10).
That’s where the pharmaceutical industry’s influence over medical education began, and it cannot be understated.
Now, medical schools are joined at the hip with the pharmaceutical industry. According to a 2009 TIME piece:
Of Harvard’s 8,900 professors and lecturers, 1,600 admit that either they or a family member have had some kind of business link to drug companies — sometimes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — that could bias their teaching or research. Additionally, pharma contributed more than $11.5 million to the school last year for research and continuing-education classes.
In fact, over half of university-led medical research is funded by the pharmaceutical industry (11).
I’ll conclude with this statement from Arnold Seymour Relman, Harvard Professor of Medicine and Former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal
The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.
A New Paradigm
The current paradigm of Western Medicine offers “easy fixes,” providing pills and surgery to silence symptoms and mask the manifestation of disease.
But what if it’s not actually a fix?
- If our current model of western medicine was effective, why is it arguably the third leading cause of death? (12)
- If pharmaceutical drugs are safe and properly tested, why are properly prescribed drugs killing 1.9 million of people per year? (13)
- Why are doctors still prescribing antidepressants to 1 in 4 American women, when five decades of scientific literature shows that depressed individuals fare much better long-term when they are not given antidepressants? (14)
- Why are doctors still prescribing statins to 1 in 5 American adults, when these drugs are barely effective but carry serious risks? (15)
There was a time when we thought that the earth was flat, and the sun revolved around the earth. But we changed our minds in light of data.
There was a time when we thought that pharmaceutical drugs were the safest and most evidence-based avenue to health. It’s time to change that perspective in light of data.
If you want to take a deeper dive into Pharma’s flawed science, and research-backed alternatives to empower your health, here are some books I recommend!
A Mind Of Your Own — When psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan learned the true science of psychotropic drugs, she stopped prescribing them to her patients and now helps clients taper off their psych meds and balance their moods naturally.
Vaccines, Autoimmunity, And The Changing Nature of Childhood Illness — Dr. Tom Cowan reveals that much of what we believe about childhood vaccines are unfounded myths, and shows the importance of supporting our immune system naturally.
Put Your Heart In Your Mouth — Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride swiftly debunks the mainstream beliefs about cholesterol, saturated fat, and heart disease, offering a holistic protocol for true heart health.
Happy reading, and please pass this post on to support others in reclaiming their health independence!
Hi Lauren- Great read. I’d love to share but there are a few typos: in the statement about depressed women there is an extra word are. Under 4. last bolded sentence is missing a word” Yep, that’s your tax payer dollars at work, funding drugs that will then be heavily ? by the pharmaceutical industry so they can reap the profits (9).”
Thanks for letting me know — fixed!
Big pharma is the tip of an evil iceberg. Which controls everyone. Gates is one architect of a powerful order. They set up the phoney virus to hurt older citizen s. AU, is no different to America. Young people will recover. Have to stay healthy, with proper nourishment. Not eating at maccas. We Christians know this. I know it, an older person can survive, if they have sober habits. I want you to go to my church, they have the answers. Have faith in God, the Creator. But not of this World. The World Systems was set up by Satan. Do you know , most Professor’s are anti God. And your beloved America, like Australia is burning, and carbon released from the ground. It is a cuel game, may all your readers understand.
Hi! Although we may disagree on some things I respect your right to voice these opinions. I kindly decline the invitation to your church. Be well!
Thank you for this article! Big pharma doesn’t want people healthy, that’s bad for business!! Because I live in an area that’s the 7th day Adventists headquarters, they are champions of integrated healthcare. There is even an inpatient wellness center that treats addiction and depression with diet and supplements!
Keep up the good work!
Wow, what an awesome resource to provide for the community! So glad you enjoyed this article.
Had I the chance to do things over, I never would’ve vaccinated my kids years ago. I believe my son’s UC was a direct result of vaccinations (likely the MMR). He had a terrible reaction to it and started spitting up (often projectile) soon after. He was breastfed for a year and fed nutritious, organic foods as a child. He became prone to mood swings, especially after ingesting artificial colored any unnatural preservatives, which he rarely ate. I never put two and two together. Then at age 21 the awful diagnosis. No family history of the disease whatsoever. When I was growing up many moons ago, I never knew anyone with autoimmunity… and rarely cancer for that matter. Ironic how the vaccine schedules became larger and now these illnesses have become prominent. I feel so guilty for not questioning authority back then.
Dear SC – I can totally sympathize. I have cried many many times over my son’s vaccine injuries as I am the one who put him in harm’s way without a single question.
I hope you have forgiven yourself. I hope I can forgive myself one day.
