Tuesday, 6 October 2009


"Safeguarding public health through the effective regulation of medicines and medical devices"

This is a quote from the first page of the MHRA's (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority) full colour, glossy brochure telling us, the drug/medication using public, what it is doing for us to safeguard us against the potential hazards of using pharmaceutical drugs and medicines. The brochure also states that the MHRA's remit...include the regulation of medicines and medical devices and equipment used in healthcare and the investigation of harmful incidents...

So let's flip quickly over to the Daily Mail today and see what is happening in the real world of drugs, medicines and prescribing far away from the Ivory MHRA tower in Vauxhall, Never Never Land. Here's the headline:

More than two-thirds of care home residents given the wrong prescription.

A harmful incident if ever I saw one. What's more:

The study found that 69.5 per cent of people living in care homes had been the victim of mistakes ranging from incorrect dosing to mislabelling. Multiple errors were common, potentially leading to a 'downward spiral' of poorer health and hospitalisation.

That's a pretty serious misuse of drugs I'd say. Multiple harmful incidents even. I could be wrong...it could be a deliberate policy to rid the UK of old people, but I'd still say it was worth investigating by the people that allowed the prescribed drugs onto the street in the first place.

Nick Barber, of the University of London's school of pharmacy, led the study of 256 residents at 55 English care homes, and he also observes:

Each resident was on a cocktail of drugs - typically eight medicines each, said the study reported in the journal, Quality and Safety in Health Care.

Ok, so I know what the MHRA will say next. They will claim that they merely license the drug in the first place and are not responsible for prescription of it. Well, as far as I know there are no licenses for using multiple drugs in the same person at the same time and certainly no data on the effects haphazard combinations of drugs actually have in a given individual. Forget the yellow card system, it's a total joke when random drugs are combined in these numbers. The MHRA let these things go on the shelves, now guys, it's a sweet shop out there, the elderly are drowning in a sea of drugs. They are easy to get, particularly if you are old...YOU DO NOT EVEN HAVE TO ASK FOR THEM! Sad to say of course that those of us who have ever had the dreadful task of dealing with the care of elderly relatives will have seen this "Russian roulette" approach to prescribing many times. We will have seen the litle old ladies with biscuit tins full of drugs, patients unaware as to why tey are on medication etc. The MHRA is responsible for putting these things out there and they are responsible for the disaster that is happening because of that. The blood stains the hands of the MHRA too, quite literally. Again, I could be wrong and a tad over-emotional, but is this not at the very least intentional bodily harm in operation? Ignorance can be no defence. Blaming the GP's can be no defence. You let the genie out of the bottle, now where's the cork?

So what are the MHRA doing about this lethal trade in drugs? Why, spending time on other things such as banning herbs of course. Bizarre!

Researchers found 178 of the 256 residents had been subjected to one or more medication errors. Some were not given their medicine at all. One third of the drugs which should have been monitored for potentially harmful side effects were not, including heart and thyroid drugs. Which begs the question as to why the MHRA bother with the General Practice Research Database. This is the MHRA's database that is meant to gather information from GP's about the drugs they prescribe and their side effects. What is the point of it when all you have to do is a quick patient survey to find out that the drugs you licensed are not being watched closely at all. They are just being shovelled into the gobs of an unsuspecting public willy nilly!

Just to make matters worse, I wondered if the GP's are actually beholden to the MHRA in their irresponsible use of drugs. Well, this is what the MHRA said in GP Newspaper, 13 March, 2009:

"NICE and the MHRA have launched a drive to boost GPs' understanding of their role, after research found the profession's awareness was limited.
The MHRA believes that most of what doctors know about it and NICE is via second-hand sources, usually the lay media.
An MHRA spokeswoman told GP that there was 'considerable work' needed to help doctors understand the agency's work.
The two organisations will host an event to boost awareness among trainee doctors in London on 28 May.
Evidence collected by the MHRA and NICE has suggested that health professionals' understanding of the organisations' roles is limited.
Just 21 per cent of GPs were able to name the MHRA as the medicines regulator, and only 62 per cent had heard of it even after prompting.
'While a great deal of direct and indirect communication about their work reaches health professionals, a word direct from the horse's mouth would set up trainee doctors nicely for the rest of their careers,' a spokeswoman said.
'There is also evidence that the respective roles of NICE and the MHRA are muddled in people's minds."

