Antipsychotics: worst pills?

April 10, 2007

I just found out on the LawyersandSettlements.com website this interesting list of “Hot legal issues: Class actions and personal injuries”:

Well, I found it quite astonishing that among more than 60 reported cases, antipsychotics related cases account for almost one third of the total with particularly worrying injuries such as “birth defects”, “heart defects”, “diabete”, “PPHN” (I had to check for this and I found out that it is “persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn” which is quite worrying I believe).

So, here we are, antipsychotics seem to have some very bad effects on the newborn! I don’t know how many pregnant women are prescribed antipsychotics but my feeling is that there is something bad going on here.

I found out various interesting links on this subject:

Antipsychotics during psychiatry, the American Journal of Psychiatry, August 2000

Benefits and risks of psychiatric medications during pregnancy, American Family Physician, August 2002

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn website, by Paul Danziger, Attorney

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Doomsday of the pharmaceutical industry: November 21, 2003

April 2, 2007

On April 1, 2007, CBS News 60 Minutes broadcasted a great video report on US Congress voting on Medicare prescription drug bill that took place during the night of November 21, 2003.

I had previously posted on that issue 3 months ago: see here for some background information.

The CBS News 60 Minutes video report highlitghts the behind-the-scene process that definitively influenced the fate, I should say the “marketing” of the Medicare precription drug bill, with incredible facts and figures:

1/ More than 1,000 pharmaceutical lobbyists were at that time working on the Medicare bill.

2/ The voting machines opened for almost 3 hours (usually, 15 minutes), which casts doubts on the voting process conditions.

3/ “In all, at least 15 congressional staffers, congressmen and federal officials left to go to work for the pharmaceutical industry, whose profits were increased by several billion dollars” reports CBS and this happened after the bill was passed (just a mere coincidence?).

4/ Billy Tauzin is pathetic, sneaky and dishonest when talking to CBS journalist.

 A great example of the unhealthy relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the political sphere, and especially whith the Republicans…See here for more clues on this unhealthy relationship.

Furious Seasons is completely right when saying that CBS News reacted somewhat late (3 years and a half after) and that there are many more stories that would deserve a TV show. I quite like the following sentence: “It’s far from the knockout Big Pharma deserves.”

Other links on the subject: PharmaGossip, Pharmalot

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Is there a “Web 2.0 for (pharma) dummies”?

March 28, 2007

There is this news I found on Medical News Today website: “Web 2.0. implementation strategies for the pharmaceutical industry”.

Quote 1: “Pharma industry leaders say that despite the regulatory and legal challenges of Web 2.0 approaches, companies must monitor, test, measure and – above all else – participate and find value in social networking opportunities.

Quote 2: “With declining ROI from most traditional pharma marketing channels, new ways of reaching physicians and patients cannot be ignored. The big question for pharma is how Web 2.0 approaches can most effectively be used to meet its marketing and communication challenges.”

A few remarks:

1/ As mentioned in a previous post about the subject, the pharmaceutical industry has become aware that something is going on via the web: medical and pharmaceutical blogs, patients blogs and all kind of websites about drugs and related subjects. The point is that we do now have access to other sources of information than the ones provided by the pharmaceutical industry… And that is a very good thing!

2/ The pharmaceutical industry wants to expand its presence online in a way that of course serves its interests in the end.

3/ But it still doesn’t know how to use the web 2.0.

More interestingly:

In the report entitled “Web 2.0. -A new frontier for pharma?” by Lisa Roner, Eyeforpharma, pharmaceutical business strategy information provider, February 2007, we find some hints regarding the current situation:

Quote:

It is easy to look at what is happening in other industries and expect the same from healthcare, says Len Starnes, Head of European eBusiness at Bayer Schering. But he agrees that in an industry characterized by conservative, risk-averse approaches it will take longer to get on the Web 2.0 bandwagon.“Half of the industry is just waking up to the fact that we have the Internet and aren’t even on Web 1.0 yet,” he quips. “The average product manager is not aware of Web 2.0. There are a few dabblers, but most are just learning about it.”

I quite like this:

“…in a industry characterized by conservative, risk-averse approaches it will take longer to get on the Web 2.0 bandwagon”

“Half of the industry is just waking up to the fact that we have the Internet and aren’t even on the Web 1.0 yet”

 

If I understand well, the pharmaceutical industry is quite bad at informatics…

 

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The Drug Rep is using magician’s tricks!

March 22, 2007

When talking about magic, you could say that it is all based on appearance and illusion.

I’d say that the magician and the pharmaceutical drug representative are doing quite the same job: make you think something is real whereas it is merely fake…

PharmedOut provides a link to a very very interesting interview of a former Eli Lilly drug rep named Shahram Ahari (Tales of a former drug rep: radio interview for Health Care in Mind).

