The dangers of Vioxx, manufactured by Merck, were known in 2000. The recent recall of Vioxx makes it appear as though its danger was recently discovered. This is false. The study known as VIGOR (Vioxx Gastrointestinal Outcomes Research) showed an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes in patients taking Vioxx compared to patients taking naproxen. This early warning was ignored by most of the prominent scientists within the FDA and Merck for almost 4 years.
A single warning attempt was made. This attempt failed. Dr. David J. Graham, associate director for science in the FDA Drug Center's Office of Drug Safety, told Senate investigators that upon mentioning of the risks, he was "ostracized", "subjected to veiled threats" and intimidated by co-workers at the pharmaceutically controlled FDA.
The success of Vioxx was the result of ghost writing among medical journals, drug company worship by both medical doctors and shareholders and million dollar marketing campaigns ($100 million per year) paid for by the drug manufacturer. Resultantly, the popularity of Vioxx and other NSAIDS gained surging momentum on the prescription drug market. The cold hard facts of science cannot be ignored forever. The Wall Street Journal reported that Merck & Co.'s Vioxx eventually led to more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths. Still, Merck's window of opportunity procured them $2.55 billion dollars annually from the sales of Vioxx.
Vioxx is not the only non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that poses huge risk to the general public. It is estimated that 107,000 people are hospitalized every year for NSAID related gastrointestinal complications. Adding to this, at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients. This figure, as reported by Dr. Gurkirpal Singh, is comparable to the number of deaths from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS] and shows that NSAIDS contribute to as many deaths as multiple myeloma, asthma, and cervical cancer combined.
These facts are shocking to a drug chemist like myself. Isn't the FDA supposed to protect the public from dangerous drugs? Shouldn't the American public be made aware of safe and effective natural alternative's? Apparently not, financial gains appear to be more important. Because natural alternatives do not carry patent protection, drug manufacturers and the FDA will do little to promote them. Combination therapy serve's as a poignant example.
Using three naturally occurring substances, anyone can safely and effectively prevent and overcome osteoarthritis. Studies show that osteoarthritis is the result of our body lacking the ability to manufacture a molecule known as glucosamine (perhaps due to age, poor diet or genetics). This inability to manufacture glucosamine leads to a lack of collagen.
Collagen is the protein portion of the fibrous substance that holds joints together. It is also the main component of the shock-absorbing cushion called articular cartilage, the white, smooth surface that covers the ends of body joints. These cushions can be found in the wrist, fingers, toes, ankles, knees, hips and between the discs of the spine. Without articular cartilage, our joints experience pain and despite how healthy we may be, this pain greatly inhibits physical activity. Lack of physical activity inevitably leads to a decline in health.
The obvious first step towards treating this pain and to prevent the subsequent decline in health is to provide the body with an orally active form (one that can make it past the stomach and into the blood stream) of glucosamine. After decades of research, scientists have found this to be glucosamine sulfate rather than glucosamine HCL.
Glucosamine sulfate is derived from chitin, which is a processed form of shrimp, lobster, and crab shells. Glucosamine sulfate is a derivative of the naturally occurring aminomonosaccharide glucosamine, a major constituent of cartilage and synovial fluid. When supplemented properly (1500-2500 mg daily for 6-8 weeks) glucosamine sulfate rebuilds lost cartilage and soothes joints. Users can say goodbye to pain. In an unprecedented, 3-year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind study involving 200 patients, supplementation with glucosamine sulfate retarded the progression of osteoarthritis in the knee. Other studies have confirmed these findings by showing that supplementation with glucosamine sulfate slows down and reverses degeneration of cartilage within joints.
These studies are paramount in that no NSAID, including COX-2 inhibitors, have ever been able to retard the progression of osteoarthritis. Trials, which compared glucosamine sulfate to NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen, showed that long-term reductions in pain were greater in patients taking glucosamine sulfate. Moreover, long-term glucosamine administration does not elicit the potentially dangerous side effects associated with the use of NSAIDS.
It is believed that glucosamine sulfate supplementation is dangerous for diabetics. This is not true. Studies show that due to the low glycemic index, there are no adverse effects when used at the proper dose of 1500-3000 mg daily.
Enhancing the effects of glucosamine sulfate, the nutrient MSM (methylsulfonylmethane or dimethyl sulfone) should be used in conjunction with it. This is known as combination therapy. MSM is an organic, sulfur-containing compound that occurs naturally in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and animals, including humans. MSM (2-8 grams daily) works double-time to heal joints by acting as an anti-inflammatory to the joints and to inhibit pain impulses along nerve fibers. Besides helping arthritis (both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid) sufferers, MSM can be of great benefit to those with bursitis, tendonitis and conditions such as tennis elbow and repetitive strain injury. MSM is a safe and non-toxic substance.
Highlighted by the peer reviewed medical journal Clinical Drug Investigations, combination therapy works better and faster at reducing pain and swelling and in improving the functional ability of joints when compared to using glucosamine sulfate and MSM individually. This is an important note.
Offering further benefits from combination therapy, ginger has also been shown to have unprecedented success at circumventing joint pain. Zingiber officinale (ginger root) has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of both prostaglandins (PGE2) and leukotrienes (LTB4). These biochemical's are ubiquitous substances that initiate and control cell and tissue responses involved in a myriad of physiological processes. These processes include platelet aggregation, rennin release and inflammation. Their overproduction has been implicated in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis. To circumvent the overproduction of prostaglandins (PGE2) and leukotrienes (LTB4) one could use Ginger. One study conducted by the Department of Environmental Medicine in Denmark showed that of 56 patients (2 with rheumatoid arthritis, 18 with osteoarthritis, and 10 with muscular discomfort) taking Zingiber officinale, 75% experienced relief in pain and swelling.
Combination therapy with glucosamine sulfate, MSM, and Ginger for 4 to 6 months is America's answer to the growing number of people who suffer from osteoarthritis. In contrast to NSAIDS, such combination therapy is inexpensive and elicits no negative side effects. These substances, like water, are non-toxic. Hence, ALL American's have a remedy to not only arthritis but also the deadly conflicts of interest among the FDA…Thanks to Mother Nature.
© 2003 Shane Ellison - All Rights Reserved
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Shane holds a Master's degree in organic chemistry
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