Quackery


GardasilToday the Advisory on Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has advised against the routine use of the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) in boys and men. This should have been met with fireworks, pomp and jubilation in the streets by those who are against vaccines.  Afterall, one of their favorite gambits to run is how the whole pharmaceutical, vaccine and medical industry is in cahoots to poison society with their deadly cocktail of vaccines.

A major organization has decided that it is not efficacious to distribute the vaccine wholesale through the male population but there is not widespread jubilation through the anti-vax community.  Shouldn’t the decleration that an organization this large is breaking from the conspiracy to injure and sterilize us all be a major coup for those wingnuts? Or maybe they know deep down in their hearts that there is science behind the vaccines and if they acknowledge that an advisory committee recommended against widespread use of a vaccine it would throw their whackaloon conspiracy theories out the window.

I haven’t looked through much of the evidence to determine the cost-effectiveness but the BMJ article seems to have some pretty sound minds behind it.  You sure won’t find the whackaloons touting how a government agency charged with researching the effectiveness of vaccines has determined that this one does not hold a great enough benefit to be widely distributed to males because this destroys their crackpot theories.  I bet we do see a bunch of comments circling the  “AHIP said this vaccine doesn’t work and doesn’t protect against HPV.”  Of course that’s not at all what the decleration or science on the vaccine says, but things like facts and sound judgements aren’t usually a tool used by these people.

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In what can be considered a minor victory for medicine and public health Dr. Christine Daniel was brought up on fraud charges.  Daniel pushed crazy remedies on those who were in the most desperate phase of life.  Facing life-threatening cancers these patients were looking for any answers they could get and Daniel was willing to provide them with very expensive advice.  Too bad none of that advice was based on any sort of science or evidence based medicine and ended any chance that these people had of living.

Take Minna Shakespeare, who contacted Daniel in December 2002 after seeing her on TBN’s “Praise the Lord” TV program espousing the effectiveness of her herbal treatment.  Daniel told Shakespeare to stop her chemotherapy “because it doesn’t work” and to pay her $13,000 for her herbal cancer treatment.  Shakespeare told Daniel she didn’t feel that the treatment was working so Daniel told her to go back on the chemotherapy.  But I thought that chemotherapy was ineffective Dr. Daniel?  I don’t understand the change of heart.  Of course what Daniel doesn’t want to say is that she knows the chemo is effective and had a chance to keep Shakespeare alive longer. If Shakespeare stays alive longer then Daniel can charge for her herbal treatment longer and continue raking in the profit.

This is absolutely despicable and a good example of what happens with cancer quackery and all types of medical woo.  Daniel even claimed that her herbal medicine could treat and cure multiple sclerosis, hepatitis, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  There is absolutely no feasible biochemical mechanism that could explain how an herbal extract, even one that contains tons of different chemicals, could cure that many different mechanisms.  In fact, there is no single medication, herbal or otherwise, that can cure “cancer” as it is hugely wide range of diseases that fall under one category of cancer.

I’m glad to see this type of action taken against a quack as these people offer hope that is not there and cost desperate people tons of money for treatments that don’t work.  True, conventional treatments cost a lot of money as well, but there is proven science behind them that they may cure your disease, or at least extend your life.  The report says Daniels made $1.1 million from 55 families, a fortune for any person.  This is pretty sick, but it will not stop many of the quacks out there and the patients that seek them out.  I hope that this sets a precedent of prosecuting fraudulent activity and actively spreading medical lies.  I’m sure it won’t set off a firestorm of prosecutions, but one can always hope.

This short gets it pretty spot on when it come to homeopathy.  Enjoy your Friday funny and have a good 4th of July weekend!

So they may be a little crass but I think they’re pretty funny and an interesting strategy to combat the misinformation that is spread around about “the link” between autism and vaccines.  And props for Leann Tweeden for appearing in the ads, along with Amanda Peet, this is two beautiful and intelligent women who have been able to break the Oprah hold.  Via Rethinking Autism

I delved a bit into how and why Zicam was allowed on the shelves when it was harming people.  In my search I found that there are a ton of homeopathic products marketed and sold over-the-counter and that the regulatory agency over this is the homeopathic industry themselves.

Today I took a the trip down the rabbit hole though when I read Orac’s post on homeopathic plutonium.  I encourage you to read through it as it is a good look at the historical reasoning of homeopathy and exposes the “provings” that are used to determine effectiveness of a treatment.  Pretty scary stuff, and I hate that they have co-opted scientific language in order to confuse the public about their products.

The movement for rational thinking about vaccination and its importance in the crowded, interconnected world we’ve built up has gained a new spokesperson it seems.

Amanda Peet has put her face on the forefront of sanity, evidence and logical reasoning at http://www.vaccinateyourbaby.org/.  Good move Amanda…

Yesterday the FDA advised the public not use use three Zicam products because they have been related to nerve damage and loss of smell.

  • Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Gel Swabs
  • Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size

Debrorah Autor, Director of the FDA’s Office of Compliance, laid out a pretty firm statement today when she said “consumers should stop using these products immediately and should discard or return them.”  Here’s a copy of the FDA’s letter to Matrixx Initiatives, the company who markets Zicam and other homeopathic “drugs”.

Zicam was an over-the-counter (OTC) product that had applied to the FDA as a homeopathic drug which means that it didn’t have to go through FDA approval to get put on the shelves.  Here’s the FDA’s Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) concerning homeopathy, I recommend you do not read it.  Well maybe if you’re a policy buff you would get into this but it really makes my head spin.

Homeopathy is truly a pseudo-science.  Many physicians and senior researchers attack the practice with more vitriol than a Hitler speech and even in my young scientific career I can easily see how the goal of homeopathy is to co-opt scientific ideals into a completely mystic form of treatment.  You can go all over the internet and find out why homeopathy is ridiculous but I feel the need to torture myself and look into the policy of homeopathy and how it relates to the FDA, specifically OTC products. (more…)