December 26th, 2007

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Good Morning!!

I am still reverberating from the festivities.   Jeff bought the most gorgeous, fragrant Christmas tree and we all decorated Christmas Eve.  What a treat!!   It was two days of seclusion, a womb in which we shared the pulse of family heart and ways we reach to joyfully meet.  

For me, today begins the new year.  The light is returning and all seems so satisfying.  It is a lovely note on which to begin.

We shared many gifts, and yet last night I returned home to an invitation to a very private ceremony to release Mitchell in the eastern way, honoring the 49 days.  I am so touched.  

I am wrapped in gifts, gratitude, love, care, smiles, and the tears of liquid love.  Frieda's grandfather died December 8th.   We honor him too.

May today give you even more than you've already received and whatever that is, may it all ways be enough.

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from In These Times -

Warning: Drug Ads Can Make You Sick

A $4.2 billion annual drug industry incessantly reinforces the medicalization of complaints through direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising

By Terry J. Allen

Jane’s family is suffering from plagues of biblical-lite proportions. Her teenage son is unruly and easily distracted. Her daughter has menstrual cramps, is 12 pounds overweight and shy. Her husband sleeps fitfully and has occasional heartburn and irregularity—not to mention that his libido is falling and his cholesterol rising. As for Jane, her menopause generates more heat than a blowtorch. Her knees twinge, her breasts are less perky and her jaw line more blurred. Her personality is flat and her legs restless. All of them are less happy than they think they should be.

Although there is a diagnosis, pill or surgical treatment for each of their ills, the family members could simply be suffering from exposure to advertising that sells a fantasy of flawless health, perfect skin, clockwork bowels, extended youth and perpetual cheerfulness in the face of disappointment, aging, money woes and the reign of George Bush. They may, in fact, be healthy people snookered by the pharmaceutical industry, the media and their doctors into believing that ordinary frailties are diseases; that the human condition can be cured.

A $4.2 billion annual industry incessantly reinforces this medicalization of complaints through direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising.

In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to allow pharmaceutical companies to hawk prescription drugs to the public, with limited oversight and minimal explanation of safety and side effects. A 2006 Government Accountability Office investigation found some of these marketing efforts “false and misleading” and faulted the FDA—which is responsible for oversight—for failing to maintain standards of accuracy and to protect the public. The United States and New Zealand are the only countries that allow DTC marketing.

Big Pharma says that the goal of DTC ads is to educate the public about what treatments are available. But there is no denying that the images of people caressed by soporific green moths, charmed by Latino bees and enticed by sexually fulfilled couples can create expectations and perceived needs that lead to unnecessary and expensive drug consumption. Some of the products are only minimally effective. Many can cause liver or kidney damage, high blood pressure or other adverse effects that would have to be countered with still more drugs—each with its own side effects and risky interactions.

One undeniable side effect of DTCs is increased sales and profits for drug manufacturers. “Every $1 the pharmaceutical industry spent on DTC advertising in 2000 yielded an additional $4.20 in drug sales,” the Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported. Indeed, direct-to-consumer advertising “was responsible for 12 percent of the increase in prescription drugs sales, or an additional $2.6 billion.”

Many doctors act as enablers. A majority of them reported that DTC ads caused patients to “confuse relative risks and benefits” or to believe the drugs “worked better than they do,” according to the FDA. Almost three out of four docs said patients were spurred by the ads to ask for unnecessary prescriptions and to expect a prescription for every condition. Nonetheless, despite feeling pressured and sometimes ambivalent about efficacy, safety and appropriateness, doctors turned down requests for a brand-name prescription only 2 percent of the time, the FDA found.

Americans are swallowing a lot of pills. Spending on prescription drugs is America’s most rapidly increasing healthcare cost and, in 2004, outpatient prescription medications—3 billion scripts worth $200 billion a year—constituted nearly 20 percent of healthcare spending, according to a government survey. Almost half of us take at least one prescription medicine, and one in six downs three or more medications, according to a 2004 Department of Health and Human Services report.

