Big pharma partnering with influencers to sell drugs, medical devices

The latest Instagram influencer frontier? Medical promotions

Abstracts

“By enlisting influencers to market their health care products amid a stream of Facetuned photos, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies co-opt narratives that give social media users a sense of how healthy they can be, if only they had this product.”

“Social media enables its users to connect over shared interests, locations, and even illnesses. Using this formula, health care companies locate potential influencers who can use these commonalities to reach and build trust with an audience.”

“One wonders why a company would assume the risk of misinformed patients, as they are responsible for what their paid endorsers say. The reason is simple: One in three consumers in the US consult social media for health-related matters. “

Read The latest Instagram influencer frontier? Medical promotions, on vox, Feb 15, 2019.

Air pollution exposed children with mental health problems

Association between neighbourhood air pollution concentrations and dispensed medication for psychiatric disorders in a large longitudinal cohort of Swedish children and adolescents

Abstract

Objective
To investigate associations between exposure to air pollution and child and adolescent mental health.

Design
Observational study.

Setting
Swedish National Register data on dispensed medications for a broad range of psychiatric disorders, including sedative medications, sleeping pills and antipsychotic medications, together with socioeconomic and demographic data and a national land use regression model for air pollution concentrations for NO2, PM10 and PM2.5.

Participants
The entire population under 18 years of age in 4 major counties. We excluded cohort members whose parents had dispensed a medication in the same medication group since the start date of the register. The cohort size was 552 221.

Main outcome measures
Cox proportional hazards models to estimate HRs and their 95% CIs for the outcomes, adjusted for individual-level and group-level characteristics.

Results
The average length of follow-up was 3.5 years, with an average number of events per 1000 cohort members of ∼21. The mean annual level of NO2 was 9.8 µg/m3. Children and adolescents living in areas with higher air pollution concentrations were more likely to have a dispensed medication for a psychiatric disorder during follow-up (HR=1.09, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.12, associated with a 10 µg/m3 increase in NO2). The association with NO2 was clearly present in 3 out of 4 counties in the study area; however, no statistically significant heterogeneity was detected.

Conclusion
There may be a link between exposure to air pollution and dispensed medications for certain psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents even at the relatively low levels of air pollution in the study regions. The findings should be corroborated by others.

Reference.

The Guardian press releases : here, here, here, here, here, here.

Air pollution linked to higher risk of miscarriage

Acute effects of air pollutants on spontaneous pregnancy loss: a case-crossover study

2019 Study Abstract

Objective
To investigate the relationship between acute exposure to air pollutants and spontaneous pregnancy loss.

Design
Case-crossover study from 2007 to 2015.

Setting
An academic emergency department in the Wasatch Front area of Utah.

Patient(s)
A total of 1,398 women who experienced spontaneous pregnancy loss events.

Intervention(s)
None.

Main Outcome Measure(s)
Odds of spontaneous pregnancy loss.

Result(s)
We found that a 10-ppb increase in 7-day average levels of nitrogen dioxide was associated with a 16% increase in the odds of spontaneous pregnancy loss (odds ratio [OR] = 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01–1.33; P=.04). A 10-μg/m3 increase in 3-day and 7-day averages of fine particulate matter were associated with increased risk of spontaneous pregnancy loss, but the associations did not reach statistical significance (OR3-day average = 1.09; 95% CI 0.99–1.20; P=.05) (OR7-day average = 1.11; 95% CI 0.99–1.24; P=.06). We found no evidence of increased risk for any other metrics of nitrogen dioxide or fine particulate matter or any metric for ozone.

Conclusions
We found that short-term exposure to elevated levels of air pollutants was associated with higher risk for spontaneous pregnancy loss.

Air pollution exposed adolescents with mental health problems

Exploration of NO2 and PM2.5 air pollution and mental health problems using high-resolution data in London-based children from a UK longitudinal cohort study

In the first analysis of how common air pollutants affect teenage mental health, researchers found young people were three to four times more likely to have depression at 18 if they had been exposed to dirtier air at age 12. Comparison with earlier work indicates that air pollution is a greater risk factor than physical abuse in raising the risk of teenage depression.

Study Highlights

    • High-resolution pollution estimates were successfully combined with cohort data.
    • Age-12 pollution exposure was not associated with age-12 mental health problems.
    • But age-12 pollution exposure was significantly associated with age-18 depression.
    • Associations with depression held even after controlling for common risk factors.
    • Elevated odds of age-18 conduct disorder among children exposed to air pollution.

Abstract, Feb 2019

Air pollution is a worldwide environmental health issue. Increasingly, reports suggest that poor air quality may be associated with mental health problems, but these studies often use global measures and rarely focus on early development when psychopathology commonly emerges. To address this, we combined high-resolution air pollution exposure estimates and prospectively-collected phenotypic data to explore concurrent and longitudinal associations between air pollutants of major concern in urban areas and mental health problems in childhood and adolescence. Exploratory analyses were conducted on 284 London-based children from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study. Exposure to annualized PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations was estimated at address-level when children were aged 12. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder were assessed at ages 12 and 18. Psychiatric diagnoses were ascertained from interviews with the participants at age 18. We found no associations between age-12 pollution exposure and concurrent mental health problems. However, age-12 pollution estimates were significantly associated with increased odds of major depressive disorder at age 18, even after controlling for common risk factors. This study demonstrates the potential utility of incorporating high-resolution pollution estimates into large epidemiological cohorts to robustly investigate associations between air pollution and youth mental health.

