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Osteoporosis/Osteopoenia The Marketing of Fear

From the article: The marketing of fear:

Osteoporosis Australia, a medical foundation, which has received funding from pharmaceutical companies, issued a press release recently urging people to take a one minute test for their risk of osteoporosis.20According to the foundation, “we call this disease a silent thief: if you're not vigilant, it can sneak up on you and snatch your quality of life and your long-term health.” An accompanying 10 point checklist suggests that merely being a menopausal woman was enough to justify a trip to the doctor to be tested for this disease. The construction of the widely used WHO diagnostic criteria is such that large numbers of healthy women at menopause will automatically be diagnosed as having this “disease” because their bones are being compared with those of much younger women.

Against a background of controversy over disease definition, poor predictive value of bone density measurement, and heavily advertised expensive therapies offering marginal benefits to menopausal women, corporate backed promotional activities are attempting to persuade millions of healthy women worldwide that they are sick.

As a practical step, we suggest that health professionals, policy makers, journalists, and consumers move away from reliance on corporate sponsored material about the nature or prevalence of disease. Genuinely independent sources of information about health problems could replace those skewed towards making the maximum numbers of healthy people feel sick.

Just as researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration are generating systematic evaluations of the best evidence about therapies, a similar effort may be required in evaluating and/or producing unbiased information about illness—starting with those conditions most prone to disease mongering. Independent lay involvement is crucial to produce accurate, comprehensive, and accessible materials.

The public is entitled to know about the controversy surrounding disease definitions and about the self limiting and relatively benign natural course of many conditions. A publicly funded and independently run programme of “de-medicalisation,” based on respect for human dignity, rather than shareholder value or professional hubris, is overdue.

Recommendations for “de-medicalising” normal conditions:

Move away from using corporate funded information on medical conditions/ diseases

Generate independent accessible materials on conditions and diseases

Widen notions of informed consent to include information about controversy surrounding the definitions of conditions and diseases

19 Replies
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Definitely thought provoking! Even monitoring of GFR levels and labeling kidney disease when results may be normal for age has one questioning. Why can’t we be allowed to age and enjoy life??

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Cheers for posting.xx

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Many thanks for the post

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Thanks MiaLee. I just chose to pass on my second prolia shot after some months of completely debilitating side effects. Yesterday in response, my doctor painted a grim picture of the effects of life without the drug; a fall, a broken pelvis, a hospital stay, an infection and.......?

I’m sure she meant well, but maybe with exercise, good nutrition, good balance and a bit of luck, I’ll stay upright!

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I’m with you Bottleneck. Spoke to someone today who refused medication, used supplements and exercise and bone density has improved dramatically!

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Ditto, I’m doing exactly that!!!

I have a fracture at T9 & I have tried meds & was so I’ll i just refused to have any more.

I’m taking a holistic approach to my osteoporosis. Iv had my B12 loading shots & going back to my Doc on Tuesday to find out what’s causing this. Prevention is the cure. Xxx

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Thanks Mia, another great article. I completely agree with you, aging should be a natural process, at least for most people.

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I know some of the meds can cause awful side effects. I suppose if I had these side effects I would consider stopping them. However if possible consider another medication. My mother had awful OP in an era where, living in Zimbabwe at the time, she had no access to any medication. She shrunk a foot in height, her thorax literally collapsing into he abdomen. She died at age 72 suffering from side effects of OP.

I am taking Alendronic Acid and taking supplements, do exercise daily and have a very good diet. I walk in a weighted vest as well.

In short, I think that medication has its place. Be wise in your choices.

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An excellent article. Illness is big business!

There needs to be more public awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyle, diet, and exercise from an early age. I believe that many of the current diseases including OP, could be helped or even avoided with better lifestyle education. It’s up to us!

I agree with your reasoning Savbing, If some one close to you, or you personally has suffer from the pain and inconvenience of broken bones, your views are bound to be different to others, who haven’t broken bones, but diagnosed out of the blue, with OP.

