Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist Nissen Likens Anti-Statin “Internet Cult” to Anti-Vaxxers

Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist Nissen Likens Anti-Statin “Internet Cult” to Anti-Vaxxers | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Researchers studied over 28,000 patients in Massachusetts and found three in 10 stopped taking statins after experiencing side effects, which were presumed to be due to the drugs. Some 8.5% of them had a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, within four years -- versus 7.6% of those who continued taking statins.

 

"That's a very significant number," said Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Steven Nissen, who was not involved in the study but penned an accompanying editorial in the same journal.

 

One expert questioned whether his findings had much to do with statins at all.

"We don't know what (else) was different about the groups," said Dr. Rita Redberg, a professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco. Redberg was not involved in Turchin's research. "People that take medicines and are adherent do better than people that don't."

 

For example, those who take medications consistently might also eat better or exercise more, Redberg added. So a "small difference" between the groups "isn't that revealing," she said.

 

Nissen said that statins have developed a "bad reputation with the public," largely due to websites that peddle scary and unscientific claims about statins.

 

"We have a large number of people in the public that have been convinced by this internet cult that statins are bad for you," said Nissen, who compared the trend to discussions surrounding vaccines and climate change. "How did we get into this kind of a mess?"

 

These claims, Nissen said, could actually increase reported side effects. The more patients are aware -- and perhaps fearful -- of statins and their side effects, the more likely they are to report those side effects. This phenomenon is known as the "nocebo effect," the opposite of the placebo effect.

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Anti-Vaxxers Emboldened by Trump’s Embrace of Vaccine-Autism Conspiracy Theory

Anti-Vaxxers Emboldened by Trump’s Embrace of Vaccine-Autism Conspiracy Theory | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

President Trump’s embrace of discredited theories linking vaccines to autism has energized the anti-vaccine movement. Once fringe, the movement is becoming more popular, raising doubts about basic childhood health care among politically and geographically diverse groups.

 

Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of the most successful medical innovations of modern times. Globally, vaccines prevent the deaths of about 2.5 million children every year, but deadly diseases such as measles and whooping cough still circulate in populations where enough people are unvaccinated.

 

In San Antonio, 80 miles southwest of the state capital, Texans for Vaccine Choice convened a happy hour to encourage attendees to get more involved politically. The event was among dozens of outreach events the group has hosted across the state. The relatively new group has boosted its profile, aided by a savvy social-media strategy, and now leads a contentious fight over vaccines that is gearing up in the current legislative session.

 

A leading conspiracy theorist is Andrew Wakefield, author of the 1998 study that needlessly triggered the first fears. (The medical journal BMJ, in a 2011 review of the debacle, described the paper as “fatally flawed both scientifically and ethically.”) Wakefield’s Twitter handle identifies him as a doctor, but his medical license has been revoked. The British native now lives in Austin, where he is active in the state and national anti-vaccine movement.

 

Trump has met with Wakefield, who attended an inaugural ball and told supporters afterward that he had received “tremendous support” for his efforts and hoped to have more meetings with the president.

 

But now immunization advocates are realizing that they can’t let vaccine critics go unchallenged, saying they need voices other than scientists and experts to make the case. They are recruiting teachers and grass-roots groups to explain how immunization protects families and communities.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Further reading:

  • “Trump Picks Vaccine Critic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Chair Vaccine Panel”; http://sco.lt/9J3GFt
  • “Off The Grid: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Says Vaccines are Pay Dirt’ for #Pharma”; http://sco.lt/6smHDt
  • “Vaccines Are Path to Better Revenue Growth for Some #Pharma Companies”; http://sco.lt/582wTZ
  • “When Does It Makes Economic Sense for #Pharma Industry to Develop Vaccines vs Drugs?”: http://sco.lt/7adpSb
  • “Want to Avoid Toxins in Your Flu & Other Vaccines? ‘Good Luck,’ Says Cleveland Clinic Wellness Doctor”; http://sco.lt/4gmHXl
  • “CDC’s #VaxWithMe Social Media Campaign has been updated”; http://sco.lt/8bQcuv
  • “Intelligent, High Income People Refuse Vaccinations”; http://sco.lt/67gVs1
  • "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL
  • “Discredited Anti-Vaxxer Researcher Is “Very Positive” He Has an Ally in Trump”; http://sco.lt/76R4xF
  • “Better to Keep Vaccine Adverse Event Reports Secret, Concludes Study”; http://sco.lt/4gkjhJ
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De Niro Gets to Have the Anti-Vaccine Discussion He Wanted on Today Show

De Niro Gets to Have the Anti-Vaccine Discussion He Wanted on Today Show | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Robert De Niro on Wednesday defended the notion that vaccines are linked to autism, resurfacing a discredited notion based on false science.

