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Research  Tricks used by opioid giant to mold doctors’ minds + Why so many allergies today?

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Revealed: tricks used by opioid giant to mold doctors’ minds

INTRO: Opioid giant Mallinckrodt, selling more than Purdue Pharma in the US, was forced by the courts to publish more than 1.3 million internal documents.

In The BMJ today, researchers Sergio Sismondo and Maud Bernisson sift through nearly 900 contracts which together reveal a carefully coordinated effort to shape medical attitudes toward pain medicine.

Pharmaceutical companies have a long history of managing physician and public opinion, explain the authors. For example, by recruiting physicians to serve as influencers, planting articles in scientific journals, coordinating conference presentations, and developing continuing medical education (CME) courses.

Amid surging concerns over an addiction crisis, Mallinckrodt faced growing hesitancy among frontline prescribers. But the contracts show how the painkiller manufacturer employed each of these tactics as it sought to reframe concerns about addiction as a phobia and muddle the very concept of dependence as “pseudoaddiction.” It even went so far as casting opioids as preventive medicine for chronic pain.

“It’s like they used every trick in the book,” says Robert Steinbrook, director of the Health Research Group of the advocacy organization Public Citizen.

To many busy physicians, these messages would have appeared as trustworthy scholarship and evidence-based guidance, Sismondo and Bernisson explain... (MORE - details)

Why are so many more people developing asthma and allergies now compared to before?

EXCERPT: . . . So, what is it about the Western lifestyle that disrupts the development of the immune system? Sørensen suspects that the use of antibiotics may play a role.

“Antibiotics can destroy the natural bacterial flora in children. We’ve seen an increase in allergies and autoimmune diseases since we started using antibiotics,” he says. Animal studies have directly shown that antibiotics can elevate the risk of developing allergies.

Additionally, many of us live surrounded by glass and concrete, and our children play in daycare centres where the ground is often covered with plastic, Sørensen adds. “We sanitise and sterilise everything. But in societies where it’s not as clean, there’s significantly less allergy,” he says.

“For instance, a Finnish study involved spreading forest floor material in urban daycare centres, and they observed a reduction in allergies. Children putting soil in their mouths might seem dirty and risky, but it’s actually a way for them to build their immune systems.”

Read more about the Finnish study here.

This gives us clues about how we might prevent future generations of children from developing allergies to pollen and other harmless substances in our environment. But what about us adults? Is is too late for us?

“This is a heavily researched area right now, but we don't have definitive answers yet,” says Sørensen.

He explains that some experiments involve transplanting faecal matter from a healthy donor into the intestines of individuals with allergies. “But it’s not easy to establish a new gut flora,” he notes.

There is also a significant gap in understanding regarding which bacteria are necessary and precisely how this gut flora influences the immune system. However, we do know that certain factors can affect allergies in adults.

There are numerous examples of people who either develop new or worsening allergies in adulthood or who outgrow allergies they previously had... (MORE - missing details)

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