Healthcare? “The Cave of Our Sleeping” Part 4

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When one peels away dark clouds, one exposes the sun; as a result, the ten thousand things cannot hide their shapes.  Ge Hong

According to a USA Today study, more than half of the experts hired to advise the government on the safety and effectiveness of medicine have financial relationships with the pharmaceutical companies that will be helped or hurt by their decisions. These experts are hired to advise the Food and Drug Administration on which medicines should be approved for sale, what the warning labels should say and how studies of drugs should be designed. The experts are supposed to be independent, but USA TODAY found that 54% of the time, they have a direct financial interest in the drug or topic they are asked to evaluate. These conflicts include helping a pharmaceutical company develop a medicine, then serving on a FDA advisory committee that judges the drug. The conflicts typically include stock ownership, consulting fees or research grants. Though Federal law generally prohibits the FDA from using experts with financial conflicts of interest, but according to the article, the FDA has waived the restriction more than 800 times since 1998. Article by Dennis Cauchon, the USA TODAY Newspaper

Let’s take a closer look at what’s being offered by both the House plan and the Senate help plan relative to the sheer numbers their respective bills propose to insure:

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How much does the Government currently spend for healthcare?

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Our Government spends over three-quarters of a trillion dollars (which is the new billion) on healthcare? Then why is America the sickest nation amongst all the developed countries in the world? It is because the profiteers: The FDA, drug companies, privatized-health insurance (the HMO’s), and commercial media have placed Americans in a cave of our sleeping. How else can one explain the public acceptance of an expanded (“universal”) healthcare plan when the current system is broken? We need refocus not reform. We need those in charge of policy to put the care back in health care. We need our Government to care more about the health of Americans than about pushing through a piece of landmark legislation. What good is universal healthcare if no one cares about universal health?  Sure. Personal responsibility and self-care must be the cornerstone of a healthier America, but the Government plays an integral part as well. You cannot have a serious discussion about health in America without a sober conversation about poverty in America or education or unemployment or prescription drugs or medical malpractice or FDA/HMO/big pharma collusion or restoring President Fitness programs in our public schools or subsidized farming and ranching or alternative medicine or shorter work weeks or gun control laws or longer vacations or redefining family medical leave or increasing the quality of life for all Americans or fruit and fresh produce commercials shown on cartoon networks or insurance plans with health club memberships as a proviso or fewer fast food restaurants and more healthy choice restaurants or tax-incentives for those who live a healthy lifestyle or medical students who are not thousands of dollars in debt when they graduate so they are not tempted to prostitute the health of their patients to drug companies or Real universal care for our veterans, elderly and children. Until our Government decides that Americans not America is our greatest domestic product then we will continue to warehouse systems which profit from disease, illness and death and embrace them as healthcare reform.

We cannot spend over one trillion dollars on healthcare just to improve profits for drug companies. The time for activism is now! Write your congressional leaders and let them know that you are not going to tolerate this healthcare sleight of hand. What is being proposed is smoke and mirrors. What is being offered to the American public is a universal lie! One definition of reform is “to change the integrity of “. . .  another means to improve. . .  still another is to “see the light”.

True reform will awaken you from your slumber. True reform will have you light a candle of self-responsibility, to participate in the light of a new day dawning. True reform will improve the quality of your life. True reform will champion integrity. True reform will peel away the dark clouds and expose the sun. As a result, ten thousand things can no longer hide. When True reform comes it comes in the form of a crusade. True reform is a holy war. It is the good fight for your wholeness. It is a movement. It is a rest. It is your part of God!

Healthcare? “The Cave of Our Sleeping” Part 3

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One in seven Americans, including more than 8 million children, does not have even basic healthcare coverage. Dave Reichert

In January 2009, Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple Computer Inc. was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He took a six-month leave from office in order to undergo a liver transplant. In June 2009, Actress Farrah Fawcett lost her (3) year battle with anal cancer. Also in June 2009, Pop Music icon Michael Jackson succumbed to a lethal drug overdose. When the rich and famous become ill or lose their battle with cancer or die from a drug overdose it makes headline news. But what about the average American who has “basic healthcare” coverage?

A statistical study of hospital deaths in the U.S. conducted at the University of Toronto revealed that pharmaceutical drugs kill more people every year than are killed in traffic accidents.

The study is said to show that more than two million American hospitalized patients suffered a serious adverse drug reaction (ADR) within the 12-month period of the study and, of these, over 100,000 died as a result. The researchers found that over 75 per cent of these ADRs were dose-dependent, which suggests they were due to the inherent toxicity of the drugs rather than to allergic reactions.

Another extensive study published in the reputable Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirmed the University of Toronto study when it found that 106,000 people die each year in American hospitals from medication side effects (some studies suggests as many as 300,000 annually).

