I read an article in the Wall Street Journal this week on why placebos really work. It indicated that new studies of placebo use found the brain, through neurobiological effects, releases neuromodulators that reduce the symptoms of the illness or disease state. It also found that placebos work along the same pathway as the pharmacological agents. The directors of the study are from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School.
If this is true then we may be able to significantly reduce the cost of healthcare with a sugar pill (as long as they’re not diabetic). Unfortunately, I don’t see physicians adopting this new way of treating any time soon. It will probably take more studies and many years to support a change in treatment guidelines. A change that academia will have to adopt but one the drug companies will try to block.
The cost of medications keeps rising at astronomical rates. Drug companies are raising their prices up to 2000% plus. Insurance companies are then forced to raise their rates and you get stuck with the bill. And if that isn’t enough we now have clinical trials that support combination medication regimens as more effective. The latest coming from the Wall Street Journal article on combination drug therapies for cancer. Drug manufacturers are co-marketing these combinations. Many regimens run in the six digit range.
Healthcare has become a business and the government is not doing a lot to curtail it, so isn’t it about time that we focus on prevention? Lets take a good look at a few countries and their cultures. What is it about their lifestyle that leads to good health? Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica are a few that have the oldest and healthiest people.
What habits do we need to change? How do we change them?
Answering these questions will lead us down the path to good health. It may take more effort and time but it would cost a lot less. It is up to each and every one of us to change the business of healthcare.