This is a guest article by Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks.
Over the last 150 years, medical professionals and the delivery of healthcare have changed dramatically. Prior to the 18th century, the sick could seek treatment from any number of sources besides physicians, including barbers, midwives, druggists, herb specialists or even ministers.
No standardized medical education system or licensing process existed, and no one oversaw the practices of anyone claiming to be a doctor. In many cases, becoming a doctor followed the same process as any other profession – apprenticeship to someone already a â€œdoctorâ€.
At the beginning of the 17th century, medical practices were divided into three distinct groups â€“ physicians, surgeons and apothecaries. The first training programs for doctors in the U.S. were called â€œproprietaryâ€ medical colleges. The first medical school opened at Harvard on September 19, 1782 at the conclusion of the American Revolution.
At first, a medical education consisted of only two years of lectures. The first organized proprietary program was founded at the Medical Society of the County of New York on March 12, 1807.Â By 1810, there were 650 students enrolled and 100 graduates from medical schools.
According to some historians, the main focus in the early 1800s was on making a living and monopolizing medicine. In 1846, a national convention was held to address numerous abuses within medicine.
Proposals from that convention included a standard code of ethics, the adoption of uniform higher educational standards for MDs, including suitable courses of premedical education and the creation of a national medical association.
On May 5, 1847, nearly 200 delegates representing 40 medical societies and 28 colleges within 22 states and the District of Columbia convened the first session of the American Medical Association (AMA). The emergence of specialization within American medicine took root shortly thereafter.
By 1876, there were 62 fairly stable medical schools established. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine opened in 1893. It was the first medical school in America of â€œgenuine university-type, with adequate endowment, well-equipped laboratories, modern teachers devoted to medical investigation and instruction, and its own hospital in which the training of physicians and healing of sick persons combined to the optimal advantage of both.â€ Johns Hopkins Medical School served as a model for the reorganization of medical education. After its creation, many substandard medical schools closed.
By 1900, there were 25,000 students and 5,200 graduates in a population of just over 100 million. By 1930, nearly all medical schools required a liberal arts degree for admission and provided a three to four year graded curriculum in medicine and surgery.
In addition, many states required candidates for medical licensure to have completed a one year internship in a hospital setting, in addition to possessing a degree from a recognized medical school.
Because of the lack of uniform licensing, there were many wanna-be locals passing themselves off as doctors, healers of all kinds, frauds and charlatans populating the medical field. Medicine wagons and so-called elixirs were sold with impunity. And until modern mandatory licensing took effect, there were no licensing or review boards to govern the conduct and quality or services rendered either.
Once uniform licensing came into effect, alchemy, centuries-old successful homeopathic remedies and anything not discovered in a test tube were dishonored like the baby thrown out with the bath water and replaced by drug company chemists who limited their research to for-profit drugs. By the Great Depression, medical doctors were in full control â€“ sitting in the driverâ€™s seat of the wagon called medicine.
In many states, medicine was the first of the professions to require licensure. State laws outlined the activities of â€œdiagnosisâ€ and â€œtreatmentâ€ of human conditions and placed them strictly within the domain of licensed doctors. As a result of strict licensure laws, conventional Western medicine was able to establish itself as a monopoly over the healthcare of the American populace to the exclusion of all other theories.
Now, we have a â€œmedical establishmentâ€ consisting of the most important institutions, organizations, businesses, manufacturers, insurance carriers, importers and distributors of medical devices and drugs. The owners and operators are considered the most important and powerful people in a country, who are often thought of as being conservative and wanting to preserve their own power and influence. The medical establishment is primarily made up of businessmen not doctors.
As the medical â€œestablishmentâ€ grew in power, it became successful in lobbying through laws that further protected medicine from challenges from outside its sphere of influence. The medical establishment is commonly defined as an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of medicine, lobbying, influence peddling and the preservation of their profits. Simply put, a self-serving monopoly disguised as a medical fraternity.
The medical establishment had suddenly become comparable to the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned Americans about in his farewell address speech on January 17, 1961. In fact, many of the drug and chemical companies were already members of the defense-dominated military-industrial complex and adapted the defense industriesâ€™ tactics to control the various aspects of the medical market.
By the late 1960s, the medical establishment was successful in obtaining favorable tax status for doctors with new laws permitting professionals to incorporate and take advantage of certain tax breaks as well as create their own pension and profit-sharing plans. It was the â€œgilded ageâ€ for doctors.
