Home page Site map Terms of use Website design services
Mailing List
If you'd like to be informed about updates to this site, click here


moon phase

Current solar state SOHO 28.4nm
Solar X-rays
X-ray status
Geomagnetic Field
Geomagnetic field status

More data

I question the AIDS establishment. Join me!

Archive for the ‘Medicine/Health’ Category

Pork pies

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Meaning: Lies. Often shortened to ‘porkies’. Origin: Cockney rhyming slang.

Pork pies

You’ve got to laugh really. Swine flu?! Likely no other single species has spawned as many colloquial expressions associated with deceit, greed, dirty dealings and generally incredible and dubious happenings as the poor old pig.

Irony? Or truth hiding in plain sight?

I’ve realised I would never make it as a pharmaceutical industry strategist after all. Not ambitious enough by half. Tamiflu is just a sideshow. The big act in town is now wholesale (and in some US states mandatory) vaccination, a different and considerably more dangerous ballgame. In the last swine flu panic in 1976 we were told that thousands might die and to prevent that 40 million US citizens were vaccinated. Thousands developed permanent paralytic nervous problems (Guillain-Barré syndrome) and dozens died from the vaccine. Only one person actually died from the flu, and it never moved outside the Fort Dix area in New Jersey where it was first identified.

As ‘Deep Throat’ allegedly informed the Watergate investigators, “follow the money”. It’s a sure way to find out what’s really going on.

Orders for Bulk Supply of 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine Antigen and Adjuvant, US Dept of Health and Human Services, May and July 2009

Manufacturer Bulk vaccine antigen Bulk virus concentrate/FFF Oil-in-water bulk adjuvant
Novartis $496 million   $483 million
GlaxoSmithKline $38 million   $215 million
Sanofi Pasteur $252 million    
CSL Biotherapies $180 million    
MedImmune $90 million $61 million  
TOTALS $1,057 million $61 million $698 million

That’s a total of $1.8 billion in the US alone milked from the taxpayer in order to attempt to prevent an illness that’s generally so mild it doesn’t even compete with “ordinary” flu in morbidity and mortality. That’s some testament to the power of fear-mongering!

Meanwhile in the UK, a helpline has now been set up for people to get advice and Tamiflu without seeing a doctor. Whey hey! What a great way to get a few days off work!! No surprise then that in the week the helpline was launched, there was a record rise in cases to 100,000 (164 cases per 100,000 — still well below the epidemic threshold). Apparently Tamiflu has been turning up at car boot sales

And it’s been revealed that the government adviser who was the first man to describe swine flu (erroneously) as a “pandemic”, Professor Sir Roy Anderson, is a paid director on the board of GlaxoSmithKline. Well there’s a surprise. Evidently he earned £116,000 at GSK last year, at least a quarter of which he received in shares. GSK’s share price has risen 10 per cent since May. He’s been talking up the possibility of a pandemic since at least mid-April. Didn’t he do well?

More (much more) on the swine flu vaccinations from these two sites:

Fast-tracked Swine Flu Vaccine under Fire
The Truth about Flu Shots

It’s such a swine trying to keep things in perspective

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Amid apparent widespread media acceptance that we are experiencing a swine of a “flu pandemic”, it was announced 3 days ago that 29 people in the UK have died from the illness, 26 in England, 3 in Scotland.

Let’s remind ourselves once again that the word “pandemic” derives from the Greek pan = all, and demos = people. An incidence rate of 73.4 people per 100,000 is a long, long way from being “all people”. It doesn’t even come close to an epidemic, a far lesser animal than a pandemic. According to this analysis of influenza-like illness incidence in England and Wales over a 40-year period, current incidence rates are within the bottom 25% of the range of what would be considered ‘normal’. We don’t even start getting into epidemic territory until rates exceed 400 per 100,000. And given the excessive media and government hype which GPs are dubbing scaremongering, one has to ask to what extent existing cases feature psychosomatic rather than viral symptoms …

Let’s also consider this piece of research which examines the mortality from “ordinary” influenza in the United States in the 22 years between 1979 and 2001. During this period, the population of the US rose from 225 to 278 million. Extrapolating the average annual mortality rate of 41,400 to the present UK population of 61 million gives an annual mortality in excess of 10,100. This means that on average nearly 850 people per month in the UK are probably dying from “ordinary” flu.

