Aviva Romm, Big Farma shill

pills and multivitamins

Why is it that in the world of “alternative” medicine (aka quackery), shilling for Big Pharma is viewed as the ultimate disqualification by aficionados, but those same people simultaneously turn a blind eye to shilling for Big Farma (herbs and supplements)?

Indeed, as Aviva Romm, MD demonstrates, one of the most effective tactics in shilling for Big Farma is criticizing Big Pharma. Romm, former homebirth midwife, and current herbalist and functional “medicine” physician, is a walking, talking financial conflict of interest. She monetizes fear of Big Pharma to shill for Big Farma.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Romm monetizes fear of Big Pharma to shill for Big Farma.[/pullquote]

Consider her recent piece on The Pill. It is a blatant attempt to criticize a competitor with a superior product in order to profit from less effective (or even ineffective) products in which Romm has a financial stake. It’s also absolute nonsense.

Romm writes on her Facebook page:

But the risks of The Pill, in my opinion as a midwife and medical doctor, have since been sugar coated by medicine and pharma.

Sugar coated? Really, Aviva?

I left this comment on her Facebook post:

This is the package insert.

Please tell us which risks have been sugar coated?

Romm did what quacks always do. She deleted the post. Why? Because the insert shows quite clearly that Romm is lying and she can’t let the truth get in the way of shilling for her products.

Let’s look at what Big Pharma has to say on the package insert about the risks of The Pill:

Oral contraceptives should not be used in women who currently have the following conditions:
Thrombophlebitis or thromboembolic disorders
A past history of deep vein thrombophlebitis or thromboembolic disorders
Known thrombophilic conditions
Cerebral vascular or coronary artery disease (current or history)
Valvular heart disease with complications
Persistent blood pressure values of ≥ 160 mm Hg systolic or ≥ 100 mg Hg diastolic96
Diabetes with vascular involvement
Headaches with focal neurological symptoms
Major surgery with prolonged immobilization
Known or suspected carcinoma of the breast
Carcinoma of the endometrium or other known or suspected estrogen-dependent neoplasia
Undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding
Cholestatic jaundice of pregnancy or jaundice with prior pill use
Acute or chronic hepatocellular disease with abnormal liver function
Hepatic adenomas or carcinomas
Known or suspected pregnancy
Hypersensitivity to any component of this product

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular events from combination oral contraceptive use. This risk increases with age, particularly in women over 35 years of age, and with the number of cigarettes smoked. For this reason, combination oral contraceptives …  should not be used by women who are over 35 years of age and smoke.

Does that sound to you like a company hiding the risks of their product? Me, neither.

But wait! There’s more. The package insert provides detailed information on specific risks and side effects including:

  • Depression
  • Weigh gain and metabolic syndrome
  • Blood clots and related risk of death
  • Post pill side effects
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular risks

Romm claims:

In medicine there’s a concept called informed consent, meaning that your health-care provider is supposed to give you information on the benefits and the risks of the option that he/she is recommending, as well as all the other existing options. You can’t truly have informed consent if you don’t have the whole picture. When it comes to oral contraception (aka the birth control pill or the Pill), the truth is that we have not gotten the whole story.

Which risks are they supposedly hiding:

  • Depression
  • Weigh gain and metabolic syndrome
  • Blood clots and related risk of death
  • Post pill side effects
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular risks

Wait! Are these the exact same risks included on the package insert? Yes, they are. So Romm is flat out lying when she says that doctors and Big Pharma don’t warn women of risks and side effects. Indeed the package insert has many more risks than Romm’s critique, including liver tumors, eye effects, gall bladder disease and ectopic pregnancy.

And when it comes to side effects, Big Pharma has disclosed far more than Romm, including:

The following adverse reactions have been reported in patients receiving oral contraceptives and are believed to be drug-related:
Gastrointestinal symptoms (such as abdominal cramps and bloating)
Breakthrough bleeding
Change in menstrual flow
Temporary infertility after discontinuation of treatment
Melasma which may persist
Breast changes: tenderness, enlargement, secretion
Change in weight (increase or decrease)
Change in cervical erosion and secretion
Diminution in lactation when given immediately postpartum
Cholestatic jaundice
Allergic reaction, including rash, urticaria, angioedema
Mental depression
Reduced tolerance to carbohydrates
Vaginal candidiasis
Change in corneal curvature (steepening)
Intolerance to contact lenses

Why did Romm lie and then remove my comment in an attempt to prevent readers from finding out that she lied? Because she’s shilling for Big Farma and the products from which she profits.

Changing to a low inflammatory diet, getting the nutrients your body needs, healing your microbiome, and supporting your body’s detox pathways can all be helpful with the gynecologic, inflammatory, and blood-sugar-imbalance conditions that I have discussed here. Stress can also have a tremendous impact on your cycle, via its effects on the HPA axis and the rest of your stress response system. My latest book is about the adrenals and thyroid, but what many women don’t realize is that these are intricately linked to your reproductive health – as well as your mood, your blood sugar, and how you manage inflammation. Read more in The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution.

For pain associated with endometriosis, read this article for info on how to take a natural approach. For a natural approach to PCOS, you’ll find help here. Herbs and nutritional supplements can also be highly effective in the treatment of heavy and painful menstrual periods. Download a free infographic with my top remedies by clicking here.

In other words, she provides you with the FREE list of  products from which SHE profits. How generous … NOT!

Medicine has been dealing for years with the insidious efforts of Big Pharma attempting to create financial incentives for physicians to prescribe their products. Over 30 years ago, Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital, where I did my internship and residency, led the way in banning any and all Pharma gifts to physicians. Residents weren’t even allowed to accept pens or free pizza (a traditional Big Pharma gift to doctors in training).

In the intervening years many other hospitals and medical schools followed suit. Medical journals began to require disclosure of financial conflicts of interest. Financial conflicts of interest don’t necessarily invalidate scientific research, but they can still have subtle effects on researchers’ judgments and readers of their scientific papers deserve to know about these conflicts.

Sadly, in alternative medicine, financial conflicts of interest aren’t merely allowed; they are positively celebrated. Indeed, in my view, there is no better sign of quackery than an eponymous webstore for herbs, supplements and other products and a purveyor who drums up fear of Big Pharma products in order to sell Big Farma products … like Aviva Romm.