Internet Kills Doctor

by Chris Holmes

Personally I think the Internet is a wonderful thing in many respects, but I got emails today from internet pharmacies that are practically boasting that you can cut out the medical advice and just buy anything you want! Someone calling themselves Heinig put this in the Subject line:

“Prescriptions are a thing of the past”

and the message within was:

“Discover more pages of kamasutra with the help of magic blue pills”

Magic pills, eh? Isn’t this ironic? Anyone who has already read the “Trust me, I’m a Doctor” section of this site will see the irony of that. First you get people to accept the idea that there is a pill for every ill through the invocation of the “trustworthiness” of “medical science”, then you do away with the actual medics, who might be unnecessarily cautious about who to prescribe it to, and sell it direct by email worldwide.

Healthcare? This mass-medication has nothing to do with health, but western medical science has helped to create a monster – the pharmaceutical industry – which is now on the rampage around the globe. This was another message in the same batch this morning:

Subject: “Hundreds of doctors advise this”

Yeah? Well, what further recommendation or reassurance do you need, eh? Here was the message inside, word for word:

“You can purchase anything and everything that you always wanted to ask your doctor for.”

Everything? Even the stuff you know damn well he wouldn’t give you, which is why you didn’t ask him but “always wanted to”?

Well it could hardly be any clearer, could it? Forget Colombia, forget the poppy fields of Afghanistan. The producers of pharmaceuticals are supplying the customer direct, so now you don’t need the drug-dealer and you don’t need the doctor either, and these pseudo-medical profiteers are even bold enough to say so. We’ve reached the stage at which they are so cocky, they can take the piss out of the medical profession by claiming:

“Hundreds of doctors advise this”!

Now, here’s the really mad bit. Doctors most certainly do not “advise” that you buy drugs through the internet, because if everyone did that, they would be sitting in their consulting rooms all by themselves. But doctors certainly have been prescribing these very medications, which could be construed as a recommendation of sorts, which allows that cheeky phrase above to be at least partially true.

So doctors are being used, but left out! They are still being invoked as a reassuring selling-point, albeit in a very off-hand way, but without being involved any more, which means they are helping to facilitate the sale (in their absence), but earning nothing from that transaction at any stage. Pretty galling, eh?

It’s all there, in that wild expression: “Prescriptions are a thing of the past”. If that is the case, then so are doctors – they just haven’t quite realised it yet. They really haven’t, because the main point doctors have wanted the public to grasp so far, when it comes to internet drugs, is that some of the may be ‘fake’. Really? Like NRT is, you mean? Like Prozac? Sorry – are we talking real fake medications here, or bogus fake medications?

I’m confused. If you buy NRT from an internet source, and it doesn’t work, is that because it is real NRT or because it isn’t? The only way we could find out would be to do a big scientific study using internet NRT exclusively, to see if it only fails 94% of smokers by the end of the year – in which case it was the real thing, hooray! Or more than 94%, in which case it was a bad medicine, a bogus fake disreputable fraud, which doctors would not prescribe.

Because no doctor would prescribe NRT products that failed more than 94% of smokers in the long run. They draw the line at 94% failure. That’s the kind of medical standard which you just do not get with the internet, and that’s why we still need doctors.

Hope we’re all clear on that now.  If you just want to be free of the smoking habit, though, click here to discover why you don’t need either of ’em.

Nicotine Contradictions

by hypnotherapist Chris Holmes

Haven’t we seen an extraordinary shift in the way nicotine is regarded over the last couple of decades? When Nicotine Replacement products first appeared, they were only available on prescription. A doctor had to review each case, to see if it was safe enough or appropriate for the patient to use that. After all, nicotine is a highly poisonous substance which, in the wrong dose, could trigger a heart-attack or a stroke. It is often referred to as “the most addictive drug in the world”. Newspapers, renowned for their technical accuracy, have frequently observed that it is “more addictive than heroin”.

