Aug 18, 2017

The Solar Eclipse and Danger to Your Eyes: Shameless Scam or Ultimate Truth?

Hoo-hah! Everybody loves a party, or an excuse for one. So the Solar Eclipse is coming on Monday, August 21, and there's parties galore, even a festival in Solartown, Oregon, The campsites are all sold out. And as one Press Release says, "There is nothing like the spectacular phenomena of a Total Solar Eclipse. One part beautiful, one part mystical, and one part mathematical, a Total Solar Eclipse is an experience that inspires the mind, body, and spirit and demonstrates the elegant nature of our cosmos." Sounds pot-i-ful.

No one ever died of smoking pot. I imagine the festival will have its share. Pot is legal in the state of Oregon, so it would a shame if everybody who smokes a lot falls asleep and misses the eclipse. Just sayin'.

Anyway, everyone is buying specially designed glasses to watch it, unless they are foolish and wait to see what happens. More on that later.

The total eclipse can be seen first in Oregon where I live all the way to South Carolina along the trajectory listed below (all others, partial). Oregon, where there's a 3-hour time difference with the East coast, will get an influx of people watching it because that's where it starts.

Oregon has a problem with wildfires, so the eclipse may not be seen if wildfires are around. Check the weather, too, across the trajectory for your viewing. If Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, cloudy skies would keep you from the fascination and you'll have to wait until 2045 to see it again.



And now the eye danger. All of my ophthalmologist and optician friends agree: If you don't wear the special glasses, and I'm not talking sunglasses, you will damage the sensitive retina.

"Filters that meet the ISO 12312-2 standard reduce the sun's brightness to a safe and comfortable level, like that of a full moon, and block harmful ultraviolet and infrared radiation as well," said Rick Fienberg of the American Astronomical Society. "Solar filters that meet this standard are about 100,000 times darker than ordinary sunglasses, and sunglasses don't block infrared radiation." 

If you look through the glasses and the sun is too stark, hazy, out of focus, or if you can see household lights, the glasses are not safe. The only thing you should be able to see is the sun itself through a safe solar filter.

There it is. The conclusion? Not a scam. It's real. Don't be a daredevil. Wear the solar filter glasses. Otherwise, goodbye, vision. Unless you get lucky, which nobody is in this case.

Aug 12, 2017

Botox for Spasticity Didn't Work? Try Dysport If You Like



This article caught my eye: Ibsen Pharmaceuticals developed a drug for spasticity--Dysport. Huh! I thought the only drug in the world to stop spasticity was BOTOX. (Maybe all caps the way BOTOX is often written swayed my opinion).

Anyway, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the use of Dysport for the treatment of upper and lower limb spasticity to reduce the spasms in adult patients and only lower limb spasticity in children under 18. (Physical and occupational therapists call it tone, but everybody has tone. What therapists are really saying is abnormal tone, resulting in spasms or spasticity).

Clinical improvement with Dysport can happen after a week, with duration in improvement as long as 20 weeks before another injection is needed. Dysport can be used for spasticity in stroke patients and well as other traumatic brain injuries.

Cynthia Schwalm, Chief Executive Officer, Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. says, “Spasticity can have a profound impact on adult patients and their abilities to perform the most basic daily tasks. Ipsen is committed to providing these patients, their caregivers and physicians with a comprehensive support offering including Dysport."

The FDA approval was based in part on clinical trials conducted in over 600 patients. The medicine was first registered in the United Kingdom in 1990 for other uses and is licensed in more than 80 countries in eight different indications, with over 1,300 peer-reviewed publications.

Known as the Phase III pivotal study, 238 adult patients with required upper limb spasticity participated in the study for up to one year. The Phase III data showed that those treated with Dysport demonstrated statistically significant improvement in muscle tone measured by the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS), the scale originally used to test multiple sclerosis patients. 

"At Week 4," the report says, "both doses of Dysport  (500 units and 1000 units) significantly reduced muscle tone as measured by MAS in all primary target muscle groups,,,with approximately 3 out of 4 patients responding to Dysport. The most frequently reported adverse reactions (≥2%) are urinary tract infection, nasopharyngitis, muscular weakness, musculoskeletal pain, dizziness, fall and depression." (No comparison with Botox was accomplished drug-to-drug in any of the studies, but Botox has mostly the same adverse side effects).

Spasms for me go on for as much as two hours in a row, every 18 seconds, even now, 8 years after my stroke. When I had Botox injected in my leg 2 years after the stroke, I felt little relief, and that relief was short-lived. I was injected twice by the same doctor. When time 3 occurred, I couldn't get an appointment and had to see another doctor in the same facility. I always had the same questions, but when I asked the new doctor if Botox was dangerous, he said, "You could die." I jumped off the table, headed for the door, and left, but he was right.

"Dysport and all botulinum toxin products," the report goes on to say, "have a 'Boxed Warning' which states that the effects of the botulinum toxin may spread from the area of injection to other areas of the body, causing symptoms similar to those of botulism. Those symptoms include swallowing and breathing difficulties that can be life-threatening." (Gulp!)

If you do try Dysport, report any negative side effects of the drug or, for that matter, any prescription drugs to the FDA. (Doctors get free pills or injections from the drug companies known as samples, so you can't depend on the docs to report side effects. The docs are "wined and dined" by the drug companies to get the docs to prescribe their product. The drug companies and the docs have a co-dependency and you are a virtual guinea pig. So you have to be your own advocate). Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.