And Marijuana Remains Illegal

Sweet jeebus:

During one week in June Pfizer 1) agreed to pull its 10-year-old leukemia drug Mylotarg from the market because it caused more, not less patient deaths 2) Suspended pediatric trials of Geodon two months after the FDA said children were being overdosed 3) Suspended trials of tanezumab, an osteoarthritis pain drug, because patients got worse not better, some needing joint replacements (pattern, anyone?) 4) Was investigated by the House for off-label marketing of kidney transplant drug Rapamune and targeting African-Americans 5) Saw a researcher who helped established its Bextra, Celebrex and Lyrica as effective pain meds, Scott S Reuben, MD, trotted off to prison for research fraud 6) was sued by Blue Cross Blue Shield to recoup money it overpaid for Bextra and other drugs 7) received a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) requesting its whistleblower policy and 8) had its appeal to end lawsuits by Nigerian families who accuse it of illegal trials of the antibiotic Trovan in which 11 children died, rejected by the Supreme Court. And how was your week?

I bet their stock went up that week, because the mavericks on Wall Street know to reward any company that will go to those lengths to make a profit. Of course, if we would just abolish the FDA, none of this would have happened because the first time one of Pfizer’s products killed someone, the market would punish them so brutally they would never do it again. That’s what I’ve learned at Reason magazine.

73 replies
  1. 1
    BR says:

    The corporate free-market system at work American freedom that they hate.

    If you haven’t seen The Yes Men Fix The World, you need to. It’s on exactly this subject and the shamelessness of corporate flunkies is amazing. Or maybe it isn’t. But still, rent it.

  2. 2
    Hunter Gathers says:

    If we abolish the FDA, we might finally get a drug that gives worms to ex-girlfriends.

  3. 3
    bkny says:

    if pot was legalized, half of these pharmaceutical companies would go out of business.

    ot, but with the relentlessly bad and depressing news, i wanna doggie and was looking for corgi info on teh google and came across this. resist if you dare:

    http://www.bonsaikc.com/corgi.jpg

  4. 4
    jeffreyw says:

    I take the drug they talk about here. Told Mrs J to call that 800 number that’ll be all over late night TV if I die of heart problems or a stroke.

  5. 5
    El Cid says:

    Clearly the problem here is too much regulation and too many taxes.

  6. 6
    Brian J says:

    Does this sort of stuff happen in Europe with any more or less frequency?

  7. 7
    MikeBoyScout says:

    But think of teh childrens!

  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    @bkny:

    i wanna doggie and was looking for corgi

    Are you just daring SWAT to pay you a visit?
    Talking about a vicious corgi on a thread about pot?

  9. 9
    tkogrumpy says:

    Why do I torment myself reading about these corporate crimes when I know nothing will be done about them. I’m through with the intertoobz for the day and will now go out and pick a bushel of green arrow peas.

  10. 10
    Angela says:

    I am on Cimzia, a biologic drug made by UCB, to treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis. It would be nice to be able to trust the research my drug company has published, so I could make an educated cost benefit guess about treatment to keep me mobile. Reports like this both piss me off and scare me.

  11. 11
    Bill H says:

    Marijuana is actually legal, at least to some degree, in California, but San Diego County is fighting the California law tooth and nail. The CA law requires that counties issue medical ID’s but SD county has said it will not do so, claiming that the state is “not boss over me.” The County Sheriff and San Diego Police continue to raid medical marijuana dispensaries and bust the sellers as “drug dealers.”

    San Diego is not one of the more progressive counties in California.

    I was astounded that it went for Obama in 2008. First time it voted Democratic for president since FDR in 1932. Notably, the county only went for him in that one election. San Diego is home to Duncan Hunter.

  12. 12
    daveX99 says:

    Re: Pfizer’s Stock Price:
    Yahoo Stock Page

    I don’t know how to read it (I’m merely human), but looking at the last 3 months shows that they started July at the lowest price in that period.

    – dave.

  13. 13
    bago says:

    It’s why the market so brutally punished the catholic church for little-boy rape. Tithing, not taxing!

  14. 14
    Ailuridae says:

    Glennzilla on the irrationality of prescription drug laws

    Glenn doesn’t get after the actual villain in all of this – the medical cabal – but its still a pretty well-argued piece.

  15. 15
    Mark S. says:

    @El Cid:

    Clearly the problem here is too much regulation and too many taxes.

    Hey, you left out tort reform, but otherwise you’re right.

  16. 16
    wasabi gasp says:

    Death is a conceivable side effect. Happiness is unfathomable.

  17. 17
    The next to last samurai says:

    The FDA derives most, if not all, its funding from fees paid by companies wanting their medicines approved. If i recall correctly this system began in the late 90s. I think it is safer to take older medicines whenever possible.

  18. 18
    The next to last samurai says:

    Also, how is the Tunchtush?

