It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Good Business: Treatments and the Courage to Feel Better

I may not be on any prescription drugs for my rheumatoid arthritis, but that does not mean I don’t take pills (LOL).  I take a lot of pills, and I don’t even take as many pills now as I used to early on in my treatment!  When I started participating in the RA study, I was just able to take one pill at a time with a lot of water (ok, so it was really soda).  Now, as I am sure many of you can relate, I can take handfuls of pills at once with minimal water to wash it down. 

If you look closely you will see one prescription bottle there on the left.  That is Synthroid for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a common condition for those with not only gluten-sensitivity and celiac, but rheumatoid arthritis, as well.  I have tried to get away from the Synthroid, but my doctor says that it is a necessary evil, that in my particular case, pills are my best option.  By the way, this is the same doctor who has been treating me successfully for my rheumatoid arthritis without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. 

Reading the news or looking online, you will see that there is a lot of controversy over the efficacy of supplements.  I admit that over the years,  I have wondered whether all these pills were really making any difference.  Feeling foolish that I may just be taking a bunch of sugar pills (or worse), I have gone as far as half-kidding-half-demanding that my doctor level with me and tell me if my pills are the “real” stuff.  He has always assured me that they were, but to be quite honest, whether they are real or placebo, really doesn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things.  The fact that I feel better when I take them makes it all worth it, even if it is all just a part of the “placebo effect.”  I just don’t like looking like a clueless dork raving about magic pills that are actually just sugar.  I would just like to know that it IS in fact sugar that I am praising.

All joking aside, I do believe that my pills are straight, because I haven’t always been very good at taking them and I definitely feel a difference when I go without them for some time.  I hate taking them.  There are so many, and I would rather not be dependent on them, but,  you do what you need to do to feel better, and that is the point to my post. 

“It’s Just Good Business.”

Lord Cutler Beckett, Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End

Autoimmune disease is extremely complicated so it stands to reason that treatment is as well.  Unfortunately, our health care system is not set up with autoimmune disease in mind.  The current system is heavily influenced by pharmaceutical companies who have a business to run.  In many cases, we are lucky to have medicines that will keep us alive when otherwise we would die, but autoimmune disease is not generally a death sentence.  Drugs  may help patients with autoimmune disease, but they are not designed with consideration to the causes behind autoimmune disease, nor  for how the disease affects the entire body.  From a business stand-point, this is very smart.  By isolating a condition from the rest of the body and not treating the causes, they keep patients dependent on more and more of their drugs.  According to, “The pharmaceutical market for arthritis generated $15.9 billion in revenues in 2008.”   Abbot Labs, makers of Humira  raked in $4.5 billion alone.  Not too shabby if you ask me.  Let me not forget all of us who invest in pharmaceutical companies to fund our retirement.  We would hate for anything bad to happen to our investment, so we must keep investing in their products.  After all, the industry is a very safe, albeit lucrative bet.  As long as there are sick people, there will be a market for drugs.  It is just all around good business.

I won’t say that the health care system is ideal or even ethical, but I am not opposed to drugs when they help.  I am however, opposed to keeping a closed mind about treatment options.  I am living proof that drugs are not the end all to treatment and that high quality nutraceutical supplements DO work, despite what drug company sponsored organizations will tell you.  There are many things (in addition to or instead of drugs)  that can help improve our condition, if we are open to trying them.  Attitude is everything.  You are much more likely to get favorable results when you believe in what you are doing.  If you believe the treatment will fail before you even begin, then it’s likely it will.  This is true for ANY treatment, pharm-based or not.

 I am not saying to go and stop taking your drugs, that is something you need to take up with your doctor, but I am saying that it could be possible to eventually go away from them or at the very least, reduce your dependence on them.  That is a possibility. Learn all that you can about your disease and don’t ever stop, even when you think you know it all.  There is always something more to know.  And, always consider your source and their agenda.  I cannot stress that enough.  In my research, the majority of information designed for rheumatoid arthritis patients is sponsored by at least one drug company.   That may be a harmless fact if all you want is information on symptoms of the disease.  However, if you are desperate for answers on different treatment options or have questions about diet, you must keep the agenda of the drug company in mind.  Remember, it is not personal, just good business.  There is no incentive to promote anything outside their products.  That could  hurt their bottom line.  That is not criticism, that’s is Econ. 101. 

Finding a combination of treatments that are right for you, with or without perscriptions, is tricky. It requires diligence, bravery, and patience, but it can be done.  We simply cannot give up or give in.  The quality of our lives depends on it….

I have a lot more to say on the subject of patient empowerment, so consider this the first in the series.  I will be supplying resources momentarily, but have run out of time for right now.  I welcome your comments and questions…..


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christine Thornton
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 23:59:15

    Excellent excellent excellent Patrice!
    So well said!
    I really needed to read this today- my experience yesterday shook me a bit. & I still had a mild hangover affect from it today. I know that my Rheum is definately not the right physician for me- I actually knew it a while ago…I attempted to discuss alternative tx, nutrition, vitamins etc (& he laughed and said “u don’t believe in that nonsense do u?”. I let it go, brushed it off. Mostly because I didn’t want to deal w it and I thought I could still work w him but just do my own thing holistically on the side. That is not how it is meant to be. This is a lesson for me- that’s y it was difficult. U have given me some signs to help get me firmly back on track! I feel empowered once again after reading your blog and Im really looking forward to ur future blogs. I so wish we lived in the same city!


  2. Jessica Clark
    Sep 19, 2010 @ 16:41:42

    I too do not take any prescription drugs for my rheumatoid arthritis. I do take a ton of vitamins. I do take a few prescription drugs for a few other things, but I am cutting back on them. I take something for my Adhd, and RLS. My arthritis doctor is amazing. When I walked into his clinic after going to a few others that wanted to Immediately put me on Methotrexate, just because I have a few symptoms. I said no thank you and walked out. I am currently going to the Seattle Arthritis clinic with no hope, in major pain, an in a major depression. They have a nutritionist from Bastyr and 2 different psychologist. When I walked out my doctor said I can do this, I don’t need to take any of the major drugs needed for RA or Arthritis. I must get sleep, and reduce Stress. I had already realized that my diet was part of the problem. By the time I had found my doctor I had done so much research and I noticed a major connection with Gluten and Sugar and Dairy. I had already cut them out. But now I am just trying to find some good recipes that work for me, and hopefully I can convince my family that they are good to. I still need to get myself in the pool a few days a week, and I am supposed to have an hour to myself. But we are still working on this. My RLS is so much better, I was never entering the R.E.M. Stage. So my body would never get rest, in-turn my joints were inflamed pretty much all the time. I have also had to cut out coffee too, which is something that will aggravate everything. Keep up the good work Patrice. I am very interested in everything you have been through and are working towards. You have my support, as a fellow RA sufferer.


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