Big Pharma drug development — it’s not as easy as everyone thinks it is

big pharma drug development

Doing what I do here, I always get the impression that many people think that Big Pharma drug development is relatively easy. Just invent a drug, test it on some people, and then call up the FDA to get approval to sell it. I know that supplement manufacturers would be so happy if they could do that.

The actual facts are that Big Pharma drug development is so expensive, complicated, time-consuming, and failure-prone that you have got to wonder why anyone would jump into this process. For some drug discoveries, people grow old waiting for final FDA approval.

The myths about Big Pharma drug development are filled with controversy, false claims, and conspiracy theories. Yes, occasionally, we can point out problems with the process. Unless you’re using confirmation bias,  you will see that the vast majority of pharmaceuticals are very safe and very effective (or at least the benefits outweigh the risks).

One of the largest myths is that there really isn’t any regulation – Big Pharma owns the FDA (and other regulatory agencies) and does whatever it wants. But let’s look at the process of Big Pharma drug development carefully, including how most drugs are investigated and brought to the market. Let’s try to separate the myths from the facts about Big Pharma drug development.

I have written a similar article about vaccine development, but I wanted to have one that was more about all drugs, except vaccines. Vaccines, and other biological drugs, have slightly different development and regulatory pathways which are not used to bring a standard pharmaceutical to market.

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Turmeric — it does not treat, cure, or prevent cancer

turmeric cancer

Cancer myths are prevalent on the internet, and one of the favorites for the past few years has been turmeric. It has been described as the great secret cancer cure, treatment, and/or prevention. But here’s the thing with these types of claims about cancer — there rarely is much evidence supporting their use clinically.

This article is going to look at what turmeric may do for cancer if anything. You can probably predict that if I’m writing about it, I’m not going to be finding much evidence, but I’ll give it a try.

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Himalayan salt facts — please don’t waste your money

Himalayan salt facts

Now for something completely different, let’s talk about the facts and myths about pink Himalayan salt. I could make this my shortest blog ever and state, “it’s salt.” Followed by a mic drop.

But it is a bit more complicated than that. There may be some reason to avoid it, so I will write about all the facts that I can find about Himalayan salt. But spoiler alert, you really shouldn’t be wasting your money on it.

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There is no human foreskin in vaccines — why do I have to write this?

human foreskin vaccines

I never know how these tropes start, but I just read an anti-vaxxer claim that vaccines include a bit of human foreskin. I really didn’t want to write about it, but I guess I have to do it, just because I spent time trying to figure out if it were true.

We will discuss how the human foreskin is related to vaccines, and it is fairly interesting. But you can guess that the only reason this is a thing is that there is a huge intersection between the intactivists, those who oppose circumcision, and the anti-vaccine world.

We’re going to ignore the whole circumcision argument, even though there is a lot of scientific evidence supporting it as a medical procedure, as this article is solely about vaccines or at least the use of the human foreskin in developing and producing vaccines. And why the human foreskin in vaccines is another zombie myth.

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COVID-19 vaccine facts and debunking myths — the semi-complete list

COVID-19 vaccine facts

There are so many myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, I wanted to post some facts about the new vaccines which we can use for debunking purposes. I used to think that the HPV vaccine brought the most hatred and misinformation from the anti-vaccine world, but it’s clear that the new COVID-19 vaccines are their new targets.

This article will only focus on the five vaccines that I believe will eventually receive FDA or European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ Janssen), and Novavax vaccines. I remain unconvinced that any vaccine made in China or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine will ever get approved by countries with robust drug regulatory agencies. However, if they are, I will certainly add them to a future iteration of this list.

I’m going to make this in a basic chart form for ease of use in finding COVID-19 vaccine facts and myths. I will link to supporting evidence wherever relevant.

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Gun control laws and firearms mortality – a public health imperative

Let me start right at the top — gun control laws save lives. These laws prevent firearms mortality, either murder, accidents, or suicide. Gun control laws should always be considered a public health issue in the USA. There have been several good epidemiological studies that have examined whether gun control regulations and firearms mortality risk are related – and the results are surprisingly robust and repeated.

From recent epidemiological research, there is some convincing evidence that establishes a correlation between state-level gun control regulations and firearms mortality rates. However, the link is not as black and white as one might wish – the relationship between gun control regulations and mortality depends on the quality of the laws. In other words, good science seems to show that gun control laws save lives.

Historically, the nation’s leading public health organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is essentially prevented from analyzing and publishing any epidemiological research that would help us understand what, if any, links there are between gun control and firearms mortality. However, things are changing, probably because of what has been happening lately, and the CDC is funding research into firearms mortality.

Previously, because the CDC could not fund research into gun control, there has been a chilling effect on gun control research in academia. According to the Washington Post, “young academics were warned that joining the field was a good way to kill their careers. And the odd gun study that got published went through linguistic gymnastics to hide any connection to firearms.”

