Category: Uncategorized

Big Pharma battling to continue to hide drugs trials data

Drugs companies publish only a fraction of their results and keep much of the information to themselves, but regulators want to ban the practice. If companies published all of their clinical trials data, independent scientists could reanalyse their results and check companies’ claims about the safety and efficacy of drugs.

Under proposals being thrashed out in Europe, drugs companies would be compelled to release all of their data, including results that show drugs do not work or cause dangerous side-effects.

While some companies have agreed to share data more freely, the industry has broadly resisted the moves. The latest strategy shows how patient groups – many of which receive some or all of their funding from drugs companies – have been brought into the battle.

The strategy was drawn up by two large trade groups, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and outlined in a memo to senior industry figures this month, according to an email seen by the Guardian.

The memo, from Richard Bergström, director general of EFPIA, went to directors and legal counsel at Roche, Merck, Pfizer, GSK, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis and many smaller companies. It was leaked by a drugs company employee.

The email describes a four-pronged campaign that starts with “mobilising patient groups to express concern about the risk to public health by non-scientific re-use of data”. Translated, that means patient groups go into bat for the industry by raising fears that if full results from drug trials are published, the information might be misinterpreted and cause a health scare…

A recent review of medical research estimated that only half of all clinical trials were published in full, and that positive results were twice as likely to be published than negative ones.

Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Like insurance companies, big banks, investment brokerages, any number of robber barons, pharmaceutical manufacturers fear transparency like a literal plague. Who knows? Honesty in marketing might be forced upon them next.

About these ads

Pic of the day

In a rare but amazing show of nature this grasshopper has been caught on camera shedding its old skin – and leaving behind a perfect replica of itself.

Carefully, but with determination and dexterity the insect took 40 minutes to cast off its hard outer shell – called an exoskeleton – all while hanging onto a piece of grass.

Photographer Adhi Prayoga, 41, watched the transformation in his back garden in Mataram, Indonesia and caught the moment on camera.

San Antonio to open first bookless public library

A new library to be opened in Bexar County, Texas, will provide visitors with a bank of e-Readers for borrowing e-books … but books of the traditional paper variety will be glaringly absent. The project marks the first public library to be built as an all-digital service and just to make sure library-goers are in no doubt that it’s the 21st century, the interior will feature a design influenced by Apple retail stores.

The library, known as the BiblioTech, was announced by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and is set to open later this year. If the scheme proves successful, then similar facilities will be opened across Bexar County.

And the library’s design? “If you want an idea what it looks like, go into an Apple store,” Wolff says. The designers might have a bit of a task on their hands however, with the new library being built in a remodeled structure that currently houses the offices for Tax Assessor, Justice of the Peace and Constable. Suffice to say, its not likely to be quite up there with Apple’s Fifth Avenue store, but the artist’s impression of the interior does bear a number of the Apple Store hallmarks.

Library goers won’t have to provide their own devices to take advantage of the BiblioTech’s digital catalog, with an initial stock of one hundred unspecified e-Readers available for lending. Visitors can borrow the devices for up to two weeks, and while the system might seem rather open to abuse, Wolff is confident that theft won’t be a widespread problem. “We do have your name, we do have your address,” he says. “You check it out for two weeks, just like a library book. In two weeks, your e-book goes dead, so you won’t have anything worth keeping.”

Hopefully, no one will tell the Tea Party Republicans in the Texas Legislature about this. First, they consider almost anything with an on-off switch to be a dangerous device. Pickup trucks exempt of course,

Second, they will have to discuss the change for months while they determine the best way to censor the eBooks. After all, the eBooks might discuss subversive topics like civil rights, evolution and reproductive rights decided by women. There ain’t nothing scares a Texan more than an uppity woman.

Third, this really ain’t difficult. I ran a paperless sales office 10 years ago – while pundits blathered about how everyone talked about paperless offices and did nothing about it. A paperless library is just as easy. People who “need” physical books will still get ‘em. People who don’t, won’t. The latter will continue to outnumber the former. They already have in purchases at Amazon.

