Category Archives: Medical Mafia

CDC continues to track pharmacy-related illnesses

meningitis-steriid-story-top | Jan 3, 2013

by Ted Purlain

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is continuing to track the number of patients with illnesses relating to the use of contaminated products from a Massachusetts-based compounding pharmacy.

The CDC said that it is still receiving reports of patients presenting symptoms of paraspinal or spinal infections, including epidural abscess, phlegmon, discitis, vertebral osteomyelitis and arachnoiditis. The syndromes have occurred in patients with and without additional evidence of the onset of fungal meningitis.

A map and corresponding table produced by the CDC shows 656 cases related to contaminated batches sent from the pharmacy to locations across the country. Michigan has identified 232 total cases, the largest number by far. Virginia, Tennessee, New Jersey and Indiana were also severely affected.

The New England Compounding Center, the pharmacy linked to the infections, is currently under investigation by federal and state authorities.

In response to the outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now asking Congress to delineate and enhance its authorities over compounding pharmacies. Some in Congress have already voiced opposition to the idea, arguing that the agency already has too much power.

By law, compounding pharmacies like the New England Compounding Center, which sold the tainted steroid injections behind the outbreak, are regulated primarily by states. Despite having information in 2002 that NECC might be unsafe, the FDA could do little when the center’s chief pharmacist refused to cooperate with inspectors, according to

Sandy Hook Shooting: ‘Antipsychotic’ Drug Prescribed To Adam Lanza Induces Psychosis and Aggressive Behavior

The Antipsychotic Prescribed To Adam Lanza Has A Troubled History All Its Own | Dec 18, 2012

by Geoffrey Ingersoll

fanapt_tab-logoBy now the whole country is fully embroiled in the Gun Control debate, spurred by the grisly murder of 27 people, mostly kids, at the Sandy Hook Elementary school last Friday.

Guns might not be the only problem though.

New York Magazine wrote a piece about shooter Adam Lanza’s supposed “aspergers” syndrome as a “red herring” meant to distract from the real problem (guns, of course, the subject goes without mentioning).

Adam Lanza Meds ‘Fanapt’ Responsible for School Massacre

Inside the piece though they report Adam Lanza’s uncle said the boy was prescribed Fanapt, a controversial anti-psychotic medicine.

Fanapt was the subject of a Bloomberg report when it passed regulators, after previously getting the “nonapproval” stamp. Why wasn’t it approved, you might ask?

There are many reasons, some of which have to do with competing entities in a competitive market.

The main cited reason for the rejection was that it caused severe heart problems in enough patients to cause a stir.

Maybe more importantly, though, Fanapt is one of a many drugs the FDA pumped out with an ability to exact the opposite desired effect on people: that is, you know, inducing rather than inhibiting psychosis and aggressive behavior.

In fact, Fanapt was dropped by its first producer, picked up by another, initially rejected by the FDA, then later picked up and mass produced. The adverse side-effect is said to be “infrequent,” but still it exists, and can’t be ignored.

The reaction invoked by the drug in some people is reminiscent of the Jeffrey R. MacDonald case, where a Green Beret slaughtered his entire family and then fabricated a story about a marauding troop of “hopped up hippies”.

MacDonald though, had Eskatrol in his system, a weight-loss amphetamine that’s since been banned in part for its side effects of psychotic behavior and aggression.

These drugs are not the only ones that can cause the opposite of their desired effect. Several anti-depressant medications are also restricted to adults, for the depression they inspire in kids rather than eliminate.

Give up your guns and get shot

Police gun buyback program offers shots … flu shots


By Linda Bock

WORCESTER —  Flu shots instead of gunshots. People can get free flu shots Saturday and next Saturday, even if they don’t turn in a gun at the city’s annual Goods for Guns buyback program.

City residents, or residents of any other community, may bring their unwanted weapons, unloaded and wrapped in a bag, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to the Worcester Police headquarters in Lincoln Square, or from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 to the Worcester Division of Public Health, 25 Meade St.

Since the program’s inception in 2002, the Goods for Guns Program have collected 2,200 guns in exchange for gift certificates.

“Absolutely, positively, come one, come all,” said Deputy Police Chief Edward J. McGinn. “We’re not asking any names or questions.”

A year ago, 40 guns were turned in to police. Deputy Chief McGinn said guns turned in are destroyed.

