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Belief in Medical Conspiracy Theories
Posted: 19 March 2014 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Interesting survey discussed at Science-Based Medicine looking at belief in medical conspiracy theories. Not as high as I would have expected, but still kind of scary.

The Food and Drug Administration is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies. (37% agree, 32% disagree)

Health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won’t let them. (20% agree, 40% disagree)

The CIA deliberately infected large numbers of African Americans with HIV under the guise of a hepatitis inoculation program. (12% agree, 51% disagree)

The global dissemination of genetically modified foods by Monsanto Inc is part of a secret program, called Agenda 21, launched by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations to shrink the world’s population. (12% agree, 42% disagree)

Doctors and the government still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders. (20% agree, 44% disagree)

Public water fluoridation is really just a secret way for chemical companies to dump the dangerous byproducts of phosphate mines into the environment. (12% agree, 46% disagree)

Also interesting that belief in these correlates with the use of some alternative therapies, supporting the argument I’ve made for a while that alt med is more about ideology and philosophy than about what works to prevent or treat disease:

Of those who did not believe in any of the six conspiracy theories, 13% said they use herbal remedies. However, for those who believed in 3 or more of the theories, 35% said they use herbal medicine. A similar correlation was seen for use of sunscreen and vaccines, purchasing of organic foods, and other alternative healthcare practices.

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Posted: 19 March 2014 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Syphillis Tests on Prisoners

Like some of the Conspiracy Nuts on here have said, there’s always fodder for CTs.

The US(DOE) also injected hundreds of patients in various Medical facilities(Strong Memorial in Rochester, NY for one.) with Plutonium Solutions
and exposed others to radioactive(gamma) wave transmitters without their knowledge.(including federal prisoners as well as unwitting civilian patients) In the case of the federal prisoners it was transmitted to their testicles with a large gamma gun.
In the case of the patients in hospital it was done in a disguised “waiting room”. The patients went into a room with tables chairs and magazines
and sat innocuously while a large beam from behind a wood paneled wall bathed them in gamma radiation. I believe there were two of these
“rooms” set up in 2 hospitals in the US. Strong Memorial in Rochester was one.

There’s many more examples of this type of chicanery(?...chicanery, is that the right word? No of course not.)

Of course all of this data was used, disseminated and analyzed by various institutions both public and private, mostly for the public good
I’ll assume.  Just like all of the horrible captured data from the German and Japanese medical experiments from WWII were analyzed, disseminated
and used by many institutions both public and private. 

No one needs to fabricate or believe stuff like the things you listed above Mac. The truth is always stranger than fiction.

[ Edited: 19 March 2014 11:21 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 19 March 2014 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks for the post Brennan. i agree the numbers are at the same time concerning and not as bad as I would have thought.

In regards to what Vyazma has posted, you are correct that in the past there have been a number of situations that would by today’s standards violate our conventions of medical ethics. Nearly all of those things happened in the 1950’s or earlier. There are very strict codes of medical ethics that are followed today and its impossible to get human trials approved without first being reviewed by a medical ethics board. These events may have lent support to conspiracy theorists and mistrust in the past but more than 50 years have gone by since then so continued use of such examples ignores a half century f progress in this area and are based on ignorance of the medical rules guiding medical investigations today.

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Posted: 19 March 2014 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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No doubt that there are plenty of strange and disturbing truths out there. The trick is distinguishing truth from fiction. There are real consequences to not doing so. While suspicion of government is not only understandable but sometimes totally appropriate, it’s still the case that belief in bogus conspiracies leads people to make bad choices, in politics, medicine, and many other areas. So while I agree with your point that not all the allegations about bad behavior and conspiracies are false, I hope you understand my point, that if we accept such stories without good evidence, or despite evidence against them, we are in just as much danger as if we think that government is totally honest and benign.

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Posted: 19 March 2014 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oh yes McKenzie, I agree with you. Those things you listed are ridiculous.  And I’m sure there’s tons more of that kind of BS.
I was happy to see that the percentages were as low as they were.

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Posted: 19 March 2014 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I gotta admit though that Agenda 21 sounds like a great idea. vampire

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Posted: 19 March 2014 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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macgyver - 19 March 2014 11:42 AM

Thanks for the post Brennan. i agree the numbers are at the same time concerning and not as bad as I would have thought.

In regards to what Vyazma has posted, you are correct that in the past there have been a number of situations that would by today’s standards violate our conventions of medical ethics. Nearly all of those things happened in the 1950’s or earlier. There are very strict codes of medical ethics that are followed today and its impossible to get human trials approved without first being reviewed by a medical ethics board. These events may have lent support to conspiracy theorists and mistrust in the past but more than 50 years have gone by since then so continued use of such examples ignores a half century f progress in this area and are based on ignorance of the medical rules guiding medical investigations today.

