The American Health Care System in Crisis
The broken promises of the dominant healthcare system in America
I recently came across a website that opened with the question:
"Did you know: You have a seven times greater chance of dying walking into your doctor's office than you do getting behind the wheel of your car? Prescription drug adverse reactions are the third leading cause of death in America."
When looking at the relative dangers of driving vs seeing your doctor, the situation is really much worse. Think about it: You drive many more times in a month than you go to see your doctor. Factor that into the equation, and I don't even what to think about the odds.
But it gets worse.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, the American medical healthcare system is now the leading cause of death in America. Not cancer; not heart disease. It's your doctor — healthcare, as it is now practiced.
But it gets even worse.
The tragic toll
Every year, depending on the source you reference, approximately 200,000 people die from adverse prescription drug reactions. Another 80,000 die from medical malpractice. And these figures don't take into account the 57,000 or so who die from taking the aspirin recommended by their doctors, the enormous amount of pain and suffering caused by these medications in people who do not die, or the fact that about 40% of all hospital beds are occupied by people made sick by their doctors (iatrogenic diseases).
By comparison, only 41,000 die in automobile accidents.
Doesn't this suggest something?
A terribly flawed healthcare system:
A system that is supposed to safeguard the health of the American people is instead the leading cause of death. Despite this, this system is allowed to determine, to a very large extent, the kind of healthcare we are allowed to choose. The system is broken; we need an alternative.
Yet, despite these obvious dangers:
- The majority of Americans continue to believe that, if a drug is approved by the FDA and prescribed by their doctor, it is safe. Even after Vioxx, we still hear this.
- The majority of Americans still don't trust alternative healthcare options. They believe that if they have not been tested and approved by the FDA, they are simply unproven — or even dangerous. (I sense some irony here.) The people who gave us Vioxx are going to tell us if vitamin C is safe?
- The FDA continues to fast-track drug approvals, before there is any good idea of the long-term risks involved. And while a majority of the drugs approved are known to cause serious side-effects — even death — they are approved anyway. (It's assumed that doctors will educate themselves on these drugs, and monitor their patients to ensure safety. But, all too often, that doesn't happen. Studies have consistently shown that doctors rely of pharmaceutical company sales people to educate them on drugs. This makes sense, since the FDA relies on pharmaceutical company people in the approval process for those drugs — a serious conflict of interest, with devastating effects on the public health.)
- The FDA approves dangerous drugs, relying on the professionalism of doctors to monitor them for safety — which, all-too-often, they don't.
- Doctors continue to prescribe these drugs, with the distorted idea that, since the FDA approved them, they must be safe. The listed side-effects in the literature, they believe, really don't mean anything.
- And the FDA continues to tighten its grip on alternative therapies that have, at the very least, demonstrated that they are safe.
The FDA v. the First Amendment:
A bureaucracy's assault on your health.
The FDA's current interpretation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (a.k.a. DSHEA — pronounced "due-shay") makes it very hard for you to get good, reliable, scientifically and clinically validated information about alternative healthcare options. This presents two very significant problems for you:
- First of all, this policy limits your opportunities to hear about health care options that could, in some cases, save your life; and
- Secondly, it deprives you of ready access to information on how best to use those alternative products in a safe and effective manner.
[Note: The dangers of most un-regulated dietary supplements is not that they are un-regulated (take a look at the carnage caused by FDA-approved drugs); it is the lack of information available about them: what they can do for you, and how they should be used. In many instances — especially in the case of innovative dietary supplements — the manufacturer is the best source for this information, but is not allowed to present that information to you.]
Here is one example of the FDA's attempt to limit your access to vital healthcare information:
There is a really exciting audio CD out there called "Essential Oils: the Missing Link in Healthcare". In it, Gary Young tells about scientific research into the therapeutic properties of essential oils and the benefits they offer in a time when super bugs appear every other year. It's a great presentation; very informative; and has the potential to do the world a lot of good.
However, Young Living Essential Oils distributors cannot post the transcript on their websites.
I don't even think they're even allowed to offer the CDs for free.
But they can sell them! It's just a small way to keep that gulf between you and the information you need.
This ruling significantly limits the dissemination of this information; and, it would seem, to violate the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Courts think so, and have repeatedly so ruled. And Congress, which passed DSHEA in the first place, has repeatedly ruled that the FDA's policies violate its spirit — if not the letter — of the law.
None of this makes any difference to the FDA.
I think it's become obvious that the government is not looking out for the welfare of its people; its concern is for the interests of the pharmaceutical companies.
The real crisis in the American health care system
The media has been reporting a crisis in our health care system: costs have risen so much that health care must be rationed. Conventional healthcare costs have come to take up such a large percentage of our gross national product (GNP) that many economists believe that our economy cannot withstand the pressure much longer. However, the true crisis is that cheaper, less dangerous and more effective alternatives are being marginalized or threatened, while the medical establishment is allowed to define health and science on its own terms, and abridge the Constitutional rights of those who hold an opposing view.
This is a situation that should not be allowed to continue.