Enfermedades inventadas


Las enfermedades ‘inventadas’

El periodista Miguel Jara denuncia que la industria farmacéutica está intentando abrir nuevos mercados y ganar más dinero convirtiéndonos a todos en pacientes

Lucía Villanueva Madrid

Miguel Jara, impartiendo una conferencia.

Miguel Jara, impartiendo una conferencia.

Medialab-Prado Madrid

La Fundación Internacional de la Osteoporosis (IOF), aprovechando que mañana se celebra el día mundial de esta enfermedad, ha dado a conocer una encuesta en la que destaca que el número de casos nuevos que se detectan al año es un 17% mayor en España que en otros países como Francia, Alemania o Canadá.

Según esta encuesta, hay 2,5 millones de españolas que padecen osteoporosis, una disminución de la masa ósea que pone a los huesos en peligro de fractura. Sin embargo, hay quien duda que pueda ser calificada como enfermedad.

Miguel Jara, periodista y escritor del libro Traficantes de Salud: Cómo nos venden medicamentos peligrosos y juegan con la enfermedad, considera que entra dentro de las llamadas “enfermedades inventadas”, un término que “utilizan otros investigadores, farmacólogos y periodistas desde hace unos años”.

Todos somos pacientes

El periodista pone en entredicho la praxis de la industria farmacéutica. “Intenta abrir nuevos mercados” y una de las estrategias que utiliza es “reinventar el concepto de enfermedad para convertirnos a todos en pacientes”, explicó Jara.

Así, los laboratorios han conseguido hacer extensible el concepto de enfermedad a factores de riesgo, como el colesterol alto o la hipertensión, y a dolencias leves o propias de la naturaleza humana como la menopausia o incluso la tristeza que, dice Jara, “se trata sistemáticamente como depresión”.

Y puntualiza: “No es que no existan personas enfermas, porque, obviamente, sí las hay y necesitan tratamiento, pero la industria tiende a exagerar para que vayamos a una consulta a preguntar si estamos enfermos”. Después, añade, “siempre habrá un fármaco adecuado para tratarnos”.

Pero Jara denuncia que existe “un fraude científico radical”, ya que los laboratorios gastan más en promoción que en investigación propiamente dicha. “Les interesa buscar fármacos para las clases medias emergentes que los pueden pagar”, por lo que la ciencia se pone al servicio de las ventas y no de las personas.

Corrupción farmacéutica

El periodista ha dedicado más de cinco años a la investigación de la situación de la industria farmacéutica, en los que asegura haberse topado con una “corrupción enorme”. Otra de las estrategias que emplean los laboratorios para ingresar más, asegura Jara, es pagar a los médicos para que receten sus fármacos.

Pagaban a los médicos “60 euros por cada diez recetas” extendidas.

Ya no son sólo regalos y viajes, sino “sobres de dinero”. Según cuenta, un ex visitador médico de una multinacional con sede en España le pasó unos documentos internos que demostraban que pagaban a los médicos “60 euros por cada diez recetas” extendidas.

Además, en estos documentos, explica el periodista, se establecía que cada uno de los 70 comerciales de la compañía tenía unos “14.000 euros al trimestre para conseguir que los médicos recetasen fármacos nuevos, más difíciles de recetar, y otros 6.000 para los que tienen ya un hueco en el mercado”.

‘Pequeña crisis’ de la industria

El medicamento se ha convertido en “una mercancía, en un objeto de consumo”

Para Jara, el medicamento se ha convertido en “una mercancía, en un objeto de consumo”, que hace que la industria que los desarrolla sea “la tercera más rentable del mundo, por detrás del tráfico de drogas y de armas.”

Hasta hace unos años, cuenta el periodista, el beneficio neto que obtenía la industria farmacéutica era del 25%. Ahora, inmersa en una “pequeña crisis”, sólo ingresa un 16-17% de beneficio neto, “una cifra que multiplica por cuatro la cifra de negocio de grandes multinacionales como Coca-Cola”, que tiene un 3-4% de beneficio.

En un encuentro en el centro Medialab-Prado de Madrid, Miguel Jara ha reconocido que con estos datos no pretende “asustar a la gente, sino sacar a la luz una realidad muy oscura”. Porque “la salud”, recuerda, “es lo más importante”.

Fuente: ADN.es

Fibromialgia: otra enfermedad imaginaria?


Drug Approved. Is Disease Real?

By ALEX BERENSON

Published: January 14, 2008

Fibromyalgia is a real disease. Or so says Pfizer in a new television advertising campaign for Lyrica, the first medicine approved to treat the pain condition, whose very existence is questioned by some doctors.

Lynne Matallana, who says she has fibromyalgia, said the drugs would aid acceptance.

Related

Times Health Guide: Fibromyalgia

For patient advocacy groups and doctors who specialize in fibromyalgia, the Lyrica approval is a milestone. They say they hope Lyrica and two other drugs that may be approved this year will legitimize fibromyalgia, just as Prozac brought depression into the mainstream.

