The Irrational Factor in Medical Regulation

The Irrational Factor in Medical Regulation
By Helke Ferrie
Vitality Magazine October 2011

“If it be misconduct to use methods and techniques that are unknown to, or disapproved of, by the vast majority in the [medical] profession, the professional might never progress.”

Justice O’Leary, Ontario Court of Justice, 1993

“Oh what a tangled web we weave/ When first we practise to deceive!”

Sir Walter Scott, (1771 – 1832)

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Hell is the place where people are sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed, a situation cleverly disguised by assurances of the best of intentions. Government and industry usher us onto that altar insisting that they are “serving the public interest,” often perhaps believing it themselves, as they too are often misled. To stop the mindless cooperation of our governments with those determined to turn everything (plants, animals, people, the earth itself) into profit is the task of our time. Consider the following examples that have now become urgent:

1)ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE has made many infectious diseases uncontrollable, warned the World Health Organization this year on World Health Day. “Antibiotic resistance is driven by the inappropriate and irrational use of antimicrobial medicines, including in animal husbandry,” the WHO announced, observing that the world may return to “the pre-antibiotic era” because none will work anymore.

2) ONTARIO’S COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS (CPSO), started to produce their Non-Allopathic Draft Policy last year. If adopted, it will  regulate complementary medicine physicians right out of existence, and completely control what treatments patients may get – all with the stated noble aim of “protecting the public.” Apparently, informed consent legislation did not give them a moment’s pause, nor did all that case law which protects the new and non-traditional, the most famous of which is the Brett decision cited at the top. The assumptions underlying this policy are appalling and the rules proposed are absurd, formally defined as “being at variance with reason.”  Doctors who actually are trained in something other than drug therapy, (i.e. members of the Ontario Medical Association’s Section on Complementary Medicine) were not included in the CPSO’s policy committee. So health professionals who effectively know nothing about complementary medicine came up with this policy.

3) Earlier this year, a Bill proposed in the U.S. Congress died on the order papers after a two-year battle. The U.S. FOOD SAFETY ENHANCEMENT ACT proposed 10-year jail sentences for “misbranding” which was defined as “citing peer-reviewed science about a dietary supplement.” Could the CPSO have taken its cues from the same guys who drafted that U.S. Bill in 2009? Their draft policy is not just science-challenged, but devoid of science. It seems Health Canada also must have taken its guidance from that extinct Bill, since their latest acts of random unkindness include restrictions on certain types of the sale of Oil of Oregano (the one plant-derived antibiotic that works against antibiotic resistant bugs), along with probiotics and various enzymes of central importance to alternative cancer therapy.

Meantime, Health Canada’s insupportable pronouncements on the safety of antibiotics in animal feed, its periodic messing with effective natural health products, the recurring attacks on natural health products in the U.S., the CPSO’s non-allopathic policy review – are all justified as diligently serving the public interest. And we are assured that these initiatives are all supported by exhaustive reviews of the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The problem is, these regulators are about as transparent as a brick wall: they won’t reveal just which literature they did review!

Antibiotic Resistance

In August 2011, following over four years of hearings, former Health Canada scientists Shiv Chopra and Margaret Hayden lost their appeal for wrongful dismissal in 2004 by then Prime Minister Paul Martin who fired them for “insubordination.” The case is now headed for the Supreme Court. Martin had overruled the legal immunity granted to the subpoenaed scientists when testifying before the Senate on how bovine growth hormone and various antibiotics cause cancer and trigger antibiotic resistance in bacteria, viruses and some parasites.  The PM had also ignored the 1978 Supreme Court decision that had established the “obligation” for every public service employee charged with protecting citizens’ health and safety to make public (blow the whistle on) inappropriate pressures to ignore law and science.

Though Chopra was recognized for his “35-year record of exemplary service” at Health Canada, he was fired because he refused to obey the Privy Council order to “allow mass scale use of antibiotics in food-producing animals.” (The use of antibiotics in food-producing animals gobbles up about 70% of all antibiotics produced – the animals are thereby fattened up – antibiotics cause profitable weight gain – and Big Pharma’s profits remain prosperously fat as well.)

Chopra refused, as he describes in his breathtaking book Corrupt to the Core, because this would “lead to the widespread emergence of ‘superbugs,’ causing untreatable food-borne disease and death in people” – which the WHO told us this year is exactly what has happened.

