I felt this story was important enough to break my self-imposed blogging ban, just because it scared the bejeesus out of me and caused me to significantly change my medication regimen.
And because something you take daily might be killing you--or doing so in the not-so-distant future.
When I saw the new ambulance chaser commercial this evening for a whole slew of sleeping pills, claiming they cause cancer and shorten lives, I scoffed and thought, "Get real."
I had learned to largely trust this class of drugs based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence and because I hadn't seen any red flags in the side effects listed in the literature or online descriptions of trials.
If this is to be believed, Big Pharm has once again poisoned us all. In fact, this might prove to be their Biggest Hit (mafia vernacular) of all time. I mean if we consider the number of people who rely on these drugs for sleep in our brave new mandatory-anticircadian world.
I had a love-hate relationship with Ambien (Zolpidem). I took as needed and was happy to have periods when I didn't need it. Lately, I've been relying on it a great deal as bipolar sleep can be non-existent during mania.
But what I just read is enough to convince me not to take the stuff ever again.
I am extremely angry. I feel this is exactly how life is going to be for hundreds of millions of people as we move forward in time. Life is going to become cheaper and cheaper to corporations like the nexus that produce this. I mean the people who always get away with it.
And I am really angry at the F.D.A. I've always said if a drug like Thalidomide were developed today, it would sail right through the F.D.A. Thalidomide: remember the "flipper babies"--sorry, no euphemism would do right now--of the sixties? That was Thalidomide. Sylvia Plath even wrote a poem by that name. (This was arguably in bad taste, since the flipper babies in her piece were certain of the poet's own malformed poems that had earned her disdain.) England didn't stop the drug. We did. The F.D.A. protected us then. Today, I'm convinced that same drug would sail right through. No, wait. Maybe it's only the ones that live they're worried about. Dead cancer patients tell no tales.
Here's a big problem with the oversight of the F.D.A. You might not realize this, but the same people who approve the drugs in the first place are the ones who recall the drugs. This is a BIG problem. People are loath to admit their own mistakes, especially when it's a matter of massive mortality. If you want to lobby for something that will make a positive change in the lives of countless millions, lobby that the government change the structure of the oversight process.
It's all a big numbers crunching game and ethics has nothing to do with it. Free enterprise is once again way too free.
I am going back to my O.T.C. herbal Valerian starting tonight and pitching the Ambien. The cats love my breath smelling like that anyway. It's second only to catnip on most cat's wish lists.
I tried to discover if Dr. Daniel F. Kripke (Professor Emeritus at U.C.S.D.) might have a personal agenda or even a vendetta here, since he runs a sleep clinic and treats things like sleep disorders, seasonal affective disorder, etc.
I mean is this a war started because of a conflict of interest he has with an industry that has cornered a market he wants in on with his alternative sleep aides?
I don't really know yet.
I do know the "legitimate" media picked up this story and ran like hell with it this week so you're going to hear this again.
But just in case you didn't and you heard it here first, please read up on what looks like something too well-founded to be easily dismissed.
Here's an excerpt from the CBS News story:
The study found people who took 18 sleeping pills or fewer per year had more than 3.5 times higher a risk for death than those who didn't take any sleeping pills. What's more, people taking more than 132 sleeping pills per year were at five times higher risk for death and 35 percent higher risk for cancer.
"We are not certain. But it looks like sleeping pills could be as risky as smoking cigarettes," study author Dr. Daniel F. Kripke, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, told WebMD.
For the study, published in the Feb. 27 issue of BMJ Open, researchers tracked more than 10,500 people who were prescribed sleeping pills for an average of 2.5 years between 2002 and 2007. Prescribed sleeping pills included benzodiazepines, such as Restori; non-benzodiazepines, such as Ambien, Intermezzo, Lunesta, and Sonata; barbiturates; and sedative antihistamines. The researchers compared survival among these patients with that of 23,500 people matched for age, sex, lifestyle factors, and underlying health problems who did not take sleeping pills.
