Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pharmacuetical Companies' lobby Washington

This is nothing new. But you might not know it. I didn't. Page 198, of Dr. Angell's book, THE TRUTH ABOUT DRUG COMPANIES, first sentence, first paragraph reads: "The pharmaceutical industry hss by far the largest lobby in Washington--and that's saying something." She adds, "In 2002, it employed 675 lobbyists (more than one for each member of Congress)--many drawn from 138 Washington lobbying firms--at a cost of over 91 million.

And you wonder why your pharmaceuticals are priced so high?

And you presume your congressman isn't influenced by all this money and verbiage?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Surgery Checklist Saves Lives

A little story first: a long time ago, (almost 30 years now), a then young, single mother worked as a receptionist in human resources at a large city suburban hospital. Occasionally, nurses would come through to tend to personnel business, and needing a safe ear, just vent about work to this receptionist. One day, a surgical nurse came through and told the receptionist that the worst part of her job was working with a drunk surgeon, trying hard to keep the count of surgical supplies going into and out of the body correct, trying to make sure he (there were only he surgeons back then at this hospital) did his job decently, yet still not offending him so that he couldn't complain to her bosses and have her fired.

Of course, I was that young, single mother receptionist.

She added, and I am passing this bit of advice on to you, that anytime you have surgery, make sure you do NOT take any drug to make you looney before you go into the surgical suite. STAY LUCID! She emphasized that. When you are in the surgical suite, ask to talk to your doctor. Then whisper. This forces his face to come near yours so that you can smell what is on his breath. If he doesn't come near, WARNING bells should sound an alarm in your soul. Forget medical protocol, forget doctor as the authority figure, and grab the man's shirt and pull him near to you so you can get a good whiff.

What is the worst that can happen? If you smell alcohol coverup, baby you shout loud, demand off the table, all IV's off, etc, and, now in this day and age, demand a blood alcohol level, and threaten a lawsuit of the hospital so that they will follow through. If you smell nothing, so what? This well paid man changes his clothes and your life is safe!

Now, to the Yahoo study.

Study: Basic checklist saves lives during surgery.

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe, Ap Medical Writer – Wed Jan 14, 5:57 pm ET
Surgical checklist can cut complications and save lives: WHO AFP/File – Doctors perform heart surgery. Potentially life-threatening complications from surgery can be cut by …

ATLANTA – Scrawl on the patient with a permanent marker to show where the surgeon should cut. Ask the person's name to make sure you have the right patient. Count sponges to make sure you didn't leave any inside the body. Doctors worldwide who followed a checklist of steps like these cut the death rate from surgery almost in half and complications by more than a third in a large international study of how to avoid blatant operating room mistakes.

The results — most dramatic in developing countries — startled the researchers.

"I was blown away," said Dr. Atul Gawande, a Harvard surgeon and medical journalist who led the study, published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

U.S. hospitals have been required since 2004 to take some of these precautions. But the 19-item checklist used in the study was far more detailed than what is required or what many institutions do.

The researchers estimated that implementing the longer checklist in all U.S. operating rooms would save at least $15 billion a year.

"Most of these things happen most of the time for most patients, but we need to make it so that all these things happen all the time for all patients, because each slip represents an opportunity for harm," said Dr. Alex Haynes of the Harvard School of Public Health, one of the study's authors.

The checklist was developed by the World Health Organization and includes measures such as these:

• Before the patient is given anesthesia, make sure the part of the body to be operated on is marked, and make sure everyone on the surgical team knows if the patient has an allergy.

• Before the surgeons cut, make sure everyone in the operating room knows one another and what their roles will be during the operation, and confirm that all the needed X-rays and scan images are in the room.

• After surgery, check that all the needles, sponges and instruments are accounted for.

That checklist was tested in 2007-08 in eight cities around the world: Seattle; Toronto; London; New Delhi; Auckland, New Zealand; Amman, Jordan; Manila, Philippines; and Ifakara, Tanzania. (Heart and pediatric cases were excluded.)

Before the checklist was introduced, 1.5 percent of patients in a comparison group died within 30 days of surgery at the eight hospitals. Afterward, the rate dropped to 0.8 percent — a 47 percent decrease.

