Tom Ballard, ND's blog


Corruption in Drugville?

“Corruption in the pharmaceutical sector occurs throughout all stages of the medicine chain, from research and development to dispensing and promotion,” from a World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet.  According to WHO data, unethical practices such as falsification of evidence, bribery, and mismanagement of conflicts of interest are “common and throughout the medicine chain.”

The fact sheet goes into detail, such as findings that clinical trials of drugs are conducted without proper regulatory approval, that drugs are approved with incorrect or insufficient information, and that doctors are unduly influenced to dispense drugs to gain the greatest profit rather than to produce the greatest benefit for the patient.

Unfortunately our current medical system isn’t the paragon of scientific virtue that they would have us believe. Medical care is a commodity and as such: Buyer beware.



Antibiotics Make Us Fat
December 16, 2010, 8:46 am
Filed under: Commentary, News | Tags: , , ,

Just to show how complex we are, research published in Scientific American and Science magazine has shown that antibiotic use contributes to weight gain. Apparently the disruption of healthy gut bacteria slows the burning of fat.

Antibiotics are not the only drug feeding the obesity problem. According to Lawrence Cheskin, MD, Director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, “Medication-related weight gain has become far more important over the past decade as obesity increases in prevalence and more people are taking medications for chronic illness.”

Didier Raoult, MD, PhD, professor at Merseille School of Medicine, has discovered that antibiotics act as growth promoters and proposes that they are a factor in the pandemic of obesity that is occurring.

No one is suggesting to never take antibiotics. However, do remember that they are having effects far beyond killing off unwanted bugs.

This web of relationships between systems, like digestion and metabolism, is one reason natural medicine emphasizes not disrupting the ecology of the body. Instead the major role of health care should be in reestablishing the delicate balances that keep us healthy.



Weight Watchers Endorses McDonalds
December 2, 2010, 1:09 am
Filed under: Commentary, News | Tags: , , , ,

Some nutritionists (although not nearly enough) were shocked when Weight Watchers (WW) endorsed Chicken McNuggets as a “healthy meal.”

I wasn’t.

Weight Watchers has a long history of recommending questionable foods. More importantly, their entire approach to losing weight – cut fat and calories – has a 95% failure rate. It does not work for long-term weight loss for 95% of its clients.

I’ve asked WW to provide some proof for the effectiveness of their program. All they have are a few sketchy studies showing that lifetime members lose weight. Well, yes, lifetime members are the minority that is more likely to be successful. They remain members because it’s working for them (I suspect these are the ones with the worst diets going into the program). But what about all the millions who drop out because they lost a few pounds, then gained more? They aren’t counted.

What I dislike even more about WW than their endorsement of unhealthy food and failed program is that they crush people’s spirits. Millions have signed up for their program because it has been around so long that it’s become part of the fabric of our culture. It is so ubiquitous, so recommended by doctors and nutritionists, that it becomes the first stop for many people trying to lose weight.

When it doesn’t work, when the person finds their body won’t allow them to be on a low-nutrient diet, they blame themselves. The message becomes: If you were a strong person, you could do this – it’s your fault you failed.

Who wins when we feel defeated? The food and beverage industries and the medical industrial complex. They thrive on our misery.



Diabetes, the FDA, and your safety
September 30, 2010, 9:47 am
Filed under: Commentary, Medications, News | Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s the unfolding of a story that impacts millions of diabetics.

  • 1999: Avandia diabetes drug released and with massive advertising becomes the most popular drug for type 2 diabetes.
  • 2007: The prestigious Cleveland Clinic reports that Avandia increases heart attacks and stroke.
  • 2010, February: After pressure from Congress, the FDA finally takes another look at the safety of Avandia.
  • 2010: Avandia maker GlaxoSmithKline launches a study (TIDE) on safety of their drug (foxes watching the chicken coop).
  • 2010: In spite of internal FDA reports that GlaxoSmithKline study is “unethical and exploitative”, FDA allows study to proceed.
  • 2010, July: The FDA panel vote: 12 feel the research warrants removing Avandia from the market. 10 vote for keeping it on the market with restrictions. 7 vote to keep it on the market with increased warnings. Only 3 recommend keeping it on the market without any changes. Result: Avandia stays on the market.

