To further increase profit, drug companies invent disease and subsequently, offer a solution. Herein lies the origin of deadly health myths. Such myths include, but are surely not limited to, that of high cholesterol being the culprit of heart disease, insulin being the only treatment for diabetics and that AIDS, rather than starvation, is killing Africans. Inventing disease is not a “far out” conspiracy theory. It is a simple matter of finding ailments that naturally occur due to poor lifestyle habits and labeling them as a disease. Once “big-pharma” steals jurisdiction over the general public’s common sense, they convince them of the necessity of their drugs.
–Shane Ellison author of Health Myths Exposed
More than ever it seems we are constantly bombarded by the over-bearing pressures of life – achieving success, meeting deadlines, demanding bosses, family issues, health concerns, questionable politics and an economic crisis that are consistently looming over our heads. Along with all of the above there is a particular crisis that is becoming larger and larger – one that is alarming and having more negative effect on Americans than most realize or will acknowledge. What am I referring to? The blaring fact that America is now a country on prescription meds in epidemic proportions! Not the illegal street drug concern (although this is huge as well), but the legal promotion and candy-like selling of drugs encouraged and promoted by pharmaceutical companies.
As of 2017, 59 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription med. Research indicates that antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opioids are most commonly prescribed. 15 percent of patients are on five or more prescription meds, according to Dr. Kevin Campbell, MD, FACC. The number of prescriptions filled for American adults and children rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2016, from 2.4 billion to 4.5 billion a year, according to the health research firm Quintile IMS. During that time, the U.S. population rose 21 percent. In 2014, nearly 1.3 million people sought emergency room treatment for adverse drug effects, and about 124,000 people died, according to U.S. government data cited by Consumer Reports.
Drug categories with the most prescriptions include blood pressure medication, anti-depressants, cholesterol medication and opioid painkillers. More deaths occurred in 2016 from opioid overdoses than from auto accidents.
Studies also bring to light a rise in children’s use of meds to treat obesity and other illnesses that have normally been considered adult health concerns. In Medco’s 2007 estimation close to 1.2 million American children are taking meds for the following conditions: Type 2 diabetes, sleeping disturbances and gastrointestinal concerns such as heartburn. According to LaJeana Howie, a statistical research scientist at the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, more than 7 percent of American schoolchildren between the ages of 6 and 17 are taking at least one medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties. “Although the authors don’t really talk about the diagnoses, ADHD is likely the most overwhelming diagnosis. Oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety and depression are other likely diagnoses,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park.
America’s Most Common Health Conditions for which Prescription Meds Are Prescribed
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Blood Pressure Concerns
- High Cholesterol
- Bacterial infections
The Top 10 Branded Prescription Meds By Sales from 2016
The following is from Medscape.
|Rank||Medicine||2012 ($ in Billions)||2016 ($ in Billions)|
|Total US market||317.8||450.0|
|1||Humira (adalimumab, AbbVie)||4.5||13.6|
|2||Harvoni (ledipasvir sofosbuvir, Gilead)||0.0||10.0|
|3||Enbrel (etanercept, Amgen)||4.2||7.4|
|4||Lantus Solostar (insulin glargine injection, Sanofi)||2.3||5.7|
|5||Remicade (infliximab, Janssen Biotech)||3.8||5.3|
|6||Januvia (sitagliptin, Merck)||2.6||4.8|
|7||Advair Diskus (fluticasone/salmeterol, GlaxoSmithKline)||4.6||4.7|
|8||Lyrica (pregabalin, Pfizer)||1.9||4.4|
|9||Crestor (rosuvastatin, AstraZeneca)||4.8||4.2|
|10||Neulasta (pegfilgrastim, Amgen)||3.4||4.2|
|aSales spending is based on QuintilesIMS National Sales Perspectives and is not adjusted for estimates of off-invoice discounts and rebates.|
Top 10 Medicines by Prescriptionsa
|Rank||Medicine||2012 (No. of Prescriptions in Millions)||2016 (No. of Prescriptions in Millions)|
|Total US market||4154||4453|
|aIncludes prescriptions and insulins dispensed through chain and independent pharmacies, food store pharmacies, mail services, and long-term care facilities. Over-the-counter medications were excluded.|
America’s Most Expensive Chronic Health Conditions & Estimated Yearly Expense
Based on the latest data from the CDC and presented in descending order, here are the top 10 most expensive chronic diseases for healthcare payers to treat.