Reference.

The Guardian press releases : here, here, here, here, here, here.

Impact of upstream oil extraction and environmental public health : A review of the evidence

There are approximately 40,000 oil fields globally and 6 million people that live or work nearby

Highlights

  • Identifies 63 studies on the exposure and health risks related to oil extraction
  • Examines the human health effects of oil drilling
  • Discusses potential exposure pathways via include air, soil, water and waste fluids

Abstract

Upstream oil extraction, which includes exploration and operation to bring crude oil to the surface, frequently occurs near human populations. There are approximately 40,000 oil fields globally and 6 million people that live or work nearby. Oil extraction can impact local soil, water, and air, which in turn can influence community health. As oil resources are increasingly being extracted near human populations, we highlight the current scope of scientific knowledge regarding potential community health impacts with the aim to help identify scientific gaps and inform policy discussions surrounding oil drilling operations.

In this review, we assess the wide range of both direct and indirect impacts that oil drilling operations can have on human health, with specific emphasis on understanding the body of scientific literature to assess potential environmental and health risks to residents living near active onshore oil extraction sites. From an initial literature search capturing 2236 studies, we identified 22 human studies, including 5 occupational studies, 5 animal studies, 6 experimental studies and 31 oil drilling-related exposure studies relevant to the scope of this review.

The current evidence suggests potential health impacts due to exposure to upstream oil extraction, such as cancer, liver damage, immunodeficiency, and neurological symptoms. Adverse impacts to soil, air, and water quality in oil drilling regions were also identified. Improved characterization of exposures by community health studies and further study of the chemical mixtures associated with oil extraction will be critical to determining the full range of health risks to communities living near oil extraction.

Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence, Mutation Research/Reviews, February 2019

Abstract

Glyphosate is the most widely used broad-spectrum systemic herbicide in the world. Recent evaluations of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) by various regional, national, and international agencies have engendered controversy.

We investigated whether there was an association between high cumulative exposures to GBHs and increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in humans. We conducted a new meta-analysis that included the most recent update of the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) cohort published in 2018 along with five case-control studies.

Using the highest exposure groups when available in each study, we report the overall meta-relative risk (meta-RR) of NHL in GBH-exposed individuals was increased by 41% (meta-RR = 1.41, 95% CI, confidence interval: 1.13–1.75). For comparison, we also performed a secondary meta-analysis using high-exposure groups with the earlier AHS (2005), and we determined a meta-RR for NHL of 1.45 (95% CI: 1.11–1.91), which was higher than the meta-RRs reported previously. Multiple sensitivity tests conducted to assess the validity of our findings did not reveal meaningful differences from our primary estimated meta-RR. To contextualize our findings of an increased NHL risk in individuals with high GBH exposure, we reviewed available animal and mechanistic studies, which provided supporting evidence for the carcinogenic potential of GBH. We documented further support from studies of malignant lymphoma incidence in mice treated with pure glyphosate, as well as potential links between GBH exposure and immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, and genetic alterations that are commonly associated with NHL.

Overall, in accordance with evidence from experimental animal and mechanistic studies, our current meta-analysis of human epidemiological studies suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBHs and increased risk for NHL.

 

Reference. Image credit gmwatch.

Primodos EWG Report : Hannah Bardell MP Talks

Will the Primodos victims, and the new science evidence, be at the heart of the Government report ?

On 21 February 2018, Hannah Bardell, SNP MP for Livingston, raised concerns about the Primodos hormone pregnancy test drug, and asked important questions to the Health Secretary.

Primodos EWG Report : Emma Reynolds MP Talks

Will all Primodos victims be listened to ?

On 24 October 2018, Emma Reynolds, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East, asked Health Secretary to guarantee women who took hormone pregnancy test Primodos will have time to tell their stories to review into claims it caused birth defects and miscarriages.

Families, including one in Reynolds’ constituency, must have confidence in the review. Answers long overdue.

Unbiased information on medicines : Why is it needed?

Pharmaceutical promotion practices HAI webinar, Oct 2018

Dr Barbara Mintzes (University of Sydney) joins Health Action International for an expert webinar on pharmaceutical promotion practices.

Children’s cereals contain glyphosate residues at high level, second round of tests shows

Another round of tests finds weedkiller widespread in popular cereals and snack bars

Following an initial test last August, a second round of tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group found the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer in every sample of popular oat-based cereal and other oat-based food marketed to children.

“People don’t want this pesticide on their food, especially in foods marketed to and consumed by children,”

said Tasha Stoiber, senior scientist at EWG.

Almost all of the samples tested by EWG had residues of glyphosate at levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.