The Danger of Science Denial - "Alternative Medicine"-Split

Homeopathy, Chiropractic and similar "alternative" views

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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#21  Postby Darwinsbulldog » May 22, 2010 2:19 am

I just find it amusing that irrational skeptics of science demand destructive testing for science [which is rational], but get all upset when a rational skeptic makes any criticism of their woo. [Which is not rational].
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#22  Postby angelo » May 22, 2010 3:38 am

generalsemanticist wrote:Look at statin drugs. Yes they lower chloresterol but they deplete CoQ10 and can actually cause heart failure. Now there is some irony for you. If you want to take that poison, be my guest. It is so retarded to develop a drug that lowers chloresterol without finding out why it is elevated in the first place. This is the main problem with modern medicine - it treats symptoms instead of causes. At least orthomolecular medicine attempts to form a theory about what is happening, like the theory about the breakdown of collagen in the blood vessels and the susequent increase of Lp(a) in the blood to attempt to patch the lesion. Is it possible that proper levels of Vit C can stop this and even reverse it? Who is going to pay to find out? If I was a Vit C manufacturer I would like to increase sales but if I fund expensive research then any other manufacturer can take advantage of it so why would I bother? The health business does not work the same as the sickness business.

Some people have a gene that is sometimes heredity that causes high cholesterol. No amount of research can fix that. These people need statins to lower their risk of stroke and heart disease. If it is found that a person consumes far too much fat, well, then the cause can be eliminated. But in most cases, a person who eats a well balanced diet can still have elevated levels of cholesterol. Homeopathy in all cases is a useless waste of money.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#23  Postby Moridin » May 22, 2010 12:00 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:I'm afraid this is "woo", as you people like to say. You can't get a patent on vit C, how many time do I have to say this? If it suddenly became known that Vit C can treat atherosclerosis better and safer than statin drugs the pharmaceutical companies would lose billions of dollars - you have it ass backwards my friend.


No, but you can get patent on a product that contains a combination of vitamin C and other compounds. If it was shown that vitamin C can treat atherosclerosis better, pharmaceutical companies could get right on to try and enhance and increase the effectiveness of vitamin C with other compounds and make much more than billions of dollars, since they now could sell both statin drugs and various vitamin C containing drugs or perhaps even drugs that mix the effect of statin drugs and vitamin C.

If any of the complementary and alternative medicine stuff works, it would make pharmaceutical companies billions.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#24  Postby GenesForLife » May 22, 2010 12:15 pm

One can patent the use of a compound for a specific objective.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#25  Postby generalsemanticist » May 22, 2010 4:09 pm

I find it hard to believe that drug companies could get patents on vitamins, even in mixtures or for uses, but I am no patent lawyer. But maybe the this is problem in the first place - to have health care driven by profits. :(
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#26  Postby Moridin » May 22, 2010 4:22 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:I find it hard to believe that drug companies could get patents on vitamins, even in mixtures or for uses, but I am no patent lawyer. But maybe the this is problem in the first place - to have health care driven by profits. :(


Some forms of complementary and alternative medicine can have their products patented. Some traditional Chinese alternative herbal medicines are patented. You can read about these in the book "Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines: The Clinical Desk Reference" by Jake Paul Fratkin.

How to Patent a Natural Medicine.

If the discovery of new forms of medicine was not driven by profits, some important forms of medications might not have been developed. The thirst for profit need not always corrupt the value of medicine in itself. Sometimes it may even complement it.

Public funding of CAM research exists. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has spent more than 1 billion dollars on CAM research.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#27  Postby Darkchilde » May 22, 2010 5:19 pm

Moridin wrote:
Public funding of CAM research exists. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has spent more than 1 billion dollars on CAM research.


And where are the results of some form of alternative medicine actually working? There are none. The NCCAM is just a black hole sucking money and not producing any result, because there are none to produce. That billion dollars would have been much better spent in actual research and not on a wild goose chase.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#28  Postby Moridin » May 22, 2010 5:35 pm

Darkchilde wrote:
Moridin wrote:
Public funding of CAM research exists. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has spent more than 1 billion dollars on CAM research.


And where are the results of some form of alternative medicine actually working? There are none. The NCCAM is just a black hole sucking money and not producing any result, because there are none to produce. That billion dollars would have been much better spent in actual research and not on a wild goose chase.


