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December 29, 2009

WHO chief yet to be vaccinated against swine flu
GENEVA (AFP) - World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan revealed Tuesday that she has yet to be vaccinated against the swine flu virus, which has killed over 11,500 people world-wide.
Read AFP news report at yahoo.com
Comment: Given that over six months have passed since Chan raised the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to 6 and claimed the world was at the start of an influenza pandemic, the fact that she has thus far chosen not to be vaccinated speaks volumes. The United States Centers for Disease Control has estimated that an average of 36,000 people die in the U.S. alone each year from seasonal flu. As such, with the number of deaths worldwide from swine flu still standing at less than one third of this figure, it can be seen that the swine flu virus is relatively mild – a fact that Chan is clearly aware of.

December 23, 2009

Pfizer Unit Loses Bid to Dismiss British Columbia Drug Suit
Pfizer Inc.’s Wyeth unit failed to persuade a British Columbia appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the menopause drug Premarin caused breast cancer. A three-member panel of the British Columbia Court of Appeal on Dec. 21 upheld a trial judge’s decision allowing the group lawsuit to go ahead. Wyeth’s U.S. and Canadian units were sued in 2006 by Dianna Stanway, of Sechelt, British Columbia. Stanway claimed she developed breast cancer as a result of taking Premarin, in combination with another drug, progestin.
Read article at bloomberg.com

December 20, 2009

Thalidomide victims to get compensation
The British government said it will give $32.3 million to a trust intended to help those individuals whose lives were impacted by thalidomide. Sky News online said Sunday the Department of Trust funds will be dispersed during three-year period to the Thalidomide Trust with the intent of 463 surviving thalidomide victims in the United Kingdom. Thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women in the United Kingdom during the 1960s and '70s. The drug, intended to curb morning sickness and insomnia, caused children to be born with limb deformities and other conditions.
Read news report on the United Press International (UPI) website

December 20, 2009

Drug giant uses libel law to 'gag' doctor over safety
Drug firm GE Healthcare is using libel laws to prevent a Danish radiologist from repeating claims about its response to rare but potentially fatal risks in one of its products. The British subsidiary of American giant General Electric has taken legal action to prevent Henrik Thomsen from recounting his investigations into the possible side-effects of the drug. It is reported to have spent £380,000 so far in legal costs pursuing the action, prompted by a presentation he gave to other leading radiologists. Dr Thomsen said some kidney patients at the hospital where he works in Copenhagen contracted a potentially deadly condition after being administered the drug Omniscan in 2006.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

December 17, 2009

Advisers on Vaccines Often Have Conflicts, Report Says
WASHINGTON — A new report finds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a poor job of screening medical experts for financial conflicts when it hired them to advise the agency on vaccine safety, officials said Thursday. Most of the experts who served on advisory panels in 2007 to evaluate vaccines for flu and cervical cancer had potential conflicts that were never resolved, the report said. Some were legally barred from considering the issues but did so anyway. In the report, expected to be released Friday, Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that the centers failed nearly every time to ensure that the experts adequately filled out forms confirming they were not being paid by companies with an interest in their decisions.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

December 16, 2009

Pfizer Doesn’t Want You To See This Video
Why? The big drugmaker Pfizer says the video, which discusses its Prempro and Premarin menopause treatments and is posted on YouTube, is misleading and aimed at swaying potential jurors in future trials over the pills. So Pfizer asked a judge to order its removal, Bloomberg News reports. The 5-minute video was posted by plaintiffs’ lawyers who recently won $78 million in damages in a Pennsylvania trial, but Pfizer argues the video violates state legal-ethics rules and threatens the integrity of pending cases, Pfizer attorneys wrote in a Common Pleas Court filing in Philadelphia, according to the news service.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: To watch the video that Pfizer doesn’t want you to see, click here.

December 15, 2009

Scientist addresses global 'swine flu conspiracy'
A British epidemiologist said on Tuesday he was worried by close links between World Health Organization (WHO) officials and pharmaceutical companies over swine flu. Recent Danish media reports alleged that the WHO, which on June 11 declared swine flu a pandemic, has teamed up with pharmaceutical companies to create a scare and cash in on selling a remedy. In an interview with Russia's BFM.ru, Tom Jefferson, a scientist currently based in Rome, said that although he personally did not believe in plots, "I am a bit worried about what I have observed." He said WHO expert committees have "people with extensive ties to the industry or decision-makers who have explicitly kept on producing apocalyptic forecasts year in, year out."
Read article on the RIA Novosti website (Russia)

December 15, 2009

Antidepressants linked to increased stroke risk
MIddle-aged women who take antidepressants are at an increased risk of stroke, a major study has found. A large study of women who have been through the menopause found those taking antidepressants were 45 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than those of the same age not on the medicines. The research also found that overall death rates were 32 per cent higher in women on the drugs.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

December 14, 2009

Glaxo Said to Have Paid $1 Billion in Paxil Suits
GlaxoSmithKline Plc has paid almost $1 billion to resolve lawsuits over Paxil since it introduced the antidepressant in 1993, including about $390 million for suicides or attempted suicides said to be linked to the drug, according to court records and people familiar with the cases. As part of the total, Glaxo, the U.K.’s largest drugmaker, so far has paid $200 million to settle Paxil addiction and birth-defect cases and $400 million to end antitrust, fraud and design claims, according to the people and court records.
Read article at bloomberg.com

December 11, 2009

Merck loses effort to dismiss 24 Fosamax cases
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Manhattan federal judge has rejected Merck & Co's effort to dismiss 24 cases alleging that its Fosamax drug treatment for osteoporosis causes jaw damage. In an opinion released Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Keenan ruled that the plaintiffs could introduce testimony by two doctors to show that the drug can cause jaw damage after less than three years of continuous use. Keenan said the evidence is sufficiently reliable to allow a rational jury to establish such a connection.
Read article in the Montreal Gazette (Canada)

December 9, 2009

GAO: FDA yet to make safety changes post-Vioxx
The Food and Drug Administration still hasn't restructured its staff to better monitor drug safety, more than three years after experts recommended key changes in the wake of the Vioxx scandal. That's according to congressional investigators who found that the FDA has yet to follow through on changes suggested in 2006 to help the agency detect problems with drugs taken by millions of Americans. Those recommendations came after the embarrassing and dangerous episode with Vioxx, a blockbuster pain drug the FDA approved in 1999, only to pull from the market in 2004 after linking it to heart attack and stroke.
Read article at physorg.com

December 9, 2009

An exclusive interview with Dr. Barbara Starfield: Medically Caused Death in America
On July 26, 2000, the US medical community received a titanic shock to the system, when one of its most respected and honored public-health experts, Dr. Barbara Starfield, revealed her findings on healthcare in America. The landmark Starfield study, “Is US health really the best in the world?”, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, came to the conclusion that the medical system is the third leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease and cancer. The Starfield study is the most explosive revelation about modern healthcare in America ever published.
Read Jon Rappoport's interview with Dr. Barbara Starfield at jonrappoport.wordpress.com

December 4, 2009

Yale Issues Faculty Reminder About Ghostwriting
The ghostwriting controversy that has embroiled drugmakers (see here and here) is threatening to engulf universities, some of which are already under the microscope for failing to manage conflicts of interest involving academic researcheres. Now Yale University’s School of Medicine is issuing a reminder to its faculty to avoid the practice. The step comes shortly after the Senate Finance Committee, which has spearheaded numerous investigations into the drug and device industries, wrote 10 top medical schools to ask what they’re doing about the issue.
Read article at pharmalot.com

December 4, 2009

Depacon, Depakote Pregnancy Warning Updated Regarding Birth Defect Risk
The FDA is updating the warning for the antimigraine and antiepileptic drug valproate sodium and related drugs, which include Depacon, Depakote, Depakene and Stavzor. Use during pregnancy can cause neural tube defects and other major birth defects. The agency released information for healthcare professionals on December 3, alerting them that women of childbearing age should be informed that the use of these drugs could cause a wide variety of birth defects.
Read article at aboutlawsuits.com (USA)

December 3, 2009

Canada’s Medical Assn Chided For Pfizer CME Funds
The Canadian Medical Association is being criticized for agreeing to accept $78,000 in funding from Pfizer’s Canadian subsidiary to create continuing medical education programs.
Read article at pharmalot.com

December 3, 2009

FDA Urged To Ban Abbott’s Meridia Diet Pill
Public Citizen has written the agency to urge an outright ban, citing preliminary results from the 10,000-patient SCOUT study called that showed a slightly higher risk of heart attack, stroke and death in patients taking Meridia compared with a placebo.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 30, 2009

European Regulators And Their Conflicts Of Interest
Given the ongoing controversy over conflicts of interest involving the pharmaceutical industry, a group of researchers sought to gauge the extent to which this may be a problem among European regulators - specifically, the Irish Medicines Board, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the United Kingdom and the European Medicines Agency in the European Union.
And so they examined three issues - What are the policies and procedures within each agency for dealing with conflicts of interest? Is there COI between senior people employed by these agencies and people in their key advisory committees and the pharmaceutical industry? Is information about employees’ and advisers’ COI made public? Their findings, which were published in Social Science & Medicine, suggests there is reason for concern. They concluded that, “notwithstanding significant variations in policy and procedure, the approach to COI in the IMB, MHRA and EMEA is one of management rather than prohibition. In all three agencies, close interaction between experts and the pharmaceutical industry is taken-for-granted and therefore allowable…
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 25, 2009

Preemption Is Alive And Well In Michigan
Three Michigan women blame a pair of Novartis drugs - Aredia and Zometa - for causing their osteonecrosis, which is the death of jaw-bone tissue. But a federal appeals court has ruled they can’t proceed with their lawsuits because Michigan law bars most product liability claims. The word for this is preemption. Preemption, you may recall, is the notion that FDA approval of a drug supercedes state law claims challenging safety, efficacy, or labeling.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 24, 2009

Superstar CBS Reporter Blows the Lid Off the Swine Flu Media Hype and Hysteria
Sharyl Attkisson is the investigative reporter behind the groundbreaking CBS News study that found H1N1 flu cases are NOT as prevalent as feared. In fact, they’re barely on the radar screen. How did this startling information come about, and why is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) painting a different picture entirely?
Read article at foodconsumer.org
Comment: Sharyl Attkisson is an award-winning CBS News correspondent and investigative reporter. According to her CBS News study, the vast majority of the “swine flu” cases diagnosed by U.S. physicians were not actually flu at all. For example, in Florida, 83 percent of specimens that were presumed to be swine flu were negative for all flu when tested. Similarly, in California, 86 percent of suspected H1N1 specimens were not swine flu or any flu; only 2 percent were confirmed swine flu. And in Alaska, 93 percent of suspected swine flu specimens were negative for all flu types; only 1 percent was H1N1 flu.

November 24, 2009

Vioxx risks could have been identified years earlier
Studies showed substantial cardiovascular dangers linked to the anti-inflammatory medication almost four years before it was taken off the market, new research finds.
Read article in the Los Angeles Times (USA)
Comment: In testimony presented to the United States Senate Committee on Finance, Dr. David J. Graham (Associate Director for Science and Medicine in the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety) estimated that between 88,000 to 139,000 excess cases of heart attack had been caused by Vioxx in the U.S. alone, and that, of these, around 30-40% of the patients had probably died. To learn more about this scandal, click here.

November 23, 2009

Another Loss for Pfizer in Drug Suits
Pfizer has been ordered to pay a total of $103 million in punitive damages to two women who were found to have breast cancer after they used hormonal drugs, state court officials in Philadelphia said Monday. A jury reached a $28 million judgment in one of the women’s cases on Monday, while a judge unsealed a month-old $75 million judgment in the other case. The earlier finding of punitive damages had been sealed to avoid prejudicing the second jury in the same courthouse.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)
Comment: Lawyers say that at least 1,500 other product liability suits have been filed over the hormone drugs in the Philadelphia court and a total of more than 10,000 in the United States overall.

