Death by Medicine

By Gary Null, PhD with Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Carolyn Dean, MD, ND
Paperback: $12.00 • ISBN: 978-1-60766-006-4

Now an Award-Winning Documentary Film – Bonus DVD included with book

Film Festival Awards for Death by Medicine:

Canada Film Festival – Rising Star Award
Honolulu Film Festival – Gold Kahuna Award
Las Vegas Film Festival – Golden Ace Award
Litchfield Hills Film Festival – Extraordinary Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking
Official Best of Fest – Official Best of Fest Award
SkyFest V Festival – Honorable Mention
WorldFest–Houston – Gold Remi Award


The number of people who die each day because of medical errors—physician mistakes, hospital-related illness, and reactions to FDA-approved medications—is the equivalent of six jumbo jets falling out of the sky. More Americans are dying each year at the hands of medicine than all American casualties in WWI and the Civil War combined.

The US national healthcare debate ignores these health statistics, and will not foster the real change necessary to promote safe and natural medical alternatives to toxic prescription drugs and dangerous surgeries. Health insurance costs will continue to rise as long as healthcare reform is manipulated by pharmaceutical companies and other special interests.

The medical environment has become a labyrinth of interlocking corporate, hospital, and governmental boards of directors, infiltrated by the drug companies. Pharmaceutical corporations are paying our legislators, television and radio stations, schools, and news outlets to keep this information from you.

Drug company representatives write about new medicines in glowing articles, which are then signed by physicians who are paid handsomely for their cooperation, though they may not even know the adverse side effects of the drugs they promote. The most toxic substances are often approved first, while milder and more natural alternatives are ignored for financial reasons. And adverse interactions between prescription drugs are largely untested while more Americans take multiple drug combinations, often for medical conditions related to simple vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

In the United States, 30 million pounds of antibiotics are used each year. In hospitals today, the overprescription of antibiotics has encouraged the emergence of superbugs – MRSA staph infections, Clostridium difficile and others. The CDC reported 94,360 serious MRSA infections in 2005. Deaths from C. difficile alone increased over 300% from 1999 to 2004.

It’s Death by Medicine.

Praise for Death by Medicine

“[Presents] compelling evidence that today’s health care system might even cause more harm than good. This fully referenced book reveals high numbers of people who suffer in-hospital adverse reactions to prescribed drugs; are prescribed unnecessary and/or inappropriate antibiotics; receive unnecessary medical and surgical procedures; and are exposed to unnecessary hospitalization. . . . This data makes it evident that the American medical system is one of the leading causes of death and injury in the US.”

William Faloon, Life Extension Foundation

About the Authors

For over thirty years, Gary M. Null, PhD, has been one of the foremost advocates of alternative medicine and nat­ural healing. Dr. Null in award-winning journalist and a New York Times bestselling author, having written over 70 books on nutrition and health. His syndicated radio program, “Natural Living with Gary Null,” is the longest-running health show in America.

A research scientist at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, Martin Feldman, MD, has authored seventy-five peer-reviewed research articles on neurophysiology, clinical neurology, and neurochemistry. Debora Rasio, MD, is a researcher, contributing author, and editor of numerous health-related books and investigative reports, including “Iatrogenic Disease: The Downside of Modern Medicine.” And Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, is the medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association and the author or coauthor of eighteen books, including The Magnesium Miracle and Death by Modern Medicine.

Midwest Book Review:

Death by Medicine is a well argued read for the health care debate that offers a more to the point health care reform idea.”

[Complete review:]

Positive Health Online:

“This authoritative book cites published research demonstrating that the American medicine system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US…”

[Complete review – pdf]

Publishers Weekly:

“…Anyone with a horse in the health care race is sure to be intrigued and provoked.”

Karl Kunkel, ForeWord:

America’s medical system has not only lost its way but has become the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.

That shocking assertion is the premise of this compact but explosive book by Gary Null, an award-winning journalist, public radio host, author of wellness books, and strong proponent of alternative medicine and natural healing.

Null believes the medical field is in serious need of repair; big corporations and the deep-pocketed pharmaceutical industry have effectively hamstrung government agencies and subjugated much of the medical community through threats and financial incentives. The end result? Not only are people not getting the proper care they deserve, they are dying.

In a systematic presentation, the author addresses the plague of needless surgical blunders, negative side effects of corporate drugs, frivolous operations, shameful neglect of the elderly warehoused in rest homes, and research universities’ growing dependency on grant money from big business. All of this is done at the expense of preventive forms of healing. Effective, alternative, and traditional types of care are left out of the loop of money and influence.

