Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sleep Apnea

image via

Some of us in FS have been told that we snore...we won't name names. I will out myself, I, Ed, snore. After several years of prodding, I went in for a sleep study (I will write about that later). The results: I have moderate Sleep Apnea. The most startling part for me was to discover that i don't get to sleep in REM. Which would explain why I can't remember my dreams.

We will explore Sleep apnea, what it is, why it needs to be addressed, and compare some of the traditional and alternative remedies, using Ed as the Guinea pig. Stay Tuned!

quote below via wikipedia

"Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Each episode, called an apnea (Greek: άπνοια (ápnoia), from α- (a-), privative, πνέειν (pnéein), to breathe), lasts long enough so that one or more breaths are missed, and such episodes occur repeatedly throughout sleep. The standard definition of any apneic event includes a minimum 10 second interval between breaths, with either a neurological arousal (a 3-second or greater shift in EEG frequency, measured at C3, C4, O1, or O2), a blood oxygen desaturation of 3-4% or greater, or both arousal and desaturation. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram.

Clinically significant levels of sleep apnea are defined as five or more episodes per hour of any type of apnea (from the polysomnogram). There are three distinct forms of sleep apnea: central, obstructive, and complex (i.e., a combination of central and obstructive) constituting 0.4%, 84% and 15% of cases respectively.[1] Breathing is interrupted by the lack of respiratory effort in central sleep apnea; in obstructive sleep apnea, breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite respiratory effort. In complex (or "mixed") sleep apnea, there is a transition from central to obstructive features during the events themselves.

Regardless of type, the individual with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body (sequelae). Symptoms may be present for years (or even decades) without identification, during which time the sufferer may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Study: Exercise slows Alzheimer's brain atrophy

Article starts really strong and then spirals into big pharma ad....FS says, "Get off your ass and walk, jog, or bike!"

Study: Exercise slows Alzheimer's brain atrophy

NEW YORK - Patients with early Alzheimer's disease who exercised regularly saw less deterioration in the areas of the brain which control memory, according to a study released Sunday at the 2008 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies showed that exercise positively affected the hippocampus region of patients' brains, an area which is important for both memory and balance. In Alzheimer's, the hippocampus is one of the first parts of the brain to suffer damage.

Exercise and physical fitness have been shown to slow down age-related brain cell death in healthy older adults, and earlier this month a preliminary study was published showing that exercise may help slow brain shrinkage in people with early Alzheimer's disease.

Now, researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., have used MRI and other neuroimaging tools to analyze how exercise affects the brains of those with early Alzheimer's.

The researchers found that patients with early Alzheimer's had a "significant relationship" between the size of key brain areas associated with memory and fitness, unlike healthy older adults. Those patients with better fitness ratings had less brain tissue atrophy and those with worse fitness had more brain damage.

"This is the first study to get an inside look into specifically where these changes occur in the brain — we're able to locate the changes associated with fitness to the actual memory region, the hippocampus, which is a key area for Alzheimer's-related atrophy," said Robyn A. Honea, PhD, a lead investigator on the study. "This suggests that maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness may positively modify Alzheimer's-related brain atrophy."

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Another report from ICAD 2008 showed that a 12-month home-based exercise program reduced falls and improved balance in patients with dementia. According to researchers from Western Medicine, Nedlands, Western Australia, people suffering from dementia fall up to three times more than those who have no cognitive impairment.

"Falls have a negative impact on a person's quality of life, often resulting in nursing home placement, increased mortality and significant costs to the community," said Megan J. Wraith, a researcher on the study. "Targeting this high risk group may be a relatively cost effective way of having a significant impact on the overall rate of falling in the elderly."

The study was funded by the Sir Charles Gairdner Research Foundation and Hollywood Private Hospital Research Foundation.

Currently, the prognosis for patients with Alzheimer's is bleak. The Alzheimer's treatment market is small, led by Pfizer Inc.'s Aricept, Forest Laboratories Inc.'s Namenda, Razadyne from Johnson & Johnson and Shire Ltd., Novartis AG's Exelon and Sciele Pharma Inc.'s Cognex. But while those drugs fight Alzheimer's symptoms, they can't stop its ultimate progress.

