The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 997: Big Pharma and Health Care

What is big pharma's influence on health care in the US and elsewhere?
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Big Pharma and Health Care

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Dr. Peter Gøtzsche worked for the pharmaceutical industry years ago supervising clinical trials and working in regulatory affairs. But this industry insider has become the toughest of critics.

Dr. Gøtzsche is concerned about the impact that big pharma exerts on health care. Pharmaceutical firms are among the most profitable in the world. In the US alone, the bill for prescription drugs last year topped $350 billion.

How Does Big Pharma Affect Health Care?

How can drug regulatory agencies around the globe stay on top of this powerful industry? Or can’t they? Find out why Dr. Gøtzsche draws parallels between big pharma and organized crime. He also compares drug makers to the tobacco industry. What are the similarities and differences?

This Week’s Guest:

Peter Gøtzsche, MD, is professor of clinical research design and analysis at the University of Copenhagen. He co-founded the Cochrane Collaboration in 1993 and is currently director at the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen.

He is a specialist in internal medicine who worked in clinical trials and regulatory affairs in the pharmaceutical industry between 1975 and 1983. He is a member of several groups publishing  guidelines  for  good reporting  of research and has co-authored CONSORT for randomized trials  (, STROBE for observational studies (, PRISMA for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (, and SPIRIT for trial protocols (

Dr. Gøtzsche’s book is Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare. His website is

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Many people know that the FDA is less than stellar in the honesty dept. They have no problem authorizing new drugs in exchange for favors (political, financial, or ???) I think Dr’s, are getting more training in meds now, but usually they only know what the Pharm. Rep tells them about any drug, and he/she is usually pushing the latest ‘silver bullet’ to come along…..but, have you ever listened to the drug commercials on TV? The disclaimers at the end make you wonder how they could ever have the nerve to advertise in such a public forum; they are so scary. Don’t Drs. ever watch TV?
Find a good Naturopath, study holistic medicine, watch the foods you eat (little to none processed stuff/some organics, etc) and research the side effects of any prescribed med. before you agree to take it. It’s YOUR body…..YOU have to be the one to care for it!

I have Tweeted, Pinned and Facebooked everywhere! When will our country realize that Pharma is no better than the Mafia? And yet we want to give the government the ability to mandate certain drugs or vaccines because this industry is so powerful that they can convince legislators that we all need them? Any media sources that question the all-mighty Pharma industry is instantly blacklisted or tarnished.

His comments about “torturing the data until it confesses” is true, yet most Americans have no idea how rampant this is. Even the former editor of the NEJM said she could no longer trust peer-reviewed studies. Many times placebos aren’t even used in the true sense of the term. Sadly, it’s all about the money.

I do believe that there are well-meaning individuals working in medical research and in the pharmaceutical industry, yet the lobby overpowers the wonderful work many of these people aim to do.

The SSRI comments are complex, however. There are many of us who have tried EVERYTHING (and I mean everything!) and nothing helps the anxiety or depression except an SSRI. While these drugs do come with a myriad of dangers and side-effects, some people must choose those over ending their lives or living with no quality of life.

Great podcast. Keep them coming!

Please look up “leaky gut” , research what “diseases” it causes, then research how to fix it, naturally, through eliminating foods, adding foods , and exercise, like walking. Get well soon.

This reinforces the mantra “Nature first, drugs and surgery when necessary”. This does not mean there cannot be complications with natural remedies, but rarely do they lead to life time addictions, death and disability, extreme costs, and decreased quality of life from side effects. The bonus is most of the time they work much better and cost less.

I wish that doctors could/would hear something other than big pharma’s litany. Some of my clients are so terrified at the idea that Rx is not the best solution for them, that their doctor’s words are not descended from on high, that they keep taking meds and are not feeling better. So they take more meds. At times, their lives are in danger as a result. Still, they cannot kick the habit of taking what the doctor prescribes. It is sad, frustrating, and I appreciate those who speak up. Thank you Joe, Terry, and Dr. Gøtzsche!

This is difficult to listen to. I have a severe anxiety disorder and two years ago it got so bad I almost killed myself. I went to counseling twice a week for a year and it only got worse. Zoloft DID save my life. It took a long time for me to start taking medication because of the stigma around mental illness and antidepressants.
I am now a functioning human being because of an antidepressant. Yes there are difficult side effects, but the benefits far outweigh those.
It is so hard to hear someone talking negatively and skeptically about something that is already so stigmatized, yet DOES truly help people.
Antidepressants are difficult drugs to take — please don’t discount them. Mental illness is so often caused by too much or too little of a chemical, just like any other illness, and antidepressants have side effects, just like any other drug. The symptoms may not be visible, but they can be debilitating, and in many, many cases, the drugs work. Period.

I have never suffered from depression, anxiety etc. but became interested in this as my old father was put on Mellaril (a neuroleptic) during a one-week-stay in a nursing home more than 10 years ago.

I knew, as soon as I saw him, that he had been “drugged” and thanks to the Internet my eyes were opened. It didn´t take long before I found out that this medication was withdrawn in England due to serious side effects (but okay in Sweden) and that my father was not the only person subjected to this type of “drugging”.

Since then, I have read many articles/books for exampel:
Mad in America (Robert Whitaker)
An Anatomy of an Epidemic (Robert Whitaker)
Your Drug May Be Your Problem (Peter R. Breggin)
Toxic Psychiatry (Peter R. Breggin)
Medication Madness (Peter R. Breggin)
Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal – a Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, and Their Families (Peter R. Breggin)

I quote part of a sentence from your comment:
“Mental illness is so often caused by too much or too little of a chemical, just like any other illness…”

Please visit and I am sure you will find information about this issue and a lot of others. Please note that I am not saying that you should stop your medication. I think it`s important to get many different views and try to make up your own mind.