The costs of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in the US total $317 billion per year, split between $193.7 billion in direct medical costs and $123.5 billion in lost productivity.
Smoking-related health issues
Estimated costs for smoking-related health issues in the US total over $300 billion per year, split between direct healthcare expenses of $170 billion and indirect costs of roughly $156 billion.
Alcohol-related health issues
In 2010, excessive alcohol use cost the US economy $249 billion, or roughly $2.05 per drink. Alcohol-related deaths totaled 88,000 people per year and shortened the lives of working adults by an average of 30 years.
As one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in healthcare, diabetes care cost $245 billion in 2016. Seventy-one percent of diabetes treatment costs ($176 billion) relate to direct healthcare expenses. That equates to 20 percent of US healthcare spending.
In 2016, about 15.9 million Americans provided 18.1 million hours of unpaid care to friends and family with Alzheimer’s and related dementia. Based on CDC estimates, that amount of unpaid care has a value of $223.1 billion.
According to the latest estimates from the CDC and the National Cancer Institute, cancer care costs roughly $171 billion a year due to healthcare inflation over previous decades.
Even though cancer rates are decreasing, the CDC predicts that cancer will be the leading cause of death in the US by the year 2020. Every year, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with some form of cancer and another 500,000 die from the disease.
The United States spends $147 billion on healthcare related to obesity and roughly $117 billion on costs related to inadequate physical activity. Obesity is implicated in the development or worsening of many other chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease.
The total cost of arthritis in the US was an estimated $128 billion, split between $81 billion in direct medical expenses and $47 billion in related losses of productivity and care management. Arthritis affects 23 percent of adults in the US, or 54 million people, and expectations indicate it will rise to $78 million cases by 2040.
Asthma care in the US has an economic impact of $56 billion from direct medical costs as well as losses in work productivity and school absences. About 1 in 12 Americans, or 25 million people, have asthma. Half of all asthma patients have suffered from an asthma attack.
On its own, stroke in the US creates medical expenses of $33 billion annually and accounts for 1 out of 20 deaths in the country, or an estimated 130,000 deaths per year. Stroke is also more likely to recur in patients who already had an episode of stroke and is the leading cause in the country of long-term disability. Stroke is usually an offshoot of other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol and is preventable through provider intervention and education for high-risk patients.
It is important to understand that every health condition listed above is preventable or successfully remedied with natural lifestyle changes and without the use of drugs and surgery.
Overuse of Prescription Meds – The NEW Epidemic
What has precipitated this legal drug epidemic? The two reasons that stand out the most are the “creation” of disease by either lowering the guidelines that determine disease or by the development of a new disease (usually a health issue that historically is labelled as benign) to match a new drug and the huge media blitz from pharmaceutical companies.
In several instances during the last five to twelve years the guidelines used to decide what is actually disease and what is normal has been lowered which automatically makes people who were considered well yesterday, sick today! For example, in May, 2003 if you asked anyone, including doctors what they considered a normal adult blood pressure to be, they would have responded with 120/80 being ideal and under 140 acceptable. Not now. According to new JNC-7 guidelines, 120/80 now puts people in a new disease category called “pre-hypertension” and at increased risk for heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease. This means that almost half of the world’s population is now classified as hypertensive or pre-hypertensive. The clincher? Nearly every member of WHO panel (ones that decided upon changing the guidelines) had close financial ties to drug firms. The most interesting fact is that the probable benefit of prescription meds to remedy these health concerns is usually highly exaggerated with side effects being minimized. Why are the side effects minimized? Because experiencing these side effects usually mean another trip to the doctor’s office and a new medication to relieve the side effect. Many doctors work as paid consultants to the pharmaceutical industry and are often the ones writing the guidelines about who should take the drugs.