The Goods for Guns program is similar to buyback programs throughout the country. In this case, people who anonymously turn in operable guns at the police station will be given a Wegman’s gift certificate with a value that depends on the type of gun. A long rifle earns a $25 gift certificate, a handgun nets a $50 gift certificate, and a semiautomatic weapon yields a $75 gift certificate.

The program is collaboration between the city police and public health departments, UMass Memorial Medical Center’s Injury Prevention and community partners.

Also involved is the office of District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. On days of the buyback program, people bringing guns directly from home to the police station will be granted amnesty if they are not properly licensed.

Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery & Trauma at UMass Memorial and the city’s acting public health commissioner, said the city’s successful program has become a model for other cities. He also believes the successful gun buyback program over the years is a contributing factor in the city having the lowest firearm fatality rate of any New England city.

“We’re asking folks to bring in any guns that they can’t store properly,” Dr. Hirsh said. “And by being stored properly, I mean unloaded and locked away from children.”

Dr. Hirsh started the first gun buyback program in Pittsburgh in 1994 because he suffered the loss of a fellow surgeon, John C. Wood II, who was shot and killed on his way to work one day outside the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in upper Manhattan on Nov. 2, 1981. His son, John C. Wood III, plans to participate this year.

‘Essential medicine’ Tamiflu useless against flu, experts call for legal action against manufacturers

The BMJ journal is asking the drug maker Roche to release all its data on Tamiflu

Daily Mail | Nov 13, 2012

By Anna Edwards

A leading British medical journal is asking the drug maker Roche to release all its data on Tamiflu, claiming there is no evidence the drug can actually stop the influenza virus.

The drug has been stockpiled by dozens of governments worldwide in case of a global flu outbreak and was widely used during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

On Monday, one of the researchers linked to the BMJ journal called for European governments to sue Roche.

‘I suggest we boycott Roche’s products until they publish missing Tamiflu data,’ wrote Peter Gotzsche, leader of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen.

He said governments should take legal action against Roche to get the money back that was ‘needlessly’ spent on stockpiling Tamiflu.

Last year, Tamiflu was included in a list of ‘essential medicines’ by the World Health Organization, a list that often prompts governments or donor agencies to buy the drug.

Tamiflu is used to treat both seasonal flu and new flu viruses like bird flu or swine flu.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said the agency had enough proof to warrant its use for unusual influenza viruses, like bird flu.

‘We do have substantive evidence it can stop or hinder progression to severe disease like pneumonia,’ he said.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Tamiflu as one of two medications for treating regular flu. The other is GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza.

The CDC says such antivirals can shorten the duration of symptoms and reduce the risk of complications and hospitalization.

In 2009, the BMJ and researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Centre asked Roche to make all its Tamiflu data available.

At the time, Cochrane Centre scientists were commissioned by Britain to evaluate flu drugs. They found no proof that Tamiflu reduced the number of complications in people with influenza.

‘Despite a public promise to release (internal company reports) for each (Tamiflu) trial…Roche has stonewalled,’ BMJ editor Fiona Godlee wrote in an editorial last month.

In a statement, Roche said it had complied with all legal requirements on publishing data and provided Gotzsche and his colleagues with 3,200 pages of information to answer their questions.

‘Roche has made full clinical study data … available to national health authorities according to their various requirements, so they can conduct their own analyses,’ the company said.

Roche says it doesn’t usually release patient-level data available due to legal or confidentiality constraints. It said it did not provide the requested data to the scientists because they refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Roche is also being investigated by the European Medicines Agency for not properly reporting side effects, including possible deaths, for 19 drugs including Tamiflu that were used in about 80,000 patients in the U.S.

British government seeks a million ‘Dementia Friends’

Britain is seeking a million “dementia friends” who will be trained to understand the illness and help those living with it, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Thursday.

A quarter of hospital beds are already occupied by someone with dementia. Number of people with dementia is expected to double in the next three decades. | Nov 8, 2012

Britain is seeking a million “dementia friends” who will be trained to understand the illness and help those living with it, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Thursday.

The plan is one of a host of measures aimed at dealing with dementia as the country braces for the side effects of longer lifespans. British government officials say a quarter of hospital beds are already occupied by someone with dementia; the number of people with dementia is expected to double in the next three decades.


