Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Patients who should not be prescribed drugs are given them anyway!

All pharmaceutical drugs have side effects. The conventional medical establishment recognises this. Many drugs should not be given to patients with certain medical conditions. In medical jargon these are called 'contraindications'. 

Yet a new study, published in the British Journal for General Practice, suggests that 40,000 patients with an irregular heartbeat are being treated with anti-coagulant drugs even though they are known to be at risk of serious adverse effects.

Doctors prescribe anticoagulants, such as warfarin and pradaxa, to patients with an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) to reduce the risk of stroke. Yet it is known that anticoagulants increase the risk of bleeding, so doctors are advised not to prescribe them for who are at risk, for instance, if they have an ulcer, or are pregnant, or have previously had a stroke due to bleeding.

The study, undertaken by the University of Birmingham, investigated whether these contraindications had an effect on anticoagulant prescribing in the UK. In other words, were doctors following the guidelines, and protecting their patients from drug harm? As Pulse, the GP e-magazine summarised,

               "The researchers found that patients with atrial fibrillation and contraindications to anticoagulants were just as likely to be prescribed the drugs as those without any risk factors."

The author of the study, Professor Tom Marshall is reported as saying that the situation had not changed over the 11 year period under investigation:

               "Safety advice seems not to influence prescribing of anticoagulants. Patients considered a safety risk were just as likely to be prescribed the drugs. It was the same in every year from 2004 to 2015."

Marshall added that doctors should be more aware of the risks, and understand "whether patients might come to any harm"! NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) is absolutely precise in its guidelines, stating that "anticoagulants should only be used in the absence of contraindications". So the guidance is ignored by our doctors, and thereby patients are placed in harm.

Is this a problem? The study says that more research is needed to understand why GPs prescribe anticoagulants to at-risk patients! And whether some patients with contraindications might still benefit from anticoagulant treatment! Pulse itself goes on to mention another study that suggested one-third of stroke and mini-stroke patients "could be missing out on preventive drugs".

It would appear that whilst the conventional medical establishment knows it is using dangerous drugs, when they discover they are being used inappropriately they seek to justify the misuse rather than preventing it. They play with patients' lives! NHS Choices appears to confirm this when it states:

               "Warfarin is an anticoagulant, which means it stops the blood clotting. There's an increased risk of bleeding in people who take warfarin, but this small risk is usually outweighed by the benefits of preventing a stroke." My emphasis.

So what chance do patients have? Doctors certainly seem to be ignoring the overwhelming evidence that anticoagulant drugs are not only dangerous but lethal. I wrote about this in June 2014 in my blog "Atrial Fibrillation. The dangers of blood-thinning drugs" saying this about Pradaxa (a newer drug developed as a safer alternative to Warfarin).

               "Most of the complaints about Pradaxa were that the drug company failed to warn patients about the risk of internal bleeding. Yet did the FDA do anything about these complaints. Of course not! One piece of research indicates that Pradaxa can be blamed for a total of 1,158 deaths, and 12,494 serious injuries - just in the USA!"

This is a dangerous world for any patients who submit themselves to conventional medical treatment, with the medical establishment justifying the use of dangerous and lethal drugs, with pharmaceutical companies prepared to sell drugs and vaccines, quite regardless of the harm they cause, with drug regulators failing to take effective action to protect patients, and with doctors who are prepared to prescribe dangerous drugs to patients even when they have been told they should not have them!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Do not go gently into that good night


Do not go gentle into that wonder cure,
Let health persist and struggle until the close of play;
Rage, rage against iatrogenic death, for sure.

Though wise men at their end know death is best,
Because their warnings forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good rest.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how right
Their honest trust might have been in an honest day,
Rage, rage against their drug induced plight.

Wild men who lived lives of outrage with a shrug,
And learn, too late, that doctors had their way,
Do not go gentle into that miracle drug.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

That it was their bodies who held the key to ongoing health,
Rage, rage against Big Pharma's might.

