Lies about Vaccines and why Anti-Vaccine believers are stupid.

Greetings friends! I apologize for the long time between posts here. It’s been a rough couple months, but rest assured, this project is by no means forgotten. A few minutes ago I read a facebook post from a friend which was a link to an article that was… how do I say this nicely?

Fucking stupid. I love my friends, and I forgive them for they know not what they post! And that’s okay, because I’m here to set the record straight. I’m just that awesome.


The article that pissed me off (not least of which because it was poorly written) is called 11 Reasons Why Flu Shots are more dangerous than the Flu itself. Are you serious right now? Really?! I had to bite. It was as bad as I feared. The article I saw posted on facebook is on The attributed source is “” and actually includes a list of sources. But I’ll get to that in a little bit. To save you the trouble of actually having to click on that link and to avoid sending traffic to those ignorant snake oil peddling purveyors of misinformation I’ll share with you the gems their idiocy and thoughtless drivel.

The first lies show up before the list of 11 even begins. The introduction to this piece tells us that we’re secretly being injected with toxic chemicals. Uh-huh. Aside from this being… what’s that phrase…? Oh yeah, “not true” is what I was looking for; the article doesn’t actually list any dangerous chemicals. #2 mentions mercury which is actually an element. While they’re quick to point out the interesting fact that the flu vaccine contains flu virus and thus immediately giving away the author actually has NO education past 7th grade, this tidbit also informs us that mercury is toxic and goes into the side effects of toxic levels. Good job guy, you can read!

Since you, my IV Start readers are actually educated, you’ll be able to follow me here. Some (not even most) vaccines contain an ingredient known as Thimerosal. This is an antibacterial preservative used in multi-dose vials that is in fact mercury based. But not all mercury is created equally. (Much like blog writers.) If you’re aware that eating Tuna, Sharkfin, and other types of ocean dwelling creatures contain mercury, then you already know about methylmercury. Reason #2 is correct in listing the symptoms of methylmercury toxicity in humans.

Even if Thimerosal actually contained methylmercury (hint: it does not) eating one can of Tuna will expose you to more than a vaccine possibly could. The truth of the matter is ethylmercury. I realize that these anti-vaccine nuts me see the difference of only an M, but believe me, there’s a difference much less subtle than one letter.

Ethylmercury is processed differently than methylmercury by our bodies and is broken down and cleared from our systems quicker and more efficiently. This means you would need to have a much more concentrated dose of ethylmercury than methylmercury to cause this litany of “serious health issues.” By this logic, all anti-vaccine believers need to start an anti-seafood campaign too. At least that won’t kill young children. Source: EPA

If you would like to read more about this, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has an excellent discussion on Thimerosal and the fact that it is proven to be safe. Despite the safety record, Thimerosal has still been removed from every single childhood vaccine except the flu shot. So there’s that, at least.

Smart Sauce

Smart Sauce

The next bit of wisdom really pissed me off: #5 Lack of real evidence that young children even benefit from flu shots. Save your bullshit, sourceless lies. Like the mercury crap above, there’s no source cited. This is all horse crap. Really, NO evidence of flu vaccine efficacy?

“51 studies involving 260,000 children age 6 to 23 months established no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo.”

O Rly?

O Rly?

Flu Vaccine Efficacy in Infants:

“In a four-year randomized, placebo-controlled study of inactivated and live influenza vaccines among children aged 1–15 years, vaccine efficacy was estimated at 77% against influenza A (H3N2) and 91% against influenza A (H1N1) virus infection (Neuzil et al., 2001). A two-year study of children aged 6–24 months found that the vaccine was 66% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza in one year of the study (Hoberman et al., 2003). Only children who were fully vaccinated (i.e., had either two doses if not previously vaccinated, or one dose if previously vaccinated) versus unvaccinated children were included in the analysis. In the other year of this study, few cases of influenza occurred, making it difficult to assess the vaccine’s efficacy (Hoberman et al., 2003). Children younger than 9 years of age who have not been vaccinated previously are recommended to receive two doses of vaccine the first year they get vaccinated. In subsequent years, they need only one dose. This recommendation was made because many children younger than 9 years of age have not been infected with influenza viruses previously, and a booster dose is needed for them to produce a protective immune response.”

If you didn’t feel like parsing that all out, the REAL study the author attempted to cite (while embellishing and omitting) was very narrow in its scope during a slow flu season. That’s the underlined part refuting what Jim-Bob the Republican Anti-Vaccine nut believes and states. The bold part is a legitimate gold standard study for children showing a 70-90% effectiveness. Just saying.

Source: CDC

The next part of #5 here is that the author seems genuinely stunned that the flu virus seems to come in multiple strains and the vaccines don’t contain all of them! There’s a reason we have to get them yearly, guys. Different years = different flu strains.

Just in case you were wondering what’s on tap for this flu seasons, here you go! Courtesy of

“During the 2013-2014 season, a three-component flu vaccine (which protects against three strains) and a four-component flu vaccine (which protects against four strains) will be available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The three-component (trivalent) flu vaccine is made from three flu strains: two influenza A strains, H1N1 and H3N2, and an influenza B strain.

The four-component (quadrivalent) flu vaccine will contain these three strains, as well as a second influenza B strain.”

So here are some more dumbass facts that don’t really even need a rebuttal. The stupidity is inherent enough that I think you get the point without having to think too hard.

#1. The flu shot actually makes you sick to begin with.

Uhm… No it doesn’t? The ass-hat who wrote this says that the fact the flu shot “causes individuals to get ill following a shot indicates immuno-supression.” Okay, so first of all Dr. House, the O in “immunosupression” is a conjoining form negating the need for a “-“. It’s all sorts of greek and latin and shit, so don’t bother with learning to understand big words if you can just throw them around and sound smart. (Right? That’s what I do!) The fact that people DON’T get sick because of vaccines obviously does NOT indicate anything.

Here’s a visual example of how these people are getting their Cause & Effect backwards.

Small Fire

Small Fire

Big Fire

Big Fire

Cause & Effect: More firetrucks present at the scene cause bigger fires.

In fact, for the flu vaccine to be effective two things need to happen. The flu strain in the vaccine must match the current flu in circulation. Then, that vaccine must be administered 14+ days BEFORE it the immune system has rendered it effective. The fact people get sick after getting their flu shot is probably because they procrastinate into the middle of fucking flu season after people they’re close to are already sick! No wonder people get sick right after they get the vaccine! They were already infected! And this is only true for the people who actually get the real FLU. How many of these dumbasses get a cold (adenovirus) and can’t tell the difference despite the lack of fever and obviously different symptoms? Hmph.

Ready for more Derp?

#6: “… a vaccine injection could put your body in serious danger of contracting influenza with stronger symptoms, or even worse pneumonia and other contagious diseases.”

Oh yeah?

Here is a comparison between disease/vaccine risk.

Measles and Rubella vs. MMR Vaccine


Pneumonia: 6 in 100
Encephalitis: 1 in 1,000
Death: 2 in 1,000

Congenital Rubella Syndrome: 1 in 4 (if woman becomes infected early in pregnancy)


Encephalitis or severe allergic reaction:
1 in 1,000,000

Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vs. DTap Vaccine


Death: 1 in 20

Death: 2 in 10

Pneumonia: 1 in 8
Encephalitis: 1 in 20
Death: 1 in 1,500


Continuous crying, then full recovery: 1 in 1000
Convulsions or shock, then full recovery: 1 in 14,000
Acute encephalopathy: 0-10.5 in 1,000,000
Death: None proven

Source: CDC

The rest of this republican style hot air isn’t even worth rebutting or mentioning. Instead, I’d like to present for your viewing consideration further SCIENCE and EVIDENCE BASED sources for your viewing pleasure. I do hope you enjoyed reading and will share this article with others who think that withholding vaccines from children is smart, cool, or trendy. Well, it’s not, it’s fucking dangerous and ignorant. Don’t be a Republican, don’t shun modern medicine because you’re not capable of thinking for yourself. Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin do enough of that for all of us. Seriously though. Think about it. Learn about it. Use your own brain, don’t do what just anyone tells you. (Go get some shots.)

P.S. Vaccines aren’t perfect, nor do they claim to be. Problems, however rare they may be, are open and transparent. There’s no conspiracy theory or Illuminati movement or whatever self fellatiating idea these people may be attempting to grow in those brains of theirs.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has assembled for your reading pleasure all possible influenza vaccine safety information/problems.

Seasonal Influenza CDC

Vaccine Safety

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
(Suspended/understaffed during Government shutdown.)

Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD)

Influenza Vaccine (Wikipedia)

“Vaccination of one population leads to a decrease in disease in another population, has been with the conjugated pneumococcal vaccine used in children, the Prevnar.  This vaccine covers the 7 most common strains of invasive pneumococcus in children and uptake of this vaccine is high.  Use of the vaccine has resulted in invasive disease plummeting in children, and as an side benefit, invasive disease with the same strains has also plummeted in the elderly (PubMed)”

“Such an effect may be occurring when children are vaccinated against influenza. “Vaccination of approximately 20-25% of children, 1.5-18 years of age in the intervention communities resulted in an indirect protection of 8-18% against MAARI (medically attended acute respiratory illness in adults > or =35 years of age.” (PubMed)(PubMed).”

Influenza (WHO)

Influenza Immunization Statistics & Studies

Oh yeah, I mentioned the sources from the original article. Featuring some pretty heavy hitters here, hold on to your britches! Only the first two are real studies, but they’re real studies that have extremely limited context and are used out of context with hyperbole and bias. Good job guys.

Before shooting sick people became popular...

Before shooting sick people became popular… What we should do with people who make shit up and present it as real, factual science and medicine.


Goodwill or Slavewill?

Goodwill Industries pays disabled workers pennies

More like robbing the poor through the power of justification.

Did you know this? I didn’t know this.

Goodwill (and other similar programs) pay disabled workers less than minimum wage. They can get a special wage certificate for paying disabled employees who otherwise might not otherwise find work. After all, that’s their whole premise, right? “Changing Lives through the Power of Work.”

Yeah, for $0.20 cents an hour.

What they do is calculate the going rates for the same type of work by other people. So if you’re not disabled and you hang clothing at Goodwill, you probably get paid minimum wage. Every six months, some jack-off an employee takes a stop watch and times a disabled worker doing the same job. The length of time extra it takes this person do accomplish the same task is calculated and deducted from the prevailing wage!

Batman is horrified at Goodwill

Even the Joker wouldn’t do that!

Goodwill released a statement full of justifications. Their lame excuses go something like this:

  1. It’s legal. Soooo, why not?
  2. They can be proud of the fact that they even have a job at all to begin with
  3. We wouldn’t hire them otherwise, and they would be trapped in institutions. (Seriously, I’m not even joking.)
  4. This makes them HUGELY profitable, so they don’t support changing this.

The end of their document even closes with a heart touching father-son success story, about how providing a young man a job helped him out – despite the fact he got paid essentially nothing. Propaganda, anybody?

I mean, this is a pretty good scam. ALL of their inventory is donated to them for free. Then they hire people who are exploited by a law from 1938 to pay them pennies. Makes me wish I thought of that!

But Goodwill is all about helping people, right? They’re a non-profit organization and they make peoples lives better, right? Right. If you’re upper management.

