Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


No more free lunches

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 29 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1155

Rapid Response:

'Symptomatic relief medicine' is bad medicine

There is a lot of truth to be said about the 'subtle ways' in which
Big Pharma has influenced the way medicine has evolved over the last few
decades. A marked and distinct "shift" in the way medicine is practiced,
from one of preventative to symptomatic relief, where today it appears all
that matters, is which category of drugs is appropriate to treat any one
so-called "disease" and any research conducted is all about potential
therapeutic targets.

Medicine has in fact been so compartmentalised and fragmented into
"neat little packages" to a point where the human body is no longer viewed
as an integrated piece of creation. A perception that cannot be further
away from reality but one that is, and has been, created out of a drug
dependency culture.

All those wonderful drugs and yet our surgeries (hospitals) are
'bursting at its seams'. The numbers of cancer patients are increasing,
asthma, obesity, childhood diseases that were once rare like autism, is on
the increase, and so is every other so-called disease or syndrome as more
and more are coined each day, each beautifully presented with an
exhaustive list of clinical symptoms.

The marked shift in emphasis in medicine cannot be better
illustrated, in my humble view, than that from the perspective of those
that have been chemically injured. Where persons have been exposed, for
example, to a cocktail of noxious chemicals at sublethal levels, and where
carbon monoxide, a potent chemical asphyxiant is involved, there is little
doubt that wide spread 'damage' is to be expected as hypoxia (anoxia and
ischemia) affects each and every single cell in that body.

The damage caused is 'subtle' initially, as the body mal-functions as
it heads down the cascade, leading to dysfunctional systems and finally,
ends up with end organ damage. Modern medicine is at a point, where it
is uninterested - has no answers to offer - until end organ damage is
reached. By then, the initial major assault on the body is disregarded as
'too remote from the causation' and neuro-degenerative conditions continue
to be conveniently deemed 'without etiology'.

Times are changing, as Free Radical and Inflammation research cannot
continue without looking further back into the potential underlining
causes. Until then, it is business as usual.

Competing interests:  
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

07 June 2003
June C Nicholls