“Many complementary healthcare providers are denied publication through the intervention of pharmaceutical companies,” Null writes. “If they or their allopathic colleagues do manage to speak out against corruption in the establishment, they are considered traitors to the medical brotherhood.”

The author makes effective use of headline-grabbing statistics and shocking anecdotal evidence from a wide range of medical sources, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and numerous researchers of note. References and an index are included. The reader learns that 45 million unnecessary and/or inappropriate antibiotics are prescribed annually. About 8.9 million patients are unnecessarily hospitalized each year. Tons of unused drugs are regularly dumped into the water supply, polluting drinking sources.

This book is presented as an expose, as the title suggests, to reveal cracks in the medical institutions that are killing people. The book is meant to outrage, warn, and light a fire under a citizenry the author hopes will demand reform. Do not look for balance, though. This book does not offer the voices of opposing sides of the argument. Refutations from representatives of “big pharma” won’t be found. The author wanted this vehicle to drive home his message. And it certainly does.

“Most Live Lighter readers know there’s something fishy with conventional medicine and so they’ve turned to natural health alternatives. Now with Gary Null’s newest book, Death by Medicine, we have solid proof that today’s medical world needs drastic change.”

[Complete review:]

John Koenig (

Not to be dramatic, but I find myself agreeing with much of what veteran author Null has to say in his “not really that over-the-top” style of writing…. Null pulls no punches; it’s not his style. He feels absolutely certain that the entire medical establishment is now controlled by connected corporate, hospital and government interests, all tied together by drug companies…. Death by Medicine is easy to read and hard to take. Pay attention!

Interview with Deborah Ray:

Health Heroes—People who have forever changed the practice of medicine.

Audio Interview with Gary Null Ph.D.

[Complete interview:]


Death by Medicine: Synopsis

From the award-winning director of Vaccine Nation, The Drugging of our Children, Prescription for Disaster, Gulf War Syndrome: Killing Our Own,  and AIDS, Inc.—comes the latest film of critical social importance:
Death by Medicine.

In this film:

Death by Medicine takes a hard examination at the dominant medical paradigm contributing to America’s health crisis. Based on Gary Null’s groundbreaking book on the hundreds of thousands of injuries and deaths caused by conventional medicine, the documentary looks at the medical industrial complex, the pharmaceutical industry’s usurpation of the nation’s medical schools, research, falsified drug trials, peer-reviewed scientific journals, and the complicity of federal health agencies to permit this to happen. The result is a medical system unfounded on sound science. Why is there a lack of oversight by the government regulatory agencies while private interest lobbyists call the shots for national healthcare? From FDA and FBI raids on cherry farmers to the halls of congress, we witness the hostile attack on the natural health industry. We witness what happens when a mercenary healthcare system and the failures of a just and fair healthcare policy leaves the US as the 37th healthcare system in the world. The result is the American medical system is broken and corrupted by money rather than scientific fact, and the answer is to create a new medical paradigm that addresses the health of people rather than raising of stock prices, careers, and reputations.


Death by Medicine explores the dominant medical paradigm, the current health crisis, and a healthier, more holistic system. Based on Gary Nulls groundbreaking book with statistical evidence of hundreds of thousands of injuries and deaths due to conventional medicine. It looks at the pharmaceutical industry, drug reps, medical schools, medical journals and the absence of real medical science. The lack of oversight by our regulatory agencies, private insurance firms and lobbying influence upon our legislators. The result is the American medical system is broken and it is time to create a new medical paradigm.

1: Introduction

2: Medically Induced Death: The Equivalent of Six Jumbo Jets Falling Out of the Sky Each Day

  • Is American Medicine Working?
  • Health Insurance
  • Underreporting of Iatrogenic Events
  • The First Study of Iatrogenesis
  • Only a Fraction of Medical Errors Are Reported
  • No Improvement in Error Reporting
  • Medical Errors a Global Issue
  • Public Suggestions on Iatrogenesis

3: Problems with Drugs

  • Medication Errors
  • Adverse Drug Reactions
  • Underreporting of Side Effects
  • Medicating Our Feelings
  • Television Diagnosis
  • How Do We Know Drugs Are Safe?
  • Drugs Pollute Our Water Supply
  • Drug Companies Fined

4: Problems with Specific Classes of Drugs

  • Antibiotics
  • Cancer Chemotherapy

5: An Honest Look at the Failures of American Healthcare

  • Unnecessary Surgical Procedures
  • High Mortality Rates
  • Few Medical Procedures Subject to Clinical Trial
  • Surgical Errors Cost $9 Billion
  • Unnecessary X-rays
  • Unnecessary Hospitalization
  • Nosocomial Infections
  • Outpatient Iatrogenesis

6: Women’s Experience in Medicine

  • Hysteria
  • Hysterectomy
  • Cesarean Section

7: Poor Care of the Elderly

  • Bedsores
  • Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
  • Warehousing Our Elders
  • Overmedicating Seniors

8: Medical Ethics and Conflicts of Interest in Scientific Medicine

  • ”More Studies!”