OK – so if all that’s true, how did we reach the current situation in which any adult can pick it up at Tesco, no questions asked? If it is a highly addictive drug, who decided it was okay to sell it at the filling station? Of course they sell cigarettes, but allowing that was not a recent decision! And I know you can buy strong painkillers like hydrocodone from an internet pharmacy, but that is because no government can stop it (apparently), it wasn’t the government’s idea to make that possible!

Whilst various bodies argue the toss about whether cannabis should be graded B class or C class in the scale of illegal drugs, the substance alleged to be more addictive than a class A drug is now on open sale in any supermarket, thanks to a series of increasingly liberal decisions which seem to take no account of its legendary ‘addictiveness’.

Seems a bit reckless, doesn’t it? I mean what is to stop people who didn’t even smoke in the first place becoming hooked on it too? Where are the usual safeguards that protect society from such dangerous substances? In pharmacies, diamorphine (heroin) is always kept locked away in the Dangerous Drugs Cabinet, which is bolted to the floor – but the nicotine products are out there on the supermarket shelves for any adult to pick up!  So – why not just do that with everything?

“Excuse me! Do you have any Setlers Tums?”

“Sure! They’re just down there on the right, next to the most addictive drug in the world, the methodone and the smokable crack substitute.  By the way, don’t miss our new special offer on high explosives, Aisle 9!  Have a nice day!”

Doesn’t add up, does it? Especially when you consider that every single day, millions of people walk right past “the most addictive drug in the world” without any inclination to even try it – and that includes millions that are allegedly addicted to it already!

Try doing that with heroin, and by lunchtime it will be blindingly obvious why that cabinet needs bolting to the floor.

Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was 

the hypnotherapy alternative

“How to Stop Your Doctor Killing You”

Even by my forthright standards, this is a provocative title but it is not hyperbole. Former GP and hospital physician Dr Vernon Coleman has published this book, which warns the public that: “The person most likely to kill you is not a burglar, a mugger, a deranged relative or a drunken driver. The person most likely to kill you is your doctor. This book explains how to protect yourself from this serious threat to your life and good health.”

This echoes the sentiments of Dr Malcolm Kendrick, whose 2007 book The Great Cholesterol Con warns that Statin drugs are dangerous and don’t really work, and the comments of leading psychiatrist Professor David Healy (see Trust Me, I’m a Doctor elsewhere on this site). He is dismayed by the total lack of accountability in the drug industry:

“In other organisations, when evidence of disregard for public safety emerges, heads roll. But there have been no resignations following these drug disasters – barely a flicker of embarrassment. The distortion and lack of corporate accountability makes me much slower to hand out new drugs. I even feel apprehensive if someone I know has to go to the doctor.”

What has all this to do with Nicotine Replacement Poisoning? Same system. Same approval bodies. Same drug giants. It’s just that NRT was approved so long ago, you are just supposed to assume that it was all properly tested and it wouldn’t have been passed if it didn’t work. Professor David Healy knows better than to assume that, because he has personally sifted through boxes concealing thousands of confidential internal company documents concerning other medications that had already been passed by the system as if they were both safe and effective:

“No-one outside the two companies, and few within them, knew what the boxes contained; I saw them because I was an expert witness in a court case.” These experiences have left him feeling:

“…apprehensive if someone I know has to go to the doctor”.

Still confident that nicotine products are safe and above board? Where medications are concerned, it is no longer safe to assume anything, as Dr Coleman wants everyone to be aware for the sake of their safety and indeed their life.

safer alternative

Ignorant Assumptions

by Chris Holmes

Sometimes analytical people say to me: “You know, I don’t think I’d be a very good candidate for your hypnotherapy – I’m very strong-minded!”

The implication and the assumption that lies behind that is that people who respond well to the hypnotherapy process must be weak-minded people who are easily influenced! The comment also masks a fear of being influenced, as if hypnotherapy were a battle of wills – as well as being a veiled insult, suggesting that hypnotherapists go around influencing weak-minded people, which obviously would be a dubious occupation.