Doctors were enriched to a point of public criticism and ridicule. They were becoming too wealthy and too successful for corporate businessmen who saw the profits doctors were making in their hospitals, clinics and ancillary services such as x-ray, labs, physical therapy as a new market.
As a result, the medical establishment could not stand by and see doctors earning huge incomes without wanting a part of it. So, under the guise of saving the country from creating a class of wealthy doctors, American corporations sought control of every facet of the medical industry by lobbying through legislation that barred doctors from owning their own ancillary services under the guise of saving the public from greedy doctors.
The general publicâ€™s distaste for rich doctors playing golf on Wednesdays provided additional support to the medical establishment and other opportunists who sought to take over medicine and turn it into their own profit center.
In the mid-1970s, many states such as California experimented with prepaid health plans, the forerunner of HMOs. They failed miserably within five years, tainted by greed and a government refusal to fund projects providing preventive medical care.
By the 1990s, doctors had been pushed out of the driverâ€™s seat of the wagon called medicine and were replaced by publicly traded corporations.
The medical establishment returned to the concept of prepaid health plans, now called HMOs, because it was the only way businessmen could practice medicine without a license. In effect, Congress and the states exempted the corporations that owned HMOs from being doctors.
For the first time, businessmen were permitted to make decisions regarding the practice of medicine including the treatment of patients and the choices of drugs available for treatment and determine who would be insured and what medical treatments would be paid for by private insurance carriers, Medicaid and Medicare.
At or about the same time, the CEOs of the major drug companies stopped being medical doctors. Now, the medical establishment is being run by MBAs, lawyers and accountants more concerned with the bottom line than the health of our nation. These same CEOs began acquiring and merging with food companies until food and drugs were intertwined into a single lobbying machine. The transition from doctor to non-doctor CEOs, brought the element of malignant narcissism to the board rooms and had a profound affect on the manner in which medicine was and still is practiced.
Sadly the doctors became the mules that pulled the wagons while the patients sat in the back of the wagon trying to decide who to blame â€“ the corporate drivers of the wagon or the mules that pull it. The food manufactured by many companies in both industries have increased medical costs to an extent that a financial analyst could easily term this double-dipping.
The industry feeds you and then treats you for the illnesses caused by what you are eating. Chemicals, chemicals and more chemicals. In your food, in the air, in vitamins, in prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Dangerous chemicals everywhere.
Getting the corporate-drivers of the wagon called medicine to give up their all consuming profit motives and change directions back to a doctor-patient-oriented course is much like the old business story of trying to turn the Titanic around.
The wagon had become simply too large, too cumbersome and too profitable for the food and/or drug companies and/or their corporate partners to turn in another direction. The fact is the corporations donâ€™t want or need to change direction. For them, it is about profits and mining profits from unhealthy Americans. It has been a sad time for medicine and patients, as the last fifteen years have clearly demonstrated.
Instead of cleaning up the perceived conflicts of interest, the corporations hung carrots in front of the doctor-mules in the form of stipends, honorariums and lecture fees to get them to pull the wagon faster in the direction these corporations chose.
Those directions were not always in the name of better medicine or improving the lot of the patients being pulled inside the wagon. But it was and continues to be the only wagon in town and no one needing medical attention can easily jump off it. Patients are warned by the doctors and corporations that shying away from the establishment view of medicine will result in illness or death. This includes seeking treatment in countries like Germany where medicine is far advanced over what is practiced in the U.S.
It was and continues to be a short drop off the wagon, but the large corporations have been successful in convincing doctors and the general public that the distance is as large as jumping off the rim of the Grand Canyon. It is their way or the highway.
Worse yet, the major drug manufacturers began to corrupt the medical schools with grants, donations and stipends, honorariums and huge lecture fees paid to the schools and their professors.
When the disparity in profits made doctors and alternative medicine financially weaker, the large corporations began to silence their critics by the sheer might of their economic power employing lengthy and expensive litigation against their critics. As Robert Goodloe Harper put it in 1798, â€œMillions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.â€
Hans Ruesch, in his book Naked Empress – the Great Medical Fraud, quotes extensively from a 1948 book titled The Drug Story by Morris Bealle in which Bealle said:
The last annual report of the Rockefeller Foundation itemizes the gifts it has made to [medical] colleges and [government] public agencies in the past 44 years, and the total somewhat over half a billion dollars [in excess of 20 billion today].Â These colleges, of course, teach their students all the drug lore the Rockefeller pharmaceutical houses want taught.Â Otherwise, there would be no more gifts just as there are no gifts to any of the 30 odd drugless colleges in the United States… the Rockefeller interests have created, built up and developed the most far reaching industrial empire ever conceived in the mind of man.