9: Conclusion

  • What Remains to Be Uncovered




From the Introduction

Something is wrong when regulatory agencies pretend that vitamins and nutritional supplements are dangerous. They are not, but some may become so if taken in renegade doses (too high or too low), or if they are contraindicated for your condition, or when taken with certain pharmaceuticals. So always ask your holistic doctor before taking vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other supplements, particularly if you are taking medications. Many in the media, without scientific basis, denigrate the use of supplements, yet these “vitamin critics” ignore published statistics showing that the real hazard is government-sanctioned medicine.

In many respects, however, these regulatory agencies act as their own critics. The government is not blind to its own deficiencies in healthcare delivery. The Institute of Medicine, a part of the United States National Academy of Sciences, states:

Healthcare in the United States is not as safe as it should be. . . . Among the problems that commonly occur during the course of providing healthcare are adverse drug events and improper transfusions, surgical injuries and wrong-site surgery, suicides, restraint-related injuries or death, falls, burns, pressure ulcers, and mistaken patient identities [all of which exact] their cost in human lives.

The Institute of Medicine even refers to “the nation’s epidemic of medical errors,” many of which involve adverse drug reactions (ADRs). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that “ADRs are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in healthcare.” . . .

The irony is that safer (and less expensive) preventive alternatives are often attacked or strategically ridiculed by regulatory powers, even—or perhaps especially—when proven effective. This condescending stance toward alternatives may be fueled by their relative lack of side effects in a competitive marketplace.

From Chapter 2: Medically Induced Death

As little as 5% and no more than 20% of iatrogenic events [doctor-induced illnesses or complications] are ever reported. This implies that if medical errors were completely and accurately reported, we would have an annual iatrogenic death toll much higher than 794,936. [This] figure is equivalent to six jumbo jets falling out of the sky each day.

What we must deduce from this report is that medicine is in need of complete and total reform—from the curriculum in medical schools to protecting patients from excessive medical intervention. It is obvious that we cannot change anything if we are not honest about what needs to be changed. This report simply shows the degree to which change is required.

We are fully aware of what stands in the way of change: powerful pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, along with other powerful groups with enormous vested interests in the business of medicine. They fund medical research, support medical schools and hospitals, and advertise in medical journals. With deep pockets, they entice scientists and academics to support their efforts. Such funding can sway the balance of opinion from professional caution to uncritical acceptance of new therapies and drugs. You have only to look at the people who make up the hospital, medical, and government health advisory boards to see conflicts of interest. . . .

To reach the widest audience possible, drug companies no longer simply target medical doctors with their marketing of antidepressants. By 1995, drug companies had tripled the amount of money allotted to direct advertising of prescription drugs to consumers. The majority of this money is spent on seductive television ads. From 1996 to 2000, spending rose from $791 million to nearly $2.5 billion. This $2.5 billion represents only 15% of the total pharmaceutical advertising budget.

While the drug companies maintain that direct-to-consumer advertising is educational, Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe of the Public Citizen Health Research Group in Washington, DC, argues that the public often is misinformed about these ads.179 People want what they see on television and are told to go to their doctors for a prescription. Doctors in private practice either acquiesce to their patients’ demands for these drugs or spend valuable time trying to talk patients out of unnecessary drugs. . . .

Dr. David Graham of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research warns:

Direct-to-consumer advertising in general is a great disservice to the American people. We see wonderful ads of people demonstrating their health, whether they’re skating across the ice or doing their Tai Chi. Madison Avenue knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, so they convey an image, a message, and it makes an impression on patients and on physicians. It creates needs or desires where there really isn’t a need or a desire.

There was a recent study in the Journal of The American Medical Association that showed that if patients mentioned a drug that they’ve seen on television to their physician they were much more likely to be prescribed that drug by the doctor. Drug companies know this. That’s why they do it. . . . Clearly, direct-to-consumer advertising does not serve the American people well.

