March 13, 2012
By Mike Barrett
“Thanks, FDA – for helping big pharma ruin more people’s lives. You are doing a great a job.” –KTRN
The same organization which deems walnuts to be illegal drugs is in the process of deciding whether or not to make some prescription medications more readily available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration may potentially move medicines for chronic conditions from prescription to non-prescription, or over the counter, while drugs for infection will receive a speedier approval process. This includes diabetes-linked statin drugs.
Despite prescription drugs contributing to at least 3 million deaths in the last 27 years while vitamins have killed none, the FDA is eager to get drugs in patients’ hands even faster. The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee will assist the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and the Agency’s director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research by helping to accelerate approval processes. Drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol, migraines, and asthma may all be re-classified by the FDA so that individuals can attain them without a prescription. Interestingly, cholesterol drugs, known as statins, have been linked to over 300 different adverse affects while asthma drugs have been shown to lead to more deaths than asthma itself.
The FDA is also very interested in allowing antibiotic makers to conduct tests for the drugs using smaller groups of patients. What’s more, lawmakers are proposing that the approval process for antibiotics also be hastened, while providing incentives to drug makers to develop new antibiotics – seemingly or allegedly to bypass bacterial resistance from the current antibiotic market. Unfortunately, even new antibiotics will only continue to perpetuate diseases scientists fear will be impossible to treat while contributing to numerous health conditions like mental illness by destroying gut health.
February 17th, 2012
By: Carrie Gann
In the search for treatments to fight obesity, regulators are turning their attention to a diet drug that has already failed to receive government approval as a weight loss treatment.
Next week, a panel of advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider whether or not to recommend the diet drug Qnexa for approval. The move is the latest attempt to give new tools to patients and doctors to fight the obesity that currently plagues one-third of Americans. It also fans a fiery debate about the search for a “magic bullet” alternative to difficult lifestyle changes to help obese people lose weight.
Qnexa was rejected by the FDA in 2010 over concerns about potentially dangerous side effects, such as cardiovascular problems and birth defects. Now, the FDA will consider whether or not the drug’s manufacturer, Vivus, should do a larger clinical trial to investigate the potential for cardiovascular side effects.
But some obesity specialists are, in effect, already giving the drug to their patients by prescribing Qnexa’s two major ingredients, phentermine and topiramate. The practice, called off-label prescribing, is not prohibited by the FDA. Doctors who have prescribed this combination say it has helped patients shed pounds when many other paths to weight loss have failed.
Dr. Ken Fujioka, director of the Center for Weight Management at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, said he often sees obese patients who have changed their diets, started exercising more and still have not been able to lose more than a few pounds. Though bariatric surgery is a lasting, effective option for long-term weight loss, many patients either aren’t morbidly obese enough to qualify for the surgery or are reluctant to resort to such a drastic measure to lose weight. For about 30 of these patients, Fujioka has prescribed low doses of phentermine and topiramate.
“The weight loss with this combination rivals bariatric surgery and I see using these meds in the seriously obese patient as an alternative,” Fujioka said.
Dr. Jana Klauer, a New York City-based doctor specializing in weight management, said her patients lost an average of 40 pounds when taking the drugs along with improved diet and exercise plans.
“The drug combination gives great results, providing diet and exercise are part of the plan,” she said.
Vivus, the company that developed Qnexa, said in a statement that the drug is a combination of low doses of both drugs and it is intended for use in combination with improvements in diet and exercise. Vivus said it does not support the off-label use of phentermine and topiramate.
The drugs work by suppressing appetite, and both have been approved by the FDA for other uses. Phentermine, a stimulant, is already approved for weight loss, but only for short-term use. Topiramate is an anticonvulsant, for which weight loss is a side effect.
But a laundry list of side effects has many experts concerned about the safety of the drugs, if taken over a long period of time. Topiramate creates feelings of mental fogginess, memory lapses and a lack of concentration.
Phentermine, one of drugs that made up the failed diet drug Fen-Phen, can lead to a range of cardiovascular side effects, such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and heart palpitations. Dr. David Katz, co-founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, noted that these side effects are the very problems caused by obesity.
Dr. Charles Clark, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Indiana University, said the potential side effects are enough to keep him from prescribing phentermine and topiramate to his patients, particularly in light of the failure of Fen-Phen, which was withdrawn from the market in 1997 after causing fatal blood pressure and heart valve problems in patients.
