American Medical Association

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is the main professional trade group representing American doctors. The AMA publishes a medical journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

A face lift for the AMA

In 2005, hoping to improve its image and boost sagging membership, the AMA launched a $60 million dollar marketing campaign. It included "heart string tugging ads" portraying doctors as "everyday heroes." The ads ran on national television, radio and magazines. According to an AMA marketing executive, the ads emphasized the "nobility of the profession." One television commercial featured soaring music and images of a premature baby grabbing a doctor's finger. Other aspects included a logo redesign and "routine meetings with doctors around the country to hear what is on their minds."

The AMA's membership has been declining for the previous five years. [1]

History of pharmaceutical interests

In the early half of the 20th century, petrochemical giants organized a coup on the medical research facilities, hospitals and universities. The Rockefeller family sponsored research and donated sums to universities and medical schools which had drug based research. They further extended this policy to foreign universities and medical schools where research was drug based through their "International Education Board". Establishments and research which were were not drug based were refused funding and soon dissolved in favor of the lucrative pharmaceutical industry. In 1939 a "Drug Trust" alliance was formed by the Rockefeller empire and the German chemical company I.G. Farben (Bayer). After World War II, I.G. Farben was dismantled but later emerged as separate corporations within the alliance. Well known companies included General Mills, Kellogg, Nestle, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Procter and Gamble, Roche and Hoechst (Sanofi-Aventis). The Rockefeller empire, in tandem with Chase Manhattan Bank (now JP Morgan Chase), owns over half of the pharmaceutical interests in the United States. It is the largest drug manufacturing combine in the world. Since WWII, the pharmaceutical industry has steadily netted increasing profits to become the world's second largest manufacturing industry; [2], [3] after the arms industry.

The Rockefeller Foundation was originally set up in 1904 as the General Education Fund. The RF was later formed in 1910 and issued a charter on May 14, 1913 with the help of Rockefeller millions. Subsequently, the foundation placed it's own "nominees" in federal health agencies and set the stage for the "reeducation" of the public. A compilation of magazine advertising reveals that as far back as 1948, larger American drug companies spent a total sum of $1,104,224,374 for advertising. Of this sum, Rockefeller-Morgan interests (which went entirely to Rockefeller after Morgan's death) controlled about 80%. [4]

See also pharmaceutical industry.

Eliminating competitors to drug based paradigm

In his 1994 book, The Assault on Medical Freedom, author P. Joseph Lisa gained access to secret files in the AMA's Chicago Department of investigation under the guise of collecting information to expose "mental health quackery." In the process, he uncovered hundreds of AMA photocopies of memos, minutes and other documents. In a subsequent ten year investigation, he found little evidence of "quackery" and much evidence of an organized propaganda campaign to discredit alternative medicine and foreign drugs. The birth of the AMA in 1847 launched an organized push for a "totalitarian medical pharmaceutical police state". Funded by the drug industry, a single, medical monopoly was established using the insurance industry, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRC), the U.S. Postal Service and other state and federal agencies. From the onset, the AMA is characterized as a greed motivated trade union, eliminating competitors to its own financial and political interests. Funded by the Carnegie Foundation, Abraham Flexner was ostensibly empowered to investigate the quality of medical education in all 161 medical schools that existed in 1910. In league with Rockefeller billions, Flexner helped destroy the credibility and funding sources for nearly all schools using non-drug based medicine. 161 medical schools dwindled down to 81 by 1919 and medical graduates declined from 5,747 to 2,658. "Overcrowding" of the profession became the public AMA theme for the "opportunities of those already in the profession to acquire a livelihood."[5]