So, this is how it works. The MHRA license a bunch of potentially lethal chemicals and allow them into the market. They are then prescribed by people who have no idea how the drugs got there, or who to report problems to and then combine them in random, unlicensed combinations. In military terms this would be called Vietnam!

Meanwhile back at MHRA Ivory Tower, Vauxhall, the surge to remove safe herbs such as bilberry from the market and beyond the reach of those elderly people, and the rest of us, that might actually benefit from them continues apace!

Join us back in Vauxhall soon to watch the launch of Ivory Towers together with Toto back to Kansas...

Friday, 2 October 2009

Time for a commercial break........

This story is the responsibility of Stuart FitzSimons, written in loving memory of the pre upgrade Simon Key (aka Psi-monkey) hominid.

October 2002

Enlightenment Upgrade

A message from a future friend.

Yes, they were a problem, those Mark 3, early twenty first century skin-ups, of which the Key range was so typical. At the time they seemed to be an answer to several of the earlier technical glitches; heads up twin dubbing spam detectors, sphyngomyelinated one touch dendritic extensions, on-board anti-oxidant flush and 24 hour amoxycillilaced ‘high juice’ immune surveillance, self adjusting binocular infinite pixel view and hands free user interface. Optional extras included immediate melanin adjustment mode to facilitate emergency global repositioning and the ability to sing (an option apparently ignored), although the 3 meals a day option was dropped in favour of the low waste ‘sta-fresh’ toilet friendly deluxe version 4.6.

Bells and whistles or what?

SynthCo, as I’m sure you can imagine were well pleased with such cutting edge design concepts in skin-ups.

Mark 3’s though were only prototype skin-ups after all, representing a test species of early hominid design, pencilled in for systems testing between the year 50000 PST* and 3000 DST*. SynthCo, the corporate genius behind the design of the hominid class that we now know as the skin-ups are the true architects of the Universe, well, ours anyway. The management board of SynthCo, our true creators, are themselves a race of multi-dimensional, charmed particle, superstring slitherers. Being multi-dimensional means being able to dip their cosmic tootsies into the cosmic footsies of several stock markets around the known and unknown everything and everywhere at once. From such a position of strength in the market place it’s no wonder they soon organised under the umbrella corporation SynthCo. Their founder and CEO, G. Superstring, a clever sort of a thing, realised there was a gap in the market for ‘life’. It was not long before a particularly colourful and chaotic area of cosmic real estate was set aside, fenced off and work, in earnest, began.

The slitherers themselves live in the very substance of the cosmos itself, a substance they call ‘Mattress’. For this reason they often referred to themselves as ‘stuffing’. Because of this, they developed a strange attachment to and longing for the company and comfort of stuffed creatures such as the SynthCo comforter fluffbots and the extra special SynthCo, adults only, fleshbots.

Soon the early model hominids were rolling off the conveyor belt of creation and embedded within the Mattress, left to their own devices. Life though is a fickle thing and not without its problems, so just to be on the safe side a termination programme called ‘death’ was genetically programmed into each hominid.

So pleased were the slitherers that a full-scale hominid systems testing process was instigated. A planet was designed, they called it ‘Earth’, because that is what it was made up of, every garden was full of the stuff. Earth had seas, rivers, mountains, sky, sand and beer. At first everything went to plan, all the hominids played happily together, lived long, happy lives and did not really notice when the older ones died. Soon, thanks to an ingenious self-replicating program, they populated every part of the planet, which could have ended up standing room only. Quietly though, the slitherers congratulated themselves on the death programme, such a novel way to overcome drastic over population!

However, fortune was soon followed by disaster. As you know, tinkering with genetic material can lead to unexpected consequences and the hominid gene pool is awash with a plethora of potential disasters. Unknown to the slitherers, a mutant gene in the original hominid programme led to the genesis of a unique virus, Dualovirus hominis. A retrovirus, that had lain dormant within hominid kind for some time.

The first symptomatic case occurred when a now infamous hominid, hereinafter referred to as Hominid X, looked up at the sun. He practically blinded himself he looked so long and hard. Leaping to his feet suddenly, he declared…”that’s up”. Scratching an unusually hairy head, he further declared…”so this must be down”. Incidentally, the term skin-ups is derived from this event as the slitherers found it a singularly amusing occurrence.

