Today's news tells us that health care costs are rising at twice the rate of inflation. It is questionable that quality of care rises in the same equation. Somehow the missing factor of the insurance industry never gets mentioned.
More co-opting of your health continues at the FDA through the latest reversal on the approval of these high risk drugs -
Two New York Times writers have blown the whistle on a government committee that voted to keep three controversial painkillers on the market. Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra will all be stocked on pharmacists’ shelves thanks to the vote of 32 advisers on the FDA advisory panel. Ten of those advisers have ties to the drug industry. According to the Times reporters, if those “10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market. The 10 advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep Bextra on the market and 9 to 1 for Vioxx’s return.”
Only one committee member voted to withdraw Celebrex despite a recent study that connected the drug to life-threatening heart trouble. That study found that those who took 400-800 mg. of Celebrex a day were 2.5 times more likely to develop a major heart problem than those who took placebo. Vioxx was previously removed from the market after its association with heart attacks and strokes was finally revealed.
Data from clinical trials by Merck, the drug’s manufacturer showed that between 88,000 and 139,000 Americans probably have had heart attacks or strokes as a result of taking Vioxx, and that 30 to 40 percent probably died, according to David Graham, a highly placed FDA official. David J. Graham, associate director of the Office of Drug Safety, testified about the toxicity of Vioxx and several other drugs before a Senate panel. He suggested that Bextra, Crestor (the cholesterol-lowering drug), Accutane (acne), and Serevent (asthma) should all be restricted because they have dangerous side effects. Graham called the FDA’s handling of Merck & Co.’s Vioxx a profound regulatory failure. Graham also said that “the FDA as currently configured is incapable of protecting America against another Vioxx.” His statements in November 2004 proved to be prophetic. Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra have all been given a seal of approval from the FDA advisory panel.
Gardiner Harris and Alex Berenson, 10 voters on panel backing pain pills had industry ties, New York Times, Feb. 25, 2005.
Continuing to either raise the ante on fear or unveil the end times of pharacological creativity we have this -
Drugs To Combat Superbugs 'Will Soon Be Useless'
By Roger Highfield
Science Editor, The Telegraph - UK
The world may run out of effective antibiotics by the end of this decade and faces a gap of at least five years before new drugs can be developed to combat superbugs, according to one of the world's most influential scientists.
The warning that the age of infectious disease control is almost over has come from Prof George Poste, Director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and an advisor to the US president.
"Frankly, most governments are asleep at the switch," said Prof Poste. He predicts that from 2010 to 2015 will be a "window of vulnerability" when the toll of the superbug will reach its peak as a result of antibiotic resistance.
"We are facing a relentless increase in antibiotic resistance across all classes of drug," said Prof Poste, who began his 40-year career in Britain. The superbugs of most concern are strains of MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.
Last week, it emerged that deaths caused by MRSA in British hospitals have doubled in four years to almost 1,000 a year. "If we think we have problems today, the problems at the end of thedecade will be that much more dramatic," he told The Telegraph. "We are facing serious challenges."
The bacterium is resistant to many more antibiotics than methicillin alone. Some strains are now resistant to all common antibiotics - penicillin, cephalosporin, methicillin and its cousin flucloxacillin - as a result of overprescribing of antibiotics, their use in animal feeds, and poor infection control in hospitals compared with measures used in the days before penicillin.
In the mid 1960s, the US Surgeon General said the battle against infectious disease had been won. Even a few years ago, biologists could still turn to the ìantibiotic of last resortî, vancomycin.
Now some degree of resistance to vancomycin exists in all MRSA. ìOnce you have an increasing prevalence of vancomycin resistant Staph, youhave limited therapeutic options for those patients,î said Prof Poste.
Meanwhile, he said, half a dozen leading manufacturers of antibiotics have given up developing new types. One reason is that they are unable to profit much from the development of variants on the theme of a given class of antibiotic.
Aside from doing more to reinstate old fashioned infection control, more has to be done to encourage drug companies to create novel classes of antibiotics, he said.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
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