AMA's 'anti-quackery' campaign

Alternative medicine and even the Sears catalog of home remedies were seen as competitors to be systematically abolished. Although MD oriented trauma care is acknowledged to be the best in the world, allopathic MD oriented drug medicine was reported by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment to be only 15 to 20% effective as a medical approach. Yet, the AMA's board's stated mission was to publish articles attacking effective alternative treatments. By 1964, the AMA's Committee on Quackery extended membership to become the Coordinating Conference on Health information (CCHI). Members included the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Pharmaceutical Association, the Arthritis Foundation, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the National Health Council, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Service, the Office of Consumer Affairs, the U.S. and State Attorney Generals' Office and the Internal Revenue Service. CCHI officials allegedly asked the FDA to prosecute drugless "quackery" targets beginning to intrude on their markets. The FTC was asked to get injunctions against competitive advertisements and the Postal Service was asked watch clinics, manufacturers and doctors using chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, vitamin therapy, alternative cancer and arthritis treatments and even books on alternative therapies. A growing number of books such as Breggin's Toxic Psychiatry, Beasley's Betrayal of Health, Mendelsohn's Confessions of a Medical Heretic, Carter's Racketeering in Medicine; have documented CCHI's meetings with federal agencies which comply with their targets and goals. As a result, court injunctions have been successfully levied against everything from books to importing acupuncture needles. By 1984, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and laetrile had been targeted, along with a plan to exclude chiropractic and other fields from insurance coverage. Products, store, doctors and manufacturers became subjects of media discrediting, licensing board harassment, seizures or raids. The FDA and the Pharmaceutical Advertising Council formed a joint "anti-quackery" campaign. Key congressional leaders were invited to meetings and asked to join. Initially, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicare, Aetna, and the Health Association of America were fed black lists of doctors and "questionable" treatments and asked to exclude them. By 1986-88, a computer data base had been created to deny insurance claims by hundreds of insurers. The FDA began attacking food supplements which were proving to be competitors to drug treatment. Soon Merck, Sharpe, Dohme, Roche, Lederle, and GlaxoSmithKline (Burroughs-Wellcome) had diversified into giant producers of vitamins with massive sales campaigns. Yet, these companies were never raided by the FDA. Vitamin E alone became a $338 million a year market. Few FDA raids and seizures were motivated by consumer safety. In fact, the FDA's own health Fraud Consumer Report of 1988 targeted cancer, arthritis, and other food supplement treatments that were known to be "very effective to somewhat effective." Entire fields such as chiropractic, chelation therapy, naturopathy, acupuncture, wholistic dentistry and homeopathy have been targeted for harassment, delicensing, or discrediting by the AMA. [6]

See also alternative medicine.

Medicine, drugs, vaccines & animal testing

A landmark article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on April 15, 1998 entitled, "Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients", evaluated serious and fatal adverse drug reactions (ADR)s in U.S. hospitals. The study revealed that in 1994, ADRs accounted for 2,216,000 serious events and 106,000 hospital deaths. [7] According to a 2003 comprehensive study of medical peer-review journals and government health statistics, there are an additional 199,000 fatal ADR outpatient deaths in the U.S. annually. [8], [9] According to the study, there are approximately 783,936 iatrogenic (medically induced) deaths every year in the U.S. Furthermore, the actual figure is estimated to be much higher, as only a fraction (between 5% and 20%) of iatrogenic acts are ever reported.[10]

Researchers from Harvard and Boston Universities concluded that medical measures (drugs and vaccines) accounted for between 1 and 3.5% of the total decline in mortality rate since 1900. Scores of animals were killed in the quest to find cures for tuberculosis, scarlet fever, small pox and diphtheria. Dr. Edward Kass of Harvard Medical School asserts that the primary credit for the virtual eradication of these diseases must go to improvements in public health, sanitation and general standard of living. [11] Additionally, 88% of doctors queried agreed that animal experiments can be misleading because of anatomical and physiological differences between animals and humans. [12]

See also animal testing.