  19. 19
    S. cerevisiae says:

    Treating disease is better for the pharma companies bottom line than curing disease.

  20. 20
    Mike Schilling says:

    The Reasonoids would point out that all this crap goes on even with an FDA, so WTF’s the point of it? I can’t entirely disagree.

  21. 21
    Geeno says:

    @Bill H: Umm.. In NY, counties are state created entities. If it really wanted to, the state legislature could just combine one county into another or bust it up into smaller units. A failure to honor the state’s laws would strike me as sufficient provocation for it.

  22. 22
    Michael says:

    OT, but kind of on topic on the subject of corporate mendacity, Big Coal takes Ashley Judd to task over having the audacity to think that mountaintop removal is bad for those who live in the shadow of the mountains…..

    http://www.courier-journal.com.....val+mining

    A mocking poster with a seminude photo of Ashley Judd was displayed at a coal industry golf tournament in Prestonsburg this week in a backlash to the actress’ public comments criticizing mountaintop removal mining.

    Paul Hughes, assistant general manager of Stonecrest Golf Course in Floyd County, said the poster, which uses a Marie Claire magazine portrait of Judd covering her breasts with her hands, read: “Ashley Judd makes a living removing her top, why can’t coal miners?”

    Hughes and an event sponsor said they did not know who made the sign, first reported by WYMT-TV in Hazard. It was displayed on Wednesday.

    I’m sure that hardscrabble coal miners spend a lot of time and money playing golf.

    David Gooch, president of the Coal Operator’s Association, told the station on Wednesday: “Coming from a woman who makes movies most people wouldn’t take their children to, I really don’t think she has a lot to say about our industry or anything else that’s worthwhile.”

    A coded invocation to the hypocritical “morality” of his parasitic and pharisaic bronze age death cult, all in support of a fascist corporate agenda. Awesome.

  23. 23
    Professor says:

    @jeffreyw: I read about the side effect of Avandia circa 2008. I took the article to my GP and asked to come off that drug. I was taken off it and put Metformin and Gliclazide(sp). But then I am in England and we enjoy a ‘socialist’ healthcare.

  24. 24
    bkny says:

    what endlessly cracks me up are those commercials advertising the latest made-up disease where the adverse effects warnings from the prescribed drug are worse than the friggin thing they’re treating.

  25. 25
    That's Master of Accountancy to You, Pal (JMN) says:

    I don’t want to defend Pfizer, but I have fibromyalgia and they will have to pry my Lyrica from my cold dead hands.

  26. 26
    scav says:

    @That’s Master of Accountancy to You, Pal (JMN): well, then, congrats, you apparently won the kill or cure but always profit lottery unlike the leukemia patients.

  27. 27

    Every health care attorney I’ve ever spoken to will tell you that drug companies continue to fuck but because they make way more money fucking up than they ever pay out due to judgments/settlements.

    Last year Pfizer paid a record-breaking settlement to the fed. It wasn’t their first settlement and I guarantee it won’t be the last.

    And of course if the fines get high enough that even a drug co. feels a bit of discomfort the libtards will go to the barricades for them. Vive le free markets!

  28. 28
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    This (top post) is absolutely the truth, and if anything, understates the size and depth of the problem.

    As we speak, I am taking a drug under doctor’s orders to take it for life, cannot skip a day, retail price $5 per pill. This drug is so user-friendly that having ever taken it puts me on an HMO blacklist for health insurance. If I were not grandfathered in under existing coverage since I started this drug, I would not be able to get coverage for either the drug or the conditions that are associated with its use, ever in my life. If it were not for Medicare, in other words, I would be totally and completely screwed. What’s more, I was never told about the medical risks of using this drug, or the blacklist, when it was first prescribed to me, which was while I was in the hospital and literally minutes away from being wheeled away into surgery and being asked to sign consent forms.

    But, you know, we have the best healthcare system in the world.

    These big pharma companies are thieves, liars, and in some cases, murderers, and I do not consider those assertions to be overstatements in any way, shape or form. Almost everything they say is a lie, and they spend your money to spread those lies in their commercials and marketing efforts, all with the consent and nurturing protection of the United States Government. If you think that is tinfoil hat speech, all I can say, you ain’t been in my situation and experienced the realities firsthand.

  29. 29
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    This (top post) is absolutely the truth, and if anything, understates the size and depth of the problem.

    As we speak, I am taking a drug under doctor’s orders to take it for life, cannot skip a day, retail price $5 per pill. This drug is so user-friendly that having ever taken it puts me on an HMO blacklist for health insurance. If I were not grandfathered in under existing coverage since I started this drug, I would not be able to get coverage for either the drug or the conditions that are associated with its use, ever in my life. If it were not for Medicare, in other words, I would be totally and completely screwed. What’s more, I was never told about the medical risks of using this drug, or the blacklist, when it was first prescribed to me, which was while I was in the hospital and literally minutes away from being wheeled away into surgery and being asked to sign consent forms.

