Friday, May 06, 2016

Roundup from Australia today

Bex: Australia’s APC cure-all that was addictive and caused kidney damage (?)

Also once sold in the USA under names such as Anacin and Saridon

The story below is conventionally "correct" but unbalanced.  Phenacetin is said to be the ingredient in APC powders that caused kidney damage but what does it metabolize to in the body? Paracetamol!  Precisely the analgesic that is now generally recommended.  How crazy can you get?  And paracetamol (aka acetaminophen) IS dangerous by itself, but not for its effect on the kidney. It destroys the liver!  It is very dosage-sensitive. If you take much more than the recommended dosage, you can die.

So how come people took huge doses of phenacetin and did NOT die of liver disease?  And aspirin in large doses can be toxic too, though not nearly as toxic as paracetamol.  So people were taking huge doses of both paracetamol and aspirin without experiencing the symptoms that should have gone with that.  So again, How come?

It seems that the APC combination produced some sort of beneficial drug interaction.  The three ingredients seemed to combine to eliminate the toxicity they had by themselves.  Stranger things have happened.  But divine miracles are rare so to a small degree the APC combination also caused some damage -- but only to the kidneys and only among heavy users of the powders.  And the mortality from liver disease is now much greater than the mortality that used to be experienced from kidney disease.

So APCs were in fact a wonder drug that became harmful only from heavy over-use.  And ANYTHING can be harmful in excess.  Even drinking too much water can kill you.  Google "hyponatremia" if you doubt it.

Another problem is that many Bex users went onto Valium instead when Bex was withdrawn -- with its attendant risk of making you drowsy when you're driving. So did the ban on Bex kill people in road accidents? Probably.

And a VERY important use of Bex was as an early treatment for what is still a dreaded and all too common ailment: migraines. Migraine sufferers generally get some warning when a migraine is due to strike, an aura, jaw stiffening etc. And as soon as anybody prone to migraines felt the slightest suspicion that one was about to strike, they would grab their nearby packet of Bex and slam one into themselves quick smart. And it did help. If you got the Bex into yourself straight away, the migraine would either not develop or would be less severe than a full-blown attack.

Now here's the final kicker: Something that is often prescribed for aches and pains these days is NSAIDS (Ibuprofen etc.). And guess what is a major side effects of NSAIDS? Kidney damage. NSAIDS are hundreds of times more toxic to the kidneys than Bex ever was. So let's ban NSAIDS!

So I know I am telling here a story that is at great variance with the conventional wisdom but everything I have said above is entirely factual.  There was some research in the 1960s that pointed to the benefits of the APC combination but it was not pursued, presumably because the usefulness of APCs was seen to be beyond question and needing no reinforcement

A more extensive coverage of the issues is here

I am inclined to suspect that the main reason for banning APCs such as Bex was because they were so popular.  That HAD to be bad

WHEN former prime minister Kevin Rudd told journalists speculating that he was trying to reclaim the Labor leadership to have "a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down", younger members of the media pack look puzzled.

They had not heard such an expression before, but to the children of the Baby Boomer generation, the phrase was immediately recognisable.

It was in the late 1950s and throughout the ’60s that the marketing slogan entered the vernacular. Bex, the analgesic made up of aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine (APC), became an Australian icon. It was recommended to treat aches and pains, headaches, colds, flu, fevers, rheumatism and for "calming down".

Dissolving a Bex (or the similar product, Vincent’s) in a cup of tea, or taken with other stimulants such as cola drinks became particularly common among housewives. It was widely available and sometimes taken up to three times a day.

Aggressive marketing from drug companies meant it was even common to pop a Bex or Vincent’s powder in children’s lunch boxes "just in case".

It wasn’t until the 1970s that doctors and health experts realised these formulations were responsible for kidney disease and addiction, and were carcinogenic. Phenacetin was finally pulled from the market by the late ’70s. But the damage had already been done. In the years that followed World War II, Australia led the world in APC consumption — and in the number of deaths it eventually caused.

Women resorted to "a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down" so often that in 1965 it became the title of a popular play by John McKellar.

The phrase is still instantly recognised by the children of that generation. So many people had an aunt, a mother, a sister, or a friend who were addicted to APCs. Many of them died from related kidney disease.

Readers of our Adelaide Remember When Facebook page recently responded to a post on the Bex phenomenon with memories of their own experiences.

Rick Cooper wrote: "For a while, I lived in Hamley Bridge and the railway was the playground, transport and just about everything else for us kids. At one stage, Vincent’s had a sign on every fence along the railway lines with the countdown in miles until you reached Adelaide. The blue, yellow and white signs said ‘X miles to relief with Vincent’s powders’."

