Archive for the ‘health’ Tag

That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E


US abortion doctor is shot dead

US abortion doctor is shot dead

A prominent US abortion doctor has been shot dead at a church in Wichita, in his home state of Kansas.

Sixty-seven year-old George Tiller was killed just after 1000 (1500 GMT) at the Reformation Lutheran Church.

Dr Tiller – one of the few US doctors who performed so-called late-term abortions – had been a long-time target of anti-abortionists.

His clinic had often been the site of demonstrations, and he was shot and wounded by an assailant 16 years ago.

Dr Tiller’s lawyer, Dan Monnat, said he was gunned down as he served as an usher during a morning service.

Scientologists in France go on trial for fraud

Scientologists in France go on trial for fraud

PARIS (Reuters) – The Church of Scientology in France went on trial on Monday on charges of organised fraud.

Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France and has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult.

The group’s Paris headquarters and bookshop are defendants in the case. If found guilty, they could be fined 5 million euros ($7 million) and ordered to halt their activities in France.

Seven leading French Scientology members are also in the dock. Some are charged with illegally practising as pharmacists and face up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines.

The case centres on a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into Scientology after members approached her in the street and persuaded her to do a personality test.

In the following months, she paid more than 21,000 euros for books, “purification packs” of vitamins, sauna sessions and an “e-meter” to measure her spiritual progress, she said.

Other complaints then surfaced. The five original plaintiffs — three of whom withdrew after reaching a financial settlement with the Church of Scientology — said they spent up to hundreds of thousands of euros on similar tests and cures.

They told investigators that Scientology members harassed them with phone calls and nightly visits to cajole them into paying their bills or taking out bank loans. The plaintiffs were described as “vulnerable” by psychological experts in the case.

BBC video report.

Computer programmer from Finland has lost finger replaced with USB drive

Computer programmer from Finland has lost finger replaced with USB drive

Jerry Jalava has built a special prosthetic finger which contains computer storage for photos, movies and other useful files.

While the prosthetic looks like a normal finger Jerry can peel it back from the ‘nail’ and plug it into the USB slot on his computer using it as an additional hard drive.

The software developer from Helsinki lost his finger last summer after crashing his one week old Ducati Monster 696 motorbike.

He was rushed to Helsinki Hospital where he was examined by a hand surgeon who said they were unable to save it and amputated half of the finger.

When Jerry told doctors what he did for a living they joked he should have a USB ‘finger drive’ but that was good enough for him, and he set about making one.

Using a traditional prosthetic finger Jerry has been able embed a ‘USB key’ – like the ones used in traditional flash drives – giving him the world’s only two gigabyte finger.

A top Finnish expert: Let us not allow the 20th century asbestos catastrophe to be followed by a nano catastrophe

A top Finnish expert: Let us not allow the 20th century asbestos catastrophe to be followed by a nano catastrophe

In the shops there are over 600 products based on nanotechnology, such as socks, tooth paste, sun cream and bed sheets. It has been forecast that annual sales will grow from the present EUR100 billion to EUR2,500 billion.

The possibilities are enormous but we know barely anything about the risks, says Kai Savolainen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. And he is the right person to speak about risks, as he is the Institute’s director of the nanotechnology safety research and acts also as the coordinator of European research projects on nanotechnology health risks. Recently SAK’s magazine Palkkatyöläinen published his insights, presented in a trade union seminar, on nanotechnology risks.

We were far too late in taking the health risks of asbestos seriously, Savolainen reminds us. In spite of the risks, the use of asbestos went on for decades, and there are still countries where its use has not yet been banned. When the economic expectations are big, one tends to ignore the health risks, Savolainen explains. In this he sees a similarity between asbestos and nanotechnology.

Pharmaceutical Marketing, Capitalism, and Medicine: A Primer

Pharmaceutical Marketing, Capitalism, and Medicine: A Primer

Most industries have moved toward the realization that the most profitable resource to be extracted even from poor countries is not raw materials or labor, but the readiness to consume. To capitalize on this potential, firms take two allied approaches. First, they seek to influence exchange environments (distribution channels, treatment guidelines, reimbursement policies) to enhance the flow and profitability of their drugs. Second, they invest in doctor and consumer awareness campaigns, referred to as “education,” to stimulate demand directly. Here I’ll point out a few features of demand stimulation in pharmaceuticals.

Medicines were traditionally thought to be “inelastic goods”, meaning that promotion (or lowering prices) wouldn’t lead to an appreciable expansion of consumption. No one who doesn’t have high blood pressure, for instance, will start taking antihypertensive medicine because of a billboard advertisement, nor will people who already take it increase their dosage. Doctors prescribe these drugs to patients who require it, and we assume that doctors are informed by scientific studies, not advertisements.

