PHARMED AND DANGEROUS
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
Medical science is continually making rapid advances: new medications and treatments are developed and introduced at a rapid pace, however with supply and demand I often contemplate the possibility that pharmaceutical companies can cut corners and get sloppy. We are always assured by the FDA or by health organizations that our system for screening drugs is superior, but now it can be argued that iatrogenic consequences are not necessarily the fault of the doctor but it may just be the fault of the manufacturer.
Our biological systems are constantly evolving, and if we go by scientific hypothesis we can also surmise that disease-causing organisms are evolving too, and this poses the question about whether or not treatments and pills that kill the ills are killing the patient.
Like all biological systems, both disease-causing organisms and their victims evolve. Understanding evolution can make a big difference in how we treat disease. The evolution of disease-causing organisms may outpace our ability to invent new treatments, and it may even outpace our ability to ease pain and suffering.
The failures of the past have given way to the most unexpected successes, new problems have arisen. Accidents related to care and medication, in particular, have multiplied and have begun to worry healthcare professionals, and we hear about drug-induced iatrogenic, adverse effects or even adverse drug events.
One of the best examples of this was the well-publicized tragedy associated with thalidomide used in the 1960’s as a sedative and anti-nausea medicine. Pregnant women who used the drug caused serious congenital malformations in their babies.
Today, there are still many drugs still on the shelves that when misused, are responsible for accidents ranging from simple digestive intolerance to death.
Physical dependence can happen with the chronic use of many drugs, including many prescription drugs, even if taken as instructed. Physical dependence in and of itself does not constitute addiction, but it often accompanies addiction.
This distinction can be difficult to discern, particularly with prescribed pain medications, for which the need for increasing dosages represents tolerance or a worsening underlying problem, as opposed to the beginning of abuse or addiction.
I have always learned that as a general rule if you are taking a pill to kill pain you are dependent if you are taking it even after the pain is gone, you are addicted.
But if you are taking your pills as directed and the pain persists, your body has gotten used to them over time, or the worst case scenario would be that the drug companies are doing the equivalent of watering down the alcohol.
As a positive psychosocial context may induce a placebo effect, a negative context, including information about adverse effects, may lead to opposite expectations and outcomes, called, the Nocebo Effect.
The so-called pandemic of opiate overuse may also be a Nocebo Effect by itself.
Humans have a tendency to perceive what they expect to perceive. A placebo effect is the result of positive expectations, whereas the Nocebo Effect is the result of negative ones.
These expectations depend on the patient himself, the most important personality trait influencing on expectancy being optimism or pessimism, defined as a generalized and relatively stable expectancy for positive or negative future outcomes and the most important illness being anxiety and depressive disorders.
These expectations also depend on the complex psychosocial context surrounding the patient such as verbal and written instructions, environmental clues, and the interaction with care providers. Because of their historical reputation, some medications may be more likely to have adverse effects ascribed to them.
A clueless government seeks “treatment” for the opioid epidemic without addressing irresponsible prescribing and drug industry marketing, and high-level financial conflicts of interest. Opioid makers have targeted taxpayer-supported programs like Medicaid, Medicare and military programs to supply them rich opioid revenues.
Opioids have been promoted for uses once not accepted because of the drug class’ dangers and addiction potential. Their efficacy should be called into question as users claim of ineffectiveness.
The propaganda is having you believe that you are addicted to opioids when you are only dependent on them.
I am not saying that addiction isn’t a problem, I am merely saying that an over-focus on opioid addiction is leading me to believe that pain is an evolving creature – and that as pain evolves in humans there needs to be various alternatives and diet changes that may help those with chronic pain depend less on the pharmaceuticals and more on behavioral changes.
For example, there is something most of us are addicted to that causes inflammatory pain and that is sugar.
Personally, I am not able to take anti-inflammatory medications for pain. I realized how much I needed them when I injured my knee on a hiking trip. After several months my knee was getting worse and I begged for a solution because opiates were not effective in taking away the pain.
I had a discussion with Doc Wallach and he recommended that all forms of sugar and gluten cause inflammation. In order to manage my pain – I had to make it a habit to avoid sugar because it was causing cytokine inflammation in my joints.
I decided to put it to the test and went two weeks without added starches or sugars in my diet. My knee felt as though it was healing and of course I started to lose more weight.
One night when I was out with my wife, I decided to treat myself to a piece of apple pie at dinner. The next morning I paid for the treat. My knee started hurting again and so I had to use a cane to get around.
While I am able to take normal pain medications to take the edge off of chronic pain – I am finding myself using fewer medications for my knee.
Now I have another incentive to try and keep sugar out of my life, just as I would cigarettes or alcohol.
I did some research and found out that back in the 1960’s, the sugar industry paid three Harvard scientists to publish a study in the New England Journal of Medicine arguing fat (particularly saturated fat) and cholesterol triggered heart disease while largely ignoring sugar as a possible culprit for triggering certain diseases.
Repercussions of that sugar-lobbied study resonated over the next few decades into 2017; in fact, as low fat, cholesterol-free, and calorie counting became mantras for healthy eating.
Sugar got a free pass as being a “healthy” part of any sensible diet, whatever that meant. Meanwhile, over the ensuing decades, we became fatter and sicker. And today, more experts acknowledge sugar became the chief culprit that sabotaged our health and contributed to many diseases including inflammation. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chocolate chip cookie, a waffle or a slice of toast, but I have to avoid them in order to avoid pain and to avoid taking opiates that every day I am losing my faith in.
