Hearing on Antidepressants Canceled

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

A high-profile congressional hearing into the safety of antidepressant medicines was abruptly canceled on Sunday afternoon by a House panel whose chairman is weighing a top job at a trade group representing the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

Rep. James C. Greenwood (R-Pa.) is reported to be considering an offer to become president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include most of the pharmaceutical companies that were to send representatives to testify at the hearing.

In a statement -- an e-mail attachment titled "retirement.doc" -- the moderate Republican said he has been reviewing an opportunity and will shortly announce his decision. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) told reporters that Greenwood will be leaving Congress but did not say what his new job would be.

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STATIN RECOMMENDERS' DRUGMAKER TIES
U.S. confirms panel link

BY DELTHIA RICKS
STAFF WRITER

July 20, 2004
Source: Newsday.com

Eight of the nine members of the government panel that last week published new treatment guidelines calling for a wider use of statin drugs had ties to companies that manufacture the medications, a government Web site revealed yesterday.

Newsday reported Thursday that at least six were linked to drug companies based on information available at that time.

The ties range from single honoraria as consulting or speakers fees to major research grants. The information was posted on the Web site of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, following inquiries by Newsday last week.

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On statins, a dose of caution

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On statins, a dose of caution
Source: International Herald Tribune
 
David Tuller NYT
Thursday, July 22, 2004

Among cardiologists, it has become a running joke: Maybe the powerful drugs known as statins should be added to the water supply. Not only do statins greatly reduce cholesterol and lower mortality in people at risk for heart attacks, but some studies also suggest that they might help to prevent or treat a wide range of ailments, including Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, bone fractures, some types of cancer, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
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Millions of people around the world take statins. With U.S. goverment recommendations issued last week, millions more are likely to begin taking the drugs, and many who already take them are likely to have their dosages increased.
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On July 12, the National Institutes of Health, in conjunction with the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, endorsed sharply lowering the desired levels of harmful cholesterol for people at moderate to high risk for heart disease. The recommendations were based on clinical trials involving more than 50,000 people.

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AstraZeneca Urges FDA to Dismiss Public Citizen Petition on CRESTOR(R)
Wednesday July 21, 6:50 pm ET
Source: Yahoo News

Press Release
Source: AstraZeneca LP

Company Response Finds Petition Inaccurate and Misleading

WILMINGTON, Del., July 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In a comprehensive, 30-page response sent today to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), AstraZeneca stated that Public Citizen's Health Research Group's (HRG) petition to remove CRESTOR® (rosuvastatin calcium) from the market provides no scientific basis, is inaccurate and must be denied.

According to AstraZeneca, the petition submitted by the activist group on March 4, 2004, provides no scientific basis for challenging the FDA's conclusion that CRESTOR is safe and effective. The company's response asserts that HRG has used unscientific information and unsound analysis to support its petition. The response also argues that HRG has disseminated information that has proved to be incorrect. For instance, the petition claims that "a 39- year-old woman, taking only 20 milligrams a day [of CRESTOR], died of rhabdomyolysis and renal insufficiency." An autopsy ultimately determined that the 39-year-old woman died from myocardial infarction with no evidence of rhabdomyolysis and that her death had nothing to do with CRESTOR.

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High Cholesterol Key to Drugmaker Profits
Wed Jul 21, 2004 12:14 PM ET
By Bill Berkrot
Source: Reuters.com

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc. on Wednesday posted solid quarterly earnings on surging sales of cholesterol treatment Lipitor, while results of rivals Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. were hurt by increased competition for key drugs.

Merck and Schering-Plough are awaiting imminent approval for a new cholesterol treatment that combines their two drugs and should spark a reversal of fortune.

Wyeth reported strong second-quarter sales growth from its key drugs for depression and ulcers, despite the ongoing litigation from its recalled diet drugs that has forced it to set aside more than $16 billion in liability reserves.

Overseas, Roche's profit nearly doubled on strong cancer drug sales.