Rape victim dies – Justice waits for present and future generations

LUCKNOW: The death of the 23-old Delhi gang-rape victim Nirbhaya in Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital triggered a series of protests in Lucknow on Saturday. Thousands of students from various schools and colleges and activists especially women demanded implementation of strict laws related to crimes against women and speedy trial of the rape cases. Most of the protestors demanded death penalty for the accused in the rape cases.

Holding banners and placards, which read ‘Ladki ki nahi, insaniyat ki maut hai’; ‘Delhi ho ya Aashiana, nahi chalega koi bahana’; ‘Kapde nahi, soch badlo’, ‘Prime minister awas ki suraksha kyu badha di gayi- Kyu?? Kya desh ki agli abla Manmohan Singh hai?’, the protestors demanded strict law against rape, as people from different walks of life continued to gather at the Gandhi Memorial till late in the evening to raise their voice against women safety. Candle marches were also carried out in support of rape victims…

…Tahira Hasan, national vice-president of All India Progressive Women Association said that we want to build pressure on the government to call an emergency session of Parliament to form strict law for the crimes against women. She added, “Many politicians from various parties are passing sexually offensive comments. The women member of such parties should condemn their colleagues for passing such comments.”

Young men and boys also gathered at Gandhi memorial to pay condolence to the girl and support the cause. Sudhanshu Bajpai, convenor, All India Student Association said, “Our politician have Z-plus security, while common man is unsafe. We want safety for our citizens.”

India is not alone, of course, in electing politicians to lead who rely only on the past to get re-elected. Working hard, fighting for standards which illuminate the future is beyond the ken of many if not most of the self-centered breed who take up politics as a career.

They ensure the best of everything for themselves while looking down in the idea of law and order, healthcare, safety and justice for ordinary folk. They personify the hypocrisy of the narrow class of nterests they truly represent.

Making the market for stolen cell phones go away

Last Wednesday some U.S. wireless carriers implemented the first part of a national strategy to deter cell phone theft: a joint “blacklist” database of identifying information about cell phones reported lost or stolen.

As of now, cell phone dealers are supposed to check this database before honoring requests to reactivate allegedly “locked-out” phones, in order to prevent people from using stolen phones.

It used to be that when you reported a phone lost or stolen, your carrier would suspend service to that device. But the person who stole your phone (or someone who bought it from the thief) could still walk into a cell phone dealer and get your phone reactivated under a new account.

Chris Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA (a global association of wireless carriers), explained: “The point of the blacklist database is to dry up the aftermarket for stolen phones. If you can’t reactivate a stolen phone, it’s just a worthless hunk of plastic and metal…”

…Under this plan, U.S. carriers that use GSM network technology (that’s AT&T and T-Mobile) committed to launching their databases by October 31…The other U.S. carriers, which operate CDMA-technology networks, still have over a year to get their lost/stolen phone databases up and running… According to CTIA, Sprint/Nextel has already implemented its database.

At first these CDMA databases will be carrier-specific; later the blacklists from all carriers will be integrated into a single database

One factor slowing the implementation of a centralized cross-carrier database of lost or stolen phones is the uneven pace of LTE network rollouts across the U.S. Some of the identifying information listed in the database is derived from wireless networks, and variations in network technology make it difficult to create consistent and reliable listings for individual devices.

So, while the carriers work to dry up the stolen phone aftermarket, take a moment to set up remote wipe service for your phone, remember to keep it locked, and beware of low-cost used phones available for sale on eBay, Craigslist, and elsewhere. If you purchase a device that turns out to be stolen and therefore can’t activate it, you won’t get your money back.

Turning an otherwise profitable product – therefore worth stealing – into a chunk of valueless plastic and electronics is the best way to end almost all theft of this type. Remove the market that rewards theft and you take away all the motivation for a thief.

Kind of like legalizing marijuana. The easiest way in the world to get gangsters out of the loop is to rrmove the profits they derive from scarce goods.

