Health Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Health Media Articles from Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important health articles reported in the mainstream media suggesting a cover-up.
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to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Panel: Kids Shouldn't Use Cold Medicines
2007-10-20, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press
The medicines long used by parents to treat their children's coughs and colds don't work and shouldn't be used in those younger than 6, federal health advisers recommended. "The data that we have now is they don't seem to work," said Sean Hennessy, a University of Pennsylvania epidemiologist. The recommendation applies to medicines containing one or more of the following ingredients: decongestants, antihistamines and antitussives. In two separate votes ... the panelists said the medicines shouldn't be used in children younger than 2 or in those younger than 6. A third vote, to recommend against use in children 6 to 11, failed. The panel's advice dovetails with a petition filed by pediatricians that argued the over-the-counter medicines shouldn't be given to children younger than 6, an age group they called the most vulnerable to potential ill effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups back the petition. But FDA officials and panelists agreed there's no evidence they work in older children, either. Still, panelists held off from recommending against use in those 6 and older. And some said they feared such a prohibition wouldn't eliminate use of the medicines by parents. "They will administer adult products to their children because they work for them or feel they work for them," said the panel's patient and family representative, Amy Celento of Nutley, N.J. Some of the drugs — which include Wyeth's Dimetapp and Robitussin, Johnson & Johnson's Pediacare and Novartis AG's Triaminic products — have never been tested in children, something flagged as long ago as 1972 by a previous FDA panel. An FDA review found just 11 studies of children published over the last half-century. Those studies did not establish that the medicines worked in those cases, according to the agency.
Note: For a powerful exposé of corporate and government corruption in the health industry, click here.
U.S. Medical Schools, Drug Makers Share Strong Ties
2007-10-16, Washington Post
More than half of department chairs at U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals have financial ties with the drug industry, a new study finds. "There is not a single aspect of medicine in which the drug companies do not have substantial and deep relationships, [including] doctors-in-training, resident physicians, researchers, physicians-in-practice, the people who review drugs for the federal government and the people who review studies," said lead researcher Eric Campbell, associate professor at the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Drug companies have relationships with everyone," he continued. "They're involved in every aspect of medicine. Someone has to decide which of these is OK." The study, the first to examine the extent of these institutional relationships, is published in the Oct. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "I think the paper is a very valuable contribution, in that it provides what's probably the first comprehensive documentation of the extent of relationships that involve department chairs, and department chairs are certainly the key agents of overseeing and maintaining the day-to-day operations of a medical school or teaching hospital," said Dr. David Korn ... at the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C. The issue of medicine's ties to industry has been a hot one of late. One study found that third-year medical students get, on average, one gift or attend one activity sponsored by a drug maker each week. "Now it's up to the policymakers and people who run medical schools," said Campbell. "They need to come up with some rules and they need to be new rules. I believe there's very little reasonable justification for why drug companies should be involved in the education of medical students."
Note: For a powerful overview of medical corruption, click here.
Public health: The hidden menace of mobile phones
2007-10-07, Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Using a mobile phone for more than 10 years increases the risk of getting brain cancer, according to the most comprehensive study of the risks yet published. The study – which contradicts official pronouncements that there is no danger of getting the disease – found that people who have had the phones for a decade or more are twice as likely to get a malignant tumour on the side of the brain where they hold the handset. The scientists who conducted the research say using a mobile for just an hour every working day during that period is enough to increase the risk – and that the international standard used to protect users from the radiation emitted is "not safe" and "needs to be revised". They conclude that "caution is needed in the use of mobile phones" and believe children, who are especially vulnerable, should be discouraged from using them at all. Official assurances that the phones are safe have been based on research that has, at best, included only a few people who have been exposed to the radiation for long enough to get the disease, and are therefore of little or no value in assessing the real risk. The scientists pulled together the results of the 11 studies that have so far investigated the occurrence of tumours in people who have used phones for more than a decade, drawing on research in Sweden, Denmark Finland, Japan, Germany, the United States and Britain. They found almost all had discovered an increased risk, especially on the side of the head where people listened to their handsets. [One of the study's authors] said he uses a mobile phone as little as possible, and urges others to use hands-free equipment and make only short calls, reserving longer ones for landlines. He also said that mobiles should not be given to children, whose thinner skulls and developing nervous systems make them particularly vulnerable.
