Your medication balance sheet – understanding the plusses and minuses

DRUG BUST Alan Cassels

How do you calculate your net worth, the value of your company or your chequing account balance? You don’t have to be an accountant to understand that these amounts are determined by looking at both columns in the ledger – your assets and liabilities and your credit and debit. In Double-Entry accounting, your assets are listed on one side; your liabilities or debts on the other. Subtract one from the other and you arrive at an idea of your net worth or the value of your company or the amount remaining in your chequing account. Simple, right?

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The looming epidemic of overdiagnosis

Where are the leaders in eliminating waste in health system spending?

DRUG BUST
by Alan Cassels

Lately, I’ve got overdiagnosis on my mind.

Currently, we’re living through a perceived doctor shortage in BC, a crisis affecting as many as 600,000 British Columbians. In 2010, the governing BC Liberals promised that, within five years, everyone in BC who needed a family doc would get one. They even made this promise part of electioneering in 2013. How’s that plan worked out?

Well, it hasn’t. A few people may have been helped by a dating service set up to connect doctors and patients, but it was universally considered a bust. Despite promised government fixes, we have about 100,000 more people today without a doc they can call their own than we did five years ago. In early 2015, the government basically acknowledged it was a failure.

Leave our prostates alone

Healthcare must engage in a wider discussion about preventive medicine

DRUG BUST
by Alan Cassels

• “Preventive medicine displays all three elements of arrogance…Aggressively assertive…Presumptuous…Overbearing.”

Dr. David Sackett wrote those words over a decade ago in a neat little column in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. He was, in this case, talking about hormone replacement therapy, after the publication of one of the world’s largest studies in preventive healthcare. The results of the Women’s Health Initiative showed that giving estrogen and progestin to healthy women going through menopause, on the assumption that this was vital preventive medicine, did not protect them from cardiovascular disease. In fact, it increased rates of some forms of cancer, heart attacks, blood clots and strokes. In trying to preserve and protect health, the recommended therapies were harming women. On a massive scale, I should add.

Hoodwinked by the diabetes industry

Drugs to lower blood sugars don’t do much for your health

DRUG BUST by Alan Cassels

• In the last five years in British Columbia, taxpayers – that would be you and I – spent over $100 million on drugs and insulins for type-2 diabetes through our Pharmacare program. In addition, people in BC probably spent another $200 million out of their own pockets and the pockets of our employer-sponsored drug plans on diabetes treatments. Add to that the costs of all the doctor’s visits and the diabetes paraphernalia – including glucose test strips, lab tests and so on to keep blood sugars monitored – and two things are clear: this is one expensive disease and it creates a huge amount of medical busywork.

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Common Ground writers join the conversation

Common Ground magazine and I have been friends for 34 years! I was present at its 1982 birth and launch party in a Vancouver back yard. I like long-term friendships and this has been a good one. The articles throughout the magazine are lively and thought provoking. Common Ground has long been a leader regarding environmental concerns and health and human rights issues. I have appreciated the opportunity to write on a vast range of topics related to plant-based nutrition and have welcomed the tremendous interest in this topic on the part of readers.

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