Disease mongering is another way that makes sure America stays on drugs. This situation is suggestive of the attitude towards cholesterol. Twenty years ago, physicians were not concerned about the effects that cholesterol might have on heart disease. Today, thanks to efforts by pharmaceutical companies, high cholesterol levels are now recognized as a major health concern. In fact, IMS Health, a global healthcare information company, reports that the two best-selling drugs in 2004 were statins: Lipitor® (atorvastatin calcium) from Pfizer (New York, NY, USA)-valued at US$10.6 billion with growth of 13.9% over the previous year-and Zocor® (simvastatin) from Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA). A pharmaceutical executive noted: “The emergence of cholesterol reduction as a market was a major event for pharma. Metabolic syndrome promises to be as big or bigger”. (Breitstein, 2004).
Lynn Payer, the late medical journalist, addressed the issue in the early 1990s in her book Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick by writing: “Disease-mongering-trying to convince essentially well people that they are sick, or slightly sick people that they are very ill-is big business…. Disease mongering is the most insidious of the various forms that medical advertising, so-called medical education, and information and medical diagnosis can take.” And Arthur Caplan, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, told the TV program 60 Minutes, “If you want to stir up worry in the public, and you’ve got the advertising dollars to do it, you can turn almost anything into a disease.” The subject of this 60 Minutes report was the recent emerging market for adult attention deficit disorder (ADD)-the traditional view of conventional medicine was that ADD afflicted only children and they would almost always eventually outgrow it.
In 1997 the FDA lifted the ban on direct-to-consumer advertising and included a law that required media ads to list every possible side effect. You would think that by listing all the possibly side-effects it would actually deter people from asking their doctors for the advertised meds. That’s not exactly what happened. American television viewers (just from TV) now see as many as 16 hours of prescription drug advertisements each year! After the lifted ban, Americans were literally bombarded with commercials for prescription drugs through TV, magazines, radio, newspapers, billboards and the Internet. Right now the US and New Zealand are the only countries in the world where a person can turn on the TV and hear a voice encouraging them to ‘ask your doctor if this drug is right for you’. How’s that for making sure that every mind in America, from young to old, is planted with the suggestion that they “need” drugs. Pharmaceutical understand the “power of suggestion” very well. Evening prime time TV airs at least two drug commercials per 30 minutes. These commercials contain high emotional appeal and usually depict the drug as being a significant “break-through”. This is purposefully used to get people’s attention. Because of this media blitz for certain drugs, doctors will often prescribe drugs to patients even if they don’t think they need it. For example, one study suggested that 54% of the time a doctor will prescribe a specific brand and type of medication, if patients specifically ask for it.
The Opioid Epidemic
In the past twenty years, almost a quarter of a million Americans have died from overdosing on opioid drugs. New 2018 CDC statistics show the crisis continues to accelerate. This is why evidence-based, time-tested natural alternatives are needed now more than ever.
A new CDC report titled, “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2017,” released in November 2018, brings to light that in 2017 there was an astounding 70,237 drug overdose deaths in America. This represents a 9.6 percent increase from 2016 statistics. However, perhaps the most worrisome is the fact that the rate of death from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased 45 percent between 2016 and 2017. When the 2017 totals are added to overdose statistics from 1999-2016, during which 200,000 died from synthetic opioid overdose, about 230,000 have succumbed to this pharmaceutically-induced epidemic — about 4 times the U.S. casualties of the entire Vietnam War conflict (58,220 deaths).
David Thomas, Ph.D. and health scientist administrator with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), was formerly a pain and opioid researcher for 12 years before joining the NIDA comments on the current opioid epidemic in America: “The rate of death from prescription opiates has been exponentially growing. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how many lives are wrecked because of prescription opiates. It’s a huge problem.” Current facts about the opioid epidemic that has hit the USA since the mid-1990s, the CDC says:
- More than 11 million Americans abused prescription opioid medications during 2016.
- From 1999 to 2016, more than 630,000 people died as a result of a drug overdose.
- About two-thirds of the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved an opioid.
- The number of overdose deaths involving opioids was five times higher in 2016 than it was in 1999.
- Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death among Americans under age 50.
Concerning opioid issues, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director, opioid policy research, Brandeis University comments: “The reason the U.S. is in the midst of a severe epidemic of opioid addiction is because the medical community began to prescribe opioids very aggressively. And as the prescriptions went up, rates of addiction and overdose deaths went up right along with the increase in prescribing.”