Note: Evidence has been mounting for some years that cell phones and wireless technology (WiFi) have significant health risks. For a recent brief summary by a highly respected scientist, click here.
Probe Into Tainted Rice Ends
2007-10-06, Washington Post
More than 14 months after the Agriculture Department began an investigation into how the U.S. supply of long-grain rice became tainted with an unapproved genetically engineered variety -- an event that continues to disrupt U.S. exports -- the government announced yesterday that it could not figure out how the contamination happened. Agency officials said documents from several years ago that might have helped them determine what went wrong had been lost or destroyed. Lacking clear evidence of who was responsible, they said, the government will not take enforcement action against any person or entity, including Bayer CropScience, the company whose gene-altered products slipped into the food supply. The widespread, low-level contamination with experimental genes that make the rice pesticide-tolerant, one of several such events in recent years, prompted countries around the world to cut off imports of U.S. long-grain rice. Rice prices plummeted, and many farmers, scientists and biotechnology activists called for an overhaul of the oversight system for gene-altered crops. While some countries have begun to accept U.S. rice with added testing, the European Union and Russia have not -- a trade loss valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Critics assailed the report as yet more evidence that the nation's regulatory system for gene-altered crops is broken. "This underlines the anxiety people have about more such incidents occurring," said Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science-based advocacy group that has called for a more rigorous approval process for biotech crops.
Note: For important reports from major media sources which reveal the dangers of genetically modified foods and other organisms, click here.
EPA approves new pesticide despite scientists' concerns
2007-10-06, Los Angeles Times
Despite the protests of more than 50 scientists, including five Nobel laureates in chemistry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday approved use of a new, highly toxic fumigant, mainly for strawberry fields. The new pesticide, methyl iodide, is designed for growers, mainly in California and Florida, who need to replace methyl bromide, which has been banned under an international treaty because it damages the Earth's ozone layer. In a letter sent last month to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, 54 scientists, mostly chemists, warned that "pregnant women and the fetus, children, the elderly, farmworkers and other people living near application sites would be at serious risk." Methyl iodide is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that has caused thyroid tumors, neurological damage and miscarriages in lab animals. But EPA officials said Friday that they carefully evaluated the risks and decided to approve its use for one year, imposing restrictions such as buffer zones to protect farmworkers and neighbors. Growers, particularly those who grow strawberries and tomatoes, have been searching for 15 years for a new soil fumigant to replace methyl bromide. Fumigants are valuable to growers because they can be injected into the soil before planting to sterilize the field and kill a broad spectrum of insects and diseases without leaving residue on crops. But fumigants are among the most potentially dangerous pesticides in use today because the toxic gas can evaporate from the soil, exposing farmworkers and drifting into neighborhoods. Methyl iodide ... will be allowed on fields growing strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, ornamentals, turf, trees and vines.
Woman loses 95 pounds, trains for marathons
If someone had asked Kelly Pless to describe herself three years ago, the word "fit" would have never crossed her mind. For most of her adult life, the 31-year-old ... has struggled with her weight. She started gaining as a teenager and by the time she graduated from high school, she was carrying 215 pounds on her 5' 2" frame. At 28, she started having trouble breathing and doctors told her the weight was to blame. She reached her breaking point. Pless decided to do something. Fortunately she didn't have to look far for inspiration. "My manager at the Kennedy Space Center ran marathons, and he was the same age as my father," she said. Over the next three to four months, she began walking, without any real goal or expectation. Pless believed that if she just focused on eating less and moving more, everything would fall into place. "At first, it was hard to start exercising because I was worried people would make fun of me," Pless said. "But then I just told myself, if that's the worst that could happen ... I just got out there and didn't care." She also adopted an "eat to live" philosophy and satisfied her cravings for sweets by eating lots of fruit. "After a few months of cutting [snacks and sweets] out, I focused more on portion control," said Pless. "I pretty much eat when I'm hungry and don't eat when I'm not and really try to pay attention to when those times are. Pless asks herself, "What do I really want to eat? Or, what does my body really want right now?" All of the hard work and determination paid off. Pless has lost 95 pounds and kept it off for 1½ years. As a result, she says, she's healthier and more confident. Pless runs about 40 miles a week while she trains for two marathons she plans to run this winter. "Running has become a constant for me and does so much more for me than maintain my weight, which is now about 125 pounds," said Pless.