    But, you know, we have the best healthcare system in the world.

    These big pharma companies are thieves, liars, and in some cases, murderers, and I do not consider those assertions to be overstatements in any way, shape or form. Almost everything they say is a lie, and they spend your money to spread those lies in their commercials and marketing efforts, all with the consent and nurturing protection of the United States Government. If you think that is tinfoil hat speech, all I can say, you ain’t been in my situation and experienced the realities firsthand.

  30. 30
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    blah

  31. 31
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    blah2

  32. 32
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    Please unmoderate my post at #27, 1:33 pm.

  33. 33
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ailuridae:

    You’re kidding, right? That is the single dumbest thing Greenwald ever wrote. Greenwald apparently believes the following:

    (1) Without regulatory oversight, pharmaceutical manufacturers will not falsify data about the safety and efficacy of their products;
    (2) In the unlikely event that (1) is true, Individual consumers have the ability to evaluate claims of drug safety and efficacy and effectively self-medicate without the assistance of a trained professional.

    No rational person believes either of those things.

    Greenwald should stick to what he’s good at.

  34. 34
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    Okay, I give up trying to deal with Word Press. I am just going to keep reposting this until it works. Sorry.

    –//

    This (top post) is absolutely the truth, and if anything, understates the size and depth of the problem.

    As we speak, I am taking a drug under doctor’s orders to take it for life, cannot skip a day, retail price $5 per pill. This drug is so user-friendly that having ever taken it puts me on an HMO blacklist for health insurance. If I were not grandfathered in under existing coverage since I started this drug, I would not be able to get coverage for either the drug or the conditions that are associated with its use, ever in my life. If it were not for Medicare, in other words, I would be totally and completely screwed. What’s more, I was never told about the medical risks of using this drug, or the blacklist, when it was first prescribed to me, which was while I was in the hospital and literally minutes away from being wheeled away into surgery and being asked to sign consent forms.

    But, you know, we have the best healthcare system in the world.

    These big pharma companies are thieves, liars, and in some cases, murderers, and I do not consider those assertions to be overstatements in any way, shape or form. Almost everything they say is a lie, and they spend your money to spread those lies in their commercials and marketing efforts, all with the consent and nurturing protection of the United States Government. If you think that is tinfoil hat speech, all I can say, you ain’t been in my situation and experienced the realities firsthand.

  35. 35
    bkny says:

    a good post at naked capitalism about the corruption and greed of big pharma:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com.....-nail.html

  36. 36
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @Ailuridae:

    Not only does Glen not get this, his view, if I understand it correctly, is pathological and dangerous to the extreme.

    How far are we from having an unregulated airline industry, where we just allow crashes and the free market to decide which airlines are the best ones and safe to fly? Because that is about the equivalent mentality as far as I am concerned.

    Some agency, with the power to enforce absolutely, and the competence to regulate correctly, must oversee activities which have this kind of risk associated with them. Unless a replacement for the government agencies that now exist can be invented, tested, funded, and implemented, the regulatory government agency is still the best remedy out there. If done correctly, such a thing could have probably prevented the BP oil spill we are dealing with now. The fact is that strong government supervision isn’t just a theory, it is essential, and necessary, and irreplaceable, and anybody who says otherwise is a fucking liar.

  37. 37
    eemom says:

    I have no doubt that Pfizer is evil, and as a general matter guilty as charged in the above comments.

    But once again, it is just wrong to lump all those incidents enumerated in the post together, with no knowledge of ANY of the facts, and submit them as proof of anything.

    Life and death drugs that haven’t been adequately tested present enormously complicated issues. For example, there are people who are understandably desperate enough that they are willing to take the risks. If there’s one simplification that can be made, it is always about informed consent.

    But, as someone I used to work with liked to say, “You don’t just file a lawsuit and collect the money. You have to do a little work first.”

    Facts MATTER, people.

  38. 38
    eemom says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Greenwald should stick to what he’s good at.

    and that was what again?

  39. 39
    licensed to kill time says:

    I just got here and I’m still getting those big empty spaces between (some) posts on the front page i.e. this one and the futbol one above, between the ‘no worries’ and ‘obscure object’ posts, and btwn ‘transparency’ and ‘open thread’.
    This started happening yesterday, thought it might be fixed today, WTF.

    Gonna check it out on Opera and see if it does on that browser too. brb.

    edit: yep, does it there, too. FYWP.

  40. 40
    burnspbesq says:

    @Michael:

    Multi-Grammy winning singer Kathy Mattea, a WV native, has been a courageous voice on this subject. Check this out.

    http://mattea.com/matteaMTR.html

  41. 41
    burnspbesq says:

    @eemom:

    Reminding us how much we miss Marty Lederman?