I am losing faith because I am beginning to see that the so-called opioid crisis is a crisis in the effectiveness of opioids, plain and simple. The pharmaceutical companies are not keeping up with the evolution of pain, and so what they have done is to team up with advertising agencies and have created public service announcements declaring that addiction or even an accidental overdose is actually a moral failing.
It is not a moral failing – I want to say that it is becoming an iatrogenic artifact because each pill that is consumed does not always deliver the medication that is prescribed. One pill could have less of an effective dose while another can have more that the dose prescribed on the label.
This creates a yo-yo effect on the dopamine in the brain.
In particular, pathways containing dopamine are where many drugs exert their effects. Dopamine is a small chemical in the brain important for carrying signals from one brain cell to the next, similar to how a train carries cargo between stations. Pathways where dopamine is present are involved in many different functions, one of which is reward-motivated behavior.
In the healthy brain, dopamine is released in response to natural rewards, such as food or exercise, as a way of saying, “that was good.” But drugs hijack dopamine pathways and so people tend to want the euphoric reward when they take the pills; sometimes they don’t get it with one or two pills and so the vicious cycle of taking more and more leads to serious liver damage, shallow breathing and death.
I asked my doctor about my theory about opioid efficacy and how I believe it contributes to addiction. He said that while no one has taken the time to investigate this – the FDA have paid millions of dollars in researching the efficacy of health supplements.
I thought of course they are looking into the effectiveness of supplements in order to create a reason to not take them.
According to a review of data from the US Food and Drug Administration, hundreds of dietary supplements available for sale in America between 2007 and 2016 contained “active pharmaceuticals” – drugs that can have serious adverse effects.
Some supplements included the chemical compounds in prescription erectile dysfunction meds such Viagra or Cialis, while others contained unapproved anti-depressants, ephedrine – a stimulant banned in weight-loss pills and “undeclared anabolic steroids or steroid-like substances.”
In 757 of 776 of the examples logged, the pharmaceutical ingredients were not shown on the product label.
Dietary supplements are classified as food in the US and are not subject to the same rigorous testing protocols applied to drugs. They are available over the counter, and more than half of Americans use them, according to the study.
The authors looked at results from the FDA’s “tainted supplements” database, in which the agency publishes recall notices and consumer warnings. They note that the agency does not reveal how many products it tests each year, so the rate of adulterated supplements is unknown.
A 2015 study cited in the review found that 23,000 US emergency room visits each year are due to dietary supplements.
In 2010, the FDA issued a letter indicating that it had received “numerous reports of serious adverse events associated with consumer use of these tainted products including strokes, acute liver injury, kidney failure, pulmonary embolisms (artery blockage in the lung), and death”.
Most of these supplements were actually for male enhancement.
As I was reading the report I was thinking to myself that if the FDA were honest they would see to it that an investigation would be made into opioid efficiency and how the opioid crisis could be connected to their lack of oversight.
You can use as an example last year’s flu vaccine.
An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter the disease’s highest death toll in at least four decades.
One of the contributors to this death toll was a vaccine that was ineffective at fighting a mutated flu that some have said was a biologically enhanced pathogen.
A Rice University study of 6,610 human flu sequences predicts that the fall of 2018 flu vaccine will likely have the same reduced efficacy against the dominant circulating strain of influenza as the vaccine given in 2016 and 2017 due to viral mutations related to vaccine production in eggs.
A new flu season study found in a report put out by Clinical Infectious Diseases, indicates they are seeing genetic anomalies in the Flu strains and that data gathered in the last decade is showing that mutations and anomalies in the strain have dominated in the past two flu seasons in which vaccines offered only limited protection against the most widely circulating strain of influenza.
Biochemical and Genetic Engineering spokespeople at Rice University are now saying that the vaccine has been changed for 2018-19 flu season, but unfortunately it still contains two critical mutations that arise from the egg-based vaccine production process.
Most flu vaccines are produced with a decades-old process that involves culturing viruses in hundreds of millions of chicken eggs. Because the strain of flu that infects people is often difficult to grow in eggs, vaccine producers must make compromises to produce enough egg-based vaccine in time for fall flu shots. Unintended effects of this process have reduced vaccine efficacy against H3N2 the past two years.
The worst case scenario would be the emergence of novel strain or a genetically modified/lab grown strain for which the population would not have immunity combined to an airborne transmission between humans. The global travel could allow the virus to be propagated around the world in a very small time.
There is no solution or even an inoculation that could help, and scientists are reluctant to release any new findings because potentially dangerous researches could be used by bioterrorists or lead to an accidental release from a lab.
This means that the threat of another deadly flu pandemic looms because we are not keeping up with the evolution of these diseases and the effectiveness of the cures are leading to complications and death.
The pharmaceutical companies are not evolving with the evolving needs of the patients. Several studies have reviewed the industry’s declining productivity challenges.
Everyone working in the pharmaceutical industry cannot help but notice that it is undergoing a vigorous evolution. Much has been written about how pharmaceutical companies will need to change and how what they are offering the public is ineffective iatrogenic artifacts that are pharmed and dangerous.