Page 15 of 15

TGA – Government Watchdog or Drug Company Slave?

What follows is the introduction to the lead story in the current Inside Edition, the official newsletter of the Australian Vaccination Network. To subscribe to this bi-monthly online newsletter  for only $25 and to read the full story including the included action alert, please click here:

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is a government body that has been given a mandate to oversee research into both the safety and the effectiveness of all drugs, medical procedures and vaccines licensed in Australia. It has many divisions and departments (including ADRAC – the Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee), which are part of that oversight process.

Many times, when the safety of drugs, vaccines or any medical procedures are questioned, the first response is – the government wouldn’t have allowed this to be licensed if it weren’t first shown to be safe.

While one would like to think that this is the case, the question must be asked – how independent can the TGA possibly be when they are funded through a process known as ‘Cost Recovery’, meaning that drug company licensing fees provide all of the TGA’s licensing expenses? This could lead one to believe that the TGA – a body which is supposed to be ensuring the safety of the Australian population – is nothing more than a slave to their true masters – the pharmaceutical companies of the world.

Most people might be under the impression that the TGA is a government-funded body that provides independent testing of drugs and vaccines and only approves them when they have been shown by rigorous and objective double-blind clinical trials to be both safe and effective.

In actuality, the TGA is not funded to do this sort of testing. If anything, the TGA may test to ensure that the ingredients that are listed on the manufacturer’s package insert are actually in the product, but they do not perform their own clinical trials for safety or effectiveness.

When it comes to safety and effectiveness, the TGA simply reviews and assesses the information provided to them by the drug company that will be distributing and profiting from this product.

Wellness versus health

Health is a word that has become much maligned through its association with organisations and individuals who, in all fairness, have forgotten what it means to be healthy – if they ever knew. For instance, here in Australia, the Department of Health could easily (and more truthfully) be called the Department of Sickness because that is what they deal with – sick people and sicknesses – many of which are caused by the very treatments they have endorsed.

What ever happened to wellness –the goal that we should all have in mind for our children and ourselves? When were the goalposts moved so far that now, rather than seeking wellness, most people feel lucky to just be able to get out of bed in the morning? And for more and more of us, even that simple step has become a bit of a challenge.

Well, let me tell you right here and right now that this attitude is simply not good enough!

Not only that, but you and I and everyone else reading this article have got to start thinking of ourselves not just as healthcare consumers, but as wellness warriors. Fighting for true wellness in the face of opposition from a western medical community that has truly gone mad.

A medical community that seems to believe that we are all exactly the same and that what will help one person will always help another. And they continue to espouse this view despite a growing mountain of evidence to the contrary.

A medical community that thinks it has the right to tell us what we must and must not do in regards to our own and our family’s health.

How crazy is that? Think about it for a minute. Someone who has never met you, who doesn’t know anything about you, who (let’s be real) doesn’t really care very much about you, but who is in a position of power because of the way in which our society is structured today, has decided that there is only one way to keep you healthy and it’s their way or the highway.

To quote my 14-year-old daughter – I don’t think so!

Wellness warriors

So what do we do? Those with power are trying to rule our lives and our health. They are trying to make sure we have no choice – not when it comes to our food (lack of labelling of GMO ingredients and nanotechnology), our wellness (forced chemotherapy for children, lack of vaccination choice if they have their way) and our world (discussions are ongoing about introducing nuclear power into Australia – a truly frightening step backwards!).

And even many of the organisations that are supposed to be supporting and promoting natural health and wellness seem to be hiding their heads in the sand and hoping nobody comes up from behind to cut them off at the knees.

Well, I say it’s time to stop running; time to stop hiding. It’s time and past time to start fighting. Will you join me, fellow warrior?

Affirmative Action

If you feel that being a wellness warrior is important, then please stay in touch with this blog because February and March of 2010 will be make-or-break time for personal choice with legislation pending in both Federal Parliament and in SA as well that will be attempting to take away parent’s rights when it comes to these issues. We will all have a lot of work to do and would appreciate your help and participation.

Woodford day 2 – when the rains came

Well, it started raining last night (after a day of on-again – off-again showers) and hasn’t stopped yet. Every hour or so, the sun will peep out, see what’s happening and then, decide it really doesn’t want to shine after all and down comes the rain.

The upside is that it’s nice and cool. The downside is the mud. EVERYWHERE!

But Aussies are a hardy lot and there are people walking around throughout this enormous venue – even at this early hour – with gumboots and clear plastic rain ponchos and everyone is smiling! If this keeps up for 40 days and 40 nights, we might see a few disgruntled faces. But right now, everyone is just dealing with what is here and enjoying it greatly.

Ken and I went for a wander yesterday when the stalls were just getting set up and it was great to see the huge number of organic food places. We pretty well finished off the food in our esky last night (we weren’t sure that anything would be open until today so we came prepared) but this morning, it will be hot organic coffee, organic croissants and hopefully, if we can find them, some organic or free range eggs too. Getting hungry yet?

Today from 4:45 PM until 6:00 PM there will be a forum on Optimal Health Strategies. It is being coordinated by Dr Carole Hungerford, author of Good Health in the 21st Century. I have seen her speak before and she is fantastic. I will be taking part in this forum along with Kathryn Alexander who wrote Get a Life and who is a Gerson practitioner dealing with cancer issues, Catherine Mercer from the Art of Healing magazine, and others. It promises to be a very exciting and informative hour and fifteen minutes – I hope to see some of you there.

