Category Archives: Big Pharma

Bacteria found in bees show potential as an alternative to antibiotics

Fiona MacDonald reports for Science Alert:

bees‘A team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden has identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that come from the honey stomach of bees, and are found in fresh honey, that have an impressive ability to fight pathogens. The honey stomach is one of two stomachs found in bees, and it stores nectar, which worker bees later suck out and store in the hive.

Together, these live bacteria produce a number of active microbial compounds, such as hydrogen peroxide, fatty acids and anaesthetics, that can kill other harmful bacteria – it’s believed that this is the formula that protects the bee colony against collapse. Unfortunately, these LAB are processed out of the honey we buy in shops, but the researchers now believe they could be used to help treat anitibiotic resistance.’

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How the Gates Foundation’s Investments Are Undermining Its Own Good Works

Charles Piller writes for The Nation:

‘[...] For all its generosity and thoughtfulness, the Gates Foundation’s management of its $40 billion endowment has been a puzzling ethical blind spot. In 2007, with colleagues at the Los Angeles Times, I examined whether those investments tended generally to support the foundation’s philanthropic goals. Instead, we found that it reaped vast profits by placing billions of dollars in firms whose activities and products subverted the foundation’s good works.

For example, Gates donated $218 million to prevent polio and measles in places like the Niger Delta, yet invested $423 million in the oil companies whose delta pollution literally kills the children the foundation tries to help. It had vast holdings in Big Pharma firms that priced AIDS drugs out of reach for desperate victims the foundation wanted to save. It benefited greatly from predatory lenders whose practices sparked the Great Recession and chocolate makers said by the US government to have supported child slavery in Ivory Coast.

After our investigations were published, the foundation briefly considered changing its policy of blind-eye investing, but ultimately pulled funds only from firms that provided the financial basis for genocide in Darfur. Even in that case, when the glare of adverse publicity faded, the foundation hopped back into such companies, including the Chinese construction giant NORINCO International.’

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The Politics of the Ebola Serum & The History of Medical Exploitation in Africa: Interview with Harriet Washington

Editor’s Note: Harriet Washington is a medical ethicist. She is the author of “Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself–And the Consequences for Your Health and Our Medical Future” and “Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present“.

Even the Gorillas and Bears in Our Zoos Are Hooked on Prozac

Laurel Braitman, author of Animal Madness, featured excerpts from her book in Wired:

Excerpted from Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves‘One of the first nonhumans to be given psychopharmaceuticals as a patient (and not as a test subject) was a western lowland gorilla named Willie B., who was famous in Atlanta, Georgia. He was captured in Congo as an infant in the 1960s and sent to Zoo Atlanta, where he lived for 39 years, 27 of them alone in an indoor cage with a tire swing and a television. According to Mel Richardson, who was working as a veterinarian at Zoo Atlanta at the time, Willie broke a glass window in his enclosure in the winter of 1970–71 and had to be transferred to a much smaller cage for six months while the glass was replaced with heavy metal bars.

“He weighed around 400 pounds, and the cage was way too small for him,” said Mel. “If he stood up and stretched each arm all the way out he could almost touch both sides of the cage at once.” The vet staff decided to medicate him so that the six months would be more bearable. They put Thorazine in the Coca-Cola he drank in the morning. According to Mel, Willie responded to the drug as many institutionalized humans do: He shuffled back and forth across his cage with dulled eyes. “It was a little like watching the men in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Mel said.

Dolphins, whales, sea lions, walruses, and other marine creatures in parks like SeaWorld have also been given psychotropic drugs for what their vets see as depression, anxiety, compulsive regurgitation, flank sucking, or other distressing behaviors. Two marine mammal veterinarians who have spent decades on staff or consulting for American animal-display facilities and the military’s marine mammal program told me that antidepressants and antipsychotics are commonly used but that “no one was going to talk to [me] about it.” Even they wouldn’t speak about the subject on the record.’

