Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pickpockets & Quacks Are Interested in Your Dog

The answer to veterinary billing chicanery is not homeopathic quackery, anymore than the antidote to drowning in the ocean is to willfully die of thirst in the desert.

As I have noted in the past, the American Animal Hospital Association is an organization set up to institutionalize grifting in the veterinary field.

AAHA not only writes vaccine and other health care "guidelines" while pocketing massive donations from the folks that manufacturer them, they also sell those vaccines, drugs, and devices directly to veterinarians.

In a 2010 post entitled Payola, Pushers and Profits in the Vet Business I note that:

AAHA sets the guidelines that tell both veterinarians and the lay public how often a dog or cat should be vaccinated, how diabetes in pets should be managed, whether dogs and cats should have routine dental cleaning, and what level of expensive testing and intervention is appropriate for a geriatric dog or cat.

Think about that.

Is AAHA a disinterested party? They are not!

AAHA itself directly profits when goods and services are purchased through its MarketLink web site.

Sales are sales, after all, and so long as the prescribed medicines or tests do not kill a dog or cat too quickly or too often, junk billing promoted by AAHA benefits AAHA directly.

Of course it also benefits AAHA's financial patrons, the pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Abbott, and the medical testing companies and kit-makers, such as Idexx and Heska.

Of course the gravy train does not end there, does it?

The veterinary hospitals also profit when medically unnecessary goods and services are pushed to a gullible public, and of course vets and clinics also profit when they pocket jaw-dropping profits from direct sales of medicines and services that they themselves prescribe.

Some business model!

So who loses?

Well a few hundred thousand dogs and cats lose their lives every year due to autoimmune diseases and cancers triggered by over-vaccination.

Mostly, however, it's consumers who lose when they pay out billions of dollars a year for unnecessary veterinary goods and services.

The obvious ethical conflicts that exist between veterinary hopitals, vets, drug companies and veterinary trade associations are considered "business as usual" in the world of dog and cat care.

If a human doctor over-vaccinated and over-prescribed meds and services like most vets do, lawyers would be camping in their waiting rooms to serve them legal papers.

Over at Dogs Naturally magazine, they have caught up to the fact that many vets are still pushing medically unnecessary vaccines for the profits to be pocketed from bunko billing.

What they have missed, however, is the fact that AAHA is a direct bulk sales outlet and direct profiteer from the nonsense vaccine protocols that they themselves have created and promulgated.

Of course, not all vets are crooks, and at least some are brave enough to stand up and speak out.  One example is veterinarian Patty Khuly who, in a March 2014 Veterinary Practice News “Offleash ” column notes that:

[The veterinarian] track record on vaccination policies is embarrassing. According to some vaccine manufacturers, including Dr. Mark Kimsey senior brand manager for canine biologicals (vaccines) with Boehringer Ingelheim a full 60 percent of us (veterinarians) are still vaccinating our patients annually in spite of long standing evidence-based recommendations to the contrary.

At the risk of incurring the 60 percent’s wrath, I say it’s high time we abandon our protectionist’s ways with respect to vaccination protocols and accept that vaccinating annually makes us look like turnip-trucking idiots who care more about our bottom line than our patient’s well being.

I don’t care why you are doing it -- whether it’s because you think you won’t get your patients in every year or because AAHA and the AVMA give you a wink and a nod in the name of “veterinary discretion” (for shame!) -- you should just stop doing it already. It makes us all look stupid when we ignore reams of evidence just because it is expedient to do so.

Stupid?  No, it does not make veterinarians look stupid.  It makes them look like liars and profiteers. The folks who look stupid are the customers who are easily herded into paying for medically unnecessary goods and services sold at ridiculous prices even as they ignore the solid reporting that is all around them that tells them they are being ripped off by vets.

Of course, not everything is solid science is it?   Take Dogs Naturally magazine.  For the most part, this is a publication targeted at folks who believe in aromatherapy, crystals, and astrology.

For example, if you go to their "ask a Vet" section, you will find they are pushing Homeopathy which they explain "is a 200 year old form of medicine that is both safe and effective."

Complete bullshit.  Wikipedia, at least, gets this one right, noting that:

"Homeopathy lacks biological plausibility and the axioms of homeopathy have been refuted for some time. The postulated mechanisms of action of homeopathic remedies are both scientifically implausible and not physically possible."

In short, homeopathy is an open joke.  

Don't believe that?  Excellent! Put your money where your mouth is, as I am selling Freeze-Dried Homeopathy in Bulk and at considerable savings for readers of this blog. Step right up. Operators are standing by!

The folks at Dogs Naturally tell us they are all about "holistic medicine."

Right.  Another New Age buzz word.  As I noted some time back:

"Holistic"is a philosophy, and as much as I love dogs, I do not think they are much on philosophy. 

I thank God for vaccines, antibiotics, and surgical staplers, and not just for my dogs, but also for myself, my kids, my spouse, and my parents.

The folks who are pushing "alternative medicine" these days are too often engaged in potentially life-threatening quackery. 

For God's sake, if your child is sick with an eye infection do NOT call the aromatherapist to treat the problem!

If you are suffering from internal bleeding, do not go to an acupuncturist!  Do not buy a "healing stone"!

If you have a baby, make sure your child gets all its vaccines, and is fed a normal diet rich in fats to help build the brain.

And YES, please follow this same advice with your dog!

As for homeopathy, the side-car of holistic medicine, if that crap works, James Randi is prepared to give you $1,000,000 if it can be proven in a double-blind test. And yes, he does have the money.

The answer to veterinary billing chicanery is not homeopathic quackery, anymore than the antidote to drowning in the ocean is to willfully die of thirst in the desert.

Use common sense, use the Google, learn to say NO, and learn to be an advocate for yourself and your dog.


PipedreamFarm said...

When using google remember the State Farm Commercial: "they can't put anything on the Internet that isn't true".

For an alternative to google try google scholar.

PBurns said...

MORE than a good point. One of the complaints of the vets is that the homeopathy & aromatherapy crowd create thousands of web sites and hope, to "prove" their nonsense based on repetition.

Of course, with some irony, the same can be said for the veterinary trades, to say nothing of all the breed history and other nonsense you find on the 'net.

One of the core competencies people have to develop in this day and age is an ability to read footnotes, to check sponsorship, to actually go to and read the links, and to otherwise "measure twice and cut once."

And that's true for EVERYTHING!

Garnet said...

Well, I suppose that "Dogs Naturally" is right in saying that homeopathy is safe. Even a cyanide solution is safe if you dilute it until no cyanide is left.

I'm seeing more homeopathic 'remedies' being sold in vet clinics and it makes me want to rip out my hair. Homeopathy makes no sense from either a scientific or common sense perspective.

Pishkeen said...

To be fair, Homeopathy does thoroughly tap into the placebo effect; a boon to hypochondriacs everywhere.