Radio Interview Michael Cichorski

Duit interview is 23 augustus 2001 uitgezonden op ABC Radio (Australië).

Michael Cichorsky wordt geïnterviewd door Ray Moynihan.

Transcript

Intrdoduction: Asthma pufferAfter years of promoting asthma drugs for the pharmaceutical giant Glaxo, a product manager jumps ship and begins promoting non-drug treatment - an extraordinary defection.

After finding the Buteyko breathing technique subdued his own chronic asthma, the manager resigned from the drug company and set up his own Buteyko clinic.

Guest reporter, the Australian Financial Review's Ray Moynihan, asks why there has been so little research into alternatives to drug treatment of asthma, and examines the research so far into the radical breathing technique.

Ray Moynihan: With an estimated two million Australians diagnosed, and many on life-long medications Asthma is big business for those who sell treatments. Drugs like the ubiquitous puffer generate sales of more than $300 million a year Less well known are alternatives like simple breathing classes, which despite promising early trial results, remain on the margin of Australian medicine. But that may soon be changing - the breathing exercises appear to be winning friends in some unlikely places.

Ray Moynihan: For the past decade Michael Cichorski worked inside Glaxo - the drug company which dominates the market for Asthma medications, two weeks ago he defected.

Ray Moynihan: So no regrets ?.

Michael Cichorski: No regrets Ray no none at all.

Ray Moynihan: How long were you with Glaxo?

Michael Cichorski: Eight and a half years working as a respiratory brand manager looking after some of Australia's most known Asthma medications

Ray Moynihan: The man who marketed Ventolin has just joined an organisation which claims Asthma can be controlled by simply changing breathing patterns.

Ray Moynihan: A big change is coming now.

Michael Cichorski: It certainly is I'm looking forward to working with patients directly. OK nice gentle breaths, that's very good

Ray Moynihan: Cichorski's knowledge of breathing difficulties runs very deep. Not only did he promote Asthma drugs, he took them himself for the better part of twenty years

Michael Cichorski: I was taking steroid medication every day in quite high doses as well and if I had asthma I'd still have to take a reliever medication.

Ray Moynihan narration: Cichorski was becoming increasingly concerned about his own dependence on the very medications he was promoting.

Michael Cichorski: Reading a lot of the literature there is a concern about life long dependency particularly on the steroid medications. Now obviously they are very important medications they are very useful in controlling the inflammation but we know by reading the literature that there are side effects from these medication particularly from long term usage.

Ray Moynihan narration: His reading led to him to breath exercises, which can be learned during five short sessions

Michael Cichorski: During the five days I was doing the course I noticed that I had no symptoms of asthma so I was able to reduce my dependency on the reliever medication and six months down the track I was able to reduce the preventer medication without any recurrence of the asthma. The story now is I'm asthma free and drug free.

Ray Moynihan: So what's happening with the house?

Michael Cichorski: This was my bedroom but we've now turned this into the treatment room for the patients.

Ray Moynihan: Have you started seeing patients yet?

Michael Cichorski: Yes we have and it's been a busy week.

Ray Moynihan: Along side the anecdotes - which are worth little in scientific terms - there is a growing body of hard evidence that simple breathing exercises can reduce medication use to some extent - but the trials so far have been too small to provide conclusive proof. The most recent study was done at Melbourne's Monash University, and it found people improved by learning Buteyko breathing exercises from a video ...

Michael Abramson: People reported fewer symptoms of asthma they required less medication and their quality of life improved but there really wasn't much change in the objective tests of lung function.

Ray Moynihan: One of the mysteries of Buteyko is that people appear to get better, yet show no improvement on the standard tests.

Michael Abramson: Given that for most people with asthma their quality of life is more important for them than what numbers we might measure when we get them to do tests of lung function, I think that's a reasonable argument that it's helping people

Ray Moynihan: The Monash scientists are now investigating exactly how this does help - another mystery for western science. While the Melbourne trial reported no serious side effects with Buteyko, all sides of this debate urge caution about inappropriately reducing medication.

Ray Moynihan: But which level of medication use is appropriate? Should patients be more sceptical about the recommendations of medical experts? After all the companies selling $300 million worth of Asthma drugs annually can be the same companies wining and dining our leading Asthma specialists and funding much of the research which makes or breaks academic careers.

Ray Moynihan: Do you think that the closeness between the profession and industry has perhaps retarded the progress of Buteyko?

Michael Abramson: Oh that's a difficult question it certainly doesn't have the same sort of infrastructure behind it that is offered to the drug trials by the pharmaceutical industry. It has in fact rather difficult to attract funding to do research on the Buteyko method. And the study that we published was in fact done with no external funding.

Ray Moynihan: But at least one major trial is now underway - and it may help discover just how many people might be taking Asthma medications, which they don't really need.

Michael Cichorski: The medications are very important and that was one factor that always impressed me that they provide very good relief and very good control of the symptoms but I always went back to that fundamental problem that if I stopped using the miedications tha asthma would come back.

Ray Moynihan: But as Michael Cichorski knows all too well, until independent sources can rival the pharmaceutical industry's promotional machines, alternatives like Buteyko will continue to run a distant second.

 
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