But I know I will NEVER forgive the evil that is the CDC and big pharma who are pushing ever more vaccines on our little ones purely for profit.
I am so sorry to hear that. It’s not your fault. My oldest daughter will not take the vaccine, and she will not let her kids take them, either. My younger daughter is a different story. She and her husband took the jab and my 2 year old grandson will be 3 in August, and he can’t take the jab until he’s 5. I hope she wakes up and realizes what is going on before then. Blessings to you and your son.
Lauren, thank you for being a platform where it is okay to voice different opinions. There have been things that you have said that I absolutely do not agree with. However, whenever there is a respectful difference of opinion to yours the comments remain and I appreciate that greatly. It is difficult to find somewhere to ask questions and learn without the fear of a group of people launching an attack on me.
I want to ask a person of the opposite political affiliation what they see in their candidate and why they are the voting for that person. However, my fear of the current tensions prevents me from doing that. I don’t want to cause a ruckus but learn and try to see from the other side.
People’s hearts are filled with angst amid the current circumstances within our country. Being able to have an open dialogue about differences is a rare occurrence. Despite differences you are a gem!! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate being able to come to your website to read differing thoughts and know that the potential for true learning is here.
I started reading your blog back in the day when you were mostly food focused. You were such an encouragement for this overwhelmed mama with a kiddo who is severely allergic to dairy. I cannot do nuts without consequences and you provided several dessert recipes that got us through those first days. Thank you for all you have done and are doing.
Sarah, people like YOU make this blog community what it is — so thank YOU. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and comment, and that you’ve been a part of my journey. I appreciate your encouraging and kind words. Open and compassionate dialogue are how we’re all going to heal the world. Hugs!
I am deeply sorry that you experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a professor. That is NEVER acceptable, and although the outcome of the legal inquiry you describe in your post is unclear, I sincerely hope that he was removed from his position and suffered any other commensurate punishment.
Although I agree with many points in this article, I think additional work needs to be done to support claim 4.
I am a clinical researcher coordinator working in the world of observational studies (i.e., non-drug/device studies), but I am familiar with the regulations surrounding IND (Investigational New Drug) / and IDE (Investigation Device Exemption) studies. I feel your statements are a bit misleading and fail to acknowledge all the people and systems in place to prevent both honest errors in data collection/documentation, as well as more sinister attempts to both fabricate and falsify data when it comes to research in these areas.
Research that has been pulled from publication or otherwise challenged with overwhelming evidence to the contrary is generally reported on sites like https://retractionwatch.com/. They rarely report on the kind of studies mentioned in item 4, because so many mechanisms are in place to discontinue lackluster or corrupt research before it sees the light of day.
Post-market studies of drugs are a different issue, but research does continue after a product is sold to the public to monitor long-term consequences of use. Drugs that show high levels of adverse effects are routinely removed from the market (see Fen-Phen, Methylhexanamine, and dozens of others in the US and elsewhere in the last half century). All drug research for products that want to be marketed in the US must adhere to the following principles as outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki: Beneficence, Justice, and Respect for Persons. A risk/benefit analysis must show that the drug in question is likely to offer a benefit that outweighs known risk from earlier Phase I-Phase II/III studies, or no institutional review board would (regulatory body) would approve it.
The mere fact that drug companies fund studies of their own products, provided that a competent physician and biostatistician were involved in the study design and all participating sites are monitored by a third-party company, does not bother me. If the money doesn’t come from the companies themselves or the government, I think you’d be hard pressed to identify an alternative source – it takes a lot of money to do this kind of research. I am also uncomfortable with the way in which medications that offer a minimal benefit to individuals (e.g. GERD relief) are lumped together with those that significantly improve quality of life and/or survival (e.g. cyclosporine for organ transplant patients).
Given the degree to which high-risk studies are monitored/study procedures are tracked, the probability of data falsification is extremely low. I think that regardless of the funding source, study data results are reliable for the *time period during which the study took place*. Any time an error is made, a study procedure is not done according to protocol, study staff have to report it to the sponsors and correct it. There are usually multiple on-site monitoring visits from independent companies, and frequent instances of centralized monitoring in which independent reps compare data collected for the study with what is documented by physicians/other providers not involved in the research.
Please do not vilify researchers, who are generally trying to help other people who may be experiencing truly immense suffering.
I appreciate your input as someone in the research field. I made no statements to vilify researchers — my only intention was to point out the conflicts of interests inherent in this industry. I agree that researchers are generally trying to help people! And I weigh that with the awareness that well-intentioned people can, also, unknowingly perpetuate biased systems. I appreciate your awareness, thoughtfulness and experience in this field, and taking the time to share that with me — it gives me an opportunity to continue learning.