Occasionally I am asked what kind of people respond best to hypnotherapy. Actually, anyone can respond to it if they have no objection, but the people who take to it immediately and get the best results are pro-active people who are enjoying life.

Pro-active people do not have much use for negatives. They grab positives and opportunities and make the most of them, so they have no hesitation in responding to positive suggestion, they welcome it. They tend to regard change as a potentially good thing, and they don’t trouble themselves too much with self-doubt. Their attitude to new ideas is to consider them with an open mind, see if they are any use – they don’t waste time by questioning them extensively with habitual skepticism, as an analytical person often will, which just slows down the response time.

If a person is generally enjoying life, their outlook is bright and expectant, their mood cheerful. These are perfect conditions for positive responses to hypnotherapy. Intelligence helps, as long as it is not the kind of arrogant, know-it-all intelligence that automatically refuses help from someone else.

In contrast, people who are easily influenced might find long-term success less-easily achievable, since they tend to be easily influenced by all sorts of people, not just a therapist. They usually have little confidence in their own views, so they adopt the views of other people, leaning more to the majority view, assuming that the more people there are subscribing to a notion, the more likely it is to be true.

So if a therapist contradicts the common view – even if it is a detailed, sound argument – the weak-minded person has difficulty in accepting that, because that’s not what most people think, is it?

I remember one of my clients at the law firm, Keoghs (see Evidence, Section G) who did not stop smoking after her hypnotherapy session commenting on her response form: “I think I was very disbelieving anyway – I mean, “Nicotine isn’t a drug?” She was unable to think beyond what the majority assume to be true, and therefore was unable to respond positively. Hypnotherapy is a learning process, but she went out with the same notions with which she came in. Anyone who adopts a disbelieving attitude during the hypnotherapy process can repeat that mistake easily, but they don’t have to.

The fact that most of her colleagues did stop smoking easily, and without any “withdrawal symptoms”, proved that what I was saying was true, but still the weak-minded will not be comfortable with that idea until it becomes common knowledge.

more about hypnosis

Pharma Skeptics

by Chris Holmes

Support continues to pour in daily:

“Have seen the website and it’s great! We were wondering if we could include it in our newsletter website of the month feature? It is very much in line with our thinking… We will also link your site to ours as it’s the sort of information we want potential clients to see.”

“Hi Chris! As a group of hypnotherapists/stress managers with great success supporting clients to stop smoking we can support your comments totally. On a personal note I totally agree about the drug addicted medical profession – what about statins??? Another example of ‘managing a condition’ which in my opinion is not there… Well done! I’ll be informing our members.”

There’s a movement growing, folks. A generally Pharma Skeptic movement, and it is really a result of colossal over-medication which is fast becoming a global phenomenon. It is not restricted to the over-prescribing of medications any more, now you can buy just about anything from internet pharmacies and have it shipped by post from Canada, from the U.S. and many other places – and the marketing, Jesus! I get emails every day, offering me hydrocodone, Xanax, Valium… all without prescription. In case you don’t know, hydrocodone is a very powerful synthetic opiate quite similar to heroin.

But it’s the Viagra and Cialis that are really being pushed, and I heard on the radio this morning that in the United States, medications are advertised on television!  This is an idea that seems incredible here in the U.K.  They played a soundtrack of people singing “Viva Viagra!” to the tune of “Viva Las Vegas”, which had me gaping. Quite apart from the fact that this is blatant drug-pushing, how symptomatic of American cultural decline is that? Once they had Elvis belting out that tune, a symbol of virility so potent he could only be shown on television from the waist up. Now it has degenerated into a song about erectile dysfunction!

