Monday, December 21, 2015

Big pharma shill defends more than 90% of drugs being contaminated

A recent study in Nature has found that 92% of 26 medicines tested were found to have some form of contamination and/or substitution, because they included toxic metals, non-listed substituted pharmaceuticals and stimulants, and a variety of DNA, none of which were listed on the product's label.

These researchers used highly sensitive DNA sequencing, toxicology and heavy metal testing to assess the composition of 26 widely available drugs (they were purchased in Adelaide and are available for sale in retailers and markets nationally). The Venn diagram below, taken from their study, shows that only two of the 26 drugs tested were clean.

One results worth highlighting: some of the drugs also included ephedrine, which gives many people a buzz, making them feel good immediately (ergo, the medicine feels great and they should keep taking it). Also worth noting that nearly all were non-compliant for heavy metals and other dangerous substances, including more than the safe limit of arsenic, cadmium, lead and strychnine.

This is appalling. Big pharma is a multi-billion-dollar industry and this lack of quality control is inexcusable. What is just as shocking and inexcusable as the results, is the reaction from National President of the Federation of Pharmacists of Australia, Professor Linda Child. She does not believe such findings would be widespread across the industry, saying: "It will be one or two individual companies. It may be one or two cases [that have] happened, but not many. The current regulatory regime is perfect."

Ah, what? 24 out of 26 would suggest it's the norm and the opposite of perfect. For her to say this, instead of being outraged, shows she is simply the chief big pharma shill, bought and paid for by the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. This is an industry that clearly puts profits before patients. What anyone who cares about patients getting the actual ingredients of the prescribed medicines would say (I'd have thought) is that this needs to be properly investigated and someone needs to go to jail.

This is a multi-billion dollar industry. If they chose they could ensure rigorous quality control of ingredients at a minimum. And I'll go further — they should undertake proper, rigorous and open trials that test for the efficacy and safety of medicines. Not the dodgy process they currently go through, with sympathetic proponents rubber stamping every new drug any company wants and protecting them from real regulation and testing.

Substitution is a great technique for testing your own reasoning and biases. If you've clicked on any of the links in the post, you'll see that's what I've done. All the statistics and data are real, but it's not "big pharma", it's Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

If the above sounded appalling to you, then it should be because it's appalling in its own right, not because it was pharmaceutical medicine. It should still be as appalling even though its TCM. If your view is now different because it's TCM, then you can be the judge of where your own biases lie, and hopefully see the benefit of using substitution as a meta-cognitive thinking technique.

(Aside: Why are the TCM manufacturers adding in synthetic pharmaceuticals if the TCM is meant to work on its own?)