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“The Deadly Corruption of Clinical Trials” January 8, 2011

Filed under: Pharma — aprasek @ 12:53 am

Carl Elliott’s article, “The Deadly Corruption of Clinical Trials” is a must read. Seriously. Here’s a teaser:

In 2003, Mary’s 26-year-old son, Dan, was enrolled against her wishes in a psychiatric drug study at the University of Minnesota, where I teach medical ethics. Less than six months later, Dan was dead. I’d learned about his death from a deeply unsettling newspaper series by St. Paul Pioneer Press reporters Jeremy Olson and Paul Tosto that suggested he was coerced into a pharmaceutical-industry study from which the university stood to profit, but which provided him with inadequate care. Over the next few months, I talked to several university colleagues and administrators, trying to learn what had happened. Many of them dismissed the story as slanted and incomplete. Yet the more I examined the medical and court records, the more I became convinced that the problem was worse than the Pioneer Press had reported. The danger lies not just in the particular circumstances that led to Dan’s death, but in a system of clinical research that has been thoroughly co-opted by market forces, so that many studies have become little more than covert instruments for promoting drugs. The study in which Dan died starkly illustrates the hazards of market-driven research and the inadequacy of our current oversight system to detect them. 

It’s pretty amazing to think that Elliott had the courage to call out his employer like this (he teaches at the U of MN). And I suppose a shred of kudos to the U of MN for not firing Elliott…

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I Have a Favor to Ask… May 17, 2010

After finishing my academic *stuff* on Wednesday, I was left with a strange void and question in my mind… “What now?!” The feeling was too much for me 🙂

So, I went back to my second home (my MAC) and stumbled across a contest for the OWN Network. I was stoked to see what the contest was for– the chance to win your own show! Having a show focused on complementary health and preventative health has always been my dream. It has been the goal that has guided me through my last 10 years of education and experiences. So, amidst my finals hangover, I applied for the show and threw together an audition video.

To my surprise, I’ve actually received some votes! But, I’ll need a lot more to move onto the second round. The five people with the most votes on July 3 will go on. So, I’ll need a group of people who are willing to vote 100+ times per day until July 3. I’m hoping our WG community can help do that 🙂

It only takes about 2 minutes to vote 100 times. People have told me that they just click on the vote button and hold down the enter key! It’s like rapid fire from then on!

If you believe in spreading the message of integrative health, then I would LOVE it if you’d vote for me and help to make this happen. Let’s create something awesome together!

Click here to watch the video and vote as much as you can.

And please send this on to your contacts and post on your social media sites!

Much love and many, many thanks guys 🙂

 

Elderberry VS H1N1 November 24, 2009

Filed under: Complementary Therapies,Nutritional Wellness,Pharma — aprasek @ 2:13 pm

I got a phone call from a good friend the other night…

“Ummm, Aimee, I ju- [coughs] just thought you sh- [clears throat, coughs] should know that I have H1N1.”

Awesome. (Here are a few of my thoughts on H1N1 if you missed my earlier post.)

Six of us were hanging out with our H1N1 buddy the same night she went to urgent care to get the diagnosis. We were all digging our hands into a bowl of pretzels, sitting close, giving hugs, playing board games… all sorts of dirty-germ-spreading things.

Hubby was hanging out at the H1N1 party as well. That means double our chances of getting sick. Additionally, it’s the end of the semester, so I’ll be a bit more crazy than usual (which also results in driving the hubby more crazy). Thus, it’s definitely time for some immune-boosting measures and some extra prophylactic pig flu duties.

We’re making sure we get enough sleep, taking the usual public health measures, popping our multi-vitamins, adding an extra boost of Vit C and Zinc, ingesting lots of ginger and garlic, drinking some teas and we’ve added this:

New Chapter: Immunity Take Care

The above is a product from New Chapter, called “Immunity take care,” which is really just an elderberry extract (sambucus nigra). The stuff isn’t cheap– I got a bottle of 30 lozenges, which is a one month supply for $30. I buy this brand because of its potency and similarity to the full herbal chemistry of elderberry as it is found in nature.

Elderberry has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system and there’s a lot of research to support its use today. The most interesting study is a recent one that put elderberry flavonoids up against H1N1. Amazingly, elderberry held its own. The authors of the study claim that the elderberry flavonoids compare to the anti-influenza activities of Tamiflu. (I’ll leave the Tamiflu discussion alone for the time being…)

The study was funded by HerbalScience Singapore, a life sciences company that also has a relationship with New Chapter. The authors are also affiliated with HerbalScience. Even so, the research is pretty interesting. And at the very least, it suggests that more research on elderberry and H1N1 is needed.

So, for the next 2 weeks, hubs and I are pumping the elderberry (and the rest of our anti-flu goodies) and we are NOT getting sick. Not getting sick. Not getting sick. (Adding positive affirmations as well.)

If you have any other immune-boosting practices, please share them in the comments below!


 

Money-Driven Medicine vs. YOUR health. September 7, 2009

Filed under: Health Care Reform,Medical Ethics?,Pharma — aprasek @ 10:35 pm

 

Money-driven medicine vs. YOUR health. Which do you support?