A analysis of the most recent tax returns for these 109 Goodwill entities that use the Special Wage Certificate program reveals a pattern.

Goodwill’s top executives received more than $53.7 million in total compensation.

  • Goodwill CEO Jim Gibbons made $729,000 in 2011
  • Goodwill of Southern California paid more than $1.1 million in total compensation to its then-CEO, making him the highest paid Goodwill executive in the country.
  • The highest-paid employees of 101 Goodwill organizations received, on average, a total compensation package worth nearly a quarter-million dollars per year, or $24.7 million in total compensation.
  • Seventeen Goodwill entities reported executive compensation in excess of $1 million per year with 30 CEOs receiving more than $293,000 per year in total compensation.
  • A husband-wife Goodwill executive team in North Carolina collected a combined $795,372 in total compensation.
  • Goodwill entities spent more than $39.1 million in travel-related expenses, of which 14 entities spent more than $1 million in travel-related expenses.
  • Thirteen organizations spent more than $100,000 in annual conference expenses.

Goodwill employs around 7,300 individuals who are having their pay deducted via stopwatch for lacking dexterity, or unable to be productive for most of their shift due to emotional or behavioral problems. Alright… So, tell me again how making $1.40 an hour is helping them?

$1.40/hr x 24 hours = 1 weeks pay of $33.60
Turns into $67.20 every 2 week paycheck
Or $134.40 per month before taxes and other deductions.

The CEO of the Hagerstown, Maryland Goodwill, which paid a “hand packager” 15 cents in 2011, said the wage was appropriate.  “For the person in question, the pay rate was accurate for his/her productivity on the work we were doing then and for the amount of it that we had,” said Craig MacLean in an emailed statement. “The same rationale applies to the person on the same document … who was being compensated for his/her production at $8.24 because of vastly greater skill and dexterity.” (From an NBC report)

So how did this poor fellow fare?
$0.15/hr x 24 hours = 1 weeks pay of $3.60
Turns into $7.20 every 2 week paycheck
Or $14.40 per month before taxes and other deductions.

 He would have to work a week to afford a #4 at McDonalds, and a month to get a #4 for them and a friend.

Goodwill’s argument that “simply having a job” is benefit enough is a red herring. Of course the non-monetary gains of being employed are there; this is true for anybody who has a job! That argument diverts attention from the fact that they’re using a law from 1938 to exploit disabled persons for cheap labor.

I think perhaps, Goodwill needs a reminder of a few key definitions.



The voluntary giving of help, typically money, to those in need.
Help or money given in this way.
alms – mercy – beneficence – benevolence – philanthropy
(From Google)

Exploitation is the use of someone or something in an unjust or cruel manner.

Most often, the word exploitation is used to refer to economic exploitation; that is, the act of using another person’s labor without offering them an adequate compensation. (From Wikipedia)

So Goodwill, which is it?

Are you a charity, or are you an exploiter?

Charity. You're doing it wrong.

Charity. You’re doing it wrong.

The Real Walter White: CHPA

Breaking Bad sponsored by pharmaceutical companies

Breaking Bad or Breaking Bank? (Photo Credit: Image, Breaking Bad. Ads photo shopped by me. Share this image with a link back!)

When you think of meth labs, unless you live in one, you probably think of the T.V. hit Breaking Bad, You know, the one where a mild mannered chemistry teacher loses his shit and turns psychopath meth cook / crime lord?

Yeah. Well, I guess there’s the occasional mastermind who could be running some similar business, but they’re not stealing barrels of chemicals from industrial complexes. No, in most states, they go to Rite-Aid or Walgreen’s.  Them and their meth cooking buddies anyway, where they meet their silent and well funded partner in crime: Medication Manufacturers. That’s right, the same people who make your Tylenol PM, Advil, and Ex-Lax are actually, secretly, silent partners in The War on Drugs. They’re not fighting it, though. Nope. They’re working hard to supply the meth cooks with their ingredients.

These companies who make our fire and ice, his and hers personal lubricant are the real Walter Whites. They spend millions upon heaping millions of dollars bribing public officials “lobbying” to defeat Anti-Methamphetamine legislation and spreading misinformation. WTF, you might ask?

Because who buys more crack than crack heads? Who buys more cigarettes than smokers? Exactly. Who buys more Sudafed than Meth Cooks? Nobody.

When you’re talking about people emptying the shelves of your product, you’d think that’s a gold mine, right? Right! Walter White protects his business. So do drug companies.

They don’t want their pseudo-ephedrine to be locked behind a counter, and they sure don’t want their golden cow to be stuck behind a prescription wall at the local pharmacies. Not when they can make billions in profits from meth cooks purchasing hundreds of times more product than you or I would for our annual flu season ailments.

CHPA logo

CHPA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So who exactly is this Walter White? The Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Sounds super friendly, right, like it would be a good neighbor. I guess it is a good neighbor if you’re a meth dealer. This group has members like Pfizer, Johnson&Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Bayer, and many more who pay them good money to “get things done.” In the case of Anti-Meth legislation in Kentucky which would require pseudo-ephedrine medications being available by prescription only, well, they got things done just like they were paid to. In 2010, CHPA spent $303,000 in 3 weeks. That was more than any other “lobby” spent that whole year. But that was chump change. 2010 and 2011 tax records show they paid more than $1,000,000 to a company that executes “robo-calling.” They didn’t lobby the politicians in Kentucky as much as they told every voter in the state that this legislation would take away their access to cold medication! Sounding friendly and trust-worthy, the good people of Kentucky were duped into voting down those anti-meth measures. There are literally dozens of cold medicine alternatives that don’t require a prescription and don’t get mixed with liquid draino for that extra “boost” in the morning.