Dr. Kolodny told The New York Times, “We have roughly two groups of Americans that are getting addicted … an older group that is overdosing on pain medicine, and … a younger group that is overdosing on black market opioids.”
Age-adjusted drug overdose death rates, by state: United States, 2017
SOURCE: NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.
Getting America OFF Drugs and Back to Good Health
Most people have lost the definition of good health and no longer remember what it feels like to be energetic, mentally alert, pain free and emotionally stable. We have become a society that has given away the responsibility for our health to an industry that reeks of greed and corruption and with no smidgen of concern for our best interest. And our reward for giving away this responsibility has been ill health, endless prescription meds and an empty pocketbook. It’s time to learn how to take responsibility for our own health and well-being. It’s time for every person to get into prevention mode. No one knows YOU better than YOU. We must not allow fear to keep us from stepping up to the plate and taking control of our health. Big Medicine, Big Pharma, Big Food, Big Government (FDA), Big Chemical and Big Insurance are keeping us sick, fearful and poor. And with more and more governmental intervention into the health system, we are losing our constitutional right to choose and monitor our own healthcare. Remember that good health does not put money in their pockets.
The decision to take back your health is one decision that you will not regret. Thousands are doing it and experiencing not only good health, but the satisfaction of being in control of their well-being. Yes, it takes time and is usually not convenient – things that are lasting seldom are. Below are some suggestions for those that want to begin the path back to good health and well-being…now.
Natural Suggestions for Taking Back Your Health
Cleansing and Detoxification
Cleansing and detoxification, historically, has been recommended by doctors for thousands of years. This is important and should always be the FIRST STEP in helping so support the body’s natural ability to heal and repair. Because the body is constantly bombarded with chemicals, toxic air, water and food, prescription meds, bacteria and viruses, as never before, it is a “must” to make sure that it undergoes a thorough cleansing several times a year. 80% of the immune system is located in the digestive tract and it just makes sense to keep it running effectively. Constipation is at epidemic proportions and can be the root-cause of many illnesses. There are hundreds of cleanses and detoxification strategies that are very useful and some that are not effective. Personally, I have found that oxygen-based-cleansing gives the quickest and best results for total digestive tract cleansing since it cleans from the small intestine down and provides oxygen to the digestive tract. It is also wise to perform a harmful organism cleanse and a chemical and heavy metal cleanse 2-3 times yearly.
Many of the health concerns listed in this article can be effectively controlled and/or eliminated by a healthy diet alone. Not fad diets that promote chemical-laden and pre-packaged foods, but a healthy diet that promotes fresh and living real food. According to the CDC State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables 2013: “Fruits and vegetables (F&V) contribute important nutrients for the human body. Eating Fruits and Vegetables lowers the risk of developing many chronic diseases and can also help with weight management.” A healthy diet will consist of lots of fresh, organic, in-season fruits and vegetables; organic nuts and seeds; healthy oils and fats such as coconut, hemp seed, flaxseed and olive oils as well as organic, free-range dairy and meats. Eliminate refined sugar, sodas, hydrogenated oils, pre-packaged foods, fast foods, GMO foods, white flour and hormone and antibiotic-laden meat and dairy. Try to eat five small meals every day rather than three large meals.
The only liquid that the body requires and needs is pure, clean water. Every cell in your body needs water to function correctly. Water also helps to flush the body of toxins. Americans could save a bundle on their grocery bills and doctor visits if they would drink pure and clean water only. However, since most municipal water is toxic it is imperative to install good filters on faucets and showers or whole-house filtration systems. Now that the plastic companies have been forced into honesty about the hazards of packaging water in plastic bottles, water carafes with filters and glass water containers are a very wise investment. They are inexpensive and can be taken to work, on outings and vacations and used at home. Distilled water packaged in glass is also a good choice. I suggest adding 2-3 tablespoons of organic raw apple cider vinegar to every gallon of the water that you drink. Try to drink ½ of your body weight in ounces of pure, clean water every day.
The average office worker in the US sits for a total of six hours daily and this number is rising. America is the most obese country in the world and obesity is becoming epidemic in our children – because of unhealthy diet and because physical education classes and recess has been drastically reduced or taken out of public school curriculum. Exercise helps in the elimination of toxins by keeping the lymph system moving, helps to keep the intestinal tract moving, helps with the circulatory system and is great for depression and to just clear one’s mind. Jumping on a mini-tramp, a 30-40 minute daily walk or a daily sports activity will help your body stay healthy.
