Archive for July, 2012

My working definition of health involves

  • Adaptability
  • Creativity
  • Engagement

The third of these is about connections – our connections with Nature, and with each other.

Loneliness is something which not only impairs the day to day quality of life, but, in fact is a factor in bringing about early death which is as strong, or stronger, than other well recognised factors such as smoking and obesity.

This digital toolkit from The Campaign to End Loneliness…looks interesting. Check it out.

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Is anyone in any doubt that we are experiencing a plague of corporatism? From the media sector, the astonishing stories about the behaviour of News International, dwarfed by the scandal after scandal of the financial sector (most recently Barclays coming to the fore), and now, too, a record fine for a drug company.

What’s going on?

I suspect it’s the old “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Or is it the theory that psychopaths rise to the top?

Look at the GlaxoSmithKline story….

prosecutors found the company had been allotting over half a million dollars a year to its district sales representatives to offer doctors regular golf lessons, fishing trips, and basketball tickets while promoting the use of antidepressant drug Paxil in children. The GSK sales campaign also involved helping to publish an article in a medical journal that misreported evidence from a clinical trial. Meanwhile the company was also being accused of marketing the drug Wellbutrin for sexual dysfunction and weight loss, when it had only received official consent from the FDA to treat depression. Some of its drugs reps were reportedly describing Wellbutrin as “the happy, horny, skinny pill”. In the case of a third treatment, Avandia, the company did not report to the FDA studies it had carried out that showed there were safety concerns about heart risks. Critics had been calling for the drug to be banned four years ago yet it was only in 2010 that restrictions were finally slapped on its use.

A combination of selling drugs for indications for which they didn’t have a license (because they hadn’t sought approval), to the setting aside of millions to entertain prescribers, to the much worse, in my opinion, hiding research evidence of harms, burying evidence of lack of efficacy, and misreporting trials in publications, has led to them being hit with one of the largest fines the industry has suffered – $3 billion (£1.9 billion).

The latter issues about deliberate manipulation of the research reporting seriously undermines the credibility of “evidence based medicine” (an enterprise which stands of falls on the issue of what is published as “evidence”)

The fine, although large, is a fraction of the profits made from the drugs this company markets –

Avandia has made $10.4bn in sales, Paxil took $11.6bn, and Wellbutrin sales were $5.9bn during the years covered by the settlement,

What does the GSK CEO say?

At GSK, we firmly believe that operating in a responsible and ethical way is essential for the success of our business. We have come a long way but recognise that there is much more we can do and we will continue to challenge ourselves.

The fine is split between one third as a criminal fine, and two thirds a civil one. Despite this, the company says

the civil settlement is not an does not admission of any liability or wrongdoing in the selling and marketing

The thing is, this company is not alone. Take a look at this link which itemises six major drug companies’ fines over the last three years.

This stinks. But the drug companies are sure not alone. Whatever your political persuasion, is it not clear that corporatism is failing us (the 99%)?

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How come if we know this from economics..

One of the few things that we do know – for certain – about the future is that actions have consequences. In the world studied by the physical sciences of inanimate matter, it is possible to predict the future with certainty. That is because the entities being studied ARE inanimate. They have no power to initiate an action so they have no power to vary their reaction to a force which is applied to them. In the field of the study of HUMAN action, the situation is fundamentally different. No “stimulus” will ever produce the same response on entities which have the power of thought and the power of choice

………..we still practice Medicine as if one drug will produce the same outcome in every person (it won’t).

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Look at this

Fungus hovering

What do you see?
Use your imagination. What could it be?
A spacecraft flying over a galaxy?
A sea creature swimming over seaweed on the sea bed?
A fairy dancing over a magical carpet in the forest?
Go on. Use your imagination and play!

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Goodness! Look what I saw yesterday, 7am, on my way to work….

the surfing slug

A slug skateboarding!
Or was it a slug snowboarding without the snow?
Seriously, this isn’t a set up. Too early in the day for someone to have put this little guy here!
Made me laugh though, which is a good start to a day!

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If we take a whole of life view, instead of a short term next few days view, things can look very different. David Healy tells the fascinating story of the patterns of Syphilis across on his blog.

There’s an advanced stage of syphilis known as “tertiary” syphilis, or GPI (“General Paralysis of the Insane”). It presents with psychiatric and neurological symptoms – dementia and paralyses.

Interestingly, this form of syphilis was not described in the Americas where the disease was found. But it became a significant problem back in Europe. Why was that? Even more curious was the fact that prostitutes in Europe rarely seemed to develop this advanced stage of the disease despite having a high incidence of syphilis itself. Yet their clients, the men who paid them, did tend to develop GPI. Only one group of prostitutes in Europe developed GPI – those in Vienna.

There’s a hidden element in this story, isn’t there?

It turns out that the hidden element was Mercury.

Mercury was the standard treatment for syphilis in Europe (“a night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury”). It wasn’t used in the “New World”. It wasn’t used by prostitutes, but it was by their wealthier clients. Only the prostitutes in Vienna were forced to take Mercury prophylactically by the authorities.

What a great cure, huh? I wonder how many other short term, apparently obvious “cures” or treatments lead to worse disease further down the line? How about this research into inflammatory diseases (which are increasing rapidly)

Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us. As nature’s blanket, the potentially pathogenic and benign microorganisms associated with the dirt that once covered every aspect of our preindustrial day guaranteed a time-honored co-evolutionary process that established “normal” background levels and kept our bodies from overreacting to foreign bodies. This research suggests that reintroducing some of the organisms from the mud and water of our natural world would help avoid an overreaction of an otherwise healthy immune response that results in such chronic diseases as Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and a host of allergic disorders.

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