From Chapter 7: Poor Care of the Elderly

Dr. Robert Epstein, chief medical officer of Medco Health Solutions Inc. (a unit of Merck & Co.), conducted a study in 2003 of drug trends among the elderly. He found that seniors are going to multiple physicians, getting multiple prescriptions, and using multiple pharmacies. Medco oversees drug-benefit plans for more than 60 million Americans, including 6.3 million seniors who received more than 160 million prescriptions.

According to the study, the average senior receives 25 prescriptions each year. Among those 6.3 million seniors, a total of 7.9 million medication alerts were triggered: less than half that number, 3.4 million, were detected in 1999. About 2.2 million of those alerts indicated excessive dosages unsuitable for seniors, and about 2.4 million alerts indicated clinically inappropriate drugs for the elderly.

Reuters interviewed Kasey Thompson, director of the Center on Patient Safety at the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, who noted: “There are serious and systemic problems with poor continuity of care in the United States.” He says this study represents “the tip of the iceberg” of a national problem.

According to Drug Benefit Trends, the average number of prescriptions dispensed per non-Medicare HMO member per year rose 5.6% from 1999 to 2000, from 7.1 to 7.5 prescriptions. The average number dispensed for Medicare members increased 5.5%, from 18.1 to 19.1 prescriptions. The total number of prescriptions written in the US in 2000 was 2.98 billion, or 10.4 prescriptions for every man, woman, and child.

In a study of 818 residents of residential care facilities for the elderly, 94% were receiving at least one medication at the time of the interview. The average intake of medications was five per resident; the authors noted that many of these drugs were given without a documented diagnosis justifying their use.

Seniors and groups like the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) have accepted allopathic medicine’s overriding assumption that aging and dying in America must be accompanied by drugs in nursing homes and eventual hospitalization. Seniors are given the choice of either high-cost patented drugs or low-cost generic drugs. Drug companies attempt to keep the most expensive drugs on the shelves and suppress access to generic drugs, despite facing stiff fines of hundreds of millions of dollars levied by the federal government. In 2001, some of the world’s largest drug companies were fined a record $871 million for conspiring to increase the price of vitamins.

What if some of these chronic diseases are really lifestyle diseases caused by deficiency of essential nutrients, lack of care, inappropriate medication, overmedication, and isolation? This question is extremely important to consider, yet current AARP recommendations for diet and nutrition assume that seniors are getting all the nutrition they need in an average diet. At most, AARP suggests adding extra calcium and a multivitamin and mineral supplement. We would urge AARP to become more involved in prevention of disease, and not to rely so heavily on drugs. We would like to send the same message to the Hemlock Society, which offers euthanasia options to chronically ill people, especially those in severe pain, who may have become depressed. We must look to healing, lifting pain, releasing depression, instead of cashing in granny’s chips. Let’s also look at the irony of underuse of proper pain medication for patients who really need it.

Ironically, studies do indicate underuse of appropriate pain medication for patients who need it. One study evaluated pain management in a group of 13,625 cancer patients, aged 65 and over, living in nursing homes. While almost 30% of the patients reported pain, more than 25% received no pain-relief medication, 16% received a mild analgesic drug, 32% received a moderate analgesic drug, and 26% received adequate pain-relieving morphine. The authors concluded that older patients and minority patients were more likely to have their pain untreated.

The time has come to set a standard for caring for the vulnerable among us—a standard that goes beyond making sure they are housed and fed, and not openly abused. We must stop looking the other way and we, as a society, must take responsibility for the way in which we deal with those who are unable to care for themselves.

For Immediate Release

February 10, 2010


Fully referenced book provides shocking statistics on unnecessary deaths caused by American medicine.

On Monday, February 8, 2010, Representative John Murtha (D-PA) died of complications from elective gallbladder surgery. There has been much discussion about his death focusing a light on preventable medical errors leading to unnecessary death.

Dr. Gary Null’s DEATH BY MEDICINE provides complete statistics on unnecessary deaths caused by American medicine. Dr. Null and a group of researchers have meticulously reviewed the statistical evidence, and their findings are absolutely shocking. These researchers present compelling evidence that today’s health care system might even cause more harm than good.

The number of people who die because of medical errors—physician mistakes, hospital-related illness, and reactions to FDA-approved medications—is the equivalent of six jumbo jets crashing each day. More Americans are dying each year at the hands of medicine than all American casualties in World War I and the Civil War combined.