What were the results? Well, let’s compare them to Oregon which made pseudo-ephedrine cold medications available by prescription only. (FYI, Oregon and Mississippi are the only two states to have successfully passed this legislation, out of 24+ states.)


Decline in meth lab incidents after prescription legislation took effect in 2006

Children removed from houses with active meth labs since law took effect

Cost of meth lab cleanup, 2005

Cost of meth lab cleanup, 2011


$30 million
Cost of meth labs to the state (including incarceration), 2009

Number of police hours spent on lab cleanup, 2010

Increase in labs, 2008-09

Increase in crimes associated with meth, 2008-09

Share of hospital burn patients who were injured in meth labs

Average hospital cost for meth lab burn victims

Average for other burn patients

Death rate among meth lab burn victims

Rate among other burn victims

Most frequent ages of meth lab victims, 2010

From: Crystal Math by Ryan Jacobs

Good job guys. Way to make things better!

If you’re interested, here’s a list of drug companies who pay into CHPA and are card carrying members.

What’s the solution? Easy.

#1. Get educated. Meth IS a problem in your community. Anti-Meth legislation will NOT affect your cold treatment, nor will you be required to get a Doctor’s prescription for cold medication. There are tons of over the counter alternatives that work just fine. Trust me, I live in Oregon! I’m no worse off for not having access to Sudafed. I do however, appreciate the lack of tweakers in my community.

Tased, Bails out of Ambulance
Yeah, This Guy…

#2. Actually vote to pass this legislation when it comes up despite what the nice robot on the telephone tells you. (Don’t be a tool.)

#3. Find out where the top executives of these drug companies live. Set up a free, all you can carry Sudafed operation there and watch their communities descend into a toothless crank induced nightmare that makes less sense than a Gary Busey rant.

#4. Boycott their products. Write them a letter and tell them you’ll boycott their products until Anti-Meth legislation passes in your state. Tell them you’re telling all your friends.

#5. Tell all your friends. Share this post!

#6. Stop doing meth. Seriously. Every time you do meth God kills a puppy. Click that link and quit now. Only you can do it, and you can only do it today because “tomorrow never comes.”

Oh yeah, and how did Mississippi do with this new legislation in 2010?


Drop in pseudoephedrine sold after prescription law went into effect in 2010

Decline in meth lab incidents

Decline in drug-endangered children

Drop in spending on meth lab cleanup costs

So just how hard have the drug companies been fighting to profit as the largest source of the key Meth ingredients? Hard. And how long? Long. Here. Take a look.

1980 The federal government tightens restrictions on phenyl-2-propanone, used to make methamphetamine. Meth producers switch to ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, used in cold meds, to produce a more potent form of meth.
1986 Fresh from its, and so far only, victory against a drug—control of the chemical used to make quaaludes—the Drug Enforcement Administration proposes controls for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Pharma lobbyist Allan Rexinger calls the White House, which “basically intervened on our behalf,” Rexinger tells theOregonian in 2004. “After that we had useful negotiations with the dea.”
1988 The Federal Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act mandates recordkeeping for various drug precursor chemicals. Industry wins an exemption for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in pill form. Meth producers and their suppliers switch to ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in pill form.
1993 The Domestic Chemical Diversion and Control Act closes the ephedrine pill loophole, but pseudoephedrine exemption remains. Labs switch from ephedrine to pseudoephedrine pills.
1996 The Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act closes the pseudoephedrine pill loophole. Industry, with help from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), wins exemption for pills sold in blister packs. Labs switch to blister packs.
2000 The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act reduces the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be sold in a single transaction. Blister packs are again exempted. Meth labs proliferate nationwide.
2004 Oklahoma becomes the state to put pseudoephedrine behind the counter. Industry fights the measure. Meth labs plummet in Oklahoma, encouraging other states to follow suit.
2005 The Federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act requires stores to put pseudoephedrine behind the counter (without requiring a prescription) and limits how much an individual can buy. Industry says this will hurt consumers and won’t reduce labs. Meth lab incidents fall 61 percent nationwide. But cooks begin employing smurfers to go from pharmacy to pharmacy and buy the maximum amount allowed.
2006 Oregon makes pseudoephedrine a prescription drug despite massive industry lobbying. Meth lab incidents decrease 96 percent in Oregon over the next six years.
2007 Bucking industry opposition, Mexico bans most pseudoephedrine. Potency of meth being smuggled into the US plunges as Mexican labs switch to other chemicals.
2009 to present Lawmakers in 24 states try to make pseudoephedrine a prescription drug. In DC, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden drafts a federal prescription bill. All but one of the bills are defeated. Citing consumer concerns and “heavy industry spending,” Wyden never introduces his legislation.

Timeline: Big Pharma’s Fight to Protect the Drugs That Cooks Turn Into Meth By Jonah Engle

MERS-CoV: The Camel Flu?

Simmer down there fellow Pathology nerds! I know that the flu virus is NOT a corona virus, and vice-versa. But come on, The Camel Flu, while being technically incorrect as a name, is WAY catchier than Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona-Virus (MERS-CoV). Indeed, The Camel Flu is such a grievous misnomer I expect CNN or Fox to pick it up and the name will “go viral!” Haha, I crack myself up… Ahem. Moving on.

English: pakistan camel

‘Sup? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you follow the news and are familiar with MERS-CoV, good for you. Pat yourselves on the back, you smug bastards. If you’re not following this stuff, then think of MERS-CoV as the new SARS. So imagine one day you get sick, thinking you have the flu you go visit the clinic, and before you know it you’re in the ICU wondering if maybe you shouldn’t have hooked up with those strippers last week. It’s not a nice illness and has quite nearly a 50% fatality rate. If you’re concerned about contracting this virus, don’t be. Unless you’re a camel rancher in Saudi Arabia. No need to go ringing those pandemic alarm bells yet! However, this mysterious disease (never actually thought to be transmitted via exotic dancer) has been amazingly difficult to source. Researchers have been scouring Wikipedia, but with little luck, as there are no entries citing the source yet. One intrepid research group presumably went around taking blood samples from random creatures in the middle east. (I assume.)

