Disease-awareness ads lead to overdiagnosis, boost Rx sales

ModernHealthcare, 22 May 2017
Author: Alex Kacik
“Ads that try to bring awareness of diseases boost prescription drug sales and over diagnosis in the U.S., according to a new study. There is a fine line between direct-to-consumer drug ads, which the Food and Drug Administration regulates, and ads meant to create disease awareness that often skirt the purview of the FDA, per the article published in JAMA. Disease awareness advertisements, particularly for conditions that only have one approved drug treatment, can bolster drug sales and lead to “inappropriate” prescriptions as patients turn to their doctors and request the drugs they see advertised.”
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The controversy over statins has revealed something: the nocebo effect is real

The Guardian, 4 May 2017
Author: Ann Robinson
“A new study shows that media-fuelled controversy among health experts has dented public confidence in the cholesterol-lowering drugs that prevent 80,000 heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK. The benefits far outweigh the harm from rare side-effects, according to a review of the evidence in the Lancet medical journal. But 200,000 people stopped taking their statins in 2013 following six months of “disputed research and tendentious opinion” on their potential side-effects.”
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New evidence in France of harm from epilepsy drug valproate

BBC, 21 April 2017
Source: BBC News
“A drug given to pregnant women for epilepsy and bipolar disorder caused “serious malformations” in up to 4,100 children, a French study suggests. Introduced in France in 1967, valproate is prescribed widely worldwide. Doctors in France are now advised not to give it to girls, women of childbearing age and pregnant women. Some families of children with birth defects born to women who took the drug while pregnant have sued Sanofi, saying that it did not adequately warn about the risks.”
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Do patients and doctors understand breast cancer genetic testing results?

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Author: Will Boggs
“If you have early-stage breast cancer and have undergone genetic testing, the odds are high that the results were not explained to you by a genetic counselor, and chances are, the results did not affect your surgeon’s recommendations for treatment, according to a recent U.S. study. Expert guidelines increasingly call for genetic testing to identify the presence of inherited mutations. But it’s not clear if patients or their doctors are using the results to make informed treatment choices.”
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Italy experiencing measles epidemic after fall-off in vaccinations

The Guardian, 20 April 2017
Source: Reuters
“Italy is experiencing a measles epidemic following a fall-off in vaccinations. The Italian health ministry said on Wednesday there had been almost 1,500 registered cases of measles so far this year against some 840 in all of 2016 and some 250 in 2015. The Higher Health Institute says only around 85% of two-year-olds are being vaccinated against measles at present, well below the 95% threshold recommended by the World Health Organisation to block the illness.”
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A critique of the regulation of data science in healthcare research in the European Union

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:27
Authors: John M. M. Rumbold, Barbara K. Pierscionek
“The EU offers a suitable milieu for the comparison and harmonisation of healthcare across different languages, cultures, and jurisdictions (albeit with a supranational legal framework), which could provide improvements in healthcare standards across the bloc. There are specific ethico-legal issues with the use of data in healthcare research that mandate a different approach from other forms of research. The use of healthcare data over a long period of time is similar to the use of tissue in biobanks. There is a low risk to subjects but it is impossible to gain specific informed consent given the future possibilities for research. Large amounts of data on a subject present a finite risk of re-identification.”
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Alberta rushed $10-million grant, eliminated ethical oversight, for unproven health program

CBC, 4 April 2017
Authors: Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell
“Six days before Alberta Health rushed to deliver a $10-million grant to a private alternative-health foundation, the ministry abruptly changed the grant’s purpose, eliminating the need for ethics approval for what experts say was a human-subject experiment on thousands of Alberta seniors. The decision was made against the advice of officials from several ministries who had determined the Pure North program was not adequately supported by scientific evidence, could not prove the incredible health and economic benefits it claimed, and could cause adverse health effects in participants.”
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Nurofen manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser fined $6 million for misleading customers after failed High Court appeal

ABC, 5 April 2016
Author: Amy Bainbridge
“The manufacturer of Nurofen has been ordered to pay a $6 million fine for misleading consumers with its specific pain relief range, after the High Court rejected its appeal. The Federal Court found the products were misleading because they all contained the same active ingredient and did the same thing, despite claims they targeted different parts of the body. The company was initially fined $1.7 million, but that was increased to $6 million after the consumer watchdog appealed.”
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CEU v University of Technology Sydney [2017] NSWCATAD 79

Decision date: 13 March 2017
“ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Health Privacy Principles 2, 9 and 11 of the Health Records and Information Protection Act 2003 – whether provision of health information by one administrative unit of an agency to another constitutes ‘disclosure’ – whether diagnosis of alcohol dependence accurate – whether applicant’s diary collected by agency – whether notes collected were irrelevant, excessive, inaccurate or unreasonably intrusive – whether health information disclosed as alleged on 21 May 2015 – meaning of ‘disclosure’ in Health Privacy Principle 11.”
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26 years ago the UK signed up to formula milk advertising rules – so why isn’t it law yet?

The Conversation, 22 March 2017
Author: Aimee Grant
“Like the topic of infant feeding itself, public health bills can be a minefield. Ask any mum or dad and they will tell you that parenting media in the UK is flooded with potentially misleading advertising for certain formula products. Although, NHS tells mothers that babies who are fed first infant formula need nothing more than that, there is still a wide range of “follow on” formulas available for babies over six months old. So why do manufacturers make these products, and advertise their “health benefits” if children don’t need them?”
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