Mark O Brien

Anti alternative-health propaganda alive and well

By Mark O’Brien

Not content with the demolition job they did on Pan Pharmaceuticals (see Power Balance bands sham on this website for a description of the TGA’s role on Pan’s collapse) Australian media continue to undermine, through innuendo and biased reporting, the alternative health industry and the hundreds of thousands of hard working and honest Australians who work in that industry.

On Dec 29, 2010, in the Sydney Morning Herald, there appeared an article Watchdog Crackdown on Alternative Medicines by Michael Metherell, the SMH’s Health Correspondent.

In this piece, Michael Metherell, whose employment contract seems to be underwritten by the pharma-funded Therapeutic Goods Administration, states that 90% of alternative medicines do not comply with regulations and that the government was going to ‘crack down’ on this industry.

No mention is made in the first 8 paragraphs what the breaches of regulations were, nor what products failed to comply.

Note that only 5% of people ever read beyond the first 3-4 paragraphs of news stories, so while the story may appear to be honest, the author’s dishonesty is clear.

This was an article, on page 2, meant to frighten consumers out of health food stores, naturopathic or homeopathic waiting rooms and into their local GP clinic and then to the chemist.

When reading more of the article, it seems that most of the non compliance related to the wrong sized fonts being used on labels, and that once these were separated, there were in fact only 3% of products that were non compliant. No mention is made about what these issues were.

GP clinics are an important part of our health care, and I am not criticising them, but as they are also the main marketing arm of big pharma, they walk a tight ethical line.

My father was a country GP, and I recall our house being full of drug company-labelled pads and pens and the occasional toy, cheap marketing.

Mostly doctors have not the time to research these drugs, so today often prescribe them after being seduced over dinner or via free holidays.

German research showed that only one in twelve claims made about pharmaceutical drugs was found to be true.

I reacted to this article as it feels like another step in the demonisation of alternative medicines funded by big pharma whose profits are directly challenged by the popularity of alternative medicine.

I questioned who pays Michael’s salary because be seems less concerned about health issues than a desire to do big pharma’s dirty work.

Big pharma has so lost the confidence of Australians that more money is spent on alternative health and vitamins than is spent on pharmaceuticals, which is why this witch hunt is happening.

Michael seems to be the author of every anti alternative-health industry article published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

This of itself is not wrong, (that there are articles raising questions) yet there are no similar articles published raising issues about prescription drugs.

There are no articles by Michael Metherell about the impacts of arthritis drugs on heart attacks, about the toxic fertilisers, or about carcinogenic additives and colourings that have gotten into our food chain.

There are also no articles by Michael Metherell about the refusal of all major cosmetics manufacturers to sign up to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics or meet Europe’s 2003 Cosmetics Directive that requires cosmetics companies to remove all chemicals that are known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutation or birth defects from all personal care products sold in the EU beginning in 2004.

(see also Masquerade- 10 Harmful chemicals in cosmetics and Masquerade: Birth defects, cancer, infertility, precocious puberty… the ugly truths behind the beauty industry)

The article talks about The Consumer Health Forum being concerned about the lack of testing done on many complementary medicines.

Funny how this body never questions the lack of testing done on some 80,000 chemicals and products in daily use in Australia that have never been tested, including pesticides, additives and colouring that are in the food we eat or the paint we put on our floors or timber products.

Or possibly this body is never asked its opinion on these other, more mainstream health issues.

My concern is that there is a continuous attack on the alternative health industry under the guise of public health concerns, when such concerns are never raised when issues appear with allopathic pharmaceuticals or medical mismanagement.

Authors such as Michael Metherell display a strong bias in their ‘journalism’ which appears to be more propaganda than journalism, and it seems large grains of salt need to be ingested along with articles like that as well as doses of scepticism greater than they are trying to engender about alternative health.

In a related article published in the Melbourne Age Jan 13/2010 entitled Common drugs can increase health risks, an international study reported in the British Medical Journal that common, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as Nurofen increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Now one would think that this is the kind of health news that Michael Metherell ought to be reporting on, that this is information that would interest the TGA in their battle for our health safety as it refers to people possibly dying, not just wrong size fonts on labels.

But no, neither of these pharma-lackeys are anywhere to be seen. Have they just exposed their true natures?

Written by Mark O’Brien

Share Anti alternative-health propaganda alive and well with your friends on Facebook