My Mam and Nan both had life changing hip/femur fractures. I was refused a scan even though I had damaged my coccyx tripping indoors and landing on the rug. I eventually got my scan and diagnosis a number of yrs later when I fell and broke both wrists. I will never know whether an earlier diagnosis and treatment, as well as change of diet, would have prevented the broken wrists.

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Yes,. I think the main point of the article is informed consent regarding the illnesses and the drugs, and that informed consent means being made aware of controversy surrounding them, and moving away from corporate funded information.

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Thank you. You are right, it is the marketing of fear. I spoke with a friend in Oregon who after breaking her shoulder, her doctor recommended she take drugs for her Osteoporosis (just recently diagnosed). She did a great deal of research BEFORE taking any drugs and found out that the chance of her breaking a hip was 20%. She and her doctor talked it over and they both felt that was a risk worth taking rather than several osteoporosis drugs that might give her lifelong side effects. Wish I had done that! Normally I do research drugs, but my doctor was so certain about Prolia. He says he gives one shot per day (about) and only two people have had side effects. I wonder how many women have taken the drug out of fear of breaking a bone, only to take the drug and break a bone anyway from the side effects of the drug. I would definitely give the more natural approach to bone health a try versus a drug, given what I now know.

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I have a number of friends who happily have prolia without any side effects! But I have not felt great for 4 mths after shot and reading up I’m not brave enough to front up for shot no 2! So far only just osteoporotic -2.6 hip and no known fractures.

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Hi I am with you on this as I too have osteopenia/osteoporosis I'm 69years and had a prolia shot in November which lowered my immune system and have had numerous ear infections sinus infection loose teeth and now a chest infection NOT having another prolia shot am trying healthy diet and exercise - when I can - (osteoarthritis in hips/knees)

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And of course, sadly, there is the problem many women have found, that fractures happen if they try to get off the drugs. And that the drugs stop bone remodelling ( hence dentists are told to inquire if their patients are on these drugs before doing any work because of the drug resulting in jaw bone death with extractions, and difficulty healing ). They certainly are drugs to research. It seems to me though, that as this article suggests, these are all controversies that you should be told about upfront; people shouldn’t have to search the information themselves. So researching how to properly withdraw from the drugs is important too, and not something a lot of doctors have even been informed about according to women on this board. Informed consent needs to be a whole lot more than what the Pharm company tells us. And that the very definition of osteoporosis was changed by the Pharma company, and they developed the scans and arbitrarily set the ‘scores’ themselves. And of course, that there is research showing that less dense bones is NOT related to fractures. Doctors and their patients should have this sort of information if there is going to be anything even mildly resembling ‘informed consent’.

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Great post. Thank you. My GP knew nothing of the connection between hyperparathyroidism and osteoporosis; I researched it myself and was told by the surgeon who removed my parathyroid tumour ( I only discovered I had one by researching after the osteoporosis diagnosis), that osteoporosis drugs would not have worked for me, even if I had agreed to take them!

I will find out later this year if my osteoporosis has improved.

Fran 😉

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In Canada our main media network, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, has an esteemed consumer programme called Marketplace. Last night an ad for Prolia was aired during it 😡.

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Wow. I thought drug advertising wasn’t allowed on our Canadian media! When did that change?

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You know, I thought that too, but because we get a lot of US channels, and the ads are not always replaced for our market, I've seen lots of drug ads over the past few years, but never really took note of what channel. Mostly Viagra and similar, anti-depressants and non prescription meds for allergies, coughs, etc. I did find an article from 2014 saying Canada is failing to enforce law advertising drugs.

vancouversun.com/health/hea...

Maybe this is why the ads for prescription drugs shown are so subtle and don't make overt claims.

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Interesting article! This is depressing “Clear-cut changes are necessary, the study concludes: government should stop allowing “reminder” and “help-seeking” ads; block U.S. ads from being seen by Canadian consumers; implement a transparent system of regulation; and levy fines or even charge companies criminally when they violate rules. But the authors acknowledge it may be a losing battle because of Canada’s proximity to the U.S.”

Damm. I sure don’t want us to get any more like the US. Shudder.

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