Diabetes/weight loss drug linked to 500 deaths over 3 decades

France’s government warned patients to see their doctor if they took a diabetes drug that is believed to have killed 500 people over three decades before it was banned a year ago.

The alert targets Mediator, a drug for overweight people with diabetes that was also used as an appetite suppressant until it was banned in November 2009 over fears it was linked to heart trouble.

“Our message to all those who took Mediator is that they must see a doctor — particularly those who took it for three months over the past four years,” new Health Minister Xavier Bertrand told a news conference.

Drug safety body Afssaps said in a statement: “Analyses by expert epidemiologists estimate that about 500 deaths could be attributable to benfluorex,” Mediator’s active ingredient, since its launch in France in 1976…

Irene Frachon, a doctor who this year published a study warning about the drug, said “Mediator is responsible for a health disaster”. She added that there was no need to panic, however, estimating that one in 2,000 people who took the drug were at risk of serious ill-effects.

“The health authorities were late in withdrawing this drug despite several alerts” about threats it posed to the heart valves, Frachon told AFP…

A Servier spokesman told AFP four patients had lodged complaints about Mediator since 2009 and that 500 deaths represented a tiny risk compared to the number of people who took the drug.

But in terms of brand image, it’s disagreeable,” he added.

Oh, well. We can all understand that. Image is so important.

Religion is regarded as “irrelevant, old-fashioned and violent”

London’s former top copper

In a lecture last night, the retired police officer, who led Scotland Yard during the 2005 suicide bombings on London’s transport system, said that religious leaders were losing the struggle to make it clear that faith impels them to do good deeds.

Islam has been “demonised” as a result of terrorist atrocities carried out in the name of a “distorted” version of the faith, he said. He said it was one of the “great” Abrahamic faiths and a “faith of peace” which had suffered as a result of the “horrors” carried out by individuals.

Lord Blair, who is a devout Anglican, added that he did not understand the “obsession” in his own church over women priests and bishops or the way the Anglican Communion was “tearing itself apart” over homosexuality.

The former police chief said he also failed to understand the Catholic Church’s insistence on priestly celibacy.

Speaking to an audience at the religious Theos think-tank in central London, he said that to most people faith looks “irrelevant, clannish, prejudiced, old-fashioned and violent”.

Lord Blair suggested the greatest achievements of history, such as the abolition of slavery and the provision of education or free health care for all, had their origins in the religious impulse.

Religion should be the most peaceful of all the agencies of social cohesion,” he said.

In his lecture, Lord Blair also emphasised the importance of doubt in religious faith…”Doubt in the very nature of faith can surely be a useful companion to a necessary lack of shrill conviction that our own faith is more valuable than that of another.”

True Believers in America consider doubt a failing of faith. Most fundie ideologues preach the absolute infallibility of their beliefs. Of course, poking fun for the same mistake among their competitors or detractors.

It would be hilarious if it weren’t for the evil and injury done by their followers.

Republican teabagger whines, “Where’s my health care?”

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”…

Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

Like most of the Tea Party ignoranuses, he cares nothing for the reality of folks who depend on federally managed or mandated healthcare programs for their needs. This egregious prick whines when his professional “rights” are forced into the mold constructed by his political peers.

Imagine how loud he would oink if he had to support his family on an unemployment insurance check?

Inside look at first human trials of malaria vaccine

The first clinical trial for a vaccine against the most widespread strain of malaria, Plasmodium vivax, is now under way at the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research, near Washington DC. The BBC’s Jane O’Brien speaks with those heading the trial and individuals who are being bitten by infected mosquitoes to help further the research.

US army medic Joseph Civitello admits that becoming deliberately infected with malaria – one of the world’s deadliest diseases – is “definitely nuts”. But without such volunteers, it would be almost impossible to test a new vaccine aimed at protecting the military overseas and preventing some of the estimated 300 million cases of malaria that occur every year.

First Sgt Civitello is part of the world’s first clinical trial of a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax – the most widespread strain of malaria…

It was weird because I did this knowing I was going to get sick,” says Sgt Civitello. “Fortunately I’m in a hotel room with doctors and nurses nearby and not out in the woods somewhere.”

Unlike most of the other volunteers in this unique trial, Sgt Civitello wasn’t given the test vaccine.

