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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 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.

Postscript 24 January 2018
The doctor's e-magazine Pulse reported that official figures show that pregabalin-related deaths rose from 4 to 111 between 2012 and 2016, and gabapentin-related deaths went from 8 to 59 within the same period. There has apparently been discussions about how to control this nasty little pharmaceutical drug.

As a result proposals were made to restrict pregabalin and gabapentin, but according to Pulse these restrictions were labelled as ‘onerous’ and unjustified by the BMA. Too bad, doctors seem to be okay about prescribing dangerous drugs that can kill us; but taking precautions to protect us is a little too onerous!

Well, that at least demonstrate something about the priorities of the conventional medical establishment!

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 AMS 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 AMS 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 AMS 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.

Note on the Academy of Medical Sciences.
Who, or what is the AMS? This is what the Green Med Info website has discovered.

               "The AMS is a self-proclaimed “independent body in the UK representing the diversity of medical science” who, according to their website, is funded by GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen, Merck Sharp and Dohme, and Roche".

So let's not be too confused about who the AMS speak for!

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.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Antidepressant Drugs and Depression. Another sign of the failure of conventional medicine

A doctor, writing in the GP's magazine 'Pulse' has said that doctors "need to stop prescribing antidepressants".  These medications, he says, are overprescribed and prescribed for too long. He is, of course, talking against the perceived wisdom of the conventional medical establishment, that has been stating for several years that mental health, and depression in particular, has been under-diagnosed and under-treated, and more drug treatment is needed. Dr Des Spence, a GP in Glasgow, and a tutor at the University of Glasgow, says this:

               "The ‘Defeat Depression’ campaign in adults in the 1990s was an unmitigated disaster for society. It led to vast numbers of prescriptions, lifelong treatment and side effects. Antidepressant prescribing rates have since doubled in a decade, to an eye watering 61 million prescriptions in 2015."

This campaign was orchestrated by the pharmaceutical industry, to promote and sell its antidepressant drugs which were based on the 'chemical imbalance' theory of depression. Drug companies believed (or at least they wanted us to believe) that antidepressant drugs could rectify this imbalance. But, as Spence states, the chemical imbalance theory "has limited science to support it", and cites this study, Lacasse JR, Leo J. Serotonin and depression: a disconnect between the advertisements and the scientific literature. PLoS Med 2005; 12: e392, to support this. Certainly, the use of antidepressant like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil, SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) antidepressants that were designed to increase Serotonin levels in the brain, have been spectacularly unsuccessful!

Spence mentions that there is "much evidence suggesting antidepressants are completely ineffective". He quotes two studies to support his statement,

               Fournier JC et al. Antidepressant drug effects and depression severity: a patient-level meta-analysis. JAMA 2010; 303: 47-53

               Kirsch I et al. Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS Med 2008; 5:e45 

He also mentioned studies that I have already mentioned in my blogs, namely "that even by the most optimistic calculations 85% of patients get no benefit from medication at all".

               Arroll B et al. Antidepressants versus placebo for depression in primary care. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009; 3: CD007954

               Haddad PM, Anderson IM. Recognising and managing antidepressant discontinuation symptoms. Adv Psychiatr Treat 2007; 13: 447–57

Spence also mention the withdrawal symptoms when patients have to stop taking the drugs, causing agitation, insomnia and mood swings "which many construe as a return of their low mood".

Yet he does not mention how spectacularly dangerous antidepressant drugs have been. I have written about this extensively on this page of my 'Why Homeopathy? website. There is now convincing evidence that these drugs have become a major cause of violence and suicide. The dangers of antidepressants is well-enough This does not prevent the conventional medical establishment promoting such drugs. It never has! And Spence himself knows that amongst his peers he is a voice in the wilderness.

               "Most people in primary care have reactive depression or adjustment disorders. But challenging this prevailing wisdom of course means I am stigmatising and dismissing mental illness and should be shouted down. But we all suffer mental illness at times, be it anxiety or depression, I know that I certainly have. The issue is how we manage mental illness."

                "Clearly psychological pain, just like physical pain, has a purpose - it is an evolutionary response. Psychological pain is the catalyst of change, acceptance and moving on. Talking it through, addressing social stresses, changing lifestyle and perhaps ending unhappy relationships is the solution. Antidepressants are not the answer for the vast, vast majority of people. We should aim to normalise, not medicalise."

                "Of course this will be dismissed as simplistic drivel, as life ‘is more complex than this’. But in my view it isn't, it really is as simple as that." 