Drug Co. To Pay $515M Over Marketing
2007-09-28, CBS News
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and a former subsidiary have agreed to pay more than $515 million to settle federal and state investigations into their drug marketing and pricing practices. The civil settlement ... resolves a broad array of allegations against Bristol-Myers Squibb, dating from 1994 through 2005. Among them was a charge that the ... company illegally promoted the sale of Abilify, an anti-psychotic drug, for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychoses. Neither use is approved by the U.S. [FDA]. Although physicians are permitted to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, drug companies are prohibited from marketing them for uses that have not been approved by the FDA. U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said when pharmaceutical companies market drugs for unapproved uses, there is a potential risk that patients could be harmed, because the drugs have not been tested as rigorously as they are during the FDA approval process. The government also alleged the company paid illegal inducements in the form of consulting fees and trips to luxury resorts to influence doctors and other health care providers to buy and prescribe the company's drugs. The company's former generic drug subsidiary, Apothecon Inc., also was accused of giving illegal enticements to induce retail pharmacy and wholesale customers to buy its products. Bristol-Myers Squibb misreported its best price for the anti-depression drug Serzone, violating a law that requires drug companies to report their lowest price to Medicaid, prosecutors said. The company was selling Serzone to a larger commercial purchaser at a lower price, prosecutors said. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apothecon also inflated prices for an assortment of oncology and generic drugs knowing that federal health care programs established reimbursement rates based on those prices, Sullivan said.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption, click here.
Report Assails F.D.A. Oversight of Clinical Trials
2007-09-27, New York Times
The Food and Drug Administration does very little to ensure the safety of the millions of people who participate in clinical trials, a federal investigator has found. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal health officials did not know how many clinical trials were being conducted, audited fewer than 1 percent of the testing sites and, on the rare occasions when inspectors did appear, generally showed up long after the tests had been completed. The F.D.A. has 200 inspectors, some of whom audit clinical trials part time, to police an estimated 350,000 testing sites. Even when those inspectors found serious problems in human trials, top drug officials in Washington downgraded their findings 68 percent of the time, the report found. Among the remaining cases, the agency almost never followed up with inspections to determine whether the corrective actions that the agency demanded had occurred. “In many ways, rats and mice get greater protection as research subjects in the United States than do humans,” said Arthur L. Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Animal research centers have to register with the federal government, keep track of subject numbers, have unannounced spot inspections and address problems speedily or risk closing, none of which is true in human research, Mr. Caplan said. Because no one collects the data systematically, there is no way to tell how safe the nation’s clinical research is or ever has been. The drug agency oversees just the safety of trials by companies seeking approval to sell drugs or devices. Using an entirely different set of rules, the Office for Human Research Protections oversees trials financed by the federal government. Privately financed noncommercial trials have no federal oversight.
Note: For further information on corruption in the health care industry, click here.
Chip implants linked to animal tumors
2007-09-09, Washington Post/Associated Press
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies." But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats. "The transponders were the cause of the tumors," said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining ... the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and ... said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people. To date, about 2,000 of the so-called radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices have been implanted in humans worldwide. Did the agency know of the tumor findings before approving the chip implants? The FDA declined repeated AP requests to specify what studies it reviewed. The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.
Note: For more reliable information about the use and dangers of microchips, click here.