Nutrition & diet

AMA gives up on "criticism"

In the early 1990s, the AMA was "critical" of vegetarian diets and and the nutrition advocacy of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). PCRM is a nutrition and research ethics group, founded by Dr. Neal Barnard, a psychiatrist and a lifetime member of the AMA. However, by 2004, the AMA was apparently forced to admit that, while not quite ready to actually adopt a "policy specifically addressing vegetarian diets", it was no longer possible to ignore that:

"a great deal of scientific evidence has been accumulated on nutritional issues over the past decade and supports continued research into the overall relationship between diet and health." In February of 2004, the AMA released the following statement:
"In the early 1990s, AMA spokespersons made critical comments pertaining to the dietary recommendations issued by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). These statements regarding diet are no longer current, as the AMA does not have policy specifically addressing vegetarian diets or the inclusion of milk in a diet. The AMA recognizes that a great deal of scientific evidence has been accumulated on nutritional issues over the past decade and supports continued research into the overall relationship between diet and health." [13]

Nutrition & orthodox medicine in the U.S.

Of the 125 medical schools in the U.S., only 30 require their students to take a course in nutrition. The average amount of hours spent on nutrition education for the average U.S. physician during four years of school is 2.5 hours. Physicians are therefore ill equipped to give nutritional advice and/or implement programs; even though most modern illnesses are life style related. Heart attacks are the most common cause of death in the U.S and arguably, the most preventable. The male consumer of meat in the U.S. has a 50% risk of a heart attack in his life time as opposed to 15% for the male non-meat eater. Reducing intake of animal products greatly reduces this risk and eliminating animal products reduces this risk by 90%. [14]

See also animal products & health issues.

AMA & tobacco

By 1985, the AMA had conceded that nicotine was 'addictive' and called for a complete ban on the advertising and promotion of cigarettes. [15] It is worth noting however, that this announcement came a full 16 years after the U.S. government issued ban on tobacco advertisements on radio and television and mandatory warning labels on tobacco products.[16] Further, it was 21 years after the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report finding a causal relationship between smoking, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis and a full 26 years after the conclusion of the American Cancer Society's epidemiological studies linking smoking and cancer. [17], [18]

Never-the-less, the AMA's House of Delegates first passed a resolution calling for FDA control of tobacco in 1989. The AMA started an intensified anti-tobacco effort in March of 1994 when Randolph D. Smoak, Jr., M.D., a physician and AMA officer, called for the immediate FDA regulation of tobacco.[19]. The AMA directed the Smokeless States Program, a private-sector effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aimed at reducing tobacco use nationwide. The Foundation awarded 10 million dollars to coalitions in 19 states for local campaigns against tobacco use. Most states targeted their efforts toward persuading adolescents not to start smoking or chewing tobacco. Thomas Houston was the director of Smokeless States in 1994 and was in the AMA's Department of Preventative Medicine and Public Health.[20]

Tobacco studies

The ACS was an early promulgator of the link between smoking and cancer in the landmark epidemiological studies of 1952 and 1959. However, the tobacco industry was able to delay widespread acceptance of this link largely because animals in studies did not develop cancer. [21] Animal testing was used by politicians to avoid taking action against tobacco companies. Decades of vague and inconclusive results enabled them to perpetuate confusion and prevent doctors from giving authoritative warnings. Researchers spent decades forcing beagles to smoke cigarettes and painting tar on the backs of mice (although there were already clear links between tobacco and human cancer). Physicians were encouraged to keep quiet while researchers spent years performing animal tests. [22], [23]

See also animal testing, section 5 on tobacco studies.

Associations with other groups

The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt group which describes itself as "focused upon health fraud, misinformation, and quackery as public health problems." The NCAHF website is run by board member Stephen Barrett, M.D. The group also produces a weekly online newsletter in association with Quackwatch.org. [24] Although the group maintains a website, its 990 forms indicate no income or expenses for the fiscal year ending in 2006, the last year it's financial reports were available on Guidestar.