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Top doctor: Western drugs firms have not tried to find Ebola vaccine because virus only affects Africans

Jane Merrick reports for The Independent:

Steve Monroe‘Britain’s leading public health doctor today blames the failure to find a vaccine against the Ebola virus on the “moral bankruptcy” of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in a disease because it has so far only affected people in Africa – despite hundreds of deaths. Professor John Ashton, the president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, says the West needs to treat the deadly virus as if it were taking hold in the wealthiest parts of London rather than just Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Writing in The Independent on Sunday, Professor Ashton compares the international response to Ebola to that of Aids, which was killing people in Africa for years before treatments were developed once it had spread to the US and UK in the 1980s.

He writes: “In both cases [Aids and Ebola], it seems that the involvement of powerless minority groups has contributed to a tardiness of response and a failure to mobilise an adequately resourced international medical response. In the case of Aids, it took years for proper research funding to be put in place and it was only when so-called ‘innocent’ groups were involved (women and children, haemophiliac patients and straight men) that the media, politicians, scientific community and funding bodies stood up and took notice.”‘

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Doctors often do more harm than good in a culture of over-investigation and over-treatment

Dr. Aseem Malhotra writes for The Guardian:

‘Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, Dr Harlan Krumholz, professor of medicine at Yale, described a syndrome that starts to develop close to discharge from hospital. Physiological systems are impaired, reserves are depleted, and the body cannot effectively mitigate health threats. It is instructive to note that this syndrome – created by the stressful hospital environment – is a significant contributor to hospital re-admissions. It is estimated that 10-20% of patients discharged from hospital in the UK and US will be re-admitted within 30 days, often with a condition entirely unrelated to their original admission. Poor sleep and inadequate nutrition have an adverse effect on physical performance and co-ordination, cognitive function, immunity, and even cardiac risk. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to being re-admitted with falls and infection, with one study revealing that a fifth of hospitalised patients over 65 had an average nutrient intake of less than 50% of their daily requirements.

[...] A culture of over-investigation and over-treatment is now one of the greatest threats to western health. In the US it is estimated that a third of all healthcare activity brings no benefit to patients. Examples include excessive use of antibiotics, imaging for non-sinister headaches, use of surgery when watchful waiting is better and unwanted intensive care for patients at the end of life who would prefer hospice and home care. In the US, a fee-for-service model encourages high volume and expensive procedures. But we should be alert to similar possibilities here: the UK’s “payment by results” – which in reality is a payment-by-activity model – potentially incentivises “doing more” on the part of physicians. As a profession we have also been guilty – unwittingly or otherwise – of exaggerating the benefits of medications often perceived as magic pills by patients when their benefits are often modest at best. This also detracts from more meaningful lifestyle interventions by giving the public the illusion of protection.’

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The Deep Harm of Antibiotics

Dr. Cesar Chelala writes for CounterPunch:

‘Resistance to antibiotics is a growing phenomenon and has become one of the world’s most serious public health concerns. Antibiotic resistance is a form of drug resistance where some bacteria are able to survive the administration of one or more antibiotics. This phenomenon is a consequence of misuse and overuse of antibiotics in medicine and in livestock feed. As a result of this, there is a growing presence of superbugs, as are called microorganisms -mostly bacteria- that carry several antibiotic-resistance genes.

The seriousness of the problem is underscored by the World Health Organization (WHO), which in a recent report has called this phenomenon a ‘global threat.’ The WHO report follows a 2013 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report which showed that two million people in the U.S. are infected annually with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 people die each year from them. Last year, Dr. Sally Davies had called the problem a “ticking time bomb” and said that it probably will become as important in the magnitude of its effects as climate change.

As a result of antibiotic resistance and the increasing number of superbugs, common infections that could be treated without major problems have become untreatable. In 2012, the WHO reported 450,000 cases of tuberculosis in 92 countries where multiple drugs used to treat them were found ineffective.’

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UK fraud office probes GlaxoSmithKline after claims of foreign bribery

Ben Hirschler rerports for Reuters:

Chinese national flag in front of GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai‘Britain’s fraud office has launched a formal criminal investigation into GlaxoSmithKline, posing a new challenge to the drugmaker, which already faces claims of bribery in China and four other countries. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Tuesday that its director had “opened a criminal investigation into the commercial practices of GlaxoSmithKline and its subsidiaries”, confirming an earlier brief statement from the company. “GSK is committed to operating its business to the highest ethical standards and will continue to cooperate fully with the SFO,” Britain’s biggest drugmaker said. Neither the SFO nor GSK gave any further details about the case, and a company spokesman declined to elaborate.’

