PG County is fashionably ushering in a new era of public health

November 19, 2007
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“The goal is to get the kids in school”

So in D.C.’s backyard, Prince George’s County, my birthplace, there was some controversy after a circuit court judge sent a letter to the parents of 2,300 children demanding that they they produce records that their children have been vaccinated or face fines and up to ten days in jail.

This is not like this is Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) in which (unfortunately) parents in the United States believe that it will give their daughters license to fuck at will. It’s chickenpox and Hepatitis B. People trying to ride on the public immunity that the rest of the public has from actually getting vaccinations are endangering their children. How? For instance, if they contract chickenpox as an adult which is much more likely to cause complications, or somehow contract hepatitis B — whether from intravenous drug use or having sex with someone who is infected. These people are afraid of something where the risk of harm is extremely low.

People have been confusedly blubbering and complaining, “where in the constitution does it say you can force a needle in my poor child’s arm?” Methinks it’s the 10th amendment, and maybe a small treatise of laws regarding public health –IANAL so do not quote me on that. I doubt that most of the parents are anti-vaccinationists. The Washington Post had another article yesterday detailing Saturday’s mad rush to the courthouse to get vaccinations or show proof that their children had already obtained them. It seems that much of the cause of frustration was the paperwork. Parents felt like they were being accused of poor parenting, the works. Whatever the case, they reduced the number of unvaccinated students to 939 — a big improvement. I vote yea to this scare tactic. Now that PG’s got the students in their chickenpox and Hep B free schools, the county should be obligated to do better work in educating these students. We do not have a vaccine for poor SAT scores and high dropout rates.


Inhaled Insulin

November 19, 2007
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The New York Times has an article about Alfred E. Mann, a billionaire who has a lot of money to spend, but he’s spending it on something I think is worthwhile. Pfizer created an inhalable insulin drug called Exubura and put it on the market earlier this year. On October 18th of this year, they decided to pull it off the market, because in their words from their website:

“This decision was not based on any safety problems with Exubera. Exubera is a safe an effective medicine and the feedback we had from Exubera patients has been very ositivy. However, Pfizer has made this decision because too few patients are taking Exubera and, since there are other medicines available that lower blood sugar, Pfizer will stop providing Exubera.”

So this is unfortunate, Pfizer looking to make money as blatantly as this. However, Mr. Mann is investing in his own pharamaceutical company in the hope that they can design a better inhaled insulin drug, they’re calling it Technosphere Insulin. Unfortunately, that sounds like something out of the 80’s.

Type I diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset), the diabetes in which insulin needs to be injected two or more times over the course of a day, needs higher amounts of insulin, due to the pancreas shutting down. Pfizer’s Exubera worked pretty well with Type II diabetes (formerly called advanced-age onset), which is where the pancreas still makes an adequate amount of insulin butthe cells of the body have developed a resistance to it. Perhaps Technosphere Insulin can do a better job. Mann’s company, MannKind, claims that it works more quickly than previous products.

One of my friends is worried that her father is going to develop complications from his Type II diabetes because he fails to stay compliant with his treatment, and with good reason. Non-compliance is one of the biggest current problems with diabetes, with potential complications leading to coma, blindness, amputations and death. Many of the patients hate the management aspect of the disease: the daily pricks on the finger, the worrying about what you’ll eat, any perceived stigma about being diabetic. Unfortunately, the risk of developing complications seems to be tied to income and educational level. More has to be done to educate the general public about it, and I’ll be going on several rants about it