When this country was founded, medical freedom was assumed. Early Americans ran away from intolerance hoping to find religious and political freedom. Medical freedom was simply assumed. It was assumed that the people had the right to choose whatever form of health care they preferred.
Dr Benjamin Rush proposed that these rights should be specifically laid out in our constitution: "The Constitution of this Republic should make special provision for medical freedom. To restrict the art of healing to one class will constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic."
These freedoms did not make it into the Constitution or our Bill of Rights. How could our forefathers, in their desire to keep the those precious documents as brief as possible, have known that Dr Rush's words ringing through the convention halls would prophesize the exact state of affairs over two hundred years later?
"Unless we put medical freedom into the constitution the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship and force people who wish doctors and treatment of their own choice to submit to only what the dictating outfit offers."
This is the state of medicine today. It is a sad state of affairs. Our drug-based medicine heals little, poisons many, and still our people are clamoring for access to it.
In 1806 the first medical licensing laws were passed in New York. This was called the Medical Practices Act; it allowed only state licensed physicians to recover their fees in courts.
Licensing laws were and still are unconstitutional.
Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution reads: "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility."
Admittedly, this can be confusing (though not as confusing as most legalese today), so let me pull out for you the parts that affect licensing:
"No State shall . . . pass any . . . Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts . . . . "
This has been interpreted by many to mean that no state or federal office can create a licensing law that would restrict free trade. The founding fathers wanted a small government which did not interfere with business. It had a role to protect the consumer against fraud, but could not play favorites or restrict any healing art.
It can be argued that licensing laws protect the consumer against fraud. Some say, "Licensing prevents quackery."
This, however, is absurd since the first medical practices laws licensed the most fraudulent form of medicine, the most dangerous form of medicine, ever to have been adopted by this new country. The first licensing laws licensed quackery, and continue to license quackery today, as you will soon see.
"I am persuaded that licensure has reduced both the quantity and quality of medical practice…. It has reduced the opportunities for people to become physicians, it has forced the public to pay more for less satisfactory service, and it has retarded technological development…. I conclude that licensure should be eliminated as a requirement for the practice of medicine." Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist.
"Licensing has served to channel the development of health care services by granting an exclusive privilege and high status to practitioners relying on a particular approach to health care, a disease-oriented intrusive approach rather than a preventive approach…. By granting a monopoly to a particular approach to health care, the licensing laws may serve to assure an ineffective health care system." Lori B. Andrews, professor of law and Norman and Edna Freehling Scholar, Chicago-Kent College of Law.
The first "regular" physicians licensed to practice medicine in young America knew nothing of science, eschewed empiricism (testing a theory), and killed more people than they cured, if they actually cured anyone. They bled, purged, blistered, and poisoned their patients with mercury. It was an honor to be hated by their patients. Being hated by the public put them in good standing with other regular physicians. [Coulter ]
If licensing laws protect the consumer against fraud, then this simple question begs for an answer:
Why is it the consumer has never asked for any of these laws?
Historically, it has been the medicos who have pressured the government to create laws protecting their practices. Throughout the first half of the 19th century, nearly every law passed restricting medical practices (licensing) were overturned or completely tossed out by the people.
"Virtually every law restricting the practice of medicine in America has been enacted not on the crest of public demand, but due to intense pressure from the political representatives of physicians." [Goodman, John C, Musgrave, Gerald L., Patient Power: Solving America's Health-Care Crisis, Cato Institute, 1992]
During much of the 19th century, licensing laws came and went and the public was free to choose its health care. Their options were wide open: nutritional medicine, hydrotherapy, eclectics, Indian Medicine, homeopathy, herbalism, a combination any of these, midwifery, or a regular physician. By the end of the 19th century, osteopathy, chiropractic, and naturopathy had come into the mainstream.
And then something happened that defines the ruling class in our society, or as J D Rockefeller once said: "Competition is a sin."
The rich get richer because they form alliances and eschew competition.
The Genesis of the AMA
1847: Regular physicians united and formed the American Medical Association.
The professed reasons for the association sounded worthy enough: to establish standards of medical ethics and medical education; that all doctors should have a "suitable education" and that a "uniform elevated standard of requirements for the degree of M.D. should be adopted by all medical schools in the U.S."