 

I had the opportunity to see the documentary, Money-Driven Medicine a few months ago. It is a candid portrait of our sick-care system, ahem, I mean health care system. I encourage you to visit the film’s website and watch a few more clips. Most of all, I encourage you to host a screening of the film with your friends, neighbors, business, school, etc. (sooner the better). Click here to purchase the DVD for screening. 

 http://blip.tv/play/gusHgZSXXwI%2Em4v

 

The Ghostwriters of the Pharmaceutical Companies August 5, 2009

Filed under: Pharma — aprasek @ 10:53 pm

 

Not cool:

The court documents provide a detailed paper trail showing how Wyeth contracted with a medical communications company to outline articles, draft them and then solicit top physicians to sign their names, even though many of the doctors contributed little or no writing. The documents suggest the practice went well beyond the case of Wyeth and hormone therapy, involving numerous drugs from other pharmaceutical companies.

Read the full article from the New York Times.

As a student and future researcher, I would love to believe that the information communicated in scientific studies is written ethically and accurately. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Even articles published in the most respected journals must be approached with a critical eye. Who are the authors? Who funded the study? What conflicts of interest may be at play?

This becomes even more important when research is regurgitated by the mainstream media. Many “breaking” studies get shoved into a 3-minute television segment. That’s simply not enough time to discuss any real concerns with a study.

On a good note… Health stories like this emphasize the importance of being an advocate and expert for your own health. It’s important to sit with health information and see how it resonates within you. Talk with those you respect about health issues and then honor your own wisdom. When you connect more fully to your body, you can make the best decisions for your own health.      

 

A Safer Acetaminophen? July 15, 2009

Filed under: Complementary Therapies,Pharma — aprasek @ 1:18 pm

A Safer Analgesic?

Acetaminophen has been getting a lot of heat for its potentially toxic affects on the liver. This is no good considering that only a few months ago, docs were encouraging these pain-relieving drugs like water. Just a ‘lil info: Acetaminophen is the generic name for a drug found in brands like Tylenol, Vicodin and Percocet. Click here to learn more about acetaminophen and health concerns.  

Because of these concerns, it’s likely that the next few years will invite a glut of “safer” analgesic (pain-relieving) drugs to be touted by Big Pharma. This can be a good thing, but I think it’s important that we learn a lesson from acetaminophen.

As these shiny new drugs start to line the shelves, we must remember how long it took to really understand the health consequences from acetaminophen. Often, early research will determine a drug safe and effective—but, 10 or 20 years down the road, health consequences begin to show up.

The newest of these potentially “safer” analgesic drugs is being played with at the University of New Orleans. The new drug claims to be as potent and effective as acetaminophen but without concerns for liver toxicity. (Read the recent study regarding preparation of the analgesic, SCP-123.) This is great, but what about 10 years from now? It might not affect my liver, but what about my muscles? Or brain? Often, these new and “safer” drugs come out of the lab with so much excitement that they are marketed to the public as cure-alls with no side-effects.

Of course, there are situations that may require these drugs. And, if they nurture and heal your body enough to invite you to experience life more fully, then take them. But, be conscious of the side effects and weigh your decision accordingly.

It’s vital that we are all aware of this—even for something as seemingly innocent as acetaminophen. Be sure to ask the question, “Why am I using this?” Often, the best solution to aches and pains is not to mask them with an analgesic like Tylenol. Aches and pains are a message from your body that you may be out of balance.

For example, is it a headache? Would more rest, better posture, relaxing your jaw or ridding your environment of chemical perfumes or air fresheners help? Is it low back pain? Would stretching the hamstrings and glutes and strengthening the core help?

Likely, there is an active solution that you can take to ease or even get rid of aches and pains. But, these take time, patience and dedication. These activities are more involved than popping a few pills. But, the benefits are extensive and when practiced correctly, there are no side-effects.

Additionally, there are many natural options for pain relief. Yoga, acupuncture and more unknown options like the Alexander technique can bring relief. Meditation, specifically a practice called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been shown to significantly reduce pain and ease/heal mental health concerns (try MBSR by clicking here).

Arnica and other herbal and homeopathic options are also available. Supplements like glucosamine and omegas can lubricate and support the joints (just be aware that herbs and supplements are also powerful and may have side-effects or contraindications). Nutritional changes such as limiting your intake of highly refined grains can also help by reducing inflammation in the body.

One of the simplest strategies to decrease muscle and joint pain can be to increase your intake of water. Cut out the soda and add in some room-temperature H2O. It will be absorbed quickly into the body and will nourish the areas that need it.

What are your thoughts? Will these new drugs be free of side-effects? Also, what activities or natural treatments do you use to reduce pain?

 

Despondex April 13, 2009

Filed under: Healthy Mind,Pharma — aprasek @ 5:34 pm

Here’s my thought: Since our medical system has diagnosed and medicated every other emotion, it’s about time pharma started profiting on happiness.

I think the Onion nailed this one…

 

http://www.theonion.com/content/themes/common/assets/onn_embed/embedded_player.swf?image=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theonion.com%2Fcontent%2Ffiles%2Fimages%2FDEPRESSANT_DRUG_article.jpg&videoid=93207&title=FDA%20Approves%20Depressant%20Drug%20For%20The%20Annoyingly%20Cheerful
FDA Approves Depressant Drug For The Annoyingly Cheerful