Medicine

How often do you pay extra for the packaging?

[A] new BBC television investigation…claims that branded painkillers that say they specifically treat certain types of pain are just using ‘clever marketing’ to make patients spend up to ten times more than they would on unbranded products, and that some manufacturers simply use the same pills in different packaging throughout their ranges.

There are three main types of over-the-counter cough remedies, those that contain suppressants to alleviate symptoms of a dry, tickly cough, syrups that reduce the urge to cough by coating the throat, and products that help to thin sticky mucus, making coughing easier.

Some also contain paracetamol or ibuprofen, both of which reduce a temperature, decongestants and antihistamines that can help sleep.

Yet an authoritative study from Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre claimed cough medicines work mostly through a placebo effect, and that just 15 per cent of the effect can be attributed to the medicines in them.

We take the mickey out of homeopathy, but did you know that most of the over the counter meds have a 85% placebo effect?   Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

Weed-onomics

I see from the Herald today that there is a weed shortage in the South Island, which has driven up prices, classic supply/demand economics.

The Telegraph in the UK had a recent article about the economics of legalising cannabis.

How much is cannabis worth these days? According to the Institute for Economic and Research, up to £900m could be raised annually through taxation of regulated cannabis market.

Meanwhile £361 million is currently spent every year on policing and treating users of illegally traded and consumed cannabis.

It seems a lot to spend on punishing people for an activity most of us barely believe should be a crime any more. And that’s even before one factors in the potential benefit legalisation and regulation of cannabis could have for the UK exchequer.

Then, there is the job creation potential. In Colorado, which legalised marijuana at the beginning of 2014, 10,000 now work in the marijuana industry: growing and harvesting crops, working in dispensaries, and making and selling equipment. Crime has fallen: in the first three months after legalisation in Denver, the city experienced a 14.6 per cent drop in crime and specifically violent crime is down 2.4 per cent. Assaults were down by 3.7 per cent.

This reduction led to further savings and allowing stretched police forces to concentrate on more serious issues. Meanwhile, cannabis use by young people actually decreased, an uncomfortable fact for prohibitionists who argue that legalisation would simply encourage more teens to take up cannabis.

Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

Photo Of The Day

Photo by Gene Arias/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Photo by Gene Arias/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Strange Story of Henry Heimlich

 Dr. Henry Heimlich demonstrates the Heimlich manoeuvre on host Johnny Carson while appearing on “The Tonight Show” on April 4, 1979.

You may not know Henry Heimlich, but you probably know the life-saving manoeuvre that bears his name. Without a doubt, the man has saved thousands of lives around the world. However, Henry Heimlich’s story is incredibly complex, and future generations might remember him as a nut that did more harm than good.

Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Photo by Rachel Beth Anderson/VICE News

Photo by Rachel Beth Anderson/VICE News

After Genital Cutting in Somalia

A Woman Chooses Reconstructive Surgery in America

The decision to undergo reconstructive surgery wasn’t easy for a Somali woman who describes the weeks following surgery as being ‘by far the hardest of my life.’

Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Photo: © The New England Journal of Medicine

Photo: © The New England Journal of Medicine

No Wonder She Was In Agony

Read more »

This is why we need a FBT

This is why we need  Fat Bastards Tax, that taxes the fat bastard not the fat or the sugar.

I’ll just bet fat bastards will soon start demanding the NZ government funds this new drug.

A treatment of injections that can help people lost a stone more than they normally would by dieting or exercising more has been approved by health watchdogs.

Liraglutide, which has been described by doctors as life-changing, could be available on prescription in months.

Slimmers typically lose almost a stone more than they would by simply watching how many calories they consume and doing more exercise.

Trials showed that some severely obese patients lost so much weight they were able to abandon their wheelchairs and walk normally for the first time in years.

Liraglutide also lowers blood pressure, raises good cholesterol and prevents diabetes.According to its makers, Novo Nordisk of Denmark, the drug even produces a ‘feel-good factor’, making dieting a pleasure.But some experts have already warned it does not provide a long-term solution to the growing problem of obesity in Britain.

Novo Nordisk will apply for it to be prescribed on the NHS after Friday’s ruling by the European drugs regulator that it is safe and effective.

There are fears however that Nice – Britain’s drugs rationing body – will judge it too expensive for routine use on the NHS.

Liraglutide costs from £2.25 a day, which is roughly double the price of Orlistat, the only other prescription diet drug.

Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

A reader emails on his experience of aid in Africa

Following on from the discussion yesterday about aid, particularly in the South Pacific another reader emailed his experiences in the 1960s in Africa.

Hi Whaleoil Team,

The current debate in your blog on the moral ethics of what has now become the ‘Aid Industry’ reminds me of the fascinating (but probably valueless) years I spent giving ‘Aid’ in several third-world countries.

My rather ominous introduction came when we arrived at the headquarters of the aid organisation in Accra, Ghana in the days when the country was a bankrupt communist dictatorship under the regime of Kwame Nkumah.  The local head of the aid organisation I was to work for, a Scandinavian, asked us not to take photos of the headquarters campus as ‘People back home might not understand’. What he was referring to were the palatial houses the administrators (all Europeans or Americans) lived in.   The one long-serving couple, who actually lived in a tiny single-bedroom house which used to be servant’s quarters, told us they first lived in a mud-brick house and made their own furniture from the wood of their packing cases.  How things had changed!

