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Wednesday, Sep 17th

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Study outcome won't sway company on eye drug

What does a company do when there's anecdotal evidence that two of its drugs are equally effective in treating a leading cause of blindness in the elderly, one costing patients $60 per treatment and the other $2,000?

In the case of Genentech Inc., nothing.

The company declined to seek federal approval for the cheaper drug, Avastin, to treat the wet form of age-related macular degeneration. Nor would it help finance _ or cooperate with _ a National Eye Institute study comparing the effectiveness and safety of Avastin, a cancer drug, and the more expensive eye drug, Lucentis.

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WHO study backs universal health care

Major inequalities in health and life expectancy persist worldwide, according to an independent World Health Organization commission which on Thursday called for all countries to offer universal health care.

"The health inequities we see in the world are absolutely dramatic in their scale," Michael Marmot, a WHO health researcher, who chaired the commission, told reporters.

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Low Cholesterol Increases Cancer and Death Risk

In a major shot fired across the bow of the statin marketing machine, the levels of LDL cholesterol that are the artificial targets of "health" promoted by the American Heart Association (AHA) are now found to be associated with a significant increased risk of cancer and death.

The AHA recommends an LDL level of 100 for prevention and 70 for high risk patients. In the new study an LDL level of 107 was associated with a 33% increased risk of cancer and death, an LDL level of 87 was associated with a 50% increased risk. As the LDL goes lower the risk keeps getting worse. These arbitrary AHA levels for LDL cholesterol were established by "experts" with direct financial ties to the statin industry, who knew full well that reaching their artificially low target levels for LDL would require double and triple doses of statin drugs, thus dramatically increasing sales (which has indeed happened).

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BLACK RASPBERRIES SLOW CANCER BY ALTERING HUNDREDS OF GENES

Stoner notes that black raspberries have vitamins, minerals, phenols and phytosterols, many of which individually are known to prevent cancer in animals.

“Freeze drying the berries concentrates these elements about ten times, giving us a power pack of chemoprevention agents that can influence the different signaling pathways that are deregulated in cancer,” he says.

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Uninsured Get Less Health Care Than Insured

Uninsured Americans will spend $30 billion out of pocket for health care, and receive $56 billion in uncompensated care in 2008, new research shows.

They found that people uninsured for any part of 2008 receive about half as much care as those who are fully insured. A person who is uninsured all year will average $1,686 in medical costs, while someone who is privately insured will average $3,915.

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Tobacco firms kept quiet on polonium role in cigarettes

var articleheadline = "Tobacco firms kept quiet on polonium role in cigarettes ";Some of the world's biggest tobacco firms researched the lethal radioactive substance polonium – present in cigarettes – over a 40-year period but never published the results, according to a new scientific article.

Polonium 210 is known to cause lung cancers in animals and studies suggest it is responsible for 1 per cent of all lung cancers – equivalent to 11,700 deaths globally – each year in the US. It is also the substance that poisoned the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Yet tobacco companies, while attempting but failing to remove the substance from their products, have kept quiet about their research, experts say.

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Drug giants accused over doctors' perks

Drug companies are spending millions of pounds every year on all-expenses-paid trips to conferences around the world for doctors and other hospital staff, in what critics say is a massive marketing exercise dressed up as medical education.

Consumers International (CI) said the lack of transparency was unacceptable. "When a medical professional speaks on a health issue, we assume that they are putting patients' interests first. If that person has a conflict of interest because they or their organisation are receiving funding from a drug company the least we should demand is the right to know about it," said Justin Macmullan, head of campaigns. "Pharmaceutical companies will tell you that what they are funding is medical education. But our concern is that this is really highly effective, well-targeted marketing. This throws any notion of impartiality out of the window and jeopardises a doctor's ability to make an informed, balanced decision about the most appropriate treatments."

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