November 19, 2009

Few Universities File Conflict Of Interest Reports
Few universities file required reports to the National Institutes of Health about financial conflicts held by their researchers, and even when such conflicts are reported, universities rarely require researchers to eliminate or reduce conflicts, The New York Times reports. The paper writes that a report showing that 90 percent of universities relied solely on researchers to decide whether the money they made in consulting and other relationships with drug and device makers was relevant to their government-financed research (here is the report). Moreover, half of universities don’t ask faculty members to disclose the amount of money or stock made from drug and device makers, and so the report concludes the potential for extensive conflicts with their government-financed research is often known only to the researchers themselves, the Times writes.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 19, 2009

AstraZeneca Judge to Urge Return of Seroquel Cases to Courts
AstraZeneca Plc may face as many 6,000 trials of lawsuits claiming its antipsychotic drug Seroquel causes diabetes after a judge said she will recommend sending the cases back to their home courts. U.S. District Judge Anne Conway in Orlando, Florida, who is overseeing pre-trial proceedings in federal Seroquel litigation, said yesterday she’ll urge a panel of judges to return all of the cases to courts across the U.S. for possible trials.
Read article at bloomberg.com

November 19, 2009

Canada Reviews Pfizer Exec Named To Health Board
Canada’s Health Committee plans to review the controversial appointment of a Pfizer exec to the board of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the government agency that oversees health research in Canada, The Tyee reports. Bernard Prigent, Pfizer Canada’s medical director, was appointed last month to the CIHR’s governing council (see here). Last month, CIHR president Alain Beaudet said that he hopes to create closer ties with industry to ensure involvement and investment, but the move has stirred concerns since the organization is responsible for allocating research funding across the country, the paper writes. “There’s no place in our scientific organizations like CIHR for a drug company official,” NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis, tells The Tyee. “It’s shocking that this government appointed the vice president of the biggest brand name drug company in the world, to the board of the CIHR which is supposed to be a body of independents and scientific endeavors free from any ties to industry at all.”
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 16, 2009

Government wants right to detain sick people
Health authorities want the power to detain people for up to three months if they refuse testing or treatment for infectious diseases. Under draft legislation proposed by the State Government, someone with swine flu, measles or meningococcal disease could be forcibly held, examined and treated.
Read article from The Advertiser at adelaideNow.com.au (Australia)
Comment: The South Australian state’s proposed Public Health Bill would also give authorities the power to override parents who refused orthodox drug treatment for their children with infectious conditions. Moreover, the new powers would come with a substantial increase in fines - up from $60,000 to $1 million and 10 years' jail. Other diseases that could be declared under the bill include AIDS, polio, rabies, salmonella and cholera, and even non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

November 16, 2009

Genentech Puts Words In The Mouths Of Politicians
If some Congressional statements about health care from Republicans and Democrats sounded similar, there was a good reason. Remarks by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, The New York Times reports. E-mail messages obtained by the paper show that lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans. And the lobbyists, which were employed by Genentech and two Washington law firms, succeeded in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress. Genentech, which is now owned entirely by Roche, tells the paper that 42 House members picked up some of its verbiage — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, to be exact.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 15, 2009

British thalidomide victims may get funds
British victims of thalidomide, an anti-morning sickness drug, may soon receive an average of $30,000 from the government, the health minister said. The government is still considering its settlement for the 460 remaining victims whose mothers took the drug in the 1950s and 1960s, which would include a public apology for its role in authorizing the drug, the Times of London reported Sunday. The persons affected by the drug were born with brain damage or deformed arms and legs and are now facing mounting medical and living costs as they age and they must cope with the unnatural stresses on their bodies, the newspaper reported.
Read news report on the United Press International (UPI) website

November 15, 2009

Drug Makers Raise Prices in Face of Health Care Reform
Even as drug makers promise to support Washington’s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years. In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

November 14, 2009

South Korean Teenager Jumps From Apartment Window After Taking Tamiflu
A South Korean teenager who took Tamiflu, an antiviral drug, leaped from an apartment window after suffering from auditory hallucination, China's Xinhua news agency said citing a local media report on Saturday.
Read article on the website of the Malaysian National News Agency

November 12, 2009

Dementia drug use 'killing many'
Needless use of anti-psychotic drugs is widespread in dementia care and contributes to the death of many patients, an official review suggests.
Read article on the BBC News website (UK)

November 11, 2009

Review: Reports on Pfizer drug studies misleading
Analysis of a dozen published studies testing possible new uses for a Pfizer Inc. epilepsy drug found that reporting of the results was often fudged, indicating the medicine worked better than internal company documents showed. According to the report, when a company-funded study's primary finding wasn't favorable, that result was usually buried and something else positive was highlighted, without disclosing the switch.
Read article at physorg.com

November 10, 2009

Drugs to treat anemia in cancer patients linked to thromboembolism
Medications frequently given to cancer patients to reduce their risk of anemia are associated with an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, according to new research led by Dawn Hershman, M.D, M.S., co-director of the breast cancer program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. The findings will be published online on Nov. 10, 2009 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (ahead of the Dec. 2, 2009 print edition).
Read article at physorg.com

November 7, 2009

Many Italian physicians reject swine flu vaccine
Italian family physicians refuse to prescribe the A/H1N1 vaccine for their patients, claiming that the risks of the vaccine outweigh its benefits. Latest figures revealed that swine flu has infected more than 540,000 individuals, claiming the lives of 30 in Italy. The country has ordered some 48 million doses of the A/H1N1 vaccine, enough to immunize 24 million of its population, and plans to start a mass vaccination program in the coming weeks. Italian media outlets have, however, claimed that many of these vaccines would be useless as the majority of Italians including the Deputy Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio and the Mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno have decided against vaccination. According to a recent survey conducted, six out of every ten Italian family physicians do not prescribe the A/H1N1 vaccine for their patients particularly those with heart diseases.
Read article on the Press TV website (Iran)

November 5, 2009

Pfizer Must Pay $75M In Damages Over Prempro
The punitive damages will go to an Illinois woman, Connie Barton, who developed cancer after taking Prempro, Bloomberg reports, although the amount was sealed last week by a Pennsyvlania state court judge until another trial begins. A jury also awarded her $3.7 million in compensatory damages after finding the conduct of Pfizer’s Wyeth was “willful and wanton” in marketing and selling the drug.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 4, 2009

Most Academic Researchers Have Industry Ties
The ongoing controversy over conflicts of interest among academic researchers with ties to drug or device makers prompted a little more research. And the results? A mailed survey of 3,080 academic life science researchers at 50 universities in 2007 found that 52.8 percent have some form of relationship with industry within the previous three years, according to Health Affairs. More specifically, 31.8 percent reported serving as consultants; 23.8 percent were paid speakers; 20.1 percent received research funding from industry as a principal investigator, and 17.7 percent were members of scientific advisory boards.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 3, 2009

Patents On Genes Can Be Challenged, Court Rules
A federal district court ruled today that patients and scientists can challenge patents on human genes in court. And the move allows a lawsuit challenging patents on two human genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer to move forward, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which filed the suit. In a statement, the groups say the filed their suit because the patents are “illegal and restrict both scientific research and patients’ access to medical care.” They also charge that patents on human genes violate the First Amendment and patent law because genes are “products of nature.” “We hope this challenge is the beginning of the end to patents on genes, which limit scientific research, learning and the free flow of information,” Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group, says in the statement. “No one should be able to patent a part of the human body.”
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: Currently, there is global competition between multinational companies to patent the genes of human beings and other living creatures. The aim is to subsume ‘life’ into the private property of these company groups. If these monstrous plans are not halted, then in the near future the big pharmaceutical companies will appropriate the organs of the human body as their ‘possessions’.

November 1, 2009

Poll finds Swiss reluctant over swine flu jab
Most Swiss do not want to be inoculated against the swine flu virus, despite the government's recommendations, a survey has revealed. The poll in the SonntagsBlick newspaper published on Sunday showed that 86.4 per cent of those asked were against having a preventative jab.
Read article on the news and information website of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) at swissinfo.ch (Switzerland)

October 31, 2009

Study cites concerns over Amgen drugs
A new study raises fresh safety concerns about widely used anemia medicines, finding that the drug Aranesp nearly doubled the risk of stroke in people with diabetes and chronic kidney problems who are not yet sick enough to need dialysis.
Read article in the Ventura County Star (USA)

October 30, 2009

15 States Sue Amgen Over Alleged Kickback Plot
The New York Attorney General’s office announced Friday that New York and 14 other states will sue biotech giant Amgen Inc for allegedly rewarding medical providers with kickbacks if they helped to boost sales of anemia drug Aranesp.
Read article at foxbusiness.com (USA)

October 29, 2009

Pregnant women risk early delivery from using psychiatric medication
Women with a history of depression who used psychiatric medicine during pregnancy have triple the odds of delivering a premature baby. The odds triple for premature child delivery pregnant women with a history of depression who used psychiatric medication, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Washington, University of Michigan and Michigan State University found that a combination of medication use and depression -- either before or during pregnancy -- was strongly linked to delivery before 35 weeks' gestation.
Read article at physorg.com

October 29, 2009

Tysabri Is Now Linked To Four Deaths: EMEA
The patients died of a deadly brain infection known as PML, and 24 cases of the disease have been diagnosed since Tysabri was reintroduced to the market in 2006, the European Medicines Agency told Bloomberg News.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 27, 2009

Compromised Care: Psychotropic drugs given to nursing home patients without cause
Frail and vulnerable residents of nursing homes throughout Illinois are being dosed with powerful psychotropic drugs, leading to tremors, dangerous lethargy and a higher risk of harmful falls or even death, a Tribune investigation has found. Thousands of elderly and disabled people have been affected, many of them drugged without their consent or without a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis that would justify treatment, state and federal inspection reports show.
Read article in the Chicago Tribune (USA)

October 27, 2009

Hefty Side Effect For Kids On Antipsychotics
Study finds troubling weight gains in children taking brand-name psychiatric drugs.
A new study is likely to add to the furious debate over the rapid rise in the prescription of heavy-duty antipsychotic drugs to children. It found that kids' weight balloons by 10 to 19 pounds in just the first three months on the drugs, often leading to worrisome elevations of cholesterol, triglycerides and other metabolic parameters.
Read article at forbes.com
Comment: The causing of significant weight increases in children is by no means the only side effect associated with antipsychotics. In older patients with diabetes, for example, the drugs are known to be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for hyperglycemia, whilst giving them to Alzheimer's patients in care homes has been shown to double their chances of dying.

October 27, 2009

Boy rushed to hospital after swine flu jab
The safety of Northern Ireland’s swine flu vaccination programme was called into question today by the parent of a young special needs pupil who ended up in hospital just hours after getting the jab. Anne Marie Fletcher said she feared her 15-year-old son Rhys was going to die as she rushed him to hospital less than 24 hours after receiving the swine flu vaccine. The teenager fell seriously ill after receiving the injection, along with thousands of other pupils across Northern Ireland last Friday. He was later diagnosed with swine flu.
Read article in the Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland/UK)

October 26, 2009

GAO: FDA fails to follow up on unproven drugs
WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration has allowed drugs for cancer and other diseases to stay on the market even when follow-up studies showed they didn't extend patients' lives, say congressional investigators. A report due out Monday from the Government Accountability Office also shows that the FDA has never pulled a drug off the market due to a lack of required follow-up about its actual benefits - even when such information is more than a decade overdue.
Read article in the Washington Post (USA)
Comment: One of the key strategies of the pharmaceutical industry is the development of drugs that merely mask symptoms but avoid the curing or elimination of diseases. In other words, the bottom line regarding the drug industry is that it exists not to extend patients lives but to make money.

October 26, 2009

Europe Reviews Tysabri Over Brain Infections
European regulators said in a report published late last week that the number of cases of a rare brain infection linked to Biogen’s Tysabri multiple sclerosis drug are much higher than previously disclosed.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 26, 2009

Pa. jury returns verdict in Prempro-cancer case
A Philadelphia jury returned a sealed punitive-damages verdict Monday against drugmaker Wyeth Pharmaceuticals after finding a link between a woman's breast cancer and the hormone-replacement drug she took. Connie Barton's case is one of a handful of Prempro lawsuits to go to trial out of several thousand filed across the country. About 1,500 are pending in Philadelphia. At Wyeth's request, the amount of Barton's punitive award was sealed pending the verdict in a second Prempro case underway in the same courthouse. The jury had awarded Barton $3.75 million in compensatory damages on Friday and found the company willfully hid evidence of a cancer link, prompting the deliberations Monday on punitive damages.
Read story at abcnews.go.com

October 25, 2009

Gardasil Researcher Drops A Bombshell
Dr. Diane Harper, lead researcher in the development of two human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, said the controversial drugs will do little to reduce cervical cancer rates and, even though they’re being recommended for girls as young as nine, there have been no efficacy trials in children under the age of 15. Dr. Harper, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri, made these remarks during an address at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination which took place in Reston, Virginia on Oct. 2-4. Although her talk was intended to promote the vaccine, participants said they came away convinced the vaccine should not be received.
Read article in The Bulletin (Philadelphia/USA)

October 25, 2009

More than half of Chinese 'don't want swine flu shot'
BEIJING — More than half of all Chinese do not plan to be vaccinated against swine flu because they are unsure about the safety of the shot, according to a survey by state media published Monday.
Read AFP news report at google.com

October 22, 2009

Study reveals an increase in long-term antidepressant drug use
A dramatic rise in antidepressant prescriptions issued by GPs has been caused by a year on year increase in the number of people taking antidepressant drugs on a long-term basis, according to researchers from the University of Southampton. In a paper, published in the printed edition of British Medical Journal (BMJ) tomorrow, scientists found that despite a drop in the number of new patients diagnosed with depression over 11 years, the number of prescriptions doubled.
Read article at physorg.com
Comment: Antidepressant drugs may damage sperm quality and harm fertility; increase the risk of being admitted to the hospital for abnormal bleeding; impair driving ability; cause suicidal tendencies and have an adverse effect on bone growth in children and adolescents; and, if taken while pregnant, increase the risk of premature birth and the likelihood of the child suffering a heart defect. Significantly, therefore, a major review has shown that Prozac, an antidepressant taken by 40 million people worldwide, does not work and that nor do similar drugs in the same class. As such, with major risks to health, and no apparent benefits, it is nothing but criminal that these drugs are still being prescribed.