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Latest Report Shows Steady Decline in Autism
Source: PrNewswire.com

'We were hopeful that the trend would continue after last April's report ... Now we have a third consecutive quarter with the numbers going down ... ' -Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, president of SafeMinds

WASHINGTON, July 19 /PRNewswire/ -- SafeMinds -- America's leading scientific organization investigating the risks that mercury-containing medical products pose to children -- is cautiously optimistic over a third consecutive report from the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) showing a decline in new requests for autism related services. "We were hopeful that the trend would continue after last April's report showed the first ever two-quarter decline in 20 years. Now we have a third consecutive quarter with the numbers going down even further, which is a welcome relief for American families," said Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, president of SafeMinds. "Even with this encouraging news, vigilance and continued research should be the course of continued action."

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AUTISM-MERCURY POISONING CONNECTION appears to be confirmed...
Source: emediawire.com 

THE "AUTISM" epidemic has exploded in the last 15 years. THIMEROSAL, the vaccine additive that was intentionally put into childhood vaccines is 49.6% MERCURY, a known NEURO-TOXIN. U.S. GOVERNMENT KNEW DANGERS.

(PRWEB) July 21, 2004 -- A national tragedy has resulted in over 120 thousand children being diagnosed with "autism", A condition that is devasting and permanent.

Federally mandated childhood vaccines contained this mercury additive until 2001, that exposed millions of children to as much as 40 times the safe level for mercury exposure as established by the E.P.A.

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Selenium Conquers AIDS?
ISIS Press Release 20/07/04
Source: The Institute of Science in Society

Sam Burcher reports on a nutritional hypothesis with possible implications for prevention and treatment of the global pandemic

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members’ website. Details here.

During the last decade, research has indicated an important geographical link between regions of selenium deficient soils and peak incidences of HIV/AIDS infection. AIDS disease appears to involve a slow and progressive decline in levels of the trace element selenium (Se) in the blood along with CD4 cells, which are both independent predictors of mortality.

AIDS infection in Africa has reached pandemic proportions with over a quarter of the population said to be suffering from the disease in some areas, although there is debate over how the WHO has extrapolated their statistics (see "African Aids epidemic?" SiS 22). Figures from Harvard in the United States put infection rates as follows: Zimbabwe 25.84%, Botswana 25.10%, Zambia 19.07%, South Africa 12.91%, Côte D’Ivoire 10.06%, Tanzania 9.42%, Ethiopia 9.31%, and Congo 4.31%.

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The debate over acetaminophen and acute liver failure
21 Jul 2004
Source: Medical News Today

One expert questions the acceptability of the current level of acetaminophen-related injury and death, while another suggests that acetaminophen overdoses are misunderstood.

Acetaminophen overdose causes more than 450 deaths due to acute liver failure each year in the United States and this number appears to be on the rise. In 2001, the U.S. Acute Liver Failure (ALF) Study found acetaminophen responsible for 39 percent of cases. In 2003, the number had risen to 49 percent.

William M. Lee, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas and a principal investigator of the NIH-funded U.S. Acute Liver Failure Group, suggests that the FDA should consider a more aggressive and broader approach toward regulating the pain reliever to lessen the incidence of such poisonings. Lee's article is one of two in the July issue of Hepatology that considers acetaminophen-related injury and death in the U.S.

Hepatology, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is available online via Wiley InterScience at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/hepatology.

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Medical fraud alert: Cholesterol lowering statin drugs save zero lives, says comprehensive research published in JAMA
July 20, 2004
Source: NewsTarget.com

The hype about statin drugs is relentless these days. Physicians are urging patients to take statins even when they don't have high cholesterol. The American Diabetes Association, for its part, ridiculously suggests that all diabetic patients should be on statins just in case scientists one day discover some benefit to diabetics.

The hype surrounding statins is the con job of the decade, and statin manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank. But all this begs the question: is there really any health benefit to taking statins? If so many doctors and drug companies are pushing this drug, it must be saving lives or improving peoples' health, right?

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