Presumably Spence realises that his colleagues will prescribe antidepressant drugs quite regardless of how ineffective they are, or how dangerous they can be. This is what happens within the NHS. He calls for more use of, and improved access to counselling as a top priority. But he probably realises that 'talking therapies' are not profitable to the pharmaceutical industry, and so are unlikely to be promoted as he wants.

Yet Spence's article does indicate that there are doctors out there, no doubt too few, who are beginning to realise that conventional, drug-based medicine, is failing. So far (at the time of writing) there have been 43 responses to his article. I have looked through these, and perhaps 5 are critical of his article. Most responses seem resigned in hopelessness - doctors have to respond somehow - prescribing antibiotic drugs is 'pragmatic' -  they may not work, but they are effective as 'placebo'. A few responses suggest that if this is true of the prescription of antidepressant drugs, it is also true of antibiotics, and many other areas of conventional medical practice.

Sadly, few doctors seem to be aware of the serious side effects of antidepressant drugs. But the realisation that conventional medicine is failing is slowly progressing, and this article, and the responses, show that even the soldiers, the ground troops of conventional medicine, are realising that the game is up.

A case of Phlebitis, cured with Homeopathy, but then denied by conventional doctors

This is a story of homeopathy successfully treating an illness, Phlebitis, which had been formally diagnosed by conventional medical staff, but who were not treating is successfully. Once the condition had improved with homeopathy, a doctor and a specialist refused to accept that homeopathy could have any affect on the condition, so the answer must be that she never had the condition - it had been wrong diagnosed! Such is the denial of the conventional medical establishment.

It was July 2004 when Catherine (not her real name) came to see me. She was 79 years old. The condition she wanted me to treat had been diagnosed as Phlebitis, and her doctor was treating it, but she said without much success. She was going to see the practice nurse after our appointment. She was having her leg bandaged.

Catherine showed me her problem left leg. It had a thick dark mark running down it from several inches below her knee to her ankle. She complained of shooting pains, upwards from her ankle to her calf, which led to an aching pain. Her ankles were swollen ankles. Although in the morning she could be free of pain the shooting pain could happen any time, and the aching gets worse as day goes by. By the evening they became unbearable, and she had to sit with her feet up, which she did dislike as she  enjoys being active. She also complained of itching. Her leg generated heat. There was no ulceration. Walking was painful, but the pain tended to ease with exercise. Her other leg was not painful, although she had varicose veins in both legs for 25-30 years.

Catherine was also on conventional drugs, Losatin (for high blood pressure) and Pesentin (for a mini-stroke she had 2-3 years earlier). She also took aspirin for the arthritis in her right knee, and had regular flu vaccinations. But it was the pain that she wanted me to treat. It was becoming unbearable.

I saw Catherine again on 5th August 2004. The condition had not improved but she said that she was beginning to feel better "within herself". One thing that homeopathy teaches you is that feeling better, or stronger, or having more energy is often a precursor to the body getting stronger, and so getting more able to cope with physical conditions like phlebitis. So I decided to stick with the remedy I had been giving her - Hamamelis (made from Witch Hazel). I also looked at the side effects of one of the drug she was taking, Losartan, and wondered whether this might be causing or aggravating the condition. I decided to make a potentized remedy from the drug to see if this helped.

On 17th August 2004 Cathering phone me to say she had been given new drug, Arthrotec. She had taken a few of these, but had stopped as they gave her indigestion. But she was unsure whether this was making her leg better, or whether it was the homeopathic remedies. She said that the leg was looking better, and there was less pain. I asked her to continue taking the remedies as I had asked.

On 16th September 2004 we met again. Her leg was feeling much better, there was only a slight residual pain now. She also said her arthritis was a little better too, and wondered whether I had treated this too. I told her that I was treating her, and not any specific condition.

Ten days later, on 26th September 2004, Catherine phoned again. She has been to her hospital appointment, but the specialist told her that it could not have been Phlebitis, it had been something else. She had also told them that I had given her a homeopathic Losartin, but they said that this had no connection with her conditionHe had given it a name, but she could not remember what it was. Her leg, she said, was "not too bad, not much pain, but she still knows it is there".

Our next meeting was on 18th November 2004, Catherine confirmed that both her doctor, and her specialist had told  her that it was not Phlebitis that she had! She reflected that she had always been well, until she turned 75, when she started taking pharmaceutical drugs for high blood pressure. It was shortly after this that she had a mini-stroke. And then she began to suffer from a series of conditions.