“Given our experience with Fen-Phen, we should be cautious in our use of these agents until larger and longer-term trials are completed,” Clark said.
Others say concerns about side effects of both drugs and their offspring Qnexa are legitimate, but could be managed or avoided if doctors carefully monitor patients while they’re taking the drug. For example, the FDA’s concerns about potential birth defects caused by Qnexa could be resolved by not prescribing the drug to women who could get pregnant. Many doctors say the risks of these drugs may be outweighed by the benefits for some patients with disabling health problems caused by obesity.
In the past 20 years, a parade of diet drugs have come before the FDA, representing an effort by drug companies to give obese patients and their doctors alternatives to difficult, often unsuccessful lifestyle changes. Most of the drugs have failed to meet the agency’s standards for safety and effectiveness. Many come with a list of embarrassing side effects, such as anal leakage, and only one, Alli, is approved for long-term use. A handful of drugs, such as Metabolife and Meridia, were removed from the market because of heart safety concerns.
Some doctors say there is no evidence that Qnexa will perform better than the diet drugs that have already flopped.
“I have made selective use of some weight loss drugs, but have not to date found much reason for enthusiasm for any of them,” Katz said. “I don’t have much for Qnexa.”
Others are more hopeful that Qnexa is different, including Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehab and prevention at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans. He cites evidence from previous clinical trials that Qnexa helps patients lose a modest amount of weight, which improves their risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. He said cardiovascular and birth defect risks that the FDA cited in its first look at the drug were very slight and “clinically unimportant.”
“Considering the dismal results that many experience with attempted weight loss with diet and exercise, which is always the first choice, and the explosion in the need and use of bariatric surgery, this combination drug should be a major advance, and I hope that it gets approved this time by the FDA,” Lavie said.
For The Full Report Go To ABC News
February 13, 2012
By Mike Adams
“It’s sad Houston died so young – she sang other people’s songs well. But why isn’t the front page news that she died (like Michael Jackson) from pharmaceutical drugs?” –KTRN
The regretful passing of an American entertainment icon — Whitney Houston — marks yet another sad milestone in the devastating body count of the prescription drug industry. TMZ is now reporting that Whitney Houston was found not with illegal drugs, but prescription drugs that may have killed her or caused her to drown in the bathtub. (http://www.tmz.com/2012/02/11/whitney-houston-prescription-drugs-drow…)
Houston had “a plethora of sedatives including Lorazepam, Valium, Xanax, and a sleeping medication that was found in her hotel room,” reports Radar Online (http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2012/02/drugs-whitney-houston-h…).
“The prescription drugs were officially taken into custody by the Beverly Hills Police Department,” the website reported. An autopsy has yet to be performed, and it will reportedly provide more conclusive information about the actual cause of death.
Whitney Houston was also taking Xanax, a psychiatric anti-anxiety drug
According to Fox News, Houston’s family members said she was taking Xanax, a powerful psychtropic drug (http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/02/12/whitney-houston-dead-…). As NaturalNews has reported many times, mind-altering drugs are known to cause erratic behavior and suicidal thoughts. (http://www.naturalnews.com/032097_antidepressants_suicidal_tendencies…) and (http://www.naturalnews.com/022743.html).
Although Xanax is not an SSRI drug, its side effects include:
• Rage and hostility
• Twitches and tremors
• Mania, agitation
An overdose of Xanax may cause:
Xanax is widely promoted throughout that DSM-IV, the “bible” of modern psychiatry which promotes the use of prescription amphetamines to children (among other bizarre chemical recommendations).
November 3, 2011
By Kerry Sheridan
The United States is facing an epidemic of lethal overdoses from prescription painkillers, which have tripled in the past decade and now account for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
The quantity of painkillers on the market is so high that it would be enough for every American to swallow a standard dose of Vicodin every four hours for one full month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The unfortunate and in fact shocking news is that we are in the midst of an epidemic of prescription drug overdose in this country. It is an epidemic but it can be stopped,” said CDC chief Thomas Frieden.
“Now the burden of dangerous drugs is being created more by a few irresponsible doctors than by drug pushers on street corners.”
The CDC Vital Signs report focused on opioid pain relievers, including oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone, better known as Vicodin, which have quadrupled in sales to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors’ offices since 1999.