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Pfizer drops AstraZeneca takeover bid

From BBC News:

AstraZeneca and Pfizer logos‘US drugs giant Pfizer has withdrawn its £55 a share, £69bn takeover bid for UK pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca. It said: “Following the AstraZeneca board’s rejection of the proposal, Pfizer announces that it does not intend to make an offer.” AstraZeneca’s chairman, Leif Johansson, said it would “continue building on the momentum we have already demonstrated as an independent company.”

AstraZeneca had fiercely resisted the bid, backed by some politicians.It rejected a final offer from Pfizer earlier this month, saying the proposal undervalued the company and its “attractive prospects”. Nevertheless, in recent weeks some AstraZeneca shareholders had said they wanted the firm to engage with Pfizer.

But Mr Johansson said: “We have attractive growth prospects and a rapidly progressing pipeline. In the coming months we anticipate positive news flow across our core therapeutic areas, which underpins our confidence in the long-term prospects of the business.”‘

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Why ADHD is Not a Disorder: Interview with Thom Hartmann

Abby Martin speaks with Thom Hartmann, host of ‘The Big Picture’ and author of ‘Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception’ about the enormous rise of diagnoses of ADHD among American children, and his research into the origin of the perceived disorder as an evolutionary adaption instead of a disorder.’ (Breaking the Set)

2 out of 3 women in Canadian prisons sedated with psychotropic drugs

Tennessee Enacts Law To Incarcerate Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs

Laura Bassett writes for the Huffington Post:

‘Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) signed a bill into law on Tuesday that is the first law in the country to authorize the arrest and incarceration of women who use drugs while pregnant. Reproductive and civil rights advocates had strongly urged Haslam to veto the legislation.

“I understand the concerns about this bill, and I will be monitoring the impact of the law through regular updates with the court system and health professionals,” Haslam said in a statement.

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, allows a woman to be prosecuted for assault if she takes a narcotic drug while pregnant and the baby is born addicted, is harmed or dies because of the drug. The woman can avoid criminal charges if she completes a state treatment program.’

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TTIP means trading away better regulation

Baskut Tuncak writes for EurActiv:

It might come as a shock to EU voters to learn exactly how weak US laws are when it comes to toxic chemicals, especially when the US’s chief negotiator for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been claiming otherwise.  This unprecedented “trade” agreement is primarily about regulation, and threatens to create new and additional avenues for industry and government to use their influence to stall necessary action on toxic chemicals, climate change, and other critical issues that must be addressed by the EU and global community to protect human health and the environment.

How weak are US laws for toxic chemicals?  Only eleven ingredients are restricted from cosmetics in the US, versus over 1300 in the EU.  Under a law dating back to 1976, US regulators have only been able to restrict the use of merely five of over 60,000 industrial chemicals that were presumed safe when the law was adopted, including asbestos.  Under this law, and despite over a century of substantial evidence of serious adverse effects, US regulators were unable demonstrate sufficient “risk” to justify a ban on the use of asbestos, unlike EU counterparts.  Moving ahead of the US, the EU has started to implement legislation that has the potential to systematically substitute over 1000 toxic chemicals—including those linked to cancer, interference with hormone systems, reproductive harms, and other serious adverse health effects—with safer alternatives in a wide range of everyday products.  The US has no such law.

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Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline bribed doctors to boost sales, says whistleblower

Chloe Hamilton writes for The Independent:

Britain’s biggest drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, allegedly bribed doctors in Poland using money that was meant to be spent on educating patients, according to new evidence revealed today by the BBC Panorama programme. A GSK whistleblower claims that money put aside to teach patients in Poland about an asthma drug, Seretide, actually went towards paying doctors to prescribe more of the medicine. Jarek Wisniewiski, who was with the company for eight years until 2012, worked on a marketing programme across the country in 2010 to push the asthma drug. He told Panorama that although officially the money was to be spent on medical training, in reality it was used to bribe doctors to boost the company’s sales.

