Tom Ballard, ND's blog

Drugs: No Comparison
January 13, 2011, 11:29 am
Filed under: Commentary, Medications | Tags: , , ,

Researchers from Harvard, writing for the Journal of the American Medical Association, have concluded that, “Many of our nation’s research priorities are driven by the pharmaceutical industry. These companies, not surprisingly, focus most of their attention on new therapies.”

This is what I’ve been writing about for years. How can we improve our health when the powerful pharmaceutical industry controls research? Their goal is to make money. New drugs make more money, whether they’re any better than the old or not.

Among this study’s conclusions was that few drugs are ever compared with other drugs for safety or efficacy. Instead they’re usually compared to placebos. When drugs are compared one on one, the report states, they usually don’t compare safety. Doctors and patients can be lured into thinking that the new drug on the block is better than an older, less expensive, drug, when in reality the question was never asked. This is one of the reasons why drug companies make more profits than any other industry.

It goes without saying that drugs are rarely compared to lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Drug studies also tend to be relatively short in duration, months rather than years, and limit their scope to very narrow parameters (ie, does it lower cholesterol, not whether it prolongs life).

There is one area where I have seen comparative studies. Cancer research usually involves comparing two chemotherapy programs or chemotherapy to radiation. You’ll never see a cancer therapy compared to life style changes or even doing nothing. Cancer researchers would argue that it would be unethical to use humans with cancer in a study and give them nothing, but the fact is they usually have no idea whether patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation are in fact helped at all. They may be able to tell you therapy X prolonged survival over therapy Y, but not if either prolonged life over no therapy.

The American public has been dazzled by the advances in medicine over the past few decades. And there have been remarkable achievements. As more reports like this one emerge, the public will undergo a slow awakening to the dangers of allowing a largely unregulated industry to dictate how medical research is conducted.


Legal Drugs Kill More Than Illegal
November 26, 2008, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Commentary | Tags: , , ,

By Tom Ballard, RN, ND

While much attention is placed on deaths from illegal drugs, rising death rates from legal drugs are largely ignored. Over 20 years (1979-1998) a total of 214,575 deaths were classified by the Center for Disease Control as drug-induced – but only 21 percent of these were due to illegal drugs.

According to research in the Journal of the American Medical Association and other leading publications, there are at least 120,000 deaths per year from legal medications. And, experts admit, medication deaths are under-reported.

It makes since: Prescription drugs are largely used to treat symptoms not diseases. The consequence of covering up symptoms is that the underlying disease process is ignored. For instance: Your blood pressure may be high because of a magnesium deficiency. The blood pressure pill will lower your blood pressure, but ignores the magnesium deficiency that places you at risk of stroke and heart attack.

Rising death rates from prescription drugs makes it clear; attacking symptoms while ignoring causes is not in our long-term health interests.