Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pharma Iatrogenic Death of Michael Jackson

I got the above image from here.
This is a shraddhanjali to one of the greatest global pop music stars - Michael Jackson.

With pharmaceutical marketing becoming all powerful, the death of Michael Jackson is a grim reminder of the importance of iatrogenic complications. Iatrogenesis refers to the complications resulting from medical therapy or advice. Iatrogenesis may follow intake of drugs or pharmacotherapy or surgical therapy. The repeat plastic surgeries had caused a weakened immune system of Michael Jackson. He would often wear a mouth mask. In fact, during a press conference in the recent past, the iconic pop singer's nose had fallen off. Medical therapy and overuse of medications had rendered him highly dependent.

Iatrogenesis can be caused by medical error, negligence, and adverse effects or drug interactions. Thus, the onus is now on pharma industry to market drugs collaboratively and responsibly to ensure that iatrogenic events are minimized.

Importance of being an informed patient

When a person is unhealthy or diseased or struck by illness, it does not imply that the patient has to surrender to the medical profession or pharmaceutical profession. It means the time has come for the patient to use available resources like the internet to educate himself about the disease. Thus, the patient becomes an informed patient, and discusses the therapy options to avoid becoming a victim of iatrogenesis. It is but too naive on the part of patients to abuse potent medicines like narcotic analgesics - through the medical profession. In India, codeine based cough suppressants are freely available and surely are a cause of many an iatrogenic addiction. It is imperative that NGOs, Govts., and other stakeholders (including pharma marketers of codeine based formulations) wake up to the dangers of iatrogenesis and launch an initiative to create informed patients to ensure responsible use of medications including codeine based cough suppressants.

Medical ethics state that the healer (and this includes pharmaceutical profession too) should FIRST DO NO HARM.

Importance of pharmacovigilance

Pharmacovigilance is an important field today. It implies keeping a vigil on the adverse effects (long term and short term) of medicines. Pharmacovigilance is a fast growing pharmacological science. However, there is a long way to go in sensitizing pharmacists, the patient population and medical profession in helping collecting and analysing of pharmacovigilance data. Pharma marketing is busy achieving sales quotas.

Michael Jackson was iconic. His charisma and pop music swayed an entire generation of music listeners. Moonwalk dance steps became a must in every college fest event. 'Beat It' is a glorious number.

Importance of alternative healthcare therapies

Once again the tragic death of Michael Jackson reminds us of being cautious in using medications. The line is thin between abuse and use. His tragic death is a telling story that patients should explore healthy lifestyle options, preventive care, and alternative healthcare therapies like Yoga, and authentic ayurveda.

The goal of businesses is social contribution and profits; not PROFITS and social contributions. Unhealthy profiteering attitudes are but self destructive. The primary goal of medical professionals is to be agents for patient health and not prescribing agents of pharmaceutical marketers. Only responsible marketing and medical practice creates a long term sustainable business model.

The medical case history of Michael Jackson needs to be studied in depth by the medical profession and pharma marketers. The medical case of pop star Michael Jackson is a classic case of iatrogenesis. A grim reminder to all involved in drug research, marketing, and prescribing of the double edged sword that medications are.

I rise with full respect and love for a man who entertained crores of Americans, Indians, and others transcending national borders with his music and dance. One cannot help recollecting an amusing and interesting aspect of Michael Jackson' music:

My father-in-law (Shri A G Patwardhan) was a full time progressive farmer during his youth days. He lives near Dharmasthala. Today, he is more of an astrologer (which was his other passion right from childhood years) and less a farmer, as he is more than 60 years old.

During his hey days of farming, my father-in-law had gained a good reputation for having a nice rubber plantation, this was reported in various local and national media (like The Hindu).

When asked how he managed to have a good plantation particularly because wild boars tended to attack tender rubber saplings during nights, my father-in-law thanked Michael Jackson! My inventive father-in-law had set up audio system among the trees in the plantation. Periodically, at night he would play different types of music as he was experimenting the effects of music on plant growth! He noticed that wild boar attacks were warded off whenever he played Michael Jackson's music at night, particularly 'Beat It'!!

This is a true anecdote. And because of this experimentation, he had become quite popular!!

Such is the persona of Michael Jackson - his music had penetrated in to the microinteriors of India (like Mundaje village where my father-in-law was residing those days). Rural India and urban India had a taste for Jackson music. May Michael Jackson's soul live in peace.

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