Trish Simpson recalled how her father was addicted to Bex and ended up with terrible kidney problems: "We always had Bex in the house and I remember taking them when I was younger. Eventually they removed the damaging ingredient and Bex wasn’t as effective. Not sure how much longer they survived after that."
Vincent’s Powders and Bex with aspirin and cold medicine on the shelf in 1979.

Deborah Wise reminisced that as a child she loved Bex: "If we had a sore throat, Mum would mix a powder in a teaspoon of honey. Man, it tasted good! I suppose it eased the symptoms as well. I’m pretty sure that my Dad used to take a Bex first thing every morning."

And Adele Andrews contributed: "I was an operating room nurse in the late 1960s and one of Adelaide’s top renal surgeons gathered all the OR staff into the theatre one day to show them a shrivelled-up kidney he had just removed from a 32-year-old woman. All he said was ‘Bex powder addiction, take note’. I had never taken any APC and was not about to start after that lecture. They should have been banned much earlier."

Concerns about the rates of consumption of the popular analgesics first surfaced in 1962 and resulted in a series of public health warnings.

They seemed to have a minimal impact until 1966, when kidney specialist Priscilla Kincaid-Smith — after noticing a serious rise in women presenting with kidney disorders — conducted a series of experiments on rats.

She proved that APC powders were linked to serious kidney disease and the Government of the day began to take notice. In 1967, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommended that phenacetin be removed from the pharmaceutical benefits list, which saw Vincent’s eliminate the compound from its powders that same year, replacing it with salicylamide, which was from the same chemical family as aspirin.

Bex, however, continued to include phenacetin in its product but the sustained adverse publicity throughout the 1970s and the mounting evidence that the once "harmless" cure-all was in fact causing serious kidney disease, forced Bex to also drop the substance from its powders in 1975. By 1977, the results of the addiction were becoming very clear and the NH & MRC moved to restrict the availability of all APCs.

And so the Bex and Vincent’s powder era, thankfully, came to an end.

Thinking back to those days, it was just part and parcel of the lifestyle. Just about everyone’s mum or grandma seemed to always have a Bex or Vincent’s powder handy and, with the first sign of a headache, a cold or if they felt they needed a quick "pick me up", down would go a powder.

It was a vicious circle of addiction, really: the caffeine content gave a sudden rush of energy, which eventually triggered a withdrawal headache, which prompted them to take another powder.


"Biffo" Latham doesn't like feminists

Latham is a former leader of the Federal Labor party

A FIERY debate erupted in the Weekend Sunrise studio when commentator Mark Latham and co-host Andrew O’Keefe clashed over feminism.

Latham was on the show along with guests, Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine, The Guardian columnist Van Badham and columnist Rory Gibson to discuss the issue of feminism and if men were being unfairly targeted.

All three guests got fired up when debating the issue but the real eruption occurred between Latham and O’Keefe.

Latham was asked by Sunrise co-host Angela Cox if he thought men felt threatened now that women today are educated and better off financially.

Latham replied, "no I think the average man is doing quite fine, they ignore most of the left feminist clap trap. They ignore people like Van who are a very very minority interest in our society, she’s a self declared anarchist way way on the extreme left of politics representing perhaps point zero, zero, per cent of thought in Australia so she’s safely ignored".

"The real issue for men is can they keep up in the education system. At the moment among university graduates leaving every year 40 per cent are male, 60 per cent are female, a massive advance for women in this country. When you look at the bottom of society when you get away from Van’s debate about women like her, because left feminism is essentially selfish," he said before O’Keefe interjected, "Oh for god’s sake".

And that’s when the two went head to head. Latham accused O’Keefe of being biased and a left wing participant in the debate while Andrew accused Latham of personally attacking the guests.

It was left to Cox to take charge and request that the guests stayed away from personal attacks.

There were mixed opinions on Twitter with some backing O’Keefe while others were in Latham’s corner but aside from the difference in opinions Twitters users all seemed to agree on how heated the debate got.

And just when viewers thought the segment was over the two men fired up again. "You live in cloud cookoo land. If you’re on the 11:30 train out of the city and there’s a women’s only carriage, and you’re a bad bloke looking to do damage, you’re going to go straight in," Latham said referring to the idea of having womens only carriages on late night trains.

"That’s a really good insightful comment there. Great to have constructive debate there. Thank you. And thank you all for your insights and thank you Mark for the entertainment," O’Keefe said.

