ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: DRUGS

‘If you have to take drugs, here are some facts you should know…’

A trial reported in the British Medical Journal in November 1996 showed that research sponsored by pharmaceutical companies performed in general practice does not appear to generate a high level of scientifically valid or clinically relevant findings. A report by WHAT DOCTORS DON’T TELL YOU in their journal Proof states that 80 per cent of drugs are not proven to be safe. The BMA paper also stated that 27 per cent of the trials paid for by the pharmaceutical companies were never published, which raises the probability that unsuccessful trials are not put forward in the hope that the next trial on the drug will show the treatment in a better light.

Despite the use of the terms complementary and holistic, many people and doctors consider non-orthodox treatments to be alternatives to the use of regular drugs. This is not the case. The best treatments can come in many guises, both orthodox and naturopathic, and good medicine is all about knowing which to use and when. There are many situations here that illustrate the need to use orthodox medicines. The biggest difficulty is answering two questions:

If drugs are dangerous why are they prescribed?

Why does my doctor not know this?

The answers are simple. The pharmaceutical industry accepts that there are dangers, which is why they print side effects and contra-indications on the packaging of drugs. The pharmaceutical industry is a business, not a caring profession, so they do not draw attention to the dangers, only to the positive aspects. Doctors are aware of the dangers but are limited as to what else they could prescribe. Only 1,000 out of the 120,000 doctors in this country have any complementary knowledge and most of those are trained only in one technique, such as acupuncture or homeopathy. General practitioners cannot be blamed for prescribing antibiotics if they think that an infection is present, because there is little else they can give. I shall discuss some of the major drug groups and point out their negative aspects. This does not mean that they should not be used in specific cases but illustrates how alternatives should be looked at before rushing into using them.

It is important to remember that many drugs are withdrawn after passing safety tests. I tried to obtain the number of such withdrawals but, surprise, no-one had that statistic. I tried to contact various pharmaceutical companies to request this information with regard to their own products -my calls were never returned. I say this to ensure that the reader accepts that my comments are accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time I write this, but they are only my opinion.

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