[...] GSK sells some of the world’s best-known medicines and has an annual turnover of more than £26bn. However, allegations of bribery have hounded the company in recent months. The most recent claims come just a week after reports that GSK hired Iraqi government doctors and pharmacists to act as sales representatives for the Brentford-based company, to boost revenues for its medicines. The company is also waiting to find out whether it will face prosecution in China following claims it paid £300m to doctors and government officials there. The company’s Chinese sales plummeted by 61 per cent in the third quarter of last year, and 18 per cent in the final quarter, after its offices were raided by Chinese police and its staff arrested.

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Ben Goldacre: What the Tamiflu saga tells us about drug trials and big pharma

Ben Goldacre writes for The Guardian:

Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/ReutersToday we found out that Tamiflu doesn’t work so well after all. Roche, the drug company behind it, withheld vital information on its clinical trials for half a decade, but the Cochrane Collaboration, a global not-for-profit organisation of 14,000 academics, finally obtained all the information. Putting the evidence together, it has found that Tamiflu has little or no impact on complications of flu infection, such as pneumonia.

That is a scandal because the UK government spent £0.5bn stockpiling this drug in the hope that it would help prevent serious side-effects from flu infection. But the bigger scandal is that Roche broke no law by withholding vital information on how well its drug works. In fact, the methods and results of clinical trials on the drugs we use today are still routinely and legally being withheld from doctors, researchers and patients. It is simple bad luck for Roche that Tamiflu became, arbitrarily, the poster child for the missing-data story.

And it is a great poster child. The battle over Tamiflu perfectly illustrates the need for full transparency around clinical trials, the importance of access to obscure documentation, and the failure of the regulatory system. Crucially, it is also an illustration of how science, at its best, is built on transparency and openness to criticism, because the saga of the Cochrane Tamiflu review began with a simple online comment.

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Around half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory

Andrew M. Seaman writes for Reuters:

Flu vaccine drips out of a syringe as a nurse prepares for a patient at a clinic in central London November 22, 2005. - RTR1BGZ1About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results. Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others, however. For example, three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

J. Eric Oliver, the study’s lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they’re easier to understand than complex medical information… For the new study, he and his colleague used data from 1,351 adults who answered an online survey between August and September 2013. The data were then weighted to represent the U.S. population. The participants read six popular medical conspiracy theories and then indicated whether they had heard of them and whether they agreed or disagreed with them.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Reveals Deadly Cost of American Patents

Yves Smith writes for Naken Capitalism:

While US news stories occasionally mention the breathtaking cost of some medications, they almost always skirt the issue of why American drugs are so grotesquely overpriced by world standards. The pharmaceutical industry has managed to sell the story that it’s because they need all that dough to pay for the cost of finding new drugs. That account is patently false.

First, part of the story the drug industry chooses to omit is that a substantial portion of drug R&D, and the riskiest part (basic research) is heavily funded by the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. It’s hard to put all the data together, but the latest estimates I’ve seen put the total funded by the government at over 30%.

Second, Big Pharma spends more on marketing [than] on R&D. And it markets in the highest cost manner possible: in person sales calls to small business owners (doctors). The fact that it is worth it to sell in such an exceptionally high cost manner is proof of fat margins (the marginal value of a sale supports such a costly sales effort).

Third, and this is where the foreign debate over the TransPacific Partnership comes in, one of the big reasons US drugs are so costly is we allow drug companies to milk patents to a degree that is unparalleled elsewhere.

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64,000 Children Under 5 Taken to E.R. Every Year After Swallowing Pills at Home

FDA To Remove Many Side Effects Listed In Drug Ads

5 Shady Ways Big Pharma May Be Influencing Your Doctor

Martha Rosenberg writes for Alternet:

Until 2010, when the Physician Payments Sunshine Act passed, requiring doctors to disclose payments, the only thing better than working for Pharma was being a doctor wined and dined by Pharma. Pfizer jetted 5,000 doctors to Caribbean resorts where they enjoyed massages, golf and $2,000 honoraria charges to sell its painkiller Bextra (withdrawn from the market in 2005 for heart risks). GSK sent doctors to lavish resorts to promote Wellbutrin, the Justice Department chargedJohnson & Johnson bestowed trips, perks and honoraria on Texas Medicaid officials to get its drug Risperdal preferred on the formulary, a state lawsuit charged. Bristol-Myers Squibb enticed doctors to prescribe its drugs with access to the Los Angeles Lakers and luxury box suites for their games, California regulators say. In China GSK is charged with using a network of 700 middlemen and travel agencies to bribe doctors with cash and sexual favors, and Victory Pharma, an opioid drugs maker, was charged with treating doctors to strip shows. Nice.

Of course, Pharma reps did as well as the doctors. Thanks to their Barbie and Ken doll looks and the free samples, gifts and lunches they would bring medical staff, they would often waltz in to see the doctor before the sick and waiting patients. Some had their own lounges at medical offices. Since the 2010 sunshine law, part of the Affordable Care Act, went into effect in 2013, drug companies must display the doctors and groups they pay on their websites. That includes their payments to faux grassroots groups like Go Red For Women and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, which are widely seen as Pharma fronts. But will it make a difference? For years, doctors have also begun presentations with slides detailing their Pharma funding but it doesn’t seem to alter their credibility or audience cynicism.

When it comes to acknowledging the influence of gifts and money on behavior, doctors, like everyone else, suffer from self-delusion. Most say they believe it affects the other guy, not them, and many become offended at the idea that they are “for sale.” “My prescribing never changes because once a month a drug rep brings in a tray of sandwiches,” Maria Carmen Wilson told the Tampa Bay Times. (Wilson was Eli Lilly’s number-two earner in Florida in 2009, the paper reports.) It’s tempting to ask such doctors that if the largesse doesn’t affect them, when was the last time they prescribed the competitor’s pill? Would anyone believe or even read the journalism of a reporter who accepted an honorarium or speaker’s fee from the subject she reported on? Even if she claimed it didn’t influence her?

Trips to resorts and strip clubs will likely continue to diminish under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, but there are many other ways, often sneaky, that Pharma can entice doctors to prescribe its expensive, patent drugs.

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Big Pharma’s hidden links to NHS policy, with senior MPs saying medical industry uses ‘wealth to influence government’

Oliver Wright writes for The Independent:

NHS bosses allowed a lobbying company working for some of the world’s biggest drugs and medical equipment firms to write a draft report which could help shape future health policy. NHS England commissioned a group called the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) to consult with patients’ groups, charities and health organisations and produce a report feeding into its future five-year strategy for commissioning £12bn of services. But the SHCA has confirmed to The Independent that it is entirely funded by commercial “members”. Its director, John Murray, is also a lobbyist whose company lists some of the world’s biggest drug and medical device firms as clients.

Mr Murray put his name on a foreword to the NHS England document along with James Palmer, the clinical director of specialised services at NHS England, with whom he admits he has had “many meetings [on] a wide range of organisations and interests”. The findings raise significant questions about links between the lobbying industry and NHS England – a quango set up to run the NHS under the Government’s health reforms.

Unlike other government departments NHS England does not register its meetings with lobbyists. It also does not routinely publicly disclose all potential conflicts of interest of those who do work for it. While the report itself makes no specific spending recommendations, it does suggest that NHS England should set out a “clear commitment” to “disinvest in interventions that have lower impact for patients” in favour of “new services or innovations”. This could ultimately provide financial benefits to an industry keen to sell the latest equipment and treatments to the NHS, even if some of the benefits might be marginal.

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Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers explains: Nexavar cancer drug is for “western patients who can afford it.”

Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers called the Nexavar compulsory license “essentially theft.”From Knowledge Ecology International:

Health advocates were shocked by the direct and appalling statements attributed to Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers. Published in Businessweek on January 21, 2014 and written by Bloomberg reporter Ketaki Gokhale, a news story about disputes over drug patents ended with an account of the India compulsory license on the cancer drug Nexavar, and practically exploded. Dekker is quoted as saying Bayer did not intend the cancer drug to be sold to cancer patients in India, adding “We developed it for western patients who can afford it.”:

Under India’s patent laws, compulsory licenses can be awarded for some products still under patent if the original isn’t available locally at a reasonable price.

Natco Pharma Ltd. (NTCPH) applied directly to India’s patents office and was awarded the nation’s first compulsory license in March 2012 to make a copy of Bayer’s Nexavar cancer drug at a 97 percent discount to the original product. In March last year, Bayer lost its bid to stop Natco from making the generic drug and is appealing the decision at the Mumbai High Court.

