MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

I just found this on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter):

We’re delighted to announce the launch of the #BeyondPills All Parliamentary Group in Westminster. Chaired by Danny Kruger MP and co-chaired by Lord Crisp, this new body aims to tackle #overreliance on pills, reducing the number of unnecessary and inappropriate prescriptions.

It turns out that I did not study the website of College of Quackery and Integrated Health as regualarly as I should have. Because there, the launch had been announced some time ago under the title ‘Beyond Pills All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) launches to stop over-prescribing‘:

Now, in December 2023, we have an exciting development to report: the launch of the Beyond Pills All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), in which the Beyond Pills Campaign joins forces with the former APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence. We’re delighted to announce that the APPG’s former Chair, Danny Kruger MP, joins the new Beyond Pills APPG as Chair.

Danny Kruger said of the launch: ‘There is a natural synergy with our objectives and the APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence is a great supporter of social prescribing, which we feel can make a valuable contribution to addressing this public and personal health crisis, both in terms of helping to prevent overprescribing and also to treating people who are suffering from the debilitating symptoms of dependence.’

The Beyond Pills Campaign now becomes a founder member of the Beyond Pills Alliance (BPA), alongside the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry (CEP-UK). Setting up the BPA will, in the near future, give us the opportunity to invite other organisations with a similar goal of reducing overreliance on pills to join the Alliance.

The Beyond Pills APPG has the following Mission and Objectives:
MISSION: To move UK healthcare beyond an over-reliance on pills by combining social prescribing, lifestyle medicine, psychosocial interventions and safe deprescribing. As well as reducing unnecessary and inappropriate prescribing, this integrated approach will improve outcomes and reduce health inequalities.

Elsewhere, Dr. Michael Dixon, who seems to be in charge of the ‘beyond pills’ activities, explained: ‘The Beyond Pills All Party Parliamentary Group heralds a sea change in public perception and medical practice from “a pill for every ill” to recognising that there is so much that we can do for ourselves which will not only help us to heal but also stop us getting ill in the first place.’

Sea change?

Really?

This made me think – and eventually, I respond by writing this short ‘open letter’ to the group:

Dear ‘BEYOND PILLS All Parliamentary Group

please let me begin by stating that I am all in favour of reducing over-prescribing. Who isn’t? The clue is in the name ‘over– prescribing’! Yet, at the same time, I would like to alert you to the fact that your group’s name ‘beyond pills‘ is of questionable merit.

It implies that conventional medicine consits only or predominantly of prescribing pills. My own career as a clinician – long ago now –  was in physical medicine and rehabilitation, a discipline that certainly does not rely on pills. Many other areas of healthcare also do not exclusively rely on pills; take surgery or psychosomatic medicine, for instance. As for the rest of the physicians, they will, no doubt, have learnt in medical school that over-prescribing is wrong, dangerous, and not evidence-based.

By putting ‘beyond pills’ on your banner, you either disclose your ignorance of the facts, or you deliberately undermine trust in conventional medicine. Some less benevolent than I might even get the impression that you employ the ‘strawman fallacy‘ in order to push a hidden agenda.

I hope these lines might motivate you to reconsider and alter the irresponsible name of your initiative – how about ‘evidence-based medicine’?

Sincerely

Edzard Ernst

 

 

PS

In case anyone wants to use my ‘open letter’ on other sites or publication, I herewith grant permission to reproduce it.

4 Responses to My ‘open letter’ to the new ‘BEYOND PILLS’ All Parliamentary Group in Westminster.

  • Count me in.
    As a surgeon specialising in breast cancer I was the first to develop psycho-metric instruments to monitor quality of life
    (QOL) and to train clinical nurse specialist to provide support the patients with anxiety and depression. I considered the act of surgery was the least important of my roles and taught my students that breast cancer was an “event” in the life of a whole person and not the definition of the woman in question. The proponents of SCAM were always decades behind us specialists in their promotion of “holistic” medicine and didn’t even understand the meaning of the word. The root of holistic is holon not whole, and they don’t even know what a holon is.

    • From here:
      https://latin.stackexchange.com/questions/17418/how-is-holon%e1%bd%85%ce%bb%ce%bf%ce%bdphilosophy-word-different-from-whole-in-greek

      this:
      [quote]
      “…The word ὅλον (holon), in Ancient Greek, just means “whole”—specifically the neuter singular nominative or accusative form. It’s a pretty common word and has nothing to do with simultaneously being a part.”
      [end of quote]

      Followed by this:
      [quote]
      “…Arthur Koestler then used the word for a very different meaning in his books, writing in English, millennia later. But this is an English usage, not an Ancient Greek one. It’s somewhat like how the Latin word id just means “it”, not the primal instincts buried in the human psyche, or the Greek word ἤλεκτρον (ēlectron) means “amber” or “electrum”, not a subatomic particle. Taking an Ancient Greek or Latin word and giving it a new, specific, technical meaning is a long and glorious tradition—and it’s generally less confusing than repurposing an English word that the audience will already have in their mental lexicon.
      [end of quote]

    • @Michael Baum
      I think that ‘holistic’ as touted by quacks is best seen as relating to one particular hole. Also see proctophasia.

    • Definitely!

      Can you tell your colleagues in cardiology?

      Following my cardiac, errrrr, events, trying to get anyone in that department to talk about QoL or secondary and tertiary consequences, inevitable life changes and anything other than straight cardiac symptoms has been impossible.

      And yet when I was a baby nurse back in the 80s all the blether was about “holistic” care, which, IME, only ever meant getting us MH types to do a general nurse’s job as well as our own and never, ever the other way around.

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