Carolyn Dean, MD, ND and
October 13, 2005
"Higher profits mean healthier patients" National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues 2005
"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." -- Adam Smith 1776
Big Pharma and its modern medicine allies are not content to simply promote products and services to humans that manage to kill 784,000 of us each year, in the US alone. They now have bought their way in to the American Veterinarian Medical Association for the purpose of controlling what kinds of products and services we provide to our animals.
In 1997, amid great fanfare, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) announced that several transnational pharmaceutical companies, along with a major animal food company had formed a "strategic partnership" for the purpose of improving the financial fortunes of the veterinary industry as a whole. This new partnership is not just the same old corporate sponsorship at trade shows and sporting competitions for advertising purposes, this is a serious donation of $1 million or more a year plus assignment of personnel to the newly-formed National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) to assist in strategic planning to renovate the veterinary business as a whole. NCVEI proudly lists its founding sponsors as Bayer, Hills Pet Nutrition, Merial (a joint venture of Aventis & Merck), Novartis, Pfizer, and VPI Pet Insurance. Other regular sponsors include Fort Dodge, CareCredit, and Western Veterinary Conference. A minor coincidence in this new "strategic partnership" is that the head of AVMA, who cut the deal, now is an employee of one of the founding sponsors.
So, what do these "strategic partners" want to do? First off, according to the 30-year-old international corporate watchdog group, ETC Group, the fastest growing sector of animal pharmaceuticals is the "companion animals" group. According to them, most of the leading animal veterinary companies are subsidiaries of pharmaceutical or pesticide firms. The desire of these companies is to move even more deeply into the companion animal market because any drug which has already been approved for human use by the FDA, only needs cosmetic changes (i.e. new name, new color coating on the pill or a minor tweak to the formula), and voila, you have a new 20-year patent lease on life for that drug without going through the hassle of research and development, much less the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in typical costs for creating a new drug.
Thanks to this new desire for Big Pharma to serve you, you will be glad to know that your dog now has the opportunity to be diagnosed with "separation anxiety" so he or she can obtain a prescription to a cross-over drug first developed as a human antidepressant for obsessive-compulsive behavior and now called ClomiCalm". According to PetEducation.com, and the manufacturer, Novartis, even if you opt to use ClomiCalm, you still must consult your vet or an animal behaviorist to utilize behavior modification to resolve the "separation anxiety" issue. In other words, the drug doesnt actually cure the problem. Furthermore, you are advised to contact your vet if your dog experiences sedation, dry mouth, increased heart rate, weakness, pale gums, or collapses while taking the drug. Emergency phone numbers to Animal Poison Hotlines are provided on the PetEducation.com website.
According to Novartis Animal Health, there are about seven million dogs in the US who suffer from "canine separation anxiety".
Another crossover drug manufactured by Pfizer to treat symptoms of Parkinsons disease in humans has now been re-named and is promoted for dogs that suffer from a new disease called "cognitive dysfunction syndrome" and other geriatric behavior problems. Another Big Pharma dogdrug now in the pipeline includes a magic potion to treat "thunder phobia".
Big Pharmas first contribution to this new vet industry "strategic partnership" was to invest in several market surveys, one called, "The Brakke Study" and another called, "The Current and Future Market for Veterinarians and Veterinary Medical Services in the United States". These studies were completed in 1998 and 1999, respectively. What they found:
Vets dont make enough money
2. Large numbers of women in the profession dont make as much money as their male counterparts
3. There is a demand for more vet services in nontraditional and nonprivate practice areas
4. Delivery of services are fragmented and inefficient
5. Vets dont know how to run a profitable business
6. THERE ARE TOO MANY VETS SO THEY HAVE TO COOK UP NEW SERVICES TO DRIVE UP THEIR INCOMES.
With all this Big Pharma ammunition, the entire North American vet industry leadership jumped on board to form the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues. One look at NCVEIs website revels exactly how Big Pharma has begun to reach out to control what you can do with your Fifi, Fido, and Flicka (horses are companion animals, too).
The structure of NCVEI has all the de rigueur "working groups" to pump up the industry including a sponsoring council made up of 15 drug industry representatives who, no doubt, are well-trained in strategic planning as strategic planning is a high art for Big Pharma.
