nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

RECENT HEALTH NEWS

1. GAO investigators allege anthrax vaccine may be wasted. The AP (10/23, Sullivan) reports, "The government stands to waste $100 million a year if two federal agencies cannot agree to coordinate the use of a vaccine for the deadly anthrax virus." According to Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators, "The departments of Defense and Health and Human Services (HHS) each purchase the anthrax vaccine, BioThrax." However, "much of the vaccine purchased for HHS goes unused." At present, "the Strategic National Stockpile has more than 520,000 doses of the vaccine -- worth $12 million -- that have already expired." Consequently, GAO has recommended that "the two departments...create a single inventory system for these drugs so [that] they are not wasted."

From Doc D: Note that GAO did a study of whether the anthrax vaccine was “safe” back in 1998. They called me to ask my opinion and I told them their analysis showing there were safety concerns was full of it. They went ahead and pushed the political agenda.

Times change, and so do the politics…

  1. FDA advisory panel recommends ban of some children's cold and cough medicines. In continuing coverage from previous briefings, ABC World News (10/19, story 2, 2:40, Gibson) reported, "Today, a government panel released its findings on children's cough and cold medicines. They don't work." On its front page, the New York Times (10/20, A1, Harris) added, "A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted Friday to ban popular over-the-counter cold products intended for children under the age of 6." According to the panel, "there was no proof that the medicines eased cold symptoms in children, while there are rare reports that they have caused serious harm." Should the FDA adopt this recommendation, the Times noted, it "could transform pharmacy shelves and change the way parents cope with the most common illness in young children." However, "manufacturers said [that] they would fight the new recommendations." Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the drug industry's trade group, stated, "We believe these products will remain on the market." Dr. John Jenkins, director of the office of new drugs at the FDA, said, "We need to go back and review all these recommendations that we heard today and decide what the path forward might be." The agency could take several years to make a ruling in this matter. While the FDA typically adopts the advisory panels' recommendations, it is not required to do so.

From Doc D: I don’t know what you all did with your kids. Lydia and I used these drugs, and I don’t think the kids suffered. Note that we’re talking about the youngest age groups here. I agree that there is no good scientific data to say whether these drugs are safe in this age group, or what the real dose should be. The doses have been traditionally extrapolated from mg/kg data in older age groups. ALL of these drugs, to my knowledge, do not alter the severity, duration, or recovery from the illness for which they are prescribed. To be honest, I’ve used Dimetapp when one of the kids was fussy with a cold and couldn’t sleep: it helped them get their rest (and me to get mine).

Scientifically, these drugs reduce the symptoms of minor illness for a short period. They wear off, and there is habituation with continued use (the patient’s body “get’s used to” the drug and it doesn’t work as well.) You have to use these things with circumspection…and common sense.

I think many of the cases of severe side effects were due to unpredictable allergy, or overdosing (high single dose, or many repeated doses), or idiosyncratic reactions, or it had nothing to do with the cold medicines.

NOTE: For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, my opinions are mine only, and do not represent any policy of the medical profession, drug companies, the Dept of Defense, any organization, or my beautiful and intelligent spouse…

D

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