Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Deck us all with Boston Charlie

This and that:

Thanks to our shy and retiring friend Aunt Deb for for this link to the new American Public Health Association policy position on drug regulation. The APHA, of which I am proud to be a card carrying member, pretty much hits on all the outrages we've been ranting about here. In a chestnut shell:

  1. Post-marketing surveillance to detect safety problems is grossly inadequate;
  2. FDA does not make all of the information available to it available to the public;
  3. Financial conflicts of interest are pervasive in FDA advisory bodies;
  4. Drug company influence within the FDA encourages a bias in favor of approval;
  5. Politics and ideology intrude into the decision making process;
  6. All-or-none licensing prevents the FDA from imposing appropriate restrictions on drug prescribing;
  7. Clinical trials do not have to compare new drugs to the best available treatment, but only to placebo. Therefore drugs can gain approval that are actually less effective and safe than existing options;
  8. Drugs can be approved with very modest effects that are not clinically important;
  9. Direct to consumer advertising. 'Nuff said.
  10. The so-called "label" -- the official prescribing information that accompanies every approved drug -- is in tiny print, long, confusing and arcane. MD's don't even read them. Instead, they depend too much on drug company propaganda and the influence of sales reps for their information.

Etc. Once again, the new Congress has the opportunity to take on these issues, but I'm not confident that they will. The drug companies are very powerful on Capitol Hill, but consumers are not. The APHA does lobby, but it doesn't give millions of dollars to candidates. And of course the Occupant still has his veto pen.

Item two: See the side bar for my new e-mail address. My secret identity as mild-mannered social science researcher for a great metropolitan minority community based organization is in greater jeopardy than ever.

Item three: See the side bar for a new blog link. Ibid.

Item four: Blogger has been pushing hard to get its humble subjects to switch to the new version. Atrios gave in to the relentless hounding and Eschaton ended up in Nowheresville for a full day, so naturally I've been resisting. However, I'm going to have to go dark for a couple of days anyway, not because visions of sugar plums will be dancing through my head but because I will be in a very primitive place, a place where there is no Internet. So I will switch and if Stayin' Alive ends up down for a while, it won't matter much because I won't be posting anyway.

How long can a human survive without Internet access? We'll find out. I may get another post in before the Great Lacuna, but if not I should be back on Tuesday. But then again, you never know, a tendril of cyberspace may reach down from the sky and suck a thought or two out of my brain. In any event, Happy New Year, Hannukah, Christmas, Solstice, Festivus, Saturnalia, gratuitous time off from work, excessively interesting family dynamics, colored lights, fat old guy in red pajamas, excessive alcohol consumption, spiritual renewal, orgy of consumerism, charitable giving and volunteerism, or whatever else it is you celebrate, and I'll be back soon.

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