  42. 42

    it seems absolutely unjustifiable for the government to prevent adult citizens from deciding for themselves which pharmaceutical products they want to use. Put another way, it seems unfathomable that competent adults are first required to obtain the “permission” of a doctor before being “allowed” to obtain and consume the medications they think they need — and that they are committing crimes if they do not first obtain that permission (or, worse, if they try to obtain that permission and are unable to do so).

    Glenn outnuts himself on this one. We should be able to doctor ourselves with the medicine we think we need. What could go wrong with that?

    I could treat my Quaalude deficiency all by my lonesome.

    You go Glenzilla!!

  43. 43
    Ailuridae says:

    @burnspbesq:

    (1) Without regulatory oversight, pharmaceutical manufacturers will not falsify data about the safety and efficacy of their products;

    Please re-read what Glenn wrote and tell me, exactly, where his suggestion to not require patients to have arbitrary doctor consent has anything whatsoever to do with the FDA or its function as the regulator of the pharma industry.

    I think the vast majority of people, for instance, that suffer from low grade clinical depression can, indeed, make the right decisions about whether Prozac is a proper drug for them. And that most people who get gingivitis can make the proper drug choice. And that most people who have sleep issues can read the side effects of ambien.

    Its interesting that the two people arguing with Greenwald’s piece are both trying to argue he wants to deregulate the pharmaceutical industry when actually he’s arguing nothing of the sort. It is a really basic point that is tough to dispute: that doctors are often an unnecessary middle man between consumers and providers. And that often a trip to the doctor is entirely unnecessary to decide what medicine is required.

  44. 44
    dj spellchecka says:

    speaking of drug companies and lawsuits, just came across this epic fail in corporate legal strategy..

    By BRIAN HAYNES
    LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

    Henry Chanin, 62, and his wife, Lorraine, had sued the Teva Parenteral Medicine and Baxter Healthcare Services on several product liability claims related to propofol, a popular anesthetic that was used at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center when he was infected with hepatitis C in 2006.

    “It was never about the money,” said Chanin’s lawyer, Robert Eglet. ” It ended up that way because they forced us to go to trial.”

    The Chanins’ lawyers tried to avoid trial in February by pitching a $1.7 million settlement offer, but they got no response from the two drug companies that made and sold the sedative at the heart of the outbreak, he said.

    Three months later, the Chanins walked out of court with what is thought to be the largest punitive damages award in Nevada history — $500 million.
    whoops….

  45. 45
    scav says:

    so glen is presumably in favor of the kill or cure lottery ’cause it’s not like our drug overlords are actually going to provide unbiased data about the actual effects of their products now, are they? GlaxoSmithKline here for a slight change

  46. 46
    AhabTRuler says:

    Greenwald didn’t address the issue as to whether pharmaceutical companies should be regulated, and I’d be surprised if he believes that they shouldn’t be. He appears to be objecting to the DEA scheduling system for narcotics and the ability of the government and doctors to restrict access to certain drugs against a patient’s wishes.

    It’s not a terribly surprising position to hold, as we know he already supports across the board decriminalization of recreational drugs. My interpretation is that a prescription should be necessary so that a doctor may provide the patient with the benefits and risks of a certain med, but that meds should be available on-demand, a la abortion.

    As with any widespread liberalization of drug policy, the key would be the degree to which social programs are strengthened in concert with the relaxation of punitive enforcement, but his overall point is entirely consistant with a harm-reduction model of drug policy. In general, decriminalizing demand is only half the issue, as an honest policy would also decriminalize the supply side of the equation.

  47. 47
    Alan says:

    Here’s an interesting read regarding a Merck drug in search of an illness. It opened my eyes. I was taking Prilosec for years to treat my acid reflux. Today I don’t take anything like that. I’ve learned to treat myself through diet.

  48. 48
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Ailuridae: Well, in both France and Mexico, the pharmacist retains much of the authority for prescribing and issuing the appropriate medication, but there should be some POS regulation to protect against interactions and to, at the minimum, encourage the patient to seek assistance in suspected cases of addiction.

    The parallel in the most extreme example, say high-potency opiates, is a prescription heroin program, such as those that have existed in Britain and Switzerland. When accompanied by funding for injection clinics, detox programs, and the like, these programs can often lower the social cost of drug addiction, as medical and social programs tend to be less expensive than a criminal justice response. As always, no policy can act as a panacea, but I have to believe that this country’s antipathy to such schemes has to be yet another expression of the sparrow-on-a-coat-hanger explanation of American politics.

  49. 49
    eemom says:

    @dj spellchecka:

    Propofol is what killed Michael Jackson, IIRC. Wonder if that had something to do with the size of the punitive damages award.