Catherine had no pain at all, except for an occasional twinge. She wondered what the condition was that had caused so much pain. I asked her whether it mattered. Her doctor had called it phlebitis. Her specialist had contradicted the diagnosis. But the real point was, surely, that she was now free of pain, however the pain was diagnosed. I told her that the main remedy she had used, Hamamelis, was a well known, and often used remedy for Phlebitis, but if conventional medicine wanted to diagnose it with some other name, it made little difference.

Driving home I smiled, and shook my head. Conventional medicine had proved ineffective. Homeopathy had worked. So, faced with this, two doctors had preferred to admit that their diagnosis had been wrong rather than to acknowledge that homeopathy had worked.

Protelos. Another Big Pharma drug bites the dust! Osteoporosis sufferers beware!

The doctor's E-Magazine, Pulse, announced yesterday (5th June 2017) that GP's will have to review any osteoporisis patients treated with the drug Protelos, or Strontium Ranelate, as it "ceases to be available in the UK from August".

     Why is this?

The pharmaceutical company, Servier, said it was due to "decreasing numbers of prescriptions".

     Why the decrease in prescriptions?

Pulse says that this is due to evidence of a "heightened risk of cardiovascular events in 2014" so that it is now "only prescribed to patients who cannot use other approved treatments for the condition, and under careful monitoring."

In other words, Protelos is yet another drug that medical science, and drug regulators has passed as effective and safe has proven to be neither - certainly not safe!

The Pulse article says that Strontium ranelate has been used to treat severe osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, and adult men, who were unable to tolerate other osteoporosis drugs. Yet the history of the drug is more interesting than this!

First, reviewing the clinical trials that led to the drug's use, the evidence appears to show the most marginal improvement in bone fracture. Read about the two main trials on this website.

               "When looking at results of the two studies taken together, fewer women in the Protelos group developed breaks at any site outside the spine (including the hip) than in the placebo group (331 out of 3,295 with Protelos compared with 389 out of 3,256 for placebo). This showed that the risk of breaking a bone is reduced."

For this marginal benefit, the article goes on to outline the side effects - ischaemic heart disease (such as angina or a heart attack), peripheral arterial disease (obstruction of the blood flow in the arteries, usually in the legs), cerebrovascular disease (diseases affecting the blood vessels in the brain, such as stroke). Actually, there are many more serious side effects, see this NetDoctor website. But despite the (at best) marginal benefits, and the serious potential side effects, this conclusion was reached.

               "The CHMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use) decided that Protelos’s benefits are greater than its risks and recommended that it be given marketing authorisation."

Clearly they were wrong! Yet this is not unusual in the history of pharmaceutical drugs. Risks are measured in grams, benefits in kilograms! It is more profitable for the drug companies that way!

Second, whilst the drug has been approved in Europe, it was not approved by the FDA in the USA! Clearly, conventional medicine concluded, as it often does, that the was 'safe' for Europeans, but not safe for Americans! I have no explanation for why this should be - but it happens quite frequently, one way or another!

So now patients on this unsafe drug have to be called in, and the Pulse article makes it clear that doctors do not have too many alternative treatments for them. So perhaps osteoporosis patients need to look seriously to alternative therapies for a solution to their condition!

Yet the most serious feature of this news is the conventional medicine has used an unsafe drug for osteoporosis patients for over a decade, on the basis that it was safe. Again, this is not unusual for the pharmaceutical industry, and the supine drug regulatory agencies.
  • Protelos was approved in Europe in 2004 for the treatment of osteoporosis.
  • In 2012, this approval was extended to men with an increased fracture risk.
  • In April 2013 there was a recommendation to restrict the use of Protelos because of the risk of serious heart problems (including heart attacks), blood clots, and a range of other conditions such as serious skin reactions, disturbances in consciousness, seizures, liver inflammation and reduced number of blood cells.
  • In January 2014 the EDA, the European drug regulator, 'following an in-depth review' decided that that Protelos should no longer be used to treat osteoporosis. The European Medicines Agency's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee should not be available anymore as "the drug's risks outweigh its benefits".
So over three years have elapsed before Pulse has given this information to the doctor's who have been prescribing it.
  • How many osteoporosis patients have been taking this dangerous pharmaceutical drug since 2004 on the basis of wrong information?
  • How many osteoporosis patients have been taking this dangerous pharmaceutical drug since the EMA decided that the drug should be withdrawn?
  • How many patients of conventional medicine are taking other dangerous pharmaceutical drugs that have not been banned AT THIS VERY MOMENT?
These appear to be unanswered questions. Indeed, they are questions that are never asked! The pharmaceutical industry cannot be trusted. The conventional medical establishment cannot be trusted to regulate the powerful drugs industry. 