Without in the least trying to belittle the tragedy for the families who’ve lost relatives to swine flu, surely that’s a figure deserving of a much bigger headline than 29 deaths? Pandemic? There’s only one thing you can say to that really …

Pig's ... um ... bottom

Unnatural practices

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Pigs aren’t really designed by nature for flying, are they? Yet some people seem implacably and resolutely determined that somehow they should.

According to an article in today’s Pulse magazine, top GPs are accusing the government and Department of Health of scaremongering over swine flu. Too right.

The article states:

“Dr Sam Everington, a GP in Tower Hamlets, who has acted as a leading adviser to Lord Darzi on primary care and was formerly deputy chair of the BMA, said scaremongering by the Department of Health had seen the nation gripped with fear, leading to ‘utter chaos’ for practices in areas with the most number of cases.

“He said: ‘All this is being ratcheted up by the CMO and the Government. They are actively scaremongering everybody.’

“‘We have no evidence that this is in any way worse than winter flu, yet the approach has been taking clinicians away from more serious problems with patients and causing great fear among the public.’

“Dr Everington, whose practice has been among those in the front line, with London one of the worst hit areas, added: ‘We as GPs are used to measuring risk but there’s nothing of that sort going on in the Department of Health.’

“Of Sir Liam Donaldson he said: ‘It’s almost like he’s been preparing for this pandemic flu for so long he wants it to be fulfilled.'”

Meanwhile, according to another article in the same publication

“Health Secretary Andy Burnham told the House of Commons yesterday that the UK had abandoned its previous attempts to contain the swine flu outbreak, and moved to a new ‘treatment phase’ in the face of a spiralling number of cases.

“Under the new procedures, GPs should diagnose swine flu cases by phone, and patients will then arrange for a ‘flu friend’ to collect a voucher for Tamiflu from GP practices.”

Tamiflu vouchers, eh? Well, well, well. Now isn’t this all going exactly to plan? Just don’t, whatever you do, see through the smokescreen …

Pigs might fly

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Pigs might fly

“It is becoming ever more obvious that it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes.”
Carl Gustav Jung

Haven’t we been here before?

And I’m not talking about 1918, but the avian flu scare that took flight at the end of 2005. About the only upshot worthy of note from that little global panic attack was the fat profits made by Roche Pharmaceuticals in the wake of their highly successful Tamiflu® marketing campaign that saw governments stockpiling the stuff with the idea of dosing every member of their populations. But since the goose that laid the golden egg has now well and truly flown the coop on that one, I guess it’s time for the viral marketing specialists to jump species and give it another go. After all, it’s a well tried and successful formula and we seem to fall for it every time.

A few journalists, like Simon Jenkins in The Guardian and Deborah Orr in The Independent, have tried injecting a strong dose of at least some reason into the general hysteria, but to little avail. This morning the postman dropped an NHS leaflet entitled “Important Information About Swine Flu” on my doorstep. (You can download a copy here if you don’t already have it.) This “public information” campaign is really scraping the trough when it comes to trying to spin a convincing yarn (as well as aiming itself at a reading and comprehension age somewhere around the 7-10 year-old mark). Take these extracts for instance

“Because it’s a new virus, no one will have immunity to it and everyone could be at risk of catching it.”

Err, well, um … That’s actually true of the vast majority of flu outbreaks. Viruses mutate. That’s part of their job desciption. This year’s flu isn’t the same as last year’s flu or the year before or the year before that, (which is one of the principle reasons why vaccinating people against last year’s flu with the aim of protecting them against this year’s is so nonsensical, at least if you’re coming from the perspective of disease prevention and prophylaxis).