Wyeth and Elan Corp. are currently developing a new kind of Alzheimer's treatment, bapineuzumab, which is designed to actually slow progress of the disease. In June, study data showed that drug was shown to benefit Alzheimer's patients who lacked a certain gene.

via Yahoo News

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Healthy Life Expo, Orange County

We went down to the fair this past week and saw an advertisement for an upcoming health expo at the fair grounds in Costa Mesa. The event dates are September 6-7, 2008. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Weekly Remedy #6: Stinky Feet

image via morguefile

Do you suffer from stinky feet? Many assume that it's the sweat. Actually, sweat is sterile and has no odor. It's the sweat interacting with fungus and/or bacteria living on your skin. Try soaking your feet in brewed tea for 30 minutes a day for a week. The tea contains tannic acid which will help combat the fungus and/or bacteria. We heard about this from Dr. Oz on Oprah...yes, Oprah.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Top Twelve Herbs (the most useful...maybe)

Here a list of useful herbs given to us by a trained master herbalist. Before we could type out the list she started reworking the list. Apparently Herbs, like many things, are relative.

Chamomile (Roman and German)
Red Clover
St. John's Wort
Wild Yam
Yellow Dock

Ayahuasca, Amazon Herbal Medicine Documenatry

not totally sold on this.

via youtube:

"Health Nut talks about his Upcoming documentary on the Amazon Rain forest, "the worlds medicine chest". to find out more info check out these sites:

there are many studies with Ayahuasca for treatment with AIDS/HIV, addiction, cancer, diabetes etc etc.
42% of all drugs on the market today got their start from rain forest plants. help with all degenerative diseases is in the Amazon plants. herbal medicine is as old as man herself. if you are truly interested in saving the planet and your own health Amazon Herbs are a NO BRAINER.

to contact the singer, shaman Elisa directly:

there are no degenerative diseases in the Amazon....NONE, they do not exist. if allopathic medicine is such a great human achievement why are so many new and old diseases cropping up and exponentiating???"

You've Got Mail

This comes to our spam box almost everyday....

Truth in Advertising: Rx Drug Ads Come of Age, FDA Consumer Magazine, July 2004

From the FDA

"Truth in Advertising: Rx Drug Ads Come of Age
By Carol Rados

You may have seen the advertisement: A melodrama of crime and corruption, conflict and emotion, centering on indoor hit men like dust and dander, and outdoor hit men such as pollen and ragweed, all threatening to offend a young and very beautiful woman's nose. The 45-second broadcast ad covers everything from talking to your doctor to the possible side effects that people can expect. Then the narrator mentions "Flonase."

Entertaining though it may be, the Food and Drug Administration says this promotional piece about nasal allergy relief also has all the elements of a well-crafted, easy-to-understand prescription drug advertisement directed at consumers, and it meets agency requirements for these ads.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs in its varied forms--TV, radio, magazines, newspapers--is widely used throughout the United States. DTC advertising is a category of promotional information about specific drug treatments provided directly to consumers by or on behalf of drug companies. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office--the investigational arm of Congress--pharmaceutical manufacturers spent $2.7 billion on DTC advertising in 2001 alone.

The Controversy
Whether it's a 1940s, detective-style film noir of unusual allergy suspects or a middle-aged man throwing a football through a tire swing announcing that he's "back in the game," the DTC approach to advertising prescription drugs has been controversial. Some say that DTC promotion provides useful information to consumers that results in better health outcomes. Others argue that it encourages overuse of prescription drugs and use of the most costly treatments, instead of less expensive treatments that would be just as satisfactory.

There seems to be little doubt that DTC advertising can help advance the public health by encouraging more people to talk with health care professionals about health problems, particularly under-treated conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

DTC advertising also can help remove the stigma that accompanies diseases that in the past were rarely openly discussed, such as erectile dysfunction or depression. DTC ads also can remind patients to get their prescriptions refilled and help them adhere to their medication regimens.

On the other hand, ads that are false or misleading do not advance--and may even threaten--the public health. While the FDA encourages DTC advertisements that contain accurate information, the agency also has the job of making sure that consumers are not misled or deceived by advertisements that violate the law.

"The goal here is getting truthful, non-misleading information to consumers about safe and effective therapeutic products so they can be partners in their own health care," says Peter Pitts, the FDA's associate commissioner for external relations. "Better-informed consumers are empowered to choose and use the products we regulate to improve their health."

In three FDA surveys conducted in 1999 and 2002, physicians reported that DTC ads had these beneficial effects for patients:

How Ads Affect Consumers
The FDA surveyed both patients and physicians about their attitudes and experiences with DTC advertising between 1999 and 2002. The agency summarized the findings of these surveys in January 2003 in the report, Assessment of Physician and Patient Attitudes Toward Direct-to-Consumer Promotion of Prescription Drugs.