The biggest decreases were in developing countries, with the combined death rate for Jordan, India, Tanzania and the Philippines falling 52 percent. There was no significant difference in deaths in the wealthiest countries.

Overall, major complications dropped from 11 percent to 7 percent. Again, the biggest decreases were in the lower-income countries.

"What we're seeing is the benefits of good team work and coordinated care," Haynes said.

The results were so dramatic that Dr. Peter Pronovost, a Johns Hopkins University doctor who proved in a highly influential study a few years ago that checklists could cut infection rates from intravenous tubes, said he was skeptical of the findings.

One possible flaw, he said, is that "you had people who bought into the system collecting their own data."

The researchers acknowledged it is possible that the results were partly because people perform better when they know they're being watched.

However, the 19-point checklist is already being adopted. Ireland, Jordan, the Philippines and Britain have recently established nationwide programs to have the checklist used in all operating rooms.

In the U.S., the Joint Commission, which accredits most hospitals and sets standards for them, said it is considering adopting more of the steps. The agency already requires three of them, including marking the incision site and pausing before surgery to make sure everything is in place.

At least one patient in the study at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle welcomed the checklist.

Darrell McDonald, 63, had a hernia operation in March. A longtime bush pilot in Alaska, he followed a checklist before every takeoff, including checking the controls and walking around the propeller-driven plane "to make sure nothing is getting ready to fall off."

So McDonald was fine with his doctor writing on his body where the incision would be. He had no problems with repeated inquiries about who he was and why he was there. He applauded measures such as a poster-size checklist hanging from an IV pole in the operating room.

"It eliminates the little bit that could possibly go wrong," he said.

Illegal Marketing, Lilly Pharmacuetical Lawsuit

As most of you know, I get this stuff usually from Yahoo, so I have to give credit here.... they are my home page ;-) and I love em for all the up to date info flying through...

Now, are you aware that pharmacuetical companies illegally market drugs. I am. But I wasn't always. If you want to know more about this topic, buy and READ the book The Turth About the Drug Companies, (How they decieve us and what to do about it) by marcia Angell, MD, former editor in chief of the "New England Journal of Medicine", the go to medical magazine for all US medical doctors. I have written about her before. Here is the article from yahoo news:

Lilly settles Zyprexa suit for $1.42 billion

INDIANAPOLIS – Eli Lilly & Co. said Thursday it pleaded guilty to a charge that it illegally marketed the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa for an unapproved use, and will pay $1.42 billion to settle civil suits and end the criminal investigation.

The Indianapolis-based company said it will pay $800 million to settle civil suits, including $438 million to the federal government and $362 million to states. It will pay $615 million to resolve the criminal probe, and plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for promoting Zyprexa as a dementia treatment.

The company did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the civil cases.

The misdemeanor plea resolves charges related to Lilly's marketing of Zyprexa between September 1999 and March 2001. It states that Lilly marketed the drug for the treatment of dementia, including Alzheimer's-related dementia, even though the drug is not approved for that use.

Zyprexa is approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Doctors are allowed to prescribe it for other uses, but Lilly is not allowed to market the drug for any other illnesses because it lacks Food and Drug Administration approval.

The case began in 2004 and was led by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Office of Consumer Litigation of the Department of Justice.

Laurie Magid, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said they hoped cases like this put an end to a pharmaceutical practice known as "off-label" marketing.

"The company made hundreds of millions of dollars by trying to convince health care providers that Zyprexa was safe for unapproved uses," Magid said, noting that they hold the drugmaker "responsible for putting thousands and thousands of patients at risk." She added that off-label marketing circumvents "the very process put in place to protect the public."

Lilly also said it agreed to resolve civil investigations brought by the Medicaid fraud-control units of the states involved in the settlement. The states were looking into rebate agreements between Lilly and pharmacy benefits managers related to Zyprexa and other drugs.

A company spokesman said about 30 states are involved.

Zyprexa was approved in 1996 and has been Lilly's top seller for years. It brought in $3.5 billion in revenue through the first three quarters of 2008, or roughly $1.5 billion more than the company's second-best seller, the antidepressant Cymbalta.

