Thursday, 6 April 2017

BBC News. Advertising another dangerous drug for the pharmaceutical industry!

How much would it cost a pharmaceutical drug company to advertise one of its drugs on every radio and television news programme for an entire day? This is what BBC News is busy doing today (6th April 2017), as it does so regularly. Moreover, BBC News advertising provides us with all the alleged benefits of the drug, and none of its serious side effects, and news presenters interview conventional medical health 'experts' as though they were doing us a favour!

I was woken to Michal Husain doing just this on BBC's Today programme. The message from the conventional medical establishment was that 'Ketamine depression treatment should be rolled out', and this is a link to the supporting article published on the BBC website

Ketamine is a drug licensed to be used as an anaesthetic and a painkiller. But it is probably better known as an 'illegal' party drug! However, it has been discovered, in a trial carried out in Oxford, that ketamine can work on patients with depression "where nothing has helped before". Well, perhaps this is not surprising, given the known ineffectiveness of antidepressant drugs! However, Dr McShane, who undertook the study, stated that tens of thousands of people "who have not responded to other treatment" could be helped by the drug, that of the 101 patients who took part, 42 of them had "responded" to the ketamine.

To support the argument a patient was interviewed. She said that the ketamine treatment had saved her life.

               "I had felt so desperate I was going to end it all. Subsequent ketamine treatment has enabled me to return to my job full-time. I still struggle at times but being able to work again has given me such a boost."

In fairness, Husain did ask about the side effects of the drug. And in fairness, the doctor admitted (in the earliest broadcast of the news item) that the drug has resulted in the removal of a patient's bladder! And in the internet article it was stated that the Royal College of Psychiatrists had "concerns for patient safety" and recommended "mental health practitioners to proceed with caution when treating patients with ketamine."

Yet the full enormity of the side effects of Ketamine (listed below as a postscript) never came over to the listener or the viewer. The news, as usual, was presented as a 'medical breakthrough', the normal BBC stuff. It was, they parroted, 'an exciting discovery'. The website article states that it is not a miracle treatment for depression. But then the website article does not mention a single side effect! Indeed, another participant is interviewed and quoted as saying she did not feel that she was becoming dependent on the drug, she did not feel 'hooked' or 'addicted to it in any way.

So the hopes and expectations of many patients suffering from moderate to severe depression were no doubt raised. Many may be talking to their doctors about taking the drug at this very moment. Certainly the drug company must have been delighted with the free advertising. But hold on. A psychiatrist from Cardiff University, Dr Paul Keedwell said that "Ketamine in the treatment of depression is one of the most exciting discoveries in psychiatry for years.... more research is needed ... to share new findings, positive or negative."

So its not a treatment that is generally available to patients. It is one for the future! There is no certainty that it will work. Hopes have been raised, as is usual with conventional medicine, yet little of nothing is being delivered - yet. It might be an 'exciting discovery' today, but tomorrow we will no doubt discover that the epidemic levels of depression have not been reduced, and that the NHS remains in crisis. Another false dawn!

The real tragedy of the BBC's coverage of health issues is that it is partial. Why, for example, did the BBC not publicise the fact that a recent study has found that probiotics can reverse depression, 'Probiotics found to reverse depression without the violent side effects of SSRI antidepressants'. The evidence is available. It has been posted on the internet. The BBC could find it, here, if it bothered to look. The problem is that probiotics are not profitable for the pharmaceutical industry. And moreover, the BBC steadfastly refuses to look at alternative forms of treatment, even simple treatments that can be easily and inexpensively achieved by small nutritional changes.

What if the BBC bothered to look at what homeopathy was doing for patients with depression. Homeopaths treat depression every day, with considerable success. They have done so for years, and without using dangerous drugs with harmful side effects. Every homeopath could produce someone to give testimony about that. But no, hold on, this would be dismissed as being 'anecdotal', not proper evidence of effectiveness. But hold on, isn't this what the BBC's story about Ketamine depends on? A couple of people supporting the study? Is this not 'anecdotal too?

What is considered to be sufficient evidence for conventional medicine is not considered to be sufficient for homeopathy. And in any case, homeopathy (as the BBC opined in an earlier programme this week ) is 'rubbish' anyway.

And so it goes on. The BBC believes it is presenting 'news' about health, but it slavishly committed to the conventional medical establishment. No truth, no honesty there, then. So for anyone who wants a balanced view of this new medical breakthrough, and informed choice, they need to look at the full side effects of Ketamine, and well as the partial information given by the BBC. Here they are.

Postscript. The Side Effects of Ketamine (taken from the website)
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • bluish lips or skin
  • blurred vision
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • confusion
  • confusion as to time, place, or person
  • convulsions
  • cough
  • difficult or troubled breathing
  • difficult, burning, or painful urination
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fainting
  • fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • hives
  • holding false beliefs that cannot be changed by fact
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • itching
  • not breathing
  • pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • shortness of breath
  • skin rash
  • sweating
  • tightness in the chest
  • unusual excitement, nervousness, or restlessness
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Double vision
  • dream-like state
  • flushing or redness of the skin
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • pain at the injection site
  • seeing double
  • uncontrolled eye movements
  • unusually warm skin
  • vomiting
  • weight loss
On the same website, conventional medical doctors are warned about a variety of serious adverse reactions - cardiovascular, respiratory, ocular, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, dermatologic, psychiatric, genitourinary, hepatic and hypersensitivity.