DTC advertising appears to influence certain types of behavior. For example, the FDA surveys found that among patients who visited doctors and asked about a prescription drug by brand name because of an ad they saw, 88 percent actually had the condition the drug treats. This is important, Pitts says, because physician visits that result in earlier detection of a disease, combined with appropriate treatment, could mean that more people will live longer, healthier, more productive lives without the risk of future costly medical interventions.

With the number of ailments Patricia A. Sigler lives with--diabetes, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, nerve damage, and a heart defect called mitral valve prolapse--the 64-year-old small business owner in Jefferson, Md., says that she's always on the lookout for medicines that might improve her quality of life, and that she pays attention to DTC ads for prescription drugs.

In the three FDA surveys, patients reported recalling this information from TV ads:

Some Doctors Don't Agree
Michael S. Wilkes, M.D., vice dean of the medical school at the University of California, Davis, says that two reasons he doesn't like DTC advertising are that patients may withhold information from their doctors or try to treat themselves. Aiming prescription drug ads at consumers can affect the "dynamics of the patient-provider relationship," and ultimately, the patient's quality of care, Wilkes says. DTC advertising can motivate consumers to seek more information about a product or disease, but physicians need to help patients evaluate health-related information they obtain from DTC advertising, he says.

"DTC advertising may cultivate the belief among the public that there is a pill for every ill and contribute to the medicalization of trivial ailments, leading to an even more overmedicated society," Wilkes says. "Patients need to trust that I've got their best interest in mind."

Others who favor DTC ads say that consumer-directed information can be an important educational tool in a time when more patients want to be involved in their own health care. Carol Salzman, M.D., Ph.D., an internist in Chevy Chase, Md., emphasizes, however, that physicians still need to remain in control of prescribing medications.

"Doctors shouldn't feel threatened by their patients asking for a medicine by name," she says, "but at the same time, patients shouldn't come in expecting that a drug will be dispensed just because they asked for it."

Salzman says she finds it time-consuming "trying to talk people out of something they have their hearts set on." Wilkes agrees. Discussions motivated by ads that focus on specific drugs or trivial complaints, he says, could take time away from subjects such as a patient's symptoms, the range of available treatments, and specific details about a patient's illness.

Education or Promotion?
At least one patient advocacy group is concerned about what it says are the downsides of advertising prescription drugs directly to consumers, claiming that DTC ads often masquerade as educational tools, but provide more promotion than education. The ads, they say, provide little access to unbiased information.

"People need to be careful with ads that it isn't just hype that they're going to feel better, with no objectivity of the downsides," says Linda Golodner, president of the National Consumers League in Washington, D.C. Although all DTC advertisements must disclose risk information, she says what is typically communicated is a brand name, a reason to use the product, and an impression of the product. Golodner wants all offices within the FDA that have a responsibility for any aspect of DTC advertising to work together. "There's a lot of the same information out there, so why not bring it all together so that consumers can understand it better?"

Truth in Advertising
The FDA has regulated the advertising of prescription drugs since 1962, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and related regulations. The regulations establish detailed requirements for ad content. Most other advertising, including that of over-the-counter drugs, is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission under a different set of rules.

The FDA's Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC) oversees two types of promotion for prescription drugs: promotional labeling and advertising. Advertising includes commercial messages broadcast on television or radio, communicated over the telephone, or printed in magazines and newspapers. Prescription drug ads must contain information in a "brief summary" relating to both risks and benefits. Recognizing the time constraints of broadcast ads, FDA regulations provide that a broadcast advertisement may include, instead of a brief summary, information relating to the major risks. The ad must also make "adequate provision" for distributing the FDA-approved labeling in connection with the broadcast ad. This refers to the concept of providing ways for consumers to find more complete information about the drug.

Most ads fulfill this requirement by including a toll-free telephone number, a Web site address, or a link to a concurrently running print ad. They also encourage consumers to talk to their health care providers. Both print and broadcast ads directed at consumers may only make claims that are supported by scientific evidence.

DDMAC oversight helps ensure that pharmaceutical companies accurately communicate the benefits and risks of an advertised drug. The regulations require that advertising for prescription drugs must disclose certain information about the product's uses and risks.

