American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation




A Crisis of Integrity in Medicine

Posted by Joel Friedlander | No Comments

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his
own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his
soul” (Mark 8:36-37)?

The New England Journal of Medicine concluded, June 14, 2007 vol. 356 no. 24,
“Effect of Rosiglitazone on the Risk of Myocardial Infarction and Death from Cardiovascular Causes” by Steven E. Nissen, M.D., and Kathy Wolski, M.P.H.
following a study of the effects of the use of risiglitazone, know by the brand name of Avandia and produced by GlaxoSmithKline that:

“Rosiglitazone was associated with a significant increase in the risk of myocardial infarction and with an increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular causes that had borderline significance. Our study was limited by a lack of access to original source data, which would have enabled time-to-event analysis. Despite these limitations, patients and providers should consider the potential for serious adverse cardiovascular effects of treatment with rosiglitazone for type 2 diabetes.”

So, how many people’s lives would have been saved if this product had not been put on the market.  The New York Times reported in February that a Federal Government Study had postulated that:

“[I]f every diabetic now taking Avandia were instead given a similar pill named Actos, about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure would be averted every month because Avandia can hurt the heart. Avandia, intended to treat Type 2 diabetes, is known as rosiglitazone and was linked to 304 deaths during the third quarter of 2009.” Research Ties Diabetes Drug to Heart Woes

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/health/policy/20avandia.html

That comes to 6,000 heart attacks and 3,600 cases of heart failure that could be avoided every year if this drug was not used.  So, why was it used for so long.  One reason is that the drug was given favorable reviews by many doctors who wrote about it in reviews and articles paid for by the Drug Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline.  “Study Sees a Slant in Articles on Drug” by Nicholas Bakalar, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/health/13diab.html?hpw.

Apparently, 87% of the articles which wrote favorable about the drug and its use were written by people who had been paid by the drug manufacturer.  How nice is that, these doctors sold their integrity for money.  I say that because the New England Journal of Medicine is so well known that the writers had to be aware of the dangers of the drug, yet they recommended it.

This drug is still on the market, despite the number of heart attacks and heart failures it causes.  A little multiplication shows that almost 30,000 people have had heart attacks or heart failure just since the NEJM study was published in 2007.  Don’t those people count to the doctors and to the government of the United States?  Why does the FDA allow this product to continue on the market?

Does it always have to be BIG BUSINESS wins and the citizens lose.

Is the practice of medicine so without profit that doctors must sell their integrity to drug companies?

Have these doctors forgotten their oath?

“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”  Hippocratic Oath.

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