Giving full attribution, but with the sincerest apologies, to Dylan Thomas

Friday, 23 June 2017

The NHS, Pfizer and Lyrica. Corporate Profit and Patient Harm

Conventional medicine treats neuropathic pain with a drug called pregabalin, conditions such as fibromyalgia, shingles, diabetic nerve problems, spinal cord injury, and many others. It is an anticonvulsant and neuropathic pain agent - and a dispute over patenting rights with drug companies has cost the English NHS, and the British taxpayer, an estimated additional £54 million.

Pregabalin is a nasty little drug, with lots of nasty side effects. The Drugs.com website lists these, and they include infection, ataxia, blurred vision, constipation, diplopia, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, peripheral edema, tremor, weight gain, visual field loss, accidental injury, xerostomia, abnormal gait, abnormality in thinking, amnesia, arthralgia, asthenia, cognitive dysfunction, confusion (dementia), edema, neuropathy, sinusitis, speech disturbance, vertigo, visual disturbance, myasthenia, amblyopia, and so on.

Yet the harm it is known to cause patients has not been the issue, as usual. The problem has been money and profits - as usual! From July 2014 to March 2015 most prescriptions for pregabalin were for the 'generic' (the cheaper but identical) versions of the drug. However, the manufacturers of the branded (the expensive) version, Pfizer and Warner-Lambert, did not like this. When their UK patent for Lyrica expired in July 2014 they claimed they still held a ‘second medical use’ patent for when it is prescribed for 'neuropathic pain'. So they took the matter to court. An interim judgment found in favour of Pfizer, so in March 2015 NHS England backed down and issued guidance forcing doctors to switch thousands of patients’ prescriptions for generic pregabalin back to Lyrica.

In September 2015 the High Court threw out Pfizer's patent claim as 'invalid', and the Judge stated that Pfizer had made ‘groundless threats’ to pharmacists about dispensing the generic drug. They, too, backed down, and the GP magazine Pulse says that "some pharmacies even triggered a significant event alert every time a GP prescribed so as not to fall foul of Pfizer’s ‘threats’."

So now, after two years, and an appeal, the English NHS is directing doctors to switch thousands of patients back to generic pregabalin. Well, all is fair in love (the love affair between the NHS and drug companies) and war (the battle for profit)!

Pulse analysed the cost of this decision, estimating that prescribing Lyrica instead of generic pregabalin had cost the NHS an extra £54m between February and September 2015 - less than a year! It stated a BMA spokesman, Dr Andrew Green, told them that patients had lost out.

               "Pfizer, by threatening legal action against pharmacists and doctors if they prescribed generically, have boosted their profits and denied patients effective treatments that otherwise could have been provided with that money."

Financially, this is certainly true. The NHS has been screwed by Pfizer, but by now it should be used to this, pharmaceutical companies have been screwing the NHS for nearly 70 years! Green added,

               "They now have a moral duty to pay that money back to the NHS."

Maybe. But there seems precious little 'moral duty' around within the NHS, and certainly not within the pharmaceutical industry! They are both locked together in a medical monopoly, together with most patients who depend on the NHS, and therefore depend on pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines.

What nobody has been spared, or even discussed, during all this time, have been the dangerous side effects of taking this awful drug.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Patients are 'confused' when told about the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs!

A new study has found that only 37% of the public trust evidence from medical research. This means that two-thirds do not, and prefer to trust the experiences of friends and family! This was reported in the Academy of Medical Sciences website on 19th June 2017, and reports on "the significant difficulties patients and some healthcare professionals face in using evidence from research to judge the benefits and harms of medicines". It calls for "concerted action to improve the information patients receive".

The confusion faced by patients needs to be unwrapped a little in order to understand what is happening. Although the news media refuses to tell patients about the serious side effects of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, drug companies are obliged to provide a 'patient information leaflet' with each prescription, and these PILS contain the known (or rather the accepted) side effects of the drug. The study was instigated following public debate about the benefits and harms of treatments such as statins, hormone replacement therapy and Tamiflu. The debate (quiet as it has been in most of the news media) has apparently led patients to reject these treatments, which is, of course, a problem for the conventional medical establishment!