Shaken Troops Face New Foe: Early Dementia

Electronic tags to track dementia patients

Alzheimer’s cases may quadruple by 2050

Dementia drugs killing off many of the elderly

Psychiatrist hails GPS tracking for dementia patients as ‘major breakthrough’

Dementia sufferers should be “put down” as they have “a duty to die” claims British aristocrat

“There are already nearly 700,000 sufferers in England alone but less than half are diagnosed and general awareness about the condition is shockingly low,” Cameron said.

The British numbers mirror global trends that are putting new pressures on health systems and families worldwide, as better healthcare leads to longer lives and more cases of ailments associated with aging.

Earlier diagnosis of dementia can help patients find ways to cope with the illness and reduce costs for care, health researchers have found, but stigma often steers people away from diagnosis.The World Health Organization estimates that even in wealthy countries, only 20% to 50% of cases are routinely recognized.
“Through the Dementia Friends project we will for the first time make sure a million people know how to spot those telltale signs and provide support,” Cameron said.

The program is modeled on a similar effort in Japan, which faces a dramatically aging population. By 2015, the British government aims to recruit 1 million Dementia Friends through free “awareness sessions.” Participants will get forget-me-not badges to show they are knowledgeable about dementia.

“We’ll equip you with an understanding of dementia and how you can help, and the rest is down to you,” the newly launched Dementia Friends website says.

The effort will cost roughly $3.8 million. Besides launching the Dementia Friends program, Britain will also spend nearly $80 million to design better facilities and devote more than $15 million to expanding a biobank with thousands more brain scans to research why people develop dementia.

CT scans triple risk of brain cancer in children

Isabel Doran, 4, gets a CT scan at Children’s National Medical Center with her mom, Veronica Doran. The X-ray radiation in CT scans raises the risks for cancer, including leukemia, a new study shows. (Dayna Smith / The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Thousands of children every year who undergo head scans triple their risk of developing leukaemia or a brain tumour, scientists warn

Telegraph | Jun 7, 2012

By Stephen Adams, Medical Correspondent

Medics often use the detailed imaging technique after accidents – for example when a child has received a blow to the head, to determine if there is a brain injury.

They are also frequently used to gauge the gravity of serious chest infections and other lung diseases.

However, researchers from Newcastle University say they should only be used when “fully clinically justified” due to the risk of triggering cancer.

In a study published today (Thursday) in The Lancet, they found those who received two or three CT head scans before 15 were three times more likely than the child population as a whole to develop brain cancer over the next decade..

Those who received five to 10 body scans were at triple the risk of developing leukaemia over that timescale. Head CT scans tend to involve higher radiation doses than body scans.

Dr Mark Pearce, from Newcastle University, said: “CT scans are very useful but they have relatively high doses of radiation, particularly when compared to x-ray. They have about 10 times the dose used in x-ray.”

While the “immediate benefits” usually outweighed the long-term risks, he said reducing radiation doses used in CT scans “should be a priority”.

He also stated that although CT scans tripled the relative risk of these childhood cancers, the absolute risk of developing them was still “very small”.

He and co-author Professor Sir Alan Craft calculated that for every 10,000 children under 10 who received a single head CT scan, one extra brain tumour case and one extra leukaemia case would result over 10 years.

Among all under 20s, the baseline risk of brain tumour is 0.3 per 10,000 over 10 years, while it is 0.45 per 10,000 for leukaemia.

The study results were based on 180,000 youngsters who underwent CT scans in Britain between 1985 and 2002.

Dr Kieran McHugh, from Great Ormond Street Hospital, noted that radiation doses used in CT scans were now lower than in the past “and therefore the cancer risk is a lot less”.

Professor Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, said CT scans “will only be conducted when the risk from the underlying condition is itself serious and that there is a greater risk to life by not having the scan at all”.

He added that rules governing their use were “particularly stringent” in Britain.

Antidepressants Do More Harm Than Good, Study Says

The antidepressant drug Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, is seen on a table. The side effects of antidepressants far outweigh their minimal benefits, according to a new study. (Photo: Reuters) | Apr 25, 2012

By Amir Khan

Antidepressants do more harm than good since patients presume the drugs are safe though numerous side effects are well known, according to a new study.

Harmful side effects of commonly prescribed antidepressants can include stroke and premature death and far outweigh the minimal benefits, according to the study authors.