Nothing has changed since 1948. In fact, the problem of influence peddling has grown exponentially. For example, the Eli Lilly drug company (once headed by former President George H. W. Bush) spent more than $250 million on medical schools in the U.S. in the fifty years or so up to 1983. That number has risen annually. Dr. Ray Strand, M.D. in his 2002 books, The Medical Evidence That Demands a Verdict – Should You Be Taking Nutritional Supplements? and What Your Doctor Doesnâ€™t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You, commented:
There definitely is not any money in [advising people of the benefits of nutritional supplements] for the pharmaceutical industry… As I have become more and more knowledgeable of the benefits of nutritional supplements I have become acutely aware of the fact that economics is the driving force behind medicine… Maybe physicians need to reassess their total reliance on FDA-approved drugs and the information physicians all receive from the drug companies and begin to look at our own medical literature.â€(emphasis added by Dr. Strand).
The results of the corporate control of medicine are shown in a 1998 study published in the ever-conservative Journal of the American Medical Association that said â€œ… in 1994 overall 2,216,000 hospitalized patients had serious Adverse Drug Reactions [ADR] and 106,000 had fatal ADR, making these reactions between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death.â€
When you include those people who died of controversial drugs and the elderly whose death certificates are limited to just one cause, the numbers are dramatically higher.Â Some critics believe that adverse drug reactions are the second leading cause of death. There are no accurate statistics to confirm this theory.
Dr. Ray Strand, MD further opines in his book What Your Doctor Doesnâ€™t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You:
Some then ask: what about the number of lives saved by pharmaceutical medicine and the apparent extension of the human life span due to them?Â Surely this offsets the numbers of people who die from it?Â A well-known study by academics John & Sonya McKinlay looked into this issue.Â They showed that medical intervention accounted for only one to three-and-a-half (1 to 3.5) per cent of the increase in the average life span in the United States since 1900.
That study is pretty much universally accepted in academia as valid. Similarly, academics almost unanimously agree with the findings of Professor Thomas McKeown – that the decline of infectious disease and the increase in human life expectancy was due to improvements in water supplies, nutrition, hygiene, housing and general living conditions.Â In other words, the increase in human life expectancy was not due to the commercial products of drug companies.Â It was due to social reforms that mainly benefited the poor.
The fact is the American public was safer and better taken care of when doctors sat in the driverâ€™s seat and controlled medicine, no matter how much money they made.
Society cannot place the blame on doctors because they are no longer in control.Â Doctors are the mules pulling the wagon and are as unhappy with the state of medicine as the patients who cannot seem to get the corporate wagon drivers to reduce prescription costs or improve the scope of their insurance coverage.
The huge sums paid to lobbyists by the drug companies (more than $1 million a day) to defeat the healthcare bill in 2009 underscores the medical establishmentâ€™s power. The money would be better spent on patientsâ€™ needs.
We have yet to find a doctor who disagrees with our commentary on the take over of medicine by the corporate medical establishment.
Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks, R.N., are the authors of award winning books â€“ Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohnâ€™s, IBD and IBS â€“ How to Eliminate Pain and Extend your Life (Books and Authors 2010 Best Books in the Health, Diet & Reference Categories) and Mannieâ€™s Diet and Enzyme Formula â€“ A Change of Lifestyle Diet Designed for Everyone (Blogger News Net 2010 Best Health And Nutrition Book Award winner) available at HowToEliminatePain.com, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other booksellers around the world.
Itâ€™s Not Your Fault â€“ Weight Gain, Obesity and Food Addiction is now available at HowtoEliminatePain.com, Amazon and booksellers everywhere. The authors latest book, The Food Revolution Papers â€“ A Primer on Whatâ€™s in Your Food, is due in bookstores on October 1, 2011.
Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks are the co-hosts of Surviving the 21st Century with Simon Barrett on Blogger News Network on Saturdays at 10:00 A.M. PST/1:00 PM EST found at http://www.bloggernews.net or Blog Talk Radio.