I went to a naturopathic medicine conference this past weekend. One of the keynote speakers was John Abramson, MD. Dr. Abramson took a sabbatical from his busy Massachusetts practice to write a book on the medical research community, trends in U.S. healthcare, and how big drug companies are paying for the evidence to get skewed in their favor. He scoured drug research, and he also poured through research on diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications and their effectiveness against heart disease, weight management, and mood disorders. Guess what he found? Changing diet, nutrition, and exercise was more effective than taking medication in almost all cases. We're not even talking just a little bit more effective. In most cases, taking prescription meds was less than half as effective compared to making lifestyle changes. We as a nation spend twice as much as any other nation on healthcare and yet we are the second sickest nation in the industrialized world when it comes to preventable disease. It's easy to place the blame on MD's and say that they should be reading the research and limiting the amount of drugs they prescribe. However, there were a number of MD's at this conference who explained that they had been indoctrinated into the world of pharmaceuticals as soon as they began medical school. Some even explained that their professors had been paid to discuss certain drugs during lectures. The MD's rely very heavily on the research to guide their prescribing. This in itself is not a problem. The problem lies in the fact that large drug companies are paying to have certain research published and other research pushed to the back burner. It all comes down to money, and very little of it has to do with patient care.
Dr. Abramson's book Overdosed America covers these statistics and others. This week there was an article in the Willamette Week about the same topic. It seems that MD's are getting fed up with prescribing drugs that aren't necessarily warranted and aren't making their patients better. As a naturopathic physician, I feel fortunate in knowing that the treatments I use really work and really help people become healthy individuals. I have a newfound gratitude for being able to use whatever medicines I want to use in my practice, not the ones I have been paid to promote. I commend the MD's who are starting to question big pharmacy. It's time to bring the balance back to patient care.