Investigative Report: U.S. ships unsafe products
2007-09-09, Sacramento Bee (leading newspaper of California's capital)
Ten days ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced another in a series of well-publicized recalls of Chinese-made goods: children's art sets containing crayons, markers, pastels, pencils, water colors -- and lead -- distributed by Toys "R" Us. "Consumers should immediately take the products away from children," warned a news release from the federal government's watchdog for thousands of household items. "The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families." But 13 months earlier, in July 2006, the CPSC ... authorized a Los Angeles company to export to Venezuela 16,520 art sets that violated the same CPSC standard protecting children from dangerous art supplies. The following month, the agency authorized a Miami company to export to Jamaica 5,184 sets of wax crayons that also violated the standard. For decades the federal agency has allowed American-based companies to export products deemed unsafe here. Those products can present an even greater danger in a country that has only a handful of government employees devoted to consumer protection, said R. David Pittle, a former acting CPSC chairman who spent 22 years as a senior vice president for Consumers Union. "If the United States doesn't have very many inspectors, how many do you think there are in Honduras or Jamaica or Trinidad or Bulgaria?" Pittle asked. Using the CPSC's database of exports of non-approved products and hundreds of pages of documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act, The Bee found that between October 1993 and September 2006, the CPSC received 1,031 requests from companies to export products the agency had found unsafe for American consumers. The CPSC approved 991 of those requests, or 96 percent.
Doctors accuse US of 'unethical practices' at Guantanamo Bay
2007-09-07, Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
More than 260 doctors from around the world have launched an unprecedented attack on the American medical establishment for its failure to condemn unethical practices by medical practitioners at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. In a letter to The Lancet, the doctors from 16 countries, including Britain and America, say the failure of the US regulatory authorities to act is "damaging the reputation of US military medicine". They compare the actions of the military doctors, whom they accuse of being involved in the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and of turning a blind eye to evidence of torture in Iraq and elsewhere, to those of the South African security police involved in the death of the anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko 30 years ago. The group highlighted the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay last year and suggested the physicians involved should be referred to their professional bodies for breaching internationally accepted ethical guidelines. The doctors wrote: "No healthcare worker in the War on Terror has been charged or convicted of any significant offence despite numerous instances documented including fraudulent record-keeping on detainees who have died as a result of failed interrogations ... The attitude of the US military establishment appears to be one of 'See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'." The US introduced the policy of force-feeding, in which prisoners are strapped to a chair and a tube is forced down the throat into the stomach, after more than 100 prisoners went on hunger strike in 2005. "Fundamental to doctors' responsibilities in attending a hunger striker is the recognition that prisoners have a right to refuse treatment," the doctors wrote.
HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads
2007-08-31, Washington Post
In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples. Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign. The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops, to dramatize how breast-feeding could help avert respiratory problems and obesity. In a February 2004 letter (pdf), the lobbyists told then-HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson they were "grateful" for his staff's intervention to stop health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding," and asked for help in scaling back more of the ads. The formula industry's intervention -- which did not block the ads but helped change their content -- is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month's testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health. "This is a credible allegation of political interference that [may] have had serious public health consequences," said [Rep. Henry] Waxman, a California Democrat. The milder campaign HHS eventually used had no discernible impact on the nation's breast-feeding rate, which lags behind the rate in many European countries.
Docs often write off patient side-effect concerns
When patients feel they might be having an adverse drug effect, doctors will very often dismiss their concerns, a new study shows. In a survey of 650 patients taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, who reported having adverse drug reactions, many said their physicians denied that the drug could be connected to their symptoms, Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb of the University of California at San Diego ... found. “Physicians seem to commonly dismiss the possibility of a connection,” Golomb [said]. “This seems to occur even for the best-supported adverse effects of the most widely prescribed class of drugs. Clearly there is a need for better physician education about adverse effects, and there is a strong need for patient involvement in adverse event reporting.” The best-known side effects of statins ... are liver damage and muscle problems, although statins have also been tied to changes in memory, concentration and mood. Physician reaction to a potential side effect is crucial because the muscle problems can progress to a rare but potentially fatal condition called rhabdomyolysis if the drug isn’t discontinued. The researchers investigated the response of doctors to statin patients who believed they were having adverse drug reactions. In the great majority of cases, the patient, not the doctor, initiated the discussion. Forty-seven percent of patients with muscle problems or cognitive problems said their doctors dismissed the possibility that their symptoms were statin-related, while 51 percent of patients with peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve pain affecting the extremities, said their doctors denied a possible connection with statins.