But other doctors — including the one who wrote the 1990 paper that defined fibromyalgia but who has since changed his mind — say that the disease does not exist and that Lyrica and the other drugs will be taken by millions of people who do not need them.

As diagnosed, fibromyalgia primarily affects middle-aged women and is characterized by chronic, widespread pain of unknown origin. Many of its sufferers are afflicted by other similarly nebulous conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome.

Because fibromyalgia patients typically do not respond to conventional painkillers like aspirin, drug makers are focusing on medicines like Lyrica that affect the brain and the perception of pain.

Advocacy groups and doctors who treat fibromyalgia estimate that 2 to 4 percent of adult Americans, as many as 10 million people, suffer from the disorder.

Those figures are sharply disputed by those doctors who do not consider fibromyalgia a medically recognizable illness and who say that diagnosing the condition actually worsens suffering by causing patients to obsess over aches that other people simply tolerate. Further, they warn that Lyrica’s side effects, which include severe weight gain, dizziness and edema, are very real, even if fibromyalgia is not.

Despite the controversy, the American College of Rheumatology, the Food and Drug Administration and insurers recognize fibromyalgia as a diagnosable disease. And drug companies are aggressively pursuing fibromyalgia treatments, seeing the potential for a major new market.

Hoping to follow Pfizer’s lead, two other big drug companies, Eli Lilly and Forest Laboratories, have asked the F.D.A. to let them market drugs for fibromyalgia. Approval for both is likely later this year, analysts say.

Worldwide sales of Lyrica, which is also used to treat diabetic nerve pain and seizures and which received F.D.A. approval in June for fibromyalgia, reached $1.8 billion in 2007, up 50 percent from 2006. Analysts predict sales will rise an additional 30 percent this year, helped by consumer advertising.

In November, Pfizer began a television ad campaign for Lyrica that features a middle-aged woman who appears to be reading from her diary. “Today I struggled with my fibromyalgia; I had pain all over,” she says, before turning to the camera and adding, “Fibromyalgia is a real, widespread pain condition.”

Doctors who specialize in treating fibromyalgia say that the disorder is undertreated and that its sufferers have been stigmatized as chronic complainers. The new drugs will encourage doctors to treat fibromyalgia patients, said Dr. Dan Clauw, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan who has consulted with Pfizer, Lilly and Forest.

“What’s going to happen with fibromyalgia is going to be the exact thing that happened to depression with Prozac,” Dr. Clauw said. “These are legitimate problems that need treatments.”

Dr. Clauw said that brain scans of people who have fibromyalgia reveal differences in the way they process pain, although the doctors acknowledge that they cannot determine who will report having fibromyalgia by looking at a scan.

Lynne Matallana, president of the National Fibromyalgia Association, a patients’ advocacy group that receives some of its financing from drug companies, said the new drugs would help people accept the existence of fibromyalgia. “The day that the F.D.A. approved a drug and we had a public service announcement, my pain became real to people,” Ms. Matallana said.

Ms. Matallana said she had suffered from fibromyalgia since 1993. At one point, the pain kept her bedridden for two years, she said. Today she still has pain, but a mix of drug and nondrug treatments — as well as support from her family and her desire to run the National Fibromyalgia Association — has enabled her to improve her health, she said. She declined to say whether she takes Lyrica.

“I just got to a point where I felt, I have pain but I’m going to have to figure out how to live with it,” she said. “I absolutely still have fibromyalgia.”

But doctors who are skeptical of fibromyalgia say vague complaints of chronic pain do not add up to a disease. No biological tests exist to diagnose fibromyalgia, and the condition cannot be linked to any environmental or biological causes.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia itself worsens the condition by encouraging people to think of themselves as sick and catalog their pain, said Dr. Nortin Hadler, a rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina who has written extensively about fibromyalgia.

“These people live under a cloud,” he said. “And the more they seem to be around the medical establishment, the sicker they get.”

Dr. Frederick Wolfe, the director of the National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases and the lead author of the 1990 paper that first defined the diagnostic guidelines for fibromyalgia, says he has become cynical and discouraged about the diagnosis. He now considers the condition a physical response to stress, depression, and economic and social anxiety.

“Some of us in those days thought that we had actually identified a disease, which this clearly is not,” Dr. Wolfe said. “To make people ill, to give them an illness, was the wrong thing.”

In general, fibromyalgia patients complain not just of chronic pain but of many other symptoms, Dr. Wolfe said. A survey of 2,500 fibromyalgia patients published in 2007 by the National Fibromyalgia Association indicated that 63 percent reported suffering from back pain, 40 percent from chronic fatigue syndrome, and 30 percent from ringing in the ears, among other conditions. Many also reported that fibromyalgia interfered with their daily lives, with activities like walking or climbing stairs.

Most people “manage to get through life with some vicissitudes, but we adapt,” said Dr. George Ehrlich, a rheumatologist and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “People with fibromyalgia do not adapt.”

Fuente: New York Times

La version en castellano es posible leerla desde http://tinyurl.com/3a9wc9