“We need to be much more cautious about the widespread use of these drugs,” Paul Andrews, study author and evolutionary biologist at McMaster University, said in a statement. “It’s important because millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants each year, and the conventional wisdom about these drugs is that they’re safe and effective.”

One class of antidepressants relieves depressive symptoms by increasing the level of serotonin hormone, a mood regulator that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. The body produces serotonin for other non-neurological purposes such as blood clots, digestion and reproduction, researchers said.

“Serotonin is an ancient chemical,” Andrews said in a statement. “It’s intimately regulating many different processes, and when you interfere with these things you can expect, from an evolutionary perspective, that it’s going to cause some harm.”

Researchers found that antidepressants hinder serotonin regulation and can cause digestive problems, atypical sperm development, abnormal bleeding, stroke and premature death. Antidepressant manufacturers warn of side effects on drug labels though patients do not always consider how the side effects will affect their lives, according to the study authors.

“It is widely believed that antidepressant medications are both safe and effective; however, this belief was formed in the absence of adequate scientific verification,” the researchers wrote. “The weight of current evidence suggests that, in general, antidepressants are neither safe nor effective; they appear to do more harm than good.”

One in 20 Americans over the age of 12 reported feeling symptoms of depression between 2005 and 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include hopelessness, feeling like a failure, poor appetite, lack of interest in activities and suicidal thuogts.

People with depression miss almost five workdays every three months, according to the CDC. Depression causes 200 million lost workdays every year and costs employers between $17 billion and $44 billion annually, according to U.S. health authorities.

Antidepressants were the most frequently used prescription drug by people aged 18 to 44 between 2005 and 2008, according to the CDC. From 1988 to 2008, antidepressant use increased by almost 400 percent.

Doctors need to re-evaluate the prudence of dispensing antidepressant prescriptions on such a large scale, according to the study authors. The study’s findings will hopefully get clinicians to take a critical look at the drugs’ continuing use.

“It could change the way we think about such major pharmaceutical drugs,” he says. “You’ve got a minimal benefit, a laundry list of negative effects – some small, some rare and some not so rare. The issue is: Does the list of negative effects outweigh the minimal benefit?”

Dental X-rays linked to brain tumors – study | Apr 10, 2012

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

A study published Tuesday in the American Cancer Society journal Cancer reported a link between certain kinds of dental X-rays and the most common brain tumor, one that is almost always benign but can still be debilitating.

The study found at a general level that people with meningioma were more than twice as likely as people without the brain tumor to have had a bitewing X-ray sometime in their life. For a bitewing X-ray, the patient holds the film in place by biting down on a tab.

The exposures to dental X-rays in the study took place in the 1960s, when dental X-rays delivered higher doses of radiation than today’s do. The study compared the self-reported dental X-ray histories of 1,433 adults who had been diagnosed with the tumor with 1,350 who had not.

The study also found an association between the less commonly used panorex X-rays, which are taken outside the mouth and deliver a panoramic view of the full set of top and bottom teeth, and meningioma risk.

People who reported having had a panorex exam before they turned 10 were 4.9 times as likely to develop meningioma as those who had them at any other time, and those who had had them most frequently (but not necessarily at that young age) were about three times as likely to do so as those who had never had a panorex exam.

The study reports that ionizing radiation is the major environmental risk factor for meningioma and that dental X-rays are the most common artificial source of exposure to ionizing radiation in the United States.

Lead author Elizabeth Claus, professor at the Yale School of Public Health and a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, noted that risk factors for meningioma, the most commonly diagnosed form of brain tumor, remain poorly understood, in part because meningioma was only added to brain tumor registries in the United States in 2004.

She added that it generally takes 20 to 30 years after exposure to an environmental trigger such as radiation for meningioma to develop.

The tumor can reach sizes larger than a baseball and can cause headaches, vision problems and loss of speech and motor control.

The American Dental Association recommends that dentists be judicious in their use of X-rays. For patients whose teeth are healthy and who are not at increased risk of developing cavities, the ADA suggests children have X-rays about every one to two years; adolescents, every year and a half to three years; and adults, every two to three years.

iBrain can ‘read your mind’, upload it to computers | Apr 9, 2012

By Eric Pfeiffer


Dr. Philip Low wearing the "iBrain" (Misha Gravenor/

A team of California scientists have developed the world’s first portable brain scanner, and it may soon be able to “read a person’s mind,” playing a major role in facilitating medical breakthroughs.

