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Originally published January 16 2005

Patients should demand full lifetime refunds on Vioxx, COX-2 inhibitors and other drugs

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

Let's take a closer look at honesty in medicine. Over the last few months, the FDA and state legal authorities have been going after a company selling various supplements and herbal formulas that promised to enhance breast size. According to the news reports, these products were unproven and entirely worthless in enhancing breast size, and the company was ordered to not only stop selling the products, but to also repay customers who had purchased them.

I applaud this kind of action if indeed these products were ineffective at doing what they promised to do. Companies should not be allowed to sell supplements or herbal remedies that simply don't work. But I also believe that the same logic should be applied to all of medicine. If prescription drugs don't work, shouldn't the consumers get their money back as well? And what about surgical procedures? If a surgeon offers you some procedure to eliminate back pain by fusing your vertebra, and afterwards your back pain is still present, why is it that you don't get your money back from that surgeon?

By the same rules of ethics and honesty, shouldn't patients who do not get the desired benefits from the procedure get a complete and full refund? Sure they should! But in practice this never happens. In fact, surgical procedures and prescription drugs are essentially sold to patients on a "use at your own risk" basis.

The reason why modern medicine isn't guaranteed, by the way, is because if it were, the claims of non-performance would bankrupt pharmaceutical companies and surgical centers. That's because the vast majority of western medicine simply does not work as promised. Prescription drugs, for example, are often sold with the promise that they will make you healthier. Chemotherapy is sold to patients with the implied promise that it will increase their quality of life, which it absolutely does not. All sorts of chemical compounds and pharmaceuticals are pushed onto doctors and patients with a long list of promises that are simply unfulfilled by those drugs in actual use.

Antidepressants, for example, promise to make people feel less depressed, but in reality, they can lead patients to commit violent acts including suicide. Statin drugs block cholesterol production, impairing your sex hormones, causing muscle wasting disorders and producing severe nervous system problems. COX-2 inhibitors cause heart attacks that can kill you. NSAIDs (over-the-counter painkillers) kill 16,500 Americans every year due to intestinal bleeding. In all, prescription drugs kill 100,000+ Americans each year and injure another 2 million. You don't see any of these people getting their money back, do you?

The point I'm trying to make here is that in the fields of health and medicine, promises to customers are only selectively enforced. There seems to be an implied arrangement in the minds of regulators (like the FDA) that only alternative therapies have to be proven, only herbs have to actually work in order to be sold. But everything else -- prescription drugs, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical procedures -- doesn't have to work at all. Even if they do not work, the patients must still pay for them and when those procedures fail to produce the promised result, the patients are never owed refunds. When was the last time a drug company pulled a prescription drug off the market and the FDA forced them to refund all the customers who bought it? Do you see people getting their money back for all the Vioxx they purchased over the last few years? Of course not.

I find this to be a curious double standard. If we are going to pursue honesty in wellness and health, shouldn't honesty apply to everyone offering health-related products and services? Shouldn't surgeons have to abide by the same rules of honesty? Shouldn't pharmaceutical companies have to pay money back to patients who don't benefit from those pharmaceuticals? And even more, shouldn't they reimburse patients for damage caused by those pharmaceuticals? What about surgical procedures that go wrong? Shouldn't the patients be entitled to not only refunds but financial awards for damage without having to sue surgeons and hospitals through the malformed legal system?

It only makes sense that if we are going to demand that companies offering healing therapies actually make good on their promises, we should demand it from everyone.

If you'd like to run your own personal experiment to see just how bizarre this idea is to the practitioners of conventional medicine, go visit any heart surgeon and start discussing a potential surgical procedure, then ask for a guarantee. Tell that surgeon, "Hey! If this surgical procedure does not work out as you promised or if something goes wrong, if you damage a nerve or I lose range of motion or something else happens that actually impairs my health, I would like a full refund of all fees associated with the surgery."

If you do that you will be greeted with a rather robust round of laughter from your surgeon, who will then go on to explain that "We don't do things that way around here." It's true; they don't do things that way. Surgical procedures are not guaranteed. (In fact, most are not even proven to work, even when they succeed. Surgical procedures don't have to be safe or even effective to be widely practiced in the industry.)

There are a number of popular surgical procedures that are performed on patients to combat obesity or chronic disease that are unproven, unnecessary, and unethically marketed to patients using scare tactics. My point is that if we're going to go after herbal companies selling breast enlargement products, we should also be going after the hospitals and clinics pushing medically unjustified surgical procedures onto patients.

And personally, I think that every person who purchased a COX-2 inhibitor drug over the last ten years should get their money back for ALL the drugs they ever bought. That's the standard action the FDA demands of herbal companies. Why not apply the same standard to Big Pharma as well?

Of course, you already know the answer to that: the Fraud and Drug Administration is determined to pad the profits of drug companies while bankrupting anything related to complementary and alternative medicine. It's the same old tactic used by the AMA for decades to try to shut down chiropractic care.


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