The ulterior motives would soon come to light.
A report submitted by the committee on educational standards to the first AMA convention in 1847 was unusually candid:
"The very large number of physicians in the United States … has frequently been the subject of remark. To relieve the diseases of something more than twenty millions of people, we have an army of doctors amounting by a recent computation to forty thousand, which allows one to about every five hundred inhabitants. And if we add to the 40,000 the long list of irregular practitioners who swarm like locusts in every part of the country, the proportion of patients will be still further reduced. No wonder, then, that the profession of medicine has measurably ceased to occupy the elevated position which once it did; no wonder that the merest pittance in the way of remuneration is scantily doled out even to the most industrious in our ranks – and no wonder that the intention, at one time correct and honest, will occasionally succumb to the cravings of hard necessity."
Regular doctors could not compete with the riffraff practicing "unscientific" medicine. The real program of the AMA, openly discussed, was "to secure a government-enforced medical monopoly and high incomes for mainstream doctors." [http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell…
One of the first programs of the newly established AMA was embark on a "quack hunt" to hunt down and eliminate competition.
The AMA developed strict standards that its members were to adhere to or else. The Code of Medical Ethics grew and evolved over the next half century. In 1850 it was unethical to engage in competition or underbid another physician. By the turn of the century, free vaccinations were opposed because it was not in the best interests of young medical men and it was considered highly unethical to give free medical services to the wealthy for it would injure other physicians financially.
As reported by Goodman and Musgrave, "By 1901, all states and territories except Alaska and Oklahoma had medical examining boards. Of the 51 jurisdictions, 30 required candidates for a license to undergo an examination and to present a diploma in medicine; seven required either an examination or a diploma; and two made the M.D. degree a prerequisite for the practice of medicine."
Most interesting is the fact that "of the 42 states that had revocation provisions in their medical practice acts in 1907, "incompetence" was grounds for revocation in only two of them." The rules of revocation (consulting with a "non" regular physician) reached into the absurd and even got to the point where one physician had his AMA membership revoked for buying milk sugar from a homeopathic pharmacist. [Divided Legacy] Another physician was dropped from the ranks of the AMA for consulting with a physician dropped from the ranks of the AMA for consulting with a homeopath.
The AMA could easily call most other practices (Thomsonians, midwifes, eclectics, herbalists, and the lot) unscientific for there was no formal training for any of these healing arts. Homeopathy was much harder to vilify as it was a codified and systematic medical science that not only had a large following, but was taught at major medical schools.
The first women's medical college in the world, Boston Female Medical College, founded in 1848, taught homeopathy. It wasn't till 1915 that women were invited to join the AMA.
Homeopathy was more attractive to the average person, and though the AMA claimed that only the ignorant were attracted to homeopathy, it attracted the most respected members of society: William James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Daniel Webster, William Seward, Horace Greeley, Louisa May Alcott, William Cullen Bryant, and Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate from an American medical school, and a leading feminist supporter, criticized regular medical science because it was so deadly. Homeopathy was attractive mainly because it did not kill you. Homeopaths actually followed the first rule of medicine, the Hippocratic injunction: "First, do no harm." [http://www.homeopathic.com/articles…
The latter half of the 19th century was homeopathy's heyday. Regular physicians could hardly compete with them. By 1902 homeopaths did seven times the business of allopaths and there were 15,000 practicing homeopathic physicians in the US. "There were 22 homeopathic medical schools, more than 100 homeopathic hospitals, over 60 orphan asylums and old people's homes, and 1,000+ homeopathic pharmacies in the US." [http://www.homeopathic.com/articles…
During the 1849 cholera epidemic, homeopaths from Cincinnati kept rigorous records showing that they lost only 3% of their patients, while allopathy lost 16 to 20 times more. Homeopathy made its way south for the yellow fever epidemic of 1878 saving three times the number of patients as allopathy.
