UPDATE: There have been significant changes to the Green Party Drug Group’s site following this post, as discussed here. Lots of links in this post are therefore broken. If you would like to see an earlier version of the site (similar to what I blogged about) you can look on archive.org.
When blogging about the Green Party of England and Wales’ health policy, we were accused of “quoting selectively” and “out of context”. I have therefore been looking over health-related aspects of Green policy more closely: in order to offer a broader view. One thing that stood out was their suggestion of various supplements to counteract some of the negative effects of recreational drug use, despite limited evidence for the supplements’ efficacy.
There are certainly evidence-based arguments in favour of the Green aim
to take the drug trade out of criminal control and [make] available in a legal environment
However, it is important to remember that recreational drug use (legal or illegal) comes with certain risks. An important aspect of a harm reduction approach to drug policy is that it works to accurately assess the risks and harms involved. Recommending pills which have not been shown to be effective, in order to treat some of the side effects of drug use, is not helpful. Continue reading
Patrick Holford’s May E-Newsletter arrived yesterday. It’s not online yet, as far as I can see – so those poor readers who missed out on the e-mail will have to content themselves with me quoting the e-mail here.
Holford looks at Alzheimer’s disease, arguing that
Medication Prescribed to Alzheimer’s Patients may hasten their decline
In a study of 224 people with Alzheimer’s Disease who were living in the community, those who were taking antipsychotic drugs or sedatives had an almost three-fold higher risk of deterioration than those who were taking none. Even worse, for those taking both antipsychotic and sedative drugs together, their risk of deterioration was almost quadrupled.
This is partly right – but misses out some crucial information and could be extremely misleading.
The study in question actually finds that
Patients who were taking antipsychotic drugs and sedatives had a significantly higher risk of deterioration than those who were taking none…Higher risk of deterioration was observed in those who were taking both antipsychotic and sedative drugs together…Patients taking drugs licensed for dementia, drugs affecting the renin –angiotensin system and statins had a significantly lower risk of deterioration than those who were not taking any of these drugs
In other words, some drugs make deterioration more likely, some drugs appear to bring a lower risk of deterioration. This means that one should be more cautious about prescribing some drugs to Alzheimer’s patients, but the study provides evidence of the potential benefits of some other drugs. When making decisions about serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s, it’s very important to have all the information – and not to rely on the type of very partial summary of the information offered by Holford.