Now, there are “fake” pills for kids!

By Terry A. Rondberg

Placebos for kidsIn recent years, researchers have piled up the proof that many of the prescription and OTC pills sold to “treat” colds and flu in kids are ineffective. Even worse, they all have potentially negative side effects. One study, conducted by researchers at Penn State, found that placebos were just as effective as OTC drugs in suppressing coughs due to colds.

“Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on over-the-counter medications for cough,” said Ian Paul, assistant professor of pediatrics, Penn State Children’s Hospital, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “Our study showed that the two ingredients used in most over-the-counter medications were no better than a placebo, non-medicated syrup, in providing nighttime relief for children with cough and sleep difficulty as a result of upper respiratory infection… The desire to ease symptoms is strong for both parents and clinicians. This study, however, questions whether over-the-counter medications have a place in the treatment of these illnesses for children.” (“Effect of Dextromethorphan, Diphenhydramine and Placebo on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Coughing Children and Their Parents,” July 2004 issue of Pediatrics.

Another study showed a significant percentage of children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder improved when placebos replaced some of their daily meds.

“In ADHD, you can reduce the dose of the real medicine, substitute placebo pills and get the same effect on ADHD,” Walter Brown, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Brown University and Tufts University School of Medicine, stated.

One theory is that the caring and hopeful attitude of the parents or caregivers has a powerful effect on the child. If the parent and child have a strong belief in the efficacy of the remedy, it will work. In the tests, participants had no more “faith” in one pill over another, so they all worked about the same. That’s the very definition of placebo effect.

You’d think that, given this evidence, parents — and their medical doctors — would be convinced that grabbing the pill bottle isn’t the best response to sniffles and sneezes.

But that’s not the way some people see it. Now, there’s a new pill being marketed to parents for use on their kids: a chewable, cherry-flavored tablet called Obecalp. You guessed it: that’s placebo spelled backwards, and the pill is nothing but sugar.

Giving a child a sugar pill is definitely an improvement to giving them chemical medications. But this still teaches the child that health can be delivered in pill form from outside. Why not skip the pill altogether and try activities such as yoga or meditation, both of which can be presented as a game or healing action? Health comes from INSIDE and the sooner we truly understand that, and share that understanding with our kids, the sooner they’ll take control of their health and wellness.

Follow the money

By Terry A. Rondberg

Follow the Money - Terry A. Rondberg, DCA new study published by JAMA shows that among patients age 65 years and older, rosiglitazone (a medication for treating Type 2 diabetes) is associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and all-cause mortality (death) when compared with pioglitazone (another medication for diabetes).

In their conclusion, the authors wrote: “…in a population of more than 227,000 patients 65 years or older who initiated treatment with a thiazolidinedione, we found that, compared with pioglitazone, rosiglitazone was associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and death and the composite of AMI (heart attack), stroke, heart failure or death.” (JAMA.doi:10.1001/jama.2010.954)

Despite trying to put rosiglitazone in the most “favorable” light possible, researchers had to admit that “analysis showed no differences in the risk for heart attack between rosiglitazone and pioglitazone,” even though the study found that rosiglitazone was associated with a 1.25-fold increase in risk of heart failure compared with pioglitazone.

Obviously, BOTH medications have serious negative side effects, but the report’s wording seems somewhat biased to me so I delved a little deeper. Within the past five years, the study’s head researcher, Steven E. Nissen, MD, has received research support from numerous drug companies, including AstraZeneca, Atherogenics, Novartis, Pfizer, Resverlogix, Daiichi-Sankyo, Sanofi-Aventis and — most importantly — Eli Lilly and Takeda.

The drug that fared better in this study (branded name Actos) is manufactured by Eli Lilly and Takeda. Avandia, the branded version of rosiglitazone, is made by GlaxoSmithKline, a name curiously absent from the list of Nissen’s financial benefactors.

Probably just a coincidence, right? Yet, only this month, the BMJ (which used to be called British Medical Journal) published a report that explored a possible link between authors’ financial conflicts of interest and their position on the association of rosiglitazone with increased risk of myocardial infarction in patients with diabetes.

The research abstract noted: “Of the 202 included articles, 108 (53%) had a conflict of interest statement. Ninety authors (45%) had financial conflicts of interest. Authors who had a favourable view of the risk of myocardial infarction with rosiglitazone were more likely to have financial conflicts of interest with manufacturers of antihyperglycaemic agents in general, and with rosiglitazone manufacturers in particular, than authors who had an unfavourable view (rate ratio 3.38, 95% CI 2.26 to 5.06 and 4.29, 2.63 to 7.02, respectively). There was likewise a strong association between favourable recommendations on the use of rosiglitazone and financial conflicts of interest (3.36, 1.94 to 5.83)” (BMJ 2010;340:c1344)

In another, even more chilling report (also published in BMJ), the author writes: “Casually following the fortunes of the blockbuster diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia), you can’t help but imagine a Hollywood thriller. There is the scene where a leading scientist secretly records a meeting with drug company executives, a high powered congressional investigation, and a bitter legal battle waiting in the wings. Yet when you look more closely, the facts are even stranger than fiction. An expensive new drug shown to raise the risk of heart failure and suspected of increasing the chance of heart attacks has been taken by millions of people around the world and is being kept on the market by an industry funded regulatory system, despite calls from senior safety experts to withdraw it.” (BMJ 2010;340:c1848)

I took a look at one other factor as well: pricing. The most common price I could find for Avandia — the drug touted as “safer” by the research paper — was $3.32 per pill (for 30 pills of 8mg, which is considered the normal dose). For Actos, the price was $1.34 per pill (for 30 pills of 30mg, again, considered the normal dose).