The study calls for "a range of actions including significant improvements to patient information leaflets, better use of medical appointments and a bigger role for NHS Choices as the ‘go to’ source of trusted information online for patients and carers, as well as healthcare professionals".

 In other words, the information patients are being given is becoming a problem. It is creating doubt in the mind of patients, who are beginning to question the value, effectiveness and safety of what doctors are offering them! The study's leader. Professor Sir John Tooke, FMedSci, is reported as saying:

               “It is startling to hear that only about a third of the public trust medical research, and that patients are struggling to make sense of the information they receive from their doctor, the TV, the internet and their friends and family about medicines."

Clearly, information is a bad thing when it comes to patients understanding more about the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines! Making an 'informed choice' is not what is required by the conventional medical establishment! Our doctors know best.

               “With our ageing population and ever more sophisticated treatments being made available, we need to act now to give patients clearer and more useful information about the medicines they take.”

PILS were described as being ‘impenetrable’ and ‘unreadable’ (which they are) and the report calls for substantial changes to the leaflets at a national and EU level.

               "The report calls on the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to work with national regulatory authorities, pharmaceutical companies and patients to reform patient information leaflets to give a clearer and more balanced summary of both the potential benefits and harms of medicines. At present, patient information leaflets detail all of the possible side effects but are particularly poor at outlining the potential benefits of treatments, hindering informed decisions about medicines.  

What we seem to be facing here, amidst the 'clearer' and 'more balanced' information', is an attempt to prevent patients being 'confused' by censoring our access to negative information! These are the same arguments used for mandatory vaccinations in other parts of the world, the USA, Italy, Australia and elsewhere. The doctor knows best. As far as patients are concerned, a little information is a dangerous thing! The role of the doctor is to give us drugs on the basis of their understanding of their value to our health. Our role is to take them, and anything that contributes to us making our own decision is not to be tolerated. Nothing about "No decision about me without me" here!

The study decries "the ever-increasing volume of information available online", recommending that the NHS Choices website should be built into "a trusted ‘go to’ source of online information for patients and health professionals, providing clear, accurate, up-to-date, evidence-based information about medicines". Any cursory examination of this official website (as I have undertaken in my website, "Why Homeopath?", which compares conventional and homeopathic treatment of a variety of illnesses, will demonstrate the NHS Choices does not always give an honest account of drug side effects, and rarely a full account of their known dangers!

The agenda of the study was made clear with this statement - it is the rehabilitation of discredited treatments such statins, HRT, and Tamiflu.

               "Implementing the changes recommended in the report could help avoid future confusion about the benefits and harms of medicines, such as arose in the past around statins to prevent cardiovascular disease, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat the symptoms of the menopause and Tamiflu to treat flu."

The dangers of these drug treatments have been well documented, and I have written about them many times in this blog. Do a search on each at the top of the page. Instead, we are provide with the usual propaganda.

               "... for example, questions raised about the risk-benefit balance for statins was associated with a greater number of people stopping treatment causing an estimated 2,000 excess cardiovascular disease events, such as heart attacks and strokes, over the next ten years in the UK.

Not a word about the side effects of Statin drugs, and the damage and disease that they are now known to cause! The problem is that the conventional medical establishment is losing control of the health debate. It might have bought-off any significant criticism by the press. The BBC covered this story this morning, uncritically. But what 'friends' and 'relatives' are tell patients is that the drugs and vaccines doctors are giving us are neither effective or safe.

Statins drugs going out of favour?

BBC News is today promoting yet another vaccine. It is part of its role as the 'echo chamber' for the pharmaceutical industry, an unofficial, unpaid position that our 'public service broadcaster' has accepted for many years now.

Michelle Roberts, the Health Editor, has produced this article on the BBC website, "Cholesterol-lowering jab to help prevent heart disease". The article informs us that human trials of a "cholesterol-lowering vaccine" is being produced to help prevent heart disease. As usual, it sounds like another amazing medical breakthrough, but before popping off to see you doctor for the jab, hold on! There have been "successful studies in mice" to date, according to researchers at the Medical University of Vienna, and they are testing the safety of the vaccine on 72 volunteers!

