Yesterday’s post looked askance at Big Pharma in a general way, noting that the industry’s eagerness to rush products to market, combined with all the possible variants of individual experience, sometimes lead to grim outcomes.
In the 1980s, when the federal government cut research funding, drug manufacturers cheerfully stepped up. They gave millions, and then billions, to institutions of higher learning, for research, and have done so ever since.
Sure, universities and foundations need the money, but the source appears to be tainted. Steven Peters of NaturalRevolution.org, previously quoted here, notes that…
[…] when a drug company funds a study, there is a 90% chance that the drug will be perceived as effective whereas a non-drug-company-funded study will show favorable results only 50% of the time.
As if that were not dismaying enough, Peters adds another detail:
In June 2002, the New England Journal of Medicine announced that it would accept journalists who accept money from drug companies because it was too difficult to find ones who have no ties.
Professionals might be expected to fill the role of industry watchdogs, but some appear capable of shedding that responsibility when it is convenient.
Every drug is marketed with a specific purpose, but sometimes it turns out to be helpful to a different medical problem. Liraglutide, for example, started out by helping diabetic patients keep their blood sugar in good order. Then, users noticed that they lost a few pounds, and eventually the medicine was also authorized for that purpose.
A doctor is allowed to prescribe any pharmaceutical for any condition, and hopefully will have the experience and knowledge to do so responsibly. But the M.D. is supposed to learn about such “off-label” uses through reputable professional channels. When the manufacturer’s sales force promotes uses that are not officially approved, a boundary is breached and an ethical gray area is entered. Things can get even more sketchy, like when a corporation develops a drug first, then creates a disease to go with it.
Returning to weight loss
No patient should ever feel justified in using the medication as an excuse to pig out or lay down. In every case, the patient is expected to do her or his part. Careful eating and frequent physical activity are recommended for virtually everyone, in all times and places.
The upside is, sometimes a seemingly trivial weight loss can produce meaningful results. When a person has endured the bothersome condition of sleep apnea, and then it goes away, life is good. Even if the scale refuses to yield an impressive number, the quality of life difference can be huge.
Same goes for alleviating joint pain or high blood pressure. Even a modest loss of body fat can be revolutionary. A person may not even look any slimmer, but the difference between feeling lousy and feeling okay can propel the seeker along to the next stepping stone.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!