When it comes to this type of medical drug research, the saying “follow the money” seems to apply. Perhaps it’s also time to follow the advice of “X-Files” character Fox Mulder: TRUST NO ONE.

About Terry A. Rondberg, DC
Terry A. Rondberg is founder and CEO of the World Chiropractic Alliance. He is an ardent advocate for drug-free chiropractic care not just for back pain, but total body wellness. He has spoken globally on the issue of alternative care and the abuses of our current “health care” system.

New Study: Millions of Elderly Given Wrong Drugs

In some traditional cultures, the elderly are revered. In others, they’re taken out to the woods and left to die. Generally, in America, they’re over medicated, often with harmful or useless drugs.

Elderly given wrong drugs - by Terry A. Rondberg, DCA recent study of the records of 470,000 patients over 65 who were admitted to an emergency department (ED) between 2000 and 2006 revealed that nearly 17% were given what the medical industry refers to as “potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs)” — in other words, the wrong drug.

“Approximately 19.5 million patients … of eligible ED visits were associated with one or more PIMs,” researchers concluded in their report, published in the March 2010 issue of Academic Emergency Medicine journal (2010; 17:231).

“There are certain medications that probably are not good to give to older adults because the potential benefits are outweighed by potential problems,” admitted lead author, William J. Meurer, MD.

The two worst offenders, which accounted for nearly 40% of the errors, were the drugs promethazine and ketorolac. Promethazine is a powerful and potentially risky sedative which can cause everything from confusion in older patients to, in rare cases, seizures. Ketorolac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used as an analgesic, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory.

This isn’t the first time such results have been shown. In July 1994, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on a study that revealed close to 25% of all elderly patients received wrong drugs.

Among their findings:

** 1.8 million older people had prescriptions for dipyridamole, a blood thinner that, the researchers say, is useless for all except people with artificial heart valves.

** More than 1.3 million older Americans were given prescriptions for propoxyphene, an addictive narcotic that is no better than aspirin in relieving pain.

** More than 1.2 million were prescribed diazepam or chlordiazepoxide, long-acting sedatives and sleeping pills that can make patients groggy, dizzy, and prone to falls.

“Standard published sources support the view that the 20 drugs in our primary analysis should virtually never be prescribed for the elderly,” researchers stated at the time.

One doctor, Jerry H. Gurwitz, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was quoted in The New York Times as saying he hoped the study would serve as “a wake-up call” to America’s doctors. “I hope that the medical community will take it as seriously as the general public, I think, will,” he said, adding that the study might have actually understated the problem since it did not factor in drug interactions or the long-term effect of drugs like sleeping pills.

If we aren’t going to revere our elderly, it might be kinder to leave them in the woods!

A “Suicide Pill” of a Different Kind

The first rule of the medical profession is supposed to be “Do No Harm.” I don’t think the pharmaceutical industry ever took that pledge. We’ve known for ages that pills and potions passed out like candy by the medical and drug cartels are seldom effective and often have dangerous side effects.

A study published in the April 14, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) puts another layer of concern onto that knowledge: An analysis of prescription and clinical claims data suggests that the use of certain anticonvulsant medications may be associated with an increased risk of suicide, attempted suicide or violent death! Now that’s a side effect that should cause all these drugs to be pulled off the market immediately. But, knowing how strong the drug lobby is in this country, doctors will continue to prescribe these drugs with nothing more than a “warning” attached.

Anticonvulsant medications are a primary therapeutic approach for patients with epilepsy, but labeled indications also include bipolar disorder, mania, neuralgia (sudden occurrences of short, sharp pains along a nerve), migraine, and neuropathic pain.

“The wide range of indications and common use of anticonvulsants in patients with or without psychiatric comorbidities make their safety an issue of great relevance,” the study’s authors wrote. “In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated warning labeling for anticonvulsant medications regarding the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The decision was based on a meta-analysis not sufficiently large to investigate individual drugs.”

Elisabetta Patorno, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and her colleagues evaluated whether there was an increased risk of attempted or completed suicide, and combined suicidal acts or violent death associated with a range of individual anticonvulsant medications and within patient subgroups.

The researchers analyzed data for 14 states from the HealthCore Integrated Research Database (which includes information on filled prescriptions and clinical encounters) for patients 15 years and older who began taking an anticonvulsant between July 2001 and December 2006.

The study identified 827 suicidal acts (801 attempted suicides and 26 completed suicides) and an additional 41 violent deaths (868 combined suicidal acts or violent deaths) in 297,620 new episodes of treatment with an anticonvulsant. “This exploratory analysis contributes to the understanding of the complex and little-understood relationship between anticonvulsant medication use and suicide risk.”

Sadly, that will be small comfort to the families of the people who die as a result of taking this drug. If any non-medical procedure — chiropractic, acupuncture, etc. — was found to increase the rate of suicides and violent deaths in patients, it would be prohibited. When will we start imposing the same standard of “do no harm” to the profession that supposedly is guided by that principle?

SOURCE: JAMA. 2010;303[14]:1401-1409.