A Culture of Health Care

January 11th, 2006

To the Editor,

Mr. Pear notes that drug sales exceeded $180 billion in 2004. Does your paper know that adverse drug effects (mortality and morbidity), exceeded $177 billion in the year 2000?¹ This means that not only is the public paying huge sums for drugs but they are paying even larger sums to mop up the devastating effects of taking the wrong drugs. The reasons were made clear by Dr. Alan Roses, of GlaxoSmithKlein (largest UK pharma company). He reported² that only 30% to 50% of the population taking drugs was deriving benefits from them. Efficacy evidently depends upon certain genetic characteristics that are easily detected with a blood test.

Health care is obviously a culture that worships a false deity and tithes heavily for it. Testing for drug compatibility should be mandatory for every patient so that trial and error in drug prescription, benefitting the vendor only, is no longer standard medical practice. We should also be asking how normative samples in drug testing are selected. Are those patients screened for such factors?

I myself became ill from trying out many asthma medications, only to learn that I am deficient in an enzyme that is necessary to the processing of such drugs in the system. Medicine may be an art but biochemistry is an exact science. Let’s not leave it to Madison Avenue marketing tactics.

Barbara Rubin

¹ Independent.co.uk article, “Glaxo chief: Our Drugs do Not Work on Most Patients” by S. Connor, December 8, 2003

² “Drug Related Morbidity and Mortality, Updating the Cost of Illness Model”, Ernst and Grizzle (J Am Pharm Assoc, 41 (2), 2001

Categories: NY Times

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