“Pandemic flu is different from ordinary flu because it’s a new virus that appears in humans and spreads very quickly from person to person worldwide.”

That’s not actually the definition of a pandemic. The principal criterion for a pandemic is the number of people affected (the word comes from the Greek ‘pan’ = all and ‘demos’ = people). This is necessarily far in excess of an epidemic, which itself is a widespread and prevalent occurence of a particular disease that quickly and severely affects a large number of people. Swine flu isn’t even coming close to approaching an epidemic yet.

To put this in even clearer perspective, since January, around 13,000 people in the US alone will have died of complications from “ordinary” flu, It’s estimated that “ordinary” flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 worldwide annually.

Modern medicine also seems to continually forget this, but the difference between “ordinary” flu and flu that becomes a pandemic is as much to do with the people it infects as it is anything to do with the virus itself. In 1918, the world had just been through 4 years of the first World War. War is an intense and devastating trauma that substantially lowers the immunity of entire populations affected by it. We’re not in that space right now. Though give the global recession a few more years and who knows …?

There were also doctors at the time who noticed correlations that made them suspect a decidedly more man-made aetiology.

In the last swine flu panic in 1976 we were told that thousands might die and to prevent that 40 million US citizens were vaccinated. Thousands developed permanent paralytic nervous problems and dozens died from the vaccine. Only one person actually died from the flu, and it never moved outside the Fort Dix area in New Jersey where it was first identified.

Of course the stockpile of Tamiflu® (oseltamivir) purchased back in 2005-06 will be coming to the end of its shelf life soon. If there were reason enough to get governments to distribute it all to their populations (though not before demand is stoked to fever pitch by empty pharmacies – pharmacies emptied by people who’ve paid $100 a prescription for a course of the drug), then the storehouses will be bare again and ripe for refilling. What’s more, if the flu isn’t actually that bad to begin with, then the “success” at preventing worldwide population devastation can all be attributed to the drug! Bingo! What better way of ensuring continuing healthy profits during a global recession? Or of boosting the reputation of a drug which, at best, seems to shorten the duration of the flu by a mere 24 hours, and at worst will have you vomiting, coming out in skin reactions, suffering cramping pains, headaches, deafness and insomnia, and even commiting suicide? (And let’s keep quiet about the fact that the CDC have detected widespread oseltamivir resistance in nearly all of the influenza A (H1N1) viruses tested so far during the 2008–09 season.) Jings, this is all so easy! We could all be pigs at the trough chowing down on fat salaries as pharmaceutical industry strategists!

Cynical? Moi?

HEALTH WARNING: If you intend taking Tamiflu, and especially if you’re considering giving it to your children, PLEASE read this site first.

Expecto expectare experitus

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.”
Nicholas Butler

OK. Apologies to the Latin experts out there. I’m not one, as must be obvious, but hopefully my pidgin Latin roughly conveys its intended sense, which is to see beyond conditioning, “expel what is expected through experience” (though the grammar probably puts it more in the realm of “my postilion has been struck by lightning”).

I was thinking about last week’s post and this business of living mindfully rather than relying on autopilot: of the distinction between expectations/conditioning/assumptions/”expertise” and reality, how expectations are infused with projections, and the expectations and assumptions we have in respect of various man-made “systems”, whether mechanical, administrative or conceptual. I couldn’t help noticing how close the Latin expectare (“await, hope”) is to expectore (“expel from the mind, literally, get it off your chest”) despite the two words being of different derivation (ex- “out” + spectare “to look” vs ex- “out” + pectus “breast”), and how the word expert comes from ex- “out” + peritus “tested, experienced”.

This was all brought together quite eloquently this week when we went to renew a conventional medication prescription. When we left the hospital last month, we were supplied with a form with full instructions for what should be repeated and for how long, and I took this in to the local medical practice on Monday as it normally takes 3 days for them to process repeat prescriptions.

First off, the medications weren’t waiting for us at the pharmacy as we’d been assured they would be. So we went up to the practice where they couldn’t figure out why this had happened, but printed out a prescription for us to take back to the pharmacy to get filled out on the spot.

As we were getting back into the car, I thought I’d better just check it over. I even felt slightly churlish doing so. Aye well. But as well I did. One of the medications prescribed wasn’t what had been specified on the hospital form. So back we went again. They checked it (this took the combined energies of 3 receptionists) and said the doctor had entered it on the database that way. They surmised this must have been because there wasn’t a generally available medication complying with the dosage specifications – the hospital pharmacy must have supplied us with one they’d made up themselves – so he’d chosen the nearest thing he could find that could deliver the same amount of active ingredient.

This all made perfect sense. The only thing was, the consultant had written very clearly, in block capitals in the margin of the form, the trade name of the tablets to prescribe. They’re widely used for a common condition. Even if the doctor wouldn’t necessarily expect this medication to be prescribed in this circumstance, the instructions were perfectly clear. Even though the receptionists accepted the doctor’s expertise and had previous experienceof instances where the hospital pharmacy had made up their own medications, the instructions were perfectly clear. I asked to see the form and pointed out the instruction to them. Once they’d looked at what was written next to my fingertip, everything was straightforward.

Armed with new instructions, we went back to the pharmacy where they filled out the prescription. It wasn’t until I got home that I looked at the bottles and saw that, contrary to the form’s instruction to renew the prescription for 2 weeks only, they’d provided 2 months’ worth of one medication and only 11 days’ worth of the other.

If that many mistakes can occur with a single form that a doctor, 3 medical receptionists and a pharmacist – all very nice and I’m sure generally competent people – had all failed to read properly, it really makes you wonder how many are made on a daily basis and never picked up. If I, as the only “non-expert” in the process, could read it without a problem, it surely couldn’t have been that difficult to decipher?

“The trouble with specialists is that they tend to think in grooves.”
Elaine Morgan

But there you go. Systems, all systems, develop their own circular logic; their conditioning, their expectations, their assumptions. Can we trust their experts to pragmatically accommodate anything that falls slightly outside their expectations? It seems not. Not least because it’s self-evident that the greater the level of “expertise”, the deeper the groove being followed.

This isn’t to say that experience isn’t valuable, and repeated experience more so. It’s how we learn, how we become proficient, expert. You wouldn’t get your bicycle fixed by someone who’d never seen one before. Repeated experience, predictability, is the basis of the vast majority of our science and technology. In many areas it’s even become the ultimate arbiter of what’s considered ‘real’ and what isn’t. But what this perspective turns a blind eye to is the domain of the unique and individual, the unpredictable, the chaotic, which is as equally inherent in any uncontrolled situation as that which is predictable. This constantly stares us in the face, yet it’s our very “expertise” – often taken as an indicator of intelligence – which blinds us to it until someone comes along and points it out.

“If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible he is almost certainly right, but if he says that it is impossible he is very probably wrong.”
Arthur C Clarke

This has considerable implications for the debate surrounding (so-called) evidence-based medicine and the efficacy of CAM therapies. While this may seem a very superficial example of conditioned thinking (and straightforward human error) which is perhaps less relevant to serious subjects that have been examined more closely and in greater depth, closer scrutiny of the debate shows no less prevalence of rigid expectations, inability to see the obvious, circular logic and erroneous supposition.

“Experts built the Titanic; amateurs built the Ark.”

Thanks to the current insanity revolving around homeopathy in this country, in both media and blogosphere, it's become necessary to insult your intelligence by explicitly drawing your attention to the obvious fact that any views or advice in this weblog/website are, unless stated otherwise, the opinions of the author alone and should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you choose to take anything from here that might be construed as advice, you do so entirely under your own recognisance and responsibility.

smeddum.net - Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard