Medical schools used to be places of unbiased learning, where many different fields of healthcare were taught. Certainly a student had to reach a certain standard before they could qualify. Who sets the standards today?
If the American Medical Student Association has anything to do with it, relations between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry will soon look considerably different. Representing 30 000 students, interns, and residents throughout the United States, the association is running a campaign—PharmFree—calling for an end to gift giving, free lunches, sponsored education, and paid speaking.1
Students are being urged to sign a PharmFree pledge to seek out unbiased sources of healthcare information and to take a recently revised Hippocratic Oath, called a “model oath for the new physician,” which includes the commitments: “I will make medical decisions… free from the influence of advertising or promotion. I will not accept money, gifts, or hospitality that will create a conflict of interest in my education, practice, teaching, or research.”
A little internet Googling searching for information on “Medical Schools and Dug Company Money” will bring up such classics as this:
Drug companies have largely taken over the field of doctor education, in part by bankrolling physician education courses at medical schools.
A Journal Sentinel investigation found that industry-funded doctor education courses offered at UW (University of Wisconsin) often present a slanted view by favoring prescription medications over non-drug therapies and by failing to mention important side effects.
Among the findings:
• Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is spending $12.3 million on an online UW course for doctors to tell them how to get their patients to quit smoking. A top priority is prescribing Pfizer’s drug, Chantix, which has been linked to serious side effects, including a rash of suicides. But mention of the side effects can’t be found in course materials.
• The German company Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals paid more than $320,000 to fund a UW course on a condition known as restless legs syndrome. The course said 10% of adults have the disorder, when other research suggests the actual figure is much lower.
• Two companies, Pfizer and Bayer, have spent more than $340,000 to fund a UW continuing education course for doctors that touts their drugs, among others, to treat an extreme form of PMS. Doctors taking the course online aren’t told that some of these drugs may not work much better than a placebo.
Have you ever wondered just how the Modern Medical University in the USA came into being. It is a fascinating read, and the entire operation seems to have stemmed from the power of John D. Rockefeller. See link below.
Like I said earlier, it’s not only the USA that this is happening in, and it is not only the American Political System that is receiving BIG BUCKS from Big Farma!
In Australia, according to an article in The Age Newspaper, “Getting a government subsidy for a drug through a listing on the PBS is the Holy Grail for big pharmaceutical companies.”
If doctors are “educated” to prescribe the drug and the pharmacy chains stock the pill, then sales go up and up.
Welcome to the $100 billion health sector, one of the most powerful and complex industries in the country. It represents more than 10 per cent of gross domestic product, employs hundreds of thousands of people, and as the population lives longer, its tentacles grow stronger.
Pharmaceutical companies are among the biggest in the world, with annual turnovers in the tens of billions of dollars and lucrative recurring revenue streams.
While pharmaceutical companies outlay millions of dollars a year on grants and sponsorships to doctors and health groups, the industry spends far more on political donations in an attempt to influence health policy and get their drugs on to the PBS.
Australia’s PBS system is world renowned for making drugs for serious illness available cheaply. But the system, which costs $7.7 billion a year and the process by which drugs are listed, has become increasingly vulnerable to commercial and political pressure.
While the PBS scheme is overseen by an independent gate keeper, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), strong lobbying by the huge GlaxoSmithKline and home-grown drug manufacturer CSL, particularly during the later years of the Howard Government, succeeded in securing listings on the PBS for drugs that had earlier been rejected.
The article goes onto speak about (in particular) GARDASIL, which is the anti-cervical cancer drug, which was initially rejected by PBAC. But John Howard (Former Prime Minister) eventually approved it for a nationwide vaccination program. (It is still unknown if this drug with confer a lifetime immunity or if it is safe)
An investigation by Business Day has traced the millions of dollars spent annually by the health industry – which spans everything from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, pharmacy chains, general practitioners and health insurance companies – buying political access and influence. The money mainly goes to lobbying, hiring former government staffers both internally and externally, issuing ads and making grassroots campaign contributions
Jerrold Cripps, QC, who recently ended his five-year term at the NSW Independent Commission against Corruption, said on his departure that political donations and lobbying by former ministers and other members of Parliament ”are activities that are unmistakably conducive to corrupt conduct”.
If you would like to learn more about who’s who, and – who is sleeping with whom – It makes interesting reading – the AGE article, and it just might surprise you.
Donations to Political Parties must be disclosed of course. I did a search online to see just what moneys had been donated by Pharmaceutical/Health Interests to the various Australian political parties. I searched for the years 1998 to 2009. The search tells me:
Your search discovered 530 donations, with a total value of $4,844,447. Only the first 500 donations found are shown.
In The USA the story is MUCH BIGGER. The Pharmaceutical Interests have donated $11,338,219.00 (eleven million, three hundred and thirty eight thousand, two hundred and nineteen, dollars) in 2010 so far!
PHEW……… lots of big bucks – to the Democrats and Republicans. I seriously doubt any of this was just given as a ‘freebie’, with no intent to push anything specific through the US Senate and Congress.
I would find it difficult also to believe that any monies donated to Australian Political parties was for purely philanthropic reasons. The Pharmaceutical Companies have agenda’s, they have deadlines, they have products and they have shareholders. The Patient’s, those who are ill, would come very close to the bottom of their agenda’s.
But beware, much as there are some necessary drugs available which in emergencies, can save lives, there are also many other drugs which are foisted onto people, when research shows that more natural, non drug interventions could be of benefit. Remember also that these non medical interventions are not taught any longer in the Medical Schools.
Look into subjects such as Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure and Diabetes – to name just three areas of possible interest to many people. You will find there are credible people, writing credible articles, about non medical interventions, and the possibility that NO intervention is actually required in some circumstances.
Don’t be fooled into taking a pill, until you know what it contains, what are the known side effects, how long you will be required to take this medication and what, if any are the drug interactions, with other medications you may currently be taking.
Those few question your own doctor ought to be able to answer. If my doc cannot answer my questions, I usually defer treatment until I have found the information and made a considered judgment.
Follow The Mighty Dollar…………… and take responsibility for your own heath.
Redefining the relationship between Doctors and Drug Companies
Drug firms’ cash skews doctor classes
Funding for Medical Research Centers
The Truth about the Rockefeller Drug Empire
Big Farma and the FDA
The Age Newspaper
PBSGardasil Vaccine for HPV-Related Cancer Full of Dangers
Democracy For Sale – donations search Australia
Pharmaceutical Contribution Trends USA
Specific Donors USA
Cholesterol Theory – is a lie
Current Dietary Advice – Diabetes is wrong