Pastor kills fiancee’s daughter to indulge his necrophilia – WTF?

The pastor, ex-convict John D. White…confessed to killing Rebekah Gay to fulfill a fantasy of necrophilia, police said Friday. White drank four or five beers before going to the woman’s mobile home and repeatedly striking her head with a mallet and strangling her with a zip tie, according to court documents.

Police said White stripped her dead body but does not remember if he carried out his sexual fantasy. After dumping the body early Wednesday, he returned to Gay’s home and dressed her 3-year-old son in his Halloween costume, then later dropped him off with the boy’s father…

“He kept saying he’s a bad person, he’s a pastor, he felt bad for the people in his church. … I don’t recall him bring real remorseful at all with regard to the victim or anything else,” Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski told The Associated Press.

“He just basically said he was attracted to her, thought she was a very cute girl. It’s a crazy, tragic situation,” the sheriff added…

White was engaged to Gay’s mother and regularly watched her young son while she worked, said Donna Houghton, a church elder who had a role in hiring White three years ago to be pastor at Christ Community Fellowship. Church members, she said, were “absolutely floored” by the allegations.

Houghton said the congregation was aware of White’s criminal past when he joined the church. He was released from prison in 2007, after serving nearly 12 years for manslaughter in the death of a 26-year-old woman in Kalamazoo County, according to the Michigan Corrections Department.

He had previously been sentenced to probation for choking and stabbing a 17-year-old Battle Creek girl in 1981.

Members of his congregation say that Satan got to him. Looks to me like he never truly overcame the particularly nasty impulses that put him in the slammer a couple times previously.

“The devil made me do it” has never been a satisfactory excuse in my life and times.

Hypocrite conservatives have another number to whine about

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to the lowest level in more than four and a half years, according to government data on Thursday that suggested improvement in the labor market…

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 30,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the Labor Department said.

It was the lowest number of new claims since February 2008, about a year before Obama took office in the midst of the global financial crisis…

A Labor Department analyst noted that seasonal factors had predicted a very large increase in claims last week, which he said would be typical for the first week of the calendar quarter. Unadjusted claims did rise, but far less than expected, resulting in the sharp drop in the seasonally adjusted figure…

Economists said the labor market was showing signs of getting stronger

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims edging up to 370,0000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 11,500 to 364,000…

Recent data on the U.S. labor market has been encouraging.

Employers added a modest 114,000 jobs to their payrolls in September, but the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 7.8 percent, also the lowest level since Obama took office…

One under-reported aspect of times changing oh-so-slowly for the better is the strength of Keynesian measures. Even in the face of a dogpile of cowards and craven Congressional conservatives dragging their feet – that portion of stimulus measures that was able to be implemented is having an effect.

It hasn’t happened in a vacuum. Quantitative easing from the Fed has added another small measure of positive economic force into the whole process. The proof of this particular pudding starts with the ideological whine from the Right. The companion piece on the Left – ranging from anarchists to tea party liberals can pretty much be laid at the feet of ignorance; but, the conservative flavor of criticism falls directly to ideologues who still cringe over the failure of Hayek and Hooverville Republicans.

As someone who spent way too many years criticizing Keynesian theory until day-by-day economic processes proved me wrong – I welcome any correction to the dismal science which ends up providing jobs for the workers of America, the class I’m pleased to be a part of. This doesn’t mean we can walk away from the reforms still needed in education, financial oversight, tax code revision, a foreign policy which stinks on ice. But, it’s a start.

Can’t modify a schoolchild’s environment – modify the child!


Peanut butter on the top shelf, drugs down below

When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall.

The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools.

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Dr. Anderson is one of the more outspoken proponents of an idea that is gaining interest among some physicians. They are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money — not to treat A.D.H.D., necessarily, but to boost their academic performance.

It is not yet clear whether Dr. Anderson is representative of a widening trend. But some experts note that as wealthy students abuse stimulants to raise already-good grades in colleges and high schools, the medications are being used on low-income elementary school children with faltering grades and parents eager to see them succeed…

All the easier to come to this conclusion when decisions are based pretty much only on test scores.

