I see that Pharmac has announced that they will now fund Concerta, the long-acting form of methylphenidate (Ritalin). Methylphenidate is used for treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a disorder characterised by inability to hold attention on any one thing (floats like a butterfly) and hyperactivity/impulsivity – the tendency to move all the time and interrupt on impulse (buzzes like a bee).
I confess to being a little paranoid about the use of methylphenidate in ADHD. Not because I think it doesn’t work, but because I am not sanguine that all the boys I see who take Ritalin actually have ADHD. The diagnostic criteria are well established but, in addition to inattention and/or Hyperactivity must include:
The Justice Ministry have put forward a troubling suggestion in Dominion Post today.
“Accused rapists who plan to argue that sex with their victims was consensual may have to prove in court what measures they took to gain consent.”
I am not one of those morons who think that, when a woman is dressed skimpily/drunk/hanging around in singles bars, that constitutes a clear indication that she’s “willing”, but just what would be acceptable proof here? A note signed by the woman saying “Yes, I would like to have sex with you”? Must she announce to the rest of the bar her intentions? Should she wear a placard à la Winston Peters? Perhaps they could sign a “pre-sex” agreement – like a pre-nuptial agreement, but without the vows. Bizarre.
Today we have the edifying spectacle of the government shooting themselves in the foot while walking on broken glass. The NZ Herald reports that:
“The new electoral law has forced the Ministry of Health to keep its advertising for the cervical cancer vaccination programme at a low level until after the election.”
Homepaddock also blogs on this, pointing out the completely farcical situation of an electoral law preventing a health initiative. That’s certainly shooting yourself in the foot. But the situation is even dumber than that.
Linley Boniface critiques the National Social Welfare Policy in the Dominion Post today. Jafapete blogs about how Americans would like balance in the blogosphere, but you won’t find much balance in this article. Linley appears to be fairly foaming at the mouth, accusing National of taking “a pop at the party’s tried-and-trusted preferred villain – single mothers.” Her loaded language becomes positively vitriolic later:
“Mr Key has previously described mothers on the domestic purposes benefit as “breeding for a business”, and this time he made it clear National would have no truck with these shiftless baby farmers if it came to power. ”
Interesting article in the HOS today on cut-price overseas plastic surgery. It had the usual scary stuff about “flesh-eating” bacteria which is amusing as the risk of such infections is not much higher, as far as I am aware. Your real problem, of course, is determining who is a good surgeon or not. You have the same problem in New Zealand, or course, but at least you can ask around or rely on your GP to know someone capable. Overseas, you are rather reliant on what you read on the Net – not very reliable. But ACC report that they get only two or three claims a year for botched overseas plastic surgery, so it is clearly not as dodgy as the NZ plastic surgeons are making out. Is there a hidden agenda here?
I see that Pharmac in their strange wisdom are now going to fund the drug Topamax for the prevention of migraines. Topamax has been shown to drop the frequency of migraines by up to 45%, which is about 50% more effective than other commonly used drugs. Unfortunately Topamax also has a completely crappy side effect profile including multiple nervous system symptoms such as memory loss, speech loss, numbness and depression. It can, therefore, only be used in those folk who have frequent incapacitating migraines (like one or two a week). Pharmac estimate that 4700 people will eventually be on it. I calculate the likely cost to be about $7 million a year
Or about half the cost of Herceptin.
You know. Herceptin. The drug that causes a 38% improvement in breast cancer survival rate. As opposed to a 45% reduction in your headaches. Non-terminal headaches.
Disclaimer: I get migraine headaches. They are not very nice. I have yet to die from one.
Wonderful illustration of false fear-inducing headlines in the Herald today “Shortage of contraceptive sparks baby-boom worry”. Now that’s an impressive media beat-up. This is not a complete dearth of all contraceptives, of course, this is a temporary shortage of the injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera. But the opening line does nothing to allay your fears:
A South Auckland family doctor is worried some women might unintentionally become pregnant because of a shortage of contraceptive injections.
Both Kiwiblog and Jafapete blog about the latest news about compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – that they are potential fire hazards. I recall that Ian Wishart had a long article on this in the last Investigate magazine, which, I thought, was a curious mixture of scare-mongering and useful fact. The overly scary bit was mostly about mercury (the metal, not the planet) but there was a section on fire hazard potential that made a lot of sense.
It looks like someone is at last going to stand up to “boobs on bikes” pornographer Steve Crow. It’s about time. Every year the Church grumbles about it, but this year Auckland Councillor Dr. Cathy Casey is seeking a court injunction to stop the Boobs on Bikes parade. And if that doesn’t succeed:
“Ms Casey is also threatening to lie across Queen St with friends to stop the parade.
““If the council can’t win and the court can’t win, maybe people power, maybe woman power can …”
I find it pretty sad that the only person with some balls is a woman. And, yes, that was an intentionally sexist statement.
The Dominion post carries the welcome news that a reduction in the current alcohol limit for drivers is back on the cards. So far we have the promise that there will be a zero limit for restricted license drivers under 20, but that simply doesn’t go far enough. Intoxication behind the wheel is a huge problem, as the dominion goes on the report:
“New Transport Ministry figures show the number of drink/drug road deaths increased to 128 last year from 109 in 2006. The provisional figures show there were 2336 injuries linked to alcohol, costing about $838 million. A quarter of all ACC claims are alcohol-related.”