Why no one should take Nexium and it should never have been approved

As Chris discussed Saturday the WSJ had a silly article in which a woman demands a prescription drug from a flight attendant, asking for the wrong drug to treat her problem acutely, and then shockingly was refused this service. Worse, Nexium is mentioned by name, multiple times, and Nexium is actually a drug which should never have even been approved by the FDA. It really is only prescribed because of intense marketing because, logically, it has no business on the market and is no different than an existing drug, prilosec. Why would doctors irrationally prescribe this drug then? Because advertising encourages irrational choices.

So why is Nexium such a scam? Read below the fold.
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Is this Product Placement in the Wall Street Journal?

Writing in the Saturday (how to make it look like you’re rich edition) of the Wall Street Journal, Marisa Acocella Marchetto mentions an expensive, branded drug–Nexium–eight times. She even mentions its slogan (“the purple pill”)!

As Mark has written elsewhere, it’s moronic to take Nexium because there are cheaper, efficacious alternatives, such as Prilosec, which is available over the counter. Consumer Reports noted in 2010 that Nexium was the most expensive PPI, at $248 a month, and that cheaper generics and over the counter medicines were available.

In the story, she describes being trapped on an airplane without her precious Nexium and in serious pain (why not try something that would immediately stop the pain, such as Tums?). She begs for Nexium, and lo–another passenger has a doctor misinformed enough to prescribe it. But the evil flight attendant won’t let her have it, falsely believing that Marchetto was having a heart attack. Finally, there is an emergency landing, and an Irish physician treats her and “handed [her] a Nexium.” How convenient!

I wonder why the editors of the Journal allowed this specific and expensive product to be mentioned so many times. Ironically, if she had simply asked for a antacid, she would have had been given Maalox by the flight attendant. Problem solved. The entire article could have been rewritten: “How I caused an international flight to be diverted because I demanded to be provided an expensive prescription drug by a flight attendant and how if I had just asked for an antacid everything would have been fine.”

The article makes me recall the time I was in Atlanta airport, and the person in front of me asked a cashier, “all you have is water–don’t you have Dasani?” It’s that type of stupidity that keeps brands alive and wastes billions of consumer dollars.

Full disclosure: although I mentioned Nexium(R) numerous times in this blog post, I have not received any material support from AstraZeneca nor am I taking the Purple Pill and washing it down with Dasani.

The New Yorker Ranks the Republicans vs. Science

And get’s it wrong

What’s amazing is they rank Newt first at the same time acknowledging he destroyed the Office of Technology Assessment.

Jon Huntsman may have the most rational scientific and technological policies of anyone in the field, but Gingrich, sometimes called Newt Skywalker, has far more passion. As Kelefa Sanneh argues in the current issue, the philosophy of Gingrichism is nothing but a combination of the idiosyncratic views of the man himself–which include his beliefs in the virtues of space exploration and his opposition to regulating the Internet, even when it comes to porn. He was an early adopter of Twitter, and he once made the cover of Wired. He is ranked atop Scientific American’s recent “Geek Guide” to the 2012 candidates. As Sanneh notes, one of Gingrich’s manifestos about information policy includes a preface by the science-fiction writer Jerry Pournelle, declaring, “It’s raining soup, and Newt Gingrich has the blueprints for soup bowls.”

His record is scarcely perfect. As Speaker, Gingrich abolished the Office of Technology Assessment–a move reminiscent of Nixon abolishing the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. But, for the most part, Gingrich has moved policy in the right directions. And he gets extra credit for sitting on the couch with Nancy Pelosi to talk about global warming.

So, he destroyed the office in congress that used science to evaluate legislation, as well as the efficacy of that legislation once enacted. He removed scientific guidance from the legislative branch, but because he’s passionate about the internets that doesn’t make him the worst thing to happen to science in the last 30 years?

I realize we’re looking for the shiny turd in a cowpie here, but Gingrich? No way. Huntsman should be ranked first because he at least acknowledges global warming is real, a brave stand to take amongst a bunch of deniers. Whereas Gingrich dumped that chapter from his book after Rush Limbaugh suggested he might actually be on the side of reality. What’s going to matter more in the next 4 years? A president that took a brave stance on regulating internet porn? Or one that took a stance on global warming?

None of these guys has any scientific chops but that seems too much to ask in politicians on either side these days. But this analysis by the New Yorker is embarrassingly superficial.

Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) sell out science

I’m never shocked by what Issa can do in a never-ending downward spiral of serving business interests, but it’s sad that NY rep Carolyn Maloney has joined him backing a bill to sell out science. Once again the publishers are trying to destroy public access, and make everyone pay to read science you’ve already paid for with your taxes.

The Research Works Act reads:

No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that–

(1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or

(2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work.

This really should be a settled issue but the publishers won’t let it go. They are allowed to limit access for a time to make profit for publishing research, but in the end, we’re talking about taxpayer funded research here. In the end, taxpayers should be able to read the results without paying again. It’s good for science too, especially internationally, because not every library can afford subscriptions to every journal in the universe. Open access will allow research to be more rapidly disseminated around the world.

And what did it take to make Carolyn Maloney back the publishers over the public and advance this bill? About $9000 in donations from publishers (Issa only needed about $2000). It’s pathetic how cheap it is to get a member of congress to vote for an industry over the public.

Here’s her email page if you want to send her a nasty-gram. Tell her to change position on H.R.3699 the “Research Works Act”.

h/t it’s not junk

Don’t mess with your neck doing yoga either

For some reason the NYT is all about neck injury lately. In yesterday’s discussion of a possible chiropractic induced injury, Russell asked:

But given all the other stresses people put on their necks, from accidents such as headbumps, from purposeful athletics such as whacking soccer balls, and from just craning one’s head in odd positions when performing various kinds of mechanical labor, it puzzles me that the risk from a chiropractor would be much greater than the risks from these other kinds of use/abuse. Of course, this is not excuse for the chiropractor, who is imposing that risk, likely on those more susceptible to injury, under false pretense or treating disease. It’s more a general lament that we each carry so much haphazard anatomy.

Interesting he should mention this as today the NYT has an article How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body describing many ways that neck hyperextension during this popular exercise can also create similar injuries to the vertebral and carotid arteries.

The mechanism is similar…
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Duesberg Strikes a blow for HIV/AIDS denialism

When Duesberg was recently given space in Scientific American I think the blogosphere was rightly chagrinned that they would give space to a crank whose crackpot ideas are thought to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. But it seemed at the time he had been keeping his denialism on the down low, maybe appearing to have given up on his crank view that HIV does not cause AIDS. Not so anymore. He’s back, and has secured publication of a paper denying HIV/AIDS in an Italian Journal.

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Think like a doctor, don’t let them crack your neck!

This week’s think like a doctor column in the NYT is great. It asks the question, if a woman goes to a chiropractor, gets her neck manipulated, and within hours and for the succeeding four years she’s had symptoms of severe headaches and a pulsatile sound in her ears, what is the diagnosis?

You can guess what mine is…
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Is Huffington Post no longer a denialist site?

Seth Mnookin has reasons to hope. It has been clear though for years that Huffpo was a clearinghouse for what I would describe as liberal crankery, which includes things like Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine crankery, or Bill Maher’s anti-pharma paranoia.

But now they have a new site, Huffpo Science, and after my head stopped ringing from that particular oxymoron I went and checked it out.
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