One story from those days involves a physician by the name of William H. Holcombe. When he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Holcomb worried, as he wrote in his memoirs, that physicians "were blind men, striking in the dark at the disease or the patient-lucky if [we] killed the malady [instead of] the man." One day Holcombe was called by the parents of a seriously ill child, whom Holcombe subsequently set about to bleed. Bloodletting was considered especially important for children, and the younger the child, the more blood was to be drawn. But the mother clutched the baby to her breast and cried, "The blood is the life . . . it shall not be taken away." When the benighted father agreed, Holcombe "explained to him candidly, and with some display of professional dignity, that my opinion was worth more than his or his wife's."
Holcombe left and returned the next day, expecting to find a dead baby. Instead, the child, who had been treated by a homeopath, was playing in the yard. Holcombe later wrote that "after having blistered, bled, and drugged my patients for twenty-seven years, I determined to find some more humane mode." He was charged with violating "medical ethics," whose first principle was: "A physician … should cautiously guard against whatever may injure the general respectability of his profession."
As Rockwell points out, one state senator from New York firmly believed, "The people of this state have been bled long enough in their bodies and pockets." [http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell…
Even with the advent of the germ theory of medicine, the ruling theory of medicine today, homeopaths were much more in demand than regular physicians.
But homeopaths did not unite. In fact, homeopaths broke into two different schools, the ones who worked just as Hahnemann had taught, and other's who could be called "pseudo-homeopaths." Later they split into two more groups; those using high potencies and those using low potencies. The amoebic form of medicine did not survive to split again.
For the most part, regular medicine had never been based upon science. Compared to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Regular Medicine lacked even the slightest semblance of scientific method. TCM had been based upon the science of observation; six thousand years of observation. In the latter half of the 19th century, western medicine began to take baby steps into empiricism. Interestingly enough, it all came about because of homeopathy. Mark Twain said, "The introduction of homeopathy forced the old school doctor to stir around and learn something of a rational nature about his business." ["A Majestic Literary Fossil," Harpers Magazine, Feb 1890.]
Physicians began using smaller dosages and kinder methods. The two forms of medicine began to blend and looked very much the same to the average person. The art of medicine became a science when it began testing. Pasteur suggested in 1859 that microorganisms might cause diseases and just six years later Claude Bernard published, Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine. Two years later Joseph Lister published his work showing that he could reduce post-operative infections by sterilizing the instruments and operating room.
In the early 1880s Robert Koch isolated both the Tuberculosis microorganism and the cholera microorganism, while Edwin Klebs discovered the diphtheria microorganism. By 1890 an effective diphtheria antitoxin had been developed, and just three years later the first modern American medical school opened in Baltimore: John Hopkins University Medical School.
Parke-Davis soon opened the first pharmaceutical research laboratory in the country, but it was in Germany where Aspirin was invented a few years later (using chemicals that had been discovered by Hippocrates over two thousand years earlier in willow bark).
In 1910, in Germany, Dr Paul Erlich became the Father of Chemotherapy (chemical/drug therapy) with his drug 606. It was called 606 because there had been 605 previous failures; the product of years of testing.
Dr Erlich and his staff created a drug, tested it, modified the formula, and started over by modifying the drug. In 1911 he tested the final drug on patients with syphilis. The medical community stood in awe as patient after patient was cured of this deadly disease. However, three percent died from the drug.
The goal of any form of medicine is to heal the sick and care for the dying: "Guerir quelquefois, soulager souvent, consoler toujours" (To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always.)
Even though many young physicians enter the profession for ideological reasons, eventually most will have to wake up to the simple fact that even they must make a living. Making a living can eventually win out over any idealism, especially when the physician cannot feed or clothe his family. Even while medicine evolved and changed, it still had to compete with other forms. Not willing to rely on the advent of scientific medicine to win out over superstition and ignorance (perhaps because homeopathy, herbalism, and nutrition were just as scientific if given objective testing) regular medicine relied on forming alliances to became a political organization with great influence. While the science of medicine went through its early growing pains, the politics of medicine rushed to create laws that promoted their agenda and wiped out the competition.
Then came the death blow for all medical competition. It began with a restructuring of the AMA, a new platform, new plans, a study to certify medical institutions, near bankruptcy, salvation as big money entered the picture, and ended with the infamous Flexner Report.
The Rockefellers invested heavily in the pharmaceutical industry and suddenly medical machinery was labeled quackery. One machine that gave a slight electrical charge over veins and arteries zapping germs, was shunned as quackery never to be thoroughly tested because all the bets were on pharmaceuticals.
