Over the past six weeks I have thoroughly enjoyed CNN’s new program Chasing Life with Sanjay Gupta.  For those who haven’t seen it, the premise of the show, as Dr. Gupta states from the outset, is to find the secrets to living life “longer, fuller and happier.”

Gupta travels the world tapping into traditions and alternative medicinal methods that non-Americans contend contribute to their long, happy and healthy lives.

For example, the most recent episode Gupta traveled to Turkey.  There, among other stories, he highlighted a physician who utilized bees in his practice.  One man with ALS, an always fatal disease – often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”, arrived at the physician’s office in obvious discomfort unable to clench his fists.

The ALS gentlemen would be assisted to a table, where he laid down on his stomach shirtless.  His physician deliberately positioned bees, using tweezers, across the patient’s back.  The patient was stung at least a dozen times.

Gupta inquired about the practice, and the physician shared that bee venom has long been known an an anti-inflammatory and that he had successfully treated men and women with bee venom for years.

After the bee stings, the ALS gentlemen proudly showed Gupta how he could clench both fists, with a huge smile on his face.

On a different episode, Gupta traveled to Norway and shared in the Norwegian tradition of extreme cold-water exposure, which Norwegian’s claim strengthens the immune system and jump-starts dopamine production in the brain.

Another episode, Gupta traveled to Liguria, Italy, said to have the longest-living population in the world.  There he met with a 94-year-old barista – who still goes to work everyday – seeking out his secrets to a long and full life.

The Italian credited his long, healthy life to their fresh food and produce, a daily 4 oz glass of locally made red wine, constant walking throughout the day and nearly every meal with their family, including extended family.   The interview took place with his 91 and 98-year-old brother seated nearby.

One thing that appears already conclusive is that Gupta will not be visiting anywhere in the United States along his journey of health.

In fact, in Turkey, he visited Afyonkarahisarh.  Afyon means “opium”.  Afyonkarahisar produces 25% of the world’s opium according to Gupta, yet has nearly zero opiate addiction issues.  Where does the vast, overwhelming majority of opium go?  Yes, the United States.

Gupta subtly touches on the reliance the US has on the pharmaceutical drug industry throughout many of his episodes, and never in a flattering way.  Clearly, Gupta is motivated to find alternative ways to healing, outside of Western medicine.

Unfortunately, the juxtaposition between Gupta’s discovery of natural healing and western culture could not be in greater contrast when at commercial break Humira claims “sponsorship” of the show.

Humira started out as a Crohn’s disease drug.  Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition of the bowel.  However, most recently I have started to see that the conditions Humira is prescribed (and marketed) for have broadened to skin conditions and even arthritis.  I wonder if anyone on Humira ever listens to the warnings during the commercials?  Such as “lymphoma” and “cancer”.

I must say having been impressed thus far with Gupta’s show, I am not at all impressed by their sponsors.

We have blogged about the rising problems with Humira in the past.  The FDA label warns of all sorts of conditions that have been associated with Humira, including “serious infections leading to hospitalization and death” as well as “lymphoma and other malignancies, some fatal…”.  See the Humira FDA approved label here.

Moreover, Humira, is part of a class of drugs known as TNF blockers, (such as Embrel).  Among the Humira label includes the following warning, “Post-marketing cases of acute and chronic leukemia have been reported in association with TNF-blocker use in RA and other indications.”

Humira is AbbVie’s number one drug.  In fact Humira is the world’s best selling drug.  Last year AbbVie made $18.9 billion off of Humira.

Humira is dangerous and the risks associated with the drug seem to clearly outweigh the benefits.

Gupta has embarked on an excellent series that just may be able to have positive impact on Americans lives and health, but Gupta should insist that his sponsors embrace and embody the same healthy living mantra that he is so avidly trying to seek and find throughout the world.  To start, he should insist Humira be canned as a sponsor.