Once upon a time…
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!