Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A lot going on today . . .

And I'm too busy to say much about it. The NYT continues its series on the drug pushers with this butt kicking expose by Gardiner Harris, Benedict Carey and Janet Roberts. Just read it, but I will tell you that the curtain opener is a 12 year old girl who wasn't eating, so a psychiatrist prescribed Risperdal, which as our long-time readers know is an anti-psychotic. As you also know, one of its many serious side effects is weight gaain, so this putative "medical doctor" prescribed it for the side effect. That worked, but unfortunately, the victim (what he would call the "patient") developed other serious, debilitating side effects.

Which is not suprising. Risperdal and other antipsychotics have no approved uses in children. None. The only people for whom it makes any sense to take them are people with schizophrenia, a terrible, disabling disorder to which the alternative of risking the often equally debilitating and sometimes deadly side effects of antipsychotics may be worth it. And that is the only approved use for them. But doctors can prescribe any FDA approved drug, to anybody, for any reason or no reason. Of course, it might just be malpractice. The doctor in this case, as it turns out, received lecture fees from Risperdal's manufacturer, otherwise known as bribes.

The doctor justifies taking the money because he only makes a salary of $196,310 a year. "Academics don't get paid very much," he says. He thinks he'd make more money if he were an entertainer.

Very entertaining.

Also, the Senate has passed FDA reform legislation. Only Bernie Sanders voted against the bill, a rare case of bipartisanship. The administration did not actively support the bill, but it appears the Decider will sign it. The bill does implement many of the NAS recommendations we have discussed here, including giving the FDA authority to compel post-marketing safety studies, but Bernie was unhappy that it did not legalize drug imports and also does not address the question of generic biotechnology drugs -- one which we will have to get to here later. Unfortunately, the legislation continues to fund FDA drug regulation mostly through user fees from drug companies, and consumer advocates remain skeptical that the FDA will really start to work for us. We'll have to see, I guess.

I'll try to catch up on the rest of the day's interesting news this evening or tomorrow morning.

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