October 22, 2009

FDA Takes Too Long To Ban Researchers After Fraud
How do we know? The Government Accountability Office says so. In a new report, the GAO found that more than half of the debarment proceedings in its review took 4 or more years, and factors contributing to these time frames included internal control weaknesses in the debarment process and competing priorities among responsible staff (read the report). As the GAO notes, the FDA has statutory authority to debar individuals who have been convicted of felonies or certain misdemeanors related to the development, approval, or regulation of a drug or biologic. For the 18 proceedings reviewed, the length of time from a conviction through debarment (or as of Nov. 5, 2008, for pending proceedings) ranged from about 1 year to nearly 11 years.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 21, 2009

The Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex: A Deadly Fairy Tale
It has been a particularly bad month for the pharmaceutical industrial complex in its ongoing litigations in American courts. Among the main pharmaceutical headlines, Merck’s Gardasil vaccine for HPV, now being widely administered to pre-teens, was found to be linked to amyltrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease; following a $1.4 billion fine in promoting one of its blockbuster drugs Zyprexa off-label, deceptive correspondence was uncovered by Eli Lilly gaming the system again by promoting another one of its drugs, Cymbalta, off-label for fibromyalgia; AstraZeneca was fined $160 million for scamming the Medicaid system in Kentucky after being fined $215 million for ripping off Alabama; Glaxo lost a Pennsylvania trial for failing to warn doctors and pregnant women of the dangers of its antidepressant drug Paxil related to birth defects; and Pfizer scored a record-breaking fine of $2.3 billion for illegally marketing several drugs over the years: Bextra, Zyvox, Geodon and Lyrica. These kinds of charges, among the many others, have become a habit for drug makers for the past dozen years.
Read article on the Centre for Research on Globalization website (Canada)

October 21, 2009

Drug Makers Are Advocacy Group’s Biggest Donors
WASHINGTON — A majority of the donations made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the nation’s most influential disease advocacy groups, have come from drug makers in recent years, according to Congressional investigators. The alliance, known as NAMI, has long been criticized for coordinating some of its lobbying efforts with drug makers and for pushing legislation that also benefits industry.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

October 21, 2009

Montana Woman Awarded $3.2M In Drugmaker Trial
A Missoula jury on Wednesday awarded $3.2 million to a woman suing the maker of a bone-strengthening drug in a decision that could have a bearing on hundreds of cases against the company nationwide. Peggy L. Stevens, 57, of Missoula filed suit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., alleging the company should have disclosed health risks associated with the bone-strengthening drug called Zometa. Stevens developed dental and jaw-related problems after taking the drug for several years. Stevens' attorneys said the company knew patients taking Zometa were vulnerable to a degenerative jaw disorder called osteonecrosis, particularly those patients who undergo invasive dental procedures.
Read article at cbs3.com (USA)

October 21, 2009

No Surprise Here: Pharma’s DC Lobbying Is Up
With the battle over health care reform still under way, the industry’s trade group spent almost as much on lobbying during the first nine months of this year as in all of 2008, according to records reviewed by Bloomberg News. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $19.9 million to lobby Congress and federal agencies during the first nine months of 2009, according to disclosure statements filed with the U.S. Senate. By contrast, PhRMA spent $20.2 million in all of 2008.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 21, 2009

Will Novartis Be Found Guilty Of Denying Zometa Risks?
A jury will continue deliberating today a lawsuit brought by a woman who alleges Novartis was negligent when it failed to disclose health risks associated with its Zometa bone-strengthening drug. Peggy Stevens has lymphoma and developed serious dental and jaw-related problems after taking Zometa for several years. Her attorneys say the company knew patients taking the drug were vulnerable to a degenerative jaw disorder called osteonecrosis, particularly those patients who undergo invasive dental procedures, like root canals or tooth extractions, The Missoulian reports. She was given the drug for three years before she had a tooth pulled in 2007 and developed the disease, which can cause pain, loosening of teeth, exposed bone and infection. On a national level, Novartis faces lawsuits from about 550 plaintiffs whose cases have been consolidated in a Tennessee federal court and a New Jersey state court.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 19, 2009

Putin’s Proposed Reform Worries Drug Producers
MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to ban pharmaceutical makers from sending representatives to doctors’ offices, a practice they spend up to 50 percent of their revenue on and one of the last open channels for companies to promote prescription drugs. “We should get rid of these so-called pharmaceuticals representatives working in medical institutions,” Putin said Oct. 9 at a meeting on the development of the drugs industry. In the past 10 years, Russia has seen the rise of “a clearly abnormal type of interaction” between medicine producers, particularly foreign companies, and parts of the medical community, he said. It is impermissible to have “pharmaceutical holdings paying specialists to prescribe patients substances produced by these companies,” Putin said.
Read article in The St. Petersburg Times (Russia)

October 19, 2009

Popular Bowel Disease Drugs Linked to Increased Cancer Risks
Imuran, azathioprine, and other drugs which reduce the body’s immune system to treat inflammatory bowel disease can increase the risks of patients developing infection-related cancers, according to a new French study. The drugs belong to a family of medications called thiopurines, which are commonly used to treat a variety of bowel diseases and disorders. Imuran is the brand-name medication made by GlaxoSmithKline, while a handful of generic drug makers produce azathioprine.
Read article at attorneyatlaw.com (USA)

October 16, 2009

The Pandemic Is Political
Swine flu and the World Health Organization's agenda.
As evidence continues to mount that swine flu is more of a piglet than a raging razorback, why isn't curiosity mounting as to why the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic? And definitions aside, why does the agency continue to insist we're going to get hammered? The answers have far less to do with world health than with redistribution of world wealth.
Read article at forbes.com

October 16, 2009

2 ALS Cases May Be Linked to Gardasil Vaccine
Researchers Believe Cervical Cancer Vaccine Could Be Linked to Cases of Lou Gehrig's Disease
Researchers believe that there may be a link between a vaccine against cervical cancer and a rapidly progressive, fatal disease in two young women. Both the timing of the symptoms and autopsy results “suggest a link between” the Gardasil vaccine and the fatal cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, says Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, MD, director of the ALS Center at University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
Read article at webmd.com

October 13, 2009

Glaxo Ordered to Pay $2.5 Million for Paxil Defects
GlaxoSmithKline Plc must pay $2.5 million over claims that its Paxil antidepressant caused birth defects, a Pennsylvania jury concluded in the first of 600 such cases to come to trial. Jurors in state court in Philadelphia deliberated about seven hours over two days before finding Glaxo failed to properly warn doctors and pregnant users of Paxil’s risk. The panel awarded $2.5 million in compensatory damages to the family of Lyam Kilker. The 3-year-old was born with heart defects his mother blamed on the drug.
Read article at bloomberg.com

October 13, 2009

Folate-blocking drugs produce birth defects
Drugs that interfere with the action of folic acid can produce a sharp increase in certain birth defects if taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, Israeli researchers reported today in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Read article in the Los Angeles Times (USA)

October 6, 2009

Antidepressants linked to premature birth risk
Mothers-to-be risk having a premature birth if they take commonly used antidepressants during pregnancy, a new study has found. Antidepressants called SSRIs (the group of drugs that includes Prozac) were also linked to a higher risk of babies needing treatment in intensive care soon after birth.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)

October 3, 2009

Parents of brain-damaged teenager blame cervical cancer jab
A teenage girl has been left brain-damaged after falling ill within days of being given Cervarix, the controversial cervical cancer vaccine. Stacey Jones, 17, suffered her first epileptic seizure days after having the Cervarix injection, which is being offered to all schoolgirls under a Government programme. In the weeks which followed, she had dozens more fits, which caused such severe brain injury that she has been admitted to a rehabilitation unit, which is helping her to relearn basic tasks like making a sandwich. The parents of the teenager, from Bilston in the West Midlands, are convinced that the vaccination, in March, triggered swelling in the brain, which has been diagnosed as the cause of her neurological problems.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

October 1, 2009

Keep doctors independent; ban fees from drug makers
When doctors promote drugs in exchange for pay from pharmaceutical companies, they cease to be independent evaluators of the risks posed by those drugs, and they cease to be unbiased caregivers for their patients. Hospitals should prohibit doctors from taking part in so-called speakers bureaus, whereby companies compensate them for giving talks to colleagues about new drugs. Legislators should go beyond requiring disclosure of the relationships, and ban the practice. In the first three months of this year, Eli Lilly & Co., the global pharmaceutical giant, paid at least 60 doctors in Massachusetts a total of more than $580,000 to give speeches about its drugs. Company officials told the Globe that Eli Lilly provides the content that doctors deliver to colleagues about the medications.
Read editorial in the Boston Globe (USA)

September 28, 2009

Drug firms hiding test results: Study
Doctors and patients may not get the full story on some prescription drugs because companies sidestep rules and hide test results, according to researchers in Canada, France and Britain. Anyone doing a clinical trial of a drug is supposed to announce publicly that the trial is under way and describe its goals. But David Moher of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute said many tests are conducted without this disclosure. This allows scientists, or the drug companies who pay for the work, to release good results but quietly cancel anything that looks bad for their product. "Selective outcome [result] reporting is prevalent," Dr. Moher's study concluded.
Read article in the Ottawa Citizen (Canada)

September 30, 2009

Study prompts provinces to rethink flu plan
Report suggests people who get vaccinated are more likely to catch H1N1
A “perplexing” Canadian study linking H1N1 to seasonal flu shots is throwing national influenza plans into disarray and testing public faith in the government agencies responsible for protecting the nation's health. Distributed for peer review last week, the study confounded infectious-disease experts in suggesting that people vaccinated against seasonal flu are twice as likely to catch swine flu.
Read article in the Glode and Mail (Canada)
Comment: To separate the facts from the fiction regarding the 2009 swine flu pandemic, click here. For our answers to frequently asked questions on influenza and swine flu, click here. To understand what the swine flu hysteria is really about, click here.

September 28, 2009

14-year-old dies after being given cervical cancer jab
A 14-year-old schoolgirl has died shortly after being given the new cervical cancer vaccine. The teenager was one of four classmates who suffered side-effects at a school in Coventry after receiving the jab as part of the national immunisation programme.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

September 25, 2009

Anti-depressants 'can increase risk of heart defect'
Taking commonly used antidepressants while pregnant can increase the chance of the child suffering a heart defect up to fourfold, a new study shows. Babies were around 80 per cent more likely to be born with a problem in their septum, the wall dividing the left and right sides of the heart, if their mother took the medication in the first three months of her pregnancy. However, taking two or more different kinds of the drugs in the first trimester was linked to a fourfold increase. The drugs, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are commonly prescribed for depression and include well-known medication such as Prozac.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

September 22, 2009

Paxil Side Effects Linked to Birth Defects in 2001 According to Trial Testimony
Testimony from GlaxoSmithKline officials suggest that the drug company knew that side effects of Paxil could cause birth defects as early as 2001, lending some support to claims that the company suppressed or downplayed the drugs’ birth defect risks. The revelations came during the first trial out of about 600 product liability lawsuits pending against Glaxo over the Paxil birth defect risks, which allege that the company hid test data and failed to adequately warn about the increased risk of persisitent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN) and other heart problems when the drug is used during pregnancy.
Read article at aboutlawsuits.com (USA)

September 20, 2009

When stories extol drugs, maker may be behind it
Documents recently released in federal court cases against the drug company Wyeth have exposed one of the dirty secrets in the world of medical journals: the widespread practice of ghostwriting. While doctors are named as the authors of articles about treatments and diseases, behind the scenes is a paid writer who is largely responsible for crafting the piece. Not only is the ghostwriter on the payroll of a drug company with interests in the topic, the company often reviews the manuscript before the physician sees it.
Read article in the St. Petersburg Times (Florida/USA)

September 18, 2009

British doctor faces action over claims of 'ghost writing' for US drug company
Doctors have been agreeing to be named as authors on studies written by employees of the pharmaceutical industry, giving greater credibility to medical research, according to new evidence. The Guardian has learned that one of Britain's leading bone specialists is facing disciplinary action over accusations that he was involved in "ghost writing".
Read article in the Guardian (UK)
Comment: The UK’s General Medical Council will call Professor Richard Eastell in front of a fitness to practice committee. Eastell, a bone expert at Sheffield University, has admitted he allowed his name to go forward as first author of a study on an osteoporosis drug even though an employee of Proctor and Gamble, the US company making Actonel, was the only author who had all the figures.

September 15, 2009

Glaxo Executive’s Memo Suggested Burying Drug Studies
An executive of GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the world’s second-biggest drugmaker, talked about burying negative studies linking its antidepressant drug Paxil to birth defects, according to a company memo introduced at a trial.
Read article at bloomberg.com

September 12, 2009

Two thousand schoolgirls suffer suspected ill-effects from cervical cancer vaccine
Thousands of schoolgirls have suffered suspected adverse reactions to a controversial cervical cancer vaccine introduced by the Government. Doctors' reports show that girls of 12 and 13 have experienced convulsions, fever and paralysis after being given the vaccine, which is now administered in schools as part of efforts to prevent women developing cancer. Others suffered nausea, muscle weakness, dizziness and blurred vision, according to a special report drawn up by drug safety watchdogs. A support group says it has received dozens of calls from parents who believe their daughters have been damaged by the vaccine.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

September 10, 2009

Ghostwriting Is Called Rife in Medical Journals
Six of the top medical journals published a significant number of articles in 2008 that were written by ghostwriters, according to a study released Thursday by editors of The Journal of the American Medical Association. Among authors of 630 articles who responded anonymously to an online questionnaire created for the study, 7.8 percent acknowledged contributions to their articles by people whose work should have qualified them to be named as authors on the papers but who were not listed. In the scientific literature, ghostwriting usually refers to medical writers, often sponsored by a drug or medical device company, who make major research or writing contributions to articles published under the names of academic authors.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)
Comment: A huge body of pro-pharmaceutical medical literature is, in reality, the work not of independent scientists but of drug industry-sponsored writers employed on behalf of the “business with disease.” Drug companies such as GlaxoSmithKline; Wyeth; Eli Lilly & Co.; and Merck have all been widely reported to engage in this practice.

September 8, 2009

Ghostwriting: The Dirty Little Secret of Medical Publishing That Just Got Bigger
If you are an editor, author, reviewer, or reader of medical journals, or if you depend on your doctor or health care provider getting unbiased information from medical journals, then the 1,500 documents now hosted on the PLoS Medicine Web site should make you very concerned and angry. Because, quite simply, the story told in these documents amounts to one of the most compelling expositions ever seen of the systematic manipulation and abuse of scholarly publishing by the pharmaceutical industry and its commercial partners in their attempt to influence the health care decisions of physicians and the general public.
Read article on the Public Library of Science (PLoS) website

September 6, 2009

Question a doctor and lose your child
Parents are being threatened with having their children taken into care after questioning doctors’ diagnoses or objecting to their medical care. John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP, who campaigns to stop injustices in the family court, said: “Very often care proceedings are used as retaliation by local authorities against ‘uppity’ people who question the system.” Cases are emerging across the UK.
Read article in The Times (UK)
Comment: When a supposedly “developed” country such as the UK resorts to threatening parents with having their children taken into care if they question doctors’ diagnoses or object to their medical care, it’s a clear sign that the outdated pharma-controlled medical system is crumbling and in imminent danger of collapse.

