Guess Which Country Is Ranked Number 1 For Health Care
Here in the USA, the land of money-grabbing medicine, 50% of older females are taking five or more medications daily. 12% take ten or more meds daily!
This grotesque absurdity is called polypharmacy (I call it reckless-prescribing). Over the years between 1997 and 2012, overprescribing increased from around 18% to 60% of the older population.1
Nice one for the pharmaceutical industry but not so much for the long-suffering individual, who is being squeezed for profits.
Quite aside from the question of side-effects and dangers of taking so many drugs, where the interactions are totally unknown and uninvestigated, most of the prescriptions are inappropriate (read “waste of time” or “don’t do any good”).
The American Geriatric Society (a non-profit) Beers Criteria® for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults lists a number of these (including statins, incidentally, which are dismissed as having little evidence of benefit for this population. They even went so far as to say “no clear evidence that high cholesterol leads to heart disease or death.”
They might have gone further and said there is “clear evidence” that for people aged over 50, those with the HIGHEST level of cholesterol live longer on average, a fact which is ruthlessly suppressed by pharmaceutical reps.
Also on the worthless list are wildly popular but very dangerous proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Risks include reduced calcium absorption, leading to increased fracture risk (which can be fatal), B12 deficiency, thyroid hormone interference, acute and chronic kidney injury and C. difficile infection (very hard to get rid of and also potentially fatal).
A 2017 study among US veterans, published in the BMJ, showed there is also increased mortality with PPIs (shouldn’t medical care be REDUCING the risk of dying!)2
Thing is, I can take this list apart for you. But you can find it online if you want to know more and at this point it’s posted for public comment, if you want to dive in!3
I’d rather look at what is being missed by this pharma-controlled “science”.
For example, if you want to live healthy and live long, my number one piece of advice has been, and always will be: stay away from doctors and hospitals!
Mediterranean diet, for example, is a great start. But it’s not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It includes wine and good living (usually not reported). They walk, they socialize, they dine in families, they interact (paseo, passegiata, or evening stroll).
Passegiata in Siena, Italy
Americans are probably the laziest race I have ever encountered. They don’t walk. There is no culture of walking. I walk 10 – 12 miles a week and am often irritated by the fact there are whole chunks of sidewalk missing and I have to step into the road, where cars speed past recklessly. Pedestrians are unimportant is the message.
The average American driver would rather wait to park their car, until a space opens up right by the supermarket door. They take it as a personal disaster if they have to park a few spaces over and walk to the store (no, really!)
Plus Americans are very isolationist; I don’t mean politically. I mean they don’t meet with each very much. Most people have garage remotes and drive straight into their garage, the door comes down and you don’t see anybody after that. It’s like pulling up the drawbridge! (oh yes, and don’t say why don’t you knock on the door and say hello? You can but you might get shot! Americans are so fearful they’d rather shoot someone at the door than find out what they want (and they are legally entitled to do so, incidentally).
Here’s a sign we see often. Our next-door neighbors a few years back had one stuck on the front door!
Take Less Meds Live Longer
But I have spotted another significant reason why Mediterranean dwellers are so healthy and it’s not just because they don’t kill each other: I think it’s the fact they don’t take so many meds that helps them live a lot longer!
Of course there is no science behind this claim. Nobody is ever going to put up the money. But it is a good line of enquiry.
To get started, consider France—a very large country but with a definite Mediterranean border. It also happens to have one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
There the annual per capita cost of medications is $432 on average, compared to more than double that in the USA: $1,011 per capita per annum. Are the Americans more than twice as healthy? Are they hell!
In 2000 the WHO ranked France #1 in the world for health care. The USA came in at a dismal 37th!
I’m moving to France for my old age!
Seriously though, half of pharma drugs prescribed, even in France, are useless or dangerous, unnecessary and responsible for up to 20,000 deaths annually, according to a 900-page book published by two remarkable French MDs: Professor Philippe Even, director of the prestigious Necker Institute, and Bernard Debré, a doctor and member of parliament.
Among the medicines that they alleged were “completely useless” were statins. The blacklist of 58 drugs the doctors claimed are dangerous included anti-inflammatories and drugs prescribed for cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, contraception, muscular cramps and nicotine addiction.
Of course they were denounced immediately by the watchdogs for Big Pharma. The Professional Federation of Medical Industrialists (drug manufacturers) declared their views were full of “confusions and approximations”. “This book is helping to alarm those who are sick needlessly and risks leading them to stop treatments,” it said in a blatantly pro-industry statement.
Christian Lajoux, the federation’s president said: “It is dangerous and irresponsible… hundreds of their examples are neither precise nor properly documented. We must not forget that the state exercises strict controls on drugs. France has specialist agencies responsible for the health of patients and of controlling what information is given to them.”
So, no change there then.
Dr. Even responded in an interview for the British Guardian newspaper, that the French consume medication worth 36 billion Euros every year. That’s about 532 Euros for each citizen who has an average 47 boxes of medicine in cupboards every year. The state covers 77% of the cost; in Britain spending on medicines is around £271 sterling ($345) per person. “Yet in the UK people have the same life expectancy of around 80 years and are no less healthy.”
According to Dr. Even, the pharmaceutical industry has a get-rich-quick attitude to making medicines and said it was interested in chasing only easy profits. “They haven’t discovered very much new for the last 30 years, but have multiplied production, using tricks and lies.”
What a shocking accusation! Ha ha!
Here’s to throwing ALL the pills down the drain and a better medical system for all!
PS. It’s not just meds that are dangerous. Bungling surgeons are also a risk. Consider the case of kids dying at an alarming rate in All Children’s Heart Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, since the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins medical system took over. With a marketing ploy of promising to turn the heart surgery unit into “one of the best in the nation”, in fact the death rate has tripled. Other children received life-altering injuries.
Complaints about safety were ignored and parents and guardians were not made aware of the problems. The investigation also found that “surgeons made serious mistakes, and their procedures went wrong in unusual ways.”
1. Moriarity F, Hardy C, Bennett K, Smith SM, Fahey T. Trends and interaction of polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate prescribing in primary care over 15 years in Ireland: a repeated cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2015;5:e008656
2. Xie Y, Bowe B, Li T, Xian H, Yan Y, Al-Aly Z. Risk of death among users of proton pump inhibitors: a longitudinal observational cohort study of United States veterans. BMJ Open. 2017;7:e015735