Health & Medical

Medical Science Just Doesn’t Want to Get It

I have a good friend who loves to play golf.

The problem is that he is aging and like most of us seniors, his immune system is not as strong as when he was in his youth. His physician at first prescribed Celebrex to ease and eliminate the pain. Then as the pain of arthritis returned over time, the diagnosis changed to rheumatoid arthritis and a more powerful pain pill was prescribed.

It did the trick. The pain subsided and he could play golf again. The problem was that in time, he developed an infection that the physicians could not identify and he developed a fever, acute abdominal pain and weakness. In desperation and lack of the ability to connect the dots, they ordered and performed an exploratory operation.

They couldn’t find anything. My friend went through the insult of surgery and the additional pain of recovery needlessly. Only then did they decide that the drug, Arava, that he had been taking for Rheumatoid Arthritis should be discontinued.  As an immunosuppressant, it was the only likely source of the pain and the infection.

Public Citizen had requested that the FDA remove the drug Arava from the market, but the FDA claimed there was not enough evidence to take that action and denied the request of Public Citizen. Could it also be that the FDA doesn’t want to be in the position of saying they made a mistake in the first place, although they were forced to do so after the Vioxx study was made public?  Since my friend’s recovery, Vioxx has been removed from the market, which is in the same class of pain relievers as Celebrex. They are called Cox-2 Inhibitors along with Bextra.

The FDA and Abbott has just announced that their drug Humira (adalimumab) which is a powerful injectable for severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis should not be administered if the patient is already taking Kineret (anaikinra), manufactured by Amgen. The reason is that there is a high probability that the patient will suffer severe side effects such as serious infection, anaphylaxis and hematological events such as pancytopenia and/or aplastic anemia.


Part of the problem why these events occur is that the clinical trials for new drugs are of short duration, and are tested on healthy young males, as well as the FDA does not require the manufacture to determine what the impact of the drug will be on the immune system.

Another case of the cart before the horse. All you have to do, is look back over the last 25 years and add up the number of arthritic drugs that were removed from the market because of the harm they’ve done.

Doesn’t the FDA ever learn from their mistakes?

What they should just say in summary is that this combination of drugs have a high likelihood of totally suppressing and shutting done the patients immune system, which is the defense against pathogens of all types. Your immune system is your protection against diseases that kill you. When the immune system is compromised, risk of serious disease and death goes up dramatically.

So, let’s see if I got it straight. We seek relief of pain from arthritic conditions by taking prescription drugs and over the counter pain relievers that in some manner or another interfere with our immune system. If we take too many of them or they are too powerful and overwhelm the immune system, we are in a more serious condition than when we started.

In addition, if we ignore the warning signs of the immune system beginning to fail and don’t stop taking the drugs our odds of dying from our pursuit to be pain free goes up dramatically.

Isn’t it time that medical science goes the other way and determines how the body can be strengthened to stop arthritis at the beginning of it’s development and not develop drugs that degrade the immune system?

Early in the last century, arthritis was an old person’s disease. That is no longer true since we now live in an environment where we are absorbing too many chemicals into our body at an early age that compromise our body chemistry and our immune system.  It is a result of living in an age with the moniker “Better Living through Chemistry.”

What have I forgotten? Oh, yes! The prescription drugs are palliative and patented and cost a lot of money. They don’t cure, but keep you spending on drugs you can’t afford. If we seek to just build our immune system and keep it strong through good nutrition, vitamin type supplements and avoiding chemicals in our food and drink it doesn’t make a lot of money for anyone.

I can hardly wait for my spa to be delivered next week. It is costing me the equivalent of being on the drug Humira for six months, but I know I will enjoy the spa for many years to come. I don’t need any sleeping pills or pain pills after a good spa treatment at bedtime.

Tom Braun RPh
Retired but not senile yet!

T. Braun, Pharmacist, Buyer, Marketing Executive for a Major Drug Chain. Active for over 45 years in Pharmacy.

Legal Stuff: Disclaimer – This document is informational in nature. Medical advice should be secured through your physician.



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