Bayer Chief Executive Officer Marijn Dekkers called the compulsory license “essentially theft.”

“Is this going to have a big effect on our business model?” Dekkers said Dec. 3 at a conference in London. “No, because we did not develop this product for the Indian market, let’s be honest. We developed this product for Western patients who can afford this product, quite honestly. It is an expensive product, being an oncology product.”

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Targeted Advertisements Will Be Appearing In Hospital Rooms

hospital room

From Disinfo:

Healthcare costs in the United States are spinning out of control, but never fear, there are new sources of revenue in the pipeline. ViaFree Patents Online, plans for a System for Targeting Advertisements Based on Patient Electronic Medical Record Data hint at the future:

A patient specific informational material distribution system, comprises at least one repository of informational material items associated with corresponding particular medical conditions. An interface acquires patient specific medical data associating with a specific patient.

A data processor uses the at least one repository in identifying informational items associated with the particular medical condition of the specific patient. A distribution processor distributes the identified informational items to the specific patient.

Attributes comprising at least three of, (a) Information from current and past inpatient stays, (b) patient Age, Gender, height or weight, (c) Diagnosis codes, (d) Treatments, (e) Laboratory test results, (f) Medical Assessments, (g) Allergies, (h) diet and (h) medical complaint.

Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs

From The New York Times:

The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said Monday, effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest.

The announcement appears to be a first for a major drug company — although others may be considering similar moves — and it comes at a particularly sensitive time for Glaxo. It is the subject of a bribery investigation in China, where authorities contend the company funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in an effort to lift drug sales.

Andrew Witty, Glaxo’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview Monday that its proposed changes were unrelated to the investigation in China, and were part of a yearslong effort “to try and make sure we stay in step with how the world is changing,” he said. “We keep asking ourselves, are there different ways, more effective ways of operating than perhaps the ways we as an industry have been operating over the last 30, 40 years?”

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Doctors say a Mediterranean diet is the best way to prevent chronic illness

CSA shareFrom Treehugger:

A very refreshing report has just come out of Britain. Eleven senior doctors have presented a strong, new mandate to Prime Minister David Cameron, insisting that it’s time for diet to be placed at the forefront of health policy. Although it was research specifically into the prevention of dementia that led to this conclusion, the doctors agree that the Mediterranean diet can go a long way toward preventing many other chronic illnesses:

“The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet in preventing all of the chronic diseases that are plaguing the Western world is overwhelming,” says Dr. Richard Hoffman, one of the lead authors of the letter to Cameron. Another signatory, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, adds this common-sense statement:

“We are not going to overcome the increasing burden of chronic diseases by prescribing more pills.”

A Mediterranean-style diet is one that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil. Fish is eaten at least twice a week, but meat and sugar only once. Moderate consumption of wine is advised.

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CDC Threat Report: ‘We Will Soon Be in a Post-Antibiotic Era’

From Wired:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat the country faces from antibiotic-resistant organisms, ranking them by the number of illnesses and deaths they cause each year and outlining urgent steps that need to be taken to roll back the trend.

The agency’s overall — and, it stressed, conservative — assessment of the problem:

  • Each year, in the U.S., 2,049,442 illnesses caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some classes of antibiotics;
  • Each year, out of those illnesses, 23,000 deaths;
  • Because of those illnesses and deaths, $20 billion each year in additional healthcare spending;
  • And beyond the direct healthcare costs, an additional $35 billion lost to society in foregone productivity.

“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”

The report marks the first time the agency has provided hard numbers for the incidence, deaths and cost of all the major resistant organisms. (It had previously estimated illnesses and deaths from some families of organisms or types of drug resistance, but those numbers were never gathered in one place.) It also represents the first time the CDC has ranked resistant organisms by how much and how imminent a threat they pose, using seven criteria: health impact, economic impact, how common the infection is, how easily it spreads, how much further it might spread in the next 10 years, whether there are antibiotics that still work against it, and whether things other than administering antibiotics can be done to curb its spread.

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APA President Jeffrey Lieberman urges support for big pharma

Shoulder high portrait of sixty year old man in a white lab coatFrom Natural News:

In a recent message to subscribers, American Psychiatric Association President Jeffrey Lieberman urged members to support big pharma.