A pill for every ill? No pill is gonna put that right, America. There’s no pill to give you back your soul. You have to search for that, and it’s not in the medicine cabinet, it’s not in the fucking internet pharmacy. Pills suck. Look what they did to Elvis.

safer alternative

Stopping clinical trials early

I see the drug companies are coming under fire again, this time for stopping clinical trials of anti-cancer drugs early, because of encouraging signs of benefits.  They have  the bare-faced audacity to claim that their motivation is to get approval as fast as possible – based on short-term effects only – in order to get the drugs to patients without delay.  Even if that were their true motive, it is no excuse for haste in the process of studying real outcomes, which is simply unscientific to the point of being reckless.

But we know, don’t we, that this is not their real motivation. This is an established strategy, they did the same thing with NRT, which was originally passed on the basis of its performance at six weeks!  The fact is, anything that looks like some sort of success is being passed off as the real outcome, in a way that shows a contemptuous disregard for the whole business of approval.  The medical approval bodies are approving drugs on the thinnest of evidence of efficacy, and inadequate evidence of safety. It is dangerous.

The whole system needs to be scrapped, and replaced with an independent academic system that performs real medical trials that take into account all findings, long term results and side-effects, before any medication can be passed as safe and effective.  The current system is corrupt, disreputable and a danger to the public.

the book

Early Responses

by Chris Holmes

This campaign is only a month old, but the response is very encouraging already. Comments so far include:

“Well done on the site – it’s excellent!”

“I feel as strongly about anti-depressants… Someone has to take these people on – as my husband would say, if it wasn’t for the one individual who got the ball rolling, we’d still have slavery and women wouldn’t be voting! So ‘one little hypnotherapist’ can do something – you could be the next Emily Pankhurst!”

(To which I replied, “You never know, I may even have been the last Emily Pankhurst!” Entertaining the idea of reincarnation helps me to avoid taking this incarnation too seriously… I highly recommend this strategy.)

“If you are happy for me to do so, I will post this on my blog which is read by thousands daily… I like the message”

“With you all the way”

“I fully support your aims in publicising the failure rate of NRT, but know it will be an uphill battle as the ‘powers that be’ will not easily admit they got it wrong”

“We fully agree with your findings and campaign. Good luck!”

“I totally agree! Good on you”

“Well done Chris. Keep up the good work!”

“Nicely put together content on your site.”

That is just a small selection of the comments so far, and we have yet to see a negative comment come in. All who have voiced an opinion, ever since the article about the book appeared in the Stockport Express on the 9th of January, have been in wholehearted agreement, with the singular exception of Dr Stephen Watkins, Director of Public Health at Stockport Primary Care Trust. He was asked to comment upon the message of the book by Miles Skinner from the Stockport Express, which the good doctor felt free to do, despite the fact that he had never clapped eyes on the book, let alone read it.

Thousands of people read that report, and the one in the Stockport Times. Thousands of people will have heard me talk about this on Channel M. Thousands have been to this site already, from all over the world. And yet no-one – no-one, that is, except Dr Watkins – has so far leapt to the defence of NRT.  Not one nurse, not one pharmacist, not one GP… starting to feel a bit lonely, Dr Watkins?

more about hypnotherapy

A Nice Surprise

by Chris Holmes

Now I must admit, after four years slogging away at this book Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was, the months it took to publish it and the months we’ve spent creating this site, I was feeling a bit like going far away and sitting in a dark cave for a while. And maybe never coming back.

Of course I do have a busy practice to run, and a family and everything, so it wasn’t really a practical option, but we all have finite resources, don’t we? None of us are superhuman.

Now I don’t feel like that anymore, because the feedback and encouragement I am getting is fantastic, particularly from therapists, many of whom wish to help. We have a real opportunity here, and it’s very timely, and everyone seems to be recognising that as soon as they look at the site.

I had half-expected hypnotherapists to be a bit nervous about challenging the establishment, but so far it seems to be the very reverse! The enormous power of the internet may have something to do with this: these are global issues, and an awful lot of people out there – not just smokers – will have reason to have sympathies with this campaign. Let’s communicate, people! And to all those who have so far responded, thank you very much for your support! I don’t feel I need that cave now. Every email, every link and every encouraging word has given me new life and enthusiasm.

