Western medical industry’s reputation is based on emergency room quick-fixes which are marketed as godly acts of doctors and hospitals
When human illness and misery nets trillions of dollars for the rich and the powerful, would they allow society to be healthy and well? Governments with altruistic designs are also muzzled by these industrial barons who want to keep their treasure chests intact at any cost. On a recent morning walk, an old acquaintance commented on my recent article on cancer treatment and its costs: “Doctor, you are barking up the wrong tree in this arena as all stakeholders there want society to be ill and not well. You, on the contrary, are swimming against that popular and powerful current. You are a ‘philo-sufferer’!” When I asked him what he meant, he told me that my philosophy only makes me suffer. He pointed out that I had coined that word in one of my earlier writings.
Now, things are falling into place. I was wondering why the cancer industry wants to maintain the prices of simple cancer drugs so high that most patients go bankrupt by the time they die, after taking all those drugs. Do these drugs get any one cured of their disease? The answer is a big NO. The greatest contradiction in this world is that we still call our system ‘healthcare system’!
The hospital industry is no exception. “Never make money in a sick room,” was the advice of the founder of modern medicine, Hippocrates. How can a hospital become an industry, then? But that is the most thriving industry and their owners are celebrated in society. If one wonders how the modern Western medical industry came to earn this reputation and respect, one would soon see that it is because of emergency room quick-fixes which are marketed as godly acts of doctors and hospitals. Most quick-fixes work in an emergency situation but long-term audits do not show them in good light.
A recent study showed that over-investigation and over-intervention seem to be the biggest curse on seriously sick patients in the intensive care units (ICUs). The study published in JAMA (The Journal of American Medical Association) Internal Medicine, in December 2014, shows that certain high-risk heart patients stand a better chance of survival if they go to a hospital when all its cardiologists have all left town. The journal’s editor, and University of California San Francisco cardiologist, Dr Rita Redberg, said “it was a relief to know that patient outcomes do not suffer when cardiologists were away at meetings.” Many studies in the past had shown how death rates fell significantly when doctors were absent in hospitals where juniors and nurses ran the show. These results prompted the British Medical Journal to write an article entitled: “Doctors going on strike will improve society’s health”.
Another trick is condemning anything that does not belong to their industry in sickness care. While drugs like Imatinib, which costs a fortune for the patient, is being hailed as a panacea for certain cancers (although the inside audit does not permit that opinion), better drugs, like kitchen-fresh turmeric which contains many powerful tyrosine-kinase receptor blockers, the main chemical in Imatinib, is condemned and discarded.
It would be an eye-opener for those who believe that modern medicine is scientific: modern Western medicine, which began as sorcery, witchcraft, mumbo-jumbo and so on 5,000 years ago in the Nile Valley, started being described as ‘scientific’ in the early part of 20th century.
Business power succeeded over truth with the (in)famous Abraham Flexner report of 1910 which gave medicine its ‘scientific’ label. Truth is that Western medicine is non-science and power play.
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS