1. The worst type of birth control

    Dangerous pills OK'd by FDA panel

    The way the feds are glossing over serious problems with newer birth control drugs, you'd think Priority #1 at the FDA is making sure Americans don't have babies (which isn't as far from the truth as you might believe).

    First, an FDA panel voted to keep a dangerous birth control pill on the market despite the fact that it can TRIPLE the risk of the blood clots that can cause heart attacks and stroke -- as long as that risk is mentioned in the warning info that no one reads anyway.

    The drug is drospirenone, already on the market under names like Yaz and Yasmin, and this isn't the first time it's been let off the hook despite big-time problems.

    Bayer was accused of crucial safety data on the drug... caught again sending bad batches of the med to pharmacies... and caught a third time marketing it for everything from acne to PMS, despite the fact that it was approved for none of the above.

    High risks... bad meds... marketing lies. Sounds like "three strikes and you're out" to me -- but to the feds, those are just minor distractions.

    Believe it or not, that wasn't this panel's only act -- they also came out for one heck of an encore, voting to keep the Ortho Evra birth control patch on the market despite studies showing it could double the risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs.

    The panel says it's a risks-vs-benefits thing, and in this case the "benefit" of a patch you can wear for a week instead of a pill you have to swallow every day outweighs those deadly risks.

    Give me a break! Convenience isn't a "benefit" -- it's a sales pitch. But as far as the FDA's concerned, there's no difference between the two.

    Ladies, I won't get into the dos-and-don'ts of birth control -- it's more of a political issue than a medical one these days. But I will say this: Birth control pills of any kind are powerful hormone drugs -- and they're a lot more dangerous than most of you realize.

  2. Pfizer tried to hush-up negative study results

    Pfizer tried to hush-up negative study results

    More bad news from Big Pharma. Internal documents from Pfizer that were recently submitted in a lawsuit against that company showed that the pharmaceutical manufacturer tried to put a lid on medical studies that did not support the use of its epilepsy drug, Neurontin. More than that, it seems that the marketing arm of Pfizer even went so far as to delay the publication and even ALTER THE CONCLUSIONS OF STUDIES that found that the drug did not work for conditions other than epilepsy.

    Pfizer is accused of doing this to boost sales - and it must've worked. Before the release of the generic version of Neurontin in 2004, the drug had racked up a whopping $2.7 billion in sales in just one year (2003)! During this marketing push, the company alleged that the product was also effective in the treatment of pain and migraines. But the clinical studies did not support this claim.

    Naturally, Pfizer has denied these allegations. But the company already pleaded guilty and paid $430 million in fines and damages for illegally marketing Neurontin back in 2004. So why should we believe they're not to blame in this latest case?

    Bayer's misleading ads are laid bare

    When you see a beer commercial, do you really believe that drinking that brand of beer will make comical situations occur in your life? Of course not. Unfortunately, I think it's time that we apply the same kind of dismissive skepticism to any and all pharmaceutical advertising. Because it appears that Big Pharma companies just can't stop themselves from flat-out lying.

    This latest gaffe is by Bayer AG, which has recently been warned by the FDA that two of the TV commercials for its birth control pill Yaz falsely claim that the drug can relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), while downplaying the risks of taking the drug.

    What's most disturbing is that some of the nonexistent benefits of the drug seem to have been dreamed up by Bayer's marketing department in order to help boost sales in the teenage girl target demographic. The FDA said that the commercials "suggest that Yaz is approved for acne of all severities when this is not the case."

    I wonder why they stopped at acne? Why not just say Yaz is more than birth control, but also helps you lose weight, and guarantees you a date to the prom?

    Bayer has since pulled the inaccurate ads. But I have no intentions to pull any punches about what I think of their disgusting and underhanded marketing techniques.

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