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Infant Eczema, Antidepressant hazards, diabetes

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December 12th, 2006, 11:29 AM
wonderfullymade's Avatar Doula & MW Apprentice
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DRUG REGULATORS: Turning a blind eye to antidepressant dangers

Just what exactly is the role of our drug regulators? Are they there to protect us, or to help the drug companies generate greater profits? These are questions we've been asking for a while now, but it comes to something when doctors join in.
Top psychiatrist David Healy wants to know why it is that a drug company has written to him, admitting that its antidepressant paroxetine may increase the risk of suicide six-fold, while the official data from the regulators paints a far rosier picture.

"Many people expect drug companies to be slow to concede that a drug causes hazards, but we do not expect our regulators to be even slower," he says.

The reluctance of the drug regulators to issue warnings about drugs happens on both sides of the Atlantic. Prof Healy, from the North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine, points out that "every antidepressant licensed since 1987" is associated with a higher risk of suicide compared to placebo, and yet America's drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, continues to obscure this vital fact.

The FDA is aware that drug manufacturers have tried to muddy the waters by wrongly blaming some suicides and suicide attempts on the placebo rather than the drug itself, and yet has done nothing about it.

His observations add weight to a move to stop drug companies directly funding research into their own drugs.

(Source: British Medical Journal, 2006; 333: 92-5).

DIABETES: Psychology can control glycaemic levels

Mind over Matter corner. Psychological techniques, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, can lower the glycaemic levels in children, a new study has discovered.

Researchers have found that the levels fell by a small, but significant, amount in children with type I diabetes. In a review of 29 trials, which involved 543 children, researchers discovered that children saw their glycaemic levels fall by an average of 0.5 per cent when they had some form of psychological therapy, such as counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

Interestingly, the therapies had absolutely no effect on adults who were also tested.

(Source: British Medical Journal, 2006; 333: 65-8).

MEDICAL ERRORS: It seems bad, but actually it’s worse
Around 22 per cent of medical mistakes that lead to a serious reaction or even death go unreported in the UK. As it is, there are 974,000 medical mishaps every year that get recorded, a report to Britain’s parliament has revealed.

According to figures released by the government this week, there are:

* 974,000 recorded ‘accidents’ every year by doctors and hospitals in the UK*
* 300,000 hospital-acquired infections every year in UK hospitals
* 250,000 serious adverse reactions to a pharmaceutical drug reported every year in the UK**

* This is a conservative estimate, and government officials accept the figure is more likely to be 1,190,000

** This is a very conservative estimate, and is based only on reported reactions. A truer figure is believed to be closer to 1,200,000 every year, according to officials.

This means that up to 2,690,000 people could be harmed by medical mishaps every year,,which represents around 4.5 per cent of the entire population. In the USA, where medicine is even more aggressive, the problem could be affecting up to 13,450,000 people every year.

It's a recognized fact that there is a massive under-reporting of mistakes – usually because of fears of litigation – but government officials were shocked to hear that nobody knows how many of the reported blunders end in the death of the patient. Only 1 in 4 hospitals 'owns up' to the patient when something goes wrong; the rest blame it on the disease itself, while just 1 in 25 drug reactions is ever reported.

As it is, 1 in 10 people admitted to a hospital in Britain every year will suffer a mishap or accident that will harm him, said Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts committee, which was presented with the shocking figures this week. And this is based on the known, reported accidents.

"These figures would be terrifying enough without our learning that there is undoubtedly substantial under-reporting of serious incidents and deaths. To top it all, the NHS simply has no idea how many people die each year from patient safety incidents," said Mr Leigh.

Worse, Mr Leigh and his committee members have discovered that the situation is not getting any better. Doctors and hospital staff are not learning from the mistakes, but are merely repeating them every year. Guidelines are being consistently ignored, and safety recommendations are not being implemented.

(Sources: British Medical Journal, 2006; 333: 59; Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee Report: A Safer Place for Patients: Learning to Improve Patient Safety).

ECZEMA: Solids for baby are to blame
Doctors encourage mothers to supplement breastfeeding with solids far too early. And, as a result, the children are far more prone to allergic problems, and especially eczema, new research has found.

In a review of 13 studies, researchers discovered that babies who were introduced to solids before they were four months old were far more likely to develop allergic problems such as eczema, which, in some cases, lasted for 10 years.

Another study discovered a link between early introduction of solids and pollen allergy such as hay fever.

The researchers also found some evidence that may link solids with asthma, food allergies, allergic rhinitis, and animal dander allergy, although it was not convincing, they said.
(Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2006; 16: 502-7).

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