You trust your doctor, right? But should you? "Most patients look up to the men and women in white coats as close to gods," says Dr. Erika Schwartz. "Every patient wants to believe that his or her doctor, who spent decades absorbing masses of knowledge about the human body, is here to administer their miracle cure.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Dr. Schwartz tells Newsmax Health.
"Your doctor may be a bought man or woman, and owe more allegiance to the pharmaceutical industry than to you," says Dr. Schwartz.
"Unfortunately, most doctors define success by how much money they make, how quickly they can perform a procedure, or how many publications carry their names, rather than by how connected, caring, and profound their relationships with their patients are," says Dr. Schwartz, chief medical officer at the Age Management Institute in New York City.
Although most doctors begin their careers wanting to heal people, after the rigors of medical school along with an overwhelming medical debt and a stressful practice, their attitude changes.
Most doctors are heavily influenced by pharmaceutical companies, says Dr. Schwartz. Although the FDA has cracked down on expensive gifts — including luxury vacations — that pharmaceutical companies formerly rewarded doctors with for prescribing their drugs, they still have tremendous influence.
"Their power can't be overstated," says Dr. Schwartz, claiming it extends to government agencies, such as the FDA and Congress, that are supposed to protect us. "Our government is bought, paid for, and brought to you by the biggest gorillas in the room: Big Pharma and big insurance.
"Big Pharma outspends all other industries in lobbying the U.S. government and the FDA," says Dr. Schwartz. "From 1998 to 2013, it spent $2.7 BILLION, in lobbying, 42 percent more than the second-highest lobbying big spender. Who was the second biggest spender? The insurance industry!"
Big Pharma's influence on doctors begins in medical school with professors whose research is often sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, and the influence lasts throughout a physician's career. "The entire body of information given to and absorbed by medical students is filtered through fifty years of political maneuvering and corruption by special interests.
"In addition, there are hundreds of medical journals and online sites that publish research and clinical articles," she says. "The most trusted are 'peer-reviewed journals' whose contents are reviewed by a panel of experts in the field covered by the article.
"Many, if not most of these reviewers have deep 'relationships' with pharmaceutical corporations," she says. "Most people, including many doctors, are totally unaware these relationships exist, and rely on their opinions and recommendations."
Many blockbuster drugs, such as Vioxx, turn out to be unsafe, and since doctors depend on information provided by the manufacturer, often via the sales rep, they unknowingly prescribe drugs that are dangerous.
"We believe the studies drug reps show us are honest and truly represent the superiority of their drug," says Dr. Schwartz. "Keeping up with the newest drugs and scientific data is difficult when a doctor spends fifteen hours a day seeing 35 to 50 patients. Doctors rely on their pharmaceutical reps to help make decisions on which drugs to prescribe.
"Doctors are also under financial pressures to perform unnecessary and often dangerous
tests and procedures," says Dr. Schwartz. "The enormous amount of testing, instruments, equipment, and processing of laboratory samples requires time, is very expensive, and
above all, makes lots of money for the system.
"While this approach has helped the healthcare industry grow in size and importance, the focus on money is deadly and it has also increasingly led to bad medicine."
How can you protect yourself? "No patient can afford to believe 'doctor knows best,'" says Dr. Schwartz. Don't just blindly follow your doctor's advice — educate yourself and become involved in your own healthcare.
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