Very naïve. Look at global climate change. There are codes of scientific ethics and methods that have led to GCC being considered (a few years ago) a scientific certainly. And yet as we all know there are huge corporate forces at work trying to undermine the fact of GCC so much so that there are now plenty of people who think it’s a hoax. And part of the corporate force is lobbying/bullying members of congress to rewrite or undermine those so called “codes” you refer to. No different in the medical industry. Like I said in another post: when the profit motive is present things go south quickly. It’s just in the nature of the current American fascist environment.

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Posted: 20 March 2014 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Cuthbert the sort of unethical behavior mentioned above in Vyzma’s post has no counterpart in today’s research landscape in the U.S.. Before you describe my comments as naive I challenge you to come up with a single example in the U.S. of similar incidents in the past 50 years. I am not talking about someone fudging the results of a paper. I am talking about a group of scientists conducting a study on human beings that is unethical from the start ie. exposing subjects to risk without informing them in advance what the potential risks are.

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Posted: 20 March 2014 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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macgyver - 20 March 2014 08:30 AM

Cuthbert the sort of unethical behavior mentioned above in Vyzma’s post has no counterpart in today’s research landscape in the U.S.. Before you describe my comments as naive I challenge you to come up with a single example in the U.S. of similar incidents in the past 50 years. I am not talking about someone fudging the results of a paper. I am talking about a group of scientists conducting a study on human beings that is unethical from the start ie. exposing subjects to risk without informing them in advance what the potential risks are.

People who believe in conspiracy theories will believe them no matter what the evidence against them. It is apparently an emotional response to lack of control and lack of common sense.

Lois

[ Edited: 21 March 2014 07:33 AM by Lois ]
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Posted: 20 March 2014 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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macgyver - 20 March 2014 08:30 AM

Cuthbert the sort of unethical behavior mentioned above in Vyzma’s post has no counterpart in today’s research landscape in the U.S.. Before you describe my comments as naive I challenge you to come up with a single example in the U.S. of similar incidents in the past 50 years. I am not talking about someone fudging the results of a paper. I am talking about a group of scientists conducting a study on human beings that is unethical from the start ie. exposing subjects to risk without informing them in advance what the potential risks are.

MacGeyver, nor do the CT examples that MacKenz listed have any counterpoint in today’s research landscape.
The point is, the ones I listed happened. The ones McKenzie listed are not happening.

Also, I wasn’t going to go down this path, but some of things I listed lasted into the 70s. 
Not to mention I’m sure the research that was collected in all of those experiments and more are still being used today.

Also, it wasn’t necessarily a different time back in the 50s and 60s.  The Nuremberg Accords from the late 40s laid down strict international
ethical codes on human experimentation. Mainly that any testing on human subjects must be a completely voluntary affair
with full disclosure.

Frankly I would say that the volumes of information concerning recalled drugs and the collusion of the FDA with Big Pharma is a cousin to experimentation without full disclosure on unwitting subjects.

The only question that remains is what is the ratio between Profit and Experiment for the greater good.
We know empirically that Big Pharma is for profit and we know that generally Big Pharma makes drugs that treat illness.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 02:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Hey VYAZMA…
Astute observations!  smile

Who could forget:
Fenfluramine/phentermine and its devastating adverse effects and the billions that were paid out to uninformed patients.

and of course Vioxx…
“On September 30, 2004, Merck withdrew rofecoxib (Vioxx) from the market because of concerns about increased risk of heart attack and stroke associated with long-term, high-dosage use. Merck withdrew the drug after disclosures that it withheld information about rofecoxib’s (Vioxx) risks from doctors and patients for over five years, resulting in between 88,000 and 140,000 cases of serious heart disease.”

VYAZMA - 20 March 2014 09:12 AM

Frankly I would say that the volumes of information concerning recalled drugs and the collusion of the FDA with Big Pharma is a cousin to experimentation without full disclosure on unwitting subjects.

The only question that remains is what is the ratio between Profit and Experiment for the greater good.
We know empirically that Big Pharma is for profit and we know that generally Big Pharma makes drugs that treat illness.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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RubyWoo - 21 March 2014 02:33 AM

Hey VYAZMA…
Astute observations!  smile

Who could forget:
Fenfluramine/phentermine and its devastating adverse effects and the billions that were paid out to uninformed patients.

and of course Vioxx…
“On September 30, 2004, Merck withdrew rofecoxib (Vioxx) from the market because of concerns about increased risk of heart attack and stroke associated with long-term, high-dosage use. Merck withdrew the drug after disclosures that it withheld information about rofecoxib’s (Vioxx) risks from doctors and patients for over five years, resulting in between 88,000 and 140,000 cases of serious heart disease.”