NRT = Not Really Therapy, and it is doomed!

more about hypnotherapy

Champix/Chantix

 

*Update 1: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*

**Update 2, 4th November 2011:

The American Food & Drug Administration (FDA) were reported recently in the Business section of the Washington Post as reassuring smokers that Chantix (known as Champix everywhere outside the USA) “does not increase psychiatric problems”, according to two small studies involving 26,000 smokers.  Since this flies in the face of everything else they know about Chantix already, it is surely irresponsible to say such a thing at this time, because the caveats added to the story further down do not carry anything like the weight of the inevitable headline.  Meanwhile, this article in the Daily Mail reports a study which states exactly the opposite.

Why?  Because the Daily Mail is not bending over backward to assist the pharmaceutical industry – even at the expense of smokers’ lives, if that’s what it takes – whereas the FDA very clearly is.  The testing and approvals system is corrupt as hell, using every possible means of dragging their feet so that Chantix/Champix stays of the market and remains ‘approved’ regardless of how many individual smokers’ lives are ruined by the drug.

The Truth Will Out Campaign has been trying to alert smokers (and doctors) to the dangers of this drug since Autumn of 2008, but just imagine the frustration of this commentator on the new Daily Mail report:

“Oh now they make this a huge statement. My mom used it in mid 2007. She ended up in a mental hospital. Thanks Champix. This stuff shouldn’t even be on the market!!! I still can’t understand why it is, with all these accounts of suicide! I read horror story’s back then after this happened to my mom about people killing themselves or having illness such as bi-polar disorder activated in them. My rule with all drugs is, if it hasn’t been on the market for more then 10 years…DO NOT take it. You never want to be the guinea pig. Sorry for all those who ended their lives because they were manipulated this drug.

– Danielle, USA,
3/11/2011 6:08″**

 

Champix/Chantix

by Chris Holmes

*Update: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*

 

At the very end of the book Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was, in the final section called A Pause For Breath which you can read here on the site, I mentioned the announcement of the coming of a new magic pill to stop people smoking, which coincided with my completion of the book in May 2007. What I didn’t know at the time I was writing that last section was that the number of smoking clients I was used to getting every week was about to drop by around 50% as thousands of would-be quitters raced off to try the new medication instead.

People want magic pills. They want to believe the doctor can make their problems go away, just by swallowing a little tablet and then getting on with their day. So as soon as the headlines hit – “New Pill to Stop Smoking! Available on the NHS within weeks!” – hypnotherapists like myself who specialise in smoking cessation encountered an unexpected drought that went on from June 2007 right through to the end of the year. Now we’re pretty much back to normal, as everyone has learned that the latest magic pill isn’t magic after all – surprise, surprise – in fact it has turned out to be a horrible nightmare for some.

Champix is supposed to work by ‘blocking the nicotine receptors so that smokers no longer enjoy smoking’, which is actually nonsense because habitual smokers don’t smoke for enjoyment anyway. Some may believe they do, but if you ask any smoker to focus on the pleasure of smoking, and then describe it to you, they will find themselves unable to do that.  Then ask them what their first cigarette was like – most smokers remember that it was disgusting.  So, if there is a pleasure in smoking, how come none of us noticed it straight away?

The truth is that the pleasure is all in the moment, none of it is coming from the cigarette.  Only smoke is coming from the cigarette, which we all found nauseating to begin with, but it’s amazing what you can become accustomed to.  Simply because habitual smokers tend to smoke at moments of repose – which are usually pleasant moments because they are no longer stressed or exerting themselves – many smokers adopt the idea that they enjoy smoking.  Even so, there will be moments when that illusion falters, and the original nausea and disgust becomes noticeable again. Nicotine itself is not pleasant in any way, as all smokers noticed on the first day they ever inhaled the smoke – and apparently, neither is Champix.