September 4, 2009

Painkillers can cause addiction in 3 days
Popular painkillers, which are routinely used to ease headaches, back problems and period pain, can cause addiction in just three days, the UK Government’s drug watchdog has warned. The drugs, which contain codeine and include brand names such as Nurofen Plus and Solpadeine Plus, are taken by millions of people. However, official figures have shown that tens of thousands of people have become dependent on the drugs, many accidentally, with women most at risk of developing an addiction.
Read article in The Times of India
Comment: Figures show that 27 million packs of codeine-containing painkillers are sold every year in the UK. As such, coming hot on the heels of research showing that use of acid-reducing drugs can lead to dependency, this latest finding - that painkillers can cause addiction within three days - provides still further proof that, so far as the pharmaceutical industry is concerned, people becoming hooked on their drugs is good for business.

September 3, 2009

Swine Flu Alert: Medicinal Chemist Says "Think Before You Vaccinate"
As a young chemist working in the chemistry labs of corporate America, I watched as they promoted cancer causing drugs as anti-cancer remedies (tamoxifen). I also witnessed the pharmaceutically compliant media convince the world that depression was a disease and you needed the so-called antidepressant drug Prozac™ to treat it. I began to wonder, “How gullible are the masses?” The reaction to the swine flu scare answered this.
Read article at newswithviews.com

September 2, 2009

Pfizer agrees to record $2.3-billion healthcare-fraud settlement
Pfizer Inc. and a subsidiary have agreed to a record healthcare fraud settlement and will pay $2.3 billion to resolve civil and criminal complaints in connection with the illegal promotion of some drugs, the Justice Department announced this morning.
Read article in the Los Angeles Times (USA)
Comment: The overall settlement is the largest ever paid by a drug company for alleged violations of federal drug rules. Drugs involved in the fraud included Bextra, an anti-inflammatory painkiller; Geodon, an anti-psychotic drug; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug.

August 29, 2009

Soaring drugs bill 'threatens to bankrupt NHS'
The NHS risks bankruptcy from a soaring drugs bill which is outstripping Britain's GDP growth, according to a report published today. The report, by the pressure group Compass, calls for regulation of the pharmaceutical industry to curb prices. The coalition of academics, campaigners and union leaders also warns that the billions spent by big pharma on seminars and conferences gives companies undue influence over doctors.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)
Comment: If the health service in the UK - where the government can still negotiate drug prices - is risking bankruptcy, what chance do other countries stand of avoiding a similar fate? In the U.S., for example, the government has already capitulated to the pharma mafia and essentially pays whatever the drug cartel wants. Meantime, whilst its annual sales now total 773 billion dollars, adverse reactions from the cartel’s drugs continue to kill and injure millions of innocent patients each and every year. In the U.S., it has been estimated that a staggering 2,216,000 hospitalized patients have serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) each year, whilst 106,000 have fatal ADRs. This means that such reactions are between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death in that country. Meantime, the drug cartel spends billions of dollars every year disingenuously marketing its drugs to doctors under the guise of "continuing medical education", whilst, at the same time, omitting to mention that most of them cause a multitude of new diseases as a result of their known long-term side effects. And, of course, as if all this were not bad enough, the cartel is holding over six-billion people hostage by doing everything it can to eliminate the non-patentable natural alternatives to its products. To learn what you can do to fight back, visit the NT-2 website and support our call for a second ‘Nuremberg’ Tribunal.

August 28, 2009

We're Not Gonna Take It: Anti-Forced-Vaccination Demonstration - Vancouver
On August 28th, 2009, the world's first public demonstration against the threat of forced vaccination, in regard to the (A)H1N1 (Human-Avian-Swine) Flu took place in Vancouver, BC, Canada, in front of the Art Gallery, on one of Vancouver's busiest streets. This event was primarily informational in nature, but also intended to send a message to the federal and provincial governments of Canada, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) and the Pharmaceutical Industry regarding mass vaccination plans. This was the kick-off to a national weekend of information sharing and protests across Canada. Other activists groups in both Toronto and Ottawa also participated by disseminating on their busy city streets, but many individuals in smaller towns also participated.
Read article at archive.org

August 26, 2009

Weightloss pill investigated for liver damage
A slimming drug available over the counter in the UK is being investigated for links to 32 cases of liver damage by the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA began investigating orlistat, sold over the counter as Alli, and its potential links to liver damage earlier this year after concerns were raised about potentially harmful side effects. On Monday, the agency said it was assessing 32 reports of serious liver injury in patients, 27 of whom were hospitalised.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)

August 25, 2009

Half of health workers reject swine flu shot
About half of Hong Kong's health workers would refuse the swine flu vaccine, new research says, a trend that experts say would likely apply worldwide.
Read article at physorg.com

August 25, 2009

Second tumour risk from cancer drug
Long-term use of one of the most common treatments for breast cancer dramatically increases the risk of developing a deadly secondary tumour, a study has shown.
Read Press Association news report at google.com
Comment: The causing of new diseases is one of the key strategies of the pharmaceutical business with disease. Significantly, therefore, this study found that five or more years of treatment with Tamoxifen quadrupled the chances of an aggressive non-hormone sensitive tumour appearing opposite the initial site of the disease.

August 24, 2009

Doctors may refuse swine flu vaccine
Many GPs, as well as their patients, may be reluctant to be immunised against swine flu once a vaccine is developed, surveys suggest today. A survey of GPs published on Healthcare Republic, the website of GP magazine, found that up to 60% of GPs may decline vaccination. Although the numbers who responded were small – 216 GPs – they are in line with a much bigger survey of nurses published a week ago by Nursing Times, which found that a third of 1,500 nurses would refuse vaccination.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)

August 23, 2009

Side Effects of Guardasil Vaccine Could Lead To Life Threatening Conditions
The nasty side effects of a popular vaccine could leave young girls fighting for their lives.
The Center For Disease Control and Prevention says as of June 1, 2009, 25 million doses of the gardasil vaccine have been distributed in the U.S. Health officials say around seven percent of those vaccinated reported serious adverse and sometimes fatal reactions.
Read news report at wctv.tv (Florida/USA)
Comment: A safety review published in the August 19, 2009 edition of the Journal Of The American Medical Association found that 12,424 Gardasil vaccine recipients in the United States have suffered side effects since June 2006. Of these, 772 recipients experienced side effects that were considered serious, including, in some cases, paralysis and death.

August 19, 2009

Glaxo used ghostwriting program to promote Paxil
Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline used a sophisticated ghostwriting program to promote its antidepressant Paxil, allowing doctors to take credit for medical journal articles mainly written by company consultants, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press. An internal company memo instructs salespeople to approach physicians and offer to help them write and publish articles about their positive experiences prescribing the drug. Known as the CASPPER program, the paper explains how the company can help physicians with everything from "developing a topic," to "submitting the manuscript for publication."
Read Associated Press news story at google.com

August 18, 2009

Top FDA Officials, Compromised by Conflicts of Interest
Two high ranking FDA officials' conflicts of interest have led one to resign, the other is under investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Read article on the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) website (USA)

August 18, 2009

30% of nurses 'don't want' flu jab
A poll has found that almost one in three nurses do not want the swine flu jab over fears about its safety and a perception that the flu is mild. The poll of almost 1,500 readers of the Nursing Times found that many would reject the vaccine.
Read Press Association news report at yahoo.com (UK)

August 18, 2009

Probing Doctors' Ties to Industry
You may not be able to trust your mortgage broker, your car salesman or your congressman, but you can trust your doctor. Can't you? Patients might well ask themselves this question when they learn that 94 percent of physicians have "a relationship" with the pharmaceutical, medical device or other related industries, according to a national survey of physicians published two years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine. It is unclear how much those businesses spend on marketing overall, but Integrated Medical Systems, a research firm, estimates that pharmaceutical companies spend more than $20 billion annually marketing directly to doctors.
Read article in the Washington Post (USA)

August 16, 2009

Death link to swine flu vaccine
Health officials have warned doctors of possible similarities between the new swine flu vaccine and a jab linked to 25 deaths in America in the 1970s. The government’s Health Protection Agency (HPA), said in a letter to neurologists that they needed to look out for increases in cases of a brain disorder that might follow the launch of the immunisation programme. The letter has been sent because of concerns sparked by studying of the swine flu vaccination campaign in America.
Read article in the Sunday Times (UK)
Comment: Several hundred cases of a lethal paralysing neurological disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome were reported in the United States following a mass immunisation programme against a swine flu outbreak in 1976. Mindful of this, the World Health Organisation recently admitted that “adverse events directly caused by the vaccine may also occur” from the new swine flu vaccine and that these “cannot be predicted in advance”.

August 13, 2009

Court revives fraud claims vs. Johnson & Johnson subsidiary
A federal appeals court has issued a major reversal in a case charging a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary with a multi-billion-dollar Medicare fraud. The Wednesday afternoon decision revives claims of former pharmaceutical sales representatives who alleged a kickback scheme to illegally market a powerful drug used with deadly side-effects and defraud the United States government. The 1st Circuit Court’s ruling remands the case back to the U.S. District Court in Boston.
Read article in the Boston Herald (USA)

August 11, 2009

The Medical Paradigm Is Fatally Flawed
We live in a society based on a fatally flawed paradigm, a fact that is becoming apparent as we face a collapsing economic system in a collapsing environment. Even so, many who recognize the flaws of these systems still hold tightly to the concept of a medical system that exists for their benefit. It is, though, part of the same flawed paradigm.
Read article at gaia-health.com

August 10, 2009

Flu drugs little use for children, UK experts say
· Call for rethink of drugs' widespread use during pandemic
· No evidence antivirals reduce complications in children
· Side effects can be harmful, risk of resistance developing
Children should not routinely be treated with flu drugs like Tamiflu since there is no clear evidence they prevent complications and the medicines may do more harm than good, British researchers said on Monday. They called for a rethink of current widespread use of antivirals among under-12s in the light of an analysis of clinical data from past seasonal flu outbreaks showing scant benefits and potentially harmful side effects.
Read news report at reuters.com

August 10, 2009

Drug Firm Sponsorship Criticised
Pharmaceutical companies are sponsoring patients' associations - and some say this is part of their strategy to get doctors to buy their drugs. Broadsheet Dagens Nyheter has looked at the connections between patients' groups and medicine firms and seen a clear pattern: Companies that sell rheumatism treatments sponsor the Swedish Rheumatism Association. The Swedish Heart and Lung Association receives money from companies that sell drugs against asthma and bronchitis, and so on. The sums are significant - the Swedish Rheumatism Association has received the equivalent of 550,000 US dollars and all such sponsoring this year so far amounts to close to 3 million US dollars.
Read article on the SR International - Radio Sweden website (Sweden)

August 7, 2009

Does virus vaccine increase the risk of cancer?
The swine flu vaccine has been hit by new cancer fears after a German health expert gave a shock warning about its safety. Lung specialist Wolfgang Wodarg has said that there are many risks associated with the vaccine for the H1N1 virus. He has grave reservations about the firm Novartis who are developing the vaccine and testing it in Germany. The vaccination is injected “with a very hot needle”, Wodarg said. The nutrient solution for the vaccine consists of cancerous cells from animals and "we do not know if there could be an allergic reaction". But more importantly, some people fear that the risk of cancer could be increased by injecting the cells.
Read article at bild.de (Germany)

August 7, 2009

Fears as pupils get swine flu jab
Parents’ fears were growing last night over plans to use Britain’s 8.5million schoolchildren as guinea pigs for swine flu vaccinations. The Government has drawn up drastic plans to immunise every schoolchild in the UK.
Read article in the Daily Express (UK)

August 7, 2009

South Florida doctors paid thousands by Eli Lilly
While policymakers question whether drug makers are hurting healthcare reform by paying doctors fees, Eli Lilly revealed that it paid 10 South Florida providers more than $10,000 each during the first quarter.
Read article in the Miami Herald (Florida/USA)
Comment: Top of the South Florida list -- and No. 3 overall in the U.S. -- was an internist, Manuel Suarez-Barcelo, who admitted that he earned $65,000 by making presentations, mostly to nursing home staff, about the Eli Lilly drug osteoporosis drug Forteo.

July 31, 2009

Tamiflu causes sickness and nightmares in children, study finds
More than half of children taking the swine flu drug Tamiflu experience side-effects such as nausea and nightmares, research suggests.
Read article in The Times (UK)

July 31, 2009

Pfizer to Pay $75 Million to Settle Trovan-Testing Suit
Pfizer signed a $75 million agreement Thursday with Nigerian authorities to settle criminal and civil charges that the pharmaceutical company illegally tested an experimental drug on children during a 1996 meningitis epidemic. Nigerian authorities say Pfizer's test of the antibiotic Trovan killed 11 children and disabled scores more. Pfizer says the deaths and injuries were the result of meningitis. An attorney for the state of Kano, where the charges were lodged, said the settlement was a long time in coming but welcome because it set the record straight about Pfizer's culpability.
Read article in the Washington Post (USA)
Comment: Eleven children died after taking Pfizer’s drug Trovan, which is also alleged to have caused deformities including blindness, deafness, brain damage and paralysis in 189 others. Although Pfizer has now reached agreement with the Kano state on this matter, charges filed against Pfizer by Nigeria's federal government, which is seeking about $6 billion in damages, are unaffected by the settlement. Two lawsuits related to the Trovan experiment also remain pending in New York.

