The healthcare system has been receiving top billing these days and for good reason. The big business that is “sick-care” has spun out of control and left many in a daze. (Or maybe it’s all the prescriptions.)
Our society has become one in which capitalism has trumped ethics, morals and humanity, and the conventional application of sick-care is a prime example. The following facts and figures back up the proceeding statement and are intended to provoke amazement, disbelief and even disgust. Most of all though, it’s meant to open your eyes to what’s going on around us and urge you to be informed and aware when dealing with your own life.
17% of this country’s GDP is spent on healthcare, making America’s healthcare business alone, one of the largest economies (#6 to be exact) on the entire planet.
This is fueled by being a country that only makes up 5% of the world’s population, yet consumes over 50% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs and at higher prices than other nations.
This is also fueled by hospitals typically charging anywhere up to 10 times more for inexpensive tests and procedures when on average they end collecting roughly 35% of what they originally charged. This creates a large profit for the hospital and leaves the hoodwinked consumer with a false sense of relief for not having to pay “full price.”
Over a decade ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in the US.
In 2000, the Institutes of Medicine reported that medical errors were the eighth leading cause of death in the US, killing between 44,000 and 98,000 people each year.
In the 2003 article “Death by Medicine”, Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, described how the modern conventional American medical system has become the leading cause of death and injury in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 784,000 people annually.
These iatrogenic deaths (meaning deaths resulting from the activity of physicians) include everything from adverse drug reactions to medical errors, to hospital-acquired infections and surgeries gone bad—including 37,000 deaths from unnecessary medical procedures.
Out of 62 million death certificates dated between 1976-2006, almost a quarter-million deaths were coded as having occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors.
An estimated 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events occur in the US every year.
The costs of adverse drug reactions to society are more than $136 billion annually. This is greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care.
THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS?
A civil lawsuit filed in 2004 charged GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) with fraud, claiming the drug manufacturer hid results from studies on Paxil showing the drug did not work in adolescents and in some cases led to suicidal ideation. Rather than warning doctors of such potential side effects, GSK actually encouraged them to prescribe the drug to teens and children.
According to DrugWatch.com, GSK has agreed to pay out more than $1 billion to settle more than 800 different lawsuits related to Paxil, on top of the $3 billion it agreed to pay to settle the Department of Justice’s investigation into illegal marketing of Paxil and other drugs.
To us these fines seem astronomical and financially crippling. However, they pale in comparison to the profits earned by Big Pharma’s heavy hitters. (For instance, Pfizer took in over $245 billion from 2004-2008.) Unfortunately, situations like this are not isolated incidents as companies frequently settle up on fines that are a mere fraction of the profits yielded. (Between 2004-2010 major drug companies have paid out over $7 billion in fines, penalties and lawsuits.)
Merck’s highly publicized Vioxx has now been the focus over 60,000 lawsuits and cost the company close to $6 billion in fines. This was a drug pushed to relieve pain, mainly from arthritis, but has lead to a slough of side effects, including heart attack and death. It would behoove all who currently take prescriptions to do some research into the side effects and litigation pending.
In closing I’d like to add that this is not meant to be an anti-medicine, anti-surgery piece. When properly applied, each of these disciplines can intervene during emergencies and save lives.
This article is meant to direct attention to the broken, backwards system. Keep your eyes open. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. From pharmaceuticals to GMOs, the information and more importantly the choice, exists.
As long as it’s not an emergency, utilize the practices of traditional medicine only after making real lifestyle changes and seeking non-invasive conservative care first. Be aware that some where along the chain, the profit has taken priority over consumer safety and other than the responsible parties being fined for the careless administration, the other major cost is your health; and in some cases your life.
Choose wisely. We are talking about your one and only life here.