how-safe-are-prescription-drugsVery safe, partially safe, or downright recklessly dangerous?
Being the type of person not averse to taking the occasional painkiller or the odd course of antibiotics for my recurring dental problems, I would, like most people, wish to believe that prescribed medication is very safe. After all the Pharmaceutical Industry invests countless millions every year on research and development, very reassuring, or is it?

Lets consider some recent events which give cause for concern: In 2007 Bristol-Myers were fined 375m for illegally offering gifts to doctors for promoting drugs for illnesses for which they were not approved. In 2008 Merck Co paid $418m to the US government, relating to it’s drugs Vioxx and Zocor. In 2009 Pfizer paid $1.5bn for improperly marketing their arthritis drug Bextra. Glaxo paid a record fine of $1.9bn for encouraging doctors to prescribe drugs such as Seroxat an antidepressant for patients where it was contra-indicated.

Roche the Swiss pharmaceutical Co withheld information that over 15000 Americans died from taking its drugs. They also covered up 65,000 other cases of suspected side effects, due to drugs such as Herceptin, prescribed for breast cancer patients and Lucentis for loss of sight due to ageing. A few weeks ago Abbotts Laboratories were fined over a $1bn for wrongly marketing an anti-psychotic drug called Depakote.

All of these fines totalling many billions of dollars relate to drugs usually taken orally, but what of other treatments like vaccinations?

Like me, you may have wondered just how BSE in our beef herds, crossed over and became vCJD in humans, causing devastating brain destruction. If vCJD was caused by eating beef then how did vegetarian non meat eaters also become infected and why did it infect a fairly narrow age group, with an average at death of 28 years? The majority of cases have occurred in the UK, the first person to display symptoms became ill in 1994. There have also been a few cases in other countries, which are thought to have been caused by exposure to BSE while residing in the UK.

The narrow age range and the anomaly where non meat eaters in this same group became infected, suggests the possibility of a causal factor other than consuming beef products. People of all ages consumed vast quantities of beef during the period of likely infection, but only youngsters contracted vCJD. BSE has only been found in the brain and spinal nerve tissue of cattle and not in the skeletal muscles which provide the Sunday roast, burgers, steaks etc. Although bovine brain and spinal cord are not eaten they are used, particularly in the production of vaccines.

This bovine tissue is used in the manufacture of the polio vaccine, a process known as attenuation, where the infecting virus is cultured to produce a vaccine which mimics the disease, creating antibodies to provide protection without actually causing the disease itself. But what if this tissue is infected with BSE?

The company contracted to provide 11 million doses of the polio vaccine was Medever, who were unlikely to be aware of BSE in the herds. Could it be that vCJD occurred due to this type of transmission? Is that why Medeva sold their vaccination arm to another pharmaceutical Co Celtech who in turn sold on this possible poison chalice to yet another company, both prior to the publication of the Sir Peter Phillips report into the likely cause of vCJD?

Could they have been tipped off?

Just my musings of course, but it would explain why vCJD occurred in that particular age group and why non meat eaters also became victim to this terrible disease.

Originally posted 2012-08-13 18:52:47.

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