They found antibodies in some of the camels indicating they have been exposed to at least some similar strain of the deadly virus, but no live infections were found. In fact, upon genetically mapping MERS-CoV, it actually shares genes with a virus found in Bats. Why is it in Camels? Nobody knows. How many people who have contracted the virus were exposed to Camels? Not very many. Hence the name MERS-CoV, because they don’t actually know where it comes from. Which, I think would make an even better name than heretofore suggested. They might as well call it the “WTF?!-Virus.” That would be the honest thing to do.

Seriously though, this is important because the genetics are sourced from a Bat virus, and everyone was wondering how exactly bats were getting people sick. All the randomly tested camels came back positive for exposure, so there’s the missing link in the chain of transmission. It does pass human to human now, so this little virus has had quite the evolution. Is it going to be the Zombie Plague so many people are hoping for? Unfortunately no. There have been fewer than 100 infections so far, but more are popping up around the middle east.

Use Protection

This is not what I meant when I asked for a “filtered camel.” Source:

Apparently there's a lot of these. I haven't seen them. Are they good luck charms?

Apparently there’s a lot of these. I haven’t seen them. Are they good luck charms?

Are Doctors Fueling America’s Drug Addictions? Yes.


Unintentional drug overdose deaths, US, 1970-2007


Unintentional Overdose Deaths involving Opioid Analgesics

From Opiod Analgesics are things like Vicodin, Percoset, Oxycotin, Methadone.

It is the opinion of the author of this blog that prescription drug abuse and the related deaths are the fault of the culture of “Big Business Medicine.” This implicates the drug companies, the insurance companies, and the doctors writing the prescription drugs that people are crushing up, snorting, and doing until they’re dead or have lost everything. If you are a Medical Doctor or a provider who can write prescription narcotic pain killers please read this story and heed my words: Whether you know it or not, you’re prescriptions are likely harming people. People put on their game face for office visits so you can be fooled. If you’re an ER Doc and you’re giving pain killers to “pill seekers” you are unequivocally, without a doubt, part of the problem, not the solution. Please please please find seminars and CEU’s on preventing addiction, treating addiction, and pain control that’s safe and effective. Even if you KNOW you’re prescribing to someone who isn’t abusing their meds, they may have somebody in their life who is, they may be selling them, and they may be a target of theft. Please help fix this unnecessary problem!

There’s an article in the NY Times talking about a kid who got hooked on ADHD stimulants and eventually killed himself from the resulting addiction.

This article shares with us the sad story of Richard Fee, a bright pre-med student, well on his way to becoming a doctor. He and his classmates, like millions of students across America, freely used Adderall, an amphetamine “upper,” to focus during cram sessions. Richard found it helpful and started doing it to help him with every test. Something happened to him that didn’t happen to his classmates, though. He found himself needing it to study; it became the only way he could actually get anything done.

Richard wasn’t able to learn very well like this, despite the feelings of intense focus. He wasn’t able to get into medical school and moved back home with his parents. He saw one doctor, saying he needed to focus, detailing symptoms of ADHD and giving a medical history that wasn’t fully… accurate. He got his prescription for the stimulants used to treat ADHD and used up that one month script in a few weeks. So he saw another doctor, and another. The doctors all told the same story, that Richard was well put together, articulate, ambitious, and didn’t seem like a junky.

His life at home was much different. He began having delusions of the stars and the moon talking to him, then the TV. He became angry and violent when he ran out of his drugs. His parents became afraid of him and tried their best to get him help. They dragged him out of doctor’s offices, some of whom kept giving him these prescriptions despite full well knowing what was happening. They dragged him into therapy, where he was told no more. His father, threatening to break down the door of one Dr. Waldo Ellison, screamed “You keep giving Adderall to my son; you’re going to kill him.” Dr. Ellison’s prescriptions kept coming, as did Richard’s lies, despite the obvious evidence presented before them that this was extremely dangerous. The erratic behavior became so violent and frightening it prompted several contacts with the police. During the first his parents kicked him out. The second, upon threatening to stab himself in the head, prompted involuntary admission to a psychiatric facility.

But Richard was addicted. He lied to new doctors, he went to new pharmacies, and he told his parents what they wanted to hear. Richard said that getting the drugs was ok, because it came from a doctor. Richard believed they wouldn’t give him anything that would hurt him, or so he claimed. Aside from the denial that’s a core part of addiction, he believed the old “it won’t happen to me,” all the while it was happening to him. It seems, in my experience, that the personal fable only fades after it actually did happen. But with the denial of addiction, this combination can have fatal consequences.

One day, Richard’s prescription ran out. The next day, nobody heard from him. That night, Richard’s parents became concerned. Here’s what happened:

Not hearing back by the next afternoon, Mrs. Fee checked Richard’s cellphone records — he was on her plan — and saw no calls or texts. At 9 p.m. the Fees drove to Richard’s apartment in Norfolk to check on him. The lights were on; his car was in the driveway. He did not answer. Beginning to panic, Mr. Fee found the kitchen window ajar and climbed in through it.

He searched the apartment and found nothing amiss.

“He isn’t here,” Mr. Fee said he had told his wife.

“Oh, thank God,” she replied. “Maybe he’s walking on the beach or something.”

They got ready to leave before Mr. Fee stopped.

“Wait a minute,” he said. “I didn’t check the closet.”

