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By Dr. Mercola
Despite what the media preaches to you, your body has no intrinsic need fordrugs. Over the course of a lifetime, the average person may be prescribed 14,000 pills (this doesn’t even include over-the-counter meds), and by the time you reach your 70s you could be taking five or more pills every day, according to Pill Poppers, a documentary.The featured film asks a poignant question that anyone taking medications should also, which is, are these pills really beneficial, or are they doing more harm than good?
Drug Discovery ‘Owes as Much to Serendipity as to Science’
Pill Poppers takes you on a journey through some of the most popular drugs in the world, from the ADHD drug Ritalin to drugs for erectile dysfunction, depression, pain and contraception.It starts out by taking you into a lab at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), where 2 million chemical compounds are kept in a vault. Scientists know little about their effects; each could be lethal or lifesaving.Through a process that could be described as finding a needle in a haystack, scientists methodically introduce a known disease molecule to each of the 2 million substances, one at a time, and assess whether anything happens.If ‘something’ happens, further tests are then conducted to find out what and why. Literally hundreds of millions of such tests are conducted, and it takes about $1 billion and an estimated 15 years of work to reach the ultimate goal: a licensed drug.Despite what most are led to believe, just because the drug makes it through the regulatory process it’s no guarantee of safety. Typically, more information is learned about a drug after it’s been released to the market than before, because only then does it get the widespread exposure that clinical trials cannot simulate.It’s usually after millions of people have already started taking a drug that severe, sometimes deadly, side effects are observed, but unfortunately for some, it will be realized too late. As stated in the documentary:“Drugs are not designed but discovered, and we only find out what they really do to us when we take them.”Patrick Vallance, the head of drug discovery at GSK, even said:1 “In many ways you learn as much about your medicine after it’s launched as you knew before.”(Of course, GSK has also pleaded guilty to felony charges for knowingly manufacturing and selling adulterated drugs, a practice that adds even more of a ‘learning curve’ when drugs are released… )
The Effects of Many Medications Are Discovered by Mistake
Many people assume that the medications they’re taking are exerting carefully designed effects on specific biological pathways in their bodies. In reality, these effects were not designed but rather observed – often simply as a matter of sheer dumb luck – and the medication was then “discovered.” The erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, for instance, was originally developed to treat angina. That it led to increased erections was simply a surprise.The ADHD drug Ritalin was also discovered by accident, as it was originally designed to treat adults with depression. We’re only now beginning to understand how this drug works, and what its long-term side effects entail, yet now it’s already morphing into a drug with another purpose: as a ‘study drug’ for people without ADHD. And this is only a short list.While these may sound like beneficial ‘mistakes,’ the surprises can work both ways. Often, drugmakers and scientists are ‘surprised’ to learn that their new blockbuster drug leads to unknown (or undisclosed) side effects, altering and disrupting far more functions in your body than was first realized. Viagra, for instance, can cause blue-green color blindness. And a commonly used class of diabetes drugs is now being investigated for causing pre-cancerous changes, while the antibiotic Zithromax (Z-Pak), may trigger lethal heart arrhythmias.The truth is, no drug is side effect-free – a fact that many loyal pill takers are not aware of. These side effects are then often treated with… even more drugs, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Even GSK’s Vallance stated in the film:"When you make a medicine you're trying to disrupt a fundamental biological process. That's a pretty profound change, you can't do that without producing some unwanted effects -- so then the question is, what risks are you prepared to take for what benefit?"
Creating Diseases to Fit the Treatments
Drug companies are masters at disease mongering -- inventing non-existent diseases and exaggerating minor ones, with the end result making you rush to your doctor to request their drug solutions. It also misleads people into thinking drugs are the onlyoption for every ill. Viagra is a perfect example, as it was originally intended only for men with actual erectile dysfunction. Many men have an occasional problem in this area, and that is normal, but Viagra is marketed in a way that makes it appear as though it’s not.Another blatant example of creating a market for a disease where none existed before is low female sex drive, or female sexual dysfunction, for which drug makers are actively seeking a ‘cure.’ One more example? In order to market its antidepressant Paxil, GSK hired a PR firm to create a public awareness campaign about an "under-diagnosed" disease.The disease? Social anxiety disorder… previously known as shyness. You may have seen this campaign firsthand a couple of years back; ads stating "Imagine being allergic to people" were distributed widely, celebrities gave interviews to the press and psychiatrists gave lectures on this new disease in the top 25 media markets. As a result, mentions of social anxiety in the pressrose from about 50 to over 1 billion in just two years… social anxiety disorder became the "third most common mental illness" in the US… and Paxil skyrocketed to the top of the charts as one of the most profitable and most prescribed drugs in the US.
The Drug Industry Is Now Trying to Treat Not Just Diseases but Risk Factors
The drug market is saturated with drugs to treat existing diseases and many drug firms are now trying to create markets for new drugs via disease-mongering. But another way to drum up business, which the industry is fully embracing, is using drugs to treat diseases you don’t even have…If you have a ‘risk’ of heart disease, for instance, which could apply to anyone aged 50 or over, you should be taking a statin, according to some ‘experts.’ Typically, statins are reserved for people considered to be at high risk of heart attack or stroke, usually (incorrectly) defined as someone with "high" cholesterol. The current value of the cholesterol-lowering drug industry is estimated at around $30 billion a year – but the pharmaceutical industry is still salivating at the thought of how big that number could get if statins could be prescribed to even more people. Alas, researchers came out with a study stating that even people atlow risk of heart problems should take statins!3So even if you’re healthy, you still need to be popping pills to preserve your health, according to the drug industry. Millions of others take drugs for reasons outside of health, such as contraception, or rely on them for functions for which there are far better solutions, such as weight loss, sleep or, in the case of using ADHD drugs for studying, increased focus or energy. Yet, disease is not the result of a drug deficiency, nor will good health ever be the sole result of taking prescription drugs.
For video and more information on this subject, please visit the above link at Mercola.com website.