The only "machinery" to survive to modern times were those that used radiation (x-rays machines being one). Radium, when discovered, became a very profitable cancer cure, not because it was effective (some feel that as few as one in one thousand actually survived the therapy) but because physicians invested heavily in radium mines.
At the turn of the 20th century, the AMA came right out and admitted that competition was destroying physicians' incomes. From 1880 to 1903 the number of regular medical schools had grown from 90 to 154. Anyone could hang up a shingle and call himself a doctor. Chiropractic had just been introduced into the mainstream, homeopathy was flourishing, herbalists, nutritionists, and midwives all practiced their art, and regular doctors just could not profit from their practice of medicine.
Though adjusting the spine had been around for over 6000 years (in China), Chiropractic was still quite young at the turn of the century. In fact, it had begun almost serendipitously in America.
The first recorded chiropractic adjustment was performed on September 18, 1895, more than 100 years ago, by Dr. Daniel David Palmer, a teacher and healer who was born in Port Perry, Ontario. At the time, Dr. Palmer was trying to understand the cause and effect of disease. The patient, Harvey Lillard, was a janitor working in the same building as Dr. Palmer in Davenport, Iowa. Mr. Lillard had been bent over under the stairs, hurt his back and had complained of hearing problems as a result for over 17 years. He allowed Dr. Palmer to examine his spine to see if anything could be done. Dr. Palmer discovered a "lump" on Mr. Lillard's back and suspected that a vertebra might be out of "alignment" and "pinching" a nerve going to Mr. Lillard's ears. With an admittedly unrefined chiropractic technique, Dr. Palmer adjusted the vertebra with a gentle thrust. After several such treatments, much of Mr. Lillard's hearing was restored.
With the state governments unwilling to create laws restricting the various healing arts, the AMA hired Joseph McCormack, the secretary of the Kentucky State Board of health, to "rouse the profession to lobby." [Rockwell]
Additionally, the AMA got Dr G H Simmons to head up its operation, and along with one more, P. Maxwell Foshay, these three men devised a plan for the future. They were so convinced that their plans would succeed, the AMA dropped the "consultation clause" whereby members would be ousted for consulting with a homeopath, from their rules and even allowed homeopaths to become members as long as they stopped practicing homeopathy. Was the AMA opening up its policies? Not in the least. Their plan had more efficient and devious methods of destroying homeopathy and all competition.
The AMA began to bolster their ranks. Preaching ethics (like not competing with other physicians or publishing your prices) and decrying quackery (anything that competed with regular medicine), McCormack traveled about the country and increased the membership to the AMA by eight fold in just ten years.
Dr Simmons just happened to be one of the biggest quacks you could find in those days. His claims of having earned his degree in Dublin, Ireland were totally bogus. The school he professed to come from did not exist. He was famous mainly for his self promotion. He was a journalist and a newspaper man who knew how to drum up business. When homeopathy flourished, he was a homeopath. When hydrotherapy flourished, he was a hydrotherapist. He did eventually receive a mail-order diploma from Rush Medical College, but he no longer needed any degree when he took over the AMA. His job was to promote conventional medicine and destroy the competition.
In 1904 Simmons helped create the Council on Medical Education. When the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, the AMA formed the Committee on Medical Legislation to support the act. The Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry was formed in 1905 to test the claims of medicines.
It was the Council on Medical Education that devised a plan to rank medical schools throughout the country, grading them on a scale from A to C. Working with sate medical boards, by 1910 they succeeded in cutting the number of schools from 166 to 131.
But they ran out of money.
The Rockefellers had joined forces with the Carnegie foundation to create an education fund. They were approached by N P Colwell, the secretary of the AMA's Council on Medical Education, to finish the job they had started, but could no longer fund.
Simon Flexner, the director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, proposed that his brother, Abraham Flexner, be hired to finish ranking medical schools. Abraham Flexner owned a bankrupt prep school and knew nothing about medicine. He took his orders from the AMA and the two foundations.
Many historians feel that the Rockefellers were truly the bad guys in this alliance, but Colter (Divided Legacy) and Brown (Rockefeller's Medicine Men) seem to feel that John D Rockefeller had been duped.
