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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Drew Pinsky — known to his television and radio followers as “Dr. Drew” — found himself interviewing censored professionals, learning from their diverse perspectives and realizing the extent to which medical journals and the mainstream media had been compromised.

“I am mind-boggled that the medical literature is adulterated … [and that] the press is completely nonsense now,” Pinsky told Children’s Health Defense (CHD) President Mary Holland on “Good Morning CHD.”

Pinsky, a board-certified internal medicine physician, discussed his evolving perspective on the battle for freedom in medicine and media. He has been involved in both fields for decades — in media, most recently with his “Ask Dr. Drew” podcast.

Pinsky shared his concerns about the marginalization of physician judgment, the mechanization of medicine, the suppression of open discourse and World Health Organization (WHO) overreach, among other topics.

‘I can’t trust anything anywhere’

Pinsky’s perspective on medicine and the media underwent a significant transformation during the pandemic after he began interviewing professionals who had been censored or canceled, including highly published academics, leaders and renowned scientists. While he didn’t always agree with everything they said, Pinsky learned something from each of them, leading him to question the reliability of medical literature and the press.

“I can’t trust anything anywhere,” Pinsky said of his growing skepticism of official narratives since the pandemic. This realization prompted him to continue seeking diverse perspectives and ideas that he would have been “very, very dismissive of” a year or two before.

Citing European philosophers who struggled with the question of how we know what we know, Pinsky emphasized the importance of rational uncertainty in science, as opposed to absolute certainty.

“Certitude is irrational,” he said, “And science is always about evolving and changing and maybe sometimes even having a paradigm shift.”

When the medical literature “started going all in one direction,” Pinsky said he knew something was “terribly, terribly wrong.”

Physicians ‘completely marginalized’

Pinsky said he found it “shocking” to see what was happening in his profession with “everyone being afraid to do their jobs and not putting patients ahead of everything.”

He noted that randomized controlled trials, which have been around for only 75 years, are often insufficiently powered to make the conclusions they attempt to make. Before the rise of these trials, “physician evaluation, physician impression, physician judgment … was everything” in decision-making and training, Pinsky said.

“Our [physicians’] experience has been completely marginalized, which is at the peril of patients,” Pinsky said, calling it “a catastrophe.” He said clinical impression should not be swept aside in the name of evidence-based medicine, as this could lead to wrong treatments and harm to patients.

Pinsky also discussed the importance of off-label medication use, stating that it is a common practice in medicine. “I use off-label medication all day long. I have my entire career,” he said.

Pinsky criticized the notion that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should dictate what medicines physicians can and cannot use, calling the COVID-19-era ban on off-label medicines “literal nonsense.”

Holland and Pinsky discussed the practice of medical boards like those in California that have persecuted doctors for writing exemptions or sharing non-orthodox information about COVID-19 or treatments.

“It’s the licensure version of lawfare,” Pinsky said. “It’s using these institutions that are supposed to protect the public from outrageous, egregious outliers.”

Doctors could be turned into ‘mere box-checkers’

Holland said medicine seems to be moving toward a high level of mechanization, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), paraprofessionals, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and hospitalists.

She asked Pinsky if he shared her impression that this trend was “marginalizing the profession of medicine.”

Pinsky said that early on there was a clear intent to make medicine more efficient and less expensive by putting “paraprofessionals upfront … [having] the right protocols in place [and] clinical pathways” for them to follow.

While acknowledging the potential benefits of this approach, Pinsky warned that it could lead to physicians becoming mere box-checkers, controlled by electronic medical records and their employers.

With this system, if physicians “step out of line, their job is in jeopardy,” he said. “It is a bad situation.”

What about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on medicine, particularly in the context of clinical trials, Holland asked.

Pinsky recounted a conversation with the former president of Eli Lilly, who told him clinical trials were “too expensive” for anyone except Big Pharma companies and that “Nobody can get access to the patients,” Pinsky recalled.

Pinsky also said the “cozy relationship” between regulators and the pharmaceutical industry has to change.”

‘Opioid crisis playbook was identical to COVID’

Pinsky, an addiction specialist, drew parallels between the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in terms of the role played by evangelizing physicians and regulators.

“The opioid crisis playbook was identical to COVID,” he said, explaining that although pharmaceutical companies “blew winds into the sails of the [opioid] mess,” it was the physicians who became evangelists for the idea that pain could be eliminated.

Pinsky recounted how pain medicine became a separate discipline, with physicians partnering with drug companies to spread their message. This led to the adoption of pain as the “fifth vital sign” by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, licensing boards and professional societies.

He criticized the paternalistic decision-making that characterized both the opioid and COVID-19 crises, with regulators and physicians dictating the course of action.

“And then the vaccines had their evangelists and off we went,” he said. “Same exact playbook. Then you get the regulators, then you get the drug companies, and here we go.”

Pinsky said paternalism has become the order of the day. “Whether it’s the bosses over the physicians, whether it’s the regulators, whether it’s the government itself, they are paternalistic as hell,” he said.

‘Bureaucracy run amok’: the threat of WHO overreach 

Holland brought up the issue of the WHO’s proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations and pandemic treaty, which would outsource individual healthcare decisions to the WHO in the event of a future pandemic.

Pinsky pointed out that the secretary-general of the WHO, who would be making these decisions, is not a physician and “not at all trained to make these decisions.”

He emphasized the difficulty of making risk-reward decisions on a massive scale, particularly in the context of adult medicine, and criticized the idea of handing such decisions over to an unelected official.

“You should be so alarmed by this,” Pinsky warned, saying, “It’s bureaucracy run amok.”

Holland mentioned that CHD is working closely with Dr. Meryl Nass’ organization, Door to Freedom, which is focused on the threat posed by the WHO to health and national sovereignty.

Pinsky highlighted another organization, the Sovereignty Coalition, where people can sign a petition to send to their representatives expressing their concerns about the WHO’s overreach.

“Bureaucracy is very dangerous when it decides it knows better how to run your life,” Pinsky said.

As the interview drew to a close, Pinsky reiterated his desire to be helpful, to get to the truth, and to protect physicians and patients.

“I want us to get healthier as a country. I want us to thrive, and I want us to all be free to live our lives as we please and flourish,” he said.

Watch ‘Good Morning CHD’ interview with Dr. Drew: