Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fraud, Ghosts, and Big Pharma

What if 26 major scientific papers that shaped and guided medical therapies for over 10 years were not actually written by the authors stated in the papers? What if the papers only promoted the positive effects of a particular therapy and de-emphasized the negative effects in order to increase pharmaceutical sales? What if the scientific papers actually promoted a now discredited therapy that ended up causing tens of thousands of cases of breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke and deaths? Do you think there should be an investigation into these allegations? Perhaps that responsible need to be made held accountable for their actions. Maybe there should be a full congressional investigation into this billion dollar fraud that was perpetrated on millions of American women.

Who committed this fraud? Wyeth pharmaceutical, the maker of the synthetic hormones Premarin and Provera, committed this act by paying for ghostwriters to write scientific articles (more about this below). For over 25 years, Wyeth has been promoting Premarin and Provera as the treatment-of-choice for menopausal symptoms in women. Wyeth has spread misinformation about these synthetic hormones including the use of these foreign substances will prevent heart attacks and not increase the rate of breast cancers. Unfortunately, this synthetic hormone combination has been proven to significantly raise the risk of heart attacks (29%), invasive breast cancer (26%), stoke (41%), Alzheimer’s (205%) and pulmonary embolism (2,100%).[i]

According to a front-page article in the New York Times (8.5.09), while thousands of women were being harmed from these dangerous, synthetic hormones, Wyeth was paying ghost writers to author biased papers supporting the use of Premarin and Provera. Sales of these drugs rose to over $2 billion dollars in 2001. Ghostwriters were paid to promote the company line on these synthetic hormones and then prominent doctors were paid to put their name as the lead authors. The physicians had little or no input on these articles. These papers were published in many respected medical journals and certainly influenced medical opinion.

It all fell apart for Wyeth in 2002 when the findings of the Women’s Health Initiative was announced. The results (see above) clearly showed the synthetic hormones were dangerous and needed to be avoided.

How did Wyeth respond? The company responded by attacking natural, bioidentical hormones. Wyeth has filed a citizen’s petition with the FDA to remove a safe and effective bioidentical, natural hormone, estriol, from the market.

What can we all do? We can write to our congressmen and the President and let them know how we feel. Also, please look at, which is a group I co-founded to promote the education of natural therapies. Finally, we can educate ourselves about safe and effective natural therapies so that we can make the best medical decisions for ourselves and our family.

Synthetic, foreign hormones like Premarin and Provera need to be avoided. For any therapy, a bioidentical, natural hormone is the safest, and most-effective approach. More information about these hormones can be found in my book, The Miracle of Natural Hormones, 3rd Edition.

[i] JAMA. 7.17.02. VOl. 288, No. 3

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fosamax and 'Dead Jaw'

Fosamax is the 21st most-prescribed drug in the United States since 2006. It has generated billions of dollars in revenue for Merck. Fosamax works by poisoning an enzyme in one of the two bone cells of the body.

A recent study (1.1.09 J. of the American Dental Assoc.) found that osteonecrosis of the jaw was occurring at a much higher rate than is reported by its manufacturer Merck. Osteonecrosis of the jaw is also referred to as “dead jaw”. This situation is where a portion of the jaw loses its blood supply and the bone dies. There is no cure and no great treatment for this condition. Signs of osteonecrosis include pain and loosening of the teeth. It is a devastating illness which used to be very rare but has become much more common with the use of bisphosphonates (e.g., Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, Zometa). One of the adverse effects of bishposphonate therapy is osteonecrosis of the jaw.

In fact Merck claims the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw is “negligible”. The doctor who published the article reported that his clinic is seeing one to four new cases per week. In researching his records, he found that 4% of the patients who were taking Fosamax had osteonecrosis. Osteonecrosis usually appears after a trauma such as a tooth extraction.

For years I have counseled my patients to avoid ever taking a bisphosphonate drug. Simply put, these have never been shown to prevent future fractures. Osteoporosis is not a ‘Fosamax-deficiency syndrome’. It is a nutritional and hormonal imbalance problem that can often be rectified by changing the diet (eliminate refined foods and dairy) and taking the correct supplements (including Vitamins K, D, and B12 as well as minerals). I have helped develop one product known as Osteo-elite. It contains the full complement of vitamins and minerals necessary for the body to produce and maintain healthy bone. It is available from or by calling 1.877.898.7873.

More information about osteoporosis, Fosamax and bisphosphonates can be found in my newest book, Drugs that Don’t Work and Natural Therapies that Do, 2nd Edition.