In addition, advertisements cannot be false or misleading and cannot omit material facts. FDA regulations also call for "fair balance" in every product-claim ad. This means that the risks and benefits must be presented with comparable scope, depth, and detail, and that information relating to the product's effectiveness must be fairly balanced by risk information.

The FDA does not generally require prior approval of DTC ads, although companies are required to submit their ads to the FDA at the time they begin running. The agency, therefore, routinely examines these commercials and published DTC ads after they become available to the public. FDA, however, also is happy to review proposed ads if a drug company makes a request.

"We look at a lot of DTC ads before they run," says Kathryn J. Aikin, Ph.D., a social scientist in DDMAC. "Manufacturers typically want to be sure they're getting started on the right foot."

The Trouble With Ads
Of the three types of DTC advertisements, the first and most common--product-claim ads--mention a drug's name and the condition it is intended to treat, and describe the risks and benefits associated with taking the drug. Some manufacturers have decided not to present this much information and instead, have made use of two other kinds of ads. "Reminder" ads give only the name of the product, but not what it is used for, and "help-seeking" ads contain information about a disease, but do not mention a specific drug. These help-seeking--or disease-awareness--ads can be extremely informative and, because they name no drug, they are not regulated by the FDA. Examples of help-seeking ads are those that mention high cholesterol or diabetes, and then direct you to ask your doctor about treatments. Reminder ads call attention to a drug's name, but say nothing about the condition it is used to treat, its effectiveness, or safety information. A reminder ad is not required to include risk information.

There has been a great deal of discussion about the brief summary that accompanies DTC print ads. The typical brief summary is not brief and uses technical language. This is because it reprints all of the risk information from the physician labeling. People have complained that the brief summary cannot be understood by consumers. Aikin says, "Patients do not typically read the brief summary in DTC print ads unless they're interested in the product." Even then, she says, much information is likely glanced at, rather than fully read.

Public input and the FDA's own experiences with DTC promotion prompted the agency to publish two new draft guidances in February 2004: one on the brief summary, and one on help-seeking ads. These guidances are designed to encourage more informative, understandable ads.

Advertising Guidance
The draft guidance on the brief summary encourages companies to use consumer-friendly language and formats to convey prescription drug risk information--through a "less is more" approach. This approach focuses on the most serious and the most common risks of a drug, rather than listing every risk from the physician labeling. "Even though the information currently in the brief summary is complete, accurate, and in compliance," says Pitts, "it does not mean that patients are deriving the maximum benefit from it."

Sometimes marketers combine help-seeking ads with perceptually similar reminder ads in a way that causes the audience to perceive the two pieces as one advertisement. Appearing individually, these ads are exempted by regulation from the risk disclosure requirement. Combined, however, both ads can, in some cases, make a product-claim advertisement that requires risk disclosure.

The agency's recent draft guidance on help-seeking ads explains that help-seeking and reminder ads must appear distinct to avoid coming under the regulations for a product-claim ad. The draft guidance also addresses the separation needed between the two types of ads--in space for print ads, and in time for TV ads.

Those in Violation
For companies that don't follow the rules, DDMAC's possible actions include two types of letters--"untitled" and "warning." These letters address advertisements that make misleading claims about a drug's effectiveness--violations such as overstating the effectiveness of the drug, suggesting a broader range of indicated uses than the drug has been approved for, and lack of risk information. In both types of letters, DDMAC asks that the advertisement be withdrawn.

Warning letters, which are sent to companies that have violated the law repeatedly or that have committed serious regulatory violations in their advertising, typically request corrective advertisements to assure that the audience that received the original false or misleading information also receives truthful and accurate information.

Untitled letters are usually, but not always, sent to companies for first-time offenses or for less serious violations.

For example, the 60-second DTC broadcast television ad featuring "Digger," the well-known animated dermatophyte microorganism touting Lamisil (terbinafine), a treatment for nail fungus, was initially found to be false or misleading. The FDA sent an untitled letter to the makers of Lamisil for overstating the drug's effectiveness, minimizing its risk information, and making an unsubstantiated superiority claim. As a result, the manufacturer, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., stopped running that ad.

DDMAC recently sent a warning letter to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. about false or misleading promotional materials for Pravachol (pravastatin sodium), a drug approved to lower cholesterol in people with high cholesterol, to help prevent heart attacks in people with high cholesterol or heart disease, and to help prevent stroke in people with heart disease. One of the company's ads misleadingly suggested that the drug had been proven to help prevent stroke in all people worried about having a stroke, regardless of whether or not they had heart disease.

