Pharmaceutical industry’s octopus tentacles

I had an interesting spat with Tom Chivers of the Daily Telegraph who criticised Jeremy Hunt, the new Secretary of State for Health,  for believing in homeopathy.  I asked him if he’d ever tried it and he said, ‘I’m glad you found it helpful. But the reason I can be sure homeopathy doesn’t work is the same way I can be sure that methicillin does work, even though I’ve never tried that either; because it has been rigorously tested, in randomised controlled trials designed to overcome humans’ cognitive biases.’

Interesting that he has so much faith in conventional medicine particularly in the light of a 900 page book called, a Guide to the 4,000 Useful, Useless or Dangerous Medicines which claims that half of the medicines prescribed in France are considered useless by Professor Philippe Even, director of the Necker Institute,and Bernard Debré (as reported in the Guardian, 15 September 2012). 

they claim that if the ‘superfluous and hazardous drugs’ were removed from the health service it would save up to £8 billion a year and prevent up to 20,000 deaths linked to medication. Apparently 12 per cent of GDP  is spent on prescriptions each year in France, while it’s 9.6 per cent in the UK.

Among the medicines that were considered “completely useless” were statins, prescribed to many people to lower cholesterol, but there were many more claimed as dangerous too.   The quote from Professor Even was colourful:

‘The pharmaceutical industry is the most lucrative, the most cynical and the least ethical of all the industries. It is like an octopus with tentacles that has infiltrated all the decision-making bodies, world health organisations, governments, parliaments, high administrations in health and hospitals and the medical profession.

‘It has done this with the connivance and occasionally the corruption of the medical profession. It is the pharmaceutical industry that now outlines the entire medical landscape in our country.’

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