Jack Harrison

  1. Finally: Some experts question whether too much is spent on AIDS

    Finally: Some experts question whether too much is spent on AIDS

    After years of being the most top-of-mind health crisis on the planet, it seems that the days of AIDS as a rallying cry and a cause celeb could be drawing to a close. Finally, researchers and medical professionals are stepping up and pointing out what's been obvious for more than a decade: that the AIDS "crisis" is consuming an absurdly large portion of medical funding and that - gasp! - that money might be better spent fighting more widespread diseases.

    Well it's about time.

    Because of its connection to the gay community, AIDS has always been a sacred topic in the public forum. It's so embedded itself in the public consciousness that was the subject of an Oscar-winning movie ("Philadelphia") and even had its own global benefit concerts (LiveAIDS). Can you imagine the uproar if anyone in the 90s had dared to question the lopsided spending on AIDS? Whoever made such a statement would've been renounced or vilified as if they were a Holocaust denier or a member of the KKK.

    But now many respected experts are looking at the cold, hard facts.

    Roger England of the medical think tank the Health Systems Workshop says the "global HIV industry" has become a nearly unstoppable force in healthcare. "We have created a monster with too many vesting interests and reputations at stake and too many rock stars with AIDS support as a fashion accessory," England wrote in a recent article for the British Medical Journal.

    England even suggests that the UNAIDS, the U.N. agency which "leads the fight" against the disease (whatever that means I never trust the U.N.) should be disbanded, and that its $200 million annual budget should be re-directed toward the more widespread and deadlier issue of pneumonia.

    Jeremy Shiffman, a health spending researcher from Syracuse University agrees that "AIDS is a terrible humanitarian tragedy, but it's just one of many terrible humanitarian tragedies."

    Amen to that. For years other health scourges have caused the deaths of far more people worldwide than AIDS ever will - heart disease and cancer come to mind - but yet the fight against these killers doesn't receive a fraction of the funding or publicity that's been afforded to AIDS. In fact, 80 percent of American overseas aid for health issue is directed at AIDS - and we send billions of dollars in aid overseas every year.

    Indeed, outside of Africa, the spread of AIDS has largely been tamped down. And there's a laundry list of AIDS drugs that are available that have turned the disease from an absolute death sentence with no cure to a manageable, chronic illness.

    Given the fact that treatment has come so incredibly far in just a generation, it's fair to say that the massive blitz of money and publicity really did help to curb the deadly disease. But now it's time to move on.

  2. FDA plans to save the earth by making you suffocate

    FDA plans to save the earth by making you suffocate

    To hell with the patients save the planet! That's basically what the FDA said with its latest edict.

    They just ordered a ban on inhalers that use CFCs (chloroflurocarbons) to push the medication into the lungs. But the ban has nothing to do with how CFCs affect the patients who use inhalers. It's because CFCs might harm the environment.

    The FDA is apparently concerned about the "environmental toll" of the legions of asthmatics who are damaging the earth's delicate atmosphere with millions of tiny puffs on their asthma inhalers.

    So they're proposing new inhalers that they say are just as effective at delivering doses of medicine as the old reliable inhalers. Instead, they use hydrofluoroalkanes - which, apparently, don't damage the environment the way that the CFC-based inhalers do (assuming, of course, that you actually buy into that nonsense, which I don't).

    Don't be fooled. This move is more about pumping up the bank accounts of certain people and less about saving the ozone.

    And guess who gets to foot the bill? Yup: the patients.

    The new inhalers are A LOT more expensive than the older kind. A typical old-style inhaler of the common asthma drug albuterol cost just $10. Using the new inhaler, the price skyrockets to $40. You don't need to have asthma to gasp at that.

    There are 20 million asthma sufferers in the U.S., and while not all of them require an inhaler for treatment, even if a third of them do, and they all have to pay an average of four times as much for the medicine that helps them breathe well, suffice it to say that SOMEONE is making some cash off of this new FDA ruling.

    All this "save the planet" stuff seems more and more like a shake down to me.

    And for all that extra cost, I'd say you're not exactly getting what you paid for. The new, "save-the-planet" inhalers must be cleaned more often because they're prone to clogs. They also don't propel the medicines with the same force as the CFC inhalers, which could lead some patients to spray multiple doses because it won't feel as though the inhaler is working. Did I mention that the new inhalers also they require a different method to "prime" them in order to work?

    So basically, these new inhalers are weaker, they require more care, and they're more complicated to operate. What could be better for a medicine that thousands of children might need to save their lives?

    But hey at least we're saving the planet!

    As concerned as Dr. McCoy is that some of her pediatric asthma patients could be put in a dangerous spot by the switch to the new inhalers, she - like so many people in our society - have bought the idiocy of global warming hook, line, and sinker. She said of the new FDA regulations, "I think it's important for people to understand that it's a very important and necessary step for the preservation of the environment."

    Right. While all manner of unregulated filth and toxins are pumped into the atmosphere every our of every day by hundreds of Chinese factories, we're going to prevent global warming by making life more difficult for asthmatic kids who might squirt a CFC-based medicine once a day.

    To be blunt, these new regulations are moronic. And they're about making money for Big Pharma "saving the environment" is just a convenient excuse for fleecing patients.

  3. Gulf war syndrome finally recognized as a 'real' disease

    A recently released congressionally mandated report has concluded - finally - that Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) is a legitimate medical condition.
  4. How Big Pharma plans to get the world on statins

    In spite of all of the bad news I've brought you about statins in the past year, there's always a new study that claims they're the best thing since sliced bread.
  5. Breathing easy thanks to stem cell use in transplant

    Big news from Europe! Doctors have performed a successful windpipe transplant - and they did it by using the patient's own stem cells.
  6. Prescription drugs kill three times as many people as street drugs

    Here's a statistic you won't hear trumpeted at the next Big Pharma convention: It turns out that prescription drugs kill a whopping 300 percent more Americans than illegal drugs do.
  7. Insurance companies promote medical tourism programs

    Next year, WellPoint plans to launch a pilot "medical tourism" program, which will send its patients to India for certain medical procedures.
  8. Google to predict flu outbreaks by spying on users

    As much as I love the incredible advancements of technology, I have to admit that there are some emerging trends of the Internet age that are giving me the creeps.
  9. TV causes rise in teen pregnancy rates

    A new study suggests that teen pregnancy rates are actually higher among teens who regularly watch shows with overtly sexual dialogue and risqué situations.
  10. FDA detains all dairy-based imports from China

    Believe it or not, the FDA has finally issued an alert that will detain all Chinese products containing milk at the border, not allowing them to enter the country and go to market until they can be tested for traces of the toxic chemical melamine.

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