Dr. Jonathan Fishbein, a scientist and former department head at the National Institute of Health's AIDS division, who was sacked for exposing sloppy research done in Africa on the AIDS drug Nevirapine, has been reinstated to employment, but the AIDS drug he fingered as dangerous is still in use, and the NIH AIDS division has so far refused to clean up its act and take steps to restrict the drug's use on newborns.

Liam Scheff, the investigative reporter who broke the story on forced drug trials in New York's Incarnation Children's Center has interviewed Dr. Fishbein.

Vera Hassner Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection summarizes and comments the interview:

“Science has become so severely politicized that one has to be skeptical of nearly every research result that is reported.”

An interview in with Dr. Jonathan Fishbein, the former Director of the Office for Policy in Clinical Research Operations, NIH-AIDS Division, whose (official) job was “to create, implement, and enforce research policy in the Division of AIDS,” to ensure studies were being conducted according to ethical research standards.

But when Dr. Fishbein, a 20-year veteran in drug safety research, found gross research irregularities in an NIH-AIDS study testing Nevirapine (HIVNET 012) in Uganda, he was confronted with a hostile AIDS Division whose entrenched management was “guided more by politics than sound science.” He describes “an atmosphere of intimidation” that made it impossible to properly address and correct the institutional flaws that led to scientifically flawed, unethical AIDS studies.

The AIDS drug, Nevirapine, had been around since the early 1990s; it had a bad reputation for toxicity, and by 1998 it had earned the FDA’s black-box label, announcing its known toxic potential, including the ability to cause organ failure and bloody skin loss – both of which had resulted in death in patients taking the drug.

The Nevirapine study in Africa is a case example of bad faith, bad science, misplaced trust in those who have a financial stake in salvaging the drug, and the seductive power of money. The study focused on finding a use for this toxic drug among poor, rural Africans.

Here is what the NIH-AIDS Division administrators tried to hide, and when that failed, they fired Dr. Fishbein.

“In 1998 in Kampala, Uganda, the Nevirapine study to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child was underway. The study put 645 expectant mothers on the drug. The problems started immediately. First, the study was carried on without a control group – everyone received one drug or another – AZT or Nevirapine.

A 20 percent rate of “serious adverse events” was reported in newborns in both the Nevirapine and AZT groups, including blood and tissue infection, pneumonia and severe rash. Eighty percent of mothers exhibited laboratory and clinical abnormalities. Twenty-two babies had grade 3 anemia.” 

Thirty-eight babies died. Sixteen on Nevirapine, twenty-two on AZT.

According to Dr. Fishbein, the major flaw in the Nevirapine study, was the scientists’ failure to report all “serious adverse events” in the trial population.

That fatal “flaw” is pervasive in clinical research because those who control clinical trials have a financial conflict of interest: disclosure of all the risks may undermine marketability of the drug. 

For those who thought The Constant Gardener was fiction, think again. Think about the efforts to cover-up the deaths of those 38 babies ... until Dr. Fishbein blew the whistle.

Dr. Fishbein was successful in his two year battle with NIH. He has been reinstated, though not to his former position in the AIDS Division. Like Dr. David Graham at the FDA, he won’t be assigned to the work he is most suited for because there are too many other cover-ups that the administrators are intent on keeping under the lid.

- end of Vera Hassner Sharav comment -

Here is the article by Liam Scheff:

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Los Angeles Times
By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer
January 30, 2006


Various medications are detected in drinking water that has been derived from treated sewage. The health risk, if any, is unknown.

Behind a tangle of willows, every second of every day for almost half a century, recycled sewage has gushed into an El Monte creek and nourished one of Los Angeles County's most precious resources: the drinking water stored beneath the San Gabriel Valley.

Cleansed so thoroughly that it is considered pure enough to drink, this flow from the Whittier Narrows reclamation plant meets all government standards. Yet county officials now report that they have found some potent — and until recent months undetected — ingredients in the treated waste: prescription drugs.

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Italian magistrates probe Astra, other drug firms

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Italian magistrates probe Astra, other drug firms

MILAN (Reuters) - Magistrates in the southern city of Bari are investigating the Italian businesses of AstraZeneca , Novartis , Bristol-Myers Squibb and Recordati , the drug companies said on Monday.

Judicial sources said magistrates planned to ask for the suspension of activities of the Italian units of eight pharmaceutical firms for an alleged 20 million euro ($24.2 million) fraud over bribing doctors to prescribe their drugs.

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Fortune
By Adam Lashinsky and Nelson D. Schwartz
January 24, 2006: 4:09 PM EST

How to Beat the High Cost of Gasoline. Forever!

Stop dreaming about hydrogen. Ethanol is the answer to the energy dilemma. It's clean and green and runs in today's cars. And in a generation, it could replace gas.

(FORTUNE Magazine) - You probably don't know it, but the answer to America's gasoline addiction could be under the hood of your car. More than five million Tauruses, Explorers, Stratuses, Suburbans, and other vehicles are already equipped with engines that can run on an energy source that costs less than gasoline, produces almost none of the emissions that cause global warming, and comes from the Midwest, not the Middle East.