Last year, 12 million Americans reported taking prescription painkillers for recreational uses, not because of a medical condition.
The number of deaths from overdoses of opioid pain relievers has more than tripled from 4,000 people in 1999 to 14,800 people in 2008.
The epidemic is at its height among middle-aged white men, age 35-54, and American Indians or Alaska natives, the CDC said.
Rural and poor areas tend to have the highest prescription drug overdose death rates, and the severity of the problem varies widely from state to state.
The drugs are highly addictive and people can build up tolerance quickly, according to Michael Lowenstein, who treats patients at his pain clinic in Los Angeles, California and was not involved with the CDC research.
“What happens in a lot of this population is they take the medication for something like knee pain, or surgery,” he told AFP.
“The opiate receptors are very close to the pleasure centers in the brain, so for a period not only does the pain feel better but their anxiety, their depression and their stress is better.
“The problem is it takes more and more medication to maintain that response so someone will be given two or three or four Vicodin to treat their pain and before you know it they are taking 20 and 30 and 40 Vicodin a day.”
Death typically occurs when the patient stops breathing because the drugs can cause respiratory depression, and are particularly lethal when mixed with anxiety medications or alcohol.
Lowenstein is co-medical director of the Waismann Method, a $20,000 dollar treatment for opiate dependence that involves sedating the patient for several days in a hospital intensive care unit so that they do not feel the symptoms of withdrawal such as vomiting, nausea and inability to function.
October 26, 2011
By James Johnson
In 1979 the U.S. Government began tracking drug-related deaths and for the first time those deaths have surpassed the number of traffic fatalities on an annual basis.
The most recent statistics which were taken in 2009 shows that 37,485 people died in traffic related accidents while 36,284 people died from drug related activities in a one year period.
Surprisingly the main culprit of those deaths were not street illegal drugs but rather prescription options including Xanax, OxyContin and the main culprit Vicodin which killed more people than cocaine and heroin combined.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times a Santa Barbara sheriff said:
“The problem is right here under our noses in our medicine cabinets.”
The study also revealed that traffic related fatalities have actually fallen by a third since the 1970s even as the number of drivers using American roadways continues to increase, while drug related deaths have doubled in the last decade. Deaths among the 50-year-old to 69-year-old crowd have been even worse, tripling during the same time period.
Not all deaths have been related to drug overdoses from drug abuse, in many cases accidental double dosing by adults has been the culprit.
When asked how drug related deaths can be reduced one researcher said:
“What’s really scary is we don’t know a lot about how to reduce prescription deaths,” while adding, “It’s a wonderful medical advancement that we can treat pain, but we haven’t figured out the safety belt yet.”
In the meantime parents are urged to speak with their kids not just about street illegal drugs but also the medications found in medicine cabinets which can be just as addictive and just as deadly.
October 20, 2011
By Mike Adams
The admitted goal of the pharmaceutical industry is to have every man, woman and child in America taking at least two prescription medications every day of their lives (whether they’re sick or not). Through Big Pharma’s corruption of the FDA, medical journals, med schools and the mainstream media, it creeps ever closer to accomplishing that goal, and today it has been revealed that one in ten Americans are now on SSRI antidepressant drugs.
This is the conclusion of a survey conducted by the CDC. It also revealed that antidepressant use jumped 400% from 2005 – 2008, while women are 2.5 times more likely to use antidepressants than men.
I could write thousands of words about the dangerous side effects of prolonged antidepressant use (diabetes, psychosis, detachment from reality, etc.), but for this article, I’d rather approach things from a solutions angle and share what I know about getting OFF antidepressant drugs using nutrition and holistic health principles.
How to get off the SSRI meds and save your brain
First, realize that the fictions being sold you by the false advertising of the pharmaceutical industry must be abandoned. Depression is not caused by a “chemical imbalance in the brain” that can be resolved by paying monopoly prices for a patented synthetic chemical sold by a local pharmacy. That’s just a fabrication which was engineered to sell you more overpriced pills.
In reality, “depression” is the red flag warning that multiple areas of your life are out of balance and need to be brought back into balance before you’ll really feel better. After talking with probably hundreds of people about their experiences with so-called “mental disorders” over the past eight years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are at least four powerful strategies for permanently reversing depression without using any drugs whatsoever. They are:
#1) Spend more time in nature.