If you examine this statistic a different way: 106,000 deaths a year averages out to nearly 300 deaths per day. Every day! Deaths from all major airline crashes in the U.S. average less than 300 annually, but 1 airplane crash gets more media attention and governmental scrutiny than the 300 medication-related deaths which occurred not only on the same day as the airline crash, but also every day before and after for decades. So where is the emphasis on health in healthcare? If  106,000 Americans were dying from illegal drugs annually I guarantee there would have been National Moratoriums held within every congressional district with anti-drug demonstrations, rallies, marches and prayer vigils conducted involving hundreds of thousands of outraged people from every spectrum with their local Senate and Congressional leaders likely leading the way. Instead, we entertain staged town hall meetings (which are no more than reality-based infomercials for Republican and Democratic agendas) making headlines. Instead, we hold week long memorials and televised funerals for fallen stars. Instead, we debate the merits of more affordable drugs. Instead, we focus our attention on the inane argument for end-of-life counseling (which after going through the spin cycle) becomes a political grenade called “death panels”.

Meanwhile. . .

There are 2,000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery; 7000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals; 20,000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals; 80,000 deaths/year from infections in hospitals; 106,000 deaths/year from non-error, adverse effects of medications – these total up to 225,000 deaths per year in the US from iatrogenic causes which ranks these deaths as the # 3 killer. Iatrogenic is a term used when a patient dies as a direct result of treatments by a physician, whether it is from misdiagnosis of the ailment or from adverse drug reactions used to treat the illness. (drug reactions are the most common cause).

Meanwhile. . .

46% of Americans take at least one prescription drug daily. But consider this. . . The following 10 drugs which were taken off the market because of serious, often lethal side effects.

Rezulin: Given fast-track approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Rezulin was linked to 63 confirmed deaths and probably hundreds more. “We have real trouble,” a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) physician wrote in 1997, just a few months after Rezulin’s approval. The drug wasn’t taken off the market until 2000.

Lotronex: Against concerns of one of its own officers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lotronex in February 2000. By the time it was withdrawn 9 months later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had received reports of 93 hospitalizations, multiple emergency bowel surgeries, and 5 deaths.

Propulsid: A top-selling drug for many years, this drug was linked to hundreds of cases of heart arrhythmias and over 100 deaths.

Redux: Taken by millions of people for weight loss after its approval in April 1996, Redux was soon linked to heart valve damage and a disabling, often lethal pulmonary disorder. Taken off the market in September 1997.

Pondimin: A component of Fen-Phen, the diet fad drug. Approved in 1973, Pondimin’s link to heart valve damage and a lethal pulmonary disorder wasn’t recognized until shortly before its withdrawal in 1997.

Duract: This painkiller was taken off the market when it was linked to severe, sometimes fatal liver failure.

Seldane: America’s and the world’s top-selling antihistamine for a decade, it took the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 5 years to recognize that Seldane was causing cardiac arrhythmias, blackouts, hospitalizations, and deaths, and another 8 years to take it off the market.

Hismanal: Approved in 1988 and soon known to cause cardiac arrhythmias, the drug was finally taken off the market in 1999.

Posicor: Used to treat hypertension, the drug was linked to life-threatening drug interactions and more than 100 deaths.

Raxar: Linked to cardiac toxicities and deaths.

Never before has there been a need to demonstrate our “Hope for Change!”

To be continued…

Healthcare? “The Cave of Our Sleeping” Part 2

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Learn to light the candle. Rise with the sun. Turn away from the cave of your sleeping. Mevlana Rumi

Another friend is 85 years of age. I asked him his thoughts on this public health care debate and he answered this way: “I haven’t eaten a hamburger or a hotdog in over fifty years. I haven’t had ice cream in forty years. And I haven’t eaten a piece of candy in nearly sixty years. When you eliminate all the junk from your life it is amazing how delicious broccoli is. . . how ridiculously sweet an apple is.” At that moment no other emotion was appropriate but laughter. We both shared a hearty laugh then embraced. Here was a man I met nearly a decade ago and his energy and health were eminently superior today. His past self was a shell of his present self (just the opposite of my other friend who had developed pancreatic cancer). At 85, he jogs or bikes ten miles six days a week, lifts weights for 45 minutes five days a week, swims for an hour three days a week and takes his wife out dancing every Wednesday evening. This was his answer to the media-hyped health care argument. He believed it was each individuals responsibility to “learn to light the candle and to rise with the sun”. In other words, each person had to be responsible for his/her own health.