Note: For a hard-hitting overview of medical corruption, click here.
Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned
2007-08-14, Financial Times
The US government is on a ‘burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned. David Walker, comptroller general of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future in a report that lays out what he called “chilling long-term simulations”. These include “dramatic” tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt. Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government. In my view, it’s time to learn from history.” Mr Walker’s views carry weight because he is a non-partisan figure in charge of the Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of the US Congress. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Walker said he had mentioned some of the issues before but now wanted to “turn up the volume”. Some of them were too sensitive for others in government to “have their name associated with. I’m trying to sound an alarm and issue a wake-up call,” he said. “As comptroller general I’ve got an ability to look longer-range and take on issues that others may be hesitant, and in many cases may not be in a position, to take on."
People in 41 nations are living longer than Americans
2007-08-12, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries. For decades, the United States has been slipping in rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve healthcare, nutrition and lifestyles. Countries that surpass the United States include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands. "Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on healthcare, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. A baby born in the United States in 2004 is expected to live an average of 77.9 years. That ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier. Andorra, a tiny country between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Macao, San Marino and Singapore. Researchers say several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations. A major one, they say, is that 47 million people in the United States lack health insurance, whereas Canada and many European countries have universal healthcare. But "it's not as simple as saying, 'We don't have national health insurance,' " said Samuel B. Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. Among the other factors researchers cite: Adults in the United States have one of the world's highest obesity rates. Nearly a third of those 20 or older are obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. "The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy," said Paul D. Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta.
Note: For a treasure trove of powerful health articles, click here.
Some risk linked to plastic chemical
2007-08-09, Los Angeles Times
A federal panel of scientists [has concluded] that an estrogen-like compound in plastic could be posing some risk to the brain development of babies and children. Bisphenol A, or BPA, [a component of polycarbonate plastic,] is found in low levels in virtually every human body. The decision by the 12 advisors of the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction ... is the first official, government action related to the chemical. The scientists ranked their concerns about BPA, concluding they had "some concern" about neurological and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children, but "minimal" or "negligible" concern about reproductive effects. The findings put the panel roughly in the middle -- between the chemical industry, which has long said there is no evidence of danger to humans, and the environmental activists and scientists who say it is probably harming people. Environmentalists lambasted the panel, saying it had minimized the risks and ignored important research. "Only the chemical industry agrees with the decision that BPA has little or no human health risks. That by itself should speak volumes about the corrupted process endorsed by the panel today," said Dr. Anila Jacob of the Environmental Working Group. The panel's preliminary report on BPA was drafted by a private consulting firm with financial ties to the chemical industry. The National Toxicology Program fired the company but ruled that the report was unbiased. The panel rejected several dozen animal studies that found reproductive effects. The decision to reject the studies has been controversial with toxicologists.
Scientists issue warning on chemical
2007-08-03, Los Angeles Times
In an unusual effort targeting a single chemical, several dozen scientists on Thursday issued a strongly worded consensus statement warning that an estrogen-like compound in plastic is likely causing an array of serious reproductive disorders in people. The compound, bisphenol A or BPA, is one of the highest-volume chemicals in the world and has found its way into the bodies of most human beings. Used to make hard plastic, BPA can seep from beverage containers and other materials. It is used in all polycarbonate plastic baby bottles as well as ... large water cooler containers, sports bottles and microwave oven dishes, along with canned food liners and some dental sealants for children. The scientists — including four from federal health agencies — reviewed about 700 studies before concluding that people are exposed to levels of the chemical exceeding those that harm lab animals. Infants and fetuses are most vulnerable, they said. The statement, published online by the journal Reproductive Toxicology, was accompanied by a new study from researchers from the National Institutes of Health that found uterine damage in newborn animals exposed to BPA. That damage is a possible predictor of reproductive diseases in women, including fibroids, endometriosis, cystic ovaries and cancers. It is the first time BPA has been linked to disorders of the female reproductive tract, although earlier studies have found early-stage prostate and breast cancer and decreased sperm counts in animals exposed to low doses. The scientists' statement and the new study — accompanied by five scientific reviews summarizing the 700 studies — intensify a contentious debate over whether the plastic compound poses a public threat. So far no government agency here or abroad has restricted its use.