After Chopra and Hayden were fired, the government immediately approved all those deadly antibiotics – the very ones that had been outlawed two decades ago in Europe. As a result, many Canadian hospitals, unlike European ones, are now unsafe because of those antibiotic resistant superbugs.

Antibiotic resistance was discovered in 1961. By 1997 the WHO recommended a  ban on antibiotic use in food-producing animals, and the FDA wanted major restrictions; the next year Europe adopted these measures and Chopra and Haydon were commanded to testify before the Senate about the government’s pressure to ignore the evidence on antibiotic resistance and carcinogenic hormones. (For the mechanism involved see Nature, October 28, 2008.) We know what antibiotic resistance is and how it works, yet the Canadian government does nothing to stop the irrational use of antibiotics.

David Hutton, of the Federal Accountability Initiatives for Reform, observed in his excellent article on Chopra and Haydon in the Toronto Star, August 13, 2011, that Canada’s unconscionable support of corporate interests despite scientific warnings of harm to human health is now endangering the safety of the planet’s food supply. (Visit http://bit.ly/rsR9Eh to read the full story.)

The CPSO’s Draft Policy on Non-Allopathic Medicine

In 2010, the CPSO commenced a review of the existing CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) policy first formulated in 1997.  There is, of course, no such thing as CAM – therapies that work are measurable events and open to scientific investigation. CAM was a term coined by Big Pharma. In 1997, the CPSO came up with this policy as a public relations effort to neutralize the constant public outrage over the (then ongoing) prosecution of Dr. Jozef Krop for diagnosing and treating multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). One of that first policy’s silliest provisions was that every doctor had to arrive at a “conventional diagnosis first” before venturing forth into the supposedly murky territory of nutritional and environmental therapies. The following year, a bombshell hit when the U.S. FDA released data showing that the fourth leading cause of death was properly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. Today, further analysis by Johns Hopkins Medical School has shown that drug therapy is the leading cause of death.

The original 1997 CPSO policy was a bastion of bizarre logic since it prevented any new illness from being officially recognized. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is an immune system crash caused by synthetic chemicals and especially pesticides – chemicals also used in many Big Pharma drugs. Successful treatment requires detoxification from pesticides and many common drugs. Thus, MCS can never become a cash cow for the pharmaceutical and environmental toxin industry whose profits depend on obtaining patents for synthetics.

In the past decade, the anti-pesticide and anti-perfume campaigns worked so well that prosecuting a doctor for taking MCS seriously has become less likely because of growing public awareness. In 2008, the Canadian Human Rights Commission recognized this condition and ordered accommodation and availability of treatment. Today, in the CPSO building where only a decade ago Dr. Krop was judged to have “fallen below the standard of practice” for recommending total avoidance of synthetic scented products for his asthmatic MCS patients, posters in the building’s bathrooms show a canary wearing a gas mask – the explanation states that scented products can cause a potentially life-threatening asthma attack, and to please be considerate.

Also, over the past decade, those medical groups that the CPSO tended to dismiss as unscientific (homeopathy, naturopathy, Chinese medicine) got themselves organized with their own colleges under the Regulated Health Professions Act. This evidently alarmed the CPSO, especially as more and more of their member physicians began to study scientific journals and take training in new medical approaches. The elephant in the room is the fact that so-called alternative medicine actually arises from mainstream medical research. There is nothing alternative about alternative medicine. This development is, however, a problem for the profit-generating engine run by Big Pharma and whose fuel is – us.

So the CPSO, which staunchly defends whatever the status quo of the day may be, went in for the kill on three fronts:

1) In 2009 they persuaded the Ontario Liberals to pass a “snitch law” (Bill 171) which requires every doctor to rat on any other doctors if he/she thinks that a colleague is doing something potentially weird. We know what that leads to (from all the secret police activities that were supported by such snitch laws in those totalitarian regimes of recent history). It means that the ignorant rule, and that the CPSO can shoot first and never ask questions if it doesn’t want to.

2) In July 2011, the CPSO had the Ontario Liberals remove a vitally important legal safeguard which states: “The fact that a member uses or recommends a non-traditional treatment is not, by itself, determinative of deficient clinical ability.” (Section 26 (2) of Regulation 114/94). That gives the CPSO the freedom to go after any doctor who, in their unchallengable opinion, is recommending non-traditional treatments.