He did this while openly admitting that the pharmaceutical industry makes a practice of advertising unethically, paying off doctors, and suppressing critical scientific data as to the dangers of their drugs.

And from Wikipedia regarding Liberman’s connections to the industry:

In 2006, Lieberman co-signed a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal with about thirty other doctors. With this, he disclosed honoraria, consulting fees, research grant support from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Upjohn Pharmacia, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Pfizer, Hoechst AG, and AstraZeneca. He also listed as corporate speakers bureaus AstraZeneca, Janssen, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer.

Lieberman disclosed in 2007 in the journal Primary Psychiatry that he was a consultant to Eli Lilly and Pfizer. He was on the advisory boards of AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Lundbeck,Organon, and Pfizer. He has a patent from Repligen Corporation. Lieberman received research support from Acadia, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Merck, Organon, and Pfizer. In 2009, Lieberman disclosed grants from Allon, Forest Laboratories, Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Otsuka, Solvay, and Wyeth to the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology for their annual meeting in which he participated.

In 2011, his disclosure at Medscape of relevant financial relationships says he served on the advisory board of Bioline, GlaxoSmithKline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Eli Lilly, Pierre Fabre, and Psychogenics, and that he received research grants from Allon Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Sepracor, and Targacept.

He also disclosed in 2013, as a member of the psychiatry editorial board at Medscape, that he received research grants from Allon, Novartis, Sepracor, and Targacept; and he served on the advisory boards at Bioline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Pierre Fabre and Psychogenics. In additional disclosures at Medscape in 2013, he received research grants from Allon, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Psychogenics, Hoffmann-La Roche, Sepracor, and Targacept, and he served on the advisory board of Alkermes, Bioline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Pierre Fabre, and Psychogenics.

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Living in America will drive you insane — literally

Living in America will drive you insane -- literallyFrom Alternet:

In “The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?” (New York Review of Books, 2011), Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, discusses over-diagnosis of psychiatric disorders, pathologizing of normal behaviors, Big Pharma corruption of psychiatry, and the adverse effects of psychiatric medications. While diagnostic expansionism and Big Pharma certainly deserve a large share of the blame for this epidemic, there is another reason.

A June 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or have “checked out” of them. Life may or may not suck any more than it did a generation ago, but our belief in “progress” has increased expectations that life should be more satisfying, resulting in mass disappointment. For many of us, society has become increasingly alienating, isolating and insane, and earning a buck means more degrees, compliance, ass-kissing, shit-eating, and inauthenticity. So, we want to rebel. However, many of us feel hopeless about the possibility of either our own escape from societal oppression or that political activism can create societal change. So, many of us, especially young Americans, rebel by what is commonly called mental illness.

While historically some Americans have consciously faked mental illness to rebel from oppressive societal demands (e.g., a young Malcolm X acted crazy to successfully avoid military service), today, the vast majority of Americans who are diagnosed and treated for mental illness are in no way proud malingerers in the fashion of Malcolm X. Many of us, sadly, are ashamed of our inefficiency and nonproductivity and desperately try to fit in. However, try as we might to pay attention, adapt, adjust, and comply with our alienating jobs, boring schools, and sterile society, our humanity gets in the way, and we become anxious, depressed and dysfunctional.

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The food industry and the health industry

Big pharma mobilising patients in battle over drugs trials data ~ Guardian

Assorted pharmaceuticalsThe Guardian

The pharmaceutical industry has “mobilised” an army of patient groups to lobby against plans to force companies to publish secret documents on drugs trials.

Drugs companies publish only a fraction of their results and keep much of the information to themselves, but regulators want to ban the practice. If companies published all of their clinical trials data, independent scientists could reanalyse their results and check companies’ claims about the safety and efficacy of drugs.

Under proposals being thrashed out in Europe, drugs companies would be compelled to release all of their data, including results that show drugs do not work or cause dangerous side-effects.

While some companies have agreed to share data more freely, the industry has broadly resisted the moves. The latest strategy shows how patient groups – many of which receive some or all of their funding from drugs companies – have been brought into the battle.

FULL ARTICLE @ THE GUARDIAN