Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Bex: Australia’s APC cure-all that was addictive and caused kidney damage (?)

Also once sold in the USA under names such as Anacin and Saridon

The story below is conventional but unbalanced.  Phenacetin is said to be the ingredient in APC powders that caused kidney damage but what does it metabolize to in the body? Paracetamol!  Precisely the analgesic that is now generally recommended.  How crazy can you get?  And paracetamol (aka acetaminophen) IS dangerous by itself, but not for its effect on the kidney. It destroys the liver!  It is very dosage-sensitive. If you take much more than the recommended dosage, you can die.

So how come people took huge doses of phenacetin and did NOT die of liver disease?  And aspirin in large doses can be toxic too, though not nearly as toxic as paracetamol.  So people were taking huge doses of both paracetamol and aspirin without experiencing the symptoms that should have gone with that.  So again, How come?

It seems that the APC combination produced some sort of beneficial drug interaction.  The three ingredients seemed to combine to eliminate the toxicity they had by themselves.  Stranger things have happened.  But divine miracles are rare so to a small degree the APC combination also caused some damage -- but only to the kidneys and only among heavy users of the powders.  And the mortality from liver disease is now much greater than the mortality that used to be experienced from kidney disease.

So APCs were in fact a wonder drug that became harmful only from heavy over-use.  And ANYTHING can be harmful in excess.  Even drinking too much water can kill you.  Google "hyponatremia" if you doubt it.

Another problem is that many Bex users went onto Valium instead when Bex was withdrawn -- with its attendant risk of making you drowsy when you're driving. So did the ban on Bex kill people in road accidents? Probably.

And a VERY important use of Bex was as an early treatment for what is still a dreaded and all too common ailment: migraines. Migraine sufferers generally get some warning when a migraine is due to strike, an aura, jaw stiffening etc. And as soon as anybody prone to migraines felt the slightest suspicion that one was about to strike, they would grab their nearby packet of Bex and slam one into themselves quick smart. And it did help. If you got the Bex into yourself straight away, the migraine would either not develop or would be less severe than a full-blown attack.

Now here's the final kicker: Something that is often prescribed for aches and pains these days is NSAIDS (Ibuprofen etc.). And guess what is a major side effects of NSAIDS? Kidney damage. NSAIDS are hundreds of times more toxic to the kidneys than Bex ever was. So let's ban NSAIDS!

So I know I am telling here a story that is at great variance with the conventional wisdom but everything I have said above is entirely factual.  There was some research in the 1960s that pointed to the benefits of the APC combination but it was not pursued, presumably because the usefulness of APCs was seen to be beyond question and needing no reinforcement

A more extensive coverage of the issues is here

I am inclined to suspect that the main reason for banning APCs such as Bex was because they were so popular.  That HAD to be bad

WHEN former prime minister Kevin Rudd told journalists speculating that he was trying to reclaim the Labor leadership to have “a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down”, younger members of the media pack look puzzled.

They had not heard such an expression before, but to the children of the Baby Boomer generation, the phrase was immediately recognisable.

It was in the late 1950s and throughout the ’60s that the marketing slogan entered the vernacular. Bex, the analgesic made up of aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine (APC), became an Australian icon. It was recommended to treat aches and pains, headaches, colds, flu, fevers, rheumatism and for “calming down”.

Dissolving a Bex (or the similar product, Vincent’s) in a cup of tea, or taken with other stimulants such as cola drinks became particularly common among housewives. It was widely available and sometimes taken up to three times a day.

Aggressive marketing from drug companies meant it was even common to pop a Bex or Vincent’s powder in children’s lunch boxes “just in case”.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that doctors and health experts realised these formulations were responsible for kidney disease and addiction, and were carcinogenic. Phenacetin was finally pulled from the market by the late ’70s. But the damage had already been done. In the years that followed World War II, Australia led the world in APC consumption — and in the number of deaths it eventually caused.

