Letter to the editor – Townsend Letter
October 1, 2011 | Bastomski, Jacob
The dramatic escalating costs for health care in the US, which consistently outpace inflation, will ultimately force our elected officials to pursue alternative health options provided that they can be shown to be cost effective. A major component of the current health-care costs is for prescription medications.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that the percentage of Americans taking at least one prescription drug each month increased from 44% to 48% from 1999 to 2008. The percentage taking two or more increased from 25% to 31%, and the percentage taking five or more prescription drugs during that time period increased from 6% to 11%. In the US, spending for prescription drugs was 234.1 billion in 2008; and to ensure that the trend continues upward, the pharmaceutical industry spent $189 million last year on lobbying efforts to influence the federal government and our elected officials. No other industry has spent more money to sway public policy.
Big Pharma has, for decades now, controlled what is considered the standard and good practice of medicine by having all FDA-approved medications for disease show in clinical trials that the drug is reasonably nontoxic and reasonably more effective than placebo.
Those of us who treat chronic disease successfully using the nutritional/functional medical model know that, far more often than not, we can get a satisfactory result when the regular standard of medical care approach has failed. How do we convince the government that ours is a more cost-effective path?
Consider that, according to the CDC, the most commonly used types of drugs included: asthma followed by allergy then by penicillin medicines for children; central nervous system stimulants followed by asthma then by antidepressants for adolescents; antidepressants followed by analgesics then by cholesterol lowering drugs for middle-aged adults, and cholesterol lowering drugs followed by beta blockers then by diuretics for high blood pressure and heart disease for older Americans.
I propose that legislation or policy be passed which would require Big Pharma to include a third arm in their studies. This arm would include a cocktail of various nutrients and/ or herbal agents that an agreed-upon small panel of experts in nutritional/ functional medicine would suggest to go up against the proposed drug. The selection of this small panel is the Achilles tendon. After reading on mercola.com about the fraud that Nicholas Gonzalez’s cancer research was subjected to and his recommendation that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine not be involved in this type of research effort, it would be my suggestion that Drs. Jonathan Wright and Alan Gaby cochair the panel and have them select a handful of others.
Big Pharma would of course object to this, as currently their threshold is to beat a sugar pill, and even then they have difficulty not too infrequently. Of course it would cost more to have another arm, but if we are going to be scientific about the matter and truly desire to see what should be the best “medicine” for a given condition, then this approach would solve the problem. My prediction is that Big Pharma will lose to this third arm the great majority of the time for the great majority of drugs and that would lead to a true scientific revolution in changing the standard of care of how “I good medicine is practiced.
For good measure, all current top-selling medications should have to undergo a similar head-to-head two-arm trial to ensure that current prescription habits are in the best interest of the patient.
Jacob Bastomski, DC
1625 State St.
Santa Barbara, California 93101
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