This morning, venue permitting (some of these look like they may be outdoors so who knows if they will be moved or cancelled?), I am looking forward to checking out the Crystal Bowl Meditation with Raelene Byrne (I have heard a lot about this but never actually ‘heard’ it) and the Shakespeare shorts from Romeo and Juliet – must be like a Reader’s Digest version of the play? All the good bits without any of the fillers?

And just before the forum, also at the Blue Lotus, Mukti is going to be presenting a Love Your Skin – Healthy Solutions seminar which I would love to go to. I love natural skincare and Mukti has been doing this for a long time and I’m sure she will have a lot to share. Maybe I can get her to condense some of this into an article for our January or March edition? I’ll let you know.

In any case, my stomach is telling me it’s time to stop typing and go and find food. I hope you all have a lovely, blessed day and don’t forget, if you are at Woodford, please drop into the Blue Lotus and say hi!

Woodford Folk Festival – first day

First morning at Woodford Folk Festival. We all arrived here yesterday afternoon right after the gates opened and got checked into Tent City.

This is an area they have set up for the performers (well, I’m not really a performer, but speakers are considered to be performers for the purpose of accommodation ☺).

It is (in this area, at least) composed of 2-man (or woman) tents with stretcher cots, soft flooring a small covered annex out front and – most important since Woodford is known for lots of rain over the Christmas period – tarps over the top to keep it all dry.

Fell asleep last night lulled by the distant sound of a group playing what sounded like Klezmer music. Tonight, the rest of the performers will be here and I think it will probably get a good deal noisier (all night doof from what I’ve heard from others) so though we may be bopping – I don’t think we will be sleeping much but I don’t think we will be sleeping much but it’s an experience I have relished the idea of for some time and I plan on enjoying every hot, rainy, dusty, muddy (depending on the minute we’re in at the time) moment of it.

I will be speaking here three times – twice on forums and once – a solo talk on the Swine Flu vaccination campaign including information on the recent recalls of vaccines and the huge amount of waste engendered by the fact that the governments of the world just do not seem to be able to convince people that this vaccine is either safe, necessary or effective. What a shame – NOT!

If you are planning on coming to Woodford and would like to drop in and see either the forums or the talk, please do come up and introduce yourself afterwards. I will be speaking at the Medicine Tent and you can see the whole Festival Schedule here.

Look for the Blue Lotus on the schedule (also called the Medicine Tent) to see the timing of all of the health-related speakers including myself. There are some really top speakers and lots of topics covered that will be of interest to anyone who breathes, eats, or has children (I think that just about covers us all!). I would love to see you there!

Who’s coming? Please comment below if you think you might make it.

You get what you pay for

What brought this issue up now?

An email I got last week which has been put into my ‘too hard’ basket but which I really do need to reply to soon.

In part, the person who has written – someone who joined the AVN a couple of years ago at a seminar we held but whose membership has since lapsed, wrote to tell me that she felt that we were turning a lot of people off by charging for information and that everything we do should be provided free of charge.

She wrote, “I believe by having an open door policy and free information for all- (after all shouldn’t this information be there for everyone to access not those who can afford to?) This way, the AVN will not appear to be a minority group ‘brainwashed’ by select information.

And yes, I can see the point. There is no doubt that there are many people out there who would love to get our information but for whom the cost of $25 a year is prohibitive. And yes, they can access our email discussion list, our e-newsletter and our webinars for free, but the magazine and the newsletter have fees attached to them.

What is the answer? I think you would need the Wisdom of Solomon to work this out and trust me, I’m NOT in that league!

We have an organisation with two part time employees, phones, computers, electricity bills, telephone and Internet connection fees, postage and office supplies such as paper, pens, envelopes etc. to pay for. And at this point in time, our memberships are not even covering those expenses. If it weren’t for the few very generous donations that miraculously come out of the blue when we need them the most (those people know who I’m referring to and I thank you from the bottom of my heart), we would not even still be here.

When you look at it on the surface, the government information is free; the booklets you get at your doctor’s office are free. Or are they?

Turn over those glossy brochures and booklets and most likely, you will see something along the lines of – this booklet provided due to the kind support of XYZ pharmaceutical company. Or, for those few pamphlets that are provided by the Australian government, we actually purchased those with our tax dollars, didn’t we? They aren’t really free at all!

So when is free really free? And what is worth paying for?

When free comes with strings attached such as those which require doctors to give out pro-vaccination, drug-company based information – the end cost may actually be far higher than most of us would be willing to pay.

When there is an up-front fee however which enables you to access referenced information that is often analysed by top experts in their field who are independent of drug company influence; when that fee allows the organisation producing that information to continue lobbying and applying pressure so that all of us can preserve our health rights, the cost pales into insignificance.

In a perfect world, our information would be provided free of charge and would be accessible to everyone everywhere. In a perfect world, we would not have to pay bills, buy food, pay for utilities or buy clothing and other necessities. Hell, in a perfect world, the vaccine issue wouldn’t even exist and we could all have fun playing with our children and sleeping in of a morning.

But this is not a perfect world and in our reality today – you really do get what you pay for.