But the company has spent roughly $1.2 billion to resolve 32,000 claims related to Zyprexa product liability. About 125 cases are still pending.

For instance, a group of insurance companies, unions and others are suing Lilly for billions, saying it broke marketing laws and overcharged for the drug.

Lilly in October said it expected to pay the additional $1.42 billion to end the investigations. It set aside that amount, or $1.29 per share, in the third quarter, which resulted in the company's first quarterly loss in three years.

Earlier the same month, Lilly agreed to pay $62 million to 32 states and the District of Columbia to resolve accusations it marketed Zyprexa for pediatric care, for use in high doses and for dementia.

Lilly shares fell 66 cents, or nearly 2 percent, to $36.81 in Thursday morning trading.


Associated Press writer Maryclaire Dale contributed to this report from Philadelpia.

Drinking Coffee reduces Alzheimers

Being a coffee lover, this is a study I really like ;-)

Drinking coffee reduces risk of Alzheimer's: study

Drinking coffee reduces risk of Alzheimer's: study AFP/File – Middle-aged people who drink moderate amounts of coffee significantly reduce their risk of developing …

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Middle-aged people who drink moderate amounts of coffee significantly reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a study by Finnish and Swedish researchers showed Thursday.

"Middle-aged people who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease by between 60 and 65 percent later in life," said lead researcher on the project, Miia Kivipelto, a professor at the University of Kuopio in Finland and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

The study, which was also conducted in cooperation with the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease this month, was based on repeated interviews with 1,409 people in Finland over more than two decades.

They were first asked about their coffee-drinking habits when they were in their 50s and their memory functions were tested again in 1998, when they were between 65 and 79 years of age.

A total of 61 people had by then developed dementia, 48 of whom had Alzheimer's, the researchers said.

"There are perhaps one or two other studies that have shown that coffee can improve some memory functions (but) this is the first study directed at dementia and Alzheimer's (and) in which the subjects are followed for such a long time," Kivipelto told AFP.

She said it remained unclear exactly how moderate coffee drinking helped delay or avoid the onset of dementia, but pointed out that coffee contains strong antioxidants, which are known to counter Alzheimer's.

Some studies have also shown that coffee helps protects the nerve system, which can also protect against dementia, she said, pointing out that yet other studies show that coffee protects against diabetes, which in turn is known to be linked to Alzheimer's.

"Going forward, researchers should try to nail down exactly what the protective elements in coffee consist in," Kivipelto said.

The Finnish-Swedish research results surfaced just a day after a separate study published by psychologists at Durham University showed a link between heavy coffee drinking and hallucinations.

"I guess this shows that you shouldn't exaggerate," Kivipelto said when asked about the British study, pointing out that her research showed "insignificant" benefits to drinking more than five cups of coffee a day when it came to protecting against dementia.

"Too much is simply too much," she said.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Olive oil--a Natural Appetite Suppresent

Who knew? Olive oil is a natural appetite suppressant! Gloy Halleujah. I hate the taste of the stuff, but by golly, now I am going to have to amend my ways and start using it regularly. Here's the skinny: Olive oil contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. Upon reaching the small intestine, oleic acid triggers the production of oleoylethanolamide (OEA), another fatty substance. OEA then finds its way to nerve endings that carry a hunger-curbing message to the brain. And that message is loud and clear: "Hey. Stop eating! You're full!!" Researchers are hoping that new appetite-suppressing drugs using OEA will be developed to reduce obesity. I got that from a Real Age email. I will start trying it and see if it works for me ;-)
What I want to know is why are pharmaceutical companies trying to make an appetite suprresant pill when all you have to do is swallow the real stuff. Hum, let's see.... is it number one, for people like me that would rather swallow a pill (at a small co pay with a doctors prescription) than get used to the flavor of the olive oil? Or, number two, the pharmacuetical companies need a new patented drug they can make a lot of money off of? Hum, tick, tock, tick tock, the clock is ticking, I just can't decide, which one could it be. Oh wait, I know, it's mostly number two, with a little of number one thrown in, mostly to be used massively in marketing. ! Oh, I bet you got that before I did, didn't you? You are so smart ;-)