NCAHF, the AMA & "anti-quackery"

The organization has rankled alternative medicine practitioners and supporters, some of which have questioned or attacked its credibility. For example, Dr. James P. Carter has noted that the NCAHF is an outgrowth of the CCHI, which challenged an anti-trust ruling against the AMA. Wilk v. AMA was a federal anti-trust law suit brought against the AMA and 10 co-defendants by chiropractor Chester A. Wilk, DC and four co-plaintiffs. The law suit ruled against the AMA. [25], [26], [27]

For more information on the CCHI, see also section 2, on AMA's 'anti-quackery' campaign.

Contact

American Medical Association
515 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Phone: 800-621-8335

Web: http://www.ama-assn.org

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Lindsay Tanner AMA Seeks Fresh Image With 'Heroes' Ads , Associated Press/ PR Watch, June 16, 2005
  2. Ivan Fraser, Mark Beeston The Pharmaceutical Racket, Biblioteca Plaeyades, accessed April 2010
  3. A Short Curriculum Vitae of I.G. Farben, Biblioteca Plaeyades, accessed October 2009
  4. Hans Reusch of Dollars Free Publicity The Truth About the Rockefeller Drug Empire: The Drug Story, CIVIS Foundation Report number 15, Fall-Winter 1993
  5. Stephan Cooter Review of P.J. Lisa's 'Assault on Medical Freedom', The Family News, Volume IV, No. 1, p. 21-23
  6. Stephan Cooter Review of P.J. Lisa's 'Assault on Medical Freedom', The Family News, Volume IV, No. 1, p. 21-23
  7. Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies, Journal of the American Medical Association, April 15, 1998
  8. Starfield B. Is US health really the best in the world?, JAMA, July 2000, 284(4):483-5. Starfield B. Deficiencies in US medical care, JAMA, November 2000, 284(17):2184-5.
  9. Weingart SN, McL Wilson R, Gibberd RW, Harrison B. Epidemiology of medical error, Western Journal of Medicine, June 2000, 172(6):390-3.
  10. Gary Null, PhD, Carolyn Dean, MD, Martin Feldman, MD, Debora Rasio, MD, Dorothy Smith, PhD Death by Medicine, 2003
  11. Frequently Asked Questions: What about all the breakthroughs we've gained through animal research?, In Defense of Animals, accessed November 18, 2008
  12. Tony Page Vivisection Unveiled: An Expose of the Medical Futility of Animal Experimentation, pg. 106, John Carpenter Books, April 1997
  13. New AMA Statement on PCRM and Good Nutrition, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, February 2004
  14. The Meat Free Life: How to Win an Argument With a Meat-Eater, Hinduism Today, Essay #2, July 1993
  15. (Barron's, 5/16/94) (L. White, Merchants of Death, 1988)
  16. Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969, Tobaccodocuments.org, accessed September 2011
  17. History of the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed September 2011
  18. Altria Stock Holder Proposals: Proposal 1 – Eliminate Animal Testing for Tobacco Products, pdf, pg, 44, 45, 2005
  19. (Wall Street Journal, 6/7/94)
  20. (Dow Jones, 8/15/94)
  21. Altria Stock Holder Proposals: Proposal 1 – Eliminate Animal Testing for Tobacco Products, pdf, pg, 44, 45, 2005
  22. Wasted Tobacco Settlement Money, White Coat Welfare, accessed September 2009
  23. Anne Landman, Donald G. Cooley Smoke Without Fear (1954): The Mouse-skin Experiments, pg 13, Tobacco.org, accessed December 2009
  24. Consumer Health Digest, National Council Against Health Fraud, accessed September 2011
  25. Wilk v. American Medical Association, Global Oneness, accessed September 2011
  26. Wilk v. American Medical Association, U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, 895 F.2d 352, (Dec 1988- April 1990)
  27. James P. Carter Racketeering in Medicine: The Suppression of Alternatives, Hampton Roads, July 1992, ISBN 187890132X

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