Monday, August 17, 2009

80% of Pregnant Women Are Iodine Deficient

In 2009, over 16% of public school-aged boys are on a mood-altering drug. ADHD is being diagnosed at epidemic proportions. Young girls (as well as boys) are being treated with antidepressant drugs at record numbers. As Ricky asked Lucy we should all be asking, “Wha’ happened?”

A new letter to the Editor in the journal Thyroid (Vol. 19, N9, 2009, published ahead of print 8.13.09) reported that from 2001-2006, 80% of pregnant women and 80% of women of child-bearing age were not supplementing with iodine. During that same period, the authors reported that over 85% of lactating women were not taking a supplement containing iodine.

I have lectured about the problem with prenatal vitamins for years. Most prenatal vitamins do not contain iodine and the ones that do contain iodine do not contain enough. This is truly a public health disaster.

What happens when the pregnant mother is iodine deficient? Her baby has a significantly greater chance of developing mental retardation, thyroid problems, and behavioral problems such as ADHD.

In my book, Iodine Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It I describe the infant’s need for iodine. However, it is not only the young that need iodine. It is all of us.

Iodine deficiency is the number one nutritional deficiency affecting Americans. My research has shown over 96% of the nearly 5,000 patients I have tested deficient (and most severely deficient) in iodine. This should be a public health crisis. Forget about the health care bill, correct this problem and we will save untold amounts of money!

What can you do? Have your iodine levels checked and work with a health care practitioner knowledgeable about iodine. Generally, most people need milligram amounts of iodine to achieve whole body iodine sufficiency. In today’s toxic world, our iodine requirements are much higher than our predecessors. More information about iodine can be found in my books.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Antacid Drugs Increase Risk of Hip Fractures

There was an article in JAMA (12.27.2006 Vol. 296,No. 24) that reported on the elevated risk of hip fractures with the long-term use of antacid drugs (proton pump inhibiters such as Prilosec® and Nexium®) . This study showed a 59% increase risk if antacid medications are used for four years. The authors reported a steady increase in hip fracture rates the longer these drugs were used. Why would this happen? Antacid drugs are effective at blocking hydrochloric acid production of the stomach. But, the consequence of blocking acid production is that it leads to poor mineral absorption as well as poor digestion. The depletion of the body's mineral stores will lead to the body having to use the largest source of minerals, the bones, to supply it with necessary minerals that it needs.

Now someone takes an antacid drug and they begin to develop osteoporosis. What happens next? You know the answer--they will need another drug, this time an osteoporosis drug to treat the problems from the first (antacid) drug. And, the beat goes on.

All drugs have their time and place. However, drugs should not be the first-line treatment for many conditions. There are many natural therapies that can effectively treat stomach problems without side effects. More information on this can be found in my newest book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, 2nd Edition.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Antidepressant Use Doubles in Last 10 Years

A recent study in the Archives of General Psychiatry (Vol. 66, No. 8, August, 2009) reported that the use of antidepressant drugs in the United States nearly doubled between 1996 and 2005. The rate of antidepressant treatment increased from 5.84% in 1996 to 10.12% in 2005. This translates to 13.3 million persons taking antidepressant medications in 1996 and 27 million U.S. citizens taking antidepressant drugs in 2005. That means that over 10% of our population is currently being treated with antidepressant medications. In 2008, more than 164 million antidepressant prescriptions were written in the U.S. This amounts to $9.6 billion in sales for Big Pharma.

These numbers are depressing (sorry, I couldn’t resist!). Why did this rise in the use of antidepressants occur and are we better off for it?

The main reason the use of antidepressants more than doubled over the last ten years was due to the advertising ability of Big Pharma. Between 1999 and 2005 Big Pharma increased direct-to-consumer advertising for antidepressants over four-fold. In 1999, Big Pharma spent $32 million on direct-to-consumer advertising of antidepressants. By 2005, Big Pharma spent $122 million promoting antidepressants.

I have lectured to doctors for years about the perils of direct-to-consumer advertising. Studies have clearly shown the power of advertising drugs directly to consumers as the sales of medications increase in almost direct proportion to the numbers of dollars used in the advertising campaigns. The sales for the discredited cholesterol-lowering medications Zetia and Vytroin serve as a perfect example. In Canada, where direct-to-consumer advertising is not allowed, prescriptions for Zetia rose from 0.2% in 2003 to 3.4% in 2006. During that same time, in the U.S., sales of Zetia increased from 0.1% to 15.2%. Zetia and Vytorin were recently shown to be ineffective at preventing or even halting the progression of heart disease in the Enhance study. More information on this can be found in my newest book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, 2nd Edition.

