Thursday, November 29, 2012

In Today's Health News: A Reflection

Why is it economists use a basket of products to estimate inflation, but they never include truly inflationary products?

I ask because this entry from Reuters Health just crossed my desk:
“U.S. price increases on popular branded drugs in the past year have been more than six times the overall rate of inflation for consumer goods, while spending on specialty medications is up nearly 23 percent, according to data compiled by Express Scripts for its first quarterly drug trend report.”
Reading this reminded me of a story a woman told me back in 1991. She'd heard about a doctor in the UK who had discovered a regimen for treating high blood pressure without drugs. She consulted this physician not because she was trying to save money, but because she wanted to find release from the monotonous obligation of taking so many drugs. 

In the back of her mind she had always believed she could find a way to stop; she just didn't know where to begin. There must be a way. If she could only find someone.

She was 35-years-old when a friend told her about the UK doctor and she consulted him. After he'd outlined his treatment, she had more than a few reservations.

Could this treatment — which, after an initial diagnosis and preliminary deep rest period, included a cold turkey break from all medication — work? 

The critical factor in the treatment was a point of no return, akin to stepping off a cliff. No use even considering it, much less undertaking it, she told herself, if I cannot summon the courage to carry it through. She decided to go ahead. 

First, she was heavily sedated for a week, rendered unable even to sit up and read. She lay in bed, drifting into a kind of induced base state: the mind wiped clean. Manchurian Candidate territory — wipe clean to reprogram.

His research had determined that there were several types of high blood pressure patients, the treatable kind being the ones whose basic nature was perfectionist. The ones who worried about not achieving or under achieving, not measuring up to personal standards. After an exhaustive interview process, he determined that this woman belonged in that category and could therefore be treated. Why not all patients? His research showed that some patients actually have high blood pressure as a physical condition; others, like the woman, only self-induce the condition.

The next step was getting her to buy in. Once this was accomplished, a period of deep sedation began. This entailed using a series of drugs; it also entailed finding a place where the drugs could be administered, the patient could be cared for, undisturbed. Again, the idea of inducing a kind of back to the womb state. A letting go of all worldly concerns: memories, dreams, obligations, and reflections.

Slowly the patient emerged from deep slumber, under close supervision. She stayed in the clinic for two more weeks, learning to meditate and exercise. Nothing fancy. No religious affiliations, no Kundalini meditation, just a homemade meditation focused on recalling the sedated slumber state. Most important of all, she learned to memorize the cleared state — a kind of bio-feedback exercise. This enabled her to return to that state at any moment and to hold it steady until she was confident that the desired state could be summoned at any moment, even at moments when she felt conditions conducive to high blood pressure.

Graduation consisted of a formal sealing up of pillboxes. The day of reintroduction into the world came and went.

I lost touch with the woman a few years later. Up to that point, she was still medication free. Not being a medical professional, I can't comment on the treatment or on the doctor's competence. I can say that I knew her before and after and I have firsthand knowledge that her story is accurate.

How does her story pertain to the current inflationary price of prescription medication? The manufacturers know there are no limits that the public will not go to to get their prescribed medications. Ergo, no limits on the prices they set.

Do other physicians offer this type of treatment? Will treatments like this become part of the medical lexicon? Can patients take part in their treatment? Are other trials similar to this taking place?

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