Category Archives: Health

Our Government’s Deliberate Helplessness

The Victoria Times-Colonist ran articles last fall about delinquent doctors remaining licensed to practice. Evidently, doctors’ secretive, self-funded, self-regulating disciplinary and licensing body, the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons, is more interested in protecting doctors than in protecting the public. Under questioning, provincial government representatives pleaded helplessness; they had no authority over the college.

But after continuing scandalized media coverage, Health Minister George Abbott pledged to legislate more public accountability for our public doctors.

I was skeptical. After all, this scandal wasn’t new. I wrote about it myself for Monday Magazine ten years ago.

A former chief of psychiatry of Victoria’s Eric Martin Pavilion had been found guilty of drugging a female patient into a “zombie-like” state and sexually assaulting her over months while working in Ontario. He was back practising psychiatry here. I interviewed government representatives locally, regionally, provincially and nationally, and they responded in a chorus of, “That’s troubling, but we’re helpless. The college has authority.” Continue reading

VIHA Psychiatrists Criticize VIHA

and the Laurel House saga continues…

Laurel House is safe. It seems. For now.

Six months of closed-door negotiations between the Capital Mental Health Association, Vancouver Island Health Authority, and Laurel House users who staged a sit-in last September ended with a verbal commitment from VIHA that, “Laurel house will not be closed in the foreseeable future,” says Laurel House user-negotiator Kathleen Sumilas.

“It’s absolutely awesome,” she adds, noting that the sudden last minute agreement after six weeks of utter silence from VIHA “was quite unexpected.”

However, as of Focus’ press time, VIHA had provided no details in writing, and had pledged only that the users would be “consulted” about what Laurel House programming would look like. In light of VIHA and CMHA’s past poor record of conducting and respecting consultations, does it cause her concern? Worry? “Yes…” Sumilas responds slowly. “Yes, it does…”

Regardless of the outcome, however, one astonishing fact emerged during the process, with repercussions far beyond this individual issue. Continue reading

CanWest Global Attacks Drug Ad Laws

It’s arguably the year’s most important health care story. We’ve heard little about it, though, because media are deeply implicated in it themselves.

Direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceutical drugs (DTCA) is unfettered in only the U.S. and New Zealand. Canada, as the world’s eighth largest drug market, makes a juicy target to be next.

But ironically, Big Pharma isn’t the one fighting to legalize pushing amphetamines during Degrassi reruns; it’s CanWest Global (owners of the Victoria Times-Colonist, Global TV, CH TV, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, Dose, Metro etc). CanWest has launched a lawsuit under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, trying to tear down Canada’s limits on pharmaceutical advertising. Continue reading

Bumpkins Dismiss Conspiracy Theories

Beware the spoon-feeders of anti-conspiracy pap. You know who I mean. Like several local Victoria writers who suggested that if you suspect corporations may influence U.S. policy in Iraq, Princess Diana’s accident was not accidental, or certain leaders may have been complicit in 9/11, then you “forgot [your] medication” and evidently need far-fetched conspiracy theories as “comfort food” to help you “cope”.

Anti-conspiracists relentlessly attack conspiracy theories, yet their reasonings often have nothing to do with facts or proof. In their minds, for example, the suggestion that companies, regulators, doctors, scientists and thousands of victims have been involved in a global cover-up of a drug’s dangerous side effects is so improbable it not only doesn’t merit serious investigation, it’s laughable.

And that’s dangerous.

Continue reading

Eli Lilly Internal Documents – Re ZyprexaKills.tar.gz

In the course of research for articles in Adbusters and Focus magazines, I found these documents. They are internal memos, emails and studies from Eli Lilly and Company, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

There are a lot of relatively uninteresting pages mixed into this large file (269 MB), but overall some of the documents do seem to indicate, exactly as the New York Times and others have written, that Lilly apparently was involved in illegal, possibly criminal activities by misleading doctors about side effects and appropriate uses for their sedating-antipsychotic Zyprexa (Olanzapine), currently one of the world’s top-selling drugs.

Previously, distribution and even to some extent discussion of these documents was suppressed by an injunction from Eli Lilly in the United States. At that time, I found them using the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s TOR anti-censorship stealth network. As of mid-Feb, the injunction against U.S.-based websites was lifted, and the documents are re-appearing widely online.

The single document was very large and used up expensive bandwidth. Since there are now other and better ways to access these documents, I have removed my own copies from my website as of July 2007. I suggest going to the Furious Seasons blog to get them piece by piece or to this German site. Some Bittorrent files are also available.

For those just generally interested in the story, lawyer Jim Gottstein of PsychRights has posted an excellent overview of links.

As they obviously did for Gottstein, for me, the documents raise particular concern and sympathy for those people around the world who are being forced to take Lilly’s Zyprexa and other very dangerous drugs against their wills, victims of forced psychiatric interventions or inappropriate treatment in homes for the elderly. These documents help show how misguided forced psychiatric intervention really is, and how its methods tend to be more similar to chemical restraint and torture than to science or medicine.