Thanks to Fron Jackson-Webb from The Conversation for providing this latest wrap of health and medical news.
The stories below cover pharma industry lobbying, the pokies debate, and plenty more…
By Thomas Faunce, ARC Future Fellow at Australian National University:
Boehringer Ingelheim, manufacturer of the expensive anti-clotting drug dabigatran, has initiated a lobbying campaign to get it listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The company’s efforts include a website featuring testimony by medical experts, a petition and a list of the number of patients having preventable strokes.
In actual fact, dabigatran has been on the PBS for some time. Its manufacturer’s name is Pradaxa (doctors are encouraged to prescribe using the chemical name rather than advertising name, although drug reps try to promote the opposite).
By James Doughney, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University
The Coalition last week released its Policy Discussion Paper on Gambling Reform, rejecting the government’s mandatory pre-commitment scheme on poker machines as a measure to reduce problem gambling.
Topping the list of feeble alternatives is – wait for it – a national voluntary pre-commitment program.
Other suggestions include a training model for gambling industry employees to identify problem gamblers, similar to the Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate and a “self-exclusion” program, where problem gamblers could restrict their access to gambling venues.
By Neil Levy, Honorary (Principal Fellow) in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at University of Melbourne
The debate over the use of mandatory pre-commitment technology in poker machines is the latest front in an ongoing war that pits advocates of personal responsibility against people motivated by concerns over harm reduction.
Excessive gambling can be harmful – to the gamblers, their families, and to the broader community. What’s more, gamblers often say they regret their behaviour.
For these reasons, many people believe we should take steps to limit the amount problem gamblers lose: ensure the harm is reduced and gamblers’ regrets are smaller.
But advocates of personal responsibility worry that by taking the decision out of individuals’ hands, we swap a smaller harm for a greater.
By Rachael Dunlop, Researcher and Communications Officer at the Heart Research Institute
As Australia becomes fatter we’re all looking for that magic bullet diet pill – and the weight loss industry knows this all too well.
So what’s the best way to market your latest weight loss miracle? Why not team up with one of Australia’s most trusted professions, pharmacists, to lend some legitimacy and boost your brand?
Wander into just about any pharmacy and you’ll find at least one type of weight loss product. Options include meal-replacement bars, appetite-control shakes, fat-trapping or dissolving pills, diet coffee and teas, detox kits, magic oral sprays endorsed by Kim Kardashian, onsite counselling and expensive genetic tests.
By Caroline Homer, Professor of Midwifery at University of Technology, Sydney
Women are often bombarded with contradictory advice after childbirth – from health professionals, family, friends, and other new mums on social networking sites – about how to shift the weight they gained during pregnancy.
Some of this advice is evidence-based and centred on eating a variety of nutritious foods and getting regular exercise. But much of it is based on fad diets, unrealistic claims and outdated information.
There is also a constant barrage of stories in the media about celebrities losing weight quickly after giving birth.
By Susan J Paxton, Professor of Psychological Science at La Trobe University
You just need to catch a glimpse of a magazine news stand or a fashion billboard to get a sense of why so many Australians are dissatisfied with their body shape and weight.
Our society vigorously supports an unrealistically thin body ideal for women and a lean, athletic body ideal for men, and ascribes qualities of moral virtue to the few who achieve these ideals.
On the other hand, people with larger body sizes are stigmatised and assumed to be morally deficient.
Consequently, a very large proportion of the community lives in a state of anxiety and self-criticism related to their body size and shape.
Evaluating evidence for Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres (EPPIC)
By Melissa Raven, Adjunct lecturer at Flinders University
The Federal Government’s 2011-12 Budget includes $222.4 million for a national rollout of Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres (EPPICs), but a recent survey has found that almost 60% of psychiatrists think the investment is inappropriate.
What’s more, the Senate Community Affairs and References Committee Inquiry into Commonwealth Funding and Administration of Mental Health Services report released yesterday notes concerns that advocates of the early intervention model may be “overstating the evidence” and that it may lead to young people being “overmedicated”.
So let’s consider what evidence there is for the EPPIC treatment model. It seems that while there’s a body of evidence about the model, it’s weak and out of date.
By Richard Fletcher, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health at the University of Newcastle
The picture of a dad with a toddler in his arms happily waving as mum heads off to work is attractive – it suggests a more equal, sharing and caring type of world.
But is this a reality of family life or simply media myth making?
Last week, the Guardian’s headline “Stay-at-home dads on the up: one in seven fathers are main childcarers” seemed to be announcing a major shift in gender roles.
The survey being quoted was from Aviva, one of the biggest insurers in the United Kingdom, which asked 2000 parents about child care.
Of the respondents, a quarter of the dads (26%) either gave up work or reduced working hours after the birth of children, and 44% said they regularly looked after children while their partner worked.
But the big news was how many dads were taking over from mums.