Of course, but that was not my point. My point was a rebuttal to the idea that there is a huge government / Big Pharma conspiracy against CAM. This clearly shows that it is not.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#29  Postby TMB » May 23, 2010 12:26 am

Moridin, you said,

No substance is intrinsically toxic. Toxicity depends on dose.


dosage is certainly relevant, but this statement needs more context to be useful. Substances like carbon monoxide are fundamentally toxic, and while dosage affects this, any quantity has a toxic effect. Oxygen is something we need in order to survive, yet is toxic under certain conditions.

Yes, all medications have risks associated with them. There is no such thing as a risk free medicine (or food item). This is an illusion. Even something basic as aspirin can cause bleeding ulcers if used regularly for a long time.


I don’t see the point this makes without additional context. Conventional medicine needs to show more awareness of the implications of drugs, as they overprescribe and tend not to look at the patient as a whole, or the long term effects of the drugs (not an easy thing to do). Cortisone jabs are used routinely on mothers at risk of premature delivery as this improves lung development of the foetus, however medical science acknowledges it probably causes unknown damage. Their argument is that saving the life today is better than lower quality later in that life. Perhaps this is a valid position, however instead of administering of this without consideration, there are other ways to achieve the same outcome (ie. Avoid use of cortisone while still maximising survival for the foetus). This is not an issue of science, conventional medicine, or alternative, it is a function of human nature.

You have to compare the risk of keeping the drug on the market (in your example, this was a slight elevated chance of hearth failure) with the risk of keeping the drug off the market (related disease and deaths caused by high levels of cholesterol). In many cases, you might find that the risks of keeping it off the market is much greater than the risk of keeping it on the market.

Also note that this is a tightly regulated industry, with the precautionary principle being applied frequently (such as in the case of Vioxx, silicone breast implants, thimerosal etc.)


This would be the case if we did lived in a transparent environment and our objective was the truth. This is not the case, we are all engaged in an arms race, much of what is proposed is smoke and mirrors, both in alternative and conventional. Anti biotics is a god case in point. Very effective antibacterial, so its gets over prescribed, creates issues with peoples digestive flora and superbugs, yet these factors take decades to come to light because drug companies are chasing $, not health.

Modern medicine actually treats both symptoms (various painkillers) and causes (antibiotics), as well as act preventative manner (such as vaccines). Your assertion is based on no real knowledge of the field of modern medicine.


I disagree, just the hygiene hypothesis shows that we do not really know what we are working with. Antibiotics were hailed as the fix all, however we know they cause gut issues and superbugs, what other effects do they have. If the cause of health issues is bacteria, what is the benefit of creating bugs that are resistant to antibiotics? Not only are we engaged in an arms race with bacteria, the misuse of antibiotics accelerates and exaggerates this. The issue is not around the type of treatment, it is the ignorance and myopia when we apply them.

If it is possible that a certain level of vitamin C can help, then this will be revealed in controlled, double-blind scientific studies. If there is even a slight chance that vitamin C can help, big pharmaceutical corporations would immediately be interested, because that means that they would be able to sell many new brands of drugs on the market, patenting formulas and names and make a fortune, especially if vitamin C actually treated something that there was no treatment for before. They would make billions of dollars.


Studies have been done with vitamins in various treatments and shown to work, as in the case of radiation induced proctitis. This is not a high profile illness, yet conventional medicine applies the use of vitamins and it works. Once again though, studies to try and understand the long term effects of high dosages of vitamins have yet to be conducted to se if this is just a short term fix. The issue with these studies is their inability to look beyond the narrow confines of what they test. They are effective is confirming a positive effect, but not for negative effects.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#30  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » May 23, 2010 5:49 pm

GenesForLife wrote:
2) Double blind clinical trials that have shown any kind of statistically significant efficacy (I can cite papers from Lancet which suggests that the field per se is bunkum, and since these are peer reviewed papers with available data supplements, one cannot get away by crying "bias")
3) Double blind studies that indicate an efficacy that is better than conventional medicine (anything worse and homeopathy is tantamount to denial of more efficacious therapy)


A study using 57 primary care centers in Europe showed that homeopathy is as effective at treating acute respiratory and ear complaints as conventional treatment. Data of 1,577 patients was evaluated and 857 patient received homeopathic treatment.

Homeopathic and conventional treatment for acute respiratory and ear complaints: A comparative study on outcome in the primary care setting

Background: The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of homeopathy compared to conventional treatment in acute respiratory and ear complaints in a primary care setting.

