Friday, February 18, 2005

I Got Your Culture of Life Right Here

Your FDA At Work

Remember Vioxx? Even though it's been in the news a lot the last few months, you may not have paid much attention, unless you were a family member or friend of one of the 27,000 who died from taking the drug. At some point this carnage began to sink in, and Merck pulled the plug on the study. And the last few days a panel has been convened to make a recommendation to the FDA on the fate of Vioxx and other cox-2 inhibitors like Bextra and Celebrex, which have also been shown to increase risk of deaths. And Merck is now implying that, since other similar drugs also seem to cause the same problems, it may just reconsider and put the drug back on the market. This is like saying, well, even though this child's toy I manufacture has been found to cause thousands of deaths, I'm going to keep selling it, since similar toys made by other manufacturers also kill.
The problem is that these drugs don't even do the thing they were made to do--alleviate pain--any better than older, safer drugs. Their improvement was supposed to be that they are less likely to cause ulcers. Thus the panel members, along with Merck, are weighing the merits of getting an ulcer as opposed to becoming a drooling stroke victim or cemetery fertilizer. Gee. Which would YOU choose? (And Merck can't even say for certain that you won't contract ulcers when using Vioxx, so even that advantage seems questionable.)

Of course, this is all pretty much window dressing, since the FDA, especially under Bush, has shown no inclination to step in and actually protect public safety. But just in case, don't put it past them to invoke that tried-and-true bogey, the War on Terra, to stop the argument and keep the drug out there:
"Dr. Christopher Grubb, a captain in the Army Medical Corps, said soldiers in the 82nd Airborne were required to carry a cox-2 drug in the event of a battlefield injury. Dr . Grubb said the drugs had allowed many soldiers who otherwise would have been sidelined by pain to be deployed overseas.
The drugs, he said, "are essential for our global war on terrorism." The comment prompted loud laughter in the meeting."
Yeah, I'm dying over here.

Update: FDA panel votes to let Celebrex can stay on the market. I'm betting this heralds the green light for Merck, too.

Update 2: FDA panel votes to let them ALL stay on the market. They'll take their advisory to the FDA, which can usually be counted on to follow such panel findings, except in the case of recommendations to allow women access to birth control. In this case however, as the beneficiaries of the recommendation are enormous campaign contributors rather than relatively penniless females, I'm betting the Federal Drugmaker Acquiescers will follow the recommendation.

Heeeeeeere's Johnny!

Is there anyone who doubts this murdering blackguard will be a shoo-in for the new position of Intelligence Chief? Already the Republicans are creaming their sansabelts at the prospect:
"Negroponte's appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, called the two nominations "outstanding choices" and said confirmation hearings would begin as soon as Negroponte finished his job in Iraq."
Yes, if your definition of "outstanding" would include the facilitation and abetting of torture, murder, and disappearances.

Culture of Lies

It's all been said before, but the caliber of nominations and confirmations we've seen in Bush's high-level appointments for the last month give a solid definition of his concept of a "Culture of Life". After all, this is the man who tried to bury the 9/11 Commission under the appointment of Henry Chickenkisser, that noble icon of human rights. But hang on...perhaps the Culture of Life can be furthered by a few hundred thousand more regrettable but unavoidable sacrifices of foreigners and expendable Americans, safely far removed from these purple mountain majesties.
Don't worry. Our fearless dauphin will surely give it a try. Americans have not yet grown tired of killing and dying for lies.

Update: Thanks to The Progress Report, I've since read this story at the LATimes:
"Hundreds of Army Reserve and National Guard troops returning home after being wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone months without pay or medical benefits they were entitled to receive, military officials and government auditors said Thursday.
Because of a bureaucratic mistake, about 1,000 reservists and Guard members were removed from the active-duty rolls once home, even though their wounds entitled them to extended care, according to a Government Accountability Office study released Thursday."
That's right. A woman in premature labor turned away from a military hospital; a vet forced to move in with relatives after losing almost $4000 in missed pay; a soldier turned out of Walter Reed; many more. But try to get beyond the outrageousness of the specifics to what the existence of the problem actually implies:
"Defense officials and the GAO blamed the wartime crush of wounded part-time troops for overburdening a military health system that has not seen such an onslaught since World War II...
Daniel B. Denning, acting assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, said the influx of wounded was "loading our system like it hasn't been loaded since World War II."
"...Like it hasn't been loaded since World War II". The entire system has been failing, unable to provide vets with the most basic health care and financial benefits because more hurt soldiers are clogging the system than at any time in the last 70 years! When is the last time you heard anything on the surface news about the number of wounded coming back from Iraq? When did you last hear any numbers at all, much numbers you could trust? That's your Culture of Life.

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