               "It will take years more of testing to know if the treatment will be safe and effective enough for human use.... Even if it does become available, in six years' time, it should not be seen as an excuse for people to avoid exercise and eat lots of high-fat food".

So we have another 6 years to wait before this wonder-vaccine will begin to have an impact on the epidemic levels of heart disease we are currently experiencing, allegedly caused by 'fatty deposits clogging up our arteries!'

The BBC does this all the time, giving us the 'good news' about pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, which is always about the good news that will  happen in the years to come! Years which never seem to arrive!

At the same time as hearing BBC News promoting the pharmaceutical industry this morning (20th June 2017) I received an email of WDDTY (What Doctor's Don't Tell You). They reported two items. The first was Aspirin is a bigger killer among the over 75's than everyone thought! I wrote about this in my recent blog, "Aspirin causes gastrointestinal bleeding, so the solution is to take PPI drugs which cause .... and so it goes on!" Did the BBC pick up this important piece of news? Of course not!

The other WDDTY article was about the deaths caused by pharmaceutical drugs in the USA, estimated to be nearly 500,000 annually. Did the BBC pick up this important (and regular) piece of news? Of course not!

The BBC tells us about the 'good' news, that may (or may not) happen in 6 years time. But it refuses to cover the news about what is happening to patients right now (and for decades past)!

Yet there is another, more interesting news story here. I ought to mention it as the BBC is unlikely to do so! For decades patients have been told that Statin drugs prevented 'fatty deposits clogging up our arteries'. Moreover, these drugs were entirely safe, so safe in fact that everyone should be taking them. The BBC have been part of this media hype about the benefits and safety of Statin drugs for a long time. It was the 'good news' story of yester-year! The question is, why is there a need to develop a vaccine to do what Statins have been doing, apparently so successfully and safely, for decades? The BBC has the answer, probably straight from the news release of the pharmaceutical industry!

               "It would offer patients an alternative to taking daily pills to cut their risk of stroke, angina and heart attacks."

Or, alternatively, is it more to do with the fact (unmentioned by the BBC of course) that Statin drugs are now implicated in having serious side effects, including liver dysfunction, kidney failure, muscle weakness, cataracts, and more recently, memory loss, confusion and dementia?

So maybe this is the first indication that conventional doctors are now beginning to realise that the drugs they have been giving to patients for years are causing more harm to patients then they realised, or were told. They are certainly doing more harm than the BBC has ever informed us about!

And this is, of course, what happens regularly in the world of the pharmaceutical drugs. Dangerous drugs and vaccines are marketed, they cause harm to patients, and when the harm becomes to great to hide (and profitability is reduced because patents run out) they are quietly withdrawn. And this process seems to happen more quickly when Big Pharma has a replacement!

The new vaccine would also appear to be a profitable venture too. As the BBC article suggests, booster jabs will be required, "the researchers envisage that patients could have a yearly booster shot to top up their immunity."

And conventional medicine presents this as medical progress!

Can anyone trust the BBC and its coverage of health issues? Absolutely not. Or mainstream newspapers (who similarly peddle pharmaceutical propaganda)? Absolutely not. The newspapers wonder why their circulations are declining! The BBC are beginning to understand (in non-health areas anyway) the reason why people are turning to 'alternative' news sources, and are rejecting the 'establishment' view on many social issues, including health. The reason is simple.