We can assume that part of Big Pharmas interest in taking over control of the veterinary industry was prompted in order to curtail a growing interest on the part of some vets use of natural therapies and products for animals in order to meet the needs of their customers. Under the auspices of the Task Force on Alternative and Complementary Therapies established by the American Veterinary Medical Association, from 1998 to 2001, a national survey was conducted to determine how to define natural healing arts and to provide official guidelines as they related to veterinary medical practice. Current vet practices are basically the same modern medical products and services that MDs use in treating humans.
Interestingly, the results of this study include a most sophisticated understanding of the great philosophical divide between modern medicine and natural world of healing.
"These guidelines define CAVM [complementary and alternative veterinary medicine] as a heterogeneous group of hygienic, diagnostic, and therapeutic philosophies and practices whose theoretical bases and techniques diverge from modern scientific veterinary medicine. Some of these differ in preferring naturally occurring hygienic and therapeutic methods to synthetic drug treatment and surgery; some have roots in ancient or modern philosophical or religious systems; some are based on notions of anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology that are not consistent with current knowledge; some are based on principles that relate to an order of existence beyond the visible, observable universe; and some are based on beliefs that contradict established scientific principles and have little or no scientific evidence of effectiveness and safety." (Adapted from: Medicine, alternative. In: Stedmans medical dictionary. 27th ed. Baltimore" Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000;1077.)
Concurrent with the Task Force guidelines project was the development of a model law that is now being used by vet licensing boards in all 50 states to pass brutal anti-customer DVM monopoly laws that has only one goal in mind, to protect and increase the incomes of veterinarians and their Sugar Daddy, Big Pharma.
One of the results of the veterinary practice surveys is to justify ways that vets could run more traffic through their clinics so that they can collect more fees for more services. In an array of vet industry magazines and various other means, DVMs are being told that if they hire a lot of secondary support staff such as "vet techs", they will be in a position to promote lab tests, preventative evaluations and the like.
Vets are also being told to be more aggressive in recommending more services and specifically capitalize on the emotional relationship the owner has for his or her pet in order to exploit it for financial gain. Yup. You read that right. Like we found with the Katrina hurricane disaster, some people have such a close attachment to pets, they wont desert them even at risk to their own lives. So, vets are being encouraged to use this special bond as a tool to increase services the owner may not want or really cant afford. In fact, according to a March 2005 article in Veterinary Economics, vet schools are now starting to train future vets in how to use this human-animal bond as they develop their own practices that are now considered "family practices" not just animal practices.
This notion to gather all services under one roof under the control of veterinarians, is a basic monopoly move which the chiropractic profession was quick to spot thanks to their own monopoly fights with the American Medical Association that spanned nearly a century. Knowing that chiropractic was of benefit to animals as well as humans, the leadership of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) contacted the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1999 to establish a dialogue. This effort was referred to the Task Force on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The result of this effort was as follows:
"The Task Force met to consider what the ACA had offered, and submitted its report to the AVMA House of Delegates. The AVMA then adopted a policy that reiterated its position that only veterinarians can perform procedures on non-human animals-unless these are performed after a direct referral from, and conducted under the direct supervision of, a DVM. This decision applies to all CAM [Complementary And Alternative] procedures, not just chiropractic."
To make sure you understand the implications of this policy, which is being promoted in passage of new laws across the US, is that DVMs, who have no knowledge, understanding, or training in any natural healing art, have the right to tell YOU, the animal owner, what you can and cannot do to help your animal.
PLEASE LET US REPEAT, the goal here is to CONTROL YOU and what YOU can do for YOUR animal. It is not about the health and safety of the animal. Since natural healing arts are extremely safe and the practice of DVMs, as a modern medical healing art, has the potential of being extremely risky and life threatening, vets have never publicly argued safety as their justification for passage of DVM monopoly laws. They cant.
The chiropractors, a very-well seasoned group who successfully beat off total destruction as a profession by the AMA, saw the handwriting on the wall and quickly cranked up their own system of credentialing chiros in the fine art of animal chiropractic. This means there is a fight going on in every legislature in the US over who is going to be allowed to do chiropractic work on your pet.
