Monday, July 18, 2005

Skeptic's Guide to Selling Sickness


Apparently, Canadians are more skeptical as a culture than Americans. I wonder what that’s about, what the difference can be traced back to.

Could it be that although we are a capitalist society, our socialist values lead us to question authority more than our southern neighbours?

Maybe it’s the influence that the French culture from Quebec has on all Canadians who live in a country that allows one province to have its own Constitution and legal system. Maybe that makes us all more inclined to see and accept many angles of any story.

Could the way we accept new Canadians into our country, as bringing new ideas as opposed to creating a melting pot, be influencing our collective skeptical nature?

Perhaps it’s due to our founding principles of Peace, Order and Good Government, which is quite different from the American’s Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

For whatever reason, Canadians tend to be more skeptical citizens than our American cousins (and, in my case, siblings). And, our skepticism about the pharmaceutical industry’s motives have lead one Canadian, Alan Cassels of British Columbia, to co-author quite an eye-opening book. It’s called,
Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning Us All Into Patients.

(Disclosure: I am a friend and work colleague of Alan’s and am currently house-sitting for him. In fact, my laptop is sitting on Alan’s desk as I type this entry).

I’m on holiday. Relaxing. Reading. And while my husband is unraveling the mysteries of the Half-blood Prince, I am unraveling the mysteries of how every American and Canadian has become a patient in need of some pharmaceutical magic pill.

Selling Sickness is a must-read if you are skeptical about the ulterior motives of Big Pharma and need some good arguments to help make your point at parties and to your pill-popping parents.

If you are not skeptical about Big Pharma’s motives, having been hoodwinked by industry greed, it’s even more important for you to read Selling Sickness. I will offer you a money-back guarantee* that, after reading this book, you will live a happier life knowing what’s really going on behind the prescriptions your doctor is writing to treat your high cholesterol, depression, menopause, adult ADD, high blood pressure, social anxiety disorder, pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, osteoporosis, irritable bowel and/or syndrome female sexual dysfunction.

The best quote from the book so far:

“Thirty years ago, Henry Gadsden, the head of Merck, one of the world’s largest drug companies, told Fortune magazine that he wanted Merck to be more like chewing gum maker Wrigley’s. It had long been his dream, he said, to make drugs for healthy people so that Merck could “sell to everyone.” Gadsden’s dream now drives the marketing machinery for the most profitable industry on earth.”
You can read an excerpt from the chapter on shaping public perceptions with a case study on the creation of the newly created social anxiety disorder. (Oh my god…I have that!).

*Okay. Not really. But I still stand behind my belief that this book is one of the most important you can read to wrangle control of your health care away from profit interest and back to your own self-interest, which is really where your health care provider's attention should be directed, don’t you think?

3 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

Must revise my favourite quote since I've read deeper into the book in the last two hours:

"If you think you are healthy, you just haven't had enough tests." Dr. Bob Rangno.

Put that on your screensaver to ponder for awhile.

July 18, 2005  
Blogger Gina said...

I agree about the big Pharm "selling sickness". When I was a health educator for the lupus foundation, I was shocked to learn just how much drug companies had influence over the "patient". Direct advertising needs to be banned! People are self diagnosing and requesting drugs from doctors when they don't have the training let alone proper information to make a well informed decision.
I mean just look at the arthritis drugs, the cox 2 inhibitors (aka vioxx, celebrex) are no more effective than iduprofin (NSAID), while the risk of GI problems only goes up 4X (from .02%) when using NSAID.

And cost, up to 1.70/dose for Cox2 vs. the .11 for the day with NSAID.

July 19, 2005  
Blogger healthyblogger said...

It’s 11:00 in the morning and your energy is waning. Minutes seem to tick by like hours and your mind feels foggy. You’ve still got six more hours to look alert and act productive and get over anti anxiety drug, so how do you cope with the afternoon blahs? Follow these six tips!

1. If you have a job that involves sitting at a desk all day or staring at a computer screen, take five minutes to stand up or lean back, close your eyes and stretch, especially in your shoulder and leg areas. Being seated all the time can make your whole body feel stiff and sleepy. A good stretch session helps limber up your body and gets the blood flowing again.

2. Avoid the tempting lure of caffeine or sugar-laden foods such as coffee, tea or chocolate. Caffeine may perk up your energy levels temporarily, but it also has a bad habit of leaving you sluggish after the effect has worn off. Instead, choose whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables to give your body the fuel it really wants! Eating healthier will boost your mood, elevate your alertness, change anti anxiety drug and make you feel better all day long.

3. Along with healthier foods, take a quick 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break. Just a few minutes will give you a burst of energy that refreshes you and makes you feel more alert – while burning off your lunch calories in the process!

4. Sometimes, afternoon slumps can be your body’s way of telling you that it needs something. You may be feeling tired if your blood sugar is low (which happens especially after the effect of those caffeine and high sugar foods has worn off!). Packing a low calorie snack like graham crackers, granola, fruit or vegetable slices can give your body a boost and keep you from feeling hungry in the late afternoon and caving in to the urge to devour the entire contents of the vending machine after work!

5. Drowsiness is often a sign that you’re not getting enough water. Drinking more water throughout the day not only helps keep you awake, but also keeps you from feeling those hunger pangs that inevitably creep up in mid-morning. Taking a large sports bottle that you can drink from throughout the day is a great way to get your recommended eight glasses a day as well!

6. If afternoon fatigue is a recurring problem, it may be a side effect of medications you are taking. Allergy pills are well known culprits, as are some blood pressure and anxiety/depression medicines. Don’t try to circumvent these effects with caffeine, otherwise you’ll overload your body with stimulants while it’s already trying to deal with drowsiness, and you’ll feel mentally and physically exhausted. Instead, try a short 15-20 minute catnap. You’ll be surprised how refresh you’ll feel when you wake up! (Don’t try this at work though – I know it’s tempting!)

If you follow these tips on a regular basis, you’ll not only make it through the afternoon blahs, but you’ll also feel better physically and mentally, sleep better at night, and wake up rejuvenated and re-energized the next morning. Make it a GREAT day! anti anxiety drug

October 24, 2005  

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