Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vitamin D deficiency may be cause of chronic pain

"There has been increasing interest in determining the underlying cause of chronic pain syndromes, and vitamin D deficiency is currently under the spotlight.

The body uses vitamin D to help with the absorption of dietary calcium from the small intestine, and calcium is used to help with the development of bone. A deficiency in vitamin D means calcium cannot be efficiently absorbed which results in poorly formed bones. In children this can develop into rickets which causes a bowing of the legs, and in adults this causes osteomalacia, or poorly mineralized and softened bones. This has been found to contribute to chronic muscle and bone pain. There are numerous studies that associate vitamin D deficiency in patients who suffer from various conditions such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, certain forms of cancer, depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, headache and migraine, neuropathies, and chronic pain..."

Click on the link for the full article:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mental Illness and Vitamin D Deficiency

From the Vitamin D Council
Vitamin D has a significant biochemistry in the brain. Nuclear receptors for vitamin D exist in the brain and vitamin D is involved in the biosynthesis of neurotrophic factors, synthesis of nitric oxide synthase, and increased glutathione levels—all suggesting an important role for vitamin D in brain function. Animal data indicates that tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme for all the brain's monoamines, is increased by vitamin D. Rats born to severely vitamin D deficient dams have profound brain abnormalities.

Clearly this is an issue that affects us all! We ask about the most vulnerable - how many children, seniors and incarcerated persons are deficient in Vitamin D - and show abnormalities in behavior and thinking as a result?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

From THE ATLANTIC magazine

The Drug Pushers
"As America turns its health-care system over to the market, pharmaceutical reps are wielding more and more influence—and the line between them and doctors is beginning to blur

Back in the old days, long before drug companies started making headlines in the business pages, doctors were routinely called upon by company representatives known as “detail men.” To “detail” a doctor is to give that doctor information about a company’s new drugs, with the aim of persuading the doctor to prescribe them. When I was growing up, in South Carolina in the 1970s, I would occasionally see detail men sitting patiently in the waiting room outside the office of my father, a family doctor. They were pretty easy to spot. Detail men were usually sober, conservatively dressed gentlemen who would not have looked out of place at the Presbyterian church across the street. Instead of Bibles or hymn books, though, they carried detail bags, which were filled with journal articles, drug samples, and branded knickknacks for the office.

Today detail men are officially known as “pharmaceutical sales representatives,” but everyone I know calls them “drug reps.” Drug reps are still easy to spot in a clinic or hospital, but for slightly different reasons. The most obvious is their appearance. It is probably fair to say that doctors, pharmacists, and medical-school professors are not generally admired for their good looks and fashion sense. Against this backdrop, the average drug rep looks like a supermodel, or maybe an A-list movie star. Drug reps today are often young, well groomed, and strikingly good-looking. Many are women. They are usually affable and sometimes very smart. Many give off a kind of glow, as if they had just emerged from a spa or salon. And they are always, hands down, the best-dressed people in the hospital.

Drug reps have been calling on doctors since the mid-nineteenth century, but during the past decade or so their numbers have increased dramatically. From 1996 to 2001 the pharmaceutical sales force in America doubled, to a total of 90,000 reps. One reason is simple: good reps move product. Detailing is expensive, but almost all practicing doctors see reps at least occasionally, and many doctors say they find reps useful. One study found that for drugs introduced after 1997 with revenues exceeding $200 million a year, the average return for each dollar spent on detailing was $10.29. That is an impressive figure. It is almost twice the return on investment in medical-journal advertising, and more than seven times the return on direct-to-consumer advertising.

But the relationship between doctors and drug reps has never been uncomplicated, for reasons that should be obvious. The first duty of doctors, at least in theory, is to their patients. Doctors must make prescribing decisions based on medical evidence and their own clinical judgment. Drug reps, in contrast, are salespeople. They swear no oaths, take care of no patients, and profess no high-minded ethical duties. Their job is to persuade doctors to prescribe their drugs. If reps are lucky, their drugs are good, the studies are clear, and their job is easy. But sometimes reps must persuade doctors to prescribe drugs that are marginally effective, exorbitantly expensive, difficult to administer, or even dangerously toxic. Reps that succeed are rewarded with bonuses or commissions. Reps that fail may find themselves unemployed.

Most people who work in health care, if they give drug reps any thought at all, regard them with mixed feelings. A handful avoid reps as if they were vampires, backing out of the room when they see one approaching. In their view, the best that can be said about reps is that they are a necessary by-product of a market economy. They view reps much as NBA players used to view Michael Jordan: as an awesome, powerful force that you can never really stop, only hope to control.

Yet many reps are so friendly, so easygoing, so much fun to flirt with that it is virtually impossible to demonize them. How can you demonize someone who brings you lunch and touches your arm and remembers your birthday and knows the names of all your children? After awhile even the most steel-willed doctors may look forward to visits by a rep, if only in the self-interested way that they look forward to the UPS truck pulling up in their driveway. A rep at the door means a delivery has arrived: take-out for the staff, trinkets for the kids, and, most indispensably, drug samples on the house. Although samples are the single largest marketing expense for the drug industry, they pay handsome dividends: doctors who accept samples of a drug are far more likely to prescribe that drug later on...."

Continues at Link