Jacqueline Williams said she can’t thank Dr. Anderson enough for diagnosing A.D.H.D. in her children — Eric, 15; Chekiara, 14; and Shamya, 11 — and prescribing Concerta, a long-acting stimulant, for them all. She said each was having trouble listening to instructions and concentrating on schoolwork.

“My kids don’t want to take it, but I told them, ‘These are your grades when you’re taking it, this is when you don’t,’ and they understood,” Ms. Williams said, noting that Medicaid covers almost every penny of her doctor and prescription costs.

Some experts see little harm in a responsible physician using A.D.H.D. medications to help a struggling student. Others…fear that doctors are exposing children to unwarranted physical and psychological risks. Reported side effects of the drugs have included growth suppression, increased blood pressure and, in rare cases, psychotic episodes.

The reported prevalence of the disorder has risen steadily for more than a decade, with some doctors gratified by its widening recognition but others fearful that the diagnosis, and the drugs to treat it, are handed out too loosely and at the exclusion of nonpharmaceutical therapies.

RTFA for delightful tales of side effects, hospitalization. Diagnosis rates have gone up as Congressional beancounters and state ward-heelers have cut funding for education. Somehow, keeping the machinery of death and destruction well-oiled while our childrens’ education continues in a death spiral fits the job description for elected officials in every one of these United States.

So, the punks in Congress, drug-dealers in the medical profession, say they’re doing their best to keep life going in difficult times. No thought for planning ahead. No conscience. No reformation of an education system turned over to pharmaceutical companies and budget clerks.

Hobbit coins will be released as legal tender in New Zealand


Bilbo Baggins will be worth $10NZ

New Zealand to release commemorative ‘The Hobbit’ coins worth thousands of dollars ahead of next month’s premier of director Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien epic.

Hobbit coins, featuring characters such as Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the wizard, will be legal tender in the country, New Zealand Post said – although their face value will be only a fraction of the cost collectors will be expected to pay.

The most expensive, made from one ounce of pure gold, costs more than 350 times its face value. It will set Tolkien enthusiasts back NZ$3,695 but has a face value of just NZ$10.

The cheapest is available for almost 30 times its face value – a NZ$1 coin retailing for NZ$29.90…

Jackson, who was responsible for the Oscar-winning adaptation of Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, announced earlier this year that he would make three films from “The Hobbit” book, rather than two as originally planned…

New Zealand enjoyed a huge tourism boom after the original trilogy and is hoping to repeat the success with the Hobbit movies, launching a campaign branding the country “100% Middle Earth” to coincide with the premiere.

According to my friends, the smartest brown trout in the world live there. A long, long time.

Conservatives text less, search for news less, than liberals

Nearly nine out of 10 registered U.S. voters own a cell phone — almost half of which are smartphones. And many voters are using cell phones to get and share election information or news…

In September, Pew surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults and found that — even though text messaging is generally the most popular thing people do with their phones (other than talking) — texting doesn’t appear to be hugely popular in relation to this year’s election. This year, fewer than one in five mobile-enabled voters have sent campaign-related text messages to people they know, and only 5% had subscribed to receive text messages directly from a candidate or other group involved in the election.

Furthermore, while 45% of cell-owning registered voters use smartphone apps, only 8% use apps that come from a campaign, political party or interest group.

Overall, self-designated political conservatives appear to be the least advanced, and active, when it comes to mobile technology. Pew found that while liberal, conservative and independent voters are equally likely to own a cell phone, only 40% of conservative voters own a smartphone, significantly fewer than liberal (56%) or moderate (55%) voters. Also, only 68% of conservatives use text messaging, compared to 78% of moderates and 81% of liberals.

Getting news is a popular election-related activity: 27% of cell phone-owning voters do this, especially those under age 50. Liberals (37%) are more likely to get election or political news on their phones than moderates (28%) or conservatives (25%)…

Members of the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican figures they might start a coal shortage if they use their phones too much.