Women resorted to “a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down” so often that in 1965 it became the title of a popular play by John McKellar.

The phrase is still instantly recognised by the children of that generation. So many people had an aunt, a mother, a sister, or a friend who were addicted to APCs. Many of them died from related kidney disease.

Readers of our Adelaide Remember When Facebook page recently responded to a post on the Bex phenomenon with memories of their own experiences.

Rick Cooper wrote: “For a while, I lived in Hamley Bridge and the railway was the playground, transport and just about everything else for us kids. At one stage, Vincent’s had a sign on every fence along the railway lines with the countdown in miles until you reached Adelaide. The blue, yellow and white signs said ‘X miles to relief with Vincent’s powders’.”

Trish Simpson recalled how her father was addicted to Bex and ended up with terrible kidney problems: “We always had Bex in the house and I remember taking them when I was younger. Eventually they removed the damaging ingredient and Bex wasn’t as effective. Not sure how much longer they survived after that.”
Vincent’s Powders and Bex with aspirin and cold medicine on the shelf in 1979.

Deborah Wise reminisced that as a child she loved Bex: “If we had a sore throat, Mum would mix a powder in a teaspoon of honey. Man, it tasted good! I suppose it eased the symptoms as well. I’m pretty sure that my Dad used to take a Bex first thing every morning.”

And Adele Andrews contributed: “I was an operating room nurse in the late 1960s and one of Adelaide’s top renal surgeons gathered all the OR staff into the theatre one day to show them a shrivelled-up kidney he had just removed from a 32-year-old woman. All he said was ‘Bex powder addiction, take note’. I had never taken any APC and was not about to start after that lecture. They should have been banned much earlier.”

Concerns about the rates of consumption of the popular analgesics first surfaced in 1962 and resulted in a series of public health warnings.

They seemed to have a minimal impact until 1966, when kidney specialist Priscilla Kincaid-Smith — after noticing a serious rise in women presenting with kidney disorders — conducted a series of experiments on rats.

She proved that APC powders were linked to serious kidney disease and the Government of the day began to take notice. In 1967, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommended that phenacetin be removed from the pharmaceutical benefits list, which saw Vincent’s eliminate the compound from its powders that same year, replacing it with salicylamide, which was from the same chemical family as aspirin.

Bex, however, continued to include phenacetin in its product but the sustained adverse publicity throughout the 1970s and the mounting evidence that the once “harmless” cure-all was in fact causing serious kidney disease, forced Bex to also drop the substance from its powders in 1975. By 1977, the results of the addiction were becoming very clear and the NH & MRC moved to restrict the availability of all APCs.

And so the Bex and Vincent’s powder era, thankfully, came to an end.

Thinking back to those days, it was just part and parcel of the lifestyle. Just about everyone’s mum or grandma seemed to always have a Bex or Vincent’s powder handy and, with the first sign of a headache, a cold or if they felt they needed a quick “pick me up”, down would go a powder.

It was a vicious circle of addiction, really: the caffeine content gave a sudden rush of energy, which eventually triggered a withdrawal headache, which prompted them to take another powder.


‘Australia Post, you’re a joke’

He is apparently a great "networker" (crawler). That seems to be the only reason Ahmed Fahour was given the lucrative job of heading up Australia Post.  But the service has been going downhill ever since he arrived.  He seems determined to destroy the organization.  He is a Muslim so maybe he aims to do that.  Below is just the latest episode.  It is now routine for letters that used to be delivered in a day or two to take a week or two

IT SEEMS the only thing Australia Post can deliver effectively is outraged customers.

The publicly owned organisation has been bombarded with complaints following Monday’s news that customers could be charged up to $9 a pop to pick up a parcel.

Australia Post has been labelled “a joke”, and the move “a blatant grab for cash” with claims staff often fail to check if someone is at home before leaving a card demanding they pick up their parcel at the post office.