John D. Rockefeller believed in homeopathy. He referred to it as "a progressive and aggressive step in medicine." Rockefeller lived to the ripe old age of 99 using only homeopathy in the latter part of his life.
John D. Rockefeller had made major grants to homeopathic institutions over the years, and gave specific instructions to Fredrick Gates, his financial advisor, to continue to do so. However, Gates was no friend to homeopathy, and all subsequent grants went only to the orthodox medical institutions; some 300 to 400 million dollars. [Brown, Rockefeller's Medicine Men, Berkeley: University of California, 1979]
No one knows how Abraham Flexner was instructed to conduct his ranking of medical schools. This was all hush-hush. Supposedly he was to give a thorough investigation of all medical schools and grade their curriculums.
With the AMA on the verge of bankruptcy and unable to complete their initial study, in 1908 they met with Henry Pritchett, President of the Carnegie Foundation and heavily invested in the pharmaceutical industry. Pritchett laid out the funding to complete the study, thus becoming Abraham Flexner's master.
Flexner went through medical schools faster than Sherman ran through the South. Historians point out that he investigated 69 schools in just 90 days. Years later he would admit to knowing nothing about medical education.
And though one cannot know his exact instructions in the conduct of this investigation, one can surely guess with accuracy what he must have been told to do by the outcome of the Flexner Report.
– Schools teaching nutrition, naturopathy, or herbalism did not pass (schools teaching Bernard's Terrain therapy were in this group).
– Schools teaching homeopathy did not pass.
– Schools that admitted blacks did not pass (except for two that admitted only blacks).
– Schools admitting Jews got lower than average grades (resulting in a 30% reduction in Jews graduating)
– Schools that admitted women got lower than average grades (resulting in a 33% reduction in women graduating). [Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, New York: Basic, 1982.]
– Schools that were "commercial institutions" (able to function entirely by student fees) did not pass.
One might ask why the latter, commercial medical institutions, would be attacked, but you must realize the simple fact that money buys influence. If an institution did not need the Rockefeller/Carnegie money, then the Rockefellers and Carnegie foundations could not influence the curriculum. That would not do. The two foundations had millions of grant dollars to spread around which they regarded not as philanthropy, but rather as investments.
With the release of the Flexner Report, the AMA (now recharged with Carnegie money) lobbied heavily, both at the federal and state levels. The report concluded that: "The chiropractics, the mechano therapists, and several others…are unconscionable quacks… The public prosecutor and grand jury are the proper agencies for dealing with them." Within the next 30 years, 1500 chiropractors would be prosecuted for practicing "quackery."
Within three years of the release of the Flexner Report, 25 medical schools closed. Altogether, because of the earlier efforts and then the release of the Flexner Report the number of medical schools dropped from 650 to 50.
Private hospitals declined in number from an estimated 2441 in 1910 to 1076 in 1946.
Homeopaths, splintered and refusing to become political, began to lose favor. Medical schools teaching homeopathy changed their curriculums to follow the guidelines promoted in the Flexner Report, and though they might have produced a better student, their homeopathy studies suffered and they produced second rate homeopaths.
The 22 homeopathic medical schools that flourished in 1900 dwindled to just 2 in 1923. By 1950 all schools teaching homeopathy were closed.
If a physician did not graduate from a Flexner approved medical school, he couldn't find a job. New licensing laws required that medical schools be certified.
By 1925 10,000 herbalists were out of business.
The AMA's coordinated efforts to crush competition did not end with the Flexner Report. The Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry's main purpose was to get rid of all over-the-counter medications and treatments that did not require a doctor's visit.
Unbeknownst to the public, the AMA had been fixing prices. The sudden drop in certified physicians in the country just wasn't enough, in the eyes of the AMA. They began ousting physicians working for companies that tried to provide health care for their workers. They outlawed the process of "contracting out."
Hospitals that did not fix their prices lost AMA accreditation. In Illinois near riots broke out when a journalist published "secret fee increases."
If a patient did not pay his medical bills, especially if he was dissatisfied with the treatment, he was blacklisted and refused further treatment till he paid up.
Charities and churches were attacked by the AMA for giving free medical care to the poor. A huge lobbying effort allowed the AMA to oversee the State Board of Charities, which led to diminished free care; the board could impose fines and jail terms for anyone giving treatment without first getting the patient's financial status.