Since antidepressant drug use has more than doubled over the last 10 years, are we better off? (Stop laughing at that question.) We have more suicides, more anxiety, and more depression despite the rapid increase of these medications. There is absolutely no data supporting the widespread use of these medications. In fact, studies have failed to show this class of medications is superior to exercise, psychotherapy or placebo. More information about this can be found in my book.

In this time of budget crises and health care reform, we need real reformers who can critically look at the data and speak the truth. Big Pharma’s strangle hold on conventional medicine and our government is the force causing health care costs to be so high. Until we wake up and deal with this, health care reform will not be realized.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Arthritis Drugs and Cancer

The headline in the Wall Street Journal (8.5.09) reads, “FDA Warns on Cancer Risk in Immune-System Drugs”. The article stated that the FDA declared there is an increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers associated with the arthritis drugs Remicade and Humira in children and adolescents.

These drugs work by neutralizing the biological activity of an inflammatory molecule known as tumor necrosis factor (i.e., TNFα). TNFα does have pro-inflammatory capabilities. However, tumor necrosis factor also regulates the immune system. It has been shown to induce apoptosis (or cell death) and to inhibit tumor growth and viral replication. When you look at the varied capabilities of this molecule, perhaps we should not be blocking it with drugs like Remicade and Humira.

When these drugs were first approved to treat arthritic conditions, I made a prediction at a lecture I was giving; within five to ten years of use, the rate of cancer would begin to rise in those that took this class of drugs. How could I make such a prediction? It wasn’t that hard. Looking at the mechanism of action of this class of drugs pointed out the potential problems with their long-term use.

When you inhibit tumor necrosis factor, which blocks programmed cell death (apoptosis), you should expect cancer rates to rise. In fact, inhibiting apoptosis is one of the major ways cancer cells survive and propagate. Furthermore, inhibiting a substance (TNFα) which helps to regulate the immune system by inhibiting tumor growth is bound to cause serious problems such as cancer.

The tumor necrosis factor inhibiting drugs are a top selling class of drugs in the U.S. bringing in over $6.5 billion in U.S. sales in 2008. It is not only cancer rates that are elevated with these drugs; increases in serious infections such as tuberculosis and serious liver injury have also been reported.

Tumor necrosing factor drugs (Remicade and Humira) should only be used as a last resort and used for the shortest time period possible. There are many other safe and effective natural therapies for treating arthritic disorders. More information about how to implement a holistic approach to treating arthritis can be found in my book, Overcoming Arthritis.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cholesterol-Lowering Medications and Inflammation

Big Pharma is now making a push that cholesterol lowering medications should be used in anyone with signs of inflammation. The Jupitor study (NEJM. VOl 359; 2008) looked at the use of Crestor (a statin drug) in “healthy” individuals who had elevated laboratory tests showing inflammation (via a blood test known as the CRP test). The use of Crestor was reported to decrease CRP by 37%. (NOTE: I discuss this study and others in more detail in my new book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, 2nd Edition).

Inflammation has been thought to be the underlying cause (or one of the underlying causes) of a wide variety of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. The CRP test is a well-accepted laboratory measure of inflammation.

Unfortunately, inflammation is occurring at epidemic rates in our society. I routinely check my patients for inflammatory markers and I am amazed at the high number of patients suffering from elevated inflammation markers and inflammatory diseases.

What are the signs of inflammation? Pain, swelling, and redness are the most common signs. A bloated abdomen, fatigue and even brain fog can be related to inflammation. You can see that inflammatory conditions can cause a wide range of problems.

Why do so many suffer from inflammation? I have no doubt that diet is the main cause. Eating a diet full of refined foods markedly increases your chances of developing inflammation. The Standard American Diet (SAD ) ensures your body will be deficient in vital nutrients which prevent and heal inflammatory conditions. Furthermore, failure to drink adequate amounts of water worsens any inflammatory condition.

So, what can you do if you have signs of inflammation? A recent study showed that Vitamin C reduced CRP by 25% versus placebo (Free Rad. Biol. and Med. 46;2009). The authors of this study claimed that the effect of vitamin C was similar to those of statins.

I say, take your vitamin C (2-5,000mg/day), drink adequate amounts of water and eat a diet full of unrefined foods. This is an inexpensive way to treat or avoid getting an inflammatory condition. Furthermore, this therapy is virtually free of adverse effects.