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Touch for Health Education Newsletter
Hidden Dangers from New Drug

June 30, 2004
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Hidden Dangers from New Drug
-- Two decades of research offers "No Clue"
-- Danger of undiagnosed Diabetes
-- On the United States Olympic Committee's list of banned stimulants
-- Impaired judgment from sleepiness is blamed for about 100,000 accidents a year

Two decades of research offers "No Clue"
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In an article in The New York Times, June 29, 2004 by Anahad O'Connor, the benefits and dangers of a new drug are outlined and it concerns me that they are selling so much of it without having any idea of how it works. "Since 1998, modafinil, made by Cephalon and sold under the brand name Provigil, has quietly altered the lives of millions of people. No one knows exactly how it works, but sales of the drug are skyrocketing." "After more than two decades of research, scientists are still trying to figure out just how it manipulates the brain. "It is amazing that this drug has become so widely used without any real understanding of the basic science behind it," Dr. Siegel said.
"People who take it say it keeps them awake for hours or even days. It has been described as a nap in the form of a pill, making most users feel refreshed and alert but still able to go to bed when they are ready. And because its side effects are rarely worse than a mild headache or slight nausea, experts fear that it has rapidly become a tempting pick-me-up to a nation that battles sleep with more than 100 million cups of coffee a day." That is correct people in the USA are so anxious to do well that they are willing to take drugs without considering the long term effects.

Danger of undiagnosed Diabetes
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"Some worry that an array of common disorders, like diabetes and sleep apnea, will go undiagnosed if doctors dole out Provigil instead of seeking the underlying diseases that cause fatigue." If diseases like diabetes go undetected and blindness results how can they say the side effects a mild, just because they don't show up immediately.
"This drug enables us to be that much more workaholic and that much more obsessed with accomplishments and productivity, and I think our society is already extreme along those lines," said Dr. Martha J. Farah, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. "The natural checks on that tendency, like needing to go to bed, are being rolled back by modafinil." Is it a good idea to make the natural tendency of Americans to overwork be stimulated by a drug that the people that make it don't really have any idea how it effects the brain or other aspects of a person long term?


On the United States Olympic Committee's list of banned stimulants
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"In the last year, six American track and field athletes have tested positive for the substance, which is on the United States Olympic Committee's list of banned stimulants." It is a puzzle to me why the people charged with protecting the public will not do more, when the doctors that are charged with protecting the honesty of the Olympics ban the drug.
"An effort by Cephalon to have the drug approved for a third indication, excessive sleepiness from any cause, was rejected." Here at least the FDA is not taking more chances of encouraging the off label use of the drug, due to the fact there are no proven studies that it is safe for the general public and it's bad effects may be worse in a long run than the temporary benefits.

Impaired judgment from sleepiness is blamed for about 100,000 accidents a year
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"The toll of this deprivation has been visible for years on the nation's highways, where impaired judgment from sleepiness is blamed for about 100,000 accidents a year. Lack of sleep is also believed to have played a role in the space shuttle Challenger disaster, the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Will accident victims care if the cause of the accident was f rom a improver use of a prescription drug to stay awake when they should get more rest. Will we even ever know if this drug is effecting our highway accident rate? Will we need an American Chernobyl nuclear accident to thing differently about drugs?

"In terms of error rate, 18 hours of no sleep, which many of us regularly do, is equivalent to a blood alcohol level of about .05," said Dr. Ronald Chervin, who was involved in clinical trials of modafinil and is the director of the University of Michigan sleep disorders center. "Twenty-one hours of no sleep is equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .08, which is illegal in many states." I hope you will urge everyone you know to be smart about why they are staying awake with drugs. There maybe times when this is important, however we need to look closely at when this might not be the case. Should there be warning about staying up for 18 or more straight hours is equivalent to being drunk and not fit for driving or operating machinery or making judgment calls for your future?

Contact Information
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email: thie@touch4health.com
voice: 310 589 5269
web: http://www.touch4health.com
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