Richard had hanged himself. The Fee’s were devastated. They decided not to pursue legal action, but they are speaking out. And I am glad they are. To be perfectly honest, I’d be willing to bet most of you know at least one person who is “addicted to pills” of one sort or another. Addiction is a bitter struggle for so many good people who don’t want that fight, that problem, or that stigma. Addiction has touched my life by overwhelming people I know. A couple of my friends have lost their lives to that fight. Dozens more of my patients have ended up losing that battle, a few more dying every year. To be honest, I’ve struggled with PTSD after dealing with certain suicide scenes I’ve had to respond to. A component to those scenes and others were prescription drugs. A lot of what I’m going to share with this post is personal, based on my own experience…


Ritalin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Narcotics Anonymous has a website that is an amazing resource if you or somebody you know is looking for help. They have helped a lot of people I have known in my professional and private life with drug addiction. In addition to information about the drugs, and addiction as a medical condition, they provide resources for counseling, “NarcAnon” meetings, and a ton more. They are especially good at keeping up on the latest drug use statistics which even for me was eye opening:

“Out of the top ten drugs people start to abuse each year, three are prescription drugs. In all, approximately 3.3 million people start to abuse these three prescription drugs each year. About a million of these people are between 12 and 17 years of age.

In all, more than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs each year. That number is steeply up from 3.8 million in 2000.”

The very concept of this is troubling for me simply because of the source.

Every single prescription is written by a doctor. A medical doctor who took the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.

Before I started training and working as a Paramedic, I lived a relatively sheltered, extremely comfortable middle class life, courtesy of my parent’s success. I saw people who did drugs, who were “addicts” as people who were dirty, criminals or homeless mostly, or were people who “had problems.” Oh how wrong and naive I was.

That stereotype exists, believe me. Last week outside of Safeway a homeless man asked me for money. I offered for him to come inside with me so I could get him a meal. When we had picked out some food (fried chicken! Woot!) I asked if he needed any medical supplies, anything for his feet or anything like that. He replied “only if it’s pain pills!” and we had a good laugh over it while getting funny looks from a Portland Fire crew doing their grocery shopping. These people exist, but they’re not who make up the millions of people in these statistics. Even if they did manage to access a doctor (pretty much ER only) who would write them a script, they’d have no way of filling it.

No, these people who are fighting addiction to ADHD meds or pain killers are me. They’re you. They’re our spouses, our children, our parents, even our grandparents. They’re teachers, firefighters, politicians, construction workers, students. Regular, good people get hooked. Many are by accident. People with physical jobs have chronic pain after years of hard work. Sometimes it’s after a surgery or an accident, or a new medical problem develops. Narcotic pain killers are nearly every doctor’s go-to drug because they work. At first. Eventually the 200mg dose stops working and you’ll need the 400mg dose to get the same effect. Then 800mg, then 1000mg, then you’re taking 4 instead of 2, then 6 instead of 4, just for the dang things to work as good as they did at the beginning! By the time somebody gets this far into, they find that while the pills stop working, they can’t stop taking them either. This leads to real “addict” behavior like chewing pills, or crushing and snorting.

People, once addicted, lose their choice. The parts of the brain responsible for addiction override the logical, “higher thinking” portions. They do things they never would have done before it all started. Lying, cheating, stealing, it’s compulsive, it can’t be helped. But when it becomes such a problem, it also becomes obvious to people around them. Friends and family eventually notice something is off. Even the most clever addict can’t hide it after a while. In Richard’s case, his parents provided Dr. Waldo Ellison with medical records indicating that he was dangerously delusional and addicted. Richard may have had a convincing act, but shouldn’t have the doctor seen through it? Why did the doctor, whose oath is to do no harm, keep writing Richard these prescriptions?

Why do so many doctors across the nation keep doing this too? I’ve spent thousands of hours with hundreds of patients in emergency rooms across Oregon. The vast majority of people with non specific pain complaints, in my opinion, are people who are known as “drug seekers.” Some of the more dedicated of the bunch actually rotate around different emergency rooms across the state with various stories and problems to get prescriptions written and filled. These people from all walks of life come into the ER complaining of abdominal pain, headaches, back and neck pain from previous injuries which may or may not be real. Their symptoms, unlike their stories are real. By the time somebody is laying in the ER, lights off in their room, face covered, grumpy, sweaty, restless, their distress is very real and physically measurable. Withdrawal sucks. And what do the doctors do, almost without variation? They’ll come in and talk to the patient. Some will be nice, some won’t. But they all write the prescription anyway.

I have asked several doctors how they feel about writing so many scripts to people who are obviously just here for the pills. Their replies are the same, too. “They say they have pain, we have to treat the pain. Stomach pain mostly goes undiagnosed, because it’s so hard to pin down. Same with headaches. But one case in one hundred could be life threatening, so we do the scans, run the tests, and usually it’s nothing. But if they say they have pain, we can’t say they don’t, so we have to treat it.”

It’s not just ER medicine that is quick to reach for the narcotics. A recent report from NBC Nightly News that you can watch here echoes much the same sentiment. In fact, NBC asserts that most doctors don’t follow the established protocols for treating back pain, such as physical therapy and over the counter pain medications. Instead, they prescribe narcotic painkillers and order expensive imaging tests first, creating an increase of 50% in narcotic prescriptions since 1999.

I’m afraid of the answer, but I have to ask. Why are doctors doing this when they know how dangerous and harmful these medications are?

In an article for Time, two doctors attempt to tackle this question, although briefly. 

It was taught for a time in medical school that patients given opioid analgesics (narcotic pain killers) could never become addicted to them if they suffered from real pain. In the 1980’s, it was seen that the medical community was actually under treating patients complaints of pain. Given the new emphasis to treat pain and the new painkillers of the time, we have the culture and the means now available to treat pain aggressively. According to the two doctors who wrote that article, it’s too aggressive.

