By Joshua Nicholson

As the market is littered with bio-tech’s promising new pill, how do we protect ourselves from unnecessary or harmful medicines? The answer lies not in the realm of biochemistry, but in economics. In order to lower the booming supply of these new drugs, the demand must be decreased.

The doctors of Osteopathic Medicine are doing their part to lower demand for medication. Osteopathy, established in 1847 by M.D. Andrew Still, was founded on the belief that many drugs were toxic and over-prescribed. It could be the practical answer to lowering the demand for drugs.

Gael Decleve, a UC Santa Cruz alumnus who is now a practicing Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) at the Student Health Center, said one of his goals was to “encourage prevention and wellness in order to enhance the body’s own healing mechanisms.” This is something he believes can be done through stress reduction, nutrition, and sleep.

Decleve refers to his practice as complementary rather than “alternative.” He has the option to use medicine when he deems it necessary.

In the pharmaceutical industry, companies frequently introduce new medication. Although there can be benefits, they are often outweighed by the risks the medications can impose. The recall of drugs is a common result.

One of the newest examples of this growing phenomenon is Permax, a popular drug aimed at Pergolide, a form of Parkinson’s disease.

As of Mar. 29, the drug has been taken off the market after 19 years because of its connection with heart valve failure. It is the first and only of four similar Parkinson’s drugs to be pulled from the market.

Many patients are unaware of the difference between M.D.s and D.O.s when treated, yet with a different approach to medicine, D.O.s can often reveal something different.

D.O. Gael Decleve recently saw student Fabian Rivera, third-year Health Science major, at the UCSC Student Health Center. Rivera described the doctor as more personal and open to listening to what he had to say.

“He also invested more time in giving me advice on natural home remedies, something I was not accustomed to,” Rivera said. “He definitely took a different approach in how he looked at my symptoms, and how he treated them as well.”

This is not to say that a variety of remedies does not exist, as M.D. Catherine Sonquist Forest explained. Though not a D.O., she believes that patients are over-prescribed, but describes the “pressures being both external and internal to prescribe drugs when they are perhaps unnecessary.”

One of those pressures comes from the patients themselves. Sonquist Forsest explains that students want “a quick fix for everything,” which usually means they want to be prescribed medicine.

Also an alumnus of UCSC, Sonquist Forest said she had “not even heard about D.O. training as a student,” but often sought out osteopathic training in conjunction with her training as an M.D.

One of the tenets of Osteopathic Medicine, as stated on their website, is that the body has the potential to make all substances necessary to ensure its health and that no medical approach can exceed the efficacy of the body’s natural defense systems. Therefore, teaching the patient to care for his or her own health and to prevent disease is part of a physician’s responsibility.

However, it is a responsibility not exclusive to osteopathic doctors.