The AMA lobbied to stop pharmacists from treating patients and in nearly every state these laws passed. Soon they had to lobby again to stop pharmacists from refilling prescriptions at the request of the patient.
The Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations showered hundreds of millions of dollars on medical schools that followed the AMA model. This buys them control of curriculum. The curriculum is drug based. Students learn nothing about health; they learn about disease and the drugs used to supposedly cure them (though the word cure is not accurate since few drugs actually cured an illness but instead suppressed symptoms).
I was, for a period, a professor of Therapeutics and Pharmacology, and I knew from experience that students were obliged then by me and by others to learn about an interminable number of drugs, many of which were valueless, many of them useless, some probably even harmful…. [Dr. David Edsall, former dean of Harvard medical school.]
By 1934, the AMA House of Delegates published this statement: "All features of medical service in any method of medical practice should be under the control of the medical profession. No other body or individual is legally or educationally equipped to exercise such control." Their goal, nearly completely realized, was a total monopoly of medical practices. Through its influence on the government, the AMA had come to control education, licensure, treatment options, and price.
To sum up, by 1935:
1. Homeopathy had fallen from favor not because of science, but because homeopaths refused to unite and one of Rockefeller's subordinates who controlled grant money did not happen to like homeopathy;.
2. Other healing modalities, mechanical devices, nutrition, midwifery, naturopathy, herbalism, hydropathy, had been quashed by Abraham Flexner who had no scientific training, no medical background, but had been equipped with "instructions".
3. The terrain theory of medicine had lost out to the germ theory of medicine because Abraham Flexner (untrained in the sciences) preferred the latter.
4. Chiropractic had been criminalized for decades (finally winning their case before the Supreme Court in 1987 because of conventional medicine's own research proving its effectiveness).
5. The only acceptable medicine practiced (licensed, controlled) is based upon the use of morbid drugs, surgery, and, newly discovered, "radiation", and
6. Medicine had finally become enormously profitable (allowing numerous entrepreneurs to enter the field such as Alfred P Sloan, president of General Motors, and Charles Kettering, automobile genius responsible for ignition systems, starters, lights, etcetera, who together had financial ties to the Rockefellers, chemical companies, pharmaceuticals, and the list goes on).
Americans take pride in the advances science has brought them, and yet, when one looks back on how medicine in this country evolved into what it is today, as outlined above, it becomes apparent that its evolution had nothing to do with science and had everything to do with politics.
Jump ahead to the year 1962.
Few people have ever heard of homeopathy, herbalism, or naturopathy. Dieticians have replaced nutritionists. America has just made it through the worst modern epidemic since the Spanish flu; a polio epidemic.
Rachel Carson has just published her book, Silent Spring in which, among other things, she questions our use of chemicals and their connection to cancers. Rachel Carson has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
A new sleeping pill, Thalidomide, is found to have caused birth defects in thousands of babies born in Western Europe. Although the FDA has kept Thalidomide out of the US market, there is strong public support for stronger drug regulations, which played right into the hands of an even larger group of profit oriented businesses who were determined to control mainstream medications – the big drug companies.
Big Drug Companies and the FDA:
Drug companies quickly throng to Washington lobbying for stricter controls and the Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments Pass with ease. These new laws will ensure the safety of any drug entering the US market. Incidentally, because of these laws, new drugs must now prove effectiveness.
No one, outside the pharmaceutical circles, expected this, but the amendments passed with ease and suddenly the cost of bringing a new drug to market has skyrocketed.
Perhaps no single statement about the Food and Drug Administration is more revealing than the eye opening one attributed to former FDA Commissioner Dr Herbert Ley: "The thing that bugs me is that people think the FDA is protecting them. It isn't. What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it's doing are as different as night and day." Dr. Ley has been noted as the last FDA Commissioner who made an attempt to stand up to the pressure and influence of the big drug companies.
Most people labor under the misconception that the sole purpose of the FDA is to serve as a watchdog for the public and protect them against bad drugs. Two recent polls indicated that while 82% of the public surveyed said that they trust the FDA to keep our drugs safe, 2/3 of the FDA's own scientists said that they didn't.
