Commonly recommended Treatments found Worthless

Commonly recommended Treatments found Worthless

Wed, 19 Mar 2003

Independent analyses of the clinical studies upon which widely recommended drug treatments have been based, have now been found to be fatally faulty, and the drugs are deemed worthless. An analysis of 83 studies found that drugs used to treat 90,000 hospitalized babies and toddlers with bronchiolitis annually, showed no evidence that the drugs worked: “Routine treatments used for babies and toddlers suffering from a common lower-respiratory illness may have no effect.” See: Common Infant Lung Infection Treatments May Not Work By Gary Gately HealthScoutNews http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/Healthology/HS_babylunginfection_030317.html

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) had been the “gold standard” for the treatment of menopause, recommended to millions of women by their doctors and the medical establishment. That treatment had, in fact, put women at increased risks of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and breast cancer. Furthermore, it is now revealed (in The New England Journal of Medicine) that HRT did nothing to improve women’s health, mood, energy, libido, or well-being. Any positive effect they may have felt is due to the placebo effect.

Today’s editorial in the NY Times, Delusions of Feeling Better, lays the blame for this deceit on women: “most women are foolish if they keep taking hormone pills for years at a time.” The Times editors need to get out of their clubby ivory tower and look the medical establishment in the eye. It is not women who deluded themselves, it is their doctors and a medical establishment–in concert with the drug industry–that promoted this and other worthless, and for some, a harmful treatments. It is doctors, not women who have the authority to recommend and the license to prescribe those pills.

The HRT debacle is an archetypal case study illustration: physicians, in collusion with drug manufacturers, have been promoting and prescribing worthless treatments that increase risks of harm. Physicians can succeed in deluding patients—-both men and women–by inducing the placebo effect. The same deception can be said for antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs). [See: Kirsch The Emperor’s New Drugs: An Analysis of Antidepressant Medication by Irving Kirsch, Thomas J. Moore, Alan Scoboria and Sarah S. Nicholls in Prevention and Treatment http://journals.apa.org/prevention/volume5/pre0050023a.html ]

But not everyone is a loser in this bluff. Worthless, even harmful medical treatments can be highly profitable for drug manufacturers and the healthcare industry.

A similar deception is being played by medical providers who promote the ingestion of drugs prior to any signs of illness, as if they have any known beneficial, “preventive” value. An article, The Perils of Prevention, questions the validity of early screening for disease and the scientifically unfounded mantra promoting “preventive” chemical treatments. [See: SHANNON BROWNLEE, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, March 16, 2003, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/16/magazine/16PREVENTION.html?pagewanted=print&position=top ]

Sadly, it is becoming ever clearer that neither the medical recommendation made by professional healthcare providers, nor the claimed clinical findings in the scientific literature can be trusted. The integrity of medicine and too many of its practitioners have been corrupted by corporate interests whose influence in medical practice and research is ubiquitous. [See: Arnold S. Relman and Marcia Angell of The New Republic for “America’s Other Drug Problem,” showing that pharmaceutical companies spend far more to advertise and lobby than to research. [Dec 16, 2002] http://www.brooklyn.liu.edu/cwis/bklyn/polk/press/tnrdrugpiece.pdf ]

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/18/health/18HORM.html?pagewanted=print&position=top

March 18, 2003

Hormone Therapy Is Now Said to Lack Benefits

By GINA KOLATA

EXCERPT: Confounding a widely held impression, a large federal study has found that hormone therapy for menopause does not affect quality of life. Women taking the drugs did not feel more energetic, or have more sexual pleasure or even more restful sleep. They were not less depressed, their minds were no clearer and their memories did not appear to have improved.

It is, medical experts say, a striking development in what has been a precipitous reversal of fortune for hormone therapy. Just when women and their doctors were coming to terms with the idea that the drugs can carry health risks, now the same study of 16,608 woman that found those problems says that while the drugs somewhat diminished hot flashes and night sweats in a subgroup of women, they were no better than placebos in improving other measures of quality of life.

“It is just stunning,” said Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, an advocacy group that lobbied for the federal government to conduct the study, called the Women’s Health Initiative. …cut….

Wyeth said the study was unlikely to have much effect on women’s decisions to use or not to use hormones, because the study subjects were not typical hormone users: they did not have severe symptoms of menopause; and their quality-of-life scores, on average, were high, indicating that no treatment would be likely to raise them much more. The findings, said Doug Petkus, a Wyeth spokesman, “are unlikely to have clinical meaning and should be interpreted with caution.” …cut…

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/19/opinion/19WED1.html?pagewanted=print&position=top

March 19, 2003

Delusions of Feeling Better

Bit by bit the evidence is accumulating that most women are foolish if they keep taking hormone pills for years at a time. Last year federal health officials halted a large study of hormone replacement therapy because the pills used, a combination of estrogen and progestin, were causing more harm than good. Women taking the pills had a greater risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes and blood clots than other women, and the damage was not offset by a small beneficial effect in reducing the risk of colon cancer and hip fractures. Even so, many women have been reluctant to abandon the hormone therapy because it makes them feel better, more energetic, mentally sharper and more sexually responsive. Or so they have thought.

Now comes the bad news that they have most likely been mistaken. New study results just released by The New England Journal of Medicine show that the pills had no significant effect on the quality of life of a large group of postmenopausal women. Women who took the pills did not feel any healthier or more vital than comparable women who took placebos, nor did they have more sexual pleasure. Compared with those in the placebo group, their minds were no clearer, their memories no better, and their mental health no different. The pills did have marginal effects on sleep disturbances, physical functioning and pain, but these were not clinically significant and disappeared after a year or so of use.

This is a stunning reversal of fortune for drugs that have been widely used by many women not just to treat the hot flashes and night sweats of menopause, a well-established use, but also as a long-term elixir to ward off aging. So engrained is the belief in hormone therapy that many women and many doctors refuse to believe the mounting evidence against it. But the findings were generated by the respected Women’s Health Initiative, which randomly assigned more than 16,000 women to take either the hormones or a placebo. The results ought to embarrass Wyeth, the manufacturer of the pills tested, which has long implied that hormone therapy is a virtual fountain of youth. They should also shake the confidence of everyone who has believed, on the basis of anecdotal reports and less rigorous scientific studies, that hormone treatments made women feel better. A lot of the presumed benefit may have been a placebo effect.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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