In fact, in researching article after article points out that doctors are afraid to NOT treat pain. One such article tells us like it is: “…until there’s a cultural paradigm shift in which addiction is acknowledged by patients, doctors, and third-party payers as a disease that inflicts its own kind of suffering and demands its own treatment, the current national epidemic of prescription opioid abuse will continue.”

That’s why doctors are fueling prescription addiction. Because they’re afraid to under treat and see that as being worse than creating or fueling addiction.

It’s just as likely most doctors don’t fully understand the ravages of addiction on people’s lives, either. They think that a few more pills will make the patient happy and go away won’t hurt them. But the cumulative effect is such that these people lose their jobs, destroy their relationships, go bankrupt, and can even get into legal trouble. Suicide, even if it’s not part of a rare drug induced psychosis, is the natural bottom of the downward spiral of many addicts.

Honestly, it’s what American’s do these days. It’s easier to pretend it doesn’t exist, write a script, and avoid the hard work. Any doctor who does this, in my opinion, is indeed culpable for their part in the problem. There’s no easy fix, except we have to do the hard thing, the right thing.

As Winston Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

English: Adderall

Adderall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Grocery Store Mind Games: Fruit, or not fruit?

Which item is not like the rest?

Which item is not like the rest?

This is a picture I took the other day at a local grocery store chain. Displays such as these are things that we take for granted. Either we get the item and appreciate the ease of access or we don’t. I never really stop and think about where things are, and why they’re there. This situation did give me pause though, and started me on actually thinking how screwed up this situation is. First of all, let’s start with the most obvious problem here:

That is NOT fruit!

“Fruit Snacks” don’t actually contain this.

Fruit Rolls are NOT fruit!!!

But you already know this, don’t you? It’s interesting to see how these brightly colored, healthy appearing packages in the fruit section are placed in an ideal location for somebody of say, 4’6″ stature to grab and throw into the shopping cart… Right?

No, I don’t mean people with dwarfism, though, it is kinda jacked up all the luxury items are “top shelf.” What are they saying with that, huh? Short people aren’t good enough to get the premium items? What if there’s a rich guy who’s little and needs to get hammered and will only drink top shelf vodka and snack on top shelf cheese and all the associates are busy? What then, huh?! … Sorry. I’ll try to stay on topic. (Too much coffee this morning. What? I never said I wasn’t an addict like the rest of you.)

Grocery stores actually sort things out with people’s eye-level in mind. All the really expensive brand name stuff goes at eye level with adults. That’s the “middle” shelf space with Kraft and Keebler and Pepsi products. The lower section of that middle space is eye level with your under age dwarf of a child with big eyes and long reach. That space is packed with the premium kid crap they pass off as food. Pudding. Candy that looks like it was made by fruit and really is just chemicals. Food companies want your kids to see the sugar coated fat fried sugar fat cakes and ask you for them. But they planned on you saying “No!” … So they made sure the kids could reach them and place them into your basket when you’re off deciding whether the 20oz whole pickles are a better deal than the 16oz spears.

The bottom shelf is always your best bet if you’re shopping for a deal. That’s where they put the store brand name and the bulk items that they don’t want you to see. The top shelf is indeed reserved for the high end, sometimes local fare.

Are you serious?

…or not…

Anyway, the food companies like Tyson pay big bucks to make sure they’re visible. Tyson is evil if you’re a chicken, but that’s not the title of the post, now is it?

So let’s play a game! We’ll call it…

Fruit or Not Fruit?

Here are the rules. Look at the pictures, and determine (you can even ask your friends for help) whether or not what we’re looking is Fruit or Not Fruit. That’s all you have to do! If you get everything right, you’ll get a prize. Seriously. Your prize will be a life-time of NOT getting it in the ass by companies all too ready to lie to you and you’ll forever avoid paying top dollar for diabetes, malnutrition, obesity, and the propensity to vote libertarian. Ready? Let’s begin!

Fruit or Not Fruit? ... NOT FRUIT! Congratulations!

Fruit or Not Fruit? … NOT FRUIT! Congratulations!

Fruit or Not Fruit? ...... Fruit!!! Well done!

Fruit or Not Fruit? …… Fruit!!! Well done!

Fruit or Not Fruit? .... Not Fruit! Right again!

Fruit or Not Fruit? …. Not Fruit! Right again! Not even a little bit. It hints at having fruit, but it doesn’t! Not. A. Drop.

Fruit or Not Fruit? Fruit!

Fruit or Not Fruit? This is a tough one because no man will notice much of anything. But this one is fruit. Give yourselves a hand! … Okay.. Bad choice of words. Stop giving yourself a hand and keep reading. Jeez, grow up.

Congratulations! You Win!!!

This is a game you should play with your children. If it comes in a wrapper and has an Ingredient List, it’s not fruit! It doesn’t actually belong in the fruit section and it’s all a sham. It lies processed into a high fructose corn syrup confection and served to you under the premise of being healthy and “a good source of vitamin C!”

F%&@ You, Fruit by the Foot, you’re a good source of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Seriously, go through the store with your children and play Fruit or Not Fruit. It will teach them how to know the difference and not be fooled. (Children are especially susceptible to marketing.) You know what has more Vitamin C than Fruit by the Foot? Oranges! And not just oranges either but:

Papaya, Bell Peppers, Strawberries, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pineapple, Brussels Sprouts, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Kale, Mustard Greens, Thyme, Parsley, Lemon Juice, Guava, and Hot Chili Peppers.

But you know what? Food companies don’t care. In fact, they know full well because that’s what they do! They engineer food to be addictive, the market it so it gets sold, because the bottom line is getting your dollars into their pockets. General Mills was sued over Fruit by the Foot not actually containing any fruit, and they wanted to have the case dismissed because they never claimed it was healthy.