Spending time in nature reverses depression at so many levels it’s almost difficult to overstate the benefits. Sunlight exposure beats back depression at the hormonal level. Breathing fresh air that’s filled with negative ions from trees and plants prevents depression at a bioelectric level. Touching the earth with your bare hands, hearing the sounds of nature, feeling the bark of a tree or even just seeing lush green foliage is all vibrational, sensory medicine that also helps reverse diabetes.
If you look at most people who are depressed, they almost all have one thing in common: The LIVE and WORK indoors! They never get out. They never run barefoot in the grass. They are depressed because they are disconnected from the real world. And that’s not what the human body and mind was designed to experience.
#2) Get some regular physical exercise
Did you know that when you exercise, your brain manufactures antidepressant drugs for free? No prescription needed, either. One walk on a treadmill might save you $20 worth of drugs!
Actually, your body’s own brain drugs are better than any synthetic drugs, too. That’s because your biochemistry has no negative side effects. You simply feel good after exercising, and the good feeling may continue for as long as 24 hours.
Your exercise doesn’t have to be crazy to make a world of difference. Just walking 45 minutes a day can have a HUGE impact on your life. Don’t have 45 minutes a day? I bet you do. I bet you watch 45 minutes of TV a day that you could ditch, or you spend 45 minutes a day engaging in pointless activities that don’t contribute to your happiness in any sort of meaningful way. Why not spend those 45 minutes taking a walk instead? You’ll not only feel happier, but your body will get healthier too!
#3) Eat more omega-3 oils and organic plants.
Depression also has a powerful nutritional component. Most “depressed” people are living on processed dead foods. They’re eating way too much sugar, white flour, breads, pasteurized dairy and other depressing foods. No wonder they feel so blue!
To reverse all this, eat more omega-3 oils from dietary supplements, wild-caught salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds and other sources. Boost your mineral intake by consuming (or juicing) lots of fresh organic produce. Make sure it’s organic, because that means it has a higher mineral content. Trace minerals drastically improve cognitive function and moods.
Finally, eat more living foods and less “dead” food. Living foods make you feel alive because they are alive! Dead foods make you feel dead. So get yourself a juicer (the Breville juicers are the best all-around, high-quality juicers), buy some organic carrots, apples, celery and parsley, and start juicing your way to a happier life! (Yes, it really does make you happier.)
#4) Find meaning in your work and in your life.
Many people who are “depressed” also work at a thankless job, or exist in a torturous personal relationship, and they typically live a life with no real purpose or meaning. Having a purpose in life is very inspiring. Pursuing it with daily action can completely reverse any signs of depression and help turn despair into positive, constructive action.
That’s why I say if you feel depressed start searching for your real purpose in life!
I know my purpose. It is to protect the diversity of life on our planet and in our universe. Each day, I diligently work as the editor of NaturalNews toward that fulfilling purpose. This is what allows me to keep moving forward regardless of what happens in the world around me. I know that the universe has granted me the opportunity and the tools to live a life with purpose, in service of what I believe is the most noble cause in the entire universe: The protection of life and truth (against destructive forces, against darkness, against deception, etc.).
I challenge you: What can you find in your own life that is an important purpose serving a higher good? If your work is unfulfilling, can you find a way to transition to a more meaningful line of work that would make you happier? (Yes, it might mean earning less money, but you can’t buy happiness, so it’s priceless!)
Can you find a way to work in the service of others so that the people around you experience an improvement in their own lives? Can you teach others? Can you lead by example? Can you write inspiring books?
This may take some soul searching, but you may find solutions through meditation or yoga or even just taking long hikes in nature and thinking about your life for a change. I’ve never seen a purpose-driven person feeling depressed for very long. Once you find a driving purpose in your life, you’ll be so busy pursuing that mission that you won’t even have time to feel depressed!
Or you could just take SSRI drugs and fake like you’re happy
Now, if you really can’t stand going outside in the sunshine, and you absolutely love to eat donuts for breakfast and pizza for dinner, and you have no purpose in your life other than to inhale more snack chips in front of the TV set, then SSRI drugs may be the perfect thing. With one little pill, you can temporarily alter your brain chemistry to add illusion to insult, making you “feel” like your life is okay even though you know in your heart that it isn’t.
Getting off SSRI drugs requires courage. Taking responsibility for your life may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it might also be the most rewarding. Subsisting on mind-altering drugs while living a life of despair is no life at all. And the longer you take these SSRI drugs, the more detached you will feel, making you even more isolated and depressed.