There is something in the American character that loves a quick technological fix, and DTC advertising convinces us that drugs can cure our physical and psychological aches and pains—even our existential crises and obnoxious personality traits. While many people with debilitating depression do find better living through chemistry, there may be something wrong with a definition of normality that classifies one in 10 women, 18 years of age and older, as so clinically depressed that she requires powerful antidepressants. Or a definition of normality that diagnoses 15 percent of 16-year-old boys with attention deficit hyper-activity disorder (ADHD). ADHD drugs make up three of the top five drugs for children age 17 and younger (sales totaling $1.3 billion in 2004). And of the 4.4 million 4- to 17-year-olds with an ADHD diagnosis, more than half were medicated despite what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called “substantial health risks.”

The old joke used to be this: A doctor who finds a patient healthy hasn’t looked hard enough. DTC advertising cuts out the middleman and allows the consumer to over-diagnose. It directly exploits the public’s fears and hopes by planting the illusion—and then preying on it—that health, youth and happiness are commodities, and anything less is a disease.

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an ad that attracts -

I found myself pulled into this ad in the Wall Street Journal today.   I was singing along with it, so it shows how Christmas indoctrinated I am.  I like the ending and hope you are not supporting delivery services after Christmas. 

    12 striped neckties
    11 pairs of sweat socks
    10 reindeer sweaters
    9 character potholders
    8 porcelain figurines
    7 tennis balls
    6 antique fruitcakes
    5 thingamabobs
    4 gingham-checked smocks
    3 champagne glasses
    2 pieces of pottery
    and a bunny outfit.

          All shipped back with DHL.

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Evening -

I have been reading a gift book from Jeff and Jan on The Sea Ranch. I am caught in the beauty of that place, the homes that integrate inside and out, shadow and sun, and utilize interior space extremely well.

I am also re-reading The Wild Braid by Stanley Kunitz, his ruminations as he approached the age of 100.

    Stanley Kunitz:

                                                       Worcester, Massachusetts

    When I was a child I haunted the woods.  The two essential components of my imagination were my fascination with the natural world and with language.

    I loved especially the sounds of words.  We were fortunate in our house to have an unabridged dictionary.  I explored it every day for new words and then I would go out into the woods behind our house and shout my latest discovery and listen to it reverberate.  I considered it my duty to give my new words to the elements, to scatter them.  The woods were the perfect audience.

    I yearned to be lost in another atmosphere, and in history itself, as these woods had the virtue of being one of the encampments of Massassoit's tribe so I looked out for traces of them.  Otherwise, I had no human company, but there were wild animals who soon learned that I was no there to harm them and so I felt I was in a world of friends.

                                                    "unburdened by a body"

    During my adolescence, out in the open fields, I would sometimes pretend I was one of the insects.  I became captivated by dragonflies and imagined I could see the world as they did.  Everything had a different scale.

    I reveled in the sensation of being so light and being able to go anywhere, unburdened by a body.

    Discovering the body was part of the joy, the sense of infinite possibility, of being out in the woods.  I recognized that it had weight and had certain limitations - there was no denying that.  Obviously one's sensitivity was less acute than that of any other living creature in the woods.  At the same time, the body was the very instrument of exploration.

    I would find a leaf or a stone in the underbrush and have the sensation that nobody else had seen quite the same thing.  And if I came across an arrowhead, that was a real triumph.

    Sometimes, especially when one gets older, one gets very clumsy in the handling of delicate objects.  The hands, the fingers, are less nimble than they were.  But then, there's the compensation that one knows a bit more.  There's a quid pro quo.

    In the woods, one loses the sense of time.  It's quite a different experience from walking in the streets.  The streets are human creations.  In the woods what one finds are cosmic creations.

    from "The Round" by Stanley Kunitz

             I can scarcely wait until tomorrow
             when a new life begins for me,
             as it does each day,
             as it does each day.

                          Breathe in the wisdom of years!

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Kwanzaa -

This blog theme and coloring is called Kwanzaa.   Of course, by the time you read this, I may have changed moods and themes, but tonight I am honoring the earth and nature and lighting candles for light.