 

The star appeared on the “Today” show to promote the Tribeca Film Festival, which he helped found. But the segment was dominated by controversy over an anti-vaccination film called “Vaxxed,” which the festival pulled from this year’s program after a public outcry (see here).

 

The film was directed by discredited scientist-turned-activist Andrew Wakefield. At the time of its removal, De Niro had said that the film would not provide the conversation-starter he had hoped for. But in the interview Wednesday, he admitted that part of him regretted removing the film from the schedule. “As a parent of a child who has autism, I’m concerned,” he said. “And I want to know the truth. And I’m not anti-vaccine. I want safe vaccines.”

 

“There’s a lot of information about things that are happening with the CDC, the pharmaceutical companies, there are a lot of things that aren’t said,” De Niro said.

 

Even as Guthrie and cohost Willie Geist pointed out that there is no scientific evidence of a link between vaccines and autism, De Niro dug in his heels. “It’s much more complicated than that. There is a link, and they’re saying there isn’t,” he said.

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The Weird History of Anti-Vaxxers: Especially Blame Travelers & Religion

The Weird History of Anti-Vaxxers: Especially Blame Travelers & Religion | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Measles and whooping cough, two infectious diseases US public health officials had gotten pretty good at preventing, have made a disturbing comeback in recent years.

 

Why? Many believe the recent outbreaks were closely tied to people who refuse vaccinations for all kinds of reasons.

 

And a new paper in JAMA confirms they're right.

 

The study, led by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, reviewed 18 studies that traced the immunization histories of the 1,416 people (ages 2 weeks to 84 years) who were diagnosed with measles in the United States since 2000. Of those, 970 patients had detailed vaccine histories.

 

When the researchers looked closely at those histories, they found that 574 people were unvaccinated despite being vaccine eligible, and 405 cases had religious or philosophical reasons for refusing vaccines. In other words, about 29 percent of the total cases (or 42 percent of those for whom researchers had vaccine histories) had no medical reason to abstain from getting their shots.

 

Children with vaccine exemptions are at much greater risk of being infected with measles than fully vaccinated children. In one study the researchers looked at, the risk was 35 times that of the vaccinated population. Of the total measles cases, 178 were younger than 12 months — babies too young to get shots.

 

The cumulative epidemic curve of all the measles outbreaks since 2000 (when the disease was declared "eliminated" in the US) revealed that unvaccinated individuals were often "patient zeroes," meaning they sparked outbreaks by creating pockets of disease susceptibility that caused others to fall ill. Over that period, the US went from having no local spread of measles to 189 cases in 2015

Pharma Guy's insight:

80% of anti-vaxxers claim religious reasons for refusing vaccinations. It's not just ordinary crazy parents among us less fanatic religious types.

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A Swarm of Anti-Vaxxers in Washington Meet & Greet Friendly Trump Anti-Vaccine Supporters

A Swarm of Anti-Vaxxers in Washington Meet & Greet Friendly Trump Anti-Vaccine Supporters | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

They’re calling it a “revolution for truth.”

 

Activists who reject the robust science supporting vaccinations are gathering here Friday for a protest and march, capped off by a speech from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a noted and vociferous vaccine skeptic (read “Trump Picks Vaccine Critic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Chair Vaccine Panel”; http://sco.lt/9J3GFt and “Off The Grid: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Says Vaccines are Pay Dirt’ for #Pharma”; http://sco.lt/6smHDt).

 

The demonstrations follow a lobbying push on Thursday, in which activists held 80 meetings on Capitol Hill, many of them with staffers for members of Congress, according to Irene Pi, an organizer from Arizona.

 

“We’re being heard, and we’re going to enact change,” activist Jena Dalpez told STAT, just before she headed to her fourth congressional office of the day.

 

Advocates who reject that research have gained confidence in recent months, buoyed in part by the election of President Trump, who has a long history of raising unsubstantiated doubts about vaccine safety.

 

High on the lobbying agenda: Pushing members of Congress to encourage President Trump to establish a new vaccine safety commission. Kennedy emerged from a meeting with Trump in January saying such a commission would be established, and he’d lead it. That announcement set off alarms among public health experts; Trump’s team soon moved to quiet the frenzy by saying no decisions had been made about the panel. Kennedy later said, however, that he was confident the vaccine safety commission would move forward.

 

The activists organizing the “Revolution for Truth” also want Congress to repeal a Reagan-era law that had the effect of moving lawsuits over vaccine injuries out of the civil courts by setting up a separate compensation system. People can get compensation through that system if they’re able to meet strict requirements in showing a vaccine did, in fact, cause their injury. Activists oppose the system in large part because autism is not on the list of recognized injuries that can sometimes stem from vaccines.

