1. Popular pain reliever boosts atrial fibrillation risk 84%

    AHA attack dogs don't have your best interest at heart

    When I was fighting in World War II, we had ourselves a little deal with the Nazis. They wore their silly knee-high girl boots and parachute pants, and we GIs wore our tough-as-nails green fatigues.

    Because when you're in the heat of battle, when bullets are flying everywhere, you need to be able to tell which side a guy is fighting for.

    Just remember that the next time you hear the goose-stepping frauds at the American Heart Association crowing about how they're fighting some war against heart disease, our country's number-one killer. Because underneath those inspirational T-shirts they toss around at walk-a-thons, the AHA is wearing a uniform that ought to make you madder than a cornered cobra.

    They're playing for Team Big Pharma.

    Just look at how the AHA reacted to a breakthrough study out of the Netherlands that proved a billion-dollar class of prescription painkillers could be a nail in the coffin for seniors like you.

    This massive study followed 8,400 seniors for an average of 13 years and found that folks who took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) were a whopping 76% more likely to suffer atrial fibrillation, a potentially fatal irregular heartbeat. Worse still, if you took an NSAID -- even prescription-strength ibuprofen -- in the past month, your risk of afib may have skyrocketed 84%!

    So how did these clowns at AHA respond? Did they spend even a fraction of their fortune to warn folks like you to head to your nearest toilet and flush your NSAIDs like a dead goldfish?

    Not exactly. Instead, they dispatched their "spokesman" Dr. Gregg Fonarow of UCLA to throw cold water on the research and declare that more "study" was needed. Friend, when a class of drugs that has ALREADY been linked to heart failure and sudden death boosts your afib risk 84%, we don't need more study -- we need a massive global recall!

    And that's when I started poking around to see which side Dr. Fonarow is REALLY fighting for. Turns out this is the same doctor who accepted $141,000 in "speaking" fees from GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, makers of NSAIDs Treximet and Celebrex. Talk about a "potential" conflict of interest. Lots of you could work tax-free for five years without pulling in as much cash as Dr. Fonarow has accepted from Big Pharma -- and this was the attack dog the AHA chose to unleash to discredit a study that could save your life!

    Friend, I told you I was going to start naming names, and I'm not kidding. AHA and its experts have been accepting millions in drug company "grants" and "donations" for years, and it's high time you learned which team they're playing for.

    Here's a hint -- it's not yours.

  2. Painkiller Scandal

    Painkiller Scandal

    Justice served - sort of

    Merck's murky day in court

    As you know, I've been in the habit of giving you regular updates on the Vioxx painkiller scandal ever since the story broke amid a massive damage-control campaign launched by Merck in the fall of 2004, just before the drug's heart risks became widely reported. Now, it's time for another one.

    When last I talked about Vioxx (Daily Dose, 7/18/2005), it was in the context of the many pending trials in which victims would be attempting to prove Merck's liability for lost loved ones. I concluded with some fiery words about how it was high time the pants got sued off one of the drug makers - and that although I typically think courts go way overboard with jury awards, that no penalty would be too high for Merck to pay for their wanton, intentional disregard for human life.

    Boy, was I ever right.

    According to a recent Associated Press article, in one of the first of over 4,200 Vioxx liability cases nationwide to be concluded, a Texas jury has handed over an award that astonishes even me. Although I'd never presume to put a dollar value on human life, if this Lone Star state settlement is any indication of a typical court's views on how much a life taken prematurely by prescription medications is worth, the Vioxx fiasco will shake the drug business to its very core - which is exactly what it needs

    Because apparently, that value is over a QUARTER BILLION dollars!

    Yes, you read that right. A Texas jury awarded the widow of a Wal-Mart produce manager a staggering $253.4 million dollars for the untimely death of her husband at the hands of Vioxx. This, despite drug giant Merck's best attempts to pawn the man's 2001 death off on clogged arteries instead of its proven ticker-poison.

    But the jury was having none of it. Taking just 10.5 hours to deliberate the matter, they returned with a very clear message for drug-makers: Stop making products that kill us, or you'll stop making money - very quickly. Just to take the math here to its final logical conclusion, if $250 million is the new benchmark value for victims of this drug, Vioxx's maker could conceivably be on the hook for approximately A TRILLION BUCKS.

    That'd put a damper on Christmas bonuses at Merck and Company, huh?

    Of course, Merck is appealing the decision. And according to the AP article, they vow to vigorously fight every one of the pending suits. Thanks to one Texas jury, they've got their work cut out for them if they want to avoid outright bankruptcy. And perhaps also because of this case, other drug makers are taking a more serious tack toward preventing future liabilities for their painkillers. Keep reading


    Pfizer's neutralizer

    I've talked so much about Vioxx lately that it's easy to forget that others in the Cox-2 Inhibitor class may be deadly as well. Pfizer's Celebrex arthritis drug was also found by a federal advisory panel (this one last February) to contribute to heart attacks and stroke, like Merck's Vioxx

    Inexplicably, however, the FDA has allowed Celebrex to remain on the market. Officials at Pfizer - no doubt as a pre-emptive measure against future lawsuits like the one I mentioned above - have now added a warning to the product's packaging: That the product may raise the risk of cardiovascular events, and that the drug should be taken at the lowest possible effective dose, for the shortest possible duration of time.

    Now, if that doesn't point to a prior knowledge of liability, I don't know what would.

    Time will tell if the measure helps to save Pfizer any money or not. Though Celebrex-related incidents haven't garnered the press that Vioxx deaths have, I think now that the mother of all drug settlements has been handed down for a Cox-2 class drug, I think it's only a mater of time before court dockets start filling up with Celebrex claims.

    An interesting side note: The whole reason behind the formulation of Cox-2 Inhibitors was to give arthritis pain relief without the gastric side effects of NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) medications, like aspirin.

    But according to a recent Reuters online article, one of the biggest Celebrex studies to date failed to show a statistically significant reduction in gastro-intestinal symptoms among those taking the drug, compared to those taking regular OTC arthritis aids.

    That makes me wonder: Have all these deaths been for nought?

    Always "settling" what's hard to stomach,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

  3. Prescription Painkiller Scandal

    I know I've talked a lot about the Cox-2 inhibitors (Vioxx and company) prescription painkiller scandal in the last 10 months, but what can I say?
  4. Are the drugs you're taking safe?

    Over 80% of American consumers are at least somewhat confident that the drugs they're taking are safe - and that the FDA is doing its job in fine fashion.

4 Item(s)