"Thank you for the objectivity, Andrew and maybe next week, you can go back to being a proper professional host. If you want to participate in these debates declare that at the start of segment," Latham replied before Cox ended the debate once and for all.


    Australian government urged to address 'epidemic' Indigenous suicide rates in remote Australia

Like how?  Suicide is a very personal thing, well outside the competence of any government.  Governments could attack the causes of suicide but what is left to do?  Governments have tried all sorts of things to address  Aboriginal problems but nothing has worked

  Aboriginal communities across the nation are calling on the Federal Government to urgently address what they describe as an "epidemic" of Indigenous suicides in remote Australia.

The crisis is most acute in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, where a 10-year-old girl recently hung herself. Indigenous leaders there say the Federal Government must act now to prevent further deaths.

The call comes as the first-ever National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference begins tonight in Alice Springs.  Aboriginal people and health workers will travel from across Australia to attend the conference in the wake of escalating Indigenous suicide rates, particularly over the past five years.

The Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project, chaired by West Australian academic Pat Dudgeon and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Tom Calma, has been mapping suicide rates.  Mr Calma said suicide rates in remote Australia could be described as an epidemic. He said there had been a doubling of Indigenous suicide rates in the Kimberley during the past five years, and that the problem was larger than official statistics suggested because many deaths were never reported to the coroner.

He said that although the Government was preparing to implement a national suicide prevention strategy after July, there had been an unacceptable three-year delay in spending $17.8 million in funds earmarked for Indigenous suicide prevention. "We can't continually have these significant health issues become political footballs," Mr Calma said.  "It's disappointing.

The whole of Indigenous affairs is continually challenged by a lack of consistent policy direction and funding. And that's due to ministers and bureaucrats procrastinating.  "What we need in Indigenous affairs is good, bipartisan agreement on a way forward, and then we need to have a consistent policy approach and funding approach


Victory over unauthorized immigration in Australia.  Country is now closing 17 immigration detention centres

After key details from tonight’s federal budget by Scott Morrison emerged over the past week, government ministers began revealing details in parliament today.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton told parliament this afternoon that the closure of 17 onshore immigration detention centres will be announced in the Budget tonight.

"I’m pleased to announce ahead of the budget tonight that we will close 17 detention centres, resulting in 17 detention centres having been opened by Labor and 17 closed by this government," he said.

"We have reduced the number of children in detention from 2000 under Labor down to zero. We don’t want to see new boat arrivals and we absolutely are determined that we are not going to see men, women and children drowning at sea ever again in this country."

The minister did not specify which facilities would close, but Business Insider has been unable to find 17 centres.

The department immigration and border protection lists 10 on its website. The department runs five. Others are run by Serco and offshore, by Broadspectrum.

Australia’s oldest immigration detention sites are the 50-year-old Maribyrnong centre in Melbourne and Sydney’s Villawood detention centre, which are also used for other visa infringements by overseas visitors.

There are other centres in Perth, Christmas Island, Northern and Wickham Point in Darwin, Curtin and Yongah Hill in Western Australia. There are immigration transit accommodation centres in Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide for low-risk detainees and community-based family-style housing for detainees in Perth, Sydney, Port Augusta, Christmas Island and Adelaide.

Two years ago, when the treasurer was immigration minister, Scott Morrison closed four centres – Pontville, Scherger, Port Augusta and Leonora.

The announcement comes as the Turnbull government grapples with the future of 850 refugees and asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre, which the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court announced last week was illegal, leading PNG prime minister Lucas O’Neil to announce it would be closed.

The subsequent debate over what to do with the 850 men there — 450 have been declared genuine refugees — has seen the Australian government rule out bringing them to Australia and also turning down an offer by New Zealand to take 150 people, with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull saying it would be "marketing" for people smugglers.

Details emerged today that another refugee on Nauru had set themselves alight and is now in a critical condition in an Australian hospital. The 21-year-old Somali refugee, Hodan Yasin, self-immolated a fortnight after another refugee Omid Masoumali, 23, did and died from his injuries.

The minister has blamed asylum seeker advocates for the incidents, saying they were offering refugees "false hope".

"I have previously expressed my frustration and anger at advocates and others who are in contact with those in regional processing centres and who are encouraging some of these people to behave in a certain way, believing that that pressure exerted on the Australian Government will see a change in our policy in relation to our border protection measures," Dutton said.

"We are not going to change those policies, and the advocates, by providing false hope to these people, really [are] to be condemned."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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