Sunday, February 16, 2014

Primum Non Nocere

First do no harm

Dr Gary G. Kohls, a retired physician with a 40 year medical career, is a critic of what he calls the  Big Business of Medicine.

“It is often said that the real clinical trials of new drugs start when the brief pre-marketing studies — involving only hundreds or occasionally thousands of test subjects — have been approved by the FDA, for that is when millions of unsuspecting, but excited patients get their first prescriptions of the latest wannabe blockbuster drug that they saw presented so appealingly on TV.
Big Business argues that the profitability of business enterprises depends on getting new products into the marketplace quickly in order to generate profits as soon as possible. Thus, paying for thorough, independent long-term studies (especially with watchdog agency oversight) is only grudgingly accepted by the profit-driven investors on Wall Street.
In light of the current corporate reality of profit maximization (and that goes for HMOs, hospitals and most clinics, especially the for-profit kinds with their multimillionaire CEOs), we physicians should be the ones who make sure that no harm is being done because of the drugs we prescribe. Throughout history, physicians have always accepted, as a sacred trust, the duty to warn patients about the potential dangers of their treatments, and there are many. ..
...n order for a patient to give fully informed consent to a treatment option, he or she must be given thorough information about the risks, safety and efficacy of the treatment both short-term and long-term, which, in the case of most psychiatric drugs, is virtually impossible to do given the lack of long-term studies that were done prior to FDA approval and the poor post-marketing surveillance that is done. Medical malpractice suits commonly revolve around the issue of adequate informed consent.
Patients deserve to know whether or not psychotropic drugs are addicting or dependency-inducing, are capable of causing withdrawal symptoms or whether or not the patient can be sickened or intoxicated by the drugs. Patients also deserve to know about the existence alternative therapies which, in the case of mental health issues, utilize good psychotherapy and nutritionally-based, life-style alterations, approaches that are often falsely discredited by medical trade association groups like the AMA, the APA and their medical journals. The giant multinational corporations that generously fund such groups, are always looking for ways to eliminate the competition in order to achieve a near-monopoly for the sale of their substances.
The time-honored Precautionary Principle says that an ethical business, governmental agency or culture should err on the side of caution before new chemicals, technologies, procedures, services, food additives, drugs, surgical procedures, etc are introduced into the marketplace (and the environment) – and only then should they be allowed on the market when there is absolute proof that the substances are not dangerous to the environment (which includes human/animal life, the water supply, the soil and the air – i.e., our fragile planet).

So when medical industries wish to market new synthetic chemical substances that have the potential to adversely affect human or environmental health (even years or decades into the future) the Precautionary Principle requires that adequate and aggressive long-term studies (funded by agencies totally independent of those who want to profit from the substance) be undertaken and then only approved when it has been proven to be totally safe.

So, under the Precautionary Principle, regulatory agencies must be given permission to aggressively withhold the marketing approval of potentially carcinogenic, disease-producing, neurotoxic or immune system-destroying products from the environment from where they may be ingested, inhaled or otherwise absorbed into the bodies of potential victims.
Therefore, before potentially dangerous substances are allowed onto the grocery store shelves or into our pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and then, inevitably, into our bodies, the Precautionary Principle says that they should be first proven that they will do no harm, short-term or long-term.
As was documented in last week’s Duty to Warn column America has a drug-induced dementia, suicide, violence and mental ill health epidemic on its hands that should be obvious to every critical thinker that looks at the evidence. But because there are not many in the medical professions with the time (or willingness) to look at the evidence, the epidemic will surely continue to worsen because of the continued chronic use of non-curative drugs that are, in America, too often used as first-line “treatment”. Both psychiatric drug-induced brain disruption and psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes can be mistaken for mental illnesses of unknown cause.
We can do better for our patients — and our dying planet — if we just go back to the honorable past traditions exemplified in the Hippocratic Oath and the Precautionary Principle.

From Dissident Voice

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