He’s part of a small control group – a human yardstick – needed by doctors to confirm that all the study participants have been infected. And as predicted, about 10 days after being bitten by mosquitoes in a laboratory, he displayed all the symptoms of malaria…

Twenty-seven other volunteers in the study had been given varying doses of the vaccine for several months prior to infection…

Then, at the beginning of November, they were bitten by mosquitoes imported from Thailand and infected with Plasmodium vivax malaria…

He adds: “What we do here plays a critical, pivotal role in the fight against malaria. Without this model of challenging the human body with malaria, we would be unable to effectively develop and figure out whether a vaccine works or not…”

RTFA for the details, the methodology, the human story of the volunteers for this first trial.

Regardless of assurances, knowledge of the history of precedent testing, you never feel quite confident of the outcome especially when – as in this study – you’re assured you are part of the control group. The last human trial I volunteered for was a double blind; so, none of us knew who was part of the control and who was getting the vaccine for the disease under test.

Haiti rioters attack Peacekeepers – blame them for epidemic

Protesters in Haiti, blaming United Nations troops for a cholera epidemic that has killed hundreds of people, attacked U.N. peacekeepers in two cities on Monday.

One protester was shot dead in the clashes and six U.N. peacekeepers were injured.

The U.N. mission blamed the violence in Cap-Haitien and Hinche on political agitators it said were bent on stirring up unrest ahead of presidential and legislative elections set for November 28 in the earthquake-hit Caribbean country.

In Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second city on the north coast, U.N. blue helmets were fired on by armed demonstrators and one demonstrator was killed when a peacekeeper opened fire in self-defense, the U.N. mission (MINUSTAH) said in a statement. U.N. troops also used tear gas against the protesters…

At Hinche in the central region, U.N. peacekeepers were among several people injured by stone-throwing protesters who attacked Nepalese troops stationed there.

The Nepalese have been the subject of widespread rumors that they brought the cholera bacteria behind the month-long epidemic of the deadly disease in Haiti that has killed more than 900 people and sickened close to 15,000…

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said DNA testing shows the cholera strain in Haiti is most closely related to a strain from South Asia. But it has not pinpointed the source or linked it directly to the Nepalese troops, whom the U.N. says tested negative for the disease…

The cholera epidemic has inflicted another crisis on the Western Hemisphere’s poorest state as it struggles to rebuild from the earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people.

Not that it means a whole boatload to political opportunists wishing to profit from a lynch mob stage setting.

Same as it ever was in an American state where the defining issue in the November elections was “protecting” court systems from shari’a law [WTF]. Same as it ever was when Congress offers memorials telling China how to manage their currency, Middle Eastern nations how to manage their relations with Israel and the administration why beancounting takes priority over unemployment insurance.

Stone Age genes + ignorance = stupid behavior, senseless populism, xenophobia every time.

Male rats prefer sweets, female rats favor cocaine

When given a choice between sweets and cocaine, male rats prefer sweets, while female rats would rather self- administer cocaine, a new study has found.

The research was presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego.

“Human studies of cocaine dependence indicate that women enter drug treatment faster than men and report shorter cocaine-free periods,” said lead author Kerry Kerstetter, of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Given that male and female rats also exhibit differences in their responses to cocaine, we reasoned that they would exhibit differences when presented with a choice between food and the drug.”

In the study, rats were trained to press one lever for food and a separate lever for cocaine; they were then offered a choice between the two. Female rats pressed the cocaine lever significantly more times than the male rats, while the male rats mainly selected the food. When higher doses of cocaine — more than double — were offered, both sexes chose cocaine more often, but female rats still preferred the drug more than the males.

Do you think there’s some implied analogy?

Scrooge is alive and well on Westchester County Council

Scrooge with a smile

They hoped for sweet success and instead got a bitter brush with the law.

A bake sale hosted by two 13-year-old Westchester County boys was the icing on the cake for a fed up local politician incensed that the teens were peddling their sweets without a license.

Middle school students Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff set up shop in a local park last month, selling cupcakes, cookies, brownies and Rice Krispie treats for $1 apiece, The Journal News reported.

When local New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn spotted the pop-up stall, he called police and filed a complaint against the boys for operating a business without a license…

The newspaper learned that Wolfensohn had filed the complaint last week after receiving the police report through a New York State Freedom of Information Law request.

The boys’ parents expressed outrage over the councilman’s handling of the situation.

“Kevin was so upset, he was crying all the whole way home. He was worried if he was going to get arrested or have a criminal record,” said Andrew’s mother, Suzanne DeMarchis, who was called to the scene.

“These are good kids who haven’t once gone to the principal’s office,” said Kevin’s mother, Laura Graff. “This was a very scary experience for them.”

Life in Amerika.

He should run for Congress. He’ll fit right in with the Republikan Caucus even though he’s a Blue Dog Democrat.