Thus dawned duality.

It spread like wild fire and it was not long before they were all doing it. If this is in that must be out, if this is light that must be dark, if this is internal that must be external, and on and on, or on and off as hominids were now so proud to assert. Assertion led to self-assertion which begat self-esteem and soon the inevitable happened…reality set in. Now hominids really had done it, ego, ergo, erewego!

The slitherers sat back mildly amused, at first. Then they started to worry. Hominids now began to examine all the parameters of their being. They looked inside themselves and they looked outside themselves and began yearning to fill the emptiness of the void of always being caught up in an endless spiral of opposites. There just did not seem to be a point any more; every point had a counterpoint. Soon duality became a painful, pitiful and dirty thing. The word coined, by the hominids, to describe this reality thing and the painful dualistic nature of the mattress was ‘ouch’.

Hominids, until this point had no conception of what reality may or may not be, or if it mattered, but it suddenly and painfully did. The swinging pendulum of duality forced hominids into a greater examination of their place in the Mattress and what it all meant. Some hominids even claimed to have ‘experienced’ the Mattress, touched it, glimpsed it or briefly seen through it. Some even claimed to have heard it creaking, like bed springs in the dead of night. These hominids were called ‘sidekicks’ as they spent a lot of time speaking to things that were not there.

Up until this point hominids lived a 70 year pre-programmed life span of bliss, needing no food or drink, powered as they were in smiles per hour. Duality changed all that! Hominids were now on ‘reality drive’, which worked a bit like the old gravity propulsion systems. The conflict between opposites drove hominids on like never before. They even had to eat and drink things to power this new found state of energy sapping mental mayhem. This was ‘reality drive’; a reality drive with dual controls, consciousness with stabilisers, wobbling like a drunken penguin from side to side.

Death was now an issue, a big one. There had never been anything to compare life with before; now it was smiles per hour versus compost. The hominid sense of loneliness, despair and hopelessness deepened and deepened.

The slitherers began to panic a little and instigated the first hominid upgrade. At this time there were 2 species of hominid roaming Earth, the Pro Slagnons and the Kneeundertunnels. The Kneeunddertunnels had to go. Ok, they were an amusing visual diversion, but damn they were ugly. It was the Kneeundertunnels that instigated the concept of organising religion. A dangerous distraction from the truth.

A few thousand hominid years after the removal of the Kneeundertunnels and Pro Slagnon dominance, things had gone from bad to worse. Pro Slagnon hominids had now separated into different groups based upon the fact they were now no longer able to take any responsibility for themselves based on inner reality. They looked externally, to things they called ‘Uhm’. ‘Uhm’ was blamed for creating hominids in the first place, blamed for duality and the pain of it all. They thought if they were nice enough to their own version of ‘Uhm’ then they would live forever, overcome death and suffer no more.

One sect called themselves Dithians. This was because they dithered about everything. The Dithians referred endlessly to their sacred text, ‘The Foible’, so called because it was written in a language nobody understood any more and could have meant anything, hence the dithering. They would meet and nail people to walls whilst drinking blood and eating flesh. They hoped to be rewarded for their faithful sufferings. The founder of their sect is the historical figure of Pleasus Thrice. He actually nailed himself to a plank of wood, once, in the hope that his pain would be rewarded with eternal life in the house of ‘Uhm’.

The Moreslims were even more bizarre. They followed the teachings of Morehammered, a name reflecting the state of the poor chap’s tortured mind. They were called Moreslims because they generally lived in less well off regions of Earth. The Moreslims grew ugly, unsightly beards and covered up the females of their sect with tablecloths as acts of self punishment. Their pain was such that they took to blowing themselves and everybody else up.

Probably the strangest sect was that of the Baldists. They generally retreated to far distant places and lived on water, a handful of rice and the odd insect. Most of the time they sat still and did nothing, but in their spare time they invented the most violent forms of hominid interaction ever seen, called the ‘Marital arts”. Alas their inner pain and inner yearnings went likewise unassuaged.

