It is very hard for straightforward and presumably honest medical researchers to give us much of anything objective about something that has been labeled “alternative medicine”. Maybe there should only be two kinds of medicine. Good and not good; helpful and not helpful. I was minding my own business – well, as much as ever — when I found an article about chelation as a preventative for heart disease. It basically says that chelation seems to “work”. But it also seems that some people are ashamed to find this out and don’t want too many people to take advantage of this as a treatment option. This makes about as much sense as most of what I have read recently about medical research, but I do have one way to put it in context. I have spoken at some alternative medicine meetings where I have proselytized about the effectiveness of high dose vitamins — chelated, to pass the blood-brain barrier. I have been told that I would be skewered by colleagues. Colleagues never seem to have much worried about what I have to say. As a matter of fact, the world seems to have a pretty bad track record as far as listening to what I say. Read more on Chelation As Preventive Therapy for Heart Disease…
Why would a pharmaceutical manufacturer want to change a drug from prescription to over the counter (OTC)?
Well, one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime is – When the Question is “WHY?” then the answer is “MONEY.”
Oh, sure – in our economically-ignorant country, many people think – “Whee! I can buy any drug I want without spending money on a doctor’s appointment and without having to get a prescription! ”
These people are prime candidates for the Darwin Awards.
Yes, believe it or not, the “RX to OTC Switch” can actually HURT patients.
Drug patents expire relatively quickly, competitors are waiting at the gates with generic equivalents, and when a drug becomes OTC, there is a chance that insurance does not cover it.
This makes insurance companies and government programs (Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, etc.) very happy. They are so strapped for cash that even paying for a cheaper generic is a strain on the budget. When this kind of money is involved, you can bet that lobbyists are pressuring the government to ease their restrictions so that drugs once considered risky enough to warrant a prescription so that not just anybody can have access will be available to anyone who can walk into a drug store or click on a shopping cart on the web.
Patients will have to pay for OTC meds in cash money and doctors usually do not bother prescribing an equivalent drug. If they do not already know of an equivalent, they will probably — and generally do — just tell a patient to go buy it over the counter.
A patient who cannot afford the drug will go off it.
OK – so what’s the big deal if a cold medicine, allergy remedy or hair-restoring pill is no longer a prescription drug?
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The field of alternative medicine is as wild and woolly as the old west. There are all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. Some are studied and tested, some are intuitive, and some seem to come from Uranus.
So it is no surprise that the FDA occasionally cracks down on some of the most flagrant offenders.
Please listen to someone with a lot of formal training and many years of experience in clinical trials and many treatment modalities — There are no miracle cures. If there really were, I think I could have a handle on them by now.
One hot button recently is autism. And one of the biggest misconceptions is that it is just mercury poisoning. Believe me (and a million other medical experts) – it is NOT.
There are plenty of people around who want to believe in the magic bullet. Somehow this goes hand-in-hand with believing that doctors and drug companies are hiding things that are wildly effective.
Truth, science, and the American way are effective. People are always devoted to things that will make them a lot of money. They may even convince themselves that they are on the way to miracles. Old fashioned values like responsible experimentation, even responsible observation … the heck with it.
I will not expostulate. I see it all the time. Some of my colleagues – and I mean trained and licensed MDs – seem to settle on one treatment and think it fixes everything. I suspect it is because they are basically lazy and cynical, but that may not be fair. But in my years of practice I’ve seen docs who give everybody thyroid hormone, others who firmly believe in vitamin D, the apostles of Prozac, and other things too bizarre for me to really believe. Read more on Denial, Wishful Thinking And Chelation…
I really am not worried about my reputation among my medical colleagues, as most of them think I’m “cracked” anyway.
However, just as an actor or director doesn’t make a movie just to get an Oscar, I don’t worry about what other doctors think – as long as I take good care of my patients.
Maybe that’s why the most frequently asked question by my patients is, “Why didn’t my other doctors know/discover/tell me this?” Read more on Yes, Virginia, Mercury Could Be At The Root Of Your Problem…
When first we moved to an office in a bohemian section of town, my marketing efforts were as naive as they were enthusiastic. I walked into every shop in the neighborhood to introduce myself as a physician and psychiatrist who had recently moved in, and did some innovative things.
I especially remember my visit to a salon, where the customers, all male, (I said it was a bohemian section) told me about various troubles with their physical appearance; hardly my specialty, but I am open to doing what I can do in many context.
As soon as I returned to my office, I got a phone call asking if I could do a wart removal, and how quickly. I declined. I cannot be all things to all people. Read more on Warts And All…
I really do like the people at Health Freedom USA. They are not speaking the truth, however. Every day people are killed by natural phenomena, as we have been recently reminded by the tragic earthquake in Haiti. Some people who walk into my office and tell me that they want to “go natural” are barely holding themselves together with complex lists of prescription medications. I understand their desire to find relief without drugs, but I can’t help but jump up and down and yell, “Tornadoes are natural! Earthquakes are natural! They kill a lot of people.”
I have seen too many people harmed by “nutraceuticals,” a relatively new term for natural substances that are supposed to take the place of prescription drugs. Some of these natural regimens have been devised by health professionals, but most are the result of individual research and curiosity. I am not yet aware of any sure-fire replacement for a doctor. The closest we have today is the internet. After all, I never claimed to have knowledge that the public could not find out with a little help from their favorite search engines. Read more on Natural Doesn’t Always Mean Safe…