The Right to Health and Information

An interesting article is written by Trudo Lemmens and Candice Telfer titled “Access to Information and the Right to Health: The Human Rights Case for Clinical Trials Transparency,” which appeared in the 2011 issue of the American Journal of Law and Medicine (vol. 38, pages 63-112). In the article the authors argue that information about clinical trials should be recognized as a fundamental component of the right to health. The authors make a mention of two controversies in recent years. The first is of GlaxoSmithKline and its use of the antidepressant Paxil for treatment of depression in the pediatric population. In 2004, the Attorney General of New York prosecuted GSK for allegedly hiding negative data, selective publishing of positive data, and use of skewed publications to promote off-label prescriptions. The second case is the mention of Vioxx in which the … Read more

Industry Bias in Biomedical Science

An interesting article written by Christopher T. Robertson titled “The Money Blind: How to Stop Industry Bias in Biomedical Science, Without Violating the First Amendment,” appears in the American Journal of Law and Medicine (vol. 37, pages 358-387, 2011). The article discuses how the medical industry spends billions of dollars to create innovative products but also spends nearly as much to change the behavior patterns of those interested to make sure the products are purchased. The author states “As a veteran of the industry writes, ‘ in the pharmaeeutieal industry, there are two ways to market an approved drug for a new use: the ‘indication’ route—performing studies necessary for regulatory approval—or the ‘publication’ strategy, whieh stimulates off-label prescribing by using research ‘to disseminate the information as widely as possible through the world’s medical literature.’ “ A mention is made of a candid document by Pfizer which states … Read more

Scientific Integrity and the Commercial Speech Doctrine for Industry

An interesting article by Joanna K. Sax titled “Protecting Scientific Integrity: The Commercial Speech Doctrine Applied to Industry Publications,” appeared in the American Journal of Law and Medicine in 2011 (vol. 37, pages 203-224). The article opens up by discussion how the economic reality of survival and profits may distort a company’s decision making process regarding full disclose on a particular drug. Dow Corning, which manufactured implants, withheld important data from long-term animal models which demonstrated adverse effects from breast implants and failed to conduct long-term studies. It was necessary for litigation in order to expose Dow’s failure to conduct the necessary studies. It was found that even though Dow denied liability they had evidence which demonstrated they had knowledge of the harmful effects of the breast implants and suppressed these findings. The author later mentions how the tobacco industry used propaganda in the 1960s … Read more

Cluster Headache Features and Therapeutic Options

A review article titled “Cluster Headache: Clinical Features and Therapeutic Options” written by Charly Gaul, Hans-Christoph Diener, and Oliver M. Muller published in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (vol. 108, issue 33, pages 543-549, 2011) provides an interesting look on new options for those with a chronic refractory cluster headache. The article discusses how 120,000 people in Germany are affected by cluster headache. The attacks are in the periorbital area on one side and last 90 minutes on average. The attacks often posses a circadian and seasonal rhythm. The author lists the diagnostic criteria for cluster headache as from the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-II). First line drugs for treatment include verapamil and cortisione or lithium and topirmate. In addition, short term relief can be obtained by local anesthetics and steroids along the course of the greater occipital nerve. I have … Read more

Exercise Effective for Preventing Migraines

An interesting study was recently published in Cephalalgia and looked at 91 migraine patients. A third of these patients were asked to exercise for 40 minutes for 3 times a week with the supervision of a physiotherapist, another third were doing relaxation exercises, and the final third of the patients was given topiramate. The study lasted for a total of 3 months, in which the migraine status, aerobic capacity, level of physical activity, and quality of life was evaluated.  Follow ups of the study were carried out after 3 and 6 months. The randomized controlled study was performed by researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. The results showed that the number of migraines fell in all three groups that were examined and described above. There was no difference in the preventative effect between the … Read more