Other practices, not normally considered natural healing arts in the same breath like homeopathy, massage therapy, herbalism and dietary supplementation, are also now in a duel to the death. Horse dentists, whose profession dates back to 1207 AD, 600 years before the first veterinary school, are now getting cease and desist orders in states where they find themselves suddenly outlawed. Horse dentists historically can spend up to 50 hours in training to learn the fine art of "floating" (a.k.a. filing) horse teeth, while vet schools, those who actually have some sort of training on this sort of thing, average less than three hours. Similarly, farriery also known as horse shoeing, another ancient art, which is learned often by well-established journeyman programs, is now in danger of becoming extinct. After all, the purpose of putting a shoe on a horse has to do with establishing proper posture and movement so the structure of the horse is well supported. In the crazy world of DVM monopoly, farriers are now apparently practicing equine podiatry without a license.
As for the commonly-understood natural healing arts, the state of Florida has actually defined what veterinarians, and only veterinarians, are now legally-allowed to practice on your animals. We are giving you the details so you can see how unbelievably ridiculous the situation really is. Our comments follow the official Florida definitions.
Acupressure: Applying pressure to specific energy points in the body to promote optimum energy flow. It is a harmless touch therapy that amounts to gently touching somebody. In this case, the Chinese believe it relieves energy congestions in the body, which, once cleared, restores normal energy balance and often relieves pain and spasms.
Aromatherapy: The use of volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being. In human use, these are regulated as food if ingested. Most, however, are used aromatically or as massage oils to enhance various aspects of the human spirit and general health. A little lavender oil on a hanky was commonly used to provide a calming effect on Victorian ladies. A few drops of mint in a cup of tea is a nice pick-me-up. Or, just dab a bit of either on your body so you can smell it and you get the same benefits. Aromatherapy products are considered harmless, over-the-counter products and have been used since ancient times in many parts of the world.
Animal Communication: Interpreting the thoughts of an animal. Biologist and wildlife expert, Marta Williams, in her book, "Learning Their Language: Intuitive Communication With Animals and Nature", details the history of this healing art and describes it as a developed form of intuition. In addition, "animal communications" could define horse whisperer, Monty Roberts, who is regularly brought to England by Queen Elizabeth for public promotion of his art. Animal whispering involves subliminal communication with animals. This definition could also describe National Geographic Channels, Cesar Millan, owner of Cesar Millans Dog Psychology Center of Los Angeles, a self-styled dog psychologist who was also featured on Oprah when he helped Oprah cure her dog, Sophie, of "separation anxiety" (in just a few minutes and without the use of any drugs.)
Farriery: Trimming and placing shoes on horses hooves. Most people are more familiar with the terms "blacksmith" and "horseshoer" to describe this trade.
Flower Essence Therapy: Ingestion of distilled extracts from flowers to enhance emotional health. What this boils down to is a set of formulas developed by Edward Bach, MD, a homeopath who practiced in England in the early part of the 20th Century. Flower essences were developed as over-the-counter products so that ordinary people, consulting any number of books, could use them to ameliorate emotional distresses. Flower essence therapists are people who hang out their shingle so people can get advice on which flower formulas to take. Flower essence dosage means two drops of a very diluted substance put into a glass of water to be sipped or two drops dropped directly in the mouth. Flower essences have been used worldwide for nearly 100 years without any reports of adverse reactions.
Homeopathy: The use of plant, mineral or other substances in minute, diluted amounts to stimulate self-healing. Homeopathic products are inexpensive, non-patentable products that have been available over-the-counter and used round the world for nearly 200 years without any reports of adverse reactions. Homeopathy is an energy medicine so there is only a residue of molecular energy to be found in any homeopathic remedy, which means there is no risk of chemical cocktail effect even if taken with modern medical drugs. Since the 1870s, Big Pharma has been on a campaign to claim homeopathy is so worthless it doesnt work at all. The FDA has regulated these products since 1937.