3) The third action is this current draft policy. It is an attack on medical science itself, and will, if adopted, ensure that at least in Ontario nothing new can happen. This draft policy requires that any non-allopathic diagnosis and treatment (as arbitrarily defined by the CPSO) must be supported by randomized controlled studies (RCTs). So determined is the CPSO to “protect the public and guide the profession,” they didn’t notice that this key requirement is not the universal medical gold standard they pretend it is. RCTs compare synthetic drug therapies with each other usually for chronic conditions. RCTs are virtually impossible to design for nutritional interventions because no ethics committee would permit a control group to be deprived of such essentials to survival. Worst of all, about 80% of all medical practice has no RCT’s or even regular studies to support it – a fact the CPSO is on record as having recognized in various disciplinary investigations. Most of what happens in everyday medical interventions is based on tradition and adjusted as outcomes show what can be improved. In fact, most drugs are only partly understood and used in a trial-and-error fashion, usually off-label.

University of Toronto’s Dr. Ross Upshur has published his research on these types of studies and observes that RCTs are fundamentally flawed because their methodology is vulnerable to bias, fraud, plain errors of interpretation, and inappropriate assumptions. If done well (i.e. with patient outcome not money as the goal), they are of course very useful, but if current medical practice was compelled to have such RCTs first before doing anything, this is what would happen, according to Upshur: “Evidence of the optimal combination of agents to treat Alzheimer’s disease would require 127 randomized trials, 63,500 patients and 286 years.” As for trials for the treatment of stroke, one would need at least 31 RCTs and require an enrollment of 186,000 patients, all of which would last 155 years. If standard medicine were forced to wait for RCTs to justify action, people would simply have to die first.

The Raging Granny Responds

The CPSO’s review committee also simply ignored that huge amount of mainstream published research on nutrition, toxicology, and related areas (see Vitality, March 2011) and won’t tell anybody just exactly what research they did rely on. In my response, available on the CPSO website, I observed: “By what authority this working group believes they can just assert having studied some unspecified non-allopathic information and then tell [doctors] how to do their work, is beyond comprehension. The term that springs to mind is bullying.”

When asked what was missing in this policy I replied: “The science! … Given that the policy clearly insists that [doctors] must abide by allopathic standards … it is frankly amazing that there is no reference … to that master guide of allopathic medicine, namely the current 2008 edition of the Users’ Guides to the Medical Literature – A Manual for Evidence-Based Clinical Practice, published by the American and Canadian medical associations and edited by McMaster University’s Gordon Guyatt (who coined the term “evidence-based medicine”) and JAMA’s Drummond Rennie. The editors and … contributors are among the world’s most luminous allopathic medical lights … well-known … for exposing the wave of fraud in current medical research and for their commitment to restoring the ethical and scientific credibility of medicine.

Editor Drummond Rennie states that the purpose of this Guide is to “… free the clinician from practicing medicine by rote … to put a stop to clinicians being ambushed by drug company representatives … to end [doctors’] dependence on out-of-date authority.”

That definitely does not seem to be the purpose of this ill-conceived CAM draft policy!

If you wish to get involved, first browse the CPSO website, then come and hear my talk at Whole Life Expo about this topic, and buy my new book whose proceeds will hopefully establish a medical defense fund. This battle for good medicine has reached such heights of absurdity and lows of deception, it is becoming outright entertaining. When we laugh at the irrational we begin to transcend the darkness and will become creative warriors.

Sources & Resources:

In press: Helke Ferrie, Seeking Dr. Goodenough in the Cesspool of Medical Regulation,  Kos 2011 (519-927-1049; helkeferrie@gmail. com)

World Health Organization: Antimicrobial Fact Sheet No. 194, February 2011

Shiv Chopra, Corrupt to the Core – Memoirs of  Health Canada Whistleblower, Kos 2009

Alliance for Natural Health www.anh.-europe.org & www.anh-usa.org

Health Canada’s recent directions about Oil of Oregano, probiotics, and enzymes go to :   http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/search-rechercheReq.do and browse to www.chfa.ca and browse Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate web information.

www.cpso.on.ca /Current Consultations/Non-Allopathic Therapies; Helke Ferrie’s submission is under Feedback from Individuals, August 29

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