  50. 50
    Ailuridae says:

    @AhabTRuler:

    I was thinking specifically of the French model. FWIW, I don’t think Greenwald (or me) is arguing at all that people should be able to prescribe themselves meds without someone knowing about possible contraindications etc. And I’m not a libertarian by any stretch – I would not have a problem with a national ID card that then tracks prescription use biometrically. Clearly, Glenn would likely disagree there.

    But I have a really tough time believing that an asthmatic that wants to pick up a necessary use inhaler at a pharmacy should have to consult a doctor. Actually that claim, on its face is absurd to me. I know why doctors want to maintain the status quo – unnecessary trips to the doctor for prescription refills are a huge revenue generator in their industry An industry that offends anyone’s senses who is concerned with cost control or competition and is swallowing more and more of this country’s GDP (and ability to provide reasonable wage growth) with each passing year.

  51. 51
    Brachiator says:

    @The next to last samurai:

    The FDA derives most, if not all, its funding from fees paid by companies wanting their medicines approved.

    The FDA budget is miniscule compared to the market it regulates, but user fees comprise only a small part of its funding.

    The FDA regulates more than $1 trillion worth of consumer goods, about 25% of consumer expenditures in the United States. This includes $466 billion in food sales, $275 billion in drugs, $60 billion in cosmetics and $18 billion in vitamin supplements.
    __
    The FDA’s federal budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2008 totaled $2.1 billion, a $105.8 million increase from what it received for fiscal year 2007. In February 2008, the FDA announced that the Bush Administration’s FY 2009 budget request for the agency was just under $2.4 billion: $1.77 billion in budget authority (federal funding) and $628 million in user fees. The requested budget authority was an increase of $50.7 million more than the FY 2008 funding – about a three percent increase. In June 2008, Congress gave the agency an emergency appropriation of $150 million for FY 2008 and another $150 million for FY 2009

    For fiscal year 2010, the Obama administration requested that user fees be increased to $828 million.

    I think it is safer to take older medicines whenever possible.

    I don’t think this works as a blanket recommendation.
    @Ailuridae:

    Actually that claim, on its face is absurd to me. I know why doctors want to maintain the status quo – unnecessary trips to the doctor for prescription refills are a huge revenue generator in their industry An industry that offends anyone’s senses who is concerned with cost control or competition and is swallowing more and more of this country’s GDP (and ability to provide reasonable wage growth) with each passing year.

    A number of health care plans provide for easy refills after the initial consultation with a doctor. The doctor specifies the maximum number of refills (and maybe time period). Then the patient can simply request a refill by phone or via email. In other situations, the patient can simply call the doctor to request a refill.

    Also, doctors aren’t simply attempting to maintain the status quo. The present system is largely a reaction to the good old days of patent medicines, adulterated products, fanciful untested claims nonsense and malpractice. This system still exists in the unregulated and almost entirely fraudulent vitamin and food supplement industry. And while I guess you can make the Greenwald argument from a libertarian perspective, it doesn’t have much to do with improving health and safety or even with controlling medical costs.

  52. 52

    I bet their stock went up that week, because the mavericks on Wall Street know to reward any company that will go to those lengths to make a profit.

    Actually their stock has been kind of shitty. Apparently the Invisible Hand can only offer so much support when your company is being investigated, sued and fined all the damn time. Neither does acquiring a company (in this case, Wyeth) that has a shit ton of legal problems of its own.

  53. 53
    Ecks says:

    I have a really tough time believing that an asthmatic that wants to pick up a necessary use inhaler at a pharmacy should have to consult a doctor

    So make it non-prescription. We already have mechanisms for this. And if you’re worried about the wrong people using them, make people buying inhalers sign a release saying they have at some point consulted a doctor about their use of the drug.

  54. 54
    b-psycho says:

    So…drug companies lie & sell poison. People die. The response is regulation. Yet the regulators suck the drug companies’ cocks, and they still get to lie & sell poison. Meanwhile the few drugs that actually do WTF they say cost way more than they should thanks to government monopoly grants — excuse me, “patents”.

    Business fucks you, government fucks you & then helps business fuck you some more. Makes you wish there was a 3rd option, huh?

  55. 55
    MattR says:

    @Brachiator: This is just one anecdote, but my allergist told me that NJ state law prevents him from refilling my prescriptions for Allegra and/or Nasonex (not exactly sure which) if he has not seen me in more than 12 months. That office visit will be the most cursory of exams that takes less time than it takes to type this comment. Much like Ailuridae’s comment about inhalers for ashmatics, I really see no reason why I need to be forced to see an allergist that frequently.

    @bkny: You know what I love? When scientists actually find proof that some diseases exist rather than depending on the word of patients (and sometimes laughing at them for making up a disease) which then allows them to develop drugs to help those millions of patients who previously could not get any relief.