My friend obviously has great genetics but as he explained to me diabetes, high-blood pressure, cancer, obesity and heart disease ran in his bloodline. Notwithstanding, he had decided as a young man in his twenties not to participate in his families pathological history but would instead leave a new genetic legacy for his progeny. He would learn to light the candle of personal responsibility.

Why have so many Americans failed to learn this lesson? Partly because most have become overly dependent on the “professional opinions” of doctors for everything. There was a time when the individual trusted their own intuition about such things. There was a time when we consulted the wisdom of grandma. Because we knew grandma had a chest drawer full of natural remedies, not the medicine cabinet that is filled with prescription drugs today; drugs that are designed to keep grandma (barely) alive while adding nothing to the quality of her life.

What kind of society ignores the pain of its elderly and sedates the cries of its unborn? The real debate isn’t health care, it’s health scare. Because that is what drug companies are good at doing. They are experts at creating public hysteria. They are experts at frightening the American public into states of blind allegiance and deep despondency. They are experts at convincing the weary over-worked under-paid public that doctors, not grandma, pastor, Self or even God, know what’s best for us (should be consulted on matters of ones own personal health care). The goal of modern medicine is merely to extend life so that after years of ambiguous tests and (mis)treatment you will have just enough energy to stand up in a town hall meeting and argue in favor of universal Medicaid, longer hospital stays, more specialists and cheaper drugs. Not health. Not care. Not change. The goal is to keep you ignorant. The goal is to keep you thinking illness and disease is linked to aging. The goal is to convince you to argue on behalf of treatment. The idea is to get the politically naive and over-indulgent public to further the drug companies national agenda to impose fear, reinforce ignorance and instill self-doubt which they hope will be the driving force behind the over-weight consumptuous public to retreat back into the cave of our sleeping.

To be continued…

Healthcare? “The Cave of Our Sleeping”

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The real fight is about what should be in the marketplace and what should not. Should education be a marketable commodity? Should healthcare? Susan George

I ran into a friend at the gym yesterday who I hadn’t seen in nearly a year. We used to spot one another on the bench press and I would occasionally offer him advice on health and fitness. I remembered how often I would admonish him about maintaining balance. But like most men, his true interest in going to the gym was purely for aesthetic reasons. He wanted the coveted “big chest and arms”. What is often referred to in training circles as the “show me” muscles. He never did cardio-exercises nor paid much attention to his diet. As I approached him I could see that he had aged considerably and had lost a great deal of weight. He looked sick. I wanted to be wrong. He had developed pancreatic cancer and was recently released from the hospital a few weeks ago. His hospitalization was for forty days. During that time, they removed his pancreas, part of his small intestine, colon, and had subjected his body to some very aggressive radiation and subsequent chemotherapy. Now he stood before me. . .  a shell of his former self. I was filled with emotion. I was hurt. I was angry. I was thankful he was still alive. I asked him about his current rehab regimen and again advised him on balance. This time I know he was listening.

My friend had healthcare and was even one of those rare men who would go to the doctor for an annual checkup. Fortunately during one of those “routine” checkups the doctor discovered the malignant polyps on his pancreas while attempting to diagnose the source of his chronic back pain. Had he not detected his cancer at that time who knows if my friend would still be alive today? But I couldn’t help but wonder why his personal physician (who he visited routinely) wasn’t warning him about his diet or his “beer belly”? Perhaps he had. One thing became abundantly clear, if America is to embrace universal healthcare it first has to undergo a complete paradigm shift and overhaul of its current healthcare system. For what Americans have grown accustomed to is not healthcare at all. True healthcare promotes health. Yet what is currently being proposed by both sides of the House and Senate is at best another piece of useless legislation that supports the current paradigm of disease treatment and prescription drug abuse. It has little to offer by way of prevention and cure.

How can one ethically call a system healthcare if it is based on the laws of economics (the old laws of supply and demand)? In the United States, disease and illness are big business as pharmaceutical companies spend billions on advertising in order to boost the public demand for treatment. Not cure, but treatment. Whenever there is a potential cure (particularly if it is organic in nature) it is immediately discredited by the FDA and medical community. So every year hundreds of new diseases are identified and packaged to an expectant American public like new cars rolling off an assembly-line. Every year there is greater demand for the latest prescription drug. Every year medical schools create new specialists. Every year more Americans demand a miracle in a bottle. Not to be healed just “fixed”.

One woman came to her doctor and said, “Perform an operation on me!”

The doctor said, “What? Have you gone mad? Why an operation? You are completely healthy and okay!”

The woman said, “But it is difficult- whenever I go to the club all the women are talking: somebody’s cancer has gone into remission, somebody’s tonsils have been removed, somebody is taking high blood pressure medication, and so I have nothing to talk about! Remove anything or give me a prescription so that I can go to the club and talk about it!”

To be continued…