Despite the riots, as we begin to heal the wounds of mortal, political combat and enjoy these brief moments of reconciliation, now might be an opportune moment to express gratitude when your “adversaries” get it right. Whether you hail from the left, the right or in between, we can all recognize that the platforms of all political perspectives carry some truth. The time is now to give credit where credit is due.
Precision Medicine Initiative
In our political myopia, discussions about Obamacare has overshadowed a far important healthcare initiative authored by President Obama. I refer here to the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), which has irrevocably and positively shifted healthcare paradigms for all time. Obama’s PMI has officially sanctioned and endorsed Precision Medicine and its many related technologies such as genomics and functional medicine. His greatest legacy will not be Obamacare. His greatest legacy will be the PMI which has opened the door to technologies which promise to end much of the chronic disease and disability that plagues Humanity as well as greatly increasing and possibly doubling lifespans.
Precision Medicine is an approach to healthcare which precisely defines the underlying genetic and biochemical causes of all chronic medical and psychiatric illnesses. The Initiative is a clarion call intended to awaken a healthcare system which is mired in wasteful and ineffective paradigms. It promotes a vision of healthcare that is far safer, more effective, simpler and less expensive.
As political enemies hail the President-elect and call for everyone to give Trump a chance to “Make America Great Again,” and as Trump supporters celebrate, let us take pause for a moment to realize that America’s greatest obstacle to greatness is not only about an imperfect economic and political system. America ranks as one the sickest countries in the world (see chart below), near the top of the world in rates of depression, anxiety and alcoholism by recent World Health Organization’s estimates (http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/estimates/en/index2.html ).
The sicker America becomes, the harder it will be to achieve prosperity. How can we hope to be “great again” if we can’t care for our veterans and addict many millions of children to cocaine-like, prescription medications such as Ritalin and “speed” (amphetamines) for AD/HD? Cancer rates continue to escalate and at least 50% of the world’s pharmaceuticals and 80% of the world’s opioids, as well as a lion’s share of illicit substances in the world, are consumed by Americans.
|Overall||Depression||Anxiety||Alcohol & Drug Use|
In the past several decades, medical and psychiatric disabilities have skyrocketed in the United States and have essentially replaced welfare (http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/ ). For instance, in Hale County, Alabama, nearly 1 in 4 working-age adults is on disability. The number of former workers on disability has accelerated dramatically (see graph below) and these
individuals are not counted in the unemployment statistics. Just about any chronic medical or psychiatric issue can be used to make the case for disability which is a double whammy to prosperity. First of all, relatively few Americans return to the workforce once they are on disability, making them a tax burden for the rest of their lives to the American economy. Secondly, once on disability, they no longer contribute to the prosperity which is dependent on the contributions of all working adults.
I want to see America become great again, but how does this happen if our greatest resource and treasure, the very bodies and brains of Americans, are being trashed, in part because our healthcare system is an abysmal failure in the treatment of chronic medical and psychiatric disorders? Are we expected to load up on stimulants in the morning, keep it together during the day with antidepressants and fall asleep at night with sedatives, in order to push our economy to higher levels of achievement? And if we still can’t cope with life or the battering drug advertisements in the media, do we add alcohol, tobacco and illicit but soon-to-be-legalized chemicals to the garbage in our medicine cabinet? Not to mention the statins for our high fat diets, purple pills for indigestion and blood pressure meds for those who have never heard of the words “meditation” or exercise.
What better way to honor our best and bravest on this Veterans Day, than to acknowledge the President and progressives for promoting a healthcare vision that promises to heal such wounds. As a veteran commits suicide every hour, often with the very psychotropic drugs they are prescribed, while we lament that they wait in line for healthcare that is falsely assumed to be effective if it were only better funded, and as we, the most drugged people on the planet muddle through their lives lamenting or celebrating Trump’s victory, allow me to suggest that our healthcare crisis is far greater than the mere issue of who or who does not have insurance or access to care. Our healthcare system is lethal, the most expensive in the world, and the epitome of barbarity when compared to the Precision Medicine technologies envisioned by Obama.
Depending on how you interpret the medical literature, deaths due to medication which is properly prescribed and administered, is at least the 4th leading cause of death in the US, driving malpractice rates through the stratosphere. The yearly rates of severe drug reactions numbers in the millions in the US. The case can be made that deaths rates due to prescribed drugs even tops cancer and is only superseded by the king of all mortality, cardiovascular disease. Most of this disappears when simple technologies envisioned by the President and progressives becomes the accepted standard of healthcare.
For instance, consider one tiny fragment of such technologies promoted by the Precision Medicine Initiative which will change the lives of billions of human beings. Pharmacogenomics or PGx laboratory testing predicts which medications are broken down by one’s unique genetic makeup too quickly, thus preventing the medication from having its intended therapeutic effect. PGx also predicts which medications are metabolized too slowly, causing that medication and its toxic metabolites to build up to very high levels, leading to severe drug reactions or death. PGx entails merely an assessment of about a dozen of our 22,000 genes. Imagine what happens when the PM Initiative is fully realized and the testing of the entire genome in every person on the planet is commonplace. Widespread PGx testing is optimistically a few decades away, but someday when the testing of the whole genome on everyone becomes commonplace, the prediction above of a doubling of human lifespans begins to appear rather conservative.
Our political truce won’t last long, especially given the wounds we have endured in what is perhaps the most contentious American election in US history. Now that we have come up for air, and discussions of Obama’s legacy are surfacing, allow me again to assert that the Precision Medicine Initiative will by far be his greatest. Allow me to express gratitude to progressives for your greatest talent and gift to humanity, your capacity to point us towards radically new visions that border on utopian. You have opened the door to a paradigm of healthcare which will dwarf all advances in medicine for all time. I am eternally grateful to President Obama and all progressives for officially endorsing Precision Medicine as the medicine of the future.
We can make America great again, because we can make America healthy again. Now we face the hard work of making President Obama’s greatest legacy a reality.