Yesterday I had to make a visit to walk-in clinic in an American city to be seen by an actual bona fide medical doctor, and I was asked to sign a form that said
I am aware that the practice of medicine is not an exact science and I acknowledge that NO guarantee or assurance has been made or implied to me as to the results that may be obtained by examination or treatment.In other words, we make no promises, folks. But hold on, isn't medicine supposed to be evidence-based and scientific, in contradistinction to energy healing, which is not? Isn't the perceived superiority of medicine based on its alleged scientific and evidence-based nature, and the resulting belief that we can pretty much count on certain drugs doing certain things to certain diseases in a relatively large percentage of people? Apparently we cannot count on our doctors either. Perhaps all of us might want to adopt the disclaimer used by the mutual fund industry: "past performance does not guarantee future results".
In related news, GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, has just been fined a record-setting $3 billion, yes billion, for fraudulent practices in marketing nine drugs, including Avandia and Paxil. These practices included marketing drugs for off-label use, meaning uses for which the drug was never tested, approved, or intended. The response of the pharmaceutical industry has been to prepare "an appeal to the Supreme Court to receive a ruling that permits off-label marketing as Constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment." The mind boggles.
The $3billion fine follows closely on the heels of a $750million legal settlement (announced October 26th) levied against GlaxoSmithKline for knowingly selling substandard and contaminated products manufactured in a plant in Puerto Rico that "for years was rife with contamination". Caveat emptor ("let the buyer beware").
Postscript February 25, 2012: This is why I was asked to sign the waiver. Mind-blowing statistic: at least 75% of doctors are sued at some point during their medical career.
Postscript April 16, 2012: Johnson & Johnson fined $1.2 billion for fraudulent marketing of Risperdal.