Hands on Healing: Laying hands on the body to channel energy. There are literally hundreds of different touch therapies that fit this definition and for which training is available in the US and around the world. Touch therapies provide direct communication with an animal and can sooth a fearful or angry heart, relax tense and sore muscles and provide any number of other improvements in the mind, body and spirit. Hands on healing has been done on people and animals since ancient times in all cultures.
Magnet Therapy: Using magnets to create a magnetic field that increases circulation, oxygen utilization and energy flow. There are various over-the-counter magnet products that can be used for this purpose.
Nutritional Counseling: Offering advice about nutrition. In some cases this means somebody who sells over-the-counter products who is trained in explaining what the products are used for.
When a DVM monopoly law was passed in Oklahoma in 2003, it merely added "complementary and alternative therapies" to the definitional language of the law without spelling out what these words meant. "Cease and desist" orders went out to anyone in Oklahoma or elsewhere that the licensing board could find who they thought might come to Oklahoma and that they decided was covered by the new DVM monopoly law. Once news of the law became public, it threw the horse industry into a major uproar as Oklahoma City has a $4.5 milliondollar-a year horse show convention business and two race tracks in the state which draw horses from across the US. The law also outlawed dozens of equine massage therapists who had graduated from a state-licensed school of equine massage therapy.
A "cease and desist" order also went out to an Oklahoma-based importer and retail seller of over-the-counter British dietary supplements, homeopathy and aromatherapy products repackaged for animal use. Thanks to the new law, this business had to shut down its website, its principle means of advertising its national business.
As with all states with DVM monopoly laws, horse people, in particular, are put into a big bind, particularly if they show or race their animals. Equine massage therapy is very big business as simple massage techniques or any of the other touch therapies, possibly combined with aromatherapy or flower essence therapy is the fastest, cheapest and most effective way to keep a horse in top physical and emotional health even under the rigors of being hauled all over the countryside then pressed to the limit in competition. Many of these horses are worth tens of thousands of dollars and their owners travel to competitions with an entourage of trainers and handlers who practice natural healing arts. Many drug therapies are illegal in the equine performance world so use of natural products and services may mean the difference between a healthy animal able to perform and an injured animal that may also be suffering from lack of care.
To a horseperson, there is nothing worse than an "ouchy" horse that is upset and not in the mood to cooperate. This is a potentially dangerous situation for the horse and all the people around it (property included) and to realize that Big Pharma, in its "strategic partnership" with the vet industry to create a monopoly put the partnerships financial interests ahead of basic safety. This shows just how sorry this DVM monopoly game really is.
In another example of the sorry justification of this "strategic partnership", in the March 2005 issue of The Horse Gazette, holistic DVM, Madalyn Ward, wrote a piece reviewing the cost differences between using natural therapies when possible for a non-competing trail horse that was ridden two to three times a week versus one using strictly modern medical therapies over a period of a year. The cost only differed $139 (natural was cheaper) but it was in the ability to function that told the whole tale. The horse that had access to natural therapies was sick only three days during the survey year versus the horse only treated by modern medicine. That horse was sick 21 days that year.
During an attempt to restore direct access to natural healing practitioners in Oklahoma, an access that had been available since before statehood and which continues to be available BY LAW to parents with children in need of all manner of similar natural therapies, there were several excuses used to stall the bill in the legislature. The most outrageous was the concern, expressed by one vet, that such direct, unsupervised access might mean legalizing cruelty to animals. We are convinced that this statement is nothing more than a smokescreen to suggest that all DVMs want to do is "protect" animals against harm.
The fact that no one has any recollection of any complaints filed against a natural healing arts practitioner for any reason whatsoever for either man or beast seems to have been missed. In addition, the fact that DVMs modern medicine brethren, MDs, do not act as gatekeepers or, for that matter, have any regulatory authority over any natural healing arts practice in the state, got ignored in the argument, also.
In short, as the Oklahoma law now stands, any parent can legally take a child to any natural healing arts practitioner in the state without first getting permission from anybody to do so. Conversely, if this same person takes a family pet to a practitioner for the same natural healing arts services the child just received, that same person can be thrown into jail for six months and fined $2,500, thanks to the new DVM monopoly law. Does this make sense?
