Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Guinea Pig Kids Redux--More and Worse

The American Progress Report arrives regularly in my e-mail box, and this afternoon it was a doozy.

First I see this, under the story "Administration Pushes Dangerous Drug":
"The U.S. government hid research that showed a drug it planned to use to treat AIDS was severely flawed. In 2002, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received warnings about a drug called nevirapine which "were serious enough to suspend testing for more than a year, let Uganda's government know of the dangers and prompt the drug's maker to pull its request for permission to use the medicine to protect U.S. newborns." The NIH ignored warnings that research on nevirapine was flawed and "underreported severe reactions including deaths." In the meantime, President Bush decided to spend $500 million to send the drug to Africa. Today, the White House "still remains confident in Bush's $500 million plan to send nevirapine to Africa."
Of course there were the usual threats to fire an NIH employee, Jonathan Fishbein,who was hired by them to handle the scandal and refused help cover over the improprieties. The AIDS Info BBS Database has a piece on the drug with the interesting note that on Jan 5, 2000:
"The New York Times summed up on the same day: “Federal health officials advised doctors yesterday not to prescribe a standard H.I.V. prevention drug to healthy health care workers stuck by needles. The drug, nevirapine, can produce liver damage severe enough to require liver transplants, and has caused death in such use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its weekly report. But nevirapine should still be used for two other groups, the centers said. One is in treating people infected with H.I.V., the AIDS virus. The second is to prevent transmission of H.I.V. from mothers to their infants during childbirth. … The agency said it and the federal Food and Drug Administration had identified 22 cases of severe liver, skin and muscle damage related to nevirapine taken after possible exposure to H.I.V. from March 1997 through September 2000.”"
But then the light bulb went off...could there be any connection to the experimenting that New York has been doing on orphans and foster kids with HIV?

Seems so. Nevirapine has been used on these kids, and the drug is particularly associated with a nasty skin disorder called Stevens-Johnson syndrome, (warning: graphic photos) which can cause horrific effects and lead to death. In fact, the New York State Dept. of Health's Clinical Guidlines for caring for children with AIDS states:
"Among ARV drugs, the nevirapine-associated rash usually occurs within the first 18 weeks of therapy and often within the first 2 weeks. The rash consists of a truncal, maculopapular, erythematous eruption. In some instances, it can progress into mucosal surfaces and evolve into Stevens-Johnson syndrome, often with accompanying fever and severe hepatitis. Serum liver enzymes should be obtained in patients who develop a rash during nevirapine therapy, particularly during the first 18 weeks of therapy. Deaths associated with these reactions have been reported. Patients who develop mild rashes without systemic toxicity may be managed with antihistamines and close monitoring. However, those with severe cutaneous toxicity or with suspected hepatic toxicity should discontinue nevirapine promptly and should not be re-challenged with this drug."
So the government has been well aware, for some time, of the problems with this drug, but who cares? They're basically just wards of the state.

Civil Rights, Human Rights...What's the Difference Once the Head's Blowed off?

And by the way, in the grand tradition of Clarence Thomas and Alan Keyes, Bushco has appointed another self-hating black man to be in charge of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Gerald A. Reynolds, an attorney, said:
""I just assume somewhere in my life some knucklehead has looked at me and my brown self and said that they have given me less or denied me an opportunity...But the bottom line is, and my wife will attest to this, I am so insensitive that I probably didn't notice."
Har-de-har-har. I know that's killing them in N. Philly. Reynolds brings his Bush-friendly anemic approach to eradicating discrimination from the Education Dept.'s Office of Civil Rights.

Meantime, remember Afghanistan? Seems a few more people have died inU.S. custody there than were heretofor reported. My, my. What a surprise.
And that damned Human Rights Watch just won't stop smearing our good name about it..

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