Important fact: There is no reason for Avandia to stay on the market, even if you only believe in the drug treatment of disease. Several safer drugs exist (Not to mention the proven, safe results of diet and exercise).

[Update: Avandia diabetes drug placed under severe FDA restrictions]

Gotcha: The TIDE safety study will not be completed until 2020. The patent expires in 2012 at which time the profits will be fully milked and untold numbers of users may die needlessly.

Conclusions:

1.   FDA did an inadequate job of screening Avandia in the first place.

2.   FDA was painfully and potentially deadly slow in responding to studies demonstrating Avandia’s dangers.

3.   FDA action was precipitated by Congressional pressure as a result of citizen action.

4.   Drug safety is not a priority of the FDA. Avandia is an unnecessary drug. Why let it remain on the market?

5.   FDA allows pharmaceutical industry to conduct its own safety studies! (Do we allow bridge builders to inspect their own bridges? Was your home inspected by a reliable third party or by the builder?)

6.   Seriously flawed “scientific” studies are allowed by the FDA, even when their own scientists recommend against it.

7.   Money controls the science and safety of the pills millions of people have been led to believe are safe and effective.



More than skin deep
February 1, 2010, 12:07 pm
Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , ,

Accutane, the popular and profitable acne medicine, was quietly pulled off the market in Nov. 2009 because it doubled the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease. Accutane is also known to damage DNA and cause birth defects. Other side effects include joint and muscle pain, headaches, thinning hair, elevated cholesterol, liver toxicity, and depression. Some cases of teenage suicide have been associated with Accutane. Generic versions are still on the market.

Patients pay up to $150 per month for this treatment. Thirteen million people, mostly young adults, have used Accutane since it was approved in 1982. The manufacturer, Roche, has lost an estimated $33 million in judgments against them, but their profits from this one drug are estimated at $200 million per year.

This is a sad, but not unusual, scenario of drug-based medicine. Acne is a chronic health problem, a symptom of an underlying nutritional and toxic condition. It is successfully treated by safe natural approaches. Food allergies, poor diet, and digestive problems have all been researched and found to be associated with acne.

Unfortunately, few doctors read the research on natural therapies, and instead rely on dangerous drugs. An example of this comes from none other than the president of the American Academy of Dermatology who is quoted as saying, “It would be a true disaster if this medication (Accutane) would become unavailable.”  Yes, this is how they think – a “disaster” to take a drug off the market that causes severe health problems, even death.



Hormone disruption, infertility, and household chemicals
December 11, 2009, 10:56 am
Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Is it a coincidence that fertility rates and testosterone levels are going down? Not according to CHEM Trust which reports that a variety of common consumer products are disturbing male hormone levels. Most of the research on hormone disruption has been on women, but plastics and other chemicals also disrupt male hormones and fertility. According to Richard Sharpe of the Medical Research Council, exposure to hormone disruptors can “feminize” male children even in the womb by blocking testosterone.

Hormone-disrupting chemicals are found in plastics, cosmetics, cleaning products and processed foods. Examples include the phthalates diethyl phthalate (DEP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), Bisphenol A (BPA) and Triclosan. Research typically focuses on one chemical at a time, ignoring the possibility that it is the accumulated effect of many chemicals that is responsible for destroying reproductive health.



Drug Problems Go Beyond Pain Pills
November 27, 2008, 11:56 am
Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , ,

By Tom Ballard, RN, ND

The Seattle PI published a nice article on pain pills (Prescription Pill Deaths Soar, PI 11-14-08). However, prescription drugs problems go far beyond pain medications.

The Journal of the American Medical Association and other leading publications report at least 120,000 deaths per year from ‘appropriately prescribed’ medications. It makes since: Prescription drugs are largely used to treat symptoms not diseases. For instance: High blood pressure may be caused by a magnesium deficiency. Blood pressure pills lower your blood pressure, but ignore the magnesium deficiency that places you at risk of stroke and heart attack.

Rising death rates from prescription drugs are a major health problem, killing three times as many as breast cancer, yet the public is largely unaware of this health crisis.