I heard a radio advert for yet another “Stop Smoking or the Bunny Gets It!” advert this morning; like most adverts it finished with some hastily-spoken-at-low-volume audio fine print:
Brought to you by Pfizer
Well that’s what it sounded like anyway, it could have been anything considering the speed of the sound-byte. Either way it reminded me of a flame war conversation that was held on the British Horror Film Forum a couple of years back, during which I coined the term “the Church of Pfizer” as a catch all way of referring to the New Inquisition – or more clearly stated, the dogma and beliefs of devout followers of Science (with a capital S).
The term appeared in reference to the medication I take on a daily basis to manage my Diabetes and associated complications;
I am a type 1 diabetic. I self-administer 2 subcutaneous injections of a mixed human analog insulin a day to “live”. I lived for years beforehand without my twice daily prayer rituals to the Church of Pfizer and have only the word of a venerable “specialist” to state that I need it.
I appreciate that out of the context of the original discussion, this sounds a little facetious. The original discussion had started when I supposed that the 20th century could be seen to have evolved into a Science/Religion paradigm and that Scientists were the new priesthood (an idea put forward far more eloquently by the dearly missed St. Bob).
The point really comes from a discussion that I had with my GP shortly after being diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic. To keep my cholesterol levels down, I am prescribed 10mg of Atorvastatin (Pfizer) to be taken orally every night. When my GP saw that I had been prescribed that particular “brand” of statin he exclaimed surprise. I probably shouldn’t have picked up on it but I did. Asking for an explanation, my GP kindly offered me one.
He explained that he would have prescribed an alternate statin; when asked why, he explained that his favoured brand had been tested on a demographic of around 10,000 men of all ages in the North of England from the 1960’s onward and that the results showed that the statin had a positive preventative effect on the complications of high cholesterol (such as Heart Disease).
My GP went on to explain that the statin I had been prescribed had been tested for a short period in the 1990’s, on a demographic of around 1,000 middle aged men and women on an island in the Mediterranean. The studies showed that the statin was highly effective at rapidly reducing blood cholesterol counts but there was not yet any evidence as to whether it was as efficacious as other statins with regards long term complications.
(I should add the caveat that the exact details of the conversation are lost to the mists of time, this is just the crux – facts and figures may be out but the point is the proportional difference between studies)
We discussed this at length and both agreed to keep the prescription as was, the Hospital presumably having its own reasons for the prescription.
I’m a scientist at heart, I studied Molecular Biology at University and work in computing (which, granted, can have its arcane moments); I also maintain an open mind to new ideas and have recently found myself sympathetic to zeteticism. That being said, the rising fundamentalism within the Church of Pfizer does worry me. We the public take everything for granted; in my case I assume that my doctors are right and the pills and needles are essential to a healthy life (despite the fact that they can no longer agree on a correct diagnosis of my condition). There are other concerns, that should become apparent when I resurrect the discussion from the BHF. I may actually edit it (to protect the innocent) and post it here for posterity.