It is because the public is beginning to realise that the mainstream media has consistently refused to tell us the truth! 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Sociological assessment of the 'benefits' of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines

An eminent American sociologist, Donald Light, has weighed in on the debate about pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, he did so in June 2013, four years ago, when his research was published in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics was published (Vol 14, No 3: 590-610), entitled "Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals and the Myth of Safe and Effective Drugs". This is what he said summarising his devastating findings:

               "Over the past 35 years, patients have suffered from a largely hidden epidemic of side effects from drugs that usually have few offsetting benefits. The pharmaceutical industry has corrupted the practice of medicine through its influence over what drugs are developed, how they are tested, and how medical knowledge is created. Since 1906, heavy commercial influence has compromised Congressional legislation to protect the public from unsafe drugs. The authorization of user fees in 1992 has turned drug companies into the FDA’s prime clients, deepening the regulatory and cultural capture of the agency. Industry has demanded shorter average review times and, with less time to thoroughly review evidence, increased hospitalizations and deaths have resulted. Meeting the needs of the drug companies has taken priority over meeting the needs of patients. Unless this corruption of regulatory intent is reversed, the situation will continue to deteriorate. We offer practical suggestions including: separating the funding of clinical trials from their conduct, analysis, and publication: independent FDA leadership; full public funding for all FDA activities; measures to discourage R&D on drugs with few if any new clinical benefits; and the creation of a National Drug Safety Board."

In the journal 'Footnotes' journal of the American Sociological Association, Light was described as the 2013 recipient of ASA’s Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology, and he said this in his article, 'The Epidemic of Sickness and Death from Prescription Drugs' he had more to say, and it is sufficient here to repeat his words in a series of hard-hitting statements:

               "At the intersection of medical and economic sociology sits prescription drugs. Economically, the strange, government-protected markets for drugs lead to prices largely unrelated to either value or cost, though companies claim they reflect one or the other, or both at the same time." 

               "Epidemiologically, appropriately prescribed, prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death, tied with stroke at about 2,460 deaths each week in the United States. About 330,000 patients die each year from prescription drugs in the United States and Europe. They cause an epidemic of about 20 times more hospitalizations, as well as falls, road accidents, and about 80 million medically minor problems such as pains, discomforts, and dysfunctions that hobble productivity or the ability to care for others. Deaths and adverse effects from overmedication, errors, and self-medication would increase these figures."

               "The Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard is devoted to researching “institutional corruption” in a range of domains, including Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Institutional corruption refers to legal ways in which an institution’s social mission and basic values get distorted, usually by big money. For example, the FDA, developed around a series of drug disasters to protect the public from unsafe and ineffective drugs, devotes only 10 percent of its budget to monitoring for harmful side effects. Further, evidence of serious risks is reviewed by the same committee that approved the drug in the first place as 'safe and effective'. This builds on another institutionally corrupt arrangement - companies testing their own products. They use well-documented techniques to produce evidence that new drugs appear safer and less harmful than they are in actual practice. These practices include randomly sampling from a preselected biased population, using substitute outcome measures, and using a high dose to hasten evidence of benefit while running trials too short to record the resulting adverse side effects.

Light states there hitherto there has been a lack of sociological research into the prevalence of mild and serious harms from prescription drugs.

               "Medical sociologists often concentrate their research on diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease rather than on prescription drugs as major cause of illness and death. Drugs as a major health risk, especially given that few new ones have offsetting advantages compared to their higher risks, unites the two sides of medical sociology because physicians prescribe them to help patients. It’s a field waiting for graduate students and faculty to explore."

The articles goes into detail about the operation of large pharmaceutical companies, which Light studied, and led his to realise that a far worse problem existed.... "the epidemic of harmful side effects from drugs that usually offer few or no new clinical advantages over existing drugs to offset their risks."

Light and his colleague went into many other medically related sociological issues, including evidence that new drugs were no better than old ones, questioning how much benefit drugs conferred, how inadequate testing regularly produced disasters such as those associated with Vioxx, that drug pricing was unjustified, and that American federal law required that Medicare payoff any FDA approved drug at the prices drug companies set. His conclusion was clear.

               "What, then, is going on? We concluded that companies charge unaffordable, impoverishing prices because legal protections in the United States encourage them. Further, we found in the large data set on prescription prices .... that companies keep raising these prices in subsequent years, doubling every five years. Thus the pricing of cancer, cardiovascular, and other specialty drugs can be characterized as 'market spiral pricing'.” 

The other factor spiralling out of control is the damage pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines are doing to patients throughout the world.