Only a few weeks after Champix became available on prescription in the U.K. I began hearing reports from the only people I really trust these days when it comes to quit products: smokers themselves.  The most common remark about the drug was that it caused quite severe nausea, but there have also been much more severe reactions too.  If you have taken Champix yourself, or someone close to you has, feel free to add comments at the end of this post.

Some reports I have heard suggest that although the urge to smoke seems to disappear whilst taking Champix, it returns once the drug is out of your system.

The course of nausea-inducing tablets is twelve weeks, which is a long time to put up with nausea. Not everyone is nauseous for that long apparently, some only reported that for a short period after taking the tablet, but others seem to be regularly heaving or actually vomiting. Since when is medicine supposed to make you ill? Does it really just ‘work’ by making you feel too rough to face smoking, rather like a hangover does? That’s a bit unsophisticated, isn’t it? Sounds a bit dangerous, too. Hypnotherapy – by contrast – isn’t nauseating or dangerous, and the whole process usually only takes a couple of hours. For the majority, that’s it: you’re a non-smoker again. No cravings, no willpower needed, no bad moods and no weight gain. That’s one hell of a lot better than taking tablets that make you ill for weeks on end, isn’t it? Not to mention safer, and with a much higher success-rate, when it’s done properly.

Champix Scary Side-Effects

The scariest Champix reports were those that involved unexpected changes to mental well-being, including one woman who told me that she stopped taking it because she was having time-lapses in her day she could not account for, including whilst driving. A five-minute journey seemed to have taken twenty-five minutes, for no reason she could remember or explain, and she was deeply concerned. A report published in The Telegraph (24.10.07) warned that people taking Champix had been told by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) not to drive when taking the medication, following two accidents blamed on the drug. Dizziness and sleepiness are two side-effects of Champix, made by Pfizer.

Okay, so how is that going to work in reality? Smokers are put on this for twelve weeks, or even twenty-four weeks if they are still smoking after the first twelve. Does the GP say: “By the way, don’t drive for the next six months”? No, they are much more likely to just say: “Don’t drive if you don’t feel well”, but the trouble is, most people on Champix feel unwell daily. Still got to get to work, haven’t they? So the MHRA have issued a warning that few working smokers can possibly heed in practice. How many people are driving about under the effects of a drug that is known to cause dizziness and/or sleepiness – and even memory loss – for anything up to six months?  Given to them by their doctor.

Recent Updated Warnings by Pfizer

At the beginning of 2008 Pfizer added more warnings to the medication suggesting that users should be monitored for erratic behaviour, suicidal thoughts or personality changes whilst on the drug. Okay – by whom? Since the only people likely to see that warning at all are the user and their GP, how is that supposed to work in practice? The people most likely to notice those changes are family and work colleagues – all of whom will probably be unaware of Pfizer’s warning and some of whom may be subordinate to the user in some crucial way which makes swift and effective response unlikely or impossible if indeed any sudden erratic behaviour occurs.

What if the user is a police officer, or in the armed forces? What if they are an air-traffic controller, a crane driver, a rail signalman or a pilot? **Update: Pilots and air-traffic controllers have now been banned from taking Champix** Memory lapses, sudden personality changes or suicidal thoughts take on a whole new angle in such cases, and even the driving issue makes Champix a potential threat to anyone even trying to cross a road. The mass-prescribing of Champix to smokers is actually a gigantic experiment, and what that updated warning from Pfizer really means is this:

“We’ve covered our asses now, you’ll just have to chance it in practice unless you can afford to quit work for a few months… and if anything terrible happens to you or your loved one, and you try to blame the medication, our well-paid legal team will create just enough uncertainty to make sure you get the blame for the disaster, sucker!”

If you have a story to tell about Champix, let us know. If you would like to know more about how hypnotherapy can help with smoking, or any other issue, visit the Central Hypnotherapy Website.

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