Posts Tagged ‘Pharmaceutical industry’

The Exploitation of Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

June 17, 2012

The Outrage of the Month published in the Public Citizen Health Letter1 begins “For the second time in less than two years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the behest of companies seeking to exploit the large market for Alzheimer’s Disease has approved a product with little proven benefit and documented risks.” According to the article, the earlier of these unwarranted FDA approvals occurred in July 2010 when the FDA approved a new high-dose version of the top selling Alzheimer’s drug Aricept 23. The article states that the agency approved the drug over the objections of most of its own scientists who argued that the drug did not improve overall functioning, but caused considerably more side effects than the older, lower does version of the drug.

According to the article, the most current example is the dye Amyvid that is injected into patients with possible Alzheimer’s disease and on the basis of a brain scan is used to detect amyloid plaque in the brains of such patients. Although amyloid plaque is found in the autopsies of those who have died from Alzheimer’s disease, it can also be found in individuals who never evidenced any symptoms of the disease. This test is inaccurate. It has been found to detect plaque in some patients who do not have Alzheimer’s disease and failed to detect the plaque in some patients who have the disease. Nevertheless, the dye is a financial boon for the drug manufacturer as was Aricept 23.

It is important to realize that there is no drug that cures Alzheimer’s disease. Some drugs have been shown to slow the progression of the disease. A friend of mine has a father-in-law who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and is undergoing expensive drug treatments. His father-in-law has no idea who is son-in-law is or even who himself is. This raises an interesting question. Are these drug treatments enhancing life or delaying the release from suffering that death provides? I stress that this is a question for each individual to decide.

See the Healthymemory Blog post “The Myth of Alzheimer’s” that reviews the book written by Peter J. Whitehous, M.D. Ph.D. Whitehouse is a renowned researcher into drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. He has given up on there being a drug to cure the disease and is researching other methods for coping with dementia. He does not believe that Alzheimer’s is a distinct disease, but is rather a manifestation of dementia. It is interesting to note that the founder of Alzheimer’s disease, Alois Alzheimer, never was convinced that it was a distinct disease.

It should be realized that this is just another instance of the problem with medical care in the United States. Hardly anyone in the United States receives the best medical treatment. The plight of the uninsured is well known, but few realize that those at the other end of the treatment spectrum, those who receive treatment in the most expensive health care system in the world, are also ill-served. People at this end are grossly overmedicated and undergo unneccesary costly operations. See the book, Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America,” by Nortin M. Hadler, M.D.

1May 2012, 28, 5. Sidney M. Wolfe, M.D. (ed).

© Douglas Griffith and, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.