This month’s Bulletin begins with a familiar warning from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as it once again attempts to scare everyone about the severity of this coming flu season, hoping to convince as many as possible to get the flu shot.
Next, we’ll look at some tactics from Big Pharma intended to increase drug sales (and corresponding corporate profits.)
First up is a study that advocates for prescribing bisphosphonates to even more women by lowering the threshold at which doctors prescribe. We’ll look at how this argument is justified (by them) and why most women who fracture bones actually have a moderate amount of bone loss.
Finally, we’ll look at a study that proposes making follow-up calls to patients who were prescribed oral osteoporosis drugs to ensure that they continue to take them. Unfortunately, what they fail to remind their patients is that taking bisphosphonates could lead to an atypical fracture, osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), and many other undesirable side-effects.
CDC Releases Predictions For 2018-2019 Flu Season
Flu season is here, and the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its yearly report on last year’s influenza statistics with predictions for this year.
According to its report, more than 700,000 people were hospitalized with the flu last season, and 180 children died.
“The U.S. faced the most severe seasonal flu outbreak across all age groups since at least 2003 last season, according to CDC data. It led to 900,000 confirmed hospitalizations. So many people caught the flu that some hospitals and pharmacies across the U.S. ran out of antiviral drugs, Alabama declared a state of emergency and a school district in Arkansas closed all 10 of its schools.
Each year, vaccines are produced in accordance with the CDC’s predictions for the types of viruses most likely to circulate during flu season. Those predictions can be wrong, of course, but even when they are right vaccines can be mismatched to circulating viruses. Last winter, the U.S. vaccine was only 25 percent effective against the unexpected emergence of the H3N2 strain, or 36 percent effective overall, according to the CDC.
About 40 percent of U.S. residents received a seasonal flu vaccination last year. About 80 percent of the children killed hadn’t received a shot. Vaccines significantly reduce a person’s chances of catching the flu and spreading it to the most vulnerable people around them, such as the elderly. Even if someone does catch the flu after getting the vaccine, symptoms are likely to be less severe.1”
The Save Institute recommends against getting a flu shot. The flu shot wreaks havoc in your immune system by directly introducing a virus into the bloodstream.
Additionally, the efficacy rates of the flu vaccine are low, since in most cases it doesn’t protect against the strains in circulation.
The CDC is urging people to get the flu vaccine after record-setting rates of hospitalization last year, but the Save Institute recommends boosting your immune system instead.
New Study Pushes Osteoporosis Drugs On Women With Osteopenia
A new study has found that older women with osteopenia are less likely to break a bone if they take the intravenously-administered bisphosphonate Reclast or Aclasta (zoledronate).2
The 6-year double-blind study measured the effects of IV administered zoledronate (a bisphosphonate sold under the name Reclast) on 2000 women aged 65 or older with a bone mineral density T-score of -1 to -2.5, the zone designated as osteopenia.3
The label osteopenia describes an increased risk of osteoporosis, which is an increased risk of fracture, making osteopenia a risk of a risk. The authors argue that women with this much lower chance of a fracture should still be prescribed bisphosphonates.
Broken bones are a scourge of aging… But who should use drugs called bisphosphonates is debatable. They’re recommended for people with severely brittle bones, called osteoporosis, but their value is less clear for millions of others with moderate bone loss.
Yet “that’s the group in whom 80 percent of fractures occur,” and the new results suggest they also may benefit from treatment, said Dr. Ian Reid of the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
After six years, 122 women in the drug group had broken a bone versus 190 of those on placebo — a 37 percent lowered risk. The drug also cut in half the risk of a vertebral fracture, when bone compression causes part of the spine to collapse.
For every 15 women like this treated for six years, one fracture was prevented — a ratio that some experts said makes treatment worth considering.
Two rare problems are tied to bisphosphonates — deterioration of the jawbone and unusual leg fractures. No cases of either occurred, but the study wasn’t big enough to rule out this risk.2”
This excerpt contains a curious detail: that 80% of fractures occur in women who have osteopenia. The percentage of women with osteopenia who experience a fracture is lower than the percentage of women with osteoporosis who experience a fracture, but because far more women are within the T-score range of osteopenia than osteoporosis, even the smaller percentage of fractures within the osteopenia group amounts to 82% of all fractures.4
The fact that so many women break bones after only a moderate amount of bone loss shows that bone mineral density is not a good way to measure bone health or strength- a long-held position of the Save Institute.
