Sunday, August 24, 2008

Australia: Couple flee to avoid compulsory medical treatment

Another case of DOCS (child welfare agency) harassing good parents over minor infractions while ignoring feral parents. Decent people are a lot easier to deal with, you see.

And the record of compulsory medical treatment is not at all good. The medical wisdom of today is often the iatrogenic disaster of tomorrow. Take the example of compulsory blood transfusions for Jehovah's Witnesses. It was eventually discovered that JWs had a higher survival rate WITHOUT transfusions than did people who got transfusions. As a result, use of transfusions is now much more guarded than it once was.

Fear of vaccines is widespread and objections to it should be regarded as a basic civil liberty in my view. How would YOU like people coming and injecting into you something you did not want? I myself know of no proven harm done by vaccines but people should be allowed to make up their own minds in such a contested area. I have myself had Hep B vaccinations

A Sydney couple are in hiding after the Department of Community Services (DoCS) took out a court order to have their three-day-old boy vaccinated against hepatitis B. The parents, from Croydon Park, fled their home on Thursday to avoid police and DoCS officers after refusing to have their son vaccinated at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. They told Fairfax newspapers they believe aluminium in the vaccine can cause him more damage than contracting the disease.

The infant's mother, who is from China, was diagnosed with hepatitis B several years ago, but both parents believe the illness, which can cause liver cancer and cirrhosis, can be managed more effectively than any potential neurological damage from the vaccine.

Vaccinations are not compulsory in Australia but it is NSW Health policy that babies born to hepatitis-B mothers are given the immunoglobulin within 12 hours of birth. The treatment is followed up with four more doses of the vaccine over six months.

The father, a financial adviser, is seeking an injunction against the court order. He told Fairfax doctors and midwives on the post-natal ward told him he and his wife would be arrested and they would lose custody of their child if he left the hospital without being vaccinated.

The Supreme Court order, obtained by DoCS, states the baby must be vaccinated by midnight on Thursday but the father is adamant they will stay on the run indefinitely.


Australia: Crooked medical journal

Refuses to print urgent warning to save embarassing medical bureaucrats

A taxpayer-funded medical journal has been accused of suppressing criticisms of flaws in patient medicine handouts that could have fatal consequences for thousands of Australians. The criticisms in a paper by five medical specialists reveal that alleged problems with the official advice for the drugs Cortate and Hysone are still unresolved, more than a year after the concerns were first publicised.

In the case of Cortate -- like Hysone an essential treatment for people with Addison's disease and some other hormonal conditions -- the consumer medicine information (CMI) handouts still advise patients not to take the drug if they have an uncontrolled infection. The paper by the five specialists says this is "dangerously incorrect" and patients taking the drug in fact need to double or even treble their dose to avoid serious illness. "If followed, such advice could lead to life-threatening consequences within 24-36 hours for some thousands of Australians who depend on glucocorticoid replacement," the paper says.

But the journal Australian Prescriber, part of the government-funded National Prescribing Service, faces claims it "nobbled" attempts to alert medical experts to the issue "to avoid a few red faces in Canberra", after it refused to publish the paper. The journal and its editor, John Dowden, may also face accusations they breached internationally accepted publishing procedures, by allegedly sending the five experts' paper to the Therapeutic Goods Administration for comment before the journal had decided whether to accept it. The TGA not only has ultimate responsibility to ensure CMI leaflets are accurate, it is entirely funded by fees charged to drug manufacturers.

In its response to Australian Prescriber, the TGA's national manager Rohan Hammett said a "careful review" of the CMI should allay any concerns over misinformation. The advice in Cortate's CMI regarding infections was not misleading, Dr Hammett said, because this appeared beneath a sub-heading "Before you take Cortate" -- which Dr Hammett said indicated it was only relevant to patients starting the drug, not those already on it.

The lead author of the rejected paper, Jim Stockigt -- a professor of medicine at Monash University -- said the approach of Australian Prescriber had been "amazing", and the journal had "fought tooth and nail to prevent dissemination" of concerns. "It's my feeling that this submission may have been suppressed or nobbled to avoid a few red faces in Canberra and to preserve the impression that all is well with Australian pharmaceutical product and consumer medicine information," Professor Stockigt said. "For those who depend on adrenal replacement for their survival, it is simply dangerous nonsense for the advice 'Do not take Cortate if you have an uncontrolled infection' to remain on the books."

In a letter to Professor Stockigt, Dr Dowden said the paper had been rejected because it was referring to letters printed in other publications a year earlier, it was not related to an article in Australian Prescriber, it was too long, allegations were included in the paper and an "external review did not support all the interpretations made in the correspondence".

After the paper's rejection Professor Stockigt consulted the British-based Committee on Publication Ethics for its views on Australian Prescriber's actions. The COPE's chairman, Harvey Marcovitch, replied that Australian Prescriber had either breached confidentiality by sending the paper to the TGA or, alternatively, the journal had "breached fundamental rules on the potential conflict of interest of reviewers".

A spokesman for Australian Prescriber said the journal had "robust and ethical editorial processes". "The decision not to publish in this case was made by the editorial executive committee and a full explanation was given to the authors," the spokesman said. "The committee stands by this decision."


Cholesterol drug linked to cancer deaths

A cholesterol lowering drug may increase the risk of cancer, according to new findings. The drug called Inegy is taken by thousands of people in the UK and the drug regulator is studying research which has linked to indicated a link to increased cancers and deaths from cancer. It is a combination of the statin simvastatin and ezetimibe for use in patients whose cholesterol cannot be controlled by one drug alone. Just under 300,000 prescriptions were dispensed for Inergy in the last two years in England and Wales, official figures show.

The American Food and Drug Administration issued a statement saying preliminary findings from a study has shown found the drug did not reduce cardiovascular problems as expected and a larger percentage of patients on the drug were diagnosed with and died from all types of cancer than those on the placebo during the five year study.

The FDA did not say how big the alleged increased risk of cancer was and said is not advising that patients should come off the drug nor that doctors should stop prescribing it. Its statement said other trials have shown no increased risk of cancer in patients using the drug. The final report from the trial should be available to the FDA in three months and it expects the analysis to take further six months after that.

A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK, said: "The MHRA is aware of the issue. Any regulatory action that may be necessary to minimise harm to patients will be taken once the new information has been carefully reviewed."

A statement from the makers of the drug Merck and Schering-Plough said the finding was likely to be an "anomaly". It said: "Based on the information presented by the study investigator and the analyses conducted independently by the University of Oxford Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit, MSP believes the cancer finding is likely to be an anomaly that, taken in the light of all the available data, does not support an association with Vytorin (also known as Inegy). "We are committed to working with regulatory agencies to further evaluate the available data and interpretations of those data; we do not believe that changes in the clinical use of Vytorin are warranted. Of course, patients taking Vytorin should talk to their doctor if they have questions."


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