July 27, 2009

Antipsychotic drugs associated with high blood sugar in older adults with diabetes
Older patients with diabetes who take antipsychotic medications appear to have an increased risk of hospitalization for hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose level), especially soon after beginning treatment, according to a report in the July 27 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. An increasing number of older adults are being prescribed antipsychotic drugs for dementia and other conditions, according to background information in the article. However, these medications may be associated with adverse effects—including Parkinson's disease symptoms, stroke and diabetes—in the older population.
Read article at physorg.com

July 26, 2009

Drug firms dodge swine flu liability
The UK government has been forced to accept legal liability for the swine flu vaccine amid concerns it could trigger life-threatening side-effects among the population at large. Ministers have taken on all the risk for the 60 million doses they have ordered from GlaxoSmithKline and the Baxter group, after both firms said they would refuse to produce it unless legally protected. A swine flu vaccine produced in America during the last recorded outbreak of the virus in 1976 was linked to a rise in Guillain-Barre syndrome, a paralysing muscular disorder.
Read article on the Scotland on Sunday website (Scotland/UK)
Comment: A win-win for the business with disease: drug companies make massive profits from the artificial swine flu epidemic and UK taxpayers foot the bill for the life-threatening side-effects suffered by patients as a result of being vaccinated. UK taxpayers can be forgiven for wondering whether this arrangement has anything to do with the fact that Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, is a member of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s so-called “Business Council.”

July 25, 2009

Judge orders Wyeth papers unsealed
A federal judge has ordered the unsealing of thousands of pages of documents pertaining to the ghostwriting practices of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which is being sued over hormone replacement drugs. U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson ordered the papers unsealed Friday at the request of a medical journal and The New York Times. Plaintiffs attorneys presented the papers earlier at trial to show Wyeth routinely hired medical-writing firms to ghostwrite articles that appeared in seemingly objective medical journals but included only the name of a scientific researcher as the author.
Read article in the Chicago Tribune (USA)

July 21, 2009

Drug industry, Pfizer lead in health lobbying
WASHINGTON — The drug industry's trade group and one of the nation's biggest pharmaceutical companies reported spending more money than other health care organizations on lobbying in the second quarter of this year. With the fight over President Barack Obama's effort to revamp the nation's health care system escalating, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said it spent $6.2 million lobbying in April, May and June, according to reports to Congress that were due Monday. Pfizer Inc., the New York-based producer of numerous drugs, ranked second in the health care sector at $5.6 million. In reports on file as of late morning Tuesday, 24 health-related associations and companies reported spending at least $1 million each lobbying during the quarter.
Read Associated Press news report at google.com

July 16, 2009

Drug firms settle Vytorin complaints
NEW YORK - Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. have agreed to pay $5.4 million to 35 states to settle allegations that they delayed releasing negative findings from a study of their cholesterol fighter Vytorin, the drug makers said yesterday.
Read article in the Boston Globe (USA)

July 15, 2009

Drug firm offered posters to Arroyo’
MANILA, Philippines — A party-list representative said that the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer also offered to produce promotional posters of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. Citing confidential sources, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel on Wednesday said this was on top of the five million discount cards it proposed to give the government in exchange for not implementing sections of the law on affordable medicines. Baraquel said the posters were part of the offer Pfizer had made to the government in a purported attempt to derail the implementation of an order that would forbid its discount card program.
Read article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer

July 9, 2009

Dry mouth linked to prescription and over the counter drugs
Approximately ninety-one percent of dentists say patients complaining about dry mouth are taking multiple medications, according to a nationwide member survey conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is caused by a decrease in salivary function. It affects approximately one in four Americans, placing more than 25 percent of people at risk for tooth decay.
Read article at physorg.com

July 1, 2009

Acid-reducing medicines may lead to dependency
Treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for eight weeks induces acid-related symptoms like heartburn, acid regurgitation and dyspepsia once treatment is withdrawn in healthy individuals, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute.
Read article at physorg.com
Comment: The marketplace for the pharmaceutical industry is the human body – but only for as long as the body hosts diseases. Thus, maintaining and expanding diseases is a precondition for the industry’s growth. In other words: patients becoming “hooked” on their drugs is good for business.

July 1, 2009

FDA requires Chantix, Zyban to have warning
The Food and Drug Administration will require two smoking-cessation drugs, Chantix and Zyban, to carry the agency's strongest safety warning over side effects including depression and suicidal thoughts.
Read article at physorg.com

June 30, 2009

Painkiller Restrictions Urged Because of Threat of Liver Damage
The prescription painkillers Percocet and Vicodin should be banned and use of Tylenol, sold over the counter, should be reduced because the ingredient acetaminophen is linked to liver damage, U.S. advisers said. Outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted 20-17 today in Adelphi, Maryland, for the ban on Percocet and Vicodin, which also contain a narcotic.
Read article at bloomberg.com

June 30, 2009

Panel Recommends Ban on 2 Popular Painkillers
A federal advisory panel voted narrowly on Tuesday to recommend a ban on Percocet and Vicodin, two of the most popular prescription painkillers in the world, because of their effects on the liver. The two drugs combine a narcotic with acetaminophen, the ingredient found in popular over-the-counter products like Tylenol and Excedrin. High doses of acetaminophen are a leading cause of liver damage, and the panel noted that patients who take Percocet and Vicodin for long periods often need higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect. Acetaminophen is combined with different narcotics in at least seven other prescription drugs, and all of these combination pills will be banned if the Food and Drug Administration heeds the advice of its experts.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

June 29, 2009

Drugging Our Children to Death
In Massachusetts, a four-year-old girl named Rebecca became the center of a murder investigation after being found dead from an overdose of a dangerous combination of drugs. Both her parents and psychiatrist are facing criminal prosecution and will stand trial later this year. In Florida, a seven-year-old boy named Gabriel made headlines because he hanged himself with a shower hose in his foster home. It was later discovered that the boy was on an unauthorized cocktail of psychiatric drugs while in the state’s protective custody. He had been taken from his mother who was herself deemed a danger to the child because of drug addiction. In Texas, a fourteen-year-old boy named Matthew died suddenly after only 29 days of being on a powerful stimulant for ADHD. His devastated parents are suing the drug manufacturer and were recently interviewed on ABC’s “Good Morning America”.
Read article at healthnewsdigest.com (USA)

June 27, 2009

Fear Jacko Drug Death Was Like Heath Ledger's
A medical charity believes Michael Jackson's death may have been down to a deadly drug cocktail similar to the one taken by Heath Ledger. "If the toxicology results match what the news reports are saying, this is ever so reminiscent of Heath Ledger's death," Battle Against Tranquillisers (Bat) spokeswoman Una Corbett told Sky News Online. Reports say Jackson may have taken three powerful painkillers in a potentially fatal cocktail, including injections of the narcotics Demerol, Dilaudid and Vicodin. Other drugs linked to the singer include anti-anxiety drugs Xanax and Zoloft, muscle relaxant Soma and anti-depressant Seroxat.
Read article on the Sky News website
Comment: Like that of the actor Heath Ledger before him, the tragic and untimely death of Michael Jackson is yet another sobering reminder of the life-threatening dangers of patented synthetic chemical drug medicines. Highly addictive, the painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxant and anti-depressant believed to be linked to Jackson’s death are well-known to cause a myriad of serious and life-threatening side effects. As such, arguments as to whether or not these dangerous drugs were prescribed for Jackson by physicians essentially miss the point: dangerous drugs are not made safer just because they might have been obtained via a physician’s prescription pad.

June 22, 2009

Drug 'reports' found to be faked
From the creation of fake academic journals, to bogus stories submitted to real journals, to falsified results in some of academia's most respected publications – the pharmaceutical industry has been rocked by allegations that the world's biggest drug companies put public relations above public safety.
Read article in the Toronto Star (Canada)

June 15, 2009

Sudden death in kids, ADHD drugs linked
Stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could increase the risk of sudden death in children who have no underlying heart conditions, researchers reported Monday. Such drugs have carried warnings since 2006 about an increased risk of sudden death in children or teens known to have serious heart abnormalities. But this is the first study to link the stimulants to sudden death in otherwise healthy young people, say officials of the Food and Drug Administration, which helped pay for the research.
Read article in USA Today (USA)

June 19, 2009

Publisher consulted drug firm on journal content
The world's largest medical publisher asked the manufacturers of anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx which articles they wanted to include in a so-called medical journal on bone health. Documents tendered to a Federal Court class action reveal staff at publishing company Elsevier, which produces The Lancet, emailed pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co about its "preferred content selection" for the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine. The publisher also admits the journal is a "single sponsored publication" where most of the content is chosen by Merck with some "input from Elsevier".
Read article in The Australian (Australia)

June 14, 2009

The WHO's askew flu fears
How bizarre! The World Health Organization has declared swine flu a "pandemic," signaling governments worldwide to launch emergency response plans. The mildest pandemics of the 20th century killed at least a million people worldwide, according to the WHO's data, while old-fashioned seasonal flu strikes every nation yearly and kills an estimated 250,000 to 500,000. As of Thursday, when the pandemic was declared, H1N1 swine flu had killed only 144 people total -- fewer than succumb daily to seasonal flu annually. And in Mexico, where the outbreak began and where it has been the most severe, cases peaked quickly, in just four weeks.
Read article in the Los Angeles Times (USA)

June 11, 2009

Lilly ‘Ghostwrote’ Articles to Market Drug, Files Say
Eli Lilly & Co. officials wrote medical journal studies about the antipsychotic Zyprexa and then asked doctors to put their names on the articles, a practice called “ghostwriting,” according to unsealed company files. Lilly employees also compiled a guide to hiring scientists to write favorable articles, complained to journal editors when publication was delayed and submitted rejected articles to other outlets, according to documents filed in drug-overpricing suits against the Indianapolis-based company, the largest manufacturer of psychiatric medicines. Drugmakers’ use of ghostwriters has created “a huge body of medical literature that society can’t trust,” said Carl Elliott, a University of Minnesota bioethicist who has written about the practice.
Read article at bloomberg.com

June 11, 2009

Anti-depressants can damage men's sperm
Add anti-depressants to the list of substances that can damage men’s sperm and potentially impair their fertility. In a new study, New York researchers report that as many as half of men taking the anti-depressant paroxetine (brand names, Seroxat and Paxil) have higher levels of sperm fragmentation.
Read blog entry by Judith Graham on the Chicago Tribune website (USA)

June 7, 2009

Child’s death a tragic destiny
Destiny Hager could be delightfully charming and frightfully aggressive. In her darkest moments, the 3-year-old smashed her head against walls, lashed out at family members and bit herself. She battled insomnia. Her mood swings were sharp. She tried to suffocate a dog. Her condition demanded intervention. Counselors directed Destiny and her parents, Angela and Greg Hager, to Prairie View hospital in Newton. Vernon Kliewer, a child psychiatrist in whom the Hagers placed trust but now condemn, prescribed two powerful drugs to control Destiny. The tiny girl with shoulder-length brown hair was tranquilized by the medical regimen. But the Hagers were uncomfortable with dosages obliterating Destiny’s personality. They scheduled a doctor’s visit to wean her from medication. Destiny began complaining of a stomachache three days before the appointment. Her pain appeared to ease, but it later mushroomed. She was raced to a hospital. Her anguished cries echo in Angela’s memory. “The sound of it stays with me every day,” she said. “If you can picture a wounded animal in a trap trying to free itself, that’s what she sounded like.” Destiny died within hours.
Read article in the Topeka Capital-Journal (Kansas, USA)

June 4, 2009

Sedatives may increase suicide risk in older patients
Sleeping tablets have been associated with a four-fold increase in suicide risk in the elderly. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Geriatrics have shown that, even after adjusting for the presence of psychiatric conditions, sedatives and hypnotics were both associated with an increased risk of suicide.
Read article at physorg.com

June 4, 2009

FDA releases list of potential drug risks
WASHINGTON - U.S. regulators on Thursday listed two dozen drugs, including weight-loss medicines and sleep disorder pills, that it is at an early stage of reviewing for potential safety problems. Many of the issues have been previously disclosed, but remain under review by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA said it was checking Pfizer Inc's smoking cessation drug Chantix for possible risk of accidental injury, vision impairment and other issues, and Cephalon Inc's sleep disorder drugs Nuvigil and Provigil for a potential of serious skin reactions. Other drugs listed included orlistat, a weight-loss drug sold by Roche Inc as the prescription product Xenical and by GlaxoSmithKline Plc as the over-the-counter drug Alli. The FDA said it was continuing to evaluate liver toxicity reports for orlistat. The FDA also said Pfizer's overactive bladder drug Detrol was under investigation for reports of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a serious skin reaction.
Read news report at reuters.com

June 4, 2009

USA Today: Conflicts of interest bedevil psychiatric drug research
Psychiatry's leadership is scrambling and fumbling in its effort to explain why it's collusion with industry for pay is okay. Ever wondered how toxic psychoactive drugs that have been shown to be clinically insignificant have been catapulted into multi-billion dollar blockbuster sellers despite the fact that these drugs pose serious safety risks? Today’s USA Today report by Marilyn Elias focuses on Dr. Lisa Cosgrove’s illuminating study documenting gross and unabashed conflicts of interest by psychiatrists who formulate psychiatry’s diagnostic and treatment guidelines. Dr. Cosgrove’s findings flat out contradict the widely reported pledge by the American Psychiatric Association that it has instituted screening procedures for the 27 members of its DSM-V Task Force, to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest.
Read article on the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) website (USA)

June 4, 2009

S. Fla. Family Sues Psychiatrist for Son's Death
A South Florida family has filed suit against a Fort Lauderdale doctor claiming he is responsible for their child's death and this is not the first time the doctor has been the center of controversy. Dr. Sohail Punjwani who gave mind altering drugs to South Florida children could soon be going to court to defend his reasoning for prescribing the drugs. The mother of one of the boys spoke out about her son on Thursday. "He was like a zombie, my son was like a zombie all the time," said Norma Tringali as she described the final days of her teen aged son Emilio Villamar.
Read article on the cbs4.com website (USA)

June 1, 2009

Fears over reactions to cervical cancer jab
More than 150 girls in Scotland have suffered adverse reactions after receiving the cervical cancer vaccine introduced last autumn, The Scotsman can reveal.
Read article in The Scotsman (Scotland/UK)
Comment: In the UK, there were 1,716 suspected reactions reported up to May 2009. The most severe included paralysis and sight problems.

