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  Should You Believe Your Doctor?
Al Zagofsky, publisher
Illustration by José Luis Rodríguez Arellano

I was recently talking to a friend, a retired doctor, about the opioid crisis and the that several large Pharma companies were being sued for billions of dollars.

"They should be going after the doctors," she said. "They are responsible for writing the prescriptions."

"Well," I said, "what about all the false information that the Pharma companies were generating. And how they spent $20 billion a year to support the doctors with education, office supplies, and training trips?"

"I knew how addictive these opiate drugs were," she continued. "They should have known as well."

"Well," I responded. "I guess that's what their job is—to know about what is helpful and what is harmful."

The problem seems to be that medical doctors are given the legal responsibility of writing prescriptions— thereby controlling the dissemination of these powerful drugs.

Should these opiates be banned? Well, they seem to be useful, even necessary for short term pain relief.

So, I said to her, "What about people who have severe back pain. Isn't that one of the popular reasons for prescribing opiates like Oxycodone?"

And then before I let her answer, I continued, "And then again, with several alternative methods for treating chronic back pain such as chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, Alexander Technique…why had many doctors opted for opiates over complementary therapies."








Anyway, our brief chat just opened the door to the realization that doctors, Pharma, and even the CDC either don't have the best answers or are manipulated by greed, lack of information and/or the complexity of the information.

As a journalist and a former manager of engineering of a biotech company that made equipment to grow viruses and cells, I tend to be curious about the real data behind the popular advertisements—be it commercial or public service.

Take, for instance the current public service advertisements for the flu vaccine.

Among its several claims—which of cause are unsubstantiated since we will not know how effective this vaccine will be until the flu season is over— is a principal claim that it is anticipated to reduce your chance of getting the flu by between 40% and 60%.

According to the data, this is correct—albeit misleading. The reports suggest the flu vaccine is expected to reduce your chance of getting the flu from about 2.3% to about 1%.

While this is a good thing, having the un-spun data is a more honest way to allow people to make a decision.

So, should you believe your doctor? Sure times have changed since the day George Washington caught a cold and his doctors bled him to death.

Should George have believed his doctors? You be the judge.

~ Al Zagofsky





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