Conclusion: In primary care, homeopathic treatment for acute respiratory and ear complaints was not inferior to conventional treatment.

More details at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1831487/
Evidence-based scientific homeopathy is a modern nano-medicine like Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM)
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#31  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » May 23, 2010 5:56 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:It is truly sad to see this obsession with "double blind" studies. It seems like a futile attempt to establish a one cause => one effect model which is very simplistic. It is, however, very useful for companies with drug patents to make large amounts of money. There have been over a thousand "double blind" studies of statin drugs, for example. You will not see these studies done (by private companies) if there are no patents involved so please stop using this irrelevant argument ad nauseum. You need to look at the larger picture of health and realize that you cannot separate the brain from the body and if healing can be accomplished by any means that is what is important.


Double-blind trials are perfect for conventional medicine, because they have specific medicines for a particular diagnostic condition, hence it is apt to see how the chosen medicine fares for that condition in a trial.

In Homeopathy, we do not treat diseases based on their medical diagnosis, but remedies are chosen based on the individualizing features of each case, hence 100 patients of, say, high blood pressure, may probably need 100 different remedies, each patient receiving a remedy to suit him/her best.

If the efficacy of Homeopathy medicine needs to be analyzed, it has to be done on cases which are under Homeopathic treatment, according to the laws of Homeopathic practice where the remedies have been chosen for each patient according to their individuality.

The concept of disease in homeopathy is that disease is a total affection of mind and body, the disturbance of the whole organism

Inspite of so many double blind studies on statin drugs, see what these drugs offer
http://www.naturalnews.com/025961_stati ... ealth.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/artic ... fects.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/024783_drugs ... drugs.html
Evidence-based scientific homeopathy is a modern nano-medicine like Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM)
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#32  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » May 23, 2010 5:59 pm

angelo wrote:Could you perform a small operation, like say, removing a lesion or a biopsy Doc ? A person with acute appendicitis could end up dead if instead of consulting and getting treatment from a real doctor, they came to you instead. Isn't that so?


There are number of diseases which are labeled as 'surgical', where homeopathy works curatively and can avoid surgery except where tissue changes have occurred, or where there are congenital abnormalities.
Evidence-based scientific homeopathy is a modern nano-medicine like Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM)
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#33  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » May 23, 2010 6:05 pm

Darkchilde wrote:I would not use a drug that has not been tested. I would never take any homeopathic crap, as it does not work. If I take a medicine, I want it to be tested, and to have in the box, the little paper informing me of its contents, what it does, and what are probable side-effects.


Only 13% of conventional medicine is evidence-based http://drkaplan.co.uk/2009/11/homeopath ... -emphatic/
Evidence-based scientific homeopathy is a modern nano-medicine like Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM)
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#34  Postby Dr. Nancy Malik » May 23, 2010 6:09 pm

generalsemanticist wrote:The human body is complex - some things work on some people sometimes but not others. This is a fact, deal with it.


I agree with you totally.

Not all "conventional" medicines work for everyone, that does not mean one should avoid all "conventional" medicines, One should take what works for them, working through different medications with the doctor until one finds something that is appropriate, finding a balance between controlling the condition and side effects.

Same is true with "homeopathy" medicines
Evidence-based scientific homeopathy is a modern nano-medicine like Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM)
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#35  Postby angelo » May 24, 2010 9:11 am

Dr. Nancy Malik wrote:
Darkchilde wrote:I would not use a drug that has not been tested. I would never take any homeopathic crap, as it does not work. If I take a medicine, I want it to be tested, and to have in the box, the little paper informing me of its contents, what it does, and what are probable side-effects.


Only 13% of conventional medicine is evidence-based http://drkaplan.co.uk/2009/11/homeopath ... -emphatic/

Great!! Using a homeopathic site to prove your point.

Well, if to be fair then, visit this site.

http://www.quackwatch.com
This page especially.
http://www.homeowatch.org/
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#36  Postby Darwinsbulldog » May 24, 2010 9:26 am

Dr. Nancy wrote:-

Only 13% of conventional medicine is evidence-based http://drkaplan.co.uk/2009/11/homeopath ... -emphatic/


Total Bollocks! [At least in Australia]. I was on the research and ethics committee for several years at a major teaching hospital, where we approved research proposals such as drug trials, new surgical techniques [and yes, trials of "alternative medicines]. As these trials referred to studies done elsewhere, or were international studies in which Australian hospitals and medical research centers were taking part, there was no evidence that any short-cuts were being taken with the science, or that drugs were released without trials.

