October 2002 Issue
In this issue:
HIV/AIDS Patients Quality of Life Increases with Chiropractic Care
According to the September 11, 2002 issue of the online "Up & Coming Magazine", chiropractic enables HIV/AIDS patients to live a higher quality life. The article states that clinical studies indicate chiropractic can: 1) boost immune system function, 2) help with secondary symptoms and 3) address quality of life issues by reduction in stress as well as prevention of disease and symptoms.
In clinical trials, monitored by the Rand Corporation, and conducted at Life University, chiropractic showed great potential to boost immune function. In addition to this study, several other preliminary studies also showed immune system boosting. In 1991 Patricia Brennan, PhD conducted a study that demonstrated an increased immune function following a thoracic (mid back) adjustment. Dr. Pero stated in his research that "Chiropractic patients in the study had 200 percent greater immune competence than people who had not received chiropractic, and 400 percent greater immune competence than people with cancer or other serious disease."
The article also notes that chiropractic can also help with secondary symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS. Secondary symptoms are usually the main reason HIV/AIDS patients seek chiropractic in the first place. According to the article, Craig Martin D.C, noted that eighty percent of HIV/AIDS patients report some degree of neuropathy, which includes symptoms such as numbness, tingling and/or burning, With chiropractic care these patients reported significant decrease in symptoms. Patrece Frisbee D.C, of Stratogen Health of Miami Beach, a multidisciplinary clinic, reports 80 percent of her patients are HIV positive "and they need extensive chiropractic care because of the wide array of side effects that accompany the powerful prescribed medications."
The article closes with a powerful chiropractic endorsement. They conclude, "Chiropractic is an alternative that will work with HIV/AIDS patients. It has broadened the view of chiropractic as a mind/body therapy. It's role in healthcare is increasing everyday. If you aren't under chiropractic, then you are not allowing your body to perform at 100 percent."
Celebrities Paid to Push Drugs on TV Talk Shows
Several publications have started exposing a previously unknown tactic by drug companies to promote their products. In the July 23, 2002 issue of the Guardian Unlimited, was a report of and appearance by actress Kathleen Turner on the popular morning TV show, "Good Morning America". In her appearance Ms. Turner told the viewing audience that she had been battling rheumatoid arthritis for more than a year. Turner then went on to mention a website, www.ra-access.com, where fellow sufferers could get help.
What the audience did not know, but what was revealed in the article was that Turner had been paid by two drug companies to speak out about her illness. "She gets a fee," confirms Robin Shapiro, a spokeswoman for Immunex, a bio-pharmaceutical company, which along with fellow pharmaceutical giant Wyeth, funded a media campaign for which Turner was hired to do a number of TV and print interviews.
Another blatant example appeared in both the Aug. 18, 2002 New York Times and the Arizona Republic. These articles reported on an interview with screen legend Lauren Bacall, who appeared on the NBC Today program in March, telling Matt Lauer about a good friend who had gone blind from an eye disease and urging the audience to see their doctors to be tested for it. Bacall then mentioned a drug called Visudyne, a new treatment for the disease known as macular degeneration.
What the viewers of this show, as well as NBC did not realize was that Ms Bacall was also being paid to tell the story. In an attempt of justification, Dr. Yvonne Johnson, medical affairs director for the ophthalmics division of Novartis, the Swiss drugmaker that sells Visudyne, stated, "We compensated her for her time." She continued, "We realized people would accept what she was telling them," said Johnson, who declined to say how much Bacall had been paid. "Our whole intent is to let people know they don't have to go blind."
The New York Times article exposes that dozens of celebrities, from Bacall to Kathleen Turner, Olympia Dukakis and Rob Lowe, have been paid hefty fees to appear on television talk shows and morning news programs and to disclose intimate details of ailments that afflict them or people close to them. Often, they mention brand-name drugs without disclosing their financial ties to the medicine's maker.
This type of covert drug advertising is raising some opposition. Dr. Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, responds by saying "It is highly problematic and maybe even unethical." In referring to the celebrities that endorse drugs in a covert way he comments, "We admire these people, and that is why drug companies pay for their time and services," Turow said. "But when it comes to issues of health, particularly medicines, transparency is an ethical concern. People should be clear about the reasons they are making certain recommendations."
