Economic Growth Model Infiltrates Health Care
In line with the global trend towards economic growth and “bigger is better”, it is no surprise that Australian institutions have tagged along. Doctors and medical centres have been taken over by faceless groups of accountants, nursing homes the same (many owned by “Bluescope”), veterinarians (owned by Greencross) and (heaven forbid), pharmacies (Chemists Warehouse/My Chemist franchises). There is a very real possibility that many pharmacies will soon be swallowed up by Coles and Woolworths.
Being a grumpy old fogey, I don’t like any of this but realise it is the price we pay for modern society’s fixation with consumerism, cheaper prices and materialistic “success”.
Present Day Medical Practice
A striking example of present-day medical practice happened when a surgery near my place of employment began stocking antibiotics, vaccines and other products. The doctor would not only prescribe these but also supply them, saying, “ It will be cheaper here than at a pharmacy.”
There has been a long history, achieved by consensus and ethics, of doctors and pharmacists not encroaching on each other’s territory, and I felt this was a clear case of conflict of interest. This grated with my own ethics (yes – I do have some), so I wrote to the Medical Board, the Pharmacy Board and other bodies. They all ignored me except the Medical Board, who then investigated.
After two years, they were still investigating but finally reached a decision. They told me they had no jurisdiction to prevent this, though admitting it violated ethical standards, and that the doctors had said that their accountants had told them they needed to increase their turnover. I wrote back, saying, “Don’t we all?”, thanked them for nothing and forgot all about it.
Some practices also have very cosy arrangements (kick-backs) with pathology companies which have grown enormously in recent times due to doctors not having the time or skill to diagnose (and the fear of litigation if they don’t order multiple tests for everyone). If there was no bulk-billing by Medicare and patients had to pay for this over-servicing, there would be a dramatic fall in the number of tests.
Horror Drug Treatments In Modern Medical Practice
Getting back to medical practice and drug treatment, here are some more things to consider:
Anti-inflammatories are routinely prescribed and dispensed for every minor muscle strain and in back pain. They are designed to reduce inflammation and this they do very well. The fact that this directly interferes with (and stops) the natural healing system, is ignored. When there is nerve or muscle damage anywhere in the body, fluid, enzymes and proteins called prostaglandins are rushed to the site, where they naturally cause swelling. This swelling is a sign of the healing process, so to artificially reduce or remove it, is madness.
Allied to the over-use of these drugs is the high incidence of side-effects. A drug called “Vioxx” was banned a few years ago because of serious cardiovascular problems. Not mentioned is that there are still drugs on the market that are just as bad.
Diclofenac (which can be sold without a prescription) has recently been found to have the same or worse side-effect profile as Vioxx, and ALL anti-inflammatories can cause gastric bleeding. When used in conjunction with anti-hypertensives and diuretics, they can cause kidney failure. Perhaps we should all stick exclusively to RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation— and then do your own physiotherapy.
A report from America has mentioned that there is currently no research being done in developing new psychiatric drugs. Anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and anxiolytics all mess around with brain chemistry (often to the detriment of the patient), but the drug companies have decided there is no more money to be made in this field and have reverted to their favourite “cash-cows”— cancer, cardiovascular disorders and auto-immune diseases. These dominate our aging, health-obsessed and affluent populations, so that is where the money goes.
More horror stories to come…
Pharmacy’s Dirty Secrets