May 30, 2009

Study links lung cancer to menopause hormones
Hormonal therapy for menopause, already linked to an increase in breast cancer and strokes, also strongly increases the risk of death among women who develop lung cancer, new research has shown. The findings are based on secondary analyses of a study of 16,608 menopausal women in good health by the US government known as the Women's Health Initiative. Researchers sought to evaluate the effects of Prempro, a combination of estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone), sold by the US pharmaceutical Wyeth.
Read AFP news report at google.com

May 29, 2009

Review finds shortfalls in monitoring of foster children on psychiatric drugs
Spurred by the shocking suicide of a 7-year-old on psychiatric drugs, the agency in charge of Florida's foster children has discovered serious shortcomings in its monitoring of kids on such powerful prescriptions. After reviewing its files, the Department of Children and Families determined it had undercounted the number of foster kids on such medications as Risperdal and Adderall, overlooking hundreds of cases. It also has failed to meet its legal requirement that such prescriptions be given only after parental consent or court order. On Thursday, DCF said a review of the files of more than 20,000 children currently in the state's foster care showed 2,669, or 13.19 percent, are taking one or more psychotropic medications.
Read article in the St. Petersburg Times (Florida/USA)

May 29, 2009

Daniel sick from chemo treatment, Hausers say
After four days of retreat from the media spotlight, the parents of Daniel Hauser issued a statement Friday on their son's medical treatment and said they will post occasional updates on his condition on a website, dannyhauser.com. They said the 13-year-old boy reacted poorly to a chemotherapy treatment on Thursday, his first since February, and was depressed about returning to conventional care. "Danny is not tolerating the drugs well and has been vomiting all day," the statement said.
Read article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (USA)
Comment: In mid-May, faced with the loss of custody of her son, and with Danny threatening to run away if she agreed to the Court's decision to force chemotherapy upon him, Danny’s mother, upon the advice of their attorney, left the home with Danny without providing contact information. There was discussion that she would take Danny to Mexico for alternative cancer treatments. However, the local Sheriff issued a warrant for her arrest and made it a federal warrant. After the FBI and Interpol became involved, Colleen and Danny returned to their home. Clearly, when lawmakers insist on torturing a 13-year-old boy with toxic chemotherapy against his will – despite the fact that there are scientifically proven natural therapies for cancer available - there can be no doubt that the pharmaceutical investment business is becoming desperate. To visit Danny’s website, click here.

May 29, 2009

Drug firm Merck & Co ignorance of Vioxx effects 'hard to swallow'
A longstanding Australian employee of Merck & Co said it was a "bit hard to swallow" to say the pharmaceutical giant was not aware of the possibility that its anti-arthritis drug Vioxx could cause heart attacks. An internal email tendered to the Federal Court shows staffer David Loker wrote to the marketing director responsible for Vioxx, Geoffrey Blundell, after the drug was withdrawn to state his concerns over the company's public handling of the issue. The email, written in November 2004, expressed his worry over the company's response to a Nine Network news program alleging Vioxx caused heart attacks.
Read article in The Australian (Australia)

May 28, 2009

Dementia Drugs May Put Some Patients At Risk
Side effects associated with several commonly-prescribed dementia drugs may be putting elderly people at risk, says Queen's University Geriatrics professor Sudeep Gill.
Read article at sciencedaily.com
Comment: Gill and his colleagues discovered that people who used cholinesterase inhibitors were hospitalized for fainting almost twice as often as people with dementia who did not receive these drugs. Experiencing a slowed heart-rate was 69 per cent more common amongst cholinesterase inhibitor users. In addition, people taking the dementia drugs had a 49 per cent increased chance of having permanent pacemakers implanted and an 18 per cent increased risk of hip fractures.

May 26, 2009

Use of acid-suppressive medications associated with increased risk of hospital-acquired pneumonia
Hospitalized patients who receive acid-suppressive medications such as a proton-pump inhibitor have a 30 percent increased odds of developing pneumonia while in the hospital, according to a study in the May 27 issue of JAMA.
Read article at physorg.com

May 20, 2009

AstraZeneca e-mails show debate on Seroquel risks
Marketing executives at British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC for years blocked efforts by company scientists to raise concerns antipsychotic drug Seroquel caused weight gain and other problems, saying that would harm sales, plaintiff lawyers say.
Read article at physorg.com

May 19, 2009

Vermont Acts to Make Drug Makers’ Gifts Public
Cracking down on medical industry payments to doctors, the Vermont legislature has passed a law requiring drug and device makers to publicly disclose all money given to physicians and other health care providers, naming names and listing dollar amounts. The law, scheduled to take effect on July 1, is believed to be the most stringent state effort to regulate the marketing of medical products to doctors. It would also ban nearly all industry gifts, including meals, to doctors, nurses, medical staff, pharmacists, health plan administrators and health care facilities.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

May 19, 2009

Nurses paid to scout for Vioxx drug firm
Australian marketing staff from pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co paid specialist nurses half-a-million dollars to "hunt" through patient records for potential candidates for their blockbuster anti-arthritis drug Vioxx. The Federal Court was told the company aimed to identify 100 patients of each targeted general practitioner who were not taking Vioxx and could be recommended to take up the drug for their condition. Known as the "bone and joint care program", the marketing initiative employed "bone care" nurses -- via an independent third party -- to go through patients' records with permission of their general practitioner.
Read article in The Australian (Australia)

May 19, 2009

Drug for urination difficulties linked with complications after cataract surgery
Use of the medication tamsulosin to treat male urination difficulties within two weeks of cataract surgery is associated with an increased risk of serious postoperative ophthalmic adverse events such as retinal detachment or lost lens, according to a study in the May 20 issue of JAMA.
Read article at physorg.com

May 18, 2009

Throwing Billions Down a Psych Drug Rat Hole
From 1996 to 2006, prescriptions for psychiatric drugs increased by 73% among adults and 50% with children in the US, according to a new study in the May/June 2009 issue of the journal “Health Affairs.” Another study in the same issue, found spending for mental health care grew more than 30% over the same 10-year period, with almost all of the increase due to psychiatric drug costs.
Read article at lawyersandsettlements.com

May 16, 2009

Parents ordered to take US teenager to cancer doctor
A US couple who refused chemotherapy for their 13-year-old son on religious grounds have been ordered to have the boy re-evaluated to see if he would still benefit from the cancer treatment. A judge in Minnesota found that Daniel Hauser had been "medically neglected" by his parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser, who belong to a religious group that believes in using only natural healing methods practised by some American Indians.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)
Comment: Daniel Hauser, like Dominik Feld before him, is fighting an antiquated medical system. To read the facts on the toxic drugs used in chemotherapy, click here. The existence of safe and effective natural methods for the control of cancer threatens the financial interests of the pharma cartel, who, as a result, are becoming increasingly desperate to protect their “business with disease”.

May 14, 2009

Number of foster children in Florida on mood-altering drugs underreported, state study finds
FORT LAUDERDALE - The number of foster children in Florida prescribed mood-altering drugs has been significantly underreported, according to the early results of a statewide study sparked by a 7-year-old boy's suicide in Margate. The revelation came Thursday at the end of an intense, day-long hearing by a panel appointed to scrutinize Gabriel Myers' tumultuous journey through the child welfare system that ended with him hanging himself at his foster home on April 16. Gabriel had been prescribed two psychotropic drugs. Since then, the state Department of Children & Families has been reviewing case files on the more than 20,000 foster children in Florida. Before Gabriel's death, just under 10 percent -- 1,954 -- were listed as being on mood-altering drugs, said John Cooper, the department's acting assistant secretary for operations. That number will rise markedly when DCF releases the findings of its current study next week, Cooper said.
Read article on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel website (USA)

May 14, 2009

Tamiflu Developer: Swine Flu Could Have Come From Bio-Experiment Lab
World Health Organization Investigates Claims by Australian Scientist Adrian Gibbs
An Australian researcher claims the swine flu, which has killed at least 64 people so far, might not be a mutation that occurred naturally but a man-made product of genetic experiments accidently leaked from a laboratory -- a theory the World Health Organization is taking very seriously. Adrian Gibbs, a scientist on the team that was behind the development of Tamiflu, says in a report he is submitting today that swine flu might have been created using eggs to grow viruses and make new vaccines, and could have been accidently leaked to the general public.
Read article on the ABC News website (USA)

May 12, 2009

Pharma freebies sway med students
Even trivial handouts influence the brand of drugs favoured by students, says new research paper
It starts simply enough: Drug companies provide clipboards and notepads emblazoned with their logos to medical students. But even these trivial handouts have a subliminal impact - they influence the brand of drugs favoured by the students, according to a new research paper. "We know that even trivial gifts operate on an unconscious level and influence us in ways we don't appreciate ourselves," said David Grande, whose study was published yesterday in Archives of Internal Medicine.
Read article on the website of the Globe and Mail (Canada)

May 11, 2009

Almost 30 percent of cancer studies report conflict of interest
A new analysis finds that a considerable number of clinical cancer studies published in respected medical journals have financial connections to pharmaceutical companies.
Read article at physorg.com

May 9, 2009

A UT System researcher's ties to drug firms is questioned
An influential U.S. senator has told a federal investigator that a University of Texas System researcher may not have properly disclosed her financial relationship with a drug company. The inspector general at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could launch an inquiry into the scientist, UT child pharmacology researcher Karen Wagner. Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to the University of Texas System in September raising concerns that Wagner had not properly disclosed her financial connections with drug companies.
Read article in the Dallas Morning News (USA)

May 8, 2009

Cancer Drug Tarceva Linked to Deadly and Severe Injuries, FDA Warns
The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers and healthcare professionals about the risks of severe and in some cases fatal injuries in patients being treated for two types of lung and pancreatic cancer. Tarceva, made by a partnership of Genentech Inc. and OSI Pharmaceutical Inc., is approved for treating locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that has not responded to at least one prior chemotherapy treatment. It also is approved for use, along with gemcitabine, to treat locally advanced pancreatic cancer, the FDA said. Patients taking Tarceva have developed fatal gastrointestinal perforations, blistering and exfoliative skin conditions that are suggestive of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (also called toxic epidermal necrolysis). Some patients also have reported suffering severe eye injuries, including corneal perforations and ulceration, according to the FDA.
Read article at attorneyatlaw.com (USA)

May 8, 2009

Elsevier published six ‘fake’ Australian medical journals on behalf of pharma companies
Academic publisher Elsevier has admitted its Australian office produced six fake journals between 2000 and 2005. US magazine The Scientist revealed last week that pharma giant Merck paid Elsevier to produce a journal called the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine which contained reprints or summaries of previously published articles, many with only one or two citations. Copies of the journal seen by The Scientist and republished on its website show that it only contained ads for Merck’s osteoporosis drug Fosamax and arthritis drug Vioxx.
Read article on the Australian Life Scientist website (Australia)

May 5, 2009

Senate Probe Reveals that Majority of NAMI Money from Drug Companies
For years NAMI -- the National Alliance on Mental Illness -- has had an official secrecy policy on the amount of funds NAMI receives from psychiatric drug companies. Because of a US Senate probe in April 2009, NAMI has now disclosed that for the past five years a majority of their funds -- 56% -- are from the pharmaceutical industry.
Read article at mindfreedom.org (USA)

May 4, 2009

Ministers dropped Vioxx protest after lobbying from US drug firm
Private lobbying by an American pharmaceutical company saw government ministers back down from supporting British people who claim one of its failed drugs caused them heart attacks and strokes. A minister promised in parliament that the government would back their campaign against Merck, one of the world's largest drugs firms. But Whitehall documents obtained by the Guardian reveal Merck immediately put pressure on the minister and helped persuade the government to withdraw its support.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)

April 30, 2009

Leukemia Risk Seen With MS Drug Mitoxantrone
An Italian study confirms that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are treated with the drug mitoxantrone have an increased risk of developing acute leukemia. Furthermore, it seems that the risk is significantly higher than previously reported.
Read article on the Post Chronicle website (USA)

April 29, 2009

After 7-year-old's suicide, officials order look at drug use of other Florida foster children
In the aftermath of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers' suicide, state child welfare officials will review the case files of every foster child in Florida to see how many are on mind-altering drugs. The head of the Department of Children & Families also took the rare step Wednesday of appointing a panel to examine the circumstances surrounding Gabriel's death. The child hanged himself April 16 with a shower hose in the bathroom of his Margate foster home. "It is difficult for any of us to comprehend how a child so young could have deliberately and consciously made the decision to end his life," DCF Secretary George Sheldon said. "But in order to help prevent this type of tragedy from happening again, it is critical we review all available information to determine the factors that led to Gabriel's death." Four weeks before his suicide, Gabriel was prescribed Symbyax, which is a combination of the generic forms of the anti-depressant Prozac and the anti-psychosis drug Zyprexa. He already had been taking Vyvanse, a drug to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Read article on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel website (USA)

April 29, 2009

Swine flu? A panic stoked in order to posture and spend
Despite the hysteria, the risk to Britons' health is tiny - but that news won't sell papers or drugs, or justify the WHO's budget.
Read article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian (UK)
Comment: As we have pointed out many times previously on these pages, the drug industry is an investment industry driven by the profits of its shareholders. Significantly, therefore, as the swine flu hysteria began to mount, the share price of Australia's Biota Holdings Ltd, which licensed the flu drug Relenza to GlaxoSmithKline, jumped by 82 percent. Almost simultaneously, investment analysts began talking up the share price of Roche, manufacturer of the flu drug Tamiflu, saying that the outbreak represents “up to $388 million” of sales. To read more about the principles governing the pharmaceutical “business with disease”, click here. To learn the facts about swine flu and human influenza, click here.