  56. 56
    eemom says:

    There is now an OTC “tester” woman can purchase to determine which of 3 different types of vaginal infection they might have. The most common, yeast infection, can be treated by a medicine which is also available OTC (though it didn’t used to be). The other two can be treated but require a prescription and therefore a trip to the dr. — but as noted, they are much less common.

    So. There’s some progress for ya.

  57. 57
    Lysana says:

    @Brachiator:

    The present system is largely a reaction to the good old days of patent medicines, adulterated products, fanciful untested claims nonsense and malpractice. This system still exists in the unregulated and almost entirely fraudulent vitamin and food supplement industry.

    Oh, that same “fraudulent” industry that got sued by a major pharmaceutical firm for daring to continue to sell red rice yeast extract because it’s a near-perfect chemical match for their anti-cholesterol drug that they developed from red rice yeast extract? That same industry that the pharmaceutical industry has been combing for chemicals they can synthesize that match the natural remedies that work, such as how aspirin is derived from white willow bark? The same industry that has been my only source for treatment of my fibroid tumors instead of the “real” therapy of ripping out my uterus? The same treatment that every doctor I’ve talked to has been perfectly fine with me taking because it’s the only thing they’ve ever heard of that reduces the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

    Yeah, the supplement industry is all snake oil and bullshit, all right.

  58. 58
    John Bird says:

    You know what would be totally sweet? Not cutting backroom deals with Big Pharma to prevent drug importation in exchange for crappy publicity for a bill.

  59. 59
    Brachiator says:

    @MattR:

    This is just one anecdote, but my allergist told me that NJ state law prevents him from refilling my prescriptions for Allegra and/or Nasonex (not exactly sure which) if he has not seen me in more than 12 months. That office visit will be the most cursory of exams that takes less time than it takes to type this comment. Much like Ailuridae’s comment about inhalers for ashmatics, I really see no reason why I need to be forced to see an allergist that frequently.

    Once a year is frequent? Sometimes a good doctor can tell more about you during what appears to be a cursory examination, especially if he or she knows your medical history, than you could on your own. Things change as you get older, you might be eating a food or taking other medication which might impact your prescription (and if your doctor or pharmacist doesn’t ask you about this, they are not doing their jobs) — any number of factors might come into play which a lot of people don’t think about or verify.

    But this is a sore spot for me. I know too many people who have seriously harmed themselves because they misjudged their ability to diagnose their own health issues and instead pointlessly tried to second-guess their doctors or relied on junk science and herbal medicines for self-treatment.

  60. 60
    MikeB says:

    In view of the rampant chicanery exhibited by big pharma, it’s tempting to
    take the the path suggested above, reject the new shiny overhyped drugs
    and stick with the older drugs which have been on the market for years.

    Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. My wife is a liver transplant
    patient, and her doctors recently switched her over to Rapamune. (Wyeth)
    The “gold standard” immune suppression drug, Prograf is trashing her kidneys (a common side effect) and causing neurological problems in addition to frequent bad headaches.

    The negative data on Rapamune is old and subsequent studies have not
    duplicated the bad results for liver transplant patients. Her liver transplant team
    has increasingly turned to Rapamune because it doesn’t harm the kidneys, isn’t neurotoxic
    and there is some new research to indicate that it can inhibit fibrosis in
    the new liver for transplanted Hep C patients, a serious issue for my wife.

    Will she be a victim of Wyeth hype and marketing here? Are her doctors
    cashing in by switching her over? Or is this drug indeed a better choice for her?

    Don’t know. Just sayin’ when a life threatening disease is involved, the
    dice are being rolled with each and every drug you take, old or new.

  61. 61
    MattR says:

    @Brachiator: To me, the issue is not really whether or not 12 months is frequent enough. The issue is whether the patient should be the one to make that decision. Now, I can understand if a doctor prescribes a drug with a known potentially life threatening side effect (ex. high blood pressure) that he would want to monitor that. But if the side effects of the medication are benign (ex. cotton mouth, upset stomach) but the progression of the disease may lead to that same life threatening disease, then I think the doctor should recommend how much monitoring is necessary but it should be up to the individual patient to make that decision. (EDIT: But I do agree with pretty much everythign in your comment below)

    @MikeB: Best of luck to you and your wife. My dad had a kidney transplant in 2006. While there are struggles to overcome, it is truly a blessing. (SO EVERYBODY BE ORGAN DONORS DAMMIT) Hopefully the doctors will find the right set of meds to get your wife feeling somewhat close to the “normal” of ten years ago.

  62. 62
    Brachiator says:

    @Lysana:

    Yeah, the supplement industry is all snake oil and bullshit, all right.

    Yeah, it pretty much is. The claims of the industry rarely hold up when investigated, even by sympathetic, but honest researchers.