I spent three years working up country and finished up very cynical about it all.  The hospital I worked at had two doctors and served about a quarter of a million people.  Our own figures indicated that probably 50% of the children born were dead by the age of 5 years. What killed them were the Big Three – Malaria – Measles – Malnutrition.  The annual measles epidemic early each year would kill between 100 and 150 children (that we knew about!) in our area.  Most of these children would arrive at the hospital dead or dying, generally from a combination of pneumonia and sickle-cell crisis triggering heart failure.  There was effectively nothing we could do.  We didn’t even have an oxygen supply.
Incidentally, the ‘official’ figures for infant mortality were much lower.  Of course these were derived only from recorded deaths in the major cities – Accra and Kumasi – and, since death registration was optional, probably under-reported even these.

Of course the local women would have possibly 10 to 15 pregnancies and most would result in live births.  The fact that they would only raise about half of these children was accepted as normal.
We offered – rather limited – birth control advice but, apart from a miniscule number of educated Ghanaians, it wasn’t used.  Cultural reasons – such as the fact that a man’s status in the community was raised by the number of children he fathered – ensured that women did nothing to prevent repeated pregnancy.  Polygamy was legal, though less common than you might think since bride-price meant getting wives was expensive.

As was pointed out in one of the comments in your blog, it was disaster trying to save these children unless matched by measures to limit the birthrate.  Starvation was a daily fact-of-life. ‘Kwashiorkor’, due to protein starvation in children getting adequate calories, was named after the Ghanaian word for the disease.  It, unfortunately, has irreversibly damaged the brain by the time it is diagnosed.  I saw many, many cases of it.     Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

State media the same the world over

State media seems to be the same the world over.

Left wing activist journalists pushing their own agendas or the agendas of weirdos.

The ABC’s 7.30 has come under fire after airing a story on US vaccination rates that failed to declare one of the interviewees was a high-profile anti-vaccination campaigner and head of a “natural” health care business.

US-based James Maskell, CEO of Revive Primary Care, was introduced only as a concerned parent in the segment presented by reporter Jane Cowan and introduced by Leigh Sales.

Maskell later appeared to say on Twitter that he had told producers from the outset of his professional interest in the issue.

However, at no point in the segment was this mentioned, nor was he identified in on-screen text.

In addition, a transcript of the program on the ABC’s website, appears to have been altered to read “James Maskell, Anti-Vaccinationist”.    Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

Anti-fluoride weirdos upset at proposed law change

Anti-fluoride weirdos are outraged at a proposal before government to clarify the law regarding fluoride…ironically that came about as a result of their appeal.

Anti-fluoride campaigners are alarmed at a “sinister” move to slide through a law change over Christmas, validating councils’ power to add the chemical to drinking water.

Medsafe opened public submissions on November 25 on a law change to stop fluoride being legally defined as a medicine – meaning it can be added to municipal water supplies. The deadline for submissions is this Friday.

The law change comes after a High Court justice said the law needed clarification, as he ruled against an appeal by anti-fluoride groups to stop fluoride being added to water.

David Sloan, the director of anti-fluoridation lobby group New Health New Zealand, said the Ministry of Health was rushing the law change. But the organisation’s request to extend the timeframe for submissions outside of the Christmas and New Year period was dismissed by the Ministry of Health.

“We’re a voluntary organisation and all have jobs, so to expect us to put together a good submission in that timeframe is terrible,” Sloan said. “This is kind of a sinister move by the Ministry of Health.”

The change comes after New Health New Zealand sought a judicial review against the Attorney General, arguing that fluoride was subject to the Medicines Act.     Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

Why homeopathy is complete nonsense

The economist explains why homeopathy is complete nonsense, and something only hippies and Green MPs believe in.

VISIT any health shop and you are likely to see them: packages of homeopathic remedies claiming to cure whatever ails you, from coughs and fever to insomnia and asthma. Flip the package of medicine, however, and you may be confused by the listed ingredients. Some claim to contain crushed bees, stinging nettles and even arsenic, as well as sugars such as lactose and sucrose. Americans spend some $3 billion a year on homeopathic medicines. What are they thinking?

The history of homeopathy—literally, “similar suffering”—dates to the late 18th century. Samuel Hahnemann, a German doctor, was unimpressed by contemporary medicine, with good reason. Doctors used leeches to let blood and hot plasters to bring on blisters, which were then drained. In 1790 Hahnemann developed a fever that transformed his career. After swallowing powder from the bark of a cinchona tree, he saw his temperature rise. Cinchona bark contains quinine, which was already known to treat malaria. Hahnemann considered the facts: cinchona seemed to give him a fever; fever is a symptom of malaria; and cinchona treats malaria. He then made an acrobatic leap of logic: medicines bring on the same symptoms in healthy people as they cure in sick ones. Find a substance that induces an illness and it might treat that illness in another.

Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.