What needs to be learnt from this situation is that patients who accept conventional medical treatment are just not safe. And remember, patients on Protelos still do not know about the risks they face, and have been facing, courtesy of this drug, for many years.

Monday 5 June 2017

The failure of pharmaceutical drugs, but patients are kept in the dark.

The failure of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines should have been quite apparent to everyone now: except, of course, for the equally disgraceful failure of the conventional news media to report on the evidence for it! Evidence about the ineffectiveness of drugs, and their dangers, emerge regularly. Doctors and the conventional medical establishment does not tell us. And they are rarely publicised in the national media.

Three recent studies demonstrate how patients are being kept in the dark. All three point to the ineffectiveness and dangerousness of prescription drugs, all three have largely been published without patients being given to opportunity to know about them.

Useless Medicine
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has published an article that discussed the issue of 'useless' conventional medical treatment. It is called "Choosing Wisely in the UK: the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ initiative to reduce the harms of too much medicine". BMJ 2015;350:h2308.

The article indicates that it is not just the effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs that is being discussed, but also the cost and the value to patients of the treatment, and its dangers. However, the conclusion it reaches is, to say the least, a mild one, merely that we are being offered too much of it! The article says that dozens of common medical treatments and procedures, routinely given to patients by doctors, are effectively pointless". The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) says that "scores of treatments which can be given to patients for various ailments ranging from grazes to cancer frequently do little more or the same as doing nothing at all, while also potentially incurring side effects".

It has been estimated that in Britain alone, the NHS is spending £2 billion on what are, in effect, "useless or harmful treatment”.

Harmful Medicine
Another study, published in May 2017 by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 2017; doi: 10.1001, has been reported by WDDTY. It looked at what has happened to FDA approved drugs since their approval. Remarkably, it found that one third of all FDA approved drugs subsequently turned out to have serious safety problems!

               "The dangers of the new drugs often don't come to light until four years after they have been licensed, which means that many thousands of patients may have been affected. But in every case, doctors and patients believed the drugs were safe because they had passed all the usual tests for safety and effectiveness."

So much for the ability of drug regulators to keep us all free from unsafe and dangerous medical drugs and vaccines!

NSAID Painkillers
Yet the situation is actually far worse even than this! It can take much more than 4 years for the dangers of pharmaceutical drugs to become known, and then accepted - a a lot longer for patients to be told!

For instance, conventional medicine has been feeding us painkilling drugs, in huge quantities, for over 100 years now. Ibuprofen is one of the 'younger' ones, and has become one of the stawlwarts of conventional medicine. It has been known about since the 1950's, its history summarised here and taken from the Prezi website.

     1958 First clinical trial of ibupeofen - it was found to be no better than aspirin!

     1961 A patent is filed for ibuprofen, and in 1964 Ibuprofen is selected for further development.

     1966 Clinical trials of ibuprofen take place at the Northern General Hospital in Edinburgh and show its anti-inflammatory effect in patients.

     1969 Ibuprofen launched in the UK on prescription only.

     1983 Because of its safety record, ibuprofen is made available without prescription.

So after such a long period of time, it might have been expected the conventional medicine were fully aware of the dangers of this type of painkiller. But this is not so!

A recent analysis, by a team at Bern University, evaluated 31 studies, involving over 116,000 patient,s who had taken the painkillers regularly, mostly for arthritis pain. Its findings were published in the British Medical Journal. As well as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, celecoxib, etoricoxib, rofecoxib or Vioxx, and lumiracoxib were also implicated in the findings.

               "It was found that compared with placebo, rofecoxib and lumiracoxib were associated with twice the risk of heart attack, while ibuprofen was associated with more than three times the risk of stroke. Etoricoxib and diclofenac were associated a fourfold risk of death from a heart attack or stroke."

Indeed, the study found that these painkillers could significantly increase the chances of having a heart attack within a week or a month, especially if high doses were taken. The research team found that more than 90% of all painkillers assessed were tied to a significant increased risk of heart attack.

