Friday, January 25, 2008

Free Gifts for Doctors

This was from Minnesota Public Radio (thanks to Denise). Duluth-based SMDC Health System removed over 18,000 branded items from their clinics and it took 20 shopping carts to haul it all away.

Although doctors are considered to be above-average intelligence, they are human and influenced same as anyone else and want to reciprocate for a gift. Since prescribing specific brands does not cost the doctor personally, he will likely want to please someone who was generous to him - same techniques used by the lobbyists on Capital Hill.

In the field of influence and persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini, the most cited social psychologist in the world today, defines six “weapons of influence”: Reciprocation (people tend to return a favor), Commitment and Consistency (if people commit, verbally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment), Social Proof (people will do things that they see other people are doing) Authority (people will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts), Liking (people are easily persuaded by other people that they like) and Scarcity (perceived scarcity will generate demand).

I remember seeing another video in which a pharm rep said that they would size up doctors to see which approach to use. They classified them as analytical (give them research stats), drivers (wanted to be in control, so salesman stays subservient) or amiable (people pleasers).

FDA to require suicide studies

U.S. requiring suicide studies in drug trials

The drug agency's concerns are consistent with a growing body of research confirming that behavior is heavily influenced not only by genes but also by seemingly innocuous changes in body chemistry. Drugs not reaching the brain were once thought to be largely free of mental effects.
"One lesson from pharmacology is that you can see effects on emotion and cognition without the drug entering the brain if a drug leads to peripheral changes in" other chemicals that enter the brain, said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Some critics say that the agency's new-found focus on psychiatric side effects is long overdue.
"The list of drugs that causes psychiatric problems is a very long one," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's health research group.
Medicines to treat acne, hypertension, high cholesterol, swelling, heartburn, pain, bacterial infections and insomnia can all cause psychiatric problems, effects that were discovered in most cases after the drugs were approved and used in millions of patients.
Some drugs cause depression so often that doctors prescribe antidepressants prophylactically with them.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weasel Words

Great news that the depression drugs are under attack because the producers buried uncomplimentary studies. Also very interesting is this article entitled Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature. The chart with old quotes from researchers is especially disheartening for us who hope for changes and improvements in treatment.

As the news about the skewing of depression studies and the over-hype of statins has hit the main media, one can only hope the antipsychotics also will come under scrutiny.

I subscribe to a dictionary site that sends you a new word every day. It includes a definition and the origin. (OK, I admit I like some very boring things). This week, one of the words was "weasel words" which made me think of the whole psychiatric game.

Weasel Words: Instead of just saying outright that jobs are going to be cut, the head of the company has taken to using weasel words like "corporate restructuring."

Some people believe that weasels can suck the insides out of an egg without damaging the shell. An egg thus weasel-treated would look fine on the outside, but it would actually be empty and useless. We don't know if weasels can really do that, but the belief that they could caused people to start using "weasel word" to refer to any term intended to give the impression that everything is fine when the speaker is really trying to avoid answering a question, telling the truth, or taking the blame for something.

For instance, this is what the literature says about risperdal. For your pleasure, I have underlined the weasel words.
From the drugs own literature:
Risperidone (Jansen's RISPERDAL®).
How does RISPERDAL work?
Symptoms of schizophrenia are thought to be caused by imbalances of chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are called dopamine and serotonin. Exactly how RISPERDAL works is unknown. However, it seems to readjust the balance of dopamine and serotonin. This may help relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, suspiciousness and delusions.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fluoride and your brain

Scientific Study Finds Fluoride Horror Stories Factual By Paul Joseph Watson Scientific American has just published a report on flouride that is supposedly very critical. Unfortunately they require a subscription to read the entire article but I did find this synopsis:

The Scientific American study "Concluded that fluoride can subtly alter endocrine function, especially in the thyroid -- the gland that produces hormones regulating growth and metabolism."

The report also notes that "a series of epidemiological studies in China have associated high fluoride exposures with lower IQ."

"Epidemiological studies and tests on lab animals suggest that high fluoride exposure increases the risk of bone fracture, especially in vulnerable populations such as the elderly and diabetics," writes Fagin.

Fagin interviewed Steven Levy, director of the Iowa Fluoride Study which tracked about 700 Iowa children for sixteen years. Nine-year-old "Iowa children who lived in communities where the water was fluoridated were 50 percent more likely to have mild fluorosis (damaged tooth development)... than [nine-year-old] children living in nonfluoridated areas of the state," writes Fagin.

In 2005, a study conducted at the Harvard School of Dental Health found that fluoride in tap water directly contributes to causing bone cancer in young boys.

- Fluoride is a waste by-product of the fertilizer and aluminum industry and it's also a Part II Poison under the UK Poisons Act 1972.
- Fluoride is one of the basic ingredients in both PROZAC (FLUoxetene Hydrochloride) and Sarin nerve gas (Isopropyl-Methyl-Phosphoryl FLUoride).
- USAF Major George R. Jordan testified before Un-American Activity committees of Congress in the 1950's that in his post as U.S.-Soviet liaison officer, the Soviets openly admitted to "Using the fluoride in the water supplies in their concentration camps, to make the prisoners stupid, docile, and subservient."