Regrettably, this is often not true. Each link on the entire medical information chain—from research funding, to scientific journal publications, to FDA approval, to public health therapy guidelines, to product labeling, to the scientific programming at medical conferences, to medical education in medical schools and in the clinic—is the focus of concerted persuasion campaigns. If this sounds improbable, consider such representative datum as that there is a full-time drug rep for every seven doctors in the US or that the marketing budget for Pfizer’s Lipitor in 2002 alone was $1.3 billion—roughly the equivalent of the National Institute of Health (NIH) budget for research into Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, autism, epilepsy, influenza, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell disease, and spinal chord injury combined.

MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism

MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism

THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.

However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.

Ben Goldacre targetted by MMR conspiracy theorists

Ben Goldacre, Guardian journalist, blogger and science commentator, has a habit of getting on the wrong side of certain people. His Bad Science column and website counter a variety of pseudoscientific and inaccurate claims. He has now become target of target of MMR vaccine conspiracy theorists:

LBC have instructed their lawyers to contact me.

Two days ago I posted about a broadcast in which their presenter Jeni Barnett exemplified some of the most irresponsible, ill-informed, and ignorant anti-vaccination campaigning that I have ever heard on the public airwaves. This is important because it can cost lives, and you can read about the media’s MMR hoax here.

To illustrate my grave concerns, I posted the relevant segment about MMR from her show, 44 minutes, which a reader kindly excerpted for me from the rest of the three hour programme. It is my view that Jeni Barnett torpedoes her reputation in that audio excerpt so effectively that little explanation is needed.

LBC’s lawyers say that the clip I posted is a clear infringement of their copyright, that I must take it down immediately, that I must inform them when I have done so, and that they “reserve their rights”.

To me this raises several problemsThe segment in question can be heard on wikileaks – other sources are given in the article. Their actions, far from having the desired effect of damagte control, have resulted in the story being spread far more widely.

Will they never learn?

ASA rules against Christian Voice over HPV ad

Christian Voice is a conservative lobby group famous for, among other things, an unhealthy obsession with other peoples’ sexuality and protesting against Jerry Springer: The Opera. Last year they funded an advert in the New Statesman which included the following claim:

There is a Biblical principle that we reap what we sow. It applies to nations as well as to individuals. What politicians sow, the people reap. When politicians sow evil, the people reap misery, and the poorest reap it the worst.

The Divorce Reform Act 1969 and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 introduced divorce on demand and no-fault settlements. The ease with which Parliament said marriages could break up sowed the idea that the promises made in marriage did not matter. The people have reaped a covenant-breaking mentality in which being divorced against your will or any kind of justice is taken for granted and the sum of human misery is increased.

Around that time, the state began to encourage teenagers to have sex with the only moral message being to use a condom. That resulted in profits to manufacturers and an explosion of teenage pregnancy. Now we have the disaster of teenage infertility. Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it, but as all the targets revolve around pregnancy, no-one in power cares about those young people they have made sterile.

Subsequently, a complaint was lodged with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), pointing out that the HPV vaccine has not been shown to cause infertility, and that as such, the advert was making a false claim. Christian Voice, for their part, responded to the complaint:

The officials demanded ‘robust, scientific evidence that the HPV vaccine caused infertility in teenagers’, missing the point that it is the encouragement of promiscuity in Government teen sex initiatives which spreads the infections which do the damage, not the vaccine itself.

Their draft ruling says: ‘the claim “Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it [teenage infertility]” was a statement of fact that was capable of substantiation.’ Christian Voice say requiring the substantiation of a future prediction in an opinion piece is preposterous and an infringement of freedom of speech.

Apparently, being asked to back up a scientific claim is “preposterous” to these folks. Oh goody – just the people we want advising the world on reproductive health. Naturally.

The ASA has now ruled on the complaint, noting:


The ASA noted Christian Voice’s response. We considered, however, that the claim “Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it [teenage infertility]” was a statement of fact that was a matter open to substantiation. We noted the webpage submitted by Christian Voice, but we did not consider that that webpage in itself was sufficient to support the claim. Because we had not seen robust, scientific evidence that the HPV vaccine caused infertility in teenagers, we concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Principles), 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Christian Voice not to repeat the implied claim that the HPV vaccine would result in teenage infertility.


Kazakh prosecutors seeking liquidation of Scientology Church in Karaganda

Kazakh prosecutors seeking liquidation of Scientology Church in Karaganda

ASTANA. Feb 3 (Interfax) – The Karaganda Special Inter-District
Economic Court in Kazakhstan is hearing a suit by the prosecution
authorities seeking the liquidation of the religious group called the
Scientology Church of the City of Karaganda.
The prosecution authorities believe the church’s activity “runs
counter to principles of national security of the Republic of
Kazakhstan, as it is aimed at undermining Kazakh nation’s health through
inflicting harm on people’s psychic and physical health,” the Kazakh
Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement posted on its website.
“The scientologists have been using elements of medical
technologies amending people’s conscience. This activity has been
pursued by people having no medical education outside medical
institutions,” it said.
In addition, the church’s activity did not meet its charter
provisions, it said.