For all those who have raised issues about my last blog, ‘The Elephant in the Room,' the following are the biggest elephants in the room, the dark secret at the heart of medicine that never gets brought up, much less exposed, in any discussion about whether or not there is adequate evidence for the use of alternative medicine.
Medicine is the third leading cause of death in the US. In 2000 the Journal of the American Medical Association, the official organ of the primary organization representing physicians in America, announced that doctor–induced disease is the third leading cause of death in America, responsible for a quarter of a million deaths per year (JAMA, 2000; 274: 29-34). That figure is now far higher now.
In 2003, Dr. Allen Roses, then only worldwide vide-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKine (GSK), shocked the world when he admitted that 90 per cent of his company’s—or any other drug company’s—products don’t work on the majority of patients (http://www.naturalnews.com/031287_pharmacogenomics_medicine.html).
Only 12 per cent of medicine has actually been proven. In my blog, I mentioned the figure of ’13 per cent,’ which comes from the British Medical Association’s annual Clinical Evidence Handbook: The International Source Of The Best Available Evidence For Effective Health Care. This figure came from the 2007 edition, but this batting average is conservative because it appears to be getting worse with every passing year.
The most recent (2009) version of Clinical Evidence now reckons that figure has fallen further. Now, says the BMA, only 12 per cent of modern medicine has been proven to be beneficial, which it defines as: ‘For which effectiveness has been demonstrated by clear evidence from systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, or the best alternative source of information, and for which expectation of harm is small compared with the benefits.’
This conclusion was drawn from an examination of studies done on 2,500 conventional drugs and treatments used every day in surgeries and hospitals, and a handful (about 5) of alternative treatments.
To determine that a drug is beneficial, the researchers had to find just one study involving one group of people that demonstrated a benefit, such as a relief of symptoms, that is greater than any harm recorded by the participants. Only 12 per cent of those 2,500 treatments met that simple criteria.
The 2009 version of Clinical Evidence also reckons that 49 per cent of all standard medical treatments are of unknown effectiveness, 3 per cent is likely to be ineffective or harmful, and 5 per cent unlikely to be beneficial.
To put this in everyday speak, the largest association of British doctors has announced that out of every 100 treatments, nearly half have no evidence of effectiveness, 8 are either downright harmful or unlikely to have any benefit, and only 12 have been proven by a single study to have some benefit that outweighs the risk of harm. So when you go to your doctor, the overwhelming likelihood is that you will get a treatment that has absolutely no evidence supporting its use.
Most drug research is spin-doctored by PR firms or tampered with. To cite but one example, in 2010, the British Medical Journal reported that the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, which produces evidence-based consumer health information, encountered ‘serious obstacles’ when attempting to wrest from Pfizer all sponsored published and unpublished studies about its antidepressant, reboxetine.
Although Pfizer had produced data on some patient trials, eventually it emerged that the drug company had withheld 74 per cent of patient data from the unpublished trials on the drug.
After Pfizer finally handed over its remaining data and the Institute was able to carry out a full assessment, it concluded that the drug was ‘overall an ineffective and potentially harmful antidepressant.’
As the full scale of Wyeth’s deception was laid bare, more evidence emerged that their practices are simply standard operating procedure. In a few days I will repeat on this blog a story I wrote about it at the time.
In a review carried out between 1994-5, the Scientific-Ethical Committees for Copenhagen and Frederiksburg concluded that as much as 62 per cent of trials had at least one primary outcome that had been changed, introduced, or omitted in the final published article. Ninety-two percent of trials had at least one instance of dodgy reporting about the drug’s effectiveness, and 81 per cent had at least 1 example of harm caused by the drug that was not completely reported. (http://psychrights.org/research/digest/science4sale/empiricalevidenceintrialsjama04.pdf)
At the time the ordinarily sanguine British Medical Journal noted with some alarm that it is likely that the medicine’s “current evidence base. . . contains incomplete and questionable evidence”. The journal announced optimistic plans to launch a major effort in 2011 to ‘re-evaluate the integrity of the existing base of research evidence’.
By this the editors are actually suggesting, in decidedly cautious language, that we need to do a good bit of existing medical research over again. It invited drug companies, in a spirit of ‘cooperation’, to join in this effort. http://www.dkmic.de/bibliothek/literatur/blog/21.%20Misleading%20communication%20of%20risk.pdf
Just consider the implications. If two-thirds of medical research is fraudulent and three-quarters written by PR companies, as the Copenhagen committee estimates, the actual percentage of medicine that has been proven to have any benefit at all falls to something close to 4 per cent.
As for charges that my Gardasil article is incorrect, please see a giant evidence-based review of the available evidence to date about the vaccine from a team of University of British Columbia scientists, who came to the same conclusions we do, that the vaccine doesn't work to prevent cervical cancer, has been linked with an enormous number of side effects and shouldn't be given. http://www.scribd.com/doc/76789590/Human-virus-HPV-Vaccine-Policy-and-Evidence-based-Medicine-at-Odds
Ben Goldacre, once so critical and disbelieving of WDDTY’s stance on conventional medicine, now writes in the introduction of his book Bad Pharma: “Medicine is broken. . . we like to imagine that medicine is based on evidence, and the results of fair tests. In reality, those tests are often profoundly flawed. We like to imagine that doctors are familiar with the research literature, when in reality much of it is hidden from them by drug companies. We like to imagine that doctors are well-educated, when in reality much of their education is funded by industry. We like to imagine that regulators only let effective drugs on the market, when in reality they approve hopeless drugs, with data on side effects causally withheld from doctors and patients.”
Or, as I wrote 16 years ago in my book What Doctors Don’t Tell You, ‘For all the science-speak in medicine about risk-factors and painstakingly controlled data, the stringent government regulation, the meticulous peer review in the professional literature—for all the attempts to cloak medicine in the weighty mantle of science—a good deal of what we regard as standard medical practice today amounts to little more than 21st century voodoo.'
Standard medicine is not a science. It's not even a religion. It's a business. A very dangerous and profitable business. It does not heal the sick. It largely makes people more sick. We need a new medicine. We need free choice, the ability of people to source out what works for them and an open forum on alternatives. And that's why we’re publishing What Doctors Don't Tell You.