And then there is this article about Alzheimers and the alarming statistics that compares American and European susceptibilities. Alzheimer's in America:
The Aluminum-Phosphate Fertilizer Connection
by Lynn Landes

Americans are losing their minds to Alzheimer's disease. It's an epidemic. And it's not typical of what's going on in the rest of the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 18 million people with Alzheimer's. Over 4 1/2 million Americans have the disease. We account for 25% of all Alzheimer's cases, even though we represent only 4.6% of the world's population. Europe is experiencing half our rate of disease. For Americans over 85 years of age, 50% are thought to have Alzheimer’s.

In 1998 Julie Varner and two colleagues published research on the effects of aluminum-fluoride and sodium-fluoride on the nervous system of rats. They concluded, "Chronic administration of aluminum-fluoride and sodium-fluoride in the drinking water of rats resulted in distinct morphological alterations of the brain, including the effects on neurons and cerebrovasculature." In layman's terms, it looked like fluoride and aluminum could cause Alzheimer's.

That was not a definitive study, but they may have been onto something. Aluminum is in our drinking water, foods, and many consumer products. Adding fluoride to drinking water in the U.S. started in the 1950's. America's drinking water is now over 60% fluoridated. Fluoride appears in many processed foods and beverages made with fluoridated water. Keep in mind, Europe has half our rate of Alzheimer’s. They don't fluoridate their water supplies, but they do use fluoride supplements and dental products. Is there a connection?

And then there is this from another anti-flouride site
It is now known - thanks to the meticulous research of Dr. Jennifer Luke from the University of Surrey in England - that the pineal gland is the primary target of fluoride accumulation within the body.
The pineal gland is where melatonin is produced and is also closely related to dreams and the psychotic state. Most things are not simple, but one has to wonder why America has more autism, alzheimers and mental illness than other places in the civilized world. Ironic that the health promoters tell you to drink 8 glasses of water every day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Short History of Medicine

I have an earache:
2000 BC Here, eat this root.
1000 AD That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 AD That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 AD That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 AD That pill is carcinogenic. Here, take this antibiotic.
2000 AD That antibiotic ruins your immunity. Here, eat this root.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Killer Personalities

Charles Atkins, a psychiatrist who writes crime novels, describes mental illnesses that work well in crime fiction. And you thought the psychiatrists were sympathetic when you described your horrible childhood or why you are scared to leave the house. This one is just mining for plots.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Interesting view on the WHO schizophrenia study

Washington Post reporter Shankar Vedantam wrote that family support determines recovery. The anti-psychiatry movement uses the World Health Organization findings to say that drugs don't work, while Mr. Vedantam says that the difference lies in the way schizophrenics are treated.
Decades of research have supported the WHO findings, but they have met with stony silence in the United States, in part because anti-psychiatry groups have argued erroneously that the studies prove that drugs and doctors are useless. Most U.S. psychiatrists see schizophrenia as an organic brain disorder, whose origins and outcome depend on genes and brain chemistry. They acknowledge the psychosocial aspects of disease, but the challenges of connecting patients with jobs, schooling and social networks are neglected -- often because they fall outside the bounds of traditional medicine. Drug manufacturers, too, are focused elsewhere. "Pharmaceutical companies, which control the scientific production of research at universities, are not interested in saying, 'Social factors are more important than my drug,' " said Jose Bertolote, a WHO psychiatrist. "I'm not against the use of medication, but it's a question of imbalance."

Thara argues that patient-doctor relationships in India are fundamentally different from those in America: The relationships may be paternalistic, but the benefits are lower costs and less fragmentation. On an annual budget of $67,000, SCARF treats 1,200 patients, dispenses free drugs, runs three residential facilities for 150 patients and offers vocational training each day for 100 patients.

Social connectedness for patients is seen as so important that the psychiatrists tell families to secretly give money to employers so that patients can be given fake jobs, work regular hours and have the satisfaction of getting "paid" -- practices that would be unethical, even illegal, in the United States.

Prince George's County outside Washington was one of the sites of the pioneering WHO study -- William Carpenter helped treat about 90 schizophrenia patients at three hospitals. That experience brought home to him the fact that medications primarily control patients' delusions and hallucinations, not the "negative" symptoms that cause patients to disappear into silent, inner worlds.

"The bias has always been in the direction of reducing psychosis," said Carpenter, director of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. "Psychosis is public and bothersome. . . . Negative symptoms bother you if it's your child, but it doesn't create a public disturbance."

Anti-psychotic drugs that help quell the outward symptoms may actually exacerbate social withdrawal, he said: "While we treat one part of the illness, we potentially complicate another part of the illness."

New medicines are being aimed at the negative symptoms. But Carpenter and other experts said it is clear that drugs cannot replace social supports.

When people are presented with ambiguous information, they often interpret it to support their established beliefs. When people are presented with unambiguous information that contradicts their beliefs, they tend to pay close attention to it, scrutinize it, and either invent a way of discounting it as unreliable, or redefine it to be less damaging than it really is.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Medicated Child

In case you missed the Frontline program on childhood bipolar diagnosis, the program can be watched here. I really thought it was slanted, but judge for yourself.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Why Drug Progress is so Slow

A Slight Chemical Imbalance

Pilfered from Bent Objects Blogspot