These lucky drivers need never pay for gasoline again--if only they could find this elusive fuel, called ethanol. Chemically, ethanol is identical to the grain alcohol you may have spiked the punch with in college. It also went into gasohol, that 1970s concoction that brings back memories of Jimmy Carter in a cardigan and outrageous subsidies from Washington. But while the chemistry is the same, the economics, technology, and politics of ethanol are profoundly different.

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Investigation Underway of Heart Devices

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The New York Times
By Barry Meier
January 28, 2006

Federal prosecutors have opened a new front in their investigation into the Guidant Corporation by issuing a subpoena seeking records disclosed in a Texas lawsuit that indicate the company knew that some heart devices could catastrophically fail.

The subpoena, issued Tuesday by the United States attorney in Minneapolis, specifically sought Guidant documents disclosed this month in a Texas state court. Among other things, the records indicate that company executives debated whether to warn doctors that some heart defibrillators could short-circuit. The records suggest that Guidant might have sold potentially flawed devices.

The document request, which was served on lawyers representing plaintiffs in the Texas case, also indicated that federal prosecutors had merged their inquiry with an earlier one by the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations. The subpoena shows that the government is investigating Guidant for possible violations of health care statutes.

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VeriChip RFID Implant Hacked!

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Caspian Newsletter
January 27, 2006


Will Security Problems Quash IPO Plans for Controversial Company?

The VeriChip can be hacked! This revelation along with other worrisome details could put a crimp in VeriChip Corporation's planned initial public offering (IPO) of its common stock, say Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre.

The anti-RFID activists and authors of "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID" make no bones about their objection to VeriChip's plans to inject glass encapsulated RFID tags into people. But now they've discovered information that could call VeriChip's entire business model into question.

"If you look at the VeriChip purely from the business angle, it's a ridiculously flawed product," says McIntyre. She notes that security researcher Jonathan Westhues has shown how easy it is to clone a VeriChip implanted in a person's arm and program a new chip with the same number.

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EPA Calls For Teflon Ban

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January 26, 2006
http://mercola.com

Considering all the bad news stemming from DuPont's negligent behavior regarding perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) -- a chemical used to produce Teflon -- the EPA has asked eight manufacturers to eliminate their production of that toxic substance by 2015.

Sounds like great news, right? DuPont, already under the EPA radar for numerous environmental violations, has said it will comply. But, here's the catch: This cutback is completely voluntary, according to the Environmental Working Group, because the Toxic Substances Control Ban doesn't give the EPA the authority to enact a ban.

Hard to believe a chemical flowing through the bloodstreams of more than 95 percent of Americans and tied to so many common household products can't be legally banned by a federal agency like the EPA, but it's true.

Of course, there are less toxic alternatives, including a similar chemical made of four carbon atoms instead of the eight found in PFOA, that don't accumulate in your body under consideration.

For the sake of your health and that of your family, you should enact a Teflon ban in your home on cookware as well as paper products (paper plates, microwave popcorn bags)

More at the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, etc.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0601260066jan26,1,2773150.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

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Science News, Vol. 169, No. 1,
January 7, 2006, p. 8.
By: Ben Harder


Melatonin-depleted blood spurs tumor growth


In late 1987, Richard G. Stevens, then at Pacific Northwest Laboratories in Richland, Wash., typed up a short letter and mailed it to Walter Willett at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The two epidemiologists had met just once, and Stevens wasn't confident that his 209-word note, or the suggestion that it contained about a possible contributor to breast cancer, would inspire any action.

THIS WAY TO CANCER. Just after exposure to bright nighttime illumination (left), woman produces blood (center) that contains little melatonin and stimulates the growth of a human-breast tumor that has been implanted in a rat (right).

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latimes.com : Science
THE NATION
January 26, 2006
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer

A drug widely used during heart surgery to control bleeding doubles the risk of kidney damage, forcing an estimated 10,000 patients onto dialysis each year, according to a study from a group calling for surgeons to abandon its use.

Known as aprotinin, the drug also increases the risk of heart attack by 48%, heart failure by 109% and stroke by 181%, the study of about 4,400 patients reports today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The researchers added that the drug was not even needed in most cases because there were two generic drugs that cost a tenth as much and were nearly as good at stopping bleeding yet produced no increased risk.

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New Study - Curry Fights Prostate Cancer

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The Washington Times
By Jennifer Harper
January 18, 2006

Ladies, if you love your man, give him cauliflower curry with a side of kale for dinner. It may stave off prostate cancer, according to research released yesterday by Rutgers University.

Though they don't often make the favorite menus of most men, cauliflower and kale -- along with cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, watercress and turnips -- contain a chemical that is a significant cancer-preventive.

But add curry powder to the mix, the researchers say, and the vegetables and spice are effective in treating established prostate cancers, the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men.

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