The risk was found for every age group, but was greatest among 18- to 55-year-olds. Researchers found these elevated risks after ruling out other factors that may contribute to death risk.
"We tried every practical strategy to make these associations go away, thinking that they could be due to use by people with more health problems, but no matter what we did the associations with higher mortality held," study co-author Robert D. Langer, a physician at the Jackson Hole Center for Preventive Medicine in Jackson, Wyoming, said in a statement.
"What our study shows is that sleeping pills are hazardous to your health and might cause death by contributing to the occurrence of cancer, heart disease and other ailments," Kripke, who also works at the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego, said in a hospital written statement.
The authors point out the study only shows an association and does not prove cause and effect. But Kripke thinks physicians should seek alternatives for treating insomnia. He said when insomnia is caused by depression, doctors should treat the psychological disorder rather than prescribing sleeping pills.
I'm going to make sure to tell my loved ones to sue the asses off everyone responsible for poisoning us and not making full disclosure if I end up one of their "hits."
Most troubling is Kripke's allegation that the F.D.A. used later tests to bury one indicating a high degree of oncogenicity for Ambien in the early trials.
Things like that don't change over night. Oncogencity is oncogenicity. They didn't redesign the drug. Get real. I've seen this same lying, murderous thing happen with the evil drug Depakote.
How many trials do you think it took them to get the hematological pathology for Depakote down to their wonderful "25%."
One quarter of people who take Depakote are going to have blood that can't function normally and start crippling all their other organ systems as a result. Wow. Congratulations. How many trials did it take for you to get it from the more probable 60% to that still ridiculous figure of 25%? I'm guessing a lot of trays of rats were sacrificed to get to that funny low point on the statistical range. Just keep putting more sheets of cookies in the overheated statistical oven until you get one tray with only a quarter of the cookies burned to a crisp. Sick and evil. Big Pharm.
I'm going to shout now. I warned you first.
I AM NOT A SOCIALIST. BUT NO DRUG COMPANIES SHOULD BE RUN FOR PROFIT. DRUGS SHOULD BE AN EXCEPTION IN A CAPITALIST SOCIETY. THE DEVELOPMENT OF DRUGS SHOULD BE UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT. IT WON'T KILL RESEARCH. IT WON'T KILL ENTERPRISE. PAY THESE PEOPLE RIDICULOUS SUMS OF MONEY. BUT DON'T LET THEM RUN LOOSE LIKE YOU'VE DONE NOW. IT'S JUST LICENSING DEATH SQUADS IN AMERICA. IN EL SALVADOR, THEY TAKE YOU OFF INTO THE JUNGLE AND YOU'RE DISAPPEARED. IN AMERICA, THEY GIVE YOU DEPAKOTE IN A QUIET OFFICE.
THE DIFFERENCE IS: IT'S MORE PERSONAL IN EL SALVADOR. HERE, IT'S NOT. THE PERSON WHO KILLED YOU DOESN'T LIKE YOU OR DISLIKE YOU. THEY LIKE MONEY. THAT'S ALL YOU KNOW ABOUT THEM.
I know you're thinking, "Just fix the F.D.A." But that won't solve it. Big Pharm is too powerful now and the money is just insanely good. They'd probably take hits out on people sooner than surrender any patents at this point.
Have a nice day.
If you live in a rather genial Evil Empire like I do, you try to make the best of the better moments.
It's all you can do.
But please stop taking Lunesta, Intermezzo, Ambien or any of the others. I mean unless you want to die thirty years too soon.
Cancer can be a very slow, excruciating death and you'll probably have to commit suicide at some point when you realize that you have zero chance of recovery and 100% chance of continually suffering.
Sorry for a downer post.
But--for once--it's not my fault.
Go watch or do something happy now.
Sad things like this make me crave something frothy and delicious.
Like gay porn. Or a milkshake.