Stephen Barrett, The AMA & Wikipedia’s Assault Against Chiropractic
Richard Gale and Gary Null
Progressive Radio Network, April 3, 2019
Ever since its inception in the 1890s, Chiropractic medicine has been falsely charged by the medical establishment as pseudoscience and quackery. This is the version of the story Wikipedia distorts and propagates. Chiropractic is one of the largest entries for any natural medical modality in the online encyclopedia. With 225 cherry-picked citations, the lead paragraph infers Chiropractic was founded upon “pseudoscientific ideas.” Fringe, militant Skeptic editors control the Wikipedia page and determined to make note that the American Medical Association, at the height of its crusade against non-conventional medical practices under the ruthless fanaticism of its chief editor Morris Fishbein, labeled Chiropractic as an “unscientific cult.”Those were Chiropractic’s darker days; however the AMA was found guilty by a federal court for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. Chiropractors were exonerated and their medical art became a legitimate therapy. Other bothersome activities the AMA has been involved with include:
A 1943 Supreme Court ruling against the AMA for preventing prepaid group medical plans in favor of a strict fee-for-service system.
Its internal Department of Investigation tasked with intelligence gathering of alternative health physicians curing diseases by means the AMA opposes
A covert effort through the AMA’s Department of Investigation to disseminate a book discrediting Chiropractic under the disguise of being by a independent author.
Launched systematic programs to enlist state and county medical societies to wage a war against Chiropractic and teach anti-Chiropractic lessons throughout the nation’s school system.
Found guilty in 2001 for supporting a consortium of HMOs to deny medically necessary treatments, systematically delaying payments and bundling claims.
Over the years the AMA has opposed social legislation such as child labor laws, Social Security benefits, a minimum wage, the forty-hour week, Medicare and Medicaid, and compulsory reporting of communicable diseases
Supported efforts to launch mass nationwide X-ray screening for TB and the use of tobacco to “soothe their throats.”
Consistent support for industry-connected candidates to head federal health agencies
Nevertheless, contingents within the pharmaceutical complex, pro-industry organizations such as Stephen Barrett’s National Council Against Health Fraud, and the growing influence in Skepticism’s “religion” of scientism have never forgiven the Supreme Court’s decision.
In the past, we have reached out to the major Chiropractic associations to inquire about their success and failures in making Wikipedia’s entry more balanced and truthful. Categorically, they have confronted enormous obstacles. Jimmy Wales and his Skeptic editors are seemingly resolute to continue condemning Chiropractic and spreading misinformation about the science supporting its efficacy.
Who is ultimately being served by a highly coordinated effort to defame Chiropractic and its successes, and make extraordinary efforts to have it outlawed? Our choice candidate is the pharmaceutical industrial complex and its enablers in the federal health agencies.
Dr. Stephen Barrett, founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud and Quackwatch, has been awarded almost divine status in the Skeptic movement for his endless pursuit in discrediting Chiropractic and practically every other system of alternative medicine for nearly five decades. He has described himself and his fellow Quackbusters as “guerrillas” against the natural health professions. As we reported earlier, Barrett has also been fully immersed in the interests of the pro-industry institutions and the darker hegemonic enterprises of the American Medical Association to dominate all medical practice in the United States. These organizations include the American Council on Health and Science (ACHS) which continues to carry the mantle of receiving corporate donations towhitewash public perceptions of tobacco, processed sugar, fast food, toxic pesticides and household products, fluoride, genetically modified foods, and all the failures of the pharmaceutical complex. As we noted Barrett held close relationships with ACHS’s founders and serves as its Scientific Advisor, a role he has held for over 40 years.
However, it is Chiropractic that Barrett singled out as his primary adversary throughout his career. In the tradition of Donald Trump, sue anyone and everything he disagrees with, Barrett had a habit of filing lawsuits against chiropractors and other natural health practitioners on counts of fraud and harassing medical boards to carry out investigations with the hope of having licenses revoked. In the case of Dr. Robert Sinaiko in California, his medical license was wrongfully taken away and it was many years before he was completely exonerated.
