Sunday, August 12, 2007

Two deaths apparently caused by pain treatment; drug banned in Australia

Correlation is not causation. The liver damage observed may NOT have been due to the drug. Why, for instance, did the other 59,992 users NOT get liver damage? I have head of renal failure being "caused" by Keflex (cephalexin), a mass-prescribed antibiotic. Should we ban Keflex too? All drugs should be prescribed with caution as there may be individual sensitivities but banning a useful drug when vast numbers use it safely is plain crazy. ALL drugs have some side effects in some people. Even penicillin and its derivatives can kill you if you are sensitive to it. If we banned all drugs that appear to have rare side-effects we would have no drugs. Perhaps I shouldn't laugh but Canada has recently announced EXPANDED use of the same drug. That should produce some amusing gyrations

TWO people are dead and two others have undergone liver transplants from a drug, used by 60,000 people in Australia, which was urgently recalled today by the Federal Government. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said patients prescribed the drug Prexige, used to treat osteoarthritis, should stop taking the medication immediately and seek medical advice to get an alternative prescription.

Prexige was first approved by the TGA in 2004, but has only gained widespread use since being listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme last year. Novartis Pharmaceuticals produces the drug, which is listed under the technical name Lumiracoxib. Approximately 60,000 people take Lumiracoxib in Australia, which is prescribed for relief of osteoarthritis, post-operative pain, pain related to dental procedures and painful menstruation.

The TGA has received reports of eight people taking the drug who suffered serious liver reactions, including two deaths and two liver transplants. "The TGA has taken this advice to cancel the registration of Lumiracoxib in order to prevent further cases of severe liver damage," TGA medical adviser Rohan Hammett said. "It seems that the longer people are on the medicine, the greater chance of liver injury."


Fruit fanaticism in Australia

Nobody is even interested in proof of benefit. The wonderful powers of fruit seem to be a worldwide article of faith

VICTORIAN school children will get free fruit every Friday under an $11 million plan to help prevent obesity and diabetes. Launching the program today, Premier John Brumby said 35,000 prep to grade two students at 300 schools would take part in Free Fruit Friday under the first stage of the scheme. "It's all about trying to build a healthier population, educating kids, educating families and making sure that their diet is as good as possible,'' Mr Brumby said.

A study of a similar scheme in England found providing free fruit to young school children had limited benefits. The scheme promoted an increase in fruit intake after three months, the effect reduced at seven months and returned to baseline in year two when pupils were no longer part of the scheme, researchers found. There was a small impact on the intake of some nutrients across the children surveyed, researchers found. The study was published last month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Mr Brumby said the Victorian scheme was more comprehensive than the one tried in the UK and would be more successful. "This is part of a broader strategy which is also linked through programs like Go For Your Life,'' Mr Brumby said. "I think if you just did this in isolation from a whole range of other initiatives, you might say: 'Well, is it going to work?'''

Mr Brumby said the program would create behavioural change. "I think it'll work. We'll, obviously, evaluate the program but we're making a big investment and we need to do that because we do have a diabetes and obesity epidemic in Australia.'' Schools will be encouraged to buy their fruit locally.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.


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