10 Pages

Case 8 Reinventing the healthcare business: an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but only if you throw it very hard indeed

Doctors and medical technology bring huge benefi ts to society. However, the track record of the profession in its wide-scale interventions is less impressive. This, after all, the profession which has in recent years: overprescribed antibiotics to the point where they are generally increasingly less effective and completely ineffective against some new bacteria; dosed a large proportion of the middle-aged female population of the UK on tranquillisers like Valium

and Librium to keep them “happy” – the so-called “great happy pills delusion”; attempted mass prescription of statins, in spite of the contra-indications; regularly go to court to coerce patients into receiving treatment they have declined; swore that unsaturated fats were killers, which turned out to be completely incorrect; attacked red meat in the diet based on very sketchy evidence; forcefully advocated the “fi ve a day” fruit and vegetable diet, on a wholly arbitrary basis; and invented “desirable” limits for alcohol consumption with no scientifi c basis. Is it surprising that the result is people have lost faith in the medical profession? Is it surprising that many patients are fearful of a medical profession which over-diagnoses, overprescribes and over-treats? Is it surprising how suspicious people are becoming of medics who accept rewards from drug companies for promoting their pills?