Dr. Ian Reid, the author of this study, is also the co-author of a review article about osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), one of the most horrific side-effects of bisphosphonate use. Incredibly, the authors recommend that patients who suffered through the facial disfigurement caused by ONJ should resume taking bisphosphonates after their lesions have healed.5
There are safer and more effective ways of increasing bone density and reducing your fracture risk, even if you’ve already taken osteoporosis drugs and suffered from their dangerous side effects. Savers use weight-bearing exercise and a pH-balanced diet to build strong bones while improving their overall health.
A new study recommends the intravenous drug zoledronate, marketed as Reclast and Aclasta, for women with T-scores in the osteopenia range because its results show the drug can reduce their fracture risk. The Save Institute maintains that there are safer and more effective ways to reduce fracture risk- without drugs.
Big Pharma Finds Phone Calls Effective For Osteoporosis Drug Adherence
A study published in The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits found that telephone follow-ups increase drug adherence for oral osteoporosis treatments.
There were 164 patients divided into an intervention group who received phone calls every two months from medical secretaries reminding them to stick to their prescription, and a control group who did not receive phone calls. The intervention group was more likely to keep taking their drugs.
”The main objectives of the phone calls were to motivate patients to maintain good adherence to the treatment, to detect any difficulties in compliance with the prescription using non-incriminating questions, and to recall the importance of continuing the treatment as prescribed, rather than just assessing adherence alone. The telephone interview was short (less than 10 minutes). If poor adherence was detected, the secretary encouraged the patient to consult her primary care physician.
Our study argues in favor of the usefulness of regular telephone interviews to improve therapeutic adherence to oral treatments of osteoporosis, in particular in post menopausal women with a history of fracture and initially receiving care in a dedicated healthcare setting. The potential limitations of our study include it being monocentric, with a relative small sample size, including few details concerning the characteristics of the patients, recruitment from on-site, and difficulty in obtaining an objective assessment of adherence.6”
This is another ploy by Big Pharma to keep people on osteoporosis drugs. If you have decided to stop taking an osteoporosis drug and to instead make changes to your diet and lifestyle with the purpose of increasing your bone density and decreasing your fracture risk, then you’ve broken free from the grips of the Medical Establishment.
A study found that follow-up telephone calls increased drug adherence for taking osteoporosis medications.
Stay The Course And Build Your Bones
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Big Pharma is always expanding its tactics for selling bisphosphonates and other osteoporosis drugs. After all, the Medical Establishment invented osteoporosis as it is currently defined so that Big Pharma could sell the drugs they’ve developed.
Don’t fall prey to these corporate predators! Keep asking questions, staying informed, and making healthy holistic choices that improve the strength and resilience of your bones.
1 Blake Dodge. “Return of U.S. Flu Season Brings Worries About a Virulent Replay” Bloomberg Quint. Sep 27 2018. Web. https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/return-of-u-s-flu-season-brings-worries-about-a-virulent-replay#gs.p6fII10
2 Marilynn Marchione. “Study suggests more older women may benefit from bone drugs.” AP.
October 1, 2018. Web. https://apnews.com/114706ca97a04b08afc0848eea90e6f5
3 Ian R. Reid, M.D, et al. “Fracture Prevention with Zoledronate in Older Women with Osteopenia.” New England Journal of Medicine. October 1, 2018. Web. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1808082
4 Siris ES. “Bone mineral density thresholds for pharmacological intervention to prevent fractures.” Arch Intern Med. 2004 May 24;164(10):1108-12. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15159268?dopt=Abstract
5 Aliya A. Khan, Archie Morrison, David L. Kendler, Rene Rizzoli, David A. Hanley, Dieter Felsenberg, Laurie K. McCauley, Felice O’Ryan, Ian R. Reid, et al. Case-Based Review of “Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ) and Application of the International Recommendations for Management From the International Task Force on ONJ.” Journal of Clinical Densitometry: Assessment & Management of Musculoskeletal Health, vol. 20, no. 1, 8–24, 2017. Web. http://www.esceo.org/sites/esceo/files/publications/Khan-JCD-2017.pdf
6 Vincent Ducoulombier, MD. “Contribution of Phone Follow-up to Improved Adherence to Oral Osteoporosis Treatment” The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits. July 30, 2015. Web. https://www.ajpb.com/journals/ajpb/2015/AJPB_MayJune2015/Contribution-of-Phone-Follow-up-to-Improved-Adherence-to-Oral-Osteoporosis-Treatment