A Bad Weekend For Medical Science

Funny how just as I was thinking Machiavelli was in for a few quiet weeks during the silly season for news, Big Pharma and the medical care industry show their intention of keeping the old pot boiling right through to the day Gordon Brown calls the General election (October 24 – the announcement, not the election, is being hotly tipped.

And then in the course of five days we hear of four reasons to mistrust the medical industry.

First was the announcement of loony plans to put all men over fifty on cholesterol lowering drugs whether they have raised cholesterol levels or not. (Cue a raiding party of boy – scientists from Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science Forum to come storming in yelling that I am not a “scientist” and do not understand the science. Oh I just love winding them up.

Now I do not claim to have any understanding of cholesterol related problems in men over fifty, my LDL (low density lipoprotein or naughty cholesterol) is lower than average I’m told, while my HDL (high density lipoprotein level is healthy. So, having enough side effects from medication I do need, I do not want any more from medication I don’t need.

We do not need a medical qualification to understand that cholesterol is a vital component of human cells so to lower levels in people who don’t need their levels lowered might just cause more problems than it solves. But while that would be bad for us it would be good for Big Pharma, creating a vast new market for drugs to reverse the effects of the unneeded drugs we had already taken. And it would not be bad news for the senior doctors. More work for their teams would mean bigger budgets and bigger salaries.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to understand that, just capable of using common sense. But of course cholesterol is not the first problem that medical science has proposed wholesale medication for. Not so long ago someone was talking about threating the drinking water with anti – depressants.

Next out of the loony laboratory was the news that the until recently acclaimed diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos have been linked to increased risk of heart failure. Researchers say that as many as one in fifty patients put on these drugs have been hospitalised for heart failure in the 26 months since the study of side effects was launched.

Call Little Nicky old fashioned if you like possums, but I thought the point of medicine was to make people better not iller.

Third comes the news that Pharmaceutical companies and the medical establishment are refusing to sanction clinical trials of a drug which is widely used in the U.S.A. and other places to treat deterioration of eyesight in the elderly.

Over 20,000 people per year suffer some loss of vision due to macular degeneration. The drug Lucentis can halt deterioration and improve vision but is priced at around £750 per shot, way beyond the budgets of most NHS Doctors. Which is tough, or would be if a cheap alternative was not available. That alternative, already widely used elsewhere, is a drug called Avastin which was developed to treat bowel cancer. Avastin, in eye sized doses, would cost around £10 per shot. Very affordable, yet NHS Doctors cannot prescribe it because nobody will fund the clinical trials that must be done before the drug is licensed for such use in the UK.

Lastly comes news that Ritalin, widely prescribed for children affected by ADHD but suspected of having serious side effects including, allegedly, death in a few cases is about to become news again. Ritalin has been suspect for a long time, but as with the Autism / MMR issue, Medics have dismissed concerns as “associative fallacy” and said cases of serios illness are just coincidence. But isn’t that what they said about the dibetes drug / heart failure connection (I know it is because my friend who put me up to using Machiavelli to voice the concerns of who can’t reveal their names, is a diabeytes specialist) It’s also what they said about the alleged Autism / MMR link, AND the harmful effects of seroxat, AND the addictive nature of many prescription painkillers.

So we can expect that one to run and run.

Now some people may get the idea I have a grudge against the medical professions. That is not so, I owe the fact I am around to write this to the fine work of an ITU team and the patience and commitment of a rehab team. I just wish that those professionals were not constantly hampered by the incompetence, self – interest or sheer stupidity of the Pharmaceutical industry and the Medical establishment.

And I also wish the boy scientists of Bad Science Forum would shout the fuck up and leave serious issues to experienced political campaigners. Their Mickey Mouse degrees from Portakabin University do not make up for a painful lack of life experience. Which is of course the essential qualification for a career in medicine. (That BTW is a taunt aimed at goading them into steaming in with comments on what they think I have written rather than what I have written rather than things I actually said, thus adding a lot of content to Machiavelli and pushing my blog up to the top of the search engine listings.)
It is a lack of life experience that makes them argue about the quality of the scientific methods used in these study’s. Had they adequate life experience of course, they would understand that it is not the egos of “scientists that matter but the wellbeing of patients undergoing therapy.
Let’s see if that gang of arrested adolescents fall for my rather entry level Machiavellian ploy a THIRD time :DD

JUST A WORD for regular readers. After a post recenntly that attracted far more comments than usual I said there seemed to be a orchestrated attempt to shout me down. As I expected someone involved in the attack responded that all the adverse comments came from the Bad Science Forum after the forum leader had linked my site but it was not an orchestrated attack (see what I mean about thick?) and I was a conspiracy theorist. Well you know Little Nicky’s attitude to orchestrated attacks. Bring ’em on 😛

Medicines out of control