Aspirin causes gastrointestinal bleeding, so the solution is to take PPI drugs which cause .... and so it goes on!

Medical Research scientists at Oxford University have studied over 3,000 patients over 75 years taking anti-platelet drugs, notably aspirin, over a 10-year period. More than 300, that is, 10%, were taken to hospital for gastrointestinal bleeding. They concluded that the overall risk of developing serious bleeding was 10 times higher, which they concluded was "at least as likely to be disabling or fatal" as another stroke. The research was published in the Lancet yesterday, 13th June 2017, "Age-specific risks, severity, time course, and outcome of bleeding on long-term antiplatelet treatment after vascular events: a population-based cohort study".

The research estimated that between 40–66% of adults aged 75 years or older in the USA and Europe take daily aspirin, or another anti platelet drug. Aspirin is known to increase the risk of major gastrointestinal bleeding. Indeed conventional medicine has known this for decades, and this is not the first time medical science has proved it! So what is new? Nothing really. This research proves that aspirin causes more bleeding in more older people than was previously thought!

What this demonstrates is that it takes the conventional medical establishment a long time to work out the damage caused by pharmaceutical drugs! Aspirin was first patented as a drug in 1889, nearly 130 years ago, so it might have been hoped, even expected, that by now they might by now realise the full extent of the damage it is causing to patients. Clearly they do not!

It is proof, if proof is really needed, that conventional medicine is happy to provide patients with dangerous drugs, for a century and more, without fully realising just how dangerous they are to human health!

Worse is the conclusion that the researchers drew from this new evidence. Aspirin may be dangerous, but the solution is not to stop taking it, but to take another pharmaceutical drug instead, PPI's or Proton Pump Inhibitor drugs. So are these drugs safe? Of course not. As my 'Why Homeopathy?' webpage outlines, PPI's are known to cause a host of serious problems - the superbug C.Diff, Pneumonia, Osteoporosis, Heart Attacks, Kidney damage, and dementia. And, of course, all these diseases are suffered particularly by older people!

So, out of the frying pan into the fire? Well, not really. Patients take them together. So they are both in the frying pan and the fire!

It must also be remembered that conventional medicine has been using Aspirin and PPI's together for many years. It is not new advice.  This is how the doctor's e-magazine, Pulse, puts it.

               "Current NICE guidance on NSAID prescribing already recommends co-prescription of PPIs in patients at increased risk of adverse GI effects, which includes those aged 65 or above. Despite this, such treatment is not routine and among the study participants just one third of patients were prescribed a PPI. Experts are now calling for guidance to be updated so that patients aged 75 or above on long-term anti-platelet therapy are routinely co-prescribed a PPI."

So this is another piece of medical science that clearly demonstrates harm but does absolutely nothing about it. Yet there is a further problem. If patients taking Aspirin need to take another drug to stop gastrointestinal bleeding, do they also need to take further drugs to prevent its other known side effects? This is not mentioned! But Aspirin is known to cause a whole host of other serious side effects. My blog "Aspirin. That nice, harmless painkiller, outlines the following information:

  • Although used to prevent heart attacks and strokes Aspirin is known that aspirin actually doubles the risk.
  • Aspirin is known to cause a variety of eyesight problems, from macular degeneration to blindness.
  • Although aspirin is sometimes used to prevent cancer, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that it is actually linked to "a significantly increased risk of developing cancer".
  • And one study, undertaken at the University of Florida and reported in the magazine WDDTY (What Doctor's Don't Tell You), showed that patients taking regular doses of aspirin increased their risk of dying by 47%.

So do patients need to guard against these side effects? There is silence on this! And so the conventional medical circus rolls on, apparently learning lots, but understanding little. Conventional medicine is a game of pretence - pretending to care about whether pharmaceutical drugs cause harm to patients, but when they discover that they do, doing little or nothing about it. The charade just carries on.

  • "The drugs do more good than harm!" - but with precious little evidence of what good they actually do.
  • "All medical treatment has side effects!" - a nonsense statement for anyone who knows about homeopathy, acupuncture and most every other forms of traditional or alternative medicine.