VYAZMA - 20 March 2014 09:12 AM

Frankly I would say that the volumes of information concerning recalled drugs and the collusion of the FDA with Big Pharma is a cousin to experimentation without full disclosure on unwitting subjects.

The only question that remains is what is the ratio between Profit and Experiment for the greater good.
We know empirically that Big Pharma is for profit and we know that generally Big Pharma makes drugs that treat illness.

First, fen-fen as it is often called was not an FDA approved drug combination. It was an off label use of two drugs that were only approved to be used separately. When used individually the drugs were not associated with significant side effects. Even in combination it did not have devastating adverse affects resulting in billions being paid out. That is pure hyperbole. It did cause some heart valve defects in a small number of people but again this was a treatment that was not approved by either the FDA or any physician group. It was an of label use used by a minority of doctors without any official approval.

Vioxx is a more complicated situation, but I think its a good example of why we as a society are somewhat unrealistic and partially responsible for both the high costs of new medications and the difficulty obtaining access to new medications compared to other countries.

Vioxx is a member of a class of drugs known as Cox2 inhibitors. The reason that vioxx and other cox2 inhibitors were developed was to try an obtain the antiinflammatory and pain relieving benefits of the prostaglandin inhibitors like Advil and Aleve while reducing the risk of ulcers and gastric irritation. The drugs worked but they slightly tipped the balance of the clotting cascade. As a result they had an unintended side effect. When someone had a heart attack due to a plaque rupture the rupture was slightly more likely to result in clot formation that would complete the heart attack.

The question with Vioxx is how much the company knew before the drug went to market and should they have done more to investigate this issue before they marketed the drug or perhaps recalled the drug after it went to market. It all comes down to risk and benefit. Vioxx reduced the number of ulcers and hospitalizations from gastrointestinal bleeding in patient who needed chronic antiinflammatories . There were likely some deaths prevented as a result of this drug being on the market. So more GI bleeding deaths would result if the drug was withdrawn. That had to be balanced against the number of cardiac deaths which may have been caused by the drug.

I have no doubt that money played a role in the decision to keep this drug on the market and withhold postmarketing reports of cardiac deaths but even there we need to look at the big picture. Lots of people benefited from this drug and some patients were bitter that it was removed from the market since it was the only drug that worked for their arthritis. Some patients who were on blood thinners had few other options since Aspirin, Advil and Aleve can not be used with blood thinners like coumadin and tylenol often does not work.

In retrospect this situation probably should have been handled differently but we have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight and we are also looking at this one example with tunnel vision. The data on heart attack risk was there but was not overwhelming, and in fact many antiinflammatories also increase the risk slightly. Those drugs are still on the shelves and we still use them. Although this case probably rose to the level that it should have triggered a re-evaluation, every drug on the market is accompanied by reports of possible adverse events for various reasons. Some of them turn out to be important but the vast majority do not. If we withhold or withdraw every drug every time someone reports a possible risk the available treatment options will be very limited. The FDA drug approval process already has some of the strictest guidelines in the world. Most drugs that we use in the U.S. have already been on the market in Europe for years before they become available here. We can raise the bar if that is what we wish to do but there is a cost to doing that. As we demand stricter guidelines and more studies it becomes more difficult ( and more costly) to bring drugs to market. Those drugs will necessarily cost more and some drugs that don’t benefit enough people will never be brought to market at all because the company wont be able to recoup its investment.

We can’t have it both ways. We can’t demand absolute safety and at the same time expect our drugs to be affordable and available. Obviously we need to find a balance and that is what we do every day, but the minute there is a problem everyone seems to think the solution is to shift bar more towards safety..until they go the pharmacy and can’t get their vioxx or have to pay twice as much for a new drug and then they start yelling that they want things to be shifted back in the other direction.

[ Edited: 21 March 2014 04:39 AM by macgyver ]
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Posted: 21 March 2014 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Well… I am familiar with the combination being referred to as Fen/Phen, which is more accurate - not sure why anyone would refer to them as Fen-Fen, when that does not represent the generic name of the drugs.