That’s why I say get off your meds NOW! Turn off the TV and take your life back! Get off the couch, out of the pharmacy and away from your toxic doctor with his deadly prescription pad that probably has a Pfizer logo on it. Get out into nature, eat real foods, get into regular exercise and find a meaningful purpose in your life. This will get you back on track to not just happiness, but spiritual fulfillment as well.
August 22nd, 2011
By: Melly Alazraki
Does the market have you thinking about getting a little pharmacological help to ease your jitters and lift your mood? Getting a prescription for Prozac is easier than you think. In fact, you can skip the appointment with a psychiatrist altogether.
A study released last week in Health Affairs journal found a growing trend of doctors who aren’t psychiatrists offering antidepressants to patients. The meds often get prescribed without any psychiatric diagnosis, simply to boost someone’s mood, relieve mild anxiety, or improve sleep. Worse yet, there’s no evidence these drugs actually help such patients.
All these questionable prescriptions helped make this class of drugs one of the most commonly prescribed in the U.S. In 2010, according to IMS Health data, antidepressants spending grew to $11.6 billion. The class was the second most prescribed after cholesterol regulators and heart meds, with nearly 254 million prescriptions.
It’s No Secret Who’s Really Smiling
The growth in antidepressant use brings a smile to at least one group of people: Big Pharma.
While Eli Lilly’s (LLY) Prozac has long lost its patent protection, U.S. Cymbalta sales for 2010 grew 9% to $2.8 billion, topping the $758 million mark in the most recent second quarter. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMY) Abilify U.S. sales grew by 5% in the recent quarter, to 517 million. AstraZeneca’s (AZN) second-quarter U.S. sales of Seroquel XR grew 14% to $205 million. (Both Seroquel XR and Abilify are atypical antipsychotics approved by the FDA as adjunct treatments for depression that doesn’t respond to a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor like Prozac or Zoloft alone.)
The study made no mention of any illegal marketing practices by pharmaceuticals that may have contributed to this trend, although such allegations regarding off-label marketing are certainly not foreign to AstraZeneca or Eli Lilly, among many others.
However, the study said that direct-to-consumer advertising could be causing patients to request the drugs. The U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries that allow advertising for prescription medications.
Do We Have a Drug Problem?
The researchers are concerned that this growing trend of non-psychiatrists prescribing antidepressants could mean that the drugs get prescribed inappropriately. They worry that patients who haven’t been properly diagnosed are not receiving the best care they need. The study suggests starting by educating physicians on mental disorders, the drugs, and their appropriate use.
The researchers also encourage patients to ask questions — lots of them, including questions about the diagnoses, the side effects, possible alternative treatments, and whether antidepressants are the right treatment for their problems in the first place.
August 16th, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
There is a reason why antidepressants have become the third most commonly prescribed class of medications in the US, and it has nothing to do with their supposed efficacy (antidepressants do not actually work). According to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs, nearly 80 percent of antidepressant drugs administered today are prescribed to people who do not even have psychiatric conditions.
Upon conducting a formal review of prescription practice data, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Bloomberg School of Public Health discovered that the vast majority of people receiving antidepressants today do not even get them from a psychiatrist. And in many cases, doctors are prescribing them for off-label purposes at the prompting of the drug companies that produce them — and the trend is getting worse.
“Between 1996 and 2007, the number of visits where individuals were prescribed antidepressants with no psychiatric diagnoses increased from 59.5 percent to 72.7 percent,” said Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, associate professor at JHU and lead author of the study. “[A]nd the share of providers who prescribed antidepressants without a concurrent psychiatric diagnosis increased from 30 percent of all non-psychiatrist physicians in 1996 to 55.4 percent in 2007.”
Many NaturalNews readers will recall the 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which revealed that antidepressant drugs do not even work for most people with clinically-diagnosed depression anyway.
So between not actually working and being prescribed to people that do not need them in the first place, antidepressants can be one of the biggest medical frauds in modern medicine.
If this is not bad enough, another recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that many pharmaceutical drugs do not work as claimed. Newer drugs tend to provide little-to-no benefits over older ones and only harm patients, which ends up locking patients into a perpetual cycle of having to take new drugs to fix the problems caused by all their other drugs.
