Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FDA ignores science regarding BPA

Do incidents like this mean you can't trust anything the FDA says?

Experts: FDA ignored evidence when calling BPA safe
Oct. 29, 2008
By Liz Szabo

The Food and Drug Administration ignored evidence when concluding that a chemical in plastic baby bottles is safe, according an expert panel asked to review the agency's handling of the controversial substance.

The Food and Drug Administration ignored evidence about the danger posed by a chemical in plastic baby bottles, according a report released Wednesday.

The excluded studies suggest bisphenol A, or BPA, could pose harm to children at levels at least 10 times lower than the amount the agency says is safe, according to the report written by outside scientists asked to review the agency's handling of the controversial substance.

Excluding evidence of harm "creates a false sense of security" about BPA, the panel's report says.

The scientists took the FDA to task for basing its safety decision in August on three industry-funded studies. Another government agency, the National Toxicology Program, decided many other independent studies deserved consideration. The toxicology program concluded last month there is "some concern" that BPA alters development of the brain, prostate and behavior in children and fetuses.

The expert panel also found the FDA underestimated how much BPA babies ingest on several counts. For one, the agency failed to consider the cumulative effect of being exposed to BPA from dozens of products, a fundamental error that "severely limits the usefulness" of the FDA's safety estimate.

An advocacy group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, believes BPA is too toxic to use in baby products at all. The group formally has asked the FDA to remove BPA from food and beverage containers.

The new report was written by a subcommittee of the FDA's outside science board, experts who advise the FDA on complex issues. The full science board, scheduled to meet Friday, can endorse the subcommittee's report or write its own..

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

AIG insurance executives start spending $85 billion bailout--at a luxury resort

Insurance company executives know we love them, and that we wouldn't want them to tighten their belts now that they're on the dole. After all, if we'd wanted them to suffer, we wouldn't have given them $85 billion dollars, right?

The Washington Times
AIG execs hold $440K post-bailout retreat
Sean Lengell
October 7, 2008

Top executives at the failed insurance giant AIG spent more than $440,000 at a company retreat days after the federal government bailed out the company with $85 billion in taxpayer funds.

American International Group (AIG) paid the exclusive St. Regis resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., more than $200,000 for rooms — some costing as much at $1,000 a night — as well as more than $150,000 in meals, according to released documents an testimony during a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

"Less than one week after taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation," said committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat.

The invoice also included almost $25,000 in spa and salon charges for pedicures, manicures, facials, massages and other services...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Was Dr. Nemeroff bought off by drug makers?

In the following case, I'm more disturbed about the doctor being bought by drug companies than by his failure to report income to the IRS.

Emory Psychiatrist Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff Did Not Report Drug Income
By Jenny Huntington
October 4th 2008

"Congressional investigators have revealed that Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, one of the nation’s leading psychiatrists, has failed to report income of more than $1.2 million, thus violating federal regulations.

"The money, which came from consulting arrangements with drug makers, has been earned by Nemeroff over a period of seven years, from 2000 to 2007. The total amount has been estimated at about $2.8 million..."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why you should be a bad patient: you're likely to survive longer

It's Better to Be a Bad Patient, Actor Says
Oct. 3, 2008

You probably know Evan Handler as Harry Goldenblatt, Charlotte York's husband on HBO's "Sex and the City," or as Charlie Runkle, the agent for David Duchovny's character on "Californication." What you probably don't know is that he's a passionate patient advocate, based on his experience being treated for leukemia in the mid- and late-1980s.

In many ways, Handler is the ultimate empowered patient. "I learned that I must always remain in control, double-check everyone's work, and trust no one completely," Handler wrote of his approximately eight months in the hospital. "I must have been sheer hell to be around. But I know that my cantankerousness saved my life on several occasions."

In his books "It's Only Temporary," and "Time on Fire," Handler wrote that during his months in the hospital, he was given intravenous drugs that were supposed to go to another patient, that nurses tried to give him medications his doctors had forbidden for him and that staff members refused to follow the hospital's posted hygiene precautions for immunosuppressed patients like himself.

Handler survived when statistics said he shouldn't have. He endured round after round of chemotherapy, one infection after another and a bone marrow transplant. In this conversation with CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, Handler discusses firing your doctor, tattooing medical directives on your stomach and the importance of not doing exactly what you're told.

Elizabeth Cohen: Were you a "bad" patient?

Evan Handler: The irony of "bad" patients is that they actually do better for themselves. ... There were hundreds and hundreds of instances where my being a "bad" patient saved my life.

Cohen: You write about how nurses tried to give you drugs to which you'd had "horrendous adverse reactions" even though doctors had explicitly written in your chart you shouldn't have those drugs. A friend of mine had a similar problem, and we decided maybe he should have hung a sign around his neck with a list of the drugs he wasn't supposed to get...

Cohen: You write about how you became "a criminal of sorts" by forging your doctor's signature on authorization slips so your bloodwork would be done by a lab that ran the tests more quickly. Were you afraid you'd get caught?

Handler: Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you don't do exactly as you're told. They weren't going to put me in jail. I worried about getting caught only because then I wouldn't be able to do it any more.

Cohen: You describe your first doctor as being nasty, hostile and disrespectful. He yelled at your father for calling him on the phone with a question about your care. He yelled at you when you were in the middle of chemotherapy and came to see him with a rash and a fever because the fever was only 100 degrees. Did you wait too long to fire him?

Handler: Oh, yeah. Doctors had told me that I would be endangering my care if I switched doctors, but that advice was criminal. ..

Cohen: When you were being treated for leukemia, you were very, very sick. You said sometimes you were barely conscious. How'd you keep up the stamina to keep double-checking everyone's work?

Handler: I was lucky to be able to maintain my strength and do it as long as I did, and my girlfriend at the time, Jackie, was willing to sit by my side and advocate for me, and she was very skilled at doing it. You wonder, how many people die from illnesses because the strength to keep up vigilance runs out?