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...

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