China starts to act on shoddy drugs
I've always believed that the dangers of China's shoddy manufacturing practices and seeming lack of health standards is probably far worse than anyone realizes - especially in China. Remember that in spite of the rapid economic growth and apparent Westernization of China, this is still at its core an old-school Cold War era dictatorship with rigid government controls. So bad news about things that happen inside the Communist "worker's paradise" is usually squelched.
But the recent tragic earthquake in China and all the media hype of the upcoming summer Olympics in Beijing have suddenly shined a spotlight on China. And maybe that's putting China on its best behavior. The recent news that the deaths of six patients who had all received a blood-based drug in a hospital has resulted in an unusually rapid and intense response by Chinese regulators. Could this be the first outward sign that China is following through on its pledge to rein in and clean up its pharmaceutical industry?
According to The New York Times, tens of thousands of crates of unsafe pharmaceuticals have been distributed within China over the last few years at an unknown cost in death and illness. And as much as I bellyache about the FDA and the money and influence wielded by Big Pharma, our system is a shining example compared to how things are run in China. The system there is rife with corruption, and the cost of doing business regularly includes bribing government regulators to turn a blind eye to safety violations.
One thing that could help China clean up its act swiftly is the decisiveness (and ruthlessness) of their system. Case in point: after the former chief of the Chinese equivalent of the FDA admitted that he and his family had accepted gifts valued at more than $850,000 from drug companies, he was executed. We don't need a system that goes that far, but some good, old-fashioned accountability would be nice for a change.
I'm sure this isn't the last we've heard about this, and I'll stay on top of the story. We may as well get all the news about China we can while they're opening up the place to hordes of foreign journalists for the Olympics. But I'm sure it's all an act, and that as soon as the Olympic flame is extinguished in China, the media blackout will again descend. Remember: even Nazi Germany managed to put on a happy face when the 1936 games were held in Berlin.
In the meantime, just keep buying American whenever possible - especially when it comes to pharmaceuticals.
Do antibacterial wipes spread superbugs?
I've told you in the past that a hospital is one of the most UNnsafe places you can be. Viruses and bacteria like nothing more than to take up residence there, and unfortunately, doctors and nurses are all too willing to keep them alive and kicking. At least, that appears to be the case, since so many hospital workers seem averse to washing their hands.
I've also suggested to you that an easy way to cut down on the spread of harmful bacteria could be to use antibacterial wipes. Docs could clip a pack onto their belt - right next to their pager - and give their hands a thorough wipe down as they make their way to their next patient. It wouldn't slow them down at all.
But a recent study by microbiologists from Cardiff University in Wales is suggesting that using antibacterial wipes might not be such a good idea after all. Could I have been wrong about this? Let's take a look
According to British researchers, disinfectant wipes could actually be SPREADING drug-resistant bacteria, not killing them. The researchers studied two hospitals and concluded that that, while the wipes did kill some bacteria, it left others alive and could actually carry the bacteria from one surface to another.
But here's the rub: The researchers found that health care workers clean multiple areas near patients with these wipes - bed rails, monitors, tables, and more. Instead of killing the germs, they're probably just picking them up and pushing them from place to place - making them spread faster.
The researchers offered this solution: "We found that the most effective way to prevent the risk of MRSA spread in hospital wards is to ensure the wipe is only used once on one surface."
That's exactly what I've been saying all along. The one surface they should be used on is your hands - the real culprits in the spread germs. So forget about wiping down every surface in sight. Stick to making sure your hands are germ-free, and the rest will take care of itself.