But maybe because this public health menace can no longer be ignored, a smattering of well-done epidemiological research is being published in very high-quality medical journals. Let’s look at one.

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Benefits to Skeptical Raptor Patrons — no advertising

two yellow emoji on yellow case

I know that many of you hate the advertising on here — so I have a special benefit of no advertising for any of you who contribute on Patreon.

All you have to do is go to my Patreon Page and my latest posts from here will appear there as if they were magic. Except, we all know it’s not magic, it’s the internet. If you are not a Patron, you can become one by clicking on the link below:

Become a Patron!

I really can use your help, so if you could become a Patron, I’d really appreciate it. Researching and writing these articles is not exactly easy, and I feel as if I am doing a service to the community. And again, if you become a Patron you can leisurely read the article over at Patreon with no advertising, just verbiage.

I also want to thank all of my current Patrons:

Daniel Pyron
Kelsey Hollenback
Mary Jo Jennings
Carmel Goodfellow
Paul Darden
Elizabeth Faber
Kevin Folta
Christina Niederstadt
Linda L Vaxvick
Stacey Orlowski
Ross Grayson
Mildred calabash
Abraham Alahmad
Tom Dayton
Nicole Boquette
K. Roark
jutta baum
Mark Beresford
Kathryn Marks
Tari Lee Johnson
Ros Byrne
Magdalen Wind-Mozley
Kate Watson
Ben Larkin
Brian Weireter
Mona Albano
David Reher
Glen Otero
Shaila E. Simmons
Allison Hagood
Les Witherspoon
Tim Harding
Lloyd Bowles
Mary Severinghaus

Thanks again, everyone.

COVID vaccines are not responsible for mysterious hepatitis outbreak

photography of people on grass field

An outbreak of hepatitis of unknown etiology in children across the world is not caused by COVID-19 vaccines. Of course, anti-vaxxers are trying to use this hepatitis outbreak as more fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the COVID-19 vaccines, but the evidence doesn’t support it.

As of this time, we don’t know a lot about this hepatitis outbreak, like routes of infection and the causative agent, but it is ringing the alarm bells at various public health agencies across the world.

In this article, I will walk you through the hepatitis outbreak and then some limited data that appear to show that there is no link to either COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines.

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Peer-reviewed journal publishes COVID-19 denier editorial filled with lies

COVID-19 denier

A peer-reviewed neurosurgery journal published a COVID-19 denier editorial that peddled false statements about the COVID-19 pandemic without any scientific and unbiased evidence to support the claims.

I am not sure what possessed the journal to publish a COVID-19 denier article, maybe something to do with false balance or something else, but you know that this article, by appearing in a peer-reviewed journal, will be used by the anti-vaccine forces as a justification for the COVID-19 denier nonsense.

Let’s take a look at this article and refute the claim presented in the COVID-19 denier editorial. This should be easy.

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Alkaline water — don’t waste your money, it’s pure, unfettered woo

alkaline water

Every time I go to the grocery store, I see shelves stuffed with alkaline water. I always shake my head, because I happen to know what the body does with any food or water that is alkaline or acidic. It buffers it to the normal pH of the body so that alkaline water doesn’t do anything. Well, it is expensive.

There are a lot of bogus reasons to drink alkaline water, but we’re going to focus on just one of the claims — it helps prevent cancer. I’ll make this simple, no it does not.

There are so many inaccurate, misleading, and harmful claims about cancer that I could spend years just debunking them. One of the most popular assertions is that acidic blood causes cancer — that is, if you lower the pH of the blood, it creates an environment to let cancer thrive.

Now, I have written this about a hundred times on this blog (I am not kidding) — there are only a handful of scientifically sound methods to potentially lower your risk of cancer. Quit smoking is near the top. Stay out of the sun. Maintain a healthy (that is, very low) weight. Don’t drink alcohol. Get exercise. And a handful more.

And even if you do all of them, you just reduce your absolute risk, not completely eliminate it. You could randomly get a set of mutations – there are several trillion cells in the body, and even if genetic copying in cell division or transcription were 99.999% perfect, it still leaves millions of chances of mutations – that lead to cancer.

And then there are at least 200-250 different cancers, all with different causes, pathophysiologies, prognoses, and treatments. In other words, even if you found some miracle way to prevent one cancer 100% of the time, it probably will not affect the other 200 or so cancers. We have tended to conflate cancer as one disease when it is a large set of diseases that have the same general physiology but aren’t truly related.

Cancer is scary because it is so random. In many cases, the treatment is so harsh. And people are so interested in anything that may prevent cancer. And if it’s simple like “eat superfoods like kale and blueberries,” or “reduce acid in your blood,” the instinct is to try it out.

But let’s examine how and if acidic blood causes cancer. Spoiler alert – it doesn’t.

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