A few examples of what we can learn with this interview:

1/ Drug reps are usually paired: one female rep plus one male rep. One rep plays the role of the “lead rep” and the other rep plays the role of the “lag rep”. The idea is the following: some people feel more comfortable with women and on the contrary others do prefer to confront with men. Secondly, the “lag rep” is in a way the one who is more serious, that is to say doing his job whereas the “lead rep” is the one who has managed to develop a special relationship with the physician, that is a more informal relationship based on affective aspects more than professional aspects.

2/ Drug reps are usually “attractive”: I bet they are! The power of (superficial) appearance!

3/ There is clearly a “distinct minority against drug reps”. The vast majority of physicians don’t mind drug reps coming at their office for selling their products. Damn it! There is really a need to make physicians aware of the tricky practices used by drug reps!

4/ Drug reps do know what products the physician is prescribing as pharmaceutical companies can get access to datasharing houses which collect prescription information from pharmacists. All computerized!

5/ During their training, drug reps seem to be part of a huge brainwashing process and end up in believing their products are the best.

6/ The interviewee indicates that during his training session, he was the only one in his class having a scientific education.

This interview is really great because you clearly understand that pharmaceutical companies are the puppetmasters of the drug reps who are in turn the puppetmasters of the physicians.

How do you break this vicious circle? My feeling is that physicians do have a role to play here: be aware (I’m not sponsored by Jean-Claude Van Damme…).

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The Rep is striking again!

March 21, 2007

Watch out!

The Rep documentary: Now already 14 episodes! And still hilarious!

See here and have fun…

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

March 21, 2007

Doctors Dish on Their Patients in Anonymous Blogs

This is the title of an article by the Washington Post dated March 20 about the phenomenon of medical blogging by healthcare professionals. The article is quite critical about the fact that privacy of patients is being exposed on those blogs which is true as I myself found one day a blog (in French) from a doctor who was simply providing a daily account of his patients’ personal stories. Together with this, he always had a sharp comment to make on his patients, I mean he was writing on his blog what he certainly wouldn’t or couldn’t have said to his patients…

Here some excerpts of the Washington Post article by Margarita Bauza:

“Hundreds of doctors across the country are writing Internet diaries that sometimes include harsh judgments of patients, coarse observations and distinct details of some cases.”

“Medical blogging is so new that medical boards, schools and professionals disagree on what is acceptable. Critics say the blogs cross into an ethical gray area and threaten patient privacy while posing liability risks for health workers and their employers.”

“The anonymity provided by blogs has proved to be a powerful lure for doctors and other medical professionals, who, sworn to strict rules of confidentiality regarding patients, have few outlets to speak their minds.”

I have a comment on this: I believe that those medical bloggers look like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persons…

But there is one thing I should say, I can understand the need for them to speak out what they sometime may find difficult to keep deep inside themselves but maybe then it would be better not to write it on the web where everybody can read that but rather on an old-style personal diary. I am definitely against exposing privacy of patients on the web. Why? Because these patients do not know about that! Unless they end up in recognizing themselves when reading a story…It is completely different from the case where the person has deliberately decided to expose its privacy and personal life on a website or a blog or anything, isn’t it?!?

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How many side effects for one positive effect?

March 20, 2007


When pharmacists tell the truth (comic)

A cartoon by Mike Adams on News Target with his commentary on the cartoon here.

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The Prescription Project: advancing medical practice and policy

March 7, 2007

The Prescription Project is led by Community Catalyst in partnership with the Institute on Medicine as a Profession.  Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Project seeks to eliminate conflicts of interest created by industry marketing by promoting policy change among academic medical centers, professional medical societies and public and private payers. In addition the Project will advance state and national level policy solutions.”

This is clearly the kind of initiative we can but support and appraise!! Kudos!!

Just started this year. So, long life to The Prescription Project!

 

For more information: The Prescription Project

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The Lancet: Medicalization in the 21st Century

March 6, 2007

I just found out that The Lancet has published a set of essays on “medicalization” (information provided by a news article by University of Michigan Ann Arbor: “Medicalize Me: Experts Look at Perception of Illness”, see here).

I would really like to read those essays which seem very interesting to me for my field of interest in sociology but I have no access to the Lancet…

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Merck and Texas Governor Rick Perry: a mere coincidence?

March 5, 2007

An article by the Associated Press revealed that last year Governor Rick Perry organized a meeting with his staff to discuss about a new cervical cancer vaccine (Merck’s Gardasil) the same day Merck donated to his political campaign…

The article reads: “Perry spokesman Robert Black said the timing of the meeting and the donation was a coincidence.”

The article reads further:”Texas became the first state to require the vaccine against human papilloma virus earlier this month when Perry issued an executive order requiring it for girls entering sixth grade.”

I am absolutely not sure that we are here in front of a mere “coincidence”…

Politics and the pharmaceutical industry: see my previous post on the subject…

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