Food-grade supplements are necessary now more than ever before. Farming practices that adulterate the soil, genetically modified foods and questionable practices in organic farming mean that often our food supply doesn’t contain the levels of nutrients that it once did. For example, The Kushi Institute of Becket, Massachusetts studied USDA nutrient data from 1975 and 1997 and uncovered a disturbing trend. Average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables have declined 27 percent, iron levels have dropped 37 percent, vitamin A levels, 21 percent; and vitamin C levels, 30 percent. – from an article by Kathryn Scharf – http://csf.colorado.edu/archive/1999/food_security/msg00531.html. Make it a practice to read supplement labels and refuse to buy supplements that contain excipients, fillers and binders. At the very least, everyone should take a good organic multi-vitamin/mineral supplement every day.
Emotions and Stress
Negative emotions, stress, anger, resentment, jealousy, unhappiness, victim-mentality, etc. can bring the body and immune system down very quickly. Most don’t realize the relationship emotions and stress have to illness and disease. Several natural doctors have noted that high stress levels may be a huge factor in the development of serious disease. Negativity is rampant in our society. More and more children are prescribed antidepressants now than any other time in history. Many times if a doctor cannot pinpoint a diagnosis, they will offer an antidepressant.
The following are suggestions that can help with stress and emotions: B Complex, Lithium Orotate, high-quality adrenal complex, high-quality probiotics such as Floratrex, hormone balancing, daily walk in nature, meditation, positive affirmations, EFT tapping, practicing 20 minutes of quiet and deep breathing every day, 30 minutes of sunshine without sunglasses or sunscreen every day, healthy diet, intake of adequate essential fatty acids, reading up-lifting books, listening to soothing music, relaxing baths or foot baths, reflexology, massage, chiropractic, limiting TV, pursuing a hobby, volunteer work and more. Synthetic anti-depressants are not usually a good answer, they are only a band-aide and are often addicting.
There are always safe and effective answers to most every health concern, if you approach the body as a whole – mind, body, spirit. We are not just “livers”, “hearts”, pancreases”, “minds”, “intestines”, “stomachs” or “bones and joints”. This is the mind-set and thinking of conventional medicine. It’s definitely time for Americans to rethink the role of drugs in their lives in relationship to natural health modalities that can be used to prevent disease and maximize wellness — such as the suggestions mentioned in this article. Prescription meds can certainly be life saving for some health conditions and trauma; however, in most circumstances concerning health, changes in lifestyle toward health and well-being along with taking the time needed to work on yourself (emotionally) can produce lasting and satisfying results of good health and wellness.
100 Most Prescribed, Best-Selling Branded Drugs Through September 2014. November, 2014. www.medscape.com/viewarticle/834273
LaJeana Howie, M.P.H., statistical research scientist, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Andrew Adesman, M.D., chief, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, New Hyde Park; April 2014, NCHS Data Brief, Use of Medication Prescribed for Emotional or Behavioral Difficulties Among Children Aged 6-17 Years in the United States, 2011-2012.
New blood-pressure guidelines pay off – for drug companies by staff reporter Duff Wilson. June, 2005. The Seattle Times.
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010.
Why Do Americans Take So Many Prescription Drugs? By J. Douglas Bremner, MD. America’s Most Expensive Medical Conditions by Allison Van Dusen, February, 2008. Forbes.com.
Creating Demand for Prescription Drugs: A Content Analysis of Television Direct-to-Consumer Advertising. Authors: Dominick L. Frosch, PhD1,2, Patrick M. Krueger, PhD3,4, Robert C. Hornik, PhD2,5, Peter F. Cronholm, MD, MSCE6 and Frances K. Barg, PhD6. Annals of Family Medicine 5:6-13 (2007).
The Making of a New Disease. Pharma Exec 1 Jan, www.pharmexec.com Breitstein J (2004)
Ahrnsbrak, Rebecca, et al. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, September 2017.
“What is the scope of prescription drug misuse?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, August 2016.