August 16th, 2011
By: S.L. Baker
Imagine a Big Pharma prescription that will slash your risk of dying by 14 percent and give you at least an extra three years of life. How much you would be willing to pay for it? Many people would find a way to take this disease-preventing pill, no matter what the cost. Although there is no such drug, there is a free non-chemical prescription that can provide you with the amazing health benefits described above. There’s just one catch: you have to take responsibility for your health and get moving for 15 minutes a day.
That’s the dramatic conclusion of a study just published in the online version of The Lancet . Dr. Chi-Pang Wen of the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan and China Medical University Hospital, and Dr. Jackson Pui Man Wai of the National Taiwan Sport University, headed a research team that investigated a large range of physical activity levels to see just how much exercise produces important health benefits. Previous research has come up with unclear results about whether exercising less than 150 minutes a week can help you live longer.
The new study involved over 400,000 Taiwanese people who participated in standard medical screening in Taiwan between 1996 and 2008, with an average follow-up of 8 years. Based on how much the research subjects said they exercised each week, the study participants were placed into one of five categories of exercise: virtually no exercise (inactive), or low, medium, high, or very high physical activity. Next, the scientists calculated hazard ratios (HR), a statistical measurement used to figure out the odds of an event occurring within a group at a particular time, to see what the risk of death was for every group that was active compared with the inactive group. Then the research team calculated life expectancy for each research participant group.
The results? Compared with individuals in the inactive group, those who were active had dramatic health benefits. Even the research participants in the low activity group who only exercised for an average of 92 minutes per week (about 15 minutes a day) had a 14 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality, a 10 percent reduced risk of dying from any type of cancer and, on average, a three year longer life expectancy.
What’s more, every additional 15 minutes of exercise each day beyond the minimum amount reduced death from all causes by another four percent and reduced death from cancer by another by one percent. These benefits were found across all age groups and among both men and women. The benefits were even applicable to the people with risks for cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, those in the inactive group who had a 17 percent increased risk of mortality compared with individuals in the low exercise group.
“In Taiwan, if inactive individuals engage in low-volume daily exercise, one in six deaths from all causes could be prevented,” the scientists said in a statement to the media. “If the minimum amount of exercise we suggest is adhered to, mortality from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer could be reduced. This low volume of physical activity could play a central part in the global war against non-communicable diseases, reducing medical costs and health disparities.”
In commentary about the study, Dr. Anil Nigam and Dr. Martin Juneau of the Montreal Heart Institute and Universite de Montreal in Quebec, Canada stated: “The knowledge that as little as 15 minutes per day of exercise on most days of the week can substantially reduce an individual’s risk of dying could encourage many more individuals to incorporate a small amount of physical activity into their busy lives. Governments and health professionals both have major roles to play to spread this good news story and convince people of the importance of being at least minimally active.”
August 16th, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
A group of Canadian researchers has found a link between taking antibiotics and a higher likelihood of harboring deadly “superbugs” like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which kills tens of thousands of people every year. Published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the breakthrough study found that children who take at least one antibiotic are three times as likely to develop MRSA than children who take no antibiotics, while children who take four or more antibiotics are 18 times more likely to develop MRSA.
It is commonly believed that superbugs are found only in dirty, drug-ridden hospitals, where patients end up contracting it from contaminated surfaces and surgical instruments. But according to the study, community-acquired MRSA, which means it is contracted outside the hospital setting in the general public, is becoming a major health problem, and one that appears clearly linked to overuse of antibiotics.
For their study, a research team from McGill University in Montreal examined antibiotic prescription data from over 400 doctors’ offices across the UK. Since studies had previously observed in adults a link between antibiotics and superbugs, the team this time focused primarily on children who were diagnosed with MRSA between 1994 and 1997.
Among 297 children who tested positive for MRSA, 53 percent of them had been prescribed an antibiotic between 30 and 180 days prior to their diagnosis. Only 14 percent of children who visited the same doctors, but that did not have MRSA, had taken any antibiotics at all. After adjusting for various outside factors, the team determined a three-fold and eighteen-fold increased risk of contracting a superbug when taking either one, or four or more, antibiotics, respectively.
“This is an intriguing observation that we expect will generate some research into the mechanism of MRSA development,” said Samy Suissa, lead author of the study. “Parents should freely discuss with their physician if they feel that antibiotics may be overprescribed.”