Will Patients be told?
Yet it is unlikely that patients will be told about any of this, either by their doctors, or by the mainstream media. The ineffectiveness and dangers of conventional drugs have been frequently discovered in studies, but the information never seems to reach anyone outside a small group of academics. Certainly, the dangers of painkillers has been known about for decades. There are considerable constraints placed on doctors prescribing painkillers because of their known dangers. But patients are not told.

If doctors told patients about these dangers, if the mainstream media were prepared to publicise the dangers, patients would make their own decisions, an informed choice, about taking them and risking the serious dangers.

But patients are not told. Studies about the ineffectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines come and go without any impact on what doctors prescribe to to. Ask people about painkillers, and what they know about the dangers, and most would declare that they are fairly safe! After all, their doctors can prescribe them; anyone can buy them, openly, over-the-counter, without a doctor's prescription. And taking painkillers is something they, and their parents and grand-parents have done for years.

Medical science is a game without outcome, without consequence. Pharmaceutical drugs may be useless. They may be dangerous. If might not even be known how useless or dangerous they are! But patients are told only about the 'positive' science: the new 'wonder' drugs. The negative stuff remains an insiders secret, something doctors dare not tell us, and the mainstream will not tell us!

Friday 2 June 2017

Pets? We love them. We do our best for them. And vets? Do they take advantage of our compassion?

It is difficult being ill! It is even more difficult when we see someone else is ill. We want to help. So we go to the doctor. And readers of this blog will know that doctors often give us drugs, vaccines, and other treatments that do not make us better, and too often make us worse. We think we are consulting experts when actually we are consulting representatives of an industry devoted to a highly profitable, and often a highly devious and dishonest business.

How much worse is this when it is our animals, our pets, who are ill?

They cannot speak. They cannot tell us what is wrong. We often fear the worst, so we consult with an expert, a vet, who we believe will tell us what is wrong, and give us something to make it right. We assume this is what they do. Most animal owners rely on their vet to give impartial, ethical and evidence-based advise for the animals we care for. Yet, is this so?

               "Vets4InformedChoice has been set up to raise awareness of the evidence base (or lack of) for many current veterinary practices, enabling animal owners and guardians to make considered responsible choices without undue pressure from the Veterinary Industry."

All animal owners, whether pets or farm animals, should look at this new website if they want to make an 'informed choice'. Click here to join up, and get regular updates from them. This is what they say.

               "Vets have always had conflicts of interest that they have to try and resolve while at the same time earning enough to provide for themselves, their staff, and maintaining the ever more demanding level of service provision clients expect in this information fuelled age."

               "The vets governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, requires them to be open, transparent in their business practices, and that they must give clients all the options available to them for treatment. This engagement should result in  fully informed consent with understanding from the Animal Owner as to risks, benefits, and actual need for any intervention."

However, 'Vets4informed choice' are telling us that this is not the situation, that the veterinary profession, like the medical profession, is being taken over by corporate interests.

               "..... its business models are based on practices which many now question, and its information sources and evidence are often provided by the pharmaceutical industry. Its societies, academic institutions, much of its ongoing clinical development are sponsored by and linked with major companies such that it is hard to find a truly independent source of advice and assistance."

               "Concerns over frequent and unnecessary re-vaccination, pressure selling of products and services etc. are widespread and growing."

Vets4informedchoice believes this to be a problem, and that the veterinary profession is rapidly losing the trust of the public. As far as I am concerned, a pet owner with an 8-year old Labrador who has never seen a vet, and is fit and healthy, this is certainly so. Moreover, vets themselves (at least those with animal health rather than corporate profit as their primary motivation) are facing serious problems.

                "Anyone who puts their head above the parapet within the profession risks their career, with just one example being the current campaign to ban Vets from prescribing Homeopathy, and to restrict Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM). How much of this, I wonder, is the result of these Vets being right; that there is no need to annually revaccinate pets for life, the scientific evidence is there for this practice to be stopped now. Why hasn't it been? It has been noted in the Veterinary media that "the profession gives close consideration in the debate to the importance of total practice income and the significance of driving other product sales" (Helps J. Extending DOI for Canine and Feline Vaccines. Veterinary Review March 2006)

I would urge anyone who reads this to sign up to the group via their vets4informedchoice website. The group states that it has been created "to independently examine these concerns and put the case - both for and against - many current practices". This is something that all animal lovers need, if we are to protect our loved-ones from illness, from unnecessary medication, and from corporate profit.

And please tell everyone you know, who loves animals, about this new group