One interesting concern raised in these articles was that the drug companies can avoid federal drug advertising regulations by hiring celebrities for these types of promotions by calling them campaigns to raise awareness about a disease. Federal regulations require that all prescription drug ads disclose the medicine's adverse effects and refrain from overstating its effectiveness. If a celebrity does not mention a prescription drug by name, the Food and Drug Administration considers the event educational, not promotional, and does not regulate it.
Germs and Dust May Protect Against Allergies and Asthma
From a study done in Europe comes evidence that children's immune systems work better when they are exposed to germs, dust and dirt at an early age. The studies were published in the September 19, 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, (NEJM), and in the August 28, 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA).
The article in the NEJM starts off by stating, "It is known that children of elementary-school age who live on a farm are less likely to have asthma than their counterparts from nonfarming households." The article in JAMA states, "Exposure to 2 or more dogs or cats in the first year of life may reduce subsequent risk of allergic sensitization to multiple allergens during childhood."
What both these articles are saying is that it is a needed part of development for children to be exposed to certain amounts of germs and other irritants in order for their immune systems to develop properly and give adequate protection later in life. In the study, children from parts of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland where there were both farming and non-farming households were studied. The investigators related the level of exposure to endotoxin (such as dust and germs), determined by sampling dust from the mattresses where the children slept, to the prevalence of asthma and other related conditions. The greater the endotoxin exposure, the less likely it was that children had asthma.
These findings are completely opposite of what most doctors were telling their patients over the past several decades. The results of the study showed that just 3 percent of farm children had the common type of asthma known as atopic and 4 percent had hay fever. In non-farming households, 6 percent had atopic asthma and almost 11 percent hay fever. This showed that exposure to farming in the first year of life was especially protective. In the U.S., the asthma rate rose about 74 percent between 1980 and 1996 but decreased slightly by 1999, the most recent year available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 10.5 million Americans have asthma, and 24.8 million have hay fever.
These findings, combined with similar findings from other studies, have borne a whole new type of thinking and theory. The theory is known as the "hygiene hypothesis". It holds that early contact with some germs arms the maturing immune system against some allergic conditions. Some research, in fact, has suggested that children who are exposed early on to pets or to lots of other youngsters at day care are less likely to get colds or allergies later on. Supporters of the new theory suspect that indoor plumbing, cleaner and more airtight homes, and antibiotics have contributed to an explosion in allergies in industrialized countries.
Pregnancy and Chiropractic
In the October 8, 2002 issue of the online magazine "The Beacon Journal" at Ohio.com, appears a story with the simple headline, "Adjusting baby". The story talks about pregnant women's success in going to chiropractors as part of their care. The article states that many women who go to chiropractors during pregnancy do so for back pain related issues. The misconception is that we treat pain,'' says Dr. Joseph Medina, an Ohio chiropractor. "My job in health care is to find pressure that's in the spinal column and take it off. When I do that, back pain tends to clear up."
Additionally, the article highlights that more women are going to chiropractors for a procedure known as the Webster technique. This technique is specifically intended to help women who have a breech pregnancy when the baby should be positioned with the head downward. Dr. Jeanne Ohm, a chiropractor from Philadelphia and executive coordinator and instructor for the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, described the Webster technique this way: "It's a specific chiropractic adjustment that removes interferences of the nervous system, balances out pelvic muscles and ligaments, which in turn removes constraint to the woman's uterus and allows the baby to get into the best possible position for birth.''
The article ended with a response from the patient who originally went to the chiropractor for the pain she was experiencing. Her comments about her results were, "In the morning, my back would hurt so bad it would be hard to walk,'' she stated. ``Now it's not bad at all. I really think it's helping."
Kids Using Prescription Drugs More
From the September 19, 2002 issue of the online Intelihealth comes a story with the headline that highlights a serious trend, "Kids Using Prescription Drugs More." The story, originating from the New York Associated Press shows that according to a new study the use of prescription drugs is growing faster among children than it is among senior citizens and baby boomers, the two traditionally high drug usage consumer groups.
