Archive for the ‘medicine’ Tag

That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E

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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.

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:

VIOLENT CRIME – SOWING AND REAPING
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:

Assessment
Upheld

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).

Action
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.

pwned.

Bijou Phillips, Scientologist, to depressives: “Stop being such a fucking pansy”

Bijou Phillips, as well as being a model, singer and actress, is one of the “Church” of Scientology’s celebrity spokespeople and artificial image boosters. She has also, like fellow celebrity and Xenuphobe Tom Cruise before her, been known to speak out in interviews against psychiatry and, specifically, the use of psychiatric medication. This is in line with the cult’s pathological hatred of the profession, which they posit as being the centre of a worldwide conspiracy against their organisation (not to mention being responsible for devastation on a galactic level and the invention of nasty, icky things like sex. By comparison, the AUM terrorist attack was something of a step down, one assumes.*)

A page on the scientology.org mini-site, “Those Who Oppose Scientology,” is illustrative:

Although the forty-year assault against Scientology assumed large proportions, the source must be remembered-that small but influential circle of psychiatrists and their government stooges. Nor did the means change over the years: false allegations selectively planted in the media, then seeded into even more federal files as background “fact.”

It is a method, with small adjustments, that also served to cause trouble overseas. The international pipeline left the US, primarily through IRS and FBI links, and discharged among the voluminous dossiers of Interpol.

[…]

So it goes. Key psychiatric figures, their US government allies and psychiatric colleagues overseas-together they have spent untold millions of dollars around the world to stop Scientology.

And they never have.

So, not paranoid or obsessive at all, then. Clearly.

Our dear Bijou, in a recent interview with Paper Magazine, offered her insights into psychiatry and depression:

At one point, Phillips goes off on a long tangent about the dangers of psychiatrists medicating patients for depression or anxiety. “My grandparents didn’t take any pills and they were fine. Just buck up and get over it. Stop being such a fucking pansy,” she says, her bird-like voice taking on a deeper tone.

Such caring, compassionate folks.

(* Link is to the website of the Cult Awareness Network, an anti-cult group set up after Jonestown and bankrupted, then purchased, by Scientology following a lengthy court battle.)

Rule Shields Health Workers Who Withhold Care Based on Beliefs

Rule Shields Health Workers Who Withhold Care Based on Beliefs

The Bush administration yesterday granted sweeping new protections to health workers who refuse to provide care that violates their personal beliefs, setting off an intense battle over opponents’ plans to try to repeal the measure.

Critics began consulting with the incoming Obama administration on strategies to reverse the regulation as quickly as possible while supporters started mobilizing to fight such efforts.

The far-reaching regulation cuts off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees who refuse to participate in care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable. It was sought by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways.