Are Drugs Unnecessary and Uncurative?
Exploring the points raised here in more detail is a worthwhile exercise. If drugs truly “never cured a thing”  then a number of contentions inevitably flow from this position. First, it means that drugs are largely unnecessary and ineffective. In which case, the entire pharmaceutical industry becomes something of a fraud and any alleged healing effects of drugs are really due to the Vis medicatrix naturae,  i.e. the innate self-healing powers. Second, it means that all the metabolic pathway idea about how drugs works is also thrown into doubt. Third, it means we might not even get ill in the way we think, but only occasionally, not when metabolic pathways go wrong, but more when the self-healing powers are diminished in strength. Sickness would then hinge much more upon the varying individual susceptibility that a person manifests through in time, and less upon external disease triggers.
Fourth, it also means that medicine should not so much be about ‘fixing things,’ but about raising the general level of health and thus enhancing the innate self-healing potential of the whole person. This is precisely what the CAM therapies also aim to enhance, such as cold water [hydrotherapy], fasting [diet reform], foot massage [reflexology], saunas, exercise, acupuncture needles, homeopathic remedies, etc.
These aim to stimulate and enhance the innate self-healing powers rather than directly intervening in metabolic pathways to try and eliminate disease, which seems to be the main basis of modern therapeutics. Further, stimulation of the innate healing powers would not constitute intervention as envisaged by modern therapeutics, which seeks not only to control the organism, but also to replace various of its non-functional activities and by so doing engenders increasing forms of medical dependency.
Fifth, if all this is true then it serves as a validation for the comments Hahnemann makes in The Organon about the nature of medicine and the way drugs operate. Sixth, that we should not look for the causes of disease in things external to the patient [such as ‘germs’], but more at those internal aspects of susceptibility and the innate healing powers. Treatment, likewise, should be redirected accordingly. Seventh, there might well be an important emotional, social, psychological context within which all ‘disease’ occurs and concerning episodes of ‘failure’ and loss. In addition, that sickness might therefore have a meaning in relation to the life of the patient and their general sense of purpose in life.
When John Foley says, “only that nerve energy that runs through you and controls every function and autonomic process of your being every second of your life is capable of healing you. No drugs of doctors can do that. We can only facilitate it,”  then he clearly echoes the vitalist views of homeopathy and acupuncture. When he further contends that “drugs, if anything, interfere with that innate ability to heal from within,”  and that mere “covering up symptoms with pharmaceuticals has done little,”  then he inclines towards the claim of homeopaths that drugs not only do not cure but delay healing and complicate disease by suppressing symptoms.
In all the above senses, it strikes me that if “drugs don’t cure a thing,”  then much hard thinking needs to be done in order to more carefully envisage a safer and gentler system of true healing that not only removes and alleviates sickness, but which is at once both health-enhancing and life-enhancing. In the opinion of increasing numbers of clinicians and patients, the answers to these questions do not lie within the domain of molecular medicine, but outside it, in the more ancient ‘sectarian’ healing systems now called CAM.
 Drugs never cured a thing, 14 June 2003, John S. Foley, BMJ e-letter,
 Harris L Coulter, Divided Legacy – the Schism in Medical Thought, Washington: Wehawken Books, 3 Vols. 1973, references are to Volume III: Science and Ethics in American Medicine 1800-1914.
 Richard H Shryock, The Development of Modern Medicine, an Interpretation of the Social and Scientific Factors Involved, Philadelphia: Univ. Pennsylvania Press, 1936
 Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, New York: Basic Books, 1982
 John H Warner, The Therapeutic Perspective: Medical Practice, Knowledge and Identity in America, 1828-1885, Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1986
 William G Rothstein, American Physicians in the Nineteenth Century from Sects to Science, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ Press, 1972
 Roy Porter, For the Benefit of All Mankind – A Medical History of Humanity, New York: Norton, 1998
 Vis Medicatrix Naturae, Andrew Lockie, BMJ e-letter, 9 May 2003