There are predators and prey in our world. In the animal kingdom, the prey seeks to live its life and, when needed, puts all its energies into escaping the predator. The need to survive is so significant that it impacts their genetics, causing the species to evolve and improve their chances for survival. On the other spectrum of existence, predators also seek to live their lives and, when needed, seek out their prey for nourishment. The need to kill, so prevalent, drives their genetic evolution to become more efficient killers. Over time, both achieve a natural balance that allows the existence of the two over time.
The pharmaceutical industry could represent at least one predator within humanity. Its nourishment comes from the profits they gain. They prey upon the sickly and the need to be free from ailments. People will pay exorbitant sums of money for the medicinal promised to be effective by these corporations. What people don't always know, however, is that their pain becomes profit to those without a conscience.
Over these last nine years, I've slowly watched the memory, behavior, and intelligence of a loved one degrade over time. My mother-in-law's experience with Alzheimer's is a death sentence. She doesn't even know about her affliction. When I've tried to speak to her about it, she calls me a liar and "sends" me to hell. So, we try to make her as comfortable as possible and give her the medication needed to avoid paranoia and anger. Sometimes, the medicine works, but there is no cure.
However, I had hoped that the scientific community understood the mechanism of Alzheimer's. If you know how something works, then a cure is inevitable. Unfortunately, the reality is that it may take quite some time to resolve. Scientists must explore all available options before arriving at a treatment that improves someone's condition with little to no side effects.
While normal aging brains tend to shrink in size, they lose little function and neurons. We can't say the same for people who have Alzheimer's. The neurons in Alzheimer's patients stop functioning due to cell death and loss of connections. Decades of research into the mechanism of this disease focuses upon the buildup of plaque in the brain. Expressly, research purports that toxic amyloid plaques, for some reason, accumulate on an around neurons, causing them to lose their function.
While there doesn't seem to be a concrete understanding of why the buildup occurs, science is confident that the buildup is responsible for the illness. Over the last two decades, due to this belief, the industry focused much of the resources dedicated to eliminating Alzheimer's on studies of amyloid processes in the brain. However, a problem with this dedication level is when scientists discover fraud in some foundational research.
Where other companies failed, Biogen succeeded. Their drug Anduhelm, approved by the FDA on June 7, 2021, promised to reduce the amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's patients and slow the progression of the disease. The side effects and costs, however, are daunting.
Duke University Health lists the following side effects, at a minimum, for patients that use Aduhelm:
- Brain swelling
- Small brain bleeding,
- Headache, or
Biogen's Aduhelm studies show that the drug effectively reduces amyloid in the brain. However, that's the only thing the drug achieved. It didn't halt the disease or improve the condition of the patient. On the other hand, the side effects seemed to cause more harm to the patients than good. For these reasons, 10 of 11 officials on the FDA's approval board voted to deny approval of Aduhelm.
The FDA approved the drug, contrary to the ruling of its officials, solely because the drug was proven to reduce amyloid. Decades of research that drove efforts to combat Alzheimer's showed that its cause was related to toxic amyloids. Unfortunately, a problem with this scenario is when doctors found fraud in an earlier study that supports the amyloid mechanism.
Only weeks after the drug's approval, Biogen made $2 Million USD for the drug's sales. The cost of treatment was approximately $56,000/year. Out-of-pocket costs to the patient were approximately $11,000/year. Interestingly enough, at the end of 2021, Biogen slashed the price of Aduhelm by half to "increase access" of the drug to patients diagnosed with early Alzheimer's. It probably had nothing to do with insurance companies threatening not to cover the drug due to the controversy following its approval.
Discovery of Fraud
The FDA's approval of Aduhelm caused a firestorm. Three of the senior officials who were among the ten that voted against the drug quit under protest. While the FDA held that they maintained their high standards when they approved the drug, their actions speak otherwise.
Matthew Schrag, a researcher from Vanderbilt University, was investigating suspicious claims about another Alzheimer's drug named Simufilam. During his research, Matthew found that some of the most vital research in support of an Amyloid cause of Alzheimer's was fabricated. Apparently, no one since 2006 had thought to do a plagiarism check on research that had such a substantial impact on the disease's study.
Hive Fixes This
How did Matthew Schrag find evidence of fraud? He took images present in some of the 2006 research he was evaluating and found they were duplicates present in other articles. Such poor peer review behaviors are now damning patients that have been waiting in the winds for treatment. Hive could have fixed this issue in 2006 by doing some pretty simple checks for peer-reviewed articles.
The Psyber X Multiverse
Enemies surround you, and there's nowhere left to run. Low on ammo and no healing available, you prepare to make one final stand against impossible odds. These are but moments in the game when life takes you to a new level. Every shot must count, and there is no room for error. Welcome to the battle.
Your team awaits entry into the arena where your enemies and the battlefield are unknown. The only weapons you have are the NFTs in your possession and your teammates' skills. Your gaming match begins with the uncertainty that exists within the battle dome.
Join the @psyberx community today! Invest in their development or hop on to their discord to learn more about the initiative today!
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Desperation can make for some strange bedfellows. While there is PLENTY of evidence to support the idea that drug companies only want to profit from you, I can't help but hear the desperation in my wife's voice. "Something HAS to be better than nothing," she would tell me sometimes. Yet her mom remains afflicted.
According to the FDA, they approved the drug Aduhelm because supporting science stated that reducing amyloid buildup impacts the disease. There seem to be as many patients angered with the drug company and FDA as people who support the drug release. It would be easy to take a side if this scenario didn't impact me.
Thank you for reading and following on throughout my Hive journey. If you like this article, please consider reblogging, upvoting, and following @scholaris!