Passing of a rock legend

by JoelLane 29. October 2013 13:51

Reed Lou Reed, rock legend and ground-breaking lyricist of drug addiction, has died aged 71.

Reed’s bleak but spirited songs, many of which placed drug abuse in the context of social and emotional breakdown, inspired a generation of punks, goths and other musical outsiders.

With his band The Velvet Underground and in his diverse solo albums, Reed brought into popular music a sensibility formed by Beat literature and New York street culture.

Without glamourising drug abuse, he explored – in songs such as ‘Perfect Day’ and ‘Caroline Says II’ – the experience of drugs such as heroin, amphetamine and Valium as a subjective world and a part of the individual’s psychic economy.

Reed had issues with the medical profession: as a teenager, he was forced to undergo ECT as a ‘treatment’ for homosexuality. In his song ‘Heroin’ an addict tells those trying to “help” him: You can all go take a walk.

However, in later life Reed’s experience of medication was more legal and constructive, and in 2012 he declared: “I’m a miracle of modern medicine.”

In the 1970s, the music papers were updating their draft Lou Reed obituaries on a regular basis – but his death, five months after a liver transplant, leaves many people shocked and bereft. The world is a smaller place without him.

Reed insisted that drug users and other disturbed people should be regarded as individuals, not stereotyped as heroes or victims: Take the blue mask from off my face, and look me in the eye.

Abbott donates $1m to hurricane fund

by IainBate 5. November 2012 12:55

Sandy - web Abbott and its foundation have provided $1 million in funding and product donations to help the support effort following Hurricane Sandy in the US.

Grants will be provided to a host of relief organisations and product donations issued to food banks and clinics along the east coast of America.

John B Thomas, Vice President, Investor Relations and Public Affairs, Abbott, and President of the Abbott Fund, said the donations would “help communities recover in the days and weeks ahead.”

Organisations including the American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Direct Relief International and World Vets have all been provided with grants. Direct Relief International and Feeding America were provided with product donations to help support residents in New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

The pharma company also supplied disaster relief packs earlier this year containing nutritional and medical products and advice to coastal communities at high risk of hurricanes.

Rocky, Rocky, Rocky

by IainBate 6. February 2012 10:50

boxing_gloves - web The return of Sylvester Stallone in 2006 to the Rocky character may not have been Andrew Lansley’s first choice for Orange Wednesday when it was first released. But the character who famously took down the interpretation of the Soviet government in one fight and then Mr T. in another did have some wise words that may well be of interest to him. Especially after the battering he took last week.

Rocky, speaking to his son in a husky New York accent, said: “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done.”

While Lansley might not have taken any physical punches – yet – over his controversial reforms to the NHS, there can be no mistaking he’s been metaphorically beaten from pillar to post by various associations since the White Paper containing his reforms was published back in July 2010.

The latest combination of blows came from the RCGP and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. A swift right jab from Dr Clare Gerada came when she wrote directly to the Prime Minister urging him to withdraw the Health and Social Care Bill for the benefit of the NHS and patients.

The blow from Dr Gerada may not have been the first which knocked ‘Basher’ Lansley back in his stride, but it may be the one which takes his breath away more than any have before. GPs on the ground, which voted for the third time in a survey commissioned by the RCGP, hold more punching power where the changes are concerned. After all, it’s these same doctors which will be at the heart of clinical commissioning. Without these in his corner, how can Lansley possible punch through his reforms?

Whether or not Lansley will be able to continue his ‘rode-a-dope’ approach remains to be seen. However, if he continues to take hurtful body blows like he did last week, his reign as Health Secretary may be entering the last round as champion of the reforms.

Synthetic insulin costs NHS millions

by emma 22. September 2011 13:10

Pf NHS News

The NHS wasted £625 million over the last decade on synthetic forms of insulin when recommended alternatives were cheaper and probably just as effective, research has shown.

The findings from publicly available data showed the NHS spent a total of £2.7bn on insulin in the last ten years but could’ve saved millions had human insulin been prescribed instead.

Authors of the research said there had been “no observable clinical benefit to justify” the investment and the “rise of insulin analogues has had a substantial financial impact on the NHS”.

The number of people diagnosed with condition has risen to 2.8 million in the UK, with 90% having type II diabetes. Those diagnosed with type I diabetes are immediately prescribed insulin, however those with type II start later with their treatment.

The NHS has seen the annual cost of insulin increase 130% in the last ten years from £156 million to £359 million. Synthetic insulin now costs £305 million a year – accounting for 85% of the total medicine prescribed.

But, over the same period, the cost of human insulin fell from £131 million to £51 million a year. And, if all patients had been prescribed the cheaper alternative, researchers say the NHS could have saved hundreds of millions of pounds.

“It is likely that there was and is considerable scope for financial savings,” said the research authors.

“Most worryingly, the clinical role and safety of insulin for use in people with type II diabetes is being questioned.”

The finding comes as a UN health summit in New York aims to increase international efforts to stop the rising global burden of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes.

Pharma pays US doctors $150m

by emma 31. August 2011 11:50

Pf industry news

Several large pharmaceutical companies have paid US physicians nearly $150m this year, according to analysis by the Financial Times.

Industry data into the controversial marketing and support practices found that $148m has been given to 165,000 doctors so far, including $48m from Eli Lilly and $42m from Pfizer.

A spokesperson for Lilly said the “collaboration with healthcare providers is essential” to improve outcomes for patients and to provide innovative medicines.

In the UK, the ABPI recently changed its Code of Practice meaning companies now have to declare payments to healthcare professionals for their services from 2013 in an attempt to increase transparency. Government agencies in the US are currently finalising similar guidelines as part of the healthcare reforms.

The analysis by the Financial Times, in conjunction with PharmaShine, is designed to allow health authorities, medical institutions and patients better scrutinise and understand the links between doctors and pharma.

But the way current disclosures are made and presented varies and makes comparisons and analysis difficult for both authorities and patients alike.

Allan Coukell, Head of the Pew Prescription Project – a US drug safety watchdog – says that healthcare professionals and the industry needs to work together for research purposes, “but the marketing model is problematic”.

“The first step is transparency and we are not even there yet,” he added.

Research found that collectively the industry paid $437m to 262,000 doctors in 2010. Among the physicians who received the highest level of support was Dr Zale Bernstein, an Associate Professor from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. Dr Bernstein received $234,000 in 2010 from Cephalon, Eli Lilly and Pfizer and has already received more than $57,000 already this year.

Although the majority of doctors received smaller sums, studies have suggested even modest support by pharma can affect prescribing practices.

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