“General Mills countered these allegations in a recent motion to dismiss the case  by saying that “ the labels of Fruit Flavored Snacks do not contain affirmative representations that the products are “healthful” or “nutritious.” In fact, according to General Mills, the labeling clearly discloses that its products are riddled with everything that’s bad for your kids, you just have to look for it. And if you get blindsided by the assertions “Good source of Vitamin C” and “Low Fat,” that’s just your fault. Anyway, both of these statements are true, even if the Vitamin C is double coated in sugar and artificial dyes.”

I guess in the end it’s all about money. They make a product people pay for, kids ask for, and the grocery stores are in turn paid to display them in the fruit section. The brightly colored packaging says “All Natural, Fat Free, Good Source of Vitamin C” and it’s right next to real fruit!!! But they don’t claim they advertise it as being healthy. You know what that is? That’s a big:

Right there America. Yours Truly, GM, Kraft, and Pepsi.

Right there America. Yours Truly, GM, Kraft, and Pepsi.

So I give them the bird and I don’t buy their junk. Here’s a handy visual guide of companies who are giving us the finger, and calling us stupid when we say they’re not playing fair:

Food companies making crap food and false advertising

I’m the idiot? Fair enough. Look who’s not getting my money now.

Click on the image to see it larger. You may find some surprising connections!

Hold your breath: Refineries linked to cancer.

Oil refinery#Anacortes Refinery (Tesoro Corpor...

Don’t mind us, we’re a safe, clean industry! What chemicals in the air and water? Think of them as earth-vitamins for a healthy, stronger planet! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does this look like a familiar sight? If so, you may want to consider moving, or perhaps purchasing a gas mask and stock in the company that makes the filters. In a new study published in Cancer, the peer reviewed journal of The American Cancer Society, if you live where this picture was taken there’s a good chance you have, or will have cancer. And not just any cancer, but specifically Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a particular bit of nastiness commonly described as blood cancer. It’s actually cancer of lymphocytes, or white blood cells usually found in the lymph system, which is part of the immune system. The most commonly afflicted lymphocytes are B cells found in the blood, spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow. It ranges from “not that bad” to “you don’t even have time to write your bucket list, much-less do that stuff.”

Doctors and researchers have been seeing this disease actually increasing in prevalence! Hence the astute observers conducting the study in and around Atlanta Georgia from 1999 – 2008. The culprit? Benzene. If you just said, “that was an absolutely insane Rammstein video…” then you know as much as I do. So guys, WTF is Benzene anyway?

“Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities.
Benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States. It is used mainly as a solvent (a substance that can dissolve or extract other substances) and as a starting material in making other chemicals. In the past it was also commonly used as a gasoline additive, but this use has been greatly reduced in recent decades. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.”

Thank you to the American Cancer Society’s website discussing known carcinogens for that breakdown. So what did the numbers from the study show, exactly?

“The investigators found that the metro-Atlanta region, Augusta, and Savannah had the highest incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma even when controlling for population size as well as for age, sex, and race demographics of the local region. Also, the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma was significantly greater than expected surrounding benzene release sites located in the metro-Atlanta area and surrounding one benzene release site in Savannah. For every mile the average distance to benzene release sites increased, there was a 0.31 percent decrease in the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”
Welcome to Atlanta!

Here son, you’re old enough it’s time I got you some protection. But dad, didn’t “the talk” involve sex? I feel cheated.

The oil companies go through great pains to set up positive PR images. They’re just about the only commercials on TV that don’t seem to have any clear product or call to action whatsoever, relegating their intentions to the “propaganda” category. There are also blogs upon blogs of clean, professional, friendly looking blogs set up by these companies. The all universally swear by their honest to goodness intentions, their commitment to safety and clean efficient energy production. Here is one example.

The fact is however, lymphoma has been linked to refinery proximity for a long, long time. Let’s in fact, do our own study real quick. Why not, right?

So according to the Environmental Integrity Project’s research, the highest amount of carcinogenic air pollution in 2004 was released by a BP Refinery in Texas City, Texas, with a stunning two million pounds! What do cancer rates look like in Texas City? Let’s see. To the google mobile!

According to the great State of Texas in 2006 there were 156 new cases of cancer in Chambers county and 1256 in Galveston county.

So let’s do some statistics real quick.

Incidence rate = (New cancers / Population) × 100,000

In the same years Galveston county had an at risk population of 279,182 giving us an incidence rate of: 449
In the same years Chambers county had an at risk population of 29,980 giving us an incidence rate of: 520

The mean incidence for the entire state of Texas in 2006 was 410. Just sayin.

Crude? Yes. But if I can do it from my apartment using my laptop and Google, so can you! With the internet making every tidbit of data you could ever ask for available at the touch of a button, there’s no reason for us NOT to know what’s going on and no reason not to see through the oil companies PR bullshit.

Seems legit.

If oil companies were run by Uncle Bob…

So what can we do about it as individuals? Uhm. Don’t move there? Move away if you have the means, and pray if you don’t. I would say you should write your senator or congressman, but honestly, they’re getting paid by Big Oil to do their bidding. Don’t believe me? Check out this website. In 2008 the Obama campaign took in a whopping $884,000, which was more than any other politician that year except John McCain. Thinking about protesting? They’ll laugh at you. Why should they care, they already have all our money. Writing angry blog posts online? Nobody will ever see it, and even if everybody sees it, what can they do? Make laws? Not when they get paid a billion dollars NOT to. Seriously. Go buy a bicycle and play Skyrim, there’s nothing you can do besides boycott and rage quit life.

They. Own. Everything.

I quit.

Just enjoy your life before you get cancer.

Just enjoy your life before you get cancer.