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Why Don’t We Trust Big Pharma?

Jacob Schor ND FABNO

December 13, 2009

An article in today’s New York Times has me searching my hard drive in frustration.  “Menopause, as Brought to You by Big Pharma” is one of the best summaries that I’ve seen in print about the marketing strategies  and methodical obfuscation of the facts employed by Wyeth in their promotion of hormone replacement therapy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/business/13drug.html?_r=1&ref=business

Reading it brought me back to some of the information pieces we wrote back in the mid 1990s in which we examined the risks of using these drugs and the questionable information behind the claimed benefits.

Alas, those handouts were in our early computer era, long before we figured out how to transfer files from one computer to the next, long before we had a website to post things to.

I did find a newsletter written in 2004 that contains earlier content from 2000:

http://denvernaturopathic.com/news/hormones2.html  

Not quite as far back as I want.  I’m interested in what we were writing in the early to mid 1990s.  Somewhere there is a file of the transparencies used with an overhead projector for classes I taught for Denver Free University.

Reading through today’s Times article, it is no wonder people don’t trust the drug companies.  I see this all of the time.  People don’t trust the data on chemotherapy and cancer, on statins and heart disease, on you name it; people think that all drug companies lie in order to promote sales.

Of course this isn’t true.  But some of the companies, some of the time, do lie.  Or at least twist the truth aggressively.

We’ve seen hints of this in recent years in the promotion of statin drugs.  We have written about this several times in recent years, first about the unmentioned side effect of ubiquinone depletion the drugs cause:

 http://denvernaturopathic.com/news/lipitor.html

And the lack of scientific basis behind some of the guidelines for use:

http://denvernaturopathic.com/OverdosedAmerica.htm

And also about the exaggeration of benefits obtained:

http://denvernaturopathic.com/news/JUPITER.html

It is also hard not to be suspicious of some of the drugs sold to treat osteoporosis; there is so much profit to be made by marketing drugs to this patient population.

Thus it’s not surprising that there is little mention of the undesirable side effects these drugs cause, such as Dead Jaw Syndrome:

http://denvernaturopathic.com/news/deadjaw.html

or, the recently noticed occurrence of odd femur fractures:

Whoops, it appears that this newsletter was never finished and sent out.  I’ll finish it shortly.

Or the fact the antidepressants medications like Prozac are major contributors to bone loss:

http://denvernaturopathic.com/serotoninandbone.htm

So are the proton pump inhibitor drugs like Nexium that double risk of bone fractures:

http://www.naturopathydigest.com/archives/2007/apr/schor.php

So why is it again that many people are suspicious of the promises of Big Pharma?