Further, about 1 out of 5 of the scientists admitted that they had been pressured to make false statements in favor of drugs they didn't think were safe. No doubt that is because the FDA's own scientists are aware of something that most of the public is not: The main role and function of the FDA is to serve as a tool of the pharmaceutical industry, not as its watchdog. Big drugs and big government have been bedmates for over a century now.
The main source of information for the FDA's regulation of drugs is the pharmaceutical industry itself. In effect, the FDA simply evaluates the test results submitted by these companies in support of their own drugs. That in itself is a clear-cut conflict of interest, but there's more. In much the same manner that the military industrial complex has blurred the lines between the defense contractors being overseen and the military agencies overseeing them, a revolving door has also been established between FDA executives and the large food and drug companies, and it has been going on now for a long, long time.
The cozy relationship between the Big Pharma companies and the FDA, and the tragic results for public health are vividly illustrated with two of the many questionable approvals by the FDA: Vioxx and Aspartame.
Vioxx – Thousands Die so Merck can Profit
Merck's Vioxx was heralded far and wide as the greatest breakthrough for relieving pain in the history of medicine, and any number of studies were presented attesting to its effectiveness and safety. What wasn't told, and what the FDA failed to uncover or else ignored, was the covered up evidence of harm to the heart and cardiovascular system. Neither was the fact that many of the favorable studies were actually authored by Merck who merely paid doctors and scientists to sign their names to the studies.
Then came the reports of heart attacks and deaths. While Merck vigorously denied any connections and the FDA maintained that Vioxx was safe, the body count continued to mount. Even after the death toll became so overwhelming that deniability was no longer an option, the FDA fought to keep Vioxx on the market as long as possible while the deaths and the billions in profits for Merck marched ever onward. By some estimates, over 60,000 deaths are attributable to Vioxx now – more than were lost in the entire Viet Nam war.
Ominiously, the whispers are growing louder that the death toll from other Merck drugs such as Fosamax, Avandia and Gardasil may end up being even higher.
Aspartame – Sweet Sickness
Natural health authority Jon Barron detailed how Aspartame evolved from as a potential biological-warfare neurotoxin to an FDA approved sweetener in his article "The FDA and Government Regulators":
– Aspartame was once considered (before it was approved as a food) by the Department of Defense as a potential biological-warfare neurotoxin.
– At temperatures of about 85 degrees, aspartame breaks down into its components. These include: methanol (wood alcohol, known to street alcoholics as the alcohol that makes you go blind), formaldehyde (a neurotoxin), formic acid (ant venom), and diketopiperazine (a known carcinogenic that causes brain tumors in animals).
– According to the FDA's own audit on aspartame, the Bressler Report, aspartame triggers brain tumors, mammary tumors, pancreatic tumors, ovarian tumors, pituitary adenomas, uterine tumors, etc. A senior FDA toxicologist, the late Dr. Adrian Gross, who tried to prevent the approval of aspartame, told Congress that it violated the Delaney Amendment because it triggered brain tumors (Congressional Record SID835:131 – 8/1/85)
– Aspartame has also been shown to trigger birth defects and miscarriages — not just if the mother uses it, but the father also. And now, because of new FDA directives governing the use of aspartame, it has appeared in a whole range of products that we use everyday. (l996, Dr. David Kessler, then head of the FDA, gave blanket approval for aspartame.) This may be a major reason that 50% of first pregnancies in the US now end in miscarriage.
– Before aspartame was approved in beverages in 1983, the National Soft Drink Association created a THIRTY PAGE PROTEST (that was later read into the Congressional Record) declaring that aspartame was NOT stable, and that it could actually make unwary users FATTER!
– In 1983, the average annual consumption of artificial sweeteners in the United States (primarily aspartame) was around 3.5 lbs. per person. By 1991, consumption had risen to an astounding 17 lbs. per person.
– The FDA receives more complaints about aspartame (over 10,000 official complaints) than for all other non-drug products or substances put together. In fact, between 78-85% of all complaints the FDA receives concern aspartame.
