Sumter Rabbi Josef Germaine: Drug companies have chokehold on United States


I still have a vivid image of the last day I saw her — lying in bed, her last repose — comatose from a debilitating and agonizing disease and the effects of morphine. What was once a colorful, smiling face was reduced to a skeletal, bilious mask of imminent death. What was once a cheerful, vivacious personality and a sensitive nature was now crossing the threshold to the other side.

I wonder to this day if she heard the whispered words of a devoted nephew.

Years later, I learned from my sister, Lillian, that our Aunt Dorothy had traveled to a doctor in Germany for treatment that might save her from the cancer. The doctor in Germany helped to extend her life. She might have been cured if she had been treated sooner.

Why should anyone be forced to travel to a foreign country for medical treatment? If the United States is reputed to be "the best" in all aspects of scientific and medical research, why should other countries — even Third World countries — surpass us in treating and curing disease?

Pharmaceutical companies maintain a powerful lobby that determines whether the FDA approves, or disapproves, new drugs and treatments. Only artificial, patentable drugs are considered acceptable for patients. Medical supplements from nature cannot be patented.

Pharmaceutical companies cannot make a profit on natural remedies, and lobbyists work hard to ensure that such treatments never receive the coveted FDA stamp of approval. Doctors are obligated to pressure us into accepting expensive chemotherapy agents for cancer. Any physician prescribing alternative treatments is subject to losing his license or even incarceration.

There is a good deal of information proving that clinics in Europe and Mexico have a much higher success rate in treating cancer using herbal, nutritional and supplemental treatments. These treatments are almost always less debilitating than surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Pharmaceutical companies risk the loss of tremendous profits if cancer can be successfully treated outside their sphere of monetary influence. These companies make sure we don't have access to alternative treatment by donating billions of dollars each year to medical schools.

Pharmaceutical bigwigs often sit on the boards of medical schools and influence curriculum and research projects.

I'll leave you with one thought which should help to effect change: It is perfectly legal for anyone to refuse any treatment, even if it means dying. It should also be legal to pursue alternative treatment, even if it isn't in the best financial interests of the pharmaceutical giants.

Why should anyone be compelled to travel to any other country for treatment? Instead, we sacrifice our lives, exposed to the tremendous cost of drugs, to fill the coffers of pharmaceutical companies offering no tangible evidence that their drugs even work.

Rabbi Josef Germaine is a professional lyric tenor who has been a concert recitalist, cantor, vocal coach and rabbi. He received his bachelor's in music and masters degree in Hebrew education. He lives in Sumter and is a member of Temple Sinai. Reach him at