Airborne Grounded

aireborne.jpgThis is an I-told-you-so moment. Or, I told them so, anyway. Nearly everyone in my family and circle of friends seemed to jump head-long – possibly face-first – onto the Airborne Express about a year ago. They told me I needed to quit being so jaded and sardonic when I denigrated the wonders of this revolutionary new cold-remedy.

“It was developed by a 2nd grade teacher!” So many people intoned, breathlessly.

“So WHAT?” I replied, all edgy and flushed. “What does a 2nd grade teacher know about viruses? I don’t even understand them and I’ve suffered prostrate to a PhD in the subject for countless irretrievable months of my life!” I continue to be baffled by how this concept ever took hold among intelligent people. How does that noble profession give anyone some sort of intimate knowledge about the human immune system? My 2nd grade teacher showed masterful control when it came to preventing me from throwing erasers and convincing me to learn “barfiplication” (as I called it). She introduced me to Ronald Regan and the U.S. government. She forced me to spell the same word so many times my hand still quivers when I’m sleeping (I’ll bet if you stuck a pen in my hand in the middle of the night, I’d wake up in the morning with words like “spatula” and “correspondence” written all over my sheets). She did not, as far as I remember, lecture us on the complement cascade or cytokine responses among various white blood cell lines. And, unless she wore a Purell-filled space helmet (my memory dims…it is possible), I bet she got colds as much as the rest of us.

Now the Airborne people just settled a false-advertising class action lawsuit for $23.3 MILLION dollars. Although I still hate the fact that they somehow “owe” people who were gullible and intellectually lazy, I do admit feeling a rush of vindictiveness toward all the supporters of the “product”.

In each generation, there’s a few professions that absolutely make a killing. Somehow, these people haul in gajillions of dollars and people think of them as prestigious and cultured. Then word gets out that they’re making all this money, and lots of people start standing in that money stream using important terms like “ethics” and “quality” and “regulatory oversight”. In previous generations, medicine was the gig to have. Doctors of any specialty (there weren’t many types back then) achieved financial independence with relative ease. They made a fortune. For years, this fact was common knowledge and accepted since doctoring was noble, supposedly altruistic and integral to a functioning society.

In our generation, the “killer job” is no longer medicine. This profession is so regulated and tested, so coded and politicized and overwhelmed with so much governmental and legal oversight it is a shell of what it once was. I barely take care of patients anymore. I take care of charts. Easily 70% of my day is charting and documenting. Patient care is barely 30% and that’s on a day with lots of patient contact. Primary care doctors in particular and many doctors in general, lead a good life, but by no means do they become wealthy. Sure, docs make a high salary, but check out their average debt load. Medical schools are the real winners in that game these days.

snakeman.jpgNo, the place to go for money and a financial climate once found in medicine…is in alternative therapies. The lawyers haven’t shown up yet, neither has the government. Insurance companies are virtually ignoring the whole thing. If you want a good job with reasonable hours, humane training and the chance to actually do what you do rather than just documenting it (“Hi, I’m your doctor today…hold on, let me document that…walked through door, identified pt., introduced self . So, what’s your problem? Wait! Don’t answer that yet, let me get it down), alternative medicine is for you. THESE are the guys driving the BMW’s and chilling on the yachts, people. It ain’t the doctors anymore. We’re still back at the office, fretfully documenting and flying through patients so we can pay off loans and not get sued.

This is why I hate(d) Airborne. It seems like nobody even looked at the damn ingredients. And they never looked at the price tag, either. The stuff costs a fortune! Nobody cared, though. Just kept on buying it, spending tens of millions of dollars.

Colds last an average of 7 days. Throw a bunch of meds at them or ignore them…they last 7 days. You get fevers, you feel like you’re gonna die and, 7 days later, thanks to Airborne, Nyquil, or a surly, dour, tough-as-hell attitude, you miraculously begin to taste, sniff and hear again. Airborne never changed any of this. The “medicine” provided nothing but worthless expense.

In my blogs, you will rarely see me extol the wisdom or righteousness of litigation. In a case like this, I’m particularly unsympathetic. Before you take ANY medicine – from the store or from a doctor – you should read the label and find out about the research behind it. And yes, this is an arduous task. Not for the faint-of-heart. It’s boring, time-consuming and frankly difficult to really learn about a drug. So, should you just listen to some single person – who probably has a financial interest in you buying a product – tell you about how well it works? Should you really believe their story about some drug that is conspiratorially being pooh-poohed by doctors because it isn’t part of the medical establishment? Believe me, there are problems in the pharmaceutical and medical fields, but it is MUCH harder to get a crappy, useless expensive and unsafe drug out in these systems that it is to get it out in the alternative therapy system. The medical system is 1000 times more rigorous when it comes to ensuring efficacy and safety of drugs.

“Buh, buh, no doctor “could” tell me anything about Airborne.” You say. You know why? Because NOBODY knows anything about the drug. The research is scant and what little exists is biased, limited, manipulative and pointless.

At some point, doctors must have gotten greedy. We turned people off somehow because America would rather listen to a commercial – with financial interest in convincing you to buy a product – rather than to an less-biased recommendation from someone who has learned a bit about this kind of thing. Unless the doc was selling that chimeric bio-junk, you won’t find one on the entire planet that would honestly tell you to use Airborne.

snake2.jpgFinally, Airborne has changed their label to say that it “boosts the immune system”. It said that before – and you will see this claim in tons of alternative therapy meds – but this is now the main description of what it does. Puh-leeeze. Any 2nd grade teacher could tell you that there should be a bit more thinking about this claim before you buy into it. What does “boost” the immune system even mean? Does the pill cause your bone marrow to secrete more immune cells? Let’s hope not…that’s called leukemia. Does it make your immune cells more active? Again, let’s hope not since an over-active immune system is the culprit behind diabetes type 1, multiple sclerosis, parkinsons ds, rheumatoid arthritis, crohns ds, irritable bowel syndrome and asthma (to name just a few).

People are making a fortune from sick people by touting poorly-tested chemicals as wonder drugs. It makes me sad for those who are sick. It makes me angry that the world trusts these people more than doctors; that it harasses and regulates them less. Airborne wasn’t developed by a 2nd grade teacher. It was a marketing campaign thought up by a business team with one single mindset: making money.

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