– Symptoms caused by aspartame include, among many others: chronic fatigue and immune deficiency syndrome; grand mal seizures; decreased vision; pain in eyes; ringing in ears; headache; confusion; etc; etc; and death. The FDA has its very OWN list of 92 SYMPTOMS. Note: Five deaths were reported prior to 1987. Since then, figures have not been made public.
– The FDA itself kept aspartame off the market for 16 years until it suddenly granted approval.
The story of that approval follows.
So how the heck did this neuro-toxin end up becoming one of the most omnipresent food additives of all time? As Deep Throat told Bob Woodward, "Follow the money!"
The story begins in 1974 when aspartame was first approved, but the approval was pulled when issues arose concerning aspartame's tendency to cause brain tumors. These concerns were verified when in 1977, an FDA task force submitted a 15,000 page document that "uncovered serious deficiencies in Searle's integrity" and "revealed a pattern of conduct which compromises the scientific integrity of the studies." Specifically, the FDA Task Force found that Searle routinely took the test animals that developed tumors (and there were many), cut out their tumors, returned them to the study, and then documented them as non-tumor.
But if the FDA task force did not want to approve aspartame, we are once again faced with the question: how did aspartame get final approval? Again the answer lies in Deep Throat's advice to Bob Woodward, "Follow the money."
In 1977, Donald Rumsfeld (former member of Congress and Chief of Staff in the Ford Administration) was hired as president of G.D. Searle, the maker of aspartame, at a salary of $2 million plus $1.5 million in bonuses between 1979 and 1984 — compensation he more than earned, as you will soon see. Mr. Rumsfeld then proceeded to hire a number of other former government officials and members of the Ford Administration to serve as counsels and representatives for Searle (including: high level spokespeople from the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Ford White House, and the Department of Transportation).
These efforts had an immediate payoff in that Searle was able to convince U.S. Attorney William Conlon, who was assigned to the case, to take no action against Searle or aspartame, despite repeated prodding by Richard Merril, Chief Counsel to the FDA. Interestingly enough, a year later, Mr. Conlon, took a position with the Searle's legal firm, Sidley and Austin — as Deep Throat predicted.
But the big pay-off came in 1983, when the Commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, approved NutraSweet for soft drinks two months before leaving office. A couple of months later, after he had retired from the FDA, he accepted a position as Senior Medical Advisor to Searle's public relations firm, Burson Marsteller — at the rate of $1,000 per day.
Not mentioned in Barron's article is the fact that favorable studies on the safety of Aspartame used MSG as the placebo!
Today, we see the FDA once again approving a deadly substance even as it is being banned in other countries around the world. At the same time, the FDA has suppressed the natural sweetener Stevia and still prohibits it from advertising itself as a sweetener, despite its approval and use as a sweetener in most of the rest of the world – although the FDA recently did approve patented sweeteners derived from Stevia for the huge Cargill (Coca Cola) and Pepsico companies.
Two recent stories which appeared at Natural News further illustrate the lack of oversight and corruption that exists within the FDA:
"FDA Scientists Complain about Corruption" details how the FDA's own scientists complain about the corruption and pressure within the FDA that results in favorable and hurried approval for drugs that have not demonstrated adequate safety or had damaging safety information covered up.
"OIG Reports FDA Approved Drugs without Following Federal Safety Laws" tells how the Office of Inspector General investigated the FDA and found that it ignored rules requiring it to determine conflicts of interest between doctors and scientists who perform drug studies for pharmaceutical companies, such as financial incentives that could result in studies being skewed and rushed to the benefit of the drug companies and detriment to public health.
In1969, Congress revealed that out of 49 high-level officials who had left the FDA, 37 of them moved immediately into high-level corporate positions in the companies that they had previously been in charge of regulating. Over the years, about half of all FDA officials end up in executive positions in the companies that they regulate. And, in 1975, the General Accounting Office reported that 150 FDA officials owned stocks in the companies they were supposed to be regulating.
The last two heads of the FDA both left under a cloud of suspicion and scandal after having been caught receiving illegal gifts from drug companies. Any guesses where they ended up being employed after they left?
David Bonello's excellent article "Healthcare for Dummies" served as the foundation and inspiration for this article and the author borrowed heavily from that article with the kind permission of Mr. Bonello.
Other sources included: Natural News, JAMA, "Death by Medicine", Mike Adams, Jon Barron