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Wednesday 5 July 2017

Medical Science. Does one hand know what the other is doing? Aspirin and PPI drugs - the implication for patients.

Medical science is a wonderful thing, we are told. It provides us with the evidence base that underpins conventional medicine. It tells our doctors whether a drug or vaccine is effective. It informs us when conventional medicine is unsafe for patients.

Or does it? Consider these two pieces of recent news, straight from medical science!

The first concerns aspirin, and has been covered by the mainstream media. For instance, the BBC headline, 14th June 2017, said:

               "People over 75 taking daily aspirin after a stroke or heart attack are at higher risk of major - and sometimes fatal - stomach bleeds than previously thought, research in the Lancet shows."

This seems clear enough, although you might ask why the mainstream media is carrying a 'bad news' story about pharmaceutical drugs. The reason is simple. Medical science has made it into a 'good news' story, and the media as usual has merely parroted the transformation. These are the BBC's next sentences,

               "Scientists say that, to reduce these risks, older people should also take stomach-protecting PPI pills. But they insist aspirin has important benefits - such as preventing heart attacks - that outweigh the risks. And they warn that stopping aspirin suddenly can be harmful."

So that's alright again. If one drug is dangerous, take another one at the same time! And, as usual, the benefits outweigh the risks! And don't stop taking the drug, even if it is harmful, because stopping taking the harmful drug is also harmful. Okay? Does that all make sense? In essence we are being told:
  • Pharmaceutical drugs may be harmful, but another drug will reduce the harm it causes!
  • Pharmaceutical drugs may be harmful, but the benefits still outweigh the risks!
  • It may be harmful taking pharmaceutical drugs, but it is also harmful stopping taking them!
However, there is worse! Another piece of medical science has recently led to new guidance being given to our doctors. This advice concerns PPI (proton pump) drugs, widely used by millions of people for indigestion, acid reflux, and other stomach complaints. And, of course, for people taking their daily aspirin! You may not have heard about this new advice on the mainstream media, the reason being simple, it constitutes 'bad' news, and as yet there has been no attempt to spin it into something good! You can read it here, in the doctors e-magazine, Pulse (4th July 2017), in an article entitled "GPs should ‘limit use and duration’ of PPIs". This is what it says,

               "Prescribers should be more vigilant about only prescribing PPIs when necessary as they are associated with increased risk of death, according to a new study. The observational study found that there was a heightened risk of death in patients taking PPIs compared to patients taking other drugs that reduce the amount of stomach acid produced, such as H2 blockers, leading researchers to suggest that doctors should be more selective about who they prescribe the drugs to."

So, thanks to medical science, the picture now seems much clearer (sic), and it goes something like this. 
  • Patients are asked by their doctors to take aspirin in order to avoid a stroke or heart attack.
  • Unfortunately, aspirin may cause fatal heart bleeds.
  • So to protect again these fatal heart bleeds, we are told to keep taking the aspirin, but in addition to take PPI drugs too!
  • However, PPI drugs also heightens the risk of death!
So what will our doctors do? Are they conflicted? Are they confused? Well, they have certainly been warned by medical science!

               "The findings in our study highlight a potential excess risk of death among users of PPI, and in particular among cohort participants without gastrointestinal comorbidities, and that risk is increased with prolonged duration of PPI exposure."

Yet once again a 'scientific' study that has linked a pharmaceutical drug to patient harm comes with a warning that the patient should not stop taking the harmful drug. 

               "Although our results should not deter prescription and use of PPI where medically indicated, they may be used to encourage and promote pharmacovigilance and emphasise the need to exercise judicious use of PPI and limit use and duration of therapy to instances where there is a clear medical indication and where benefit outweighs potential risk."

So now, older people over 75 years of age are taking two drugs, both of them dangerous, all in order to prevent them having a stroke or heart attack. So perhaps there is a third drug available, to counteract the dangers caused by PPI drugs? Watch this space! I will tell you about it as soon as I hear!

Yet surely it is good that our doctors now know that there is an inconsistency here. The Pulse article points out the inconsistencies of what are doctors are being asked to do,

               "The findings come as research published in June suggested that GPs should be co-prescribing PPIs in patients taking daily aspirin to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal bleeds in the elderly."

Pulse does not suggest a solution, and the GP comments at the foot of the Pulse article indicates that they are as conflicted and confused about the situation as medical science. "So many confounders here", says one. Another is more dismissive, "people who drink fluids and eat solids have a risk of death". Another goes further, "everything has a risk. Let us not eat, breath or walk, one might get cancer, from food and PM2.5 particles, or one might slip and fall". One might, indeed! But eating, drinking and breathing is not a voluntary action, like taking a dangerous drug! Another doctor appears more phlegmatic, "I would have thought this would be good news? Cut polypharmcy, cut expense, cut workload, cut risk.... why are we moaning?" And yet another doctor believes that if patients had to pay for their drugs the situation would be different. 

              "Any Drug prescribed will be taken only when necessary ONLY WHEN PATIENTS PAY FOR IT. When everybody is charged for medications, patient will ask doctors DO I REALLY HAVE TO TAKE IT? IS IT A MUST? At current rate of 89 % public not paying for medications, no matter of how much we telling people will work."

So even doctors are telling us we should not be taking the drugs! But doctors continue to prescribe them. Perhaps it might help if the mainstream media, and the conventional medical establishment, including our doctors, began to tell patients about the real harm done by the drugs and vaccines, we would all be better able to make an informed choice!