Another ad, directed at diabetes patients, misleadingly suggested that Pravachol had been proven to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people with diabetes. Following the warning letter, the company created a corrective ad campaign acknowledging that Pravachol had not been approved for these indications.

Assessing DTC advertising is an ongoing process for the FDA. As more research surfaces, the agency will continue to evaluate DTC drug promotion and will take additional measures as appropriate to protect the public health.

DTC Ads at a Glance

Product-claim ads:

mention a drug by name
make representations about the drug, such as its safety and effectiveness
must have fair balance of information about effectiveness and risks
are required to disclose risks in a "brief summary" of benefits and risks (for print ads)
are required to give a "major statement" of risks and "adequate provision" for finding out more, such as a toll-free number (for broadcast ads).
Reminder ads:

provide the name of the medication
may provide other minimal information, such as cost and dosage form
do not make a representation about the drug, such as the drug's use, effectiveness, or safety
are not required to provide risk information.
Help-seeking ads:

educate consumers about a disease or medical condition
let people know that treatments exist for a medical condition
don't name a specific drug
are not required to provide risk information."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Activity: No Free Lunch

We will be posting DIY activities as we find them. We are cross posting this on our other blog. Enjoy:

"Spend some time exploring the website of No Free Lunch ( Then interview your doctor about the organization: Has he or she heard of it? Do they know what its goals are? What do they think about its mission? Have they signed the pledge? If not, why not? Would they in the future? Make some calls to other doctor’s offices and try to find out how many have heard of the organization and/or signed the pledge. Post your findings here in the comments section."

assignment via Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease and Pushing Drugs Study Guide Written by Bill Yousman

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Weekly Remedy #5: Ginger

Image via wikipedia

Ginger has been used as natural cures in several cultures. It can cure stomach ailments. It can be used to cure nausea developed from seasickness, morning sickness, and chemotherapy. It is also often used in different cultures in different forms to help with the common cold.

Read more about it here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Animals and Drugs...

The above video is NOT related to the NY Times article quoted below and we have no idea if the dog in the video is on any drugs nor are we in a position to diagnose whether the animal needs drugs. We do think that he/she has a thing for running around in circles. And we are OK with that.

Seriously though,

The following quote is from a recent NY Times article regarding prescription drugs for animals.

“He’s agile,” Allan says. “He’s healthy. He’s a good-looking animal.” Michelle adds, “We love him to death.” That is why they had no choice, she says. The dog simply had to go on psychoactive drugs.
Read the whole story here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Objectifying Relaxation

We are developing a relaxation apparatus/pod for our Little Pharma exhibit at Fringe. We have been kicking around ideas to no avail. We then turned to Google Images to shake things up a bit. Here are a few of the images yielded from the search:

Image via Square

See more here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cholesterol Drugs and Kids

Here are a few very interesting articles from Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times. There is a new push to do cholesterol tests and even medicate high-risk children.

Cholesterol Screening Is Urged for Young
8-Year-Olds on Statins? A New Plan Quickly Bites Back
Cholesterol Drugs for Kids

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn is the
founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts. Here he speaks on the subject of mindfulness on the Google campus. The talk on mindfulness and meditation is done in a completely none-New Age way. The lecture lasts well over an hour, so make sure you give it plenty of time before you watch the video.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Weekly Remedy #4: Lavender

Need to relax? Tired but not able to sleep? Muscles aching? Excess skin? Try Lavender.

They grow it here.

Who Are the Players???

Earlier this week we posted the 2007 Pharma Cheerleader roster which begs the question, "who are the players?" Over the next few weeks we will post info about some of our favorite Big Pharma players.

image via PBS

Player: Scott Gottlieb M.D.
Claim to Fame: Former FDA Official
Read this: Alternet- Disgraced FDA Official Goes Back to Big Pharma By Martha Rosenberg

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Well: The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating via Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times

Nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden has created several lists of healthful foods people should be eating but aren’t. But some of his favorites, like purslane, guava and goji berries, aren’t always available at regular grocery stores. I asked Dr. Bowden, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” to update his list with some favorite foods that are easy to find but don’t always find their way into our shopping carts. Here’s his advice.

read more | digg story

Eat your:

Swiss chard
Dried plums
Pumpkin seeds
Frozen blueberries
Canned pumpkin

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Blood Pressure Action #2

Taken at 9:45 a.m. (awake 60 minutes)
No food
No coffee

Looking better
Still need to hit the bike today.