The amount of detail and care was terrific. Even an old, proven drug, when docs wanted to use it in a new way would be exhaustively tested with double-blind studies, looking for efficacy, side effects and possible interactions with other drugs etc.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#37  Postby GenesForLife » May 24, 2010 9:44 am

Going through that paper, immediate question, what conventional remedies were used for comparison?

And from the same study

Due to the study design, the findings of IIPCOS-1 and IIPCOS-2 do not provide firm data on the comparative efficacy of homeopathic and conventional treatment in acute diseases but rather underline the potential value of homeopathy in every day clinical practice.


So, Dr.Nancy, looks like the paper you cited doesn't support the conclusion that "homeopathic remedies are as effective as
conventional medicine"

Secondly, otitis and acute respiratory infections may be caused by viruses, too, in which case conventional therapy is designed to target symptoms while the immune system does its job, it still remains to be demonstrated that Homeopathy has anything more than a placebo effect, firstly.

Secondly, I need to see evidential support for the rationale of homeopathy.

And as a counter punch to a quote-mined paper, wherein the conclusion does not support what you asserted, I raise you this paper...

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/article ... ool=pubmed

The truth about homeopathy

E Ernst
Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK
Correspondence Professor E. Ernst, Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK. Tel.: + 44 (0)13 9242 4989 Fax: + 44 (0)13 9242 7562 E-mail: Edzard.Ernst@pms.ac.uk

In this issue, Paris et al.[1] report a clinical trial showing that homeopathy is not better than placebo in reducing morphine consumption after surgery. Proponents of homeopathy would object to this statement. Even though the study was well-made, it did only suggest that a certain homeopathic remedy fails to be effective for a certain type of pain. Other homeopathic medicines might be effective and other types of pain might have produced different results. There are hundreds of different homeopathic remedies which can be prescribed for thousands of symptoms in dozens of different dilutions. Thus we would probably need to work flat out for several lifetimes in order to arrive at a conclusion that fully substantiates my opening statement.
This seems neither possible nor desirable. Perhaps it is preferable to simply combine common sense with the best existing knowledge. These two tell us that 1) homeopathy is biologically implausible, 2) its own predictions seem to be incorrect and 3) the clinical evidence is largely negative. Let me explain.

The main axioms of homeopathy are that 1) ‘like can be cured with like’ and that 2) less is more. According to the first axiom, a substance that causes certain symptoms in healthy volunteers is a cure for such symptoms in patients. The ‘less is more’ axiom posits that, if we dilute and shake a remedy, it becomes not weaker but stronger. The process is therefore aptly called ‘potentation’ by homeopaths. Homeopaths believe that the most potent remedies are those that have been potentized to the point where no ‘active’ molecule is left. Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, might be forgiven for developing these concepts some 200 years ago. Today, however, we know a lot more, and comprehend that they are not in line with much that science has taught us. Yet today's followers of Hahnemann's doctrines seem to prefer mystical thinking to science.

Even homeopathy's own predictions seem to be incorrect. In order to know which remedy is effective in which situation and to apply the law of similars, homeopaths need to test each of their medicines on healthy volunteers and minutely record the symptoms it may cause. This process is called ‘proving’. During the last 200 years, many such provings have been reported. A remedy is given to a group of volunteers who then record their experience. One may well ask whether the results are reliable. One could, for instance, investigate whether the symptoms reported are different from those caused by a placebo. Assessing the totality of these provings in a systematic review, homeopaths were recently surprised to find that ‘the central question of whether homeopathic medicines in high dilutions can provoke effects in healthy volunteers has not yet been definitively answered’[2].

