It's been a rough season for Big Pharma. No sooner does Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine publish The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It, her scathing book detailing the drug industry's lockhold on academic and clinical medicine, then Merck recalls Vioxx, its superstar $2.5 billion a year anti-inflammatory.
Ten years ago, I was a reporter for a major medical news company, and I logged a lot of hours covering socioeconomic issues in medicine. The Clinton administration had just unveiled its plan to reform the health care system. Mr. and Mrs. Clinton argued it was simply unacceptable that the wealthiest, most advanced nation on Earth had more than 30 million citizens—most of them active and working—who could not afford health care coverage.
"The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy," US Marine Corporal Ryan Dupre told the Times of London reporter Mark Franchetti (The Times, Mar. 30, 2003) shortly after a bloody battle outside the Iraqi city of Nasiriya.
For the last two centuries, Western medicine asserted that its practices and modalities are based exclusively in scientific fact, objective observation, and rational deduction.
Is the ancient Scriptural passage referring to the genetic code? That's debatable. But one thing is clear: the language of DNA, the Holy Writ shared by all living things, does indeed become flesh. The quaternary code of the nucleotides contains blueprints for health, as well as recipes for illness.
The coming of Spring, the Season of Renewal, has a very special significance for us at Holistic Primary Care this year. With the first buds, the lengthening days, the festivals of Redemption and Resurrection, comes our first issue since the attacks of September 11.
Medicine is now making this realization. Investigators today have extraordinary tools for plumbing the depths of matter, from tissues and cells, through genes, even down into subatomic structures. At the end of that microscopic long view we find ourselves looking at energy, codes, information patterns. In the beginning was the Word.
Good science always generates more questions than it answers. That is part of its charm. The problems arise when leaders in science fail to fully reckon with the pressing questions of the day.
Holistic medicine encompasses an extremely diverse set of therapeutic systems and healing modalities. But one thing they all seem to share is the notion that health depends on balance between sets of opposing forces. These systems regard illnesses not so much as "things" in and of themselves, but as reflections of imbalances in the physiologic processes that make us alive.
In the last year, we've witnessed creation of a White House commission specifically charged with setting a national agenda on complementary and alternative medicine. We've seen the budget for NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) hit $70 million. Word is, the figure could top $100 million next year.