CDC Requests Bay Area Morgellons Study
2007-08-02, KTVU (San Francisco FOX affiliate)
The federal Centers for Disease Control has asked Kaiser Permanente to begin the nation’s first epidemiologic study of "Morgellons Disease," a mysterious ailment that the government terms an "unexplained and debilitating condition that has emerged as a public health concern." KTVU Health and Science Editor John Fowler was the first in the nation to report on this “mystery disease” as it was called in 2004. He reported the skin disorder seemed to cause fibers and filaments to emerge from the skin of sufferers, and also seemed to cause neurological problems patients described as "brain fog." John followed up with other reports, and founders of a non-profit group hoping to help sufferers understand the disease named it Morgellons. As of February this year, the Morgellons Research Foundation has identified more than ten thousand families nationwide. John profiled former A’s pitcher Billy Koch who says both he and his wife have symptoms. KTVU has obtained a federal Request for Quotation, delivered to Kaiser Permanente, that says the CDC now wants its nationwide study to be focused in the Bay Area because 24% of Morgellons patients "reside in California with geographic clustering in the San Francisco metropolitan area." Federal doctors now want Kaiser Permanente to conduct an urgent epidemiologic investigation with results due by next May "...to better characterize the clinical and epidemiologic features of this condition; to generate hypotheses about factors that may cause or contribute to sufferers' symptoms; and to estimate the prevalence of the condition in the population; and to provide information to guide public health recommendations." The CDC for the first time publicly says Morgellons is "an emerging public health problem."
F.D.A. Panel Votes to Keep Diabetes Drug on Market
2007-07-30, New York Times
A federal drug advisory committee voted 20 to 3 late this afternoon that Avandia, a controversial diabetes drug made by GlaxoSmithKline, raises the risks of heart attacks, but it then voted 22 to 1 that the drug should nonetheless remain on the market. Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, chairman of the committee [said] “there was enough concern on the advisory committee that virtually everybody felt there was risk” of heart attacks from taking Avandia. Patients who have congestive heart failure or a history of cardiovascular disease, or those taking insulin or nitrates should not be given Avandia, Dr. Rosen said. The votes came after an extraordinary meeting in which officials from the Food and Drug Administration, which brought the committee together, openly disagreed with one another about the right course to take. Dr. David Graham, a drug safety officer at the F.D.A., called for the drug’s withdrawal and estimated that its toxic effects on the heart had caused as many as 205,000 heart attacks, strokes and death from 1999 to 2006. For every month that Avandia is sold, he said, another 1,600 to 2,200 patients are likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes, some of them fatal. Dr. Robert Meyer, director of the office within the F.D.A. that approved Avandia’s initial application, immediately disagreed with Dr. Graham. Dr. Douglas C. Throckmorton, a deputy director of the F.D.A.’s center for drugs, explained at a news conference after the meeting that the split within the agency resulted from the “complexity” of the issue. The open disagreement within the F.D.A. reflects a fierce debate that has occurred among diabetes experts across the country since The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in May suggesting that Avandia increases the risks of heart attacks.
Note: To read a succinct, powerful summary of how drug companies control the regulation of their own industry, click here.
Politics reportedly stifled health report
2007-07-29, San Francisco Chronicle/Washington Post
A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments. The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. Its publication was blocked by William Steiger, a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Since 2001, Steiger has run the Office of Global Health Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services. Richard Carmona, who commissioned the "Call to Action on Global Health" while serving as surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, recently cited its suppression as an example of the Bush administration's frequent efforts during his tenure to give scientific documents a political twist. Carmona told lawmakers that, as he fought to release the document, he was "called in and again admonished ... via a senior official who said, 'You don't get it. This will be a political document, or it will not be released.' "
A few days before the end of his term as the nation's senior medical officer, he was abruptly told he would not be reappointed.
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