Barrett equally had a habit of persistently losing cases.
There are very good reasons why individuals such as Barrett would be valuable assets to the pharmaceutical industrial complex. There are also excellent marketing reasons for the medical establishment to disparage Chiropractic and make efforts to make it inaccessible to patients through deceptive nation-wide campaigns. And why, in our opinion, it is so important for Skeptics shilling for Big Pharma to embed themselves as senior editors within Wikipedia.
In 2017, the Los Angeles Times estimated that Chiropractic is a $15 billion industry. That is $15 billion or more out of the pharmaceutical and medical industries’ coffers for prescribing pain medications, bloated and unnecessary diagnostic testing, and surgeries on treatments more cheaply performed by chiropractors. An analysis published in JAMA estimated that Americans spend over $90 billion annually for surgery, doctor visits, X-rays and MRIs and drugs on neck and back injuries alone.
A survey on patient satisfaction published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeuticsfound that 83 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with Chiropractic treatment for their conditions. Whether or not conventional physicians understand the principles behind Chiropractic therapy is less important than the results and the growing demand for this scientifically valid healing modality.
Barrett argues that healthcare programs that refuse to cover Chiropractic services do so because of cost-effectiveness and that conventional medical intervention provides a savings. Our research shows this is utter nonsense, and here is one example.
Sciatica is one of the five most common conditions treated by chiropractors. If you visit any conventional medical website to learn about treatments and costs for sciatica, you will find physical therapy often listed as a first line of treatment, as well as hot and cold therapies and deep tissue massage. Chiropractors already provide these services in addition to musculoskeletal manipulation. In conventional medical settings a patient can be charged as much as $500 for a warm compress and $350 per physical therapy session. In addition you maybe prescribed drugs such as epidural steroid injections costing upwards to $5,000 per year. Other prescribed drugs may include muscle relaxants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs running in the hundreds of dollars. Total costs without health insurance can run a sciatica patient between $20,000 and $50,000 depending upon the sciatica’s severity and up to $90,000 if surgery is performed.
Let us compare conventional sciatica treatment with Chiropractic. In general, a Chiropractic session will cost between $30 and $200, and $65 on average. Most chiropractor clinics offer monthly or seasonal plans reducing costs substantially. Surely, with healthcare out of reach for a growing number of Americans, Chiropractic is a far better and healthier bet for pain relief and treatment. Besides, it is drug-free.
The irony is Quackwatch completely ignores the gross failures of pharmaceutical drugs and a long history of iatrogenic deaths in the dominant medical paradigm it supports. In some cases, such as Wyeth’s pain-killer Duracet, the drug was removed in less than a year due to deaths from liver damage. In addition to warning about the health risks of Vioxx, which cost its maker Merck $4.85 billion in lawsuits, FDA reviewer Dr. David Graham warned of the dangers of Merida, Crestor, Bextra, Accutane and others that were hastily approved by the FDA only to be found life-threatening shortly thereafter. It is no secret that the current opioid epidemic, brought about by the pharmaceutical industry, is one of the leading causes of American deaths. Yet this medical catastrophe remains legal. No physicians have had their medical licenses terminated, and they can continue to profit admirably by indiscriminately over-prescribing these fatal drugs.
As of 2016, there were approximately 77,000 practicing chiropractors (up from 44,000 in 2012) according to the American Chiropractic Association treating over 35 million people annually. Each of the National Football League’s 32 teams employ chiropractors for players’ frequent back and neck problems as well as for overall well-being and performance. After 120 years, Chiropractic has not disappeared; rather it continues to gain popularity. Unlike some of the craziest and most barbaric modern medical practices during this same period of time that have been discontinued – offering cigarettes to hospital patients to relax them before surgery, bariatric surgery, insulin shock therapy, mercury treatment, lobotomy, radium-infused water to stimulate cell activity, etc – Chiropractic has held its own. Therefore Wikipedia Skeptics, Barrett and Quackwatch groups have failed in their efforts to discredit the nation’s largest natural and noninvasive medical system.