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Hilary's Desk

Skeptics Part Four. Fever is there for a reason

Hilary Butler - Thursday, September 02, 2010

Not that' you'd know with what many medical articles call both medical and parental "fever-phobia"!  What other explanation can there be to the fact that not one person in the skeptics or the medical profession questions the use of drugs to squelch fever?  Or even the function of fever?

Oh yeah. There could be another explanation. You know, the one which SKEPTICS normally suggest is a “conspiracy theory”.

That the makers of pamol and any other paracetamol laden products know full well these issues, but chose to stay silent, because paracetamol products are one of the biggest over-the-counter “sellers”, world wide, …. and to admit that paracetamol is dangerous during infections, would make a huge dent in the sales of this product.

I didn’t believe the dent-in-the-sales idea, until 2004, when Pfizer maintained that my comments on IAS’s old website, were “damaging the reputation of Pamol”, undermining it’s “heritage” status, and causing Pfizer “monetary loss, loss of reputation and goodwill”, and the putting of a picture of PAMOL onto IAS’s website was a breach of copyright.

While I was silent under legal constraint, the New Zealand Manager of Pfizer courted the press giving only a tiny smidgen of the story, which the average viewer would have had no idea … wasn't the real issue at all. The picture of the bottle was removed, but IAS was not going to back down on medical literature issues.

I had said that the use of paracetamol during meningococcal infection was associated with increased meningococcal disease seriousness… from this study, based on these quotes:

Page 987: “Analgesic use was defined as analgesics taken in the past 2 weeks, excluding, for cases, those taken for identified early symptoms of meningococcal disease. These analgesics were predominantly acetaminophen products… because analgesics showed a stronger relationship with meningococcal disease, the use of analgesics may be a better measure of more severe illness than reported individual symptoms.”

Page 988. “analgesic use and attending substantial social gatherings were also still strongly associated with the risk of contracting the disease.”

Page 989: “Although we have interpreted analgesia use to be an indicator of recent illness, we cannot exclude the possibility that acetaminophen use itself is a risk factor for meningococcal disease.”

All hell broke loose. Even stranger the lead author said that that wasn’t what the study said. You be the judge, and balance his comments with the rest of the medical literature. You will find the lead authors comments on a press release, at the end of Pfizer’s first letter. Pfizer teamed up with Dr Michael Baker, and Dr Stewart Reid who faxed the “press release” to Pfizer, with the sole aim of shafting IAS, on what they thought was a water-tight case against us.

Pfizer wasn’t interested in the consequences to people with infections, who were given Pamol. Pfizer constantly emphasized the “reputation” of Pfizer, Pamol, “significant loss and damage.”

Presumably that would be these massive profits BMJ was talking about, when saying that FDA was too scared to offend the aacetaminophen manufacturers? Only recently has FDA started to inch it's nose over the parapet, bit by bit...

Oh...  and that press release. Otago University Press-releases are normally numbered, and logged onto their website. When I couldn’t find it on Otago’s website, I thought the fault was my then technophobia, so I employed someone to track the “origin” of the press release down. Result? Otago Med school initially said it wasn’t from them in spite of it being on their letterhead. Then when confronted with a copy of it, dissembled by sending the person on a wild goose chase, to try to end up with comment from Michael Baker … , who at all times, refused to answer emails about it.

Funny that. The games people do play.

The profit view was reinforced in a second letter .  IAS replied by setting out in a very long letter decades of medical literature which backed up the findings in “that press release”, and included World Health Organisation “proof”. While holding us to a deadline, Pfizer were in return, contemptuous of the deadline we set. their third letter continuing the woe-is-our-reputation and the-loss-in-our-till lines while refusing to answer our questions, which were flicked off because some of our references were supposedly “antiquated”. The irony of that, is that the use of paracetamol for fever suppression has been used all through those decades, when these “antiquated” references showed that chemical coshing of fever is a pretty silly thing to do.

In the end, they did nothing to IAS, but were might fast in flicking Pamol to Johnson and Johnson, after a private investigator started doing some deeper legal digging…

So today, we have a situation where the medical literature on the immunological need for fever, and the potential dangers of chemical “fire sprinklers” continues unabated, yet the medical profession continues their ostrich-headed ways.

So, this is the real world around the carefully constructed myth that fever is bad, and dangerous, and you should straight away use paracetamol to smack it down and then -  “you’ll be right, mate”.

The fact that chemical treatment of fever is biochemically and immunologically nonsense and potentially dangerous, is right there, in decades of the medical literature.  That the reason why no-one does anything about it, is not a conspiracy.  The most logical reason nothing is done, is because the medical profession doesn't want to offend the pharmaceutical companies.  Simple as that. 

If you've actually read IAS's letter in reply, you should be gasping, and wondering how they've got away with spinning this dogma for so long 

The fact is -  that IF the medical profession got on board with what their medical literature actually said, the  huge profits of paracetamol manufacturing would tumble. Worse still, parents would question what else they weren’t told about paracetamol, like... it's association with asthma... and parents might feel upset they weren't told long ago.

So, when have we heard all these skeptics, who write various sciblogs…, who pride themselves on “critical thinking”, … who say they “challenge unproven medical procedures” campaigning to stop the use of pamol for fevers?

As they said, in the Sunday Star Times, pamol for fever is the very first thing that comes to some of their minds.

Why is that?

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