If you google “Who cares in Sweden” I hope you will find an interesting video.
I think it`s good to see it together with someone and one part at a time. It consists of 3 parts and each is around an hour.

Anxiety, confusion, depression etc. can also be side effects of “ordinary drugs” which is important to remember.

Dr. Gotzche mentioned that the effects of heroin are cleared from the system in a matter of days. As the parent of a heroin addict now in recovery, I’ve read extensively and learned from practitioners in the addiction field that the cognitive effects of using last for months–3-6 at a minimum. PLEASE CLARIFY THIS FOR YOUR LISTENERS. It is one of the facts underpinning the need for longer term treatment (vs. 28 day programs).

As a former NC resident, (and desperately wish I could move back but change the horrible political situation) I was introduced to your work and spread some of your important information to friends and family around the country. As a retired member of the medical profession, I have been disgusted by the drug misleading information in their advertising and the practice of medicine by insurance companies and drug manufacturers. A serious current concern is the quality and lack of controls on the generic drug market. Thank you for your work.
I recently heard from the Oriental Medicine folks that soy is a hormone disrupter. Is there any truth to this? I have a long-term dairy allergy and much prefer the soy substitutes to the others

Listen to professor Peter C. Götzsche and read his book!

Professor Götzsche is one of my heros.
He is concerned about health care and want the public to know.
First I read his book – Deadly Medicine and Organised Crime – in English, then in Danish and now I am looking forward to the Swedish edition.
Google his name and you will find many interesting articles and videos.

I’m glad that an insider is putting some data to what many of us know to be true.

Decades ago I overheard a business & financial manager who was connected with the Italian-American Mafia say, “We no longer do crime; we do business.” And then he went on to describe, in great detail, how they use business (legal, medical, religious, commercial) records to find people who can do their crime for them.

Their clients’ finances are kept in serial bank accounts that must be kept identical, all over the world — requiring daily phone calls between banks. This is the original reason the government began monitoring phone calls; any one of the bank records can be used to misrepresent total income as a fraction, and they have several complicated fake record-keeping systems to support that.

I sincerely think that I would NOT HAVE BECOME DISABLED IN CHRONIC NERVE, TENDON PAIN, with occasional Left sided spasms, Peripheral Neuropathy, etc., if Big Pharma, too many Doctors & Pharmacists had not recklessly, needlessly prescribed FLUOROQUINOLONES: Avelox, Cipro & Levaquin to me on their “hunch” that I had a UTI or Bronchitis or Sinus infections. Never was I seriously ill. I did teach Elementary School in an area where families had little insurance & sent their children to school ill. There were sooty emissions into my classrooms as well. I did have some frequent infections, but Penicillin & Augmentin had been previously prescribed for those RXs & I never had Adverse Effects from those. Serious Adverse Effects from Avelox, Cipro & Levaquin. Then serious Adverse Effects from Reglan & Baclofen. Most of my various Doctors refused to commit themselves to a Diagnosis/Cause of the Nerve & Tendon Pain & Non-Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy.

No one of my Elders ever had illnesses or Pain such as these. All were very physically active & mentally sharp well into their 80s.
The pain initially began in 1997 & was diagnosed as “Fibromyalgia.” As the pain increased neither OTC Meds or Celebrex or Ibuprofen relieved any of the pain. Eventually over the years RXs Norco, then Baclofen, then Gabapentin. I had Dangerous Adverse Effects to Baclofen. Norco does not touch the Nerve pain. RX Gabapentin at very lowest dosage @only 1 or two a day for only 1-3 days leaves me with many debilitating side effects, including I feel physically drunk with blurry vision. Thus I am non functioning & unable to drive.

I’ve always told & put in writing to every Doctor & Pharmacist that I am VERY SENSITIVE to Medications. My experiece has been that many/most Doctors have not listened & have harmed me by prescribing RXs without LABS & FAILING TO INFORM ME OF POSSIBLE ADVERSE EFFECTS. Surely there were LESS DANGEROUS, bacteria specific RXs available. Too many Doctors appear to get their Pharmalogical knowledge & bias from Big Pharma. I also blame the Pharmacists I had especially 2006-2012. They knew & saw my deterioration, increasingly extreme pain, yet the Pharmacist NEVER WARNED ME despite my repeated conversations with him about my concerns about the Doctor, the meds & that I was increasingly in excruciating pain. My body knew, but those who were paid to know & to protect me failed me badly.

I’ve lost 10+ years: unable to travel to visit family; unable to do ordinary yard & house work. Orthopedist told me to never vacuum again due to unrelieved nerve pain after 1st laminectomy, then diskectomy. I have to rest up for at least 6 hours the day prior & day after my 1x @ week food shopping. Big Pharma destroyed my life. Remember: I was never seriously ill until those Medications. I’ve had to do some research & to treat “Food as Medicine,” except that I had LOST MY APPETITE FOR 3 YEARS! I could not eat any meats! I had to get my Protein, vegetables & fruit via Protein Drinks. This past year I have more of an appetite, but must avoid all NON-ORGANIC MEATS. If I should even chance 1/4 lb. of turkey for a sandwich, I suffer badly for a week with increased pain all over my body. (I assume from the anti-biotics given the animals.)

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