 

Other key goals: Getting Trump to take vaccine safety out of the purview of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And nudging him to issue an executive order banning the government from purchasing vaccines that use the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. That preservative has never been in many key vaccines and was taken out of other childhood vaccines in 2001. Research shows it is not harmful in low doses.

 

Further Reading:

  • “Vaccines Are Path to Better Revenue Growth for Some #Pharma Companies”; http://sco.lt/582wTZ
  • “When Does It Makes Economic Sense for #Pharma Industry to Develop Vaccines vs Drugs?”: http://sco.lt/7adpSb
  • “Want to Avoid Toxins in Your Flu & Other Vaccines? ‘Good Luck,’ Says Cleveland Clinic Wellness Doctor”; http://sco.lt/4gmHXl
  • “CDC’s #VaxWithMe Social Media Campaign has been updated”; http://sco.lt/8bQcuv
  • “Intelligent, High Income People Refuse Vaccinations”; http://sco.lt/67gVs1
  • "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL
  • “Discredited Anti-Vaxxer Researcher Is “Very Positive” He Has an Ally in Trump”; http://sco.lt/76R4xF
  • “Better to Keep Vaccine Adverse Event Reports Secret, Concludes Study”; http://sco.lt/4gkjhJ
Pharma Guy's insight:

All the more reason to support the March for Science on April 22, 2017!

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Discredited Anti-Vaxxer Researcher Is “Very Positive” He Has an Ally in Trump

Discredited Anti-Vaxxer Researcher Is “Very Positive” He Has an Ally in Trump | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The discredited researcher who launched the anti-vaccine movement met with Donald Trump this summer — and found him sympathetic to the cause. Now, with Trump preparing to move into the White House, leaders of the movement are newly energized, hopeful they can undermine decades of public policy promoting childhood vaccinations.

 

At the most basic level, they’re hoping Trump will use his bully pulpit to advance his oft-stated concern — debunked by an extensive body of scientific evidence — that there’s a link between vaccines and autism.

 

“For the first time in a long time, I feel very positive about this, because Donald Trump is not beholden to the pharmaceutical industry,” movement leader Andrew Wakefield told STAT in a phone interview.

 

“He didn’t rely upon [drug makers] to get him elected. And he’s a man who seems to speak his mind and act accordingly. So we shall see,” said Wakefield. A former doctor whose medical license was revoked, Wakefield launched the movement to question the safety of vaccines nearly two decades ago with a fraudulent study (which has since been retracted) suggesting that a widely administered vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella can cause autism.

 

Wakefield and a small group of like-minded activists spent nearly an hour with Trump in the closing months of the presidential campaign. “I found him to be extremely interested, genuinely interested, and open-minded on this issue, so that was enormously refreshing,” Wakefield said.

 

Though he would be a powerful ally, there are limits to what Trump can do to undercut evidence-based vaccination policies.

 

Public health experts said it’s unlikely Trump will pack federal agencies with activists who would change the recommended childhood vaccine schedule or otherwise steer shifts in federal vaccination policy. The evidence that vaccines are safe and effective is so overwhelming, they said, that such a move would prompt a huge outcry from scientists and many politicians on both sides of the aisle.

 

But experts said there could be a cultural impact of having a doubter in the Oval Office.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Related article: “The Weird History of Anti-Vaxxers”; http://sco.lt/5OGVnd

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De Niro Backs Down: Anti-Vaccine Film Won't be Screened at Tribeca Festival.

De Niro Backs Down: Anti-Vaccine Film Won't be Screened at Tribeca Festival. | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In a decision that has dredged up the widely debunked link between vaccines and autism, the Tribeca Film Festival plans to screen a film by a discredited former doctor whose research caused widespread alarm about the issue.

The film, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” is directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, an anti-vaccination activist and an author of a study — published in the British medical journal The Lancet, in 1998 — that was retracted in 2010. In addition to the retraction of the study, which involved 12 children, Britain’s General Medical Council, citing ethical violations and a failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest, revoked Mr. Wakefield’s medical license.

On the festival’s website, the biographical material about Mr. Wakefield does not mention that he was stripped of his license or that his Lancet study was retracted. Rather, it says that the Lancet study “would catapult Wakefield into becoming one of the most controversial figures in the history of medicine.”

 

[Reported in 3/27/2016 issue of NYT: "

Facing a storm of criticism over its plan to show a documentary about the widely debunked link between vaccines and autism, the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday pulled the film from its schedule next month.

 

In a statement, Robert De Niro, a founder of the festival, wrote: “My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”]

Pharma Guy's insight:

 

Another chapter in the "The Weird History of Anti-Vaxxers: Especially Blame Travelers & Religion"; http://sco.lt/5OGVnd This time blame Hollywood stars!

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