    Oh, that same “fraudulent” industry that got sued by a major pharmaceutical firm for daring to continue to sell red rice yeast extract because it’s a near-perfect chemical match for their anti-cholesterol drug that they developed from red rice yeast extract? That same industry that the pharmaceutical industry has been combing for chemicals they can synthesize that match the natural remedies that work, such as how aspirin is derived from white willow bark?

    I don’t give a rip about pharmaceutical firms. I observe the general efficacy of science and medicine over superstition, much hit-and-miss folk medicine and the outright fraud that came before. It’s science that allows the match between that yeast-extract and the anti-cholesterol drug to be identified. I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to take an aspirin than to figure out how much willow bark I need to chew to relieve my headache.

    And even here, because the supplement industry is unregulated, you can’t be sure that your willow bark even contains what it says it does, or that the amounts listed are accurate. Or worse, that the supplements might be contaminated, as this recent NY Times story noted.

    Nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants, and some supplement sellers made illegal claims that their products can cure cancer and other diseases, investigators found.
    __
    The levels of heavy metals — including mercury, cadmium and arsenic — did not exceed thresholds considered dangerous, the investigators found. However, 16 of the 40 supplements tested contained pesticide residues that appeared to exceed legal limits, the investigators found. In some cases, the government has not set allowable levels of these pesticides because of a paucity of scientific research.

    The supplement industry fights off all attempts at reasonable regulation and might not even be able to exist if it had to prove some of its most outrageous claims. It is not sufficient to offer this multi-billion dollar industry (and that’s exactly what it is, a big industry) as an alternative to other drug companies just because they try to hide behind claims that their products are “natural.”

    The same industry that has been my only source for treatment of my fibroid tumors instead of the “real” therapy of ripping out my uterus? The same treatment that every doctor I’ve talked to has been perfectly fine with me taking because it’s the only thing they’ve ever heard of that reduces the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

    My college girlfriend, who I still refer to as the third wisest woman in the world, had to deal with fibroid tumors (she went on to become a hell of a doctor). I learned much from her as she tried to deal with her issues with this ailment. You have nothing but my sympathy and best wishes here.

  63. 63
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    @b-psycho:

    Business fucks you, government fucks you & then helps business fuck you some more. Makes you wish there was a 3rd option, huh?

    The difference is that government does what you elect it to do. Business does what it wants to do. If you want effective government, then you work to elect it, and you vote for it.

    For starters, you do not elect officials who subscribe to a worldview that shits on science, shits on jurisprudence, shits on process, shits on regulation, shits on oversight, and shits on funding of government responsibilities.

    If you do that, you don’t really need a third alternative.

  64. 64
    Brachiator says:

    @MattR:

    To me, the issue is not really whether or not 12 months is frequent enough. The issue is whether the patient should be the one to make that decision.

    The short answer is, No.

    Most people are ignorant about their own bodies and certainly ignorant about the drugs they take. They don’t keep up with medical literature, know little about drug or drug and food interactions, and consistently make bad decisions about drug use. For example two of the stupidest things that people do are to take drugs that have been prescribed for other people and to cease taking the full course of drugs that have been prescribed for them just because they start to feel better, even when the instructions specifically note that the full course of treatment should be followed in order to insure complete treatment.

    Now, I can understand if a doctor prescribes a drug with a known potentially life threatening side effect (ex. high blood pressure) that he would want to monitor that.

    All drugs have side effects, or else they probably would be useless. And as I noted, age, changes in lifestyle or other stuff that you eat or ingest might increase the risk that a drug might harm you. Hell, in some cases, a drug that your wife or partner is taking might put you at risk when exposure combines with a drug that you are taking.

    There are doctors who don’t think these things through. Lay people are typically a gazillion times more stupid. Worse, they consistently underestimate their ignorance and the worst-case impact of being wrong.

  65. 65
    MikeB says:

    Thanks MattR, and good luck to your Dad as well. Rapamune was specifically
    designed for kidney transplant patients. It has a different mechanism
    for immune suppression. For liver transplant patients it’s still off label.
    Our experience is that the MD’s at transplant centers are usually ahead of the
    media on the latest research, but as I’m sure you know from your
    Dad’s experience and as the MD’s will be the first to admit, it’s still a
    crapshoot when it comes to major drugs for major illnesses.

  66. 66

    There are doctors who don’t think these things through. Lay people are typically a gazillion times more stupid. Worse, they consistently underestimate their ignorance and the worst-case impact of being wrong.

    Reading this thread, I wonder if some have lost their minds in advocating that lay people should be diagnosing and treating themselves with powerful drugs. I mean, I have some fairly strong libertarian tendencies with overprotective laws. It is one reason I love NM so much, as this state has such a liberty minded mindset and a minimum of nanny like laws.

    But the idea, except for the most benign drugs like nasal sprays and such, thinking that average people have anything near the knowledge to treat themselves with systemic meds is simply insane.