You have obviously not read the mounds of literature on the separate drugs or the combination, otherwise you would not have made the comment below.  Both drugs had serious side effects that were concerning to the FDA.  Yes, the off-label combination caused more problems, but that does not negate the fact that each individual drug had effects that prompted the FDA to request black box warnings.  Additionally, when you read the literature, ask yourself why Wyeth put aside 21 Billion USD to cover the cost of litigation, which does not include the money given to the claimants. 

And did you really think it necessary to explain what a Cox-2inhibitor is or to even state that is what Vioxx is?

macgyver - 21 March 2014 04:34 AM

First, fen-fen as it is often called was not an FDA approved drug combination. It was an off label use of two drugs that were only approved to be used separately. When used individually the drugs were not associated with significant side effects. Even in combination it did not have devastating adverse affects resulting in billions being paid out. That is pure hyperbole. It did cause some heart valve defects in a small number of people but again this was a treatment that was not approved by either the FDA or any physician group. It was an of label use used by a minority of doctors without any official approval.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Here is the package insert and prescribing information for Phentermine. There is no black box warning and all of the serious side effects discussed in the insert refer to the combined use with Fenfluramine ( also known as Pondimin).

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/202088s001lbl.pdf

Fenfluramine is no longer on the U.S. market so there is no package insert and therefor no black box warning since the package insert is where the black box warning would go. There were side effects associated with the drug as with nearly all drugs including the risk of increased blood pressure and very rare cases of primary pulmonary hypertension.

I would appreciate you showing documentation as to the damages awarded and your claims as to the tens of billions of dollars that were put aside for future claims. Based on the limited number of injuries associated with these drugs those amounts do not seem proportionate to the harm done but our legal system is not always proportionate or rational so I will concede it possible that those amounts could be accurate if you will provide documentation.

The information about Cox 2 inhibitors was not put there to insult you. I am a physician. Your background and level of knowledge is unclear. In addition you are not the only one reading this post so as a courtesy to every one else I felt it important to provide that background information as it provides an important sense of perspective.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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VYAZMA - 20 March 2014 09:12 AM
macgyver - 20 March 2014 08:30 AM

Cuthbert the sort of unethical behavior mentioned above in Vyzma’s post has no counterpart in today’s research landscape in the U.S.. Before you describe my comments as naive I challenge you to come up with a single example in the U.S. of similar incidents in the past 50 years. I am not talking about someone fudging the results of a paper. I am talking about a group of scientists conducting a study on human beings that is unethical from the start ie. exposing subjects to risk without informing them in advance what the potential risks are.

MacGeyver, nor do the CT examples that MacKenz listed have any counterpoint in today’s research landscape.
The point is, the ones I listed happened. The ones McKenzie listed are not happening.

Also, I wasn’t going to go down this path, but some of things I listed lasted into the 70s. 
Not to mention I’m sure the research that was collected in all of those experiments and more are still being used today.

Also, it wasn’t necessarily a different time back in the 50s and 60s.  The Nuremberg Accords from the late 40s laid down strict international
ethical codes on human experimentation. Mainly that any testing on human subjects must be a completely voluntary affair
with full disclosure.

Frankly I would say that the volumes of information concerning recalled drugs and the collusion of the FDA with Big Pharma is a cousin to experimentation without full disclosure on unwitting subjects.

The only question that remains is what is the ratio between Profit and Experiment for the greater good.
We know empirically that Big Pharma is for profit and we know that generally Big Pharma makes drugs that treat illness.


Herbal medicine suppliers are for profit, too. Walk into any ordinary drug store or “health food” store and you will find shelves laden with herbal medicines.  Look online and you will find any herbal medicine you can imagine freely available.  If big pharma is conspiring to limit the distribution of herbal medicines they are doing an incredibly poor job of it. The FDA does not control non-pharmaceutical medicines. Anyone in the United States can kill himself with herbal medicines and no one will stop him or her. Name one herbal or alternative medicine that has been banned by any branch of the US government, other than marijuana—which anyone can get in any city or town in the country despite the ban. The United States population can obtain anything they want, good, bad or useless, and no one is stopping them. Show some evidence that any herbal substance except some known poisons is not freely available in the US. Not only are they freely available, no one is required to show that a substance or treatment has any efficacy at all, nor that it is safe.

Lois

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Posted: 21 March 2014 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Sorry to break in here, but I get a kick out of how words are conscripted.  Two are organic and herbal.  Chemists used the word “organic” to mean essentially any compound containing carbon (except carbon dioxide derivatives) for many years.  Only recently was it stolen by the “natural” food people.  “Herbal” is another.  Since I was a kid I’ve had food doused with herbs: oregano, dill, sage, etc.  They were certainly curative, but only of my hunger.  LOL

Occam

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