According to the survey by Medco Health Solutions, a Franklin, N.J.-based pharmacy benefits manager, spending on prescription drugs for those under 19 grew 28 percent last year. In that same time prescription drug spending for people between the ages of 35 and 49 rose 23 percent. For senior citizens over the age of 65, the study showed that the increase in spending rose 10 percent in that year. The study also found that children are spending 34 percent more time on medication than they were five years ago.
The government agency, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, estimates that overall spending on prescription drugs rose 16.4 percent to $142 billion last year. The most prescribed drugs among children were for allergies, asthma and infections. However, prescriptions for Ritalin and other medicines for neurological and psychological disorders were also substantially increased. This area is causing great concern as some experts worry that such drugs may be over-prescribed for children. What really alarmed some doctors was that spending on prescription drugs to treat heartburn and other gastrointestinal disorders surged 660 percent over the last five years. Additionally, the survey also found that spending on antibiotics among children increased 42 percent, in spite of the fact that doctors say antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem.
MDs explain some of the increase as being related to the increase of certain aliments. According to Dr. Michael Blaiss, a pediatrician who specializes in children's ailments, about 7 percent of children have asthma and 25 percent have allergies, approximately double the incidence 25 years ago. However, the article carries no comments questioning why such an increase in certain diseases has occurred. Some experts speculate that medications and vaccinations themselves are to blame for the increase in these conditions.
Dr. Lawrence Diller, author of the book "Should I Medicate My Child?" worries that drugs such as Ritalin are over-prescribed. He also pointed out that there haven't been many studies of the effects of antidepressants on children. "The antidepressants are known to have sexual side effects. I wonder what the long-term effects of that is going to be on adolescents," Diller said.
The vast majority of prescription drugs are developed for adults, and drug makers are not mandated to test them on children. In 1997, Congress passed legislation that gave drug companies an additional six months of patent protection if they tested their drugs on children. That huge financial incentive has gotten the drug companies to conduct more tests, but experts say more studies are needed. This concept also creates moral questions over the ethical concerns of drug testing on children. Regardless of the moral issues of drug testing on children the fact still remains that children are being given an increasing amount of medications that were not researched for children. Dr. John Ring, who sits on the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Drugs, says that most of the prescriptions written for children are still written for drugs that haven't been approved for youngsters.
FDA Issues Warning on Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
An Associated Press article dated September 20, 2002 reported that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued a warning on the use of pain killers known as acetaminophen. The most common brand of acetaminophen on the market today is the over the counter brand Tylenol. The article featured the story of Marcus Trunk, who took a prescription painkiller containing acetaminophen for 10 days. In addition to this he took an over-the-counter acetaminophen for another week to numb the pain of an injured wrist. Suddenly nausea and vomiting hit as the popular painkiller was destroying his liver. The tragic result was that the 23-year-old then died.
The AP article states that Mr. Trunk was one of thousands of Americans who may unwittingly take toxic doses of acetaminophen every year, at least 100 of whom die. Trunk's mother, Kate, told government scientists who initiated an investigation, "You cannot allow more innocent men, women and children to suffer. Death is not an acceptable side effect."
Some scientists warn that even taking the maximum safe dose for a long period, instead of the recommended day or two, may be risky. An FDA review found that there were more than 56,000 emergency room visits a year due to acetaminophen overdoses, about a quarter of them unintentional. Additionally they found that there were about 100 deaths associated with acetaminophen. However, Sarah Erush, a University of Pennsylvania pharmacist states that those figures are a severe underestimate of deaths because many hospitals don't report unintentional poisonings.
Dr. William Lee of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, contends that acetaminophen appears to be the leading single cause of acute liver failure, the most severe type of liver damage. His database of 395 patients linked 40 percent to the painkiller, more than any other liver-harming medication or disease. Additionally, some babies die every year when parents mix up doses of infant acetaminophen drops with children's liquid acetaminophen, despite warnings on the bottles that the products aren't interchangeable.
Presently acetaminophen packages are required to warn consumers not to use it if they consume more than three alcoholic drinks, because the combination can harm the liver. Many are calling for more harsh warnings to help protect the public.
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