April 28, 2009

Drug companies and their checkbooks
The drug industry has long been accused of having the best friends money can buy. Near the top of the list is doctors, who for years have taken gifts and consulting fees from the nation's biggest drugmakers, including Eli Lilly and Co. of Indianapolis. It's a murky relationship that has given the industry a black eye. For years, critics have called on Big Pharma to stop throwing money at doctors. Now, a new report by the government's top medical advisers is recommending that Big Pharma stop showering doctors with gifts and fees.
Read John Russell's blog entry on the Indianapolis Star website (USA)

April 23, 2009

New Merck Allegations: A Fake Journal; Ghostwritten Studies; Vioxx Pop Songs; PR Execs Harass Reporters
Federal prosecutors in the U.S. will be reading with amusement the Australian press’s coverage of a class action trial down under for patients who took Merck’s now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx. Details emerging in Oz make some of the antics that Merck’s American counterparts got up to look tame by comparison.
Read article on the BNET Pharma website

April 23, 2009

Merck target of Vioxx federal grand jury probe
Merck & Co said on Monday that it has been advised it is a target of a U.S. grand jury investigation involving its withdrawn pain drug Vioxx. The company had previously disclosed the government probe, which has been ongoing since 2004. But it only last week received a letter from the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Massachusetts informing the drugmaker it is a target of the grand jury investigation, Merck said.
Read news report at reuters.com

April 23, 2009

Drug firm disguised link to positive journal article, court told
The drug company Merck had a cardiologist sign his name to a medical journal article it wrote claiming there was no evidence of any heart risk attached to its drug Vioxx, court documents allegedly show. In an internal email in August 2001 to discuss a draft of the manuscript, a Merck senior researcher, Briggs Morrison, expressed concern about the claim that Vioxx was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events. "That seems wishful thinking, not a critical interpretation of the data," Dr Morrison said in an email to colleagues. "The data appears to have been interpreted to support a pre-conceived hypothesis." The claim was nonetheless included in the final version of the article, which was sent by Merck to the US cardiologist Dr Marvin Konstam for approval.
Read article in the Brisbane Times (Australia)

April 20, 2009

Drugging Kids With No Verifiable Disease
Psychiatry’s marketing strategy is to invent diagnoses out of thin air and call them diseases as an excuse to prescribe drugs, according to Dr Fred Baughman, author of The ADHD Fraud.
Read article at lawyersandsettlements.com (USA)

April 20, 2009

Tamiflu 'may be tied to abnormal behavior'
Influenza patients between ages 10 and 17 who took Tamiflu were 54 percent more likely to exhibit serious abnormal behavior than those who did not take the antiflu drug, according to a final report, released Saturday, from a Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team.
Read article at physorg.com

April 19, 2009

Studies find factories release pharmaceuticals
Federal scientists testing for pharmaceuticals in water have been finding significantly more medicine residues in sewage downstream from public treatment facilities that handle waste from drugmakers. Early results from two pivotal federal studies compare wastewater at treatment plants that handle sewage from drugmakers with those that do not.
Read Associated Press news story at google.com
Comment: Reports suggest that US manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water — contamination the US federal government has consistently overlooked.

April 15, 2009

Aspirin 'causes brain to bleed'
Aspirin may cause bleeding in the brain, according to new research. Brain scans of 1,062 people found a 70 per cent higher incidence of microscopic bleeding among those taking the drug or carbasalate calcium, a close chemical relative, than among those not taking such anti-clotting medication.
Read article in The Scotsman (Scotland/UK)

April 15, 2009

Exposure to valproate during pregnancy can impair a child's cognitive development
Three-year-olds whose mothers took the antiepileptic drug valproate during pregnancy had average IQs six to nine points lower than children exposed to three other antiepileptic drugs, a landmark multi-center study has found.
Read article at physorg.com

April 9, 2009

Genentech Withdraws Psoriasis Drug Linked to Brain Infections
Genentech Inc. began pulling its psoriasis treatment Raptiva from the U.S. market because of the drug’s link to a rare, fatal brain disorder that has troubled at least four other medicines.
Read article at bloomberg.com

April 7, 2009

New Report Urges FDA Clinical Trial Reform
Current FDA Corrective Actions Fall Short in Several Important Areas
(Washington, D.C) – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) is releasing a new “white paper” report, The ABCs of Drug Safety: Accountability, Balance, and Citizen Empowerment, which focuses on the severe problems with the current system for conducting and regulating clinical trials. The report details the urgent need for reform. Mark Cohen, GAP Executive Director and coauthor of the report, stated “The current clinical trial reform process is rife with conflicts of interest that put trial subjects at risk and produce suspect data on drug safety and efficacy. Making matters worse, federal oversight is wholly inadequate.”
Read press release at whistleblower.org
Comment: Click here to read a copy of the report's Executive Summary. Click here to read a copy of the report in full.

April 7, 2009

'Sedation link' to birth defects
Hundreds of girls heavily sedated in UK care homes during the 1970s and 1980s may be at risk of having children with birth defects, the BBC has found. Radio 4's Today found 10 ex-residents of a children's home run by the Church of England in Gravesend, Kent, have had children with a birth defect. They were given massive doses of tranquilisers and other drugs while being restrained as teenagers.
Read article on the BBC News website (UK)

April 3, 2009

FDA Warns World's Largest Drug Firms Over Internet Ads
For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday warned 14 of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies about misleading Internet ads that appear when people do online queries for their medical products through search engines such as Google. The FDA said in strongly worded letters to the companies that the ads are misleading because they omit risk information associated with the products. Companies that received the letters include Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB), Sanofi-Aventis (SNY), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Some of the letters include complaints about multiple drugs. For instance, a letter to Pfizer Inc. (PFE) mentions six drugs, including its anti-smoking drug Chantix and the arthritis medicine Celebrex.
Read article at cnn.com

April 1, 2009

Vioxx maker Merck and Co drew up doctor hit list
AN international drug company made a hit list of doctors who had to be "neutralised" or discredited because they criticised the anti-arthritis drug the pharmaceutical giant produced. Staff at US company Merck &Co emailed each other about the list of doctors - mainly researchers and academics - who had been negative about the drug Vioxx or Merck and a recommended course of action. The email, which came out in the Federal Court in Melbourne yesterday as part of a class action against the drug company, included the words "neutralise", "neutralised" or "discredit" against some of the doctors' names. It is also alleged the company used intimidation tactics against critical researchers, including dropping hints it would stop funding to institutions and claims it interfered with academic appointments. "We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live," a Merck employee wrote, according to an email excerpt read to the court by Julian Burnside QC, acting for the plaintiff.
Read article in The Australian (Australia)

April 1, 2009

Doctors Urge Limits on Drug Firm Money
A group of leading doctors and researchers called on medical associations to sharply limit the funding they receive from the drug and device companies, the latest sign of the growing push to limit industry's influence on how medicine is practiced.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)

March 30, 2009

AMA seeks probe of journal editors' actions
The American Medical Association is seeking an investigation of claims that editors of its leading medical journal threatened a whistleblower who pointed out a researcher's conflict of interest. Editors of the Journal of the American Medical Association deny threatening a professor who raised concerns about a study author's financial ties to industry - ties that were not disclosed when JAMA published the study last year. JAMA, like most leading medical journals, has a policy of noting a scientist's financial ties to companies whose drugs they are researching. According to the Wall Street Journal, JAMA editors threatened to ban the professor from their journal and ruin his medical school's reputation if he didn't stop talking to reporters.
Read article at physorg.com

March 25, 2009

Study: Range of pharmaceuticals in fish across US
Fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major U.S. cities had residues of pharmaceuticals in them, including medicines used to treat high cholesterol, allergies, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder and depression, researchers reported Wednesday. Findings from this first nationwide study of human drugs in fish tissue have prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly expand similar ongoing research to more than 150 different locations.
Read Associated Press news report at yahoo.com
Comment: In 2008, the Associated Press reported that trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals have been detected in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans. Laboratory studies have shown that human cells failed to grow or took unusual shapes when exposed to combinations of some pharmaceuticals found in drinking water.

March 25, 2009

Psychiatric Group Ends Industry-Sponsored Seminars
Amid increasing Congressional scrutiny of ties between doctors and drug makers, the American Psychiatric Association announced on Wednesday that it would end industry-financed medical seminars at its annual meeting. The association, the field’s premier organization, said it would also phase out meals at the meeting paid for with industry money.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

March 24, 2009

Hundreds of deaths linked to schizophrenia drug clozapine
Fifty people die each year and hundreds more suffer serious side-effects as the result of taking powerful tranquillisers prescribed by the NHS, The Times has learnt. Data from the medicine watchdog’s own reporting scheme suggests that clozapine, a drug taken by schizophrenia patients, has been linked to 950 deaths since being licensed in 1990 — equivalent to nearly one fatality a week.
Read article in The Times (UK)

March 23, 2009

FDA, drug maker come under fire over secret test results
AstraZeneca and the FDA are facing criticism over antipsychotic drug Seroquel which numerous lawsuits allege causes metabolic disorders. A case against the company will be heard in Delaware state court beginning June 29. It alleges that Seroquel has caused schizophrenic patients to develop diabetes, excessive weight gain and other metabolic conditions, according to Aboutlawsuits.com. Meanwhile, the Washington Post has reported that a trial known as Study 15 was conducted in late 1990s, but its results were never disclosed to practicing physicians. Instead, the drug gained an FDA approval, and has earned AstraZeneca nearly $12 billion in the past three years.
Read article at personalliberty.com
Comment: To read the Washington Post article referred to above, click here.

March 20, 2009

Harvard Child Psychiatrist Promised Drug Maker Positive Results Before Conducting Studies Of Antipsychotic, ADHD Drug
The New York Times is reporting that controversial Harvard child psychiatrist Joseph Biederman was selling J&J/Janssen on results of clinical trials in children of its antipsychotic Risperdal and its stimulant Concerta in advance of conducting the actual studies. Biederman is of course the godfather of the alleged bipolar child diagnosis and took oodles of money from J&J and other pharma companies, and is under investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley for possible violations of federal research rules regarding conflicts of interest and by Massachusetts General Hospital.
Read article at furiousseasons.com

March 17, 2009

Nurse prescribers unaware of drug companies' marketing techniques
Nurse prescribers often do not realise the effect that drug companies' marketing techniques can have on them, according to US research. The study, in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, concluded that nurses were 'confused' about the level of influence that pharmaceutical firms can have. Although the 84 nurses in the study rejected many incentives, such as invitations to seminars in holiday resorts, the authors said they displayed a 'low awareness of how marketing… affects clinical decisions and creates conflicts of interest'.
Read article on the Nursing Times magazine website (UK)

March 12, 2009

Are antidepressants, bone drugs, and statins causing heart failure?
Researchers have documented an alarming link between the use of antidepressants and the development of serious heart disease. The link was discovered by following 63,449 women as part of the Nurses’ Health Study. The results show a “specific relationship between antidepressant use and sudden cardiac death.” The specific conclusion of the study states, “In this cohort of women without baseline coronary heart disease, depressive symptoms were associated with fatal coronary heart disease, and a measure of clinical depression including antidepressant use was specifically associated with sudden cardiac death.”
Read article at newswithviews.com

March 11, 2009

Doctor accused of faking studies
A widely known Massachusetts anesthesiologist whose research has influenced how doctors treat surgery patients for pain has been accused of fabricating results in at least 21 published studies and, in some cases, even inventing patients. Physicians and journal editors said the allegations, if proven, could constitute one of the largest and longest-running cases ever of medical research fraud.
Read article in The Boston Globe (USA)
Comment: In some instances, the studies in question involved data about drugs made by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., including Celebrex, Lyrica, and Neurontin. Significantly therefore, it turns out that the anesthesiologist in question, Dr. Scott S. Reuben, was given five research grants by Pfizer between 2002 and 2007, and was also a member of Pfizer's speakers bureau, in which physicians give talks about Pfizer drugs to colleagues.

March 10, 2009

Concerns over drug companies’ political donations
Consumer Watchdog (CS) has revealed that politicians in Washington have received multimillion dollar donations from drug and health insurance companies. According to CS, a nonpartisan and non-profit organization, the health industry contributed more than $5 million to the top 10 recipients in Congress during the last two election campaigns. The organization’s breakdown shows that those recipients received $2.2 million from health insurers and $3.3 million from drug manufacturers. Altogether, health insurers and drug manufacturers have contributed more than $24 million to the current members of the Senate and House of Representatives since 2005.
Read article at personalliberty.com (USA)

March 10, 2009

Cervarix vaccine causing severe reactions
MORE than 1300 schoolgirls have experienced adverse reactions to the controversial cervical cancer jab. Doctors have reported girls aged just 12 and 13 have suffered paralysis, convulsions and sight problems after being given the vaccine. Dozens were described as having pain "in extremity" while others suffered from nausea, muscle weakness, fever, dizziness and numbness.
Read article in the Melbourne Herald Sun (Australia)

March 7, 2009

The withdrawal of drug-company money
A crackdown on inappropriate financial ties between pharmaceutical firms and doctors is imperative.
In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has been repeatedly (and rightly) excoriated for its shameless efforts to promote its products: Freebies handed out to doctors as inducements to prescribe particular drugs. Studies underwritten by drug companies with financial interests in the outcome published in prestigious journals. Lucrative consulting contracts given to National Institutes of Health scientists. To name just a few. You would think that in the face of all the unpleasant scrutiny -- books on the industry's "deceit" and "greed," congressional investigations, lawsuits and even some criminal convictions -- drug makers would wake up, do some serious self-analysis, retool their outrageous marketing practices and try, as Pfizer Chief Executive Jeffrey Kindler said last month, to "earn the trust of patients and the public."
Read editorial in the Los Angeles Times (USA)

March 6, 2009

Is Drug-Company Money Tainting Medical Education?
It's not often that a place like Harvard Medical School gets an F — particularly when rivals Stanford, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania are pulling A's and B's. But that's what happened recently when the members of the increasingly influential — and increasingly noisy — American Medical Student Association (AMSA) decided to grade 150 med schools on just how much money and gifts they're collecting from drug companies. The more goodies a school is vacuuming up from the industry, the worse its grade. There's always been reason to worry about the influence of Big Pharma on the practice of medicine. When doctors are being lavished with meals and speaking fees by the likes of Pfizer and Merck, can you really trust them when they later write prescriptions for those companies' drugs?
Read article in Time Magazine (USA)
Comment: In our opinion, there can only be one answer to the question posed by the title of this article: Yes.

