By Valeria Vera
His soft walk, his warm gaze and his soft voice do not anticipate, less suggest, the disturbing reality that minutes later will come out of his mouth. Nor, the weight of the arguments, the criticisms or the metaphors that he will use when it comes to making transparent a crude industry that he knows in depth and from which - he affirms - no one is exempt.
From her experience, first as a publicist for more than 30 years and now as a homeopathic doctor, Mónica Müller openly denounces, with the support of a difficult-to-find trajectory, the business of laboratories and its specialized professionals: "inventing diseases with object to expand the market until everyone becomes sick. " In addition, it warns of the extreme urgency of becoming aware of "this alarming situation", in order to later be able to decide about one's own body without blindly falling into the medical paternalism that today flies over the system in the midst of crisis.
In an interview with LA NACION, regarding his new book Sana Sana, la industry de la disease, Müller calls for "unlearning what was learned" during childhood to escape the "Great Mandate", that which leads to "appear healthy" or "repressing symptoms" at the cost of producing and consuming; and invites us to regain the confidence that the power to heal resides, many times, in good practices and a healthy life, without remedies involved.
Despite its affinity with the current government, which highlights, for example, the implementation of the Universal Child Allowance and mother-child programs, it holds the State responsible (a trend that is also replicated in other parts of the world) for the absence of strict limits in the face of abuse of the activity of pharmaceutical companies, and the dynamics in which self-medication or the irrational use of antibiotics incur.
"The synergy between the demands of the patient, the fatigue of the doctor and the pressure of the laboratory ends up making any healthy person a sick person and any sick person, a seriously ill person," she emphasizes, convinced by embracing the hypothesis that runs through her research.
- Of the cases of acute poisoning treated in the guards of the country's public hospitals, the second cause after alcohol is drugs. To what do you attribute this irrational use of drugs?
- I always tend to blame the patient because he does what he can and what he is taught to do. Drug advertising is the first thing that I hold responsible for this situation, which has a tremendous effect on people. It leads to if someone is tired, they automatically think of an aspirin. The second cause is free sale: it is part of the same, this transformation of drugs into a consumer product, which is assimilated to a cosmetic or a candy. That is outrageous and it seems natural to us. For me, those responsible are there and not in the public.
- Continuing with the theme, you affirm that "it would be a miracle if people did not consume on their own" ... To what extent does the dissemination of remedies, on a large scale and at all times, feed this practice? Is this phenomenon unstoppable?
- I think it will have to be stopped at some point because the number of deaths caused by this phenomenon is enormous. In Argentina it is not accounted for, but in the United States, where there is a whole discipline dedicated to statistics, it is known that more people die from the ingestion of drugs than from lung diseases, HIV, and even car accidents. It is the fourth leading cause of death. It is a very serious issue.
I guess at some point this has to stop. Now how does it stop, I have no idea. In reality, we are dealing with what, until last year, was the second largest business after weapons. It has reached such a huge point of uncontrol that I don't know how it can be stopped.
For now, it seems to me that palliative measures can be taken, such as no more advertising of drugs or prohibiting the free sale of antibiotics. It is an uncontrolled global problem, as if there is no awareness of it.
- This brings up the alert promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) about the abusive use of antibiotics, which leads to some diseases becoming untreatable ...
- It is what is happening. WHO has been warning for a long time and doctors are noticing it in hospitals. This thing that a banal infection in a knee becomes unstoppable, almost puts us in the situation of the pre-antibiotic era. "It's so easy to create bacteria that are resistant to everything. Antibiotics are great, but misused they're terrible," Fleming said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech upon discovering the first antibiotics, and within a few months, many bacteria were resistant. Today, more and more, that is accelerating, because bacteria are programmed to mutate. When a person takes the wrong antibiotic or for the wrong time, it becomes a laboratory in which germs resistant to everything are produced. And there are already two that are, but luckily they are isolated. If they spread, humanity is over.
- Another side of the same coin is the hypochondriacs ... Does the rhetoric of the industry lead to an increase in this sector of the population?
- Yes. There are also two factors there: one, all this we have been saying, and the other is the Internet. It is inevitable, and at the same time, it is great that there is no more that mystery and medical paternalism that knows everything. But it is also true that paranoia is fueled. The good thing is that the patient inquires and consults. However, there have been people who have felt terrible and have stayed in bed ready to die because they read something on the Internet that they did not fully understand.
- In this context, where does the persuasive power of psychotropic drugs, whose use has spread to unthinkable numbers in Argentina and the world?
