Poitical abuses in national research authority

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Tue Oct 15 12:08:35 EST 1996

On Tue, 15 Oct 1996, welshwytch wrote:

> I am pretty aggravated by the breakdown of scientific decision
> making in this country regarding the medical uses of marijuana.
> The reason why we don't have adequate research to prove patient
> claims by now is that this research has been politically forbidden
> and is being actively forbidden now.
> For about twenty years we have heard patient claims, we have
> written history of cannabis use medically going back 5000 years,
> we had 100 years of widespread medical use of cannabis in America,
> and in 1986 the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors showed
> that the cannabinoids in marijuana have a wide spectrum of
> pharamcological properties including every form of relief
> specifically in all of the above patient records.
> But still the federal government will not allow one single
> controlled study to determine for peer-reviewed publication
> whether marijuana in fact is useful in reducing AIDS wasting
> syndrome in people with AIDS.
> They are pushing massive trials of their favorite candidate for
> anti-emetic and anti-wasting therapy.
> It is a medicine familiar to Americans, it is called THALIDOMIDE
> and in their rush to get thalidomide-based trials going,
> they have short-circuited all normal regulations for using
> this horrifically dangerous substance.
> Meanwhile the only research NIDA will allow is research on the
> harmful side effects of the medical effects of cannabinoids
> that they say don't exist.
> For example, the director of NIDA is advertising happily
> data showing a slight suppression in fertility caused by cannabinoid
> action on follicle stimulating hormone and other things. Therefore
> this is not a safe drug and can't be legalized even for medical
> use!!! he trumpets.
> Well, Dr. Leshner - people with AIDS are not usually bothered by
> infertility, it's not a big issue with them. And most nonsteroidal
> anti-inflammatories if used during pregnancy double the chance of
> newborn pulmonary hypotension. (Cannabinoids in marijuana have
> been confirmed to do this at the same rate as prenatal stress or
> use of other NSA's such as Advil.)
> As a nation, in America we deal with the possibility of fetal
> side effects with MOST medicines by attaching a warning label,
> not a prison sentence.
> And those who have heard of THALIDOMIDE know those side effects
> were even worse than a lowered probability of conception.
> (Even aside from birth defects, peripheral nerve damage is
> an issue.)
> If any of you are in the California Medical Association or
> the American Medical Association, please consider the facts
> I am presenting and lobby to end this insanity. (All other
> organizations welcome to consider them too.)
> So many people with AIDS are now smoking marijuana to control
> wasting syndrome that it really ought to be a primary
> directive of federal marijuana research to be able to tell people
> with AIDS if this is a waste of their lungs or not, if what they
> feel is happening is really observable clinically and
> if there are any cross reactions with protease inhibitors!
> It is a horrific kind of injustice that the marijuana pilot
> study proposed by Dr. Abrams at UCSF has been repeatedly
> forbidden by Leshner personally at NIDA, while the federal
> government is rushing through big trials of thalidomide,
> a drug that already gave America one huge horrific SURPRISE
> side effect in the form of massive birth defects (and
> who knows how it will interact with HIV.)
> Why is thalidomide preferable to marijuana as an agent against
> AIDS wasting syndrome? Why is our governmental research
> oversight making this decision?
> If you belong to the AMA or CMA or other medical or scientific
> organizations, please talk to your organizations about
> how we can bring back a sense of logic and proportion to
> the manner in which medical marijuana research is conducted in this
> country.
> I recommend the reference
>     vol. 35 1005 by A. Howlett
> for those not familiar with the idea of marijuana pharmcology.
> There is plenty of evidence in this paper to motivate
> controlled studies of the safety and effectiveness of
> most of the current patient claims about medical marijuana.
> Please speak up in your organization about this abuse of
> power over patients who want the best medicine for them,
> not the best medicine for the political agenda of
> Dr. Alan Leshner of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
> I believe that authority over marijuana research should be taken
> away from NIDA and transferred to the control of a more
> objective body of doctors and scientists who can measure risk and
> benefit with a scientific yardstick rather than with a political one.
> -patricia

Problem with (bio)medical research (any kind) 
in America is that there are too much money in
it. Most peoople believe that the problem is the
other way around (underfunding) and the solution 
is to put even 'more money' into research. These 
people are wrong.

The problem is that too many people are given 
enough money to build up their research empires 
which are based on a cheap research labor (mostly 
postdocs). People certainly should be given SOME 
funds to do research temselves. But for as long as 
the system keeps "half a million per year per prof" 
empires (and even greater figures are not unusual) 
and work on the basis of the closed-circuit "peer
review" club, nothing will change and what you
are going to see will be almost always a 
contr-science you desribe above. 

The solution: Limit TOTAL funding for ANY
researching professor to, say $ 100,000 per year
max. Remove idiocity of "proposals" and 
replace it by robust ranking of research

Those who get funding from industry should NOT 
get additional funding from NIH, but must chose
either of two.

THEN people (at least some of them) may start 
doing science instead of grantsmanship. No future
for science for as long as peer review retains
its power and people stick to a FALSE belief that
the "scientists are the best people to determine 
what OTHER scientists should do" (peer review
main dogma).

Alex Berezin    

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