Another prediction homeopaths believe in is that of homeopathic aggravations. These are acute exacerbations of the patient's presenting symptoms after receiving the optimal remedy. Homeopaths expect these phenomena to occur in ∼20% of all patients. When we scrutinized placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy, however, we found that aggravations did not occur more frequently in the verum than in the control group [3]. The likely explanation seems to be that this prediction is based on a myth.
The acid test, of course, is a clinical trial of the type conducted by Paris et al.[1]. Is the patients' response to homeopathy truly more than a placebo effect? Many investigators have asked that crucial question. As one might expect, the answers are far from uniform. Some trials are negative, some are positive, but very few are rigorous. In this situation, it would be foolish to rely on the results of just one or two studies. What is needed is a systematic review of all studies of acceptable methodological quality. Dozens of such reviews are available today. The vast majority of those that are rigorous conclude that homeopathic medicines fail to generate clinical effects that are different from those of placebo [4–6].
Yet many patients swear by homeopathy and homeopaths insist they witness therapeutic success every day of their professional lives·[7]. The discrepancy between the trial and the observational data continues to be hotly debated. Personally, I find this somewhat puzzling. The explanation seems obvious: patients often do improve for a number of reasons unrelated to any specific effect of the treatment we prescribe [8]. Amongst all the placebos that exist, homeopathy has the potential to be an exceptionally powerful one – think, for instance, of the individualized remedies or the long and empathic encounter between patient and therapist.
So the conundrum of homeopathy seems to be solved. ‘Heavens!’ I hear the homeopathic fraternity shout. ‘We need more research!’ But are they correct? How much research is enough to show that any treatment does not work (sorry, is not superior to placebo)? Here we go full circle: should we really spend several lifetimes in order to arrive at a more robust conclusion?
Perhaps one should ask the proponents of homeopathy and the best minds in medical research to design a comprehensive but finite research programme to determine the truth. As long as both camps agree at the outset to accept the results, this might be a feasible way of ending a 200 year old dispute. Most readers and even many homeopaths will be surprised to learn that that has already happened! During the Third Reich the (mostly pro-homeopathy) Nazi leadership wanted to solve the homeopathy question once and for all. The research programme was carefully planned and rigorously executed. A report was written and it even survived the war. But it disappeared nevertheless – apparently in the hands of German homeopaths. Why? According to a very detailed eye-witness report [9–12], they were wholly and devastatingly negative.


The other explanation to the results of the first trial is that the comparative conventional medicines being used were also placebos and hence had the same effect.

I rest my case.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#38  Postby Matt_B » May 24, 2010 9:53 am

Dr. Nancy Malik wrote:
Darkchilde wrote:I would not use a drug that has not been tested. I would never take any homeopathic crap, as it does not work. If I take a medicine, I want it to be tested, and to have in the box, the little paper informing me of its contents, what it does, and what are probable side-effects.


Only 13% of conventional medicine is evidence-based http://drkaplan.co.uk/2009/11/homeopath ... -emphatic/


Why settle for 13% when you go straight to the horse's mouth and get it down to 11%?

http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/ceweb/about/index.jsp

Perhaps it might be because the graph isn't actually saying what the quacks purport it to be doing? Far from being some damning criticism on conventional medicine it's actually a guide to help medical professionals determine which are the most effective treatments and which are only backed by sketchy evidence or appear to have serious issues.

You won't find a similar site for alternative medicine because 100% of it would be in the "unknown" or possibly "likely to be ineffective and harmful" categories.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#39  Postby angelo » May 24, 2010 10:21 am

We are in the 21st century, and snake oil salesmen are as strong and numerous as ever. Big placebo has a lot to answer for.
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Re: The Danger of Science Denial

#40  Postby generalsemanticist » May 24, 2010 6:45 pm

Moridin wrote:

If the discovery of new forms of medicine was not driven by profits, some important forms of medications might not have been developed. The thirst for profit need not always corrupt the value of medicine in itself. Sometimes it may even complement it.


So you are agreeing that "thirst for profit" corrupts medicine to some extent?


Worse, the current system becomes complicated as drug companies file patent upon patent to try to extend the life of a single drug--turning to litigation to try to stifle generics. Big pharma's biggest loophole: When a generic drug is challenged in court, the FDA is forced by law to freeze its approval for 30 months unless the case is settled before that. As a result, generic companies are constantly suing to invalidate extra patents and brand name drugmakers sue to keep generic versions off the market.

Such patent shenanigans slow medical innovation. The knowledge that current drugs will go off patent should in theory help spur big pharmaceutical companies to license or develop new and better drugs. In theory, we pay more for branded drugs to finance the massive research needed to develop them. But long battles over dozens of patents can simply distract pharmaceutical companies from their job: making new medicines.


See http://www.forbes.com/2002/05/02/0502patents.html

Interesting how he characterizes "the job" of pharmaceutical companies as making new medicines. This is exactly right, however, it is the job of doctors to heal people - not act as drug peddlers for pharmaceutical companies, which is what they appear to be doing in most cases now. Doctors can even lose their licence by using treatments not prescribed by their professional organizations.
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