“This is very exciting for us because it allows us to have a window into the brain. We’re building technology that will allow humanity to have access to the human brain for the first time,” said the project’s leader, Phillip Low.

KGTV reports that the device, created by San Diego-based NeuroVigil, and dubbed the iBrain, fits over a person’s head and measures unique neurological patterns connected to specific thought processes.

Low says the goal is to eventually have a large enough database of these brainwaves that a computer could essentially read a person’s thoughts out loud. One person who has already tried out the iBrain is famed physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking.

“We’d like to find a way to bypass his body, pretty much hack his brain,” said Low. This past summer, Low traveled to Cambridge, England, where he met with Hawking, who was asked to think “very hard” about completing various tasks while wearing the device.

NeuroVigil says the device could be used at home by individuals and worn during sleep. It comes equipped with a USB port for transferring the recorded data to a local computer.

Beyond so-called mind reading, the device has potential medical applications, such as enlisting the iBrain to help doctors prescribe the correct levels of medication based on a person’s brainwave responses.

“This is the first step to personalized medicine,” Low said.

H1N1 Vaccine Tied to Spike in Narcolepsy

Reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

By Michael Smith

MedPage Today | Mar 28, 2012

Cases of childhood narcolepsy spiked in Finland in 2010, and researchers there are suggesting the adjuvanted vaccine against the H1N1 pandemic flu might have been a trigger.

Two related studies, appearing online in PLoS ONE, found that the incidence of narcolepsy rose markedly in children and adolescents, while remaining unchanged in those 20 and older.

Most of the cases in children occurred after vaccination with the ASO3-adjuvanted flu vaccine Pandemrix, which was the only vaccine used in Finland during the pandemic.

The two studies, with overlapping research teams, used hospital discharge data and vaccination records to identify cases and estimate incidence.

One study, led by Hanna Nohynek, MD, PhD, of the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, focused on children and adolescents who were 4 to 19 in 2010.

The second study, led by Markku Partinen, MD, PhD, of the Helsinki Sleep Clinic, looked at children under 17, which is the cut-off for pediatric cases in Finland.

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. It has a strong genetic predisposition, with specific immune system gene variations linked to onset.

In the 915,854 children and adolescents in the Nohynek study, 75% had been vaccinated, the researchers found, and there were 67 confirmed cases of narcolepsy.

Analysis showed an incidence of 9.0 per 100,000 person years among those had been vaccinated, compared with 0.7 per 100,000 person years in those who did not get the vaccine.

Those figures yielded an incidence rate ratio of 12.7, with a 95% confidence interval from 6.1 to 30.8, Nohynek and colleagues reported.

In the other study, Partinen and colleagues found that 335 cases of narcolepsy were diagnosed in Finland during the 7 years before the pandemic. That yielded an overall annual incidence of 0.79 per 100,000 inhabitants and 0.31 per 100,000 among those under 17, they reported.

But during 2010, they found, 54 children under 17 were diagnosed with narcolepsy, yielding a 17-fold increase in the incidence rate — to 5.3 per 100,000.

Fifty of the 54 had been vaccinated a median of 42 days before onset.

On the other hand, among those 20 and older, the 2010 incidence rate was 0.87 per 100,000, not different from the rate seen from 2002 through 2009.

Physicians performed genetic testing on 34 of the 54 children who were diagnosed with narcolepsy and found they were all positive for the narcolepsy risk allele DQB1*0602/DRB1*15.

The clinical picture, Partinen and colleagues reported, was similar for the most part to previously described childhood narcolepsy.

The 50 children with the risk allele all had excessive daytime sleepiness with multiple abnormal sleep latency tests. Their symptoms started abruptly and 47 had cataplexy, which started at the same time or soon after the onset of excessive daytime sleepiness.

Many of the children also had psychiatric symptoms, such as challenging and aggressive behavior or self-mutilation, the researchers found.

Both groups argued that the vaccine — and especially the highly immunogenic adjuvant — might have been a trigger that caused genetically predisposed children to develop the illness. That suggestion is bolstered by reports of a similar spike in Sweden, where Pandemrix was also the only vaccine used and where the prevalence of the risk alleles is similar.