Out of the 1700 vets licensed to practice in Oklahoma only six practice something called "holistic medicine" according to a national holistic vet professional trade association and not all of them list a full complement of holistic services. Instate veterinarian groups dont keep any such lists. The states veterinary college does not offer courses in such services and it is pretty doubtful many other vet schools in other states are going to go whole hog into the business either.
This lack of commitment on the part of the veterinary medical industry to provide natural healing arts is also reflected in the schedule of seminars and symposiums at the national meeting of the Western Veterinary Conference. This meeting is billed as the largest vet convention in the United States and the Conference is one of the "strategic partners" of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues. Last February, out of 800 seminars, symposiums and the like, only 10 were devoted to "complementary" medicine, of which one was a discussion on how animal owners could be taught to cook homemade dog food. This years conference has upped the schedule to 13 "complementary" medicine presentations.
In light of the fact the homemade dog food presentation isnt listed this year, we have a recipe any natural nutritional counselor would suggest for your dog -- one part steamed brown rice, one part lightly steamed mixed vegetables, and one part lightly sautéed (as rare as possible) (in extra virgin olive oil) lean turkey, chicken or beef. But please dont send us any money for this nutritional advice. Elissa would be thrown in jail and Im not sure what the law is in New York for people like me. Im only an MD ND who has written lots of books and articles about nutrition and other natural healing arts subjects.
The idiocy of these anti-animal-owner DVM monopoly laws should be obvious. Both Elissa and I have in hand a document called "An Analysis of Relative Risks and Levels of Risk in Canada" commissioned by one of our Friends of Freedom International colleagues. Of the many findings in this study, the most remarkable one is that the risk of dying in Canada from using the services of natural health care providers and using therapeutic products is 14 statistical deaths PER BILLION as compared to an array of modern medical death statistics broken out by each category per real deaths.
I wrote in detail about some of these risks in my book, Death by Modern Medicine. As for putting animals at risk to the dangers of modern medicine, I even wrote about an example of a crossover drug that Pfizer, one of the members of the "strategic partnership" was so anxious to sell. It was its animal arthritis pain killer drug, Rimadyl, which was promoted through a Christmas card $10 discount coupon campaign. Herb, a male Weimaraner owned by the host of the radio show Elissa is on every Saturday (see her bio, below), received not one but several of these cards. Rimadyl, a Vioxx-type drug had big problems from the get go. According to a report put together by The Senior Dog Project, The FDAs Center for Veterinary Medicine reported that by May 1, 2003, 2,133 dogs had died as a result of using Rimadyl since its introduction in 1997.
An even more alarming article published in USA Today reported that through November of 2004, the FDA received almost 13,000 adverse-event reports about Rimadyl, which was much higher than any other dog pain reliever. USA Today also reported that another dog drug in the same Vioxx-type class as Rimadyl, is Dermamaxx, developed by another of the American Veterinary Medical Associations "strategic partners", Novartis. Since its launch in 2002, the FDA has had 2,813 adverse event reports including 630 deaths.
The market for dog arthritis pain meds tops $130 million a year and, according to USA Today, it is growing about 13% a year. However according to the FDA, 3,200 dogs have died and records show there have been almost 19,000 adverse reaction to them.
These are not the only reports about animal drugs and vaccines that are alarming, but they should represent a vivid reminder that if you have a companion animal, you have just been put into a bind ..do right by your pet and risk jail time and a fine, or allow the local vet to treat your animal pal in a way you think might be too risky for you if you and the rest of your family are a regular users of natural healing arts products and services. IF you think these DVM-monopoly laws stink, there are several things you can do about it.
1. Contact Illinois Alliance For Animal Owners Rights to find out what the situation is in your state. www.iaaor.org/home.html This groups website has lots of key information you need to know along with a list of state contacts.
2. If your state does not have an animal owners rights group, contact National Health Freedom Coalition. www.nationalhealthfreedom.org This group has affiliated health freedom groups in 40 states and if your state is one of them, these folks may be able to help you protect your rights as what they are doing for health freedom is directly related to animal owners rights. See below for details on the international health freedom meeting these folks are hosting starting October 27. You may want to attend.
3. Send a copy of this article (and other information like it) to your state legislators. They need to know what the real story is regarding DVM-monopoly laws.