Imperial Chemical Industries was once a mega-manufacturing chemical industry powerhouse of the British Empire. It's business success was often hailed
as the "bellwether of the British Economy." It was a prime competitor of IG Farben and DuPont. It has long since been sold... but in it's history, a
noteworthy "product" was invented and made commercially successful:
It was the first "Beta-Blocker" (Inderal) and at the time was heralded as one of the greatest medical advances of the 20th century - a treatment drug
for angina in 1962. James Black (died 2010), later knighted "Sir" James Black (1981) and recipient of the "Order of Merit" (2000) received the Nobel
prize for his invention in 1988.
According to his laudatory bio:
The beta blocker drug used to treat heart diseases such as managing irregular heartbeat, treatment of hypertension and protection of the heart
after a cardiac arrest...
However, four or five decades later, it appears that there is something quite amiss....
Both The Journal of the American Medical Association
as well as the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
seem to have almost
simultaneously and independently published research results that indicate the drug does not work.
.. and yes, the media is reporting this as "surprising."
While the result held for the standard classes of heart drugs - statins, anticoagulants and antihypertensives - it did not for beta blockers.
Regardless of whether or not patients stuck to their regimen, their risk of dying was the same. Taken together with the JAMA study, it becomes very
reasonable to question the benefit of beta blockers for treating these conditions.
Ever inclined to cynical conspiracy; I must put forth that the source material waxes on about how there is nothing truly alarming about it taking so
long to realize the ineffectiveness of one of the most widely prescribed types of drugs - a cash cow for the pharmaceutical industry ... they offer
some interesting excuses like new techniques of treatment, and better drugs being developed....
But neither cross-confirming study was anything less than a statistical look at the effectiveness of the drug based upon outcomes; so while
practically all the oversight agencies of government, every pharmaceutical producer of the 200 or so types of beta blockers, and any insurance
company's actuarial table-calculating masterminds have always had access to the same data - we are apparently being 'told' that it is not ludicrous
that billions upon billions have been 'charged' to patients for this 'landmark' drug - which never worked.
Further... as if to reaffirm the "support role" that media plays for the transnational corporate world, the following "tell you what to think"
paragraph was crafted for our consumption:
What comes next is impossible to predict, but we may well be seeing a rare case of medical wisdom being overturned almost overnight. Beta blockers
are not dangerous and have been in use for such a long time that it is unlikely that we will see an immediate cessation. But these results are hard to
ignore, and cardiologists will be paying careful attention.
Notice: "Beta blockers are not dangerous and have been in use for such a long time that it is unlikely that we will see an immediate
Let's see..... BETA BLOCKER ASSOCIATED ADVERSE REACTIONS
Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) associated with the use of beta blockers include: nausea, diarrhea, bronchospasm, dyspnea, cold extremities,
exacerbation of Raynaud's syndrome, bradycardia, hypotension, heart failure, heart block, fatigue, dizziness, alopecia (hair loss), abnormal vision,
hallucinations, insomnia, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction and/or alteration of glucose and lipid metabolism. Mixed
α1/β-antagonist therapy is also commonly associated with orthostatic hypotension. Carvedilol therapy is commonly associated with edema. Due to
the high penetration across the blood–brain barrier, lipophilic beta blockers, such as propranolol and metoprolol, are more likely than other, less
lipophilic, beta blockers to cause sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and vivid dreams and nightmares.
Adverse effects associated with β2-adrenergic receptor antagonist activity (bronchospasm, peripheral vasoconstriction, alteration of glucose and
lipid metabolism) are less common with β1-selective (often termed "cardioselective") agents, however receptor selectivity diminishes at higher doses.
Beta blockade, especially of the beta-1 receptor at the macula densa, inhibits renin release, thus decreasing the release of aldosterone. This causes
hyponatremia and hyperkalemia.
Hypoglycemia can occur with beta blockade because β2-adrenoceptors normally stimulate hepatic glycogen breakdown (glycogenolysis) and pancreatic
release of glucagon, which work together to increase plasma glucose. Therefore, blocking β2-adrenoceptors lowers plasma glucose. β1-blockers have
fewer metabolic side effects in diabetic patients; however, the tachycardia which serves as a warning sign for insulin-induced hypoglycemia may be
masked. Therefore, beta blockers are to be used cautiously in diabetics. 
A 2007 study revealed diuretics and beta blockers used for hypertension increase a patient's risk of developing diabetes, while ACE inhibitors and
angiotensin II receptor antagonists (angiotensin receptor blockers) actually decrease the risk of diabetes. Clinical guidelines in Great Britain,
but not in the United States, call for avoiding diuretics and beta blockers as first-line treatment of hypertension due to the risk of
Beta blockers must not be used in the treatment of coc aine, amphetamine, or other alpha-adrenergic stimulant overdose. The blockade of only beta
receptors increases hypertension, reduces coronary blood flow, left ventricular function, and cardiac output and tissue perfusion by means of leaving
the alpha-adrenergic system stimulation unopposed. The appropriate antihypertensive drugs to administer during hypertensive crisis resulting from
stimulant abuse are vasodilators such as nitroglycerin, diuretics such as furosemide and alpha blockers such as phentolamine.
When you are told that you can trust these people with telling what is medical "fact" as opposed to "market-truth" remember this story....
I've included a link to the Consumer reports piece on comparing beta-blockers... which tells me much about the publication now
... and also the
obituary for Sir Black.
And by the way... does it not seem interesting that we are beginning to see many "new uses" for beta blockers... (see related threads)
(visit the link for the full news article)
edit on 13-11-2012 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)