Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Research and Development

I'm a total science geek. Yup, that would be me- the one sitting and expounding on the benefits of the subcutaneous layer of skin being subcutaneous, instead of being switched with the avascular part of skin.

So, I'm always trying to learn about the latest developments in research, the latest findings, and the latest drug trials going on. I just learnt recently about the removal of four (well, really 2) asthma drugs from the market, due to 14,000 related deaths since 1993. And I wondered how America let those drugs on the market. But then I heard the other side of the story, in which these drugs save lives, and save them consistently, and the two that were removed from the market were supposed to be prescribed with steroids, but often weren't- or the patients didn't take the steroids.

It's a tough choice to make- removing a life-saving drug from the market due to bad statistics. How does one make such a decision- weighing the pros and cons?

Anyway, here in Israel, there are some medicines that are not available in the US, and vice versa. It seems that Israeli doctors follow more of the European approach to medicine, preventative instead of trying to fix an already existing problem. They also take into account many more homeopathic, or alternative techniques to solve medical disorders, that may not be standard practice in the US system.

But what are the statistics on these drugs? Do we know about the problems from these medicines? Is there something akin to the FDA watching out for bad prescriptions, or drugs that have bad statistical ratings- even and despite the miraculous results of the drugs?

I don't know if people realize that almost everything has a risk- but sometimes the benefits outway the risks.

So, I'm grateful that Israel gives me more opportunities and more alternative forms of medicine, but I'm curious to know if there is someone or some governmental authority watching out as well.

10 comments:

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Which asthma drugs were recalled?

nmf #7 said...

Advair, Symbicort, Foradil, and Severant were all up for recall.

The FDA decided that since Advair and Symbicort are steroid based, they can stay on the market, although Symbicort is not being prescribed for children. Foradil and Severant (beta agonists that were supposed to be prescribed with steroids) were pulled off the market.

Advair's sales last year hit almost 8 billion dollars. That shows how many people used it in the US.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I wonder if Symbicort and Buticort are the same thing (I know Buticort is steroid based...and is perscribed to children in Israel).

How interesting. Thanks for the update!

nmf #7 said...

Actually,according to the name of the drug- Buticort is budesonide, which is actually Symbicort- made out of budesonide and formoterol in a single inhaler.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budesonide

That's a bit scary.

nmf #7 said...

If you'd like the details on the recall- here's the NY Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/health/policy/12fda.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=asthma&st=cse

Leora said...

First, thanks for your comment on my Tamar post.

Also, my father did a form of Tai Chi for a few years in the Boston area. The instructors reported clearing up kids' asthma after doing their healthful Tai Chi. They also said Tai Chi is unheard of in China.

Are you the one suffering from asthma? I gather you are newly married and don't have kids yet?

Keep exploring your options. Israel has some good alternative (or I prefer the term complementary) health practitioners.

nmf #7 said...

Leora- thanks for your comment!
Yup- newly married with no kids yet- but it's not me who has asthma. I just did research on it for a drug company, and it struck me as a good post.

I love the fact that Israel is more open to alternative medicine- sometimes items that are not found, or have not passed the FDA, in the US yet. Holistic medicine is much more part of the healthcare here.

A good example would be Azalec- the new drug produced by Teva for Parkinson's disease. It isn't used so much in the US- but here- it seems to be part of the arsenal.

The Babysitter said...

this reminds me of what you commented back to me about Israel not having certain medicines because of the bad effects.

"Israeli doctors follow more of the European approach to medicine, preventative instead of trying to fix an already existing problem"

I haven't thought of it that way. In that case the Israel way sounds better, cause their not actively doing anything wrong, but rather passively by not giving the medicine. While America actively may run the risk of killing someone.

nmf #7 said...

Babysitter- Actually, the average Israeli may be taking more medication than the American. Why?
Well- for example, I took a routine blood test, and got a call from my doc that he wanted me to take Vitamins D, B12, and Iron, along with Calcium. (All covered by my Kupat Cholim.) That's what I meant by preventative- trying to give vitamins now, prevent problems later. Or, sending notices for free flu shots, or mammograms- preventative medicine, rather than wait for the flu or breast cancer- and then have to offer more expensive treatment.

But it is true that sometimes, America will give the medicine, despite the risks. Israel might be more concerned- but I'm not an expert on that.

The Babysitter said...

ahh I see now what you meant by preventive. That makes sense, that's probably even better.