Friday, April 24, 2009

Study Scam Sting Effective

Not long ago I mentioned the congressional sting that caught a Colorado company faking information. Originally Coast IRB said they would review their operations but as a result of the warning letter from the FDA and loss of several key customers the company has said it would close.

One small step ...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Drugs Dangers ... Again

Once again a popular drug is found to have serious side effects even though it's been used for many years. According to research just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, mothers who took the anti-epileptic drug valproate while pregnant reduced the IQ of their child by 6 to 9 points. In addition the drug increases the risk of structural deformities such as spina bifida to about 10%, more than any other anti-epileptic drug. As recently as 2006 valproate was the second-most commonly prescribed anti-epileptic drug among women of childbearing age in America. The good news is there are other anti-epileptic drugs available that do not appear to cause similar problems.

The problem is that it takes years of use in the population for problems with drugs to be recognized and by that time many, many lives have been changed forever. In some cases, even lost.

Doctors need to stop thinking with their prescription pad and free drug rep pen and start looking to more natural ways to help patients. Every prescription not written is another problem avoided.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Vermont Drug Disclosure

Vermont is one of the very few states in the nation with a disclosure law that lets us get a look at how the pharmaceutical industry buys control of medicine today. The drug marketing disclosure law doesn't even include free samples but it's a snapshot of how the current medical system works.

In tiny little Vermont the top 78 drug makers reported spending a total of $2,935,248 to promote their products. Can you imagine how much the drug industry is spending in New York or California to promote drug use and their sales and profits?

And you wonder why the first suggestion from your doctor is about a drug?

How can complementary and alternative therapies compete in this game that's all about money instead of being about patient health?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Congress's Sting Catches Colorado Company

A congressional sting operation has caught Coast IRB. The company approves clinical-trial designs and patient-safety guidelines but it appears their first concern is profit, not patient safety. Their work involves oversight of patient safety during clinical trials and they will now voluntarily halt many of their review operations at the request of the Food and Drug Administration according to the FDA. The action could affect 300 trials involving more than 3,000 researchers and includes work for several major pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical-device companies.

It's about time somebody stepped up and started looking out for us!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Doctors Don't Have All The Answers

Story in the U.K. shows once again that doctors don't have all of the answers and that patients have to take responsibility for their own health. In this case, it was parents taking responsibility for the health of their child.

Reuben Grainger-Mead was diagnosed with a congenital blood disorder that stunted his growth, weakened him and made his heart race three or four times faster than normal when he was just 2 years old. He had to visit a hospital for monthly blood transfusions but his condition continued. His parents refused to give up and eventually found a nutritionist who correctly diagnosed the need for a change in diet due to the unique way his system worked. A change in diet and some dietary supplements and at 8 years old he's living a nearly normal life.

His mother put it clearly "It just shows that parents should never give up," she said. "I'm not criticizing the medical profession at all -- they did all they could. But this shows that there's always another avenue."

And doctors wonder why we fight so hard to have access to complementary and alternative medicine?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fewer Prescriptions Filled

The current economic problems may have a silver lining. Due to their high cost fewer prescription drugs prescriptions are being filled today as people find ways to cut back. In the last quarter of 2008 6.8% of patients didn't fill their prescriptions for brand-name drugs and 4.1% failed to fill their generic prescriptions. May not sound like much but it's a 22% jump compared to the first quarter of 2007.

I say there may be a silver lining in this problem because many patients are going to realize how little the prescriptions were doing for them in the first place, or at least appreciate the cost-benefit ratio. They may also discover some of their health problems were actually side-effects from the prescriptions they were taking, either by themselves or as in combination with other drugs they're taking.

Hopefully some folks are going to look for other, better answers to their health problems. Most of us start to use complementary and alternative medicine because we're out of options. Hopefully a few people are going to try CAM because they're looking for a better, cheaper and safer alternative.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Health Costs Continue Climb for Retirees

Just when your 401K has become a 201K we get the news that health costs for those retiring continues to climb. A couple retiring this year will need about $240,000 just for medical expenses today, an increase of +6.7% from last year. The costs come from deductibles, co-pays and situations that aren't covered by Medicare.

Want more good news? Only 12% of companies today offer insurance for retired workers according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The reality is many people will continue working just for their health care.

The best advice? Start saving now not only for retirement, but for retirement health expenses.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Doctors and Dollars

Once again we discover that money does, in fact, influence doctors even though they protest that they're super humans and above such mortal behavior. A study due out this month finds that among 20 authors of the guidelines to treat depression, dipolar disorder and schizophrenia, 18 had at least one financial tie to a drug maker. Twelve of the 20 had ties to drug makers in at least THREE categories such as consulting, research grants, speaking fees or even stock ownership.

Kind of makes it hard to believe their "expert" opinions aren't just a little bit biased, doesn't it?