  67. 67
    MattR says:

    @Brachiator: Geez. It sounds like you think there should be no such thing as an OTC drug. I don’t think your views are that extreme, just as I don’t think anyone should be able to obtain any drugs they want at any time. We are just arguing about where the line should be drawn and the libertarian in me wants to give the individual as much power over his body as possible. He may end up doing something stupid, but that is his choice (and his right IMO)

    My only other real experience is with Canada’s system and I like what they do. They have a class of drugs that are OTC but you have to talk with a pharmacist, though I don’t know what conditions would allow the pharmacist to refuse the sale. And some of the drugs I am thinking about, like Allegra, are just a normal OTC drug there that you can buy without a consultation.

  68. 68
    Brachiator says:

    @MattR:

    Geez. It sounds like you think there should be no such thing as an OTC drug. I don’t think your views are that extreme, just as I don’t think anyone should be able to obtain any drugs they want at any time. We are just arguing about where the line should be drawn and the libertarian in me wants to give the individual as much power over his body as possible. He may end up doing something stupid, but that is his choice (and his right IMO)

    In some things, I try to balance philosophy with pragmatism. Giving someone “power over his body” does not simultaneously give knowledge or wisdom, and I have never understood how it pleases some libertarians to say stuff like, “Yeah, he died, but at least his liberty rights were respected,” especially about matters where a person’s knowledge and expertise, and hence his or her ability to make a truly informed decision is inherently defective.

    I look at doctors and pharmacists as tools to be used, not as impediments to my being able to get the drugs I want whenever I want them. I recently had a prescription filled and even though there was a mandatory insert and brief instructions on the label, and even though I had used the drug before, when the clerk offered to have the pharmacist go over things with me, I took advantage of the opportunity, because I had a couple of questions and wasn’t sure that the generic insert would address it. The pharmacy provided a service that I took advantage of. Had the question occurred to me during my medical appointment, I would have asked at that time or called later.

    My only other real experience is with Canada’s system and I like what they do. They have a class of drugs that are OTC but you have to talk with a pharmacist, though I don’t know what conditions would allow the pharmacist to refuse the sale. And some of the drugs I am thinking about, like Allegra, are just a normal OTC drug there that you can buy without a consultation.

    Sounds like the Canadian system is on the continuum between US practice and your preferences. Mandatory intervention by pharmacists in some cases substitutes for a doctor visit. I have no problem with this model.

  69. 69
    Lurker says:

    @b-psycho:

    Business fucks you, government fucks you & then helps business fuck you some more. Makes you wish there was a 3rd option, huh?

    CanadaDrugs.com

    ;-D

  70. 70
    hamletta says:

    @Ailuridae:

    I think the vast majority of people, for instance, that suffer from low grade clinical depression can, indeed, make the right decisions about whether Prozac is a proper drug for them.

    That’s just fucking insane. The wrong antidepressant, or the right one at the wrong dosage, can fuck your shit up.

    One friend of mine got a prescription from her gynecologist, who diagnosed her alleged depression on the basis of a 5-item questionnaire. Poor woman couldn’t get out of bed for two weeks.

  71. 71
    Boney Baloney says:

    One might almost think — if one weren’t an abused wife, behaviorally speaking — that the social contract has expired, and anything goes. Tasers? Microwaves. Rubber bullets? Microwaves (1001 uses). Restriction of marijuana use? Fungoo. Voluntary leaving-weapons-at -home because-of-NO-GUNS-signs? Fungoo with extra flatulence. What the fuck are they going to do? Tase retards and epileptics in front of doctors? Shoot handcuffed suspects in the back because, oops, I meant to tase a handcuffed suspect in the back, not shoot him, d’oh?

    Bend over and grab your ankles, America. The Founding Fathers would want it that way.

    If this description makes your butt hurt, it should. It’s a little late to be discussing this shit over a knife-and-fork tea.

  72. 72
    Sheesh says:

    @MattR:

    We are just arguing about where the line should be drawn and the libertarian in me wants to give the individual as much power over his body as possible. He may end up doing something stupid, but that is his choice (and his right IMO)

    The ‘choice’ to kill yourself by accident is not a choice, it’s a trap. In a society of specialists expertise matters. Regulation is the application of expertise through policy; it’s not some crazy-nanny-fascist shit trying to take away your ‘rights’ (specifically your stated ‘right’ to make the wrong choice and –haha– die).

    Edit: or you know what Brachaitor said right after…

  73. 73
    b-psycho says:

    @DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective:

    The difference is that government does what you elect it to do.

    Really? Cool! So how can I elect a government to end the War on Drugs, cut the “defense” budget by at least 50%, end permanently all subsidies to the oil industry & institute a natural resources tax to fund a citizens dividend, prosecute Bush for war crimes, break up any financial institutions large enough to give a fuck about if they fail, & repeal all laws that neuter organized labor?

    What’s that? Hell will freeze over first? Thought so…

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