Sickness Cartel Shows No Signs of Slowing

One of the peri­od­i­cals I read reg­u­lar­ly is Dynam­ic Chi­ro­prac­tic.   (I’m a doc­tor of chi­ro­prac­tic — so it fig­ures.)

There was a recent arti­cle that real­ly caught my atten­tion.  I think Your Body of Knowl­edge read­ers should know about it, so I’ve copied it here in its entire­ty.

I fre­quent­ly tell my patients that (allo­path­ic) med­ical care is the third lead­ing cause of death in the Unit­ed States.  Many of my patients are big­ger “health nuts” than I am, so it’s easy for them to believe this shock­ing sta­tis­tic.  Oth­ers are more skep­ti­cal of that death claim.

But what­ev­er your belief sys­tem, you should at least be aware of the finan­cial moti­va­tions that under­lie our health care sys­tem.  (Don’t get me wrong — I want to make mon­ey too.  I only wish my income was com­pa­ra­ble to the big phar­ma execs — or even a low­ly car­diac sur­geon.)

Soon I’ll also share with you some of the let­ters to the edi­tor that this arti­cle elicit­ed.

With revenues expected to keep climbing despite recalls and fines, will chiropractic ever be able to break Big Pharma’s grip?


By Peter W. Crown­field, Exec­u­tive Edi­tor — Dynam­ic Chi­ro­prac­tic

While the com­plex­i­ties of the new health care reform law may elude most, one thing seems clear: Despite increased empha­sis on well­ness and pre­ven­tion, Amer­i­cans will be mak­ing more vis­its to health care providers, par­tic­u­lar­ly allo­path­ic doc­tors, who will like­ly con­tin­ue doing what they do best: pre­scribe med­ica­tion.

For­tune magazine’s annu­al rank­ing of America’s largest cor­po­ra­tions reveals no less than six phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies in the top 115 based on 2009 rev­enue totals: John­son and John­son (#33; $61.9 bil­lion), Pfiz­er (#40; $50 bil­lion), Abbott Lab­o­ra­to­ries (#75; $30.7 bil­lion), Mer­ck (#85; $27.4 bil­lion), Eli Lil­ly (#112; $21.8 bil­lion), and Bris­tol-Myers Squibb (#114; $21.6 bil­lion). What’s more, these fig­ures seem des­tined to rise in the next sev­er­al years, accord­ing to an April 2010 fore­cast from IMS Health: “The U.S. will remain the sin­gle largest [phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal] mar­ket, with 3–6 per­cent growth expect­ed annu­al­ly in the next five years and reach­ing $360-$390 bil­lion in 2014, up from $300 bil­lion in 2009.”

Prof­its Over Patient Care

Rev­enue, effi­ca­cy and ethics rarely, if ever, seem to cross paths when it comes to the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try, and like doc­tors’ pre­scrib­ing habits and drug rev­enues, there’s lit­tle sign that will change any­time soon, either. Just con­sid­er the fol­low­ing (and make sure your patients are aware of and con­sid­er it, too):

On April 27, the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice announced that AstraZeneca ($32.8 bil­lion in 2009 rev­enue) had agreed to pay a $520 mil­lion fine to set­tle claims that it fraud­u­lent­ly mar­ket­ed the anti­sy­chot­ic drug Sero­quel, pro­mot­ing it to doc­tors and patients for off-label pur­pos­es and giv­ing kick­backs in return. AstraZeneca denies the alle­ga­tions, yet agreed to pay the whop­ping fine. Last Octo­ber, Pfiz­er Inc., was fined for sim­i­lar off-label mar­ket­ing prac­tices, as well as ille­gal mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties includ­ing pro­vid­ing vaca­tions and oth­er perks to doc­tors as incen­tives to pre­scribe Pfiz­er prod­ucts. The record $2.3 bil­lion fine, includ­ed a $1.2 bil­lion crim­i­nal fine, the largest levied in a U.S. crim­i­nal case. There was also evi­dence that Pfiz­er con­tin­ued its ille­gal tac­tics even while nego­ti­at­ing the set­tle­ment.

In Jan­u­ary, McNeil Con­sumer Health Care Prod­ucts (a divi­sion of John­son and John­son) issued a mas­sive recall of over-the-counter drugs includ­ing Motrin, Tylenol and Benadryl because of a moldy, musty or mildew-like odor that had made some patients sick. In April, McNeil announced a sec­ond recall, this one spe­cif­ic to infant/child fever reduc­ers and aller­gy med­ica­tions. Accord­ing to an April 30 press release by the com­pa­ny, “Some of the prod­ucts includ­ed in the recall may con­tain a high­er con­cen­tra­tion of active ingre­di­ent than is spec­i­fied; oth­ers may con­tain inac­tive ingre­di­ents that may not meet inter­nal test­ing require­ments; and oth­ers may con­tain tiny par­ti­cles. While the poten­tial for seri­ous med­ical events is remote, the com­pa­ny advis­es con­sumers who have pur­chased these recalled prod­ucts to dis­con­tin­ue use.”

Ques­tions to Pon­der

All debates about chi­ro­prac­tors and pre­scrib­ing priv­i­leges aside (for the lat­est, includ­ing links to back­ground mate­ri­als, read “ACA Reaf­firms Drug-Free Posi­tion”  and “ICA Weighs in on Scope Expan­sion in New Mex­i­co” in the May 6 issue), the drug cri­sis in Amer­i­ca and world­wide begs sev­er­al impor­tant ques­tions: What can you do? Besides shar­ing the above, how can you edu­cate not just cur­rent patients, but more impor­tant­ly, con­sumers who have not yet expe­ri­enced chi­ro­prac­tic and/or who rely on med­ical doc­tors to answer their health care ques­tions, about the inher­ent dan­gers of over-the-counter and pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions and the val­ue of con­ser­v­a­tive care? How can you break Big Pharma’s grip? Sub­mit your thoughts on the sub­ject to


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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website,, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.

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