On the other hand, some hominids got permanently stuck in external reality; they were called ‘collectors’. Others became permanently fastened to their internal reality, they were called ‘sectioned’.

As a spin–off to the new found hominid anguish a whole market in ‘how to’ manuals sprang up. Noteworthy amongst these was the best –selling ‘Tao of Pooh’. In truth though, these texts led to even more human grief, even more unanswered questions and even more sequels such as ‘The Pointlessness of Pooh and Tigger Too’.

The next hominid upgrade became a priority. The slitherers set about eradicating the Dualovirus from the hominid gene pool. Success led to the creation of a new type of hominid incapable of dualistic thinking or appreciating dualistic concepts of any kind. This surely would allow hominids release from their mental and psychic torture and allow them to simply enjoy their time under the sun.

The new hominids were indeed a startling upgrade. Lacking the ability to experience opposites meant they always occupied the perfect midpoint of, and in, everything. The slitherers dubbed their new creation ‘singularities’, the skin-ups just referred to singularities as ‘Them From The Midlands’. Being singularities meant having some strange physics, and they were not so much of a new species as just, well…spaces really. Now, if you thought the Reality drive engine was powerful, the singularity engine growled like the solar breeze, and that was just in neutral.

Then, true to form with this life thing, the unexpected happened. Skin-ups kept falling into singularities, could not see them coming, did not know they were there. Well, they were spaces after all. Before long skin-ups lived in fear of their lives. Skin-up young were warned to be on their guard and never take a ride or sweets from a singularity. The result of a skin-up, singularity collision was the generation of a totally new hybrid hominid, the ‘Krishnaphrenic’, so called because being half skin-up, half singularity they were said to be half gone or, not all there. Krishnaphrenics suffered the most outrageous inner turmoil. Their skin-up half inoculated the new hybrids with the Dualovirus so they constantly questioned their place in the Mattress but then they would relapse into singularity. As you can imagine, emerging from singularity into duality and vice versa was so shocking they wailed incessantly and banged on drums whilst walking the streets handing out leaflets to drown out the noise in their heads.

Krishnaphrenics had a rough time, doomed to walk the highways of the skin-up world selling words, which may not sound hard but when you are blue it does kind of mark you out. Krishnaphrenics did not look to one ‘Uhm’ to save them from their pitiful dualistic plight, but many. The exact number is difficult to pin down as one ‘Uhm’ would constantly change into another. One of their ‘Uhm’s’ actually became and ‘Ohm’ and because they didn’t much like that they palmed it off onto the Baldists.

By now the slitherers were becoming distraught with the unpredictable course of life. Shares in SynthCo were taking a nose dive. The new product range was running amuck. This shit would just not sit still on the shelves! They were afraid the skin-ups, who had by now been upgraded themselves with several minor adjustments, would go out of their minds with constant self examination and concerns over their place and function in the Mattress. Observing this process became, of course, a vital part of the test procedure for their new product but the slitherers began to think that things might be getting out of hand. How right they were.

A final upgrade was planned, removing all the problems inherent in reality drive and allowing skin-ups the joy of free-wheeling. A cure for the Dualovirus had been found! The final upgrade was planned for some time during 2050 DST*. However a tragic event forced the hand of the slitherers into downloading the skin-up upgrade as quickly as possible, and it is now pencilled in for 2012 DST*. The tragic event in question was the self-inflicted skin-up holocaust at a town called Whacko in the Untied State of Shamerica. A group of badly infected skin-ups began to believe that the opposite of life, i.e. death, must be better than life and that when they died their own personal version of’ ’Uhm’, in this case given the pet name ‘Alien’, would come to take them away and make them alive again for ever. Most other skin-ups realising that the Whackos had taken things too far descended in droves on the ranch occupied and fortified by the Whackos. They hoped to talk the Whackos out of killing themselves.

They were too late.. In the carnage that ensued all the Whackos killed themselves and set their compound ablaze. Charred remains were plucked from the scene of carnage for several days after the incident. Among the remains were two sad, small bodies, too badly burned to be recognised. Whilst the bodies lay in the mortuary the slitherers ran in-depth quantum fingerprint tests. The bodies were subsequently identified as the MRK 11 comforter fluffbots Kanga and Roo.


DST = Dithian standard time
PST = Pre standard time