- It is tremendous what happens with them. People are even advised and invited not to be sad, face job interviews or successfully sit an exam. There are 100 million people taking anxiolytics in the world and 10% of the population of the United States takes it only with antidepressants. They live plastered. That too has been naturalized.
- No alternatives are sought to be better ...
- Sure, nobody tries. That pill culture was created. Patients call me and they don't tell me what to do, they ask me what it took.
You think about that right away. It seems to me that the role of the doctor should be to see the whole and help the person to get out of a sick situation like this one that I describe. But today, in many cases, the conventional answer lies in prescribing various drugs. This does not imply that doctors are bad, crazy or criminal, associated with laboratories. It happens that they are burned out, out of work, because they work thousands of hours a day, and prepaid or social works usually give them no more than ten minutes for each patient.
- So is it obsolete today to think of the model of the doctor who has time and can dedicate himself fully to his patients?
- Completely obsolete. This doctor is a rare character and he will continue to be. Since prepaid arrived in the health system, health is a consumer product, with the logic of the market. The doctor has to attend 50 patients per day because otherwise he does not accumulate the necessary fees to pay the rent.
- In different fragments of the book you state that in the society in which we live it is frowned upon to be sick and outlines the idea of the "Great Mandate" (the one that leads the person to produce and consume, without resting and fully healing). Do you think it is possible to escape from it, even gradually?
- I think so, because there is a movement of the people, despite all this pressure. All that remains is to incorporate into the awareness of healthy life and physical activity the idea that one can heal in another way, without taking remedies. The premise circulates, but it is not trusted because of the publicity, which tells you: "You are tired, take that."
- What role does having access to rigorous information and being able to decide on one's own body play in this process of "unlearning what has been learned"?
- It seems to me that it is essential because the information we have is biased and limited to advertising and what laboratories do as indirect advertising. That really depends on the State, here and around the world, it is something universal. States are responsible for educating the people. Serious health problems stem from poverty and ignorance. If one could end both, the overall mortality of populations would drop markedly.
THE CRISIS OF THE HEALTH SYSTEM
- What opinion does the government of Cristina Kirchner deserve on this matter? Do you agree with the health policies promoted under your wing?
- Well, it has done very interesting things, such as maternal and child programs, pregnancy controls and medical research on the irrational use of drugs throughout the country. I also highlight the Universal Child Allowance, which is essential because it is the minimum that a person needs to take care of their family. Anyway, there are thousands of things that remain to be done, of course, and I think that rather than thinking about what to invest in, you have to think about where to do it. For example, you have to make more sewers, running water. Only 20% of the population of Misiones have them, which means diarrhea and infant mortality. I would invest in that, not the rotavirus vaccine. Now, if they are not going to do them, give the vaccine, that is the reality. Neither can one be elitist and say: "Don't give the vaccine, just like my baby, nothing happens to him." Because it does happen to the boys from Misiones, like those from Chaco and Santiago del Estero.
-How do you evaluate the current vaccination schedule in the country? Do you think it would be feasible to eventually apply the Japanese model (which adjusts immunization plans with dynamic medical criteria, that is, adapted to the moment)?
- I think it is always possible. Now, I don't know what the reasons are that lead the various ministries of the world to make those decisions, I have no idea. It is very different, in Europe, in the United States, here, in Japan, in Africa. They are very different models of relationships with immunization. There is no single model. This massive herd thing, giving everyone the same ... I don't know ... it is likely that in Argentina it is like that because of the same federalism.
- The application of the law that prohibits the free sale of drugs outside pharmacies caused controversy years ago. For what reasons do you think it did not prosper or did not achieve the expected impact?
- It was a cosmetic change to benefit pharmacies, the public was not benefited at all. It does not matter to go to a kiosk and ask for an aspirin, than to go to a pharmacy and do it. They put everything in the bag and give it to you. What difference is there for people to buy it at the pharmacy than at a gas station or hotel accommodation? It does not matter. So I don't understand what the purpose of that law was.
- Going back to the system and the crisis it is going through, is it possible to speak of health professionals who are not "concessionaires of the pharmaceutical industry"?
- Homeopaths are absolutely independent, that's why I was able to write the book. I do not exist for laboratories or for medical representatives. Something similar happens with naturopathic doctors. The others, to a greater or lesser extent, depend on social welfare and prepaid services. If they work in a hospital, they cannot tell the patient not to take anything. Do not forget the laboratory controls, which look at the recipes that each professional makes and, if not, they call them to ask what happened or for what reasons they did not prescribe such a drug. The pharmaceutical industry rewards money and status. This has always been the case. They pressure you, they control you, it is impossible to be neutral. Doctors cannot become independent from laboratories.