March 4, 2009

No Legal Shield in Drug Labeling, Justices Rule
In a major setback for business groups that had hoped to build a barrier against injury lawsuits seeking billions of dollars, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said state juries may award damages for harm from unsafe drugs even though their manufacturers had satisfied federal regulators.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)
Comment: The court upheld a jury verdict of $6.7 million in favor of Diana Levine, a musician from Vermont, whose arm had to be amputated after she was injected with Phenergan, an antinausea drug. Wyeth, the drug’s manufacturer, had argued that its compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements should immunize it from lawsuits.

March 3, 2009

GPs are medicalising healthy elderly people, professor warns
Elderly people are being turned into patients by GPs blindly following guidelines to hand out pills for high blood pressure and cholesterol, a professor has said. The ‘paternalistic society’ and medicine by ‘tick box’ has overtaken personal advice, Michael Oliver, emeritus professor of cardiology at Edinburgh University wrote in the British Medical Journal online. He said many of the drugs including those for high blood pressure and statins for raised cholesterol have side effects which many elderly people find debilitating.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

March 2, 2009

Pfizer Worker Photographed Protesters at Harvard
Harvard Medical School’s rules say that students on campus are supposed to be off-limits to drug company representatives. That is why David Tian, a first-year Harvard medical student, said he found it “strange and off-putting” last fall when a man who identified himself as a Pfizer employee took a cellphone photo of students as they demonstrated against pharmaceutical industry influence on campus. “We could only assume he intended to share this with his company,” Mr. Tian said.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

February 27, 2009

Baxter: Product contained live bird flu virus
The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses. And an official of the World Health Organization’s European operation said the body is closely monitoring the investigation into the events that took place at Baxter International’s research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.
Read article in the Toronto Sun (Canada)

February 25, 2009

HRT 'doubles risk of deadly skin cancer'
Women who take hormone replacement therapy to cope with the menopause could be doubling their risk of deadly skin cancer, according to new research. It found those taking HRT for more than six months at a time are twice as likely to get a malignant melanoma. The same study shows taking the pill can also increase the dangers, although to a lesser extent. Women on oral contraceptives for more than six months were 28 per cent more likely to develop a cancerous mole.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

February 25, 2009

Boy, 14, dies after taking acne drug
A healthy 14-year-old rugby player died 12 hours after taking prescribed medication to treat his acne, an inquest has heard.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

February 23, 2009

Vaccine Makers Enjoy Immunity
One of the little-noticed reasons that Wyeth was attractive enough to command a $68 billion price for rival Pfizer Inc.'s planned takeover sits in a building catty-corner from the White House across Pennsylvania Avenue. That is where a special "vaccines court" hears cases brought by parents who claim their children have been harmed by routine vaccinations. The court -- and the law that established it more than two decades ago -- buffers Wyeth and other makers of childhood-disease vaccines from much of the litigation risk that dogs traditional pill manufacturers and is an important reason why the vaccine business has been transformed from a risky, low-profit venture in the 1970s to one of the pharmaceutical industry's most attractive product lines today.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)

February 19, 2009

Psoriasis Drug Raptiva Tied to Brain Infection
The FDA today issued a public health advisory about reports of a rare brain infection in people using the psoriasis drug Raptiva. According to the FDA, there have been three confirmed and one possible case of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in people taking Raptiva; three of those people died.
Read article at webmd.com

February 17, 2009

Patients deserve facts about drug
Pharmaceutical companies spend millions each year to market drugs to doctors and potential patients. That makes it all the more outrageous that AstraZeneca is asking an Orlando court to keep information about the performance of its lucrative antipsychotic drug Seroquel secret. The company is claiming public safety, saying it shouldn't be required to release information about the drug that could cause a panic among "a vulnerable patient population" that might stop taking the drug without a doctor's oversight. But the real public safety issue is one of public health and whether the company hid findings that Seroquel causes weight gain and diabetes. The legal system must put public health — and a patient's right to know — above a company's interest in secrecy.
Read editorial in the St. Petersburg Times (Florida/USA)

February 12, 2009

Attorney Continues Long Battle With Pfizer Over Nigerian Drug Experiments
A new chapter begins in the battle over 'a diabolical scheme' that is the subject of the book and movie, 'The Constant Gardener'
West Haven, Conn., attorney Richard Altschuler has reams of paper and endless boxes of notes that tell the story. Medical experiments on children. Claims that a large American pharmaceutical company exploited a third world country. Sounds like the plot of a novel? It was. The book is called "The Constant Gardener." A movie of the same name followed in 2005. But the thing is, both were based on reality, on a case that Altschuler has been fighting for eight years against Pfizer Inc. He claims that the pharmaceutical giant secretly tested a new drug during a 1996 meningitis outbreak in Nigeria with devastating results.
Read article at law.com

February 10, 2009

Elderly patients 'at risk of adverse drug reactions in hospital'
The cocktail of medications taken by many older people is contributing to a high number of adverse reactions in hospital, a new study has found. Research into more than 3,000 patients found that one in seven had had a reaction to drugs they received in hospital. Most susceptible were elderly patients, the study found, who were often already taking a handful of different medications.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)
Comment: Previous studies have shown that 250,000 people in Britain are admitted to hospital every year because of adverse reactions to a variety of prescribed drugs.

February 8, 2009

Thalidomide 'was created by the Nazis'
The damaging drug may have been developed as an antidote to nerve gas
The morning sickness drug thalidomide, which caused pregnant women to give birth to babies without arms and legs, was first developed by the Nazis, probably as part of their chemical weapons programme, according to new research. Two separate academics have revealed the discovery of documents indicating that the drug did not originate with Chemie Grünenthal, the postwar German chemical firm, as has always been claimed. If, as their research suggests, thalidomide was first developed by scientists working in wartime Germany, it could have implications for the liability of the German government. So far it has given compensation only to German victims, although the drug was distributed in at least 46 countries.
Read article in The Sunday Times (UK)

February 5, 2009

Pharmaceutical Advertising Biases Journals Against Vitamin Supplements
It may be the worst-kept secret in medicine: pharmaceutical money buys journal influence. What the public has so long suspected has now been demonstrated in a recently published peer-reviewed study. Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the University of Florida found that "in major medical journals, more pharmaceutical advertising is associated with publishing fewer articles about dietary supplements." Furthermore, they found that more pharmaceutical company advertising resulted in the journal having more articles with "negative conclusions about dietary supplement safety."
Read news release from the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service at orthomolecular.org

February 4, 2009

Drug company freebies undermine patient trust in doctors
All 'gifts' should be banned, says a report from the Royal College of Physicians
Drug company handouts to doctors, in the shape of flights to conferences, hotel stays, meals and gifts, must end to re-establish patients' trust in prescribers, a high-level inquiry urged today. A report from a working group of the Royal College of Physicians, with members from the pharmaceutical industry as well as patient representation, found that there were widespread suspicions about the relationship between the drug companies and doctors. A picture of "relentless pressure on doctors exerted by pharmaceutical marketing, masquerading as education, is common," says the report.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)

February 4, 2009

New Evidence Of Hormone Therapy Causing Breast Cancer
Postmenopausal women who take combined estrogen plus progestin menopausal hormone therapy for at least five years double their annual risk of breast cancer, according to new analyses from a major study that clearly establishes a link between hormone use and breast cancer, Stanford researchers say. The multi-center study also found that women on hormones can quickly reduce their risks of cancer simply by stopping the therapy.
Read article at sciencedaily.com

February 4, 2009

Over 800 complaints on quit-smoking aid reported to Health Canada
A drug commonly used to help people quit smoking is the focus of more than 800 complaints from Canadian users, many of them reporting mood swings, depression or suicidal thoughts. Of the 818 complaints about Champix (varenicline tartrate) Health Canada has received complaints on its adverse reaction database, 520 involved psychiatric problems.
Read article on the CBC News website (Canada)

February 2, 2009

Split 2nd Circuit Revives Nigerian Families' Claims Against Pfizer Over Drug Tests
Majority calls dissent's approach to 'customary' international law 'unselfconsciously reactionary and static'
African families' damage claims for billions of dollars against Pfizer for allegedly secretly testing a new drug in a Nigerian hospital during a 1996 meningitis outbreak were revived Friday by a divided federal appeals court. The ruling allows 88 Nigerian families to pursue claims under a law adopted in 1789 that gives foreigners the right to raise tort claims in federal court to vindicate violations of "the laws of nations." In 89 pages containing numerous barbed comments, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals majority and dissent differed over whether the families' claims that their children had been subjected to medical experimentation without their consent fell within the 18th-century law.
Read article at law.com

January 28, 2009

Bitter Pill
Created to treat schizophrenia, Zyprexa wound up being used on misbehaving kids. How the pharmaceutical industry turned a flawed and dangerous drug into a $16 billion bonanza.
Read article in Rolling Stone magazine

January 27, 2009

First comprehensive paper on statins' adverse effects released
A paper co-authored by Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of UC San Diego's Statin Study group cites nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), a class of drugs widely used to treat high cholesterol. The result is a review paper, currently published in the on-line edition of American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs, that provides the most complete picture to date of reported side effects of statins, showing the state of evidence for each.
Read article at physorg.com

January 26, 2009

Report: Some ADHD drugs can cause kids to have severe hallucinations
U.S. Food and Drug Administration researchers have found that drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, can cause children to have severe hallucinations, Reuters reports. The study of the drugs was conducted by drug makers. They found cases of psychosis and mania in some young patients, even those with no obvious risk factors.
Read article on the Texas Cable News website (USA)

January 25, 2009

World's highest drug levels entering India stream
PATANCHERU, India: When researchers analyzed vials of treated wastewater taken from a plant where about 90 Indian drug factories dump their residues, they were shocked. Enough of a single, powerful antibiotic was being spewed into one stream each day to treat every person in a city of 90,000. And it wasn't just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly cleaned water was a floating medicine cabinet — a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment, researchers say.
Read article in the International Herald Tribune
Comment: Pharmaceutical contamination of the water supply is an emerging concern worldwide. Studies have shown that concentrations of pharmaceuticals are almost ubiquitous in rivers, lakes and streams. Last year, for example, the Associated Press reported that trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals had been found in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans. However, the wastewater downstream from the Indian plants contained 150 times the highest levels detected in the U.S.

January 15, 2009

Study Confirms Antipsychotics Pose Heart Risk
Latest Generation of Drugs Provides No Safety Advantage; Warning on Children, Elderly
Patients taking the latest generation of antipsychotic drugs are twice as likely to suffer sudden cardiac failure and death as nonusers, according to a new study that found such medicines are no safer than the older ones they have largely replaced. Though the health risks of antipsychotic drugs for elderly patients have been previously documented, the study, published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, was one of the largest to date, and it found dangers for younger adults, too. The study's findings add to a growing body of research questioning the safety, cost and effectiveness of so-called atypical antipsychotic drugs.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)

January 13, 2009

HRT drugs can shrink brain
Common forms of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can shrink the brains of post-menopausal women. The discovery, reported in the journal Neurology, may explain earlier findings associating HRT with an increased risk of memory loss and dementia.
Read article at scotman.com (Scotland/UK)

January 9, 2009

Chemical coshes 'double the chance of Alzheimer's patients dying'
Drugs used as a "chemical cosh" to placate Alzheimer's patients in care homes double their chance of dying, a new study has shown. Patients given a placebo were almost twice as likely to be alive after three years as those on the antipsychotic drugs.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

January 8, 2009

FDA Scientists Ask Obama to Restructure Drug Agency
A group of scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team pleading with him to restructure the agency, saying managers have ordered, intimidated and coerced scientists to manipulate data in violation of the law.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)

January 5, 2009

Pneumococcal vaccine does not appear to protect against pneumonia
Commonly used pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines do not appear to be effective for preventing pneumonia, found a study by a team of researchers from Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Read article at physorg.com

January 4, 2009

 No Mugs, but What About Those Fees?
New pharmaceutical industry guidelines should stop most drug companies from distributing a wide range of trinkets and office supplies designed to keep their brand names before doctors as a subliminal inducement to prescribe high-priced drugs. The new code, which kicked in on New Year’s Day, bars the free distribution of everything from pens to coffee mugs and staplers by some 40 drug companies that have agreed to the restrictions. That may seem like small potatoes, but in the aggregate the promotional products probably cost about $1 billion a year, as Natasha Singer reported in The Times. The updated rules are the industry’s latest attempt to restore public confidence that doctors are prescribing medicines in the patient’s interest. The code still has too many loopholes.
Read editorial in the New York Times (USA)

January 1, 2009

Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
The proportion of people taking widely prescribed oral osteoporosis drugs who develop a nasty jaw condition may be much higher than previously thought, a new study suggests. Previous reports had indicated that the risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) from bisphosphonates in pill form were "negligible," although there was a noted risk in people taking the higher-dose intravenous form of the drug. But Dr. Parish Sedghizadeh, an assistant professor of clinical dentistry at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in Los Angeles, said his clinic is seeing one to four new cases a week, compared to one a year in the past. This led him to investigate the phenomenon and publish the findings in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. "This is more frequent than everybody would like to think it is," said Sedghizadeh, lead author of the study.
Read article in the Washington Post (USA)

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