Meanwhile, competitors have gone in for the kill lambasting the move to charge customers as “another clear indication Australia Post doesn’t understand its business”.

But in a sign the organisation is seriously rattled by the parcel pandemonium, Australia Post has confirmed to it may drop the plan altogether — but only if the anger continues.

On Monday, Australia Post said it was set to start charging up to $9 for customers to pick up undelivered parcels in a change to delivery services. The delivery giant said the initiative was formulated in response to “customer demand”.

Currently, undelivered parcels are held at post offices for 10 days at no cost before being returned to the sender. But from August, parcels not picked up within five days will attract a $3 holding fee rising to $9 if they are still in the post office after three weeks under a proposal nattily called ‘Hold at Post’.

Coming just months after Australia Post raised the price of stamps, it’s fair to say the news has proved about as popular as the final of Reno Rumble.

The fees fiasco managed to completely overshadow Australia Post’s big PR announcement on Monday, that its parcels subsidiary Startrack would use a new fleet of Qantas jets to deliver the mail.

While Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour joined Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in posing next to the shiny new planes, social media and news sites were being engulfed by anger at the new charges.

One comment received by was typical. “Australia Post delivery is a joke. The posties just drop parcels and run for their lives.”

Many complained that they wouldn’t have to traipse to the post office if delivery staff made more of an effort to check if people were home.

Late last year, Australia Post copped a storm of criticism after CCTV footage was published showing a Sydney courier making no attempt to deliver a resident’s parcel.

Marie from Brisbane said, “I have seen them pull up at the letterbox, drop the slip in and ride off. “I have run down the stairs, opened my front door and run up the road to stop them, but to no avail. If they can avoid knocking on your door, they do.”

On Australia Post’s Facebook page, Kerri Jordan said, “This is just a blatant grab for cash. Perhaps before you start charging storage fees you should consider delivering within stated time frames”.

Karen Schuler asked, “Does that mean I can charge Australia Post for my time and the mileage to go and collect a parcel that could have been delivered?”  Or as Peter Frith summed it up. “If you keep pi**ing people off they will use other courier services instead and Australia Post will die”.

Sean Cooney echoed many when he said the move was “dumb” and the opposite of customer service: “I will solve this problem by simply refusing to purchase any products from companies that want to ship using Australia Post. Simple.”

Parcel delivery service Zoom2u chief executive Steve Orenstein would be more than happy to pick up Mr Cooney’s business. “The recent price hike is another clear indication that Australia Post doesn’t understand its business,” he said on Tuesday.

“On face value it seems to make sense, customers who are not at home should pay a fee because Australia Post needs to store the parcel, which costs money. “But, the reality is many Australians order online precisely because they want the convenience of not having to leave their home to collect goods,” he said.

Australia Post, Mr Orenstein said, “hasn’t solved anything with this decision”. Rather than charging it should be looking at delivering parcels when people were actually at home.

Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive Emma King said people facing financial hardship would also suffer. “A couple of bucks might not sound like much, but every dollar counts when you’re getting by on a low income. “Increasing cost of living pressures are already a massive problem, and the last thing people need is an extra cost to receive mail.”

Australia Post said 92 per cent of parcels were collected within five days and would continue to be fee-free under the new proposals.

When asked on Monday by 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, whether the organisation would reverse the decision if customers said “no, hate it, will you dump the idea?,” Christine Corbett, Australia Post’s manager of postal services, said it would.  While market research had suggested the charge was palatable, Ms Corbett said “let’s see if our real customers say that once we actually put that in the ground”.

On Tuesday, Australia Post spokeswoman Michelle Skehan mapped out for exactly how that would happen. “If over the next three months our customers tell us they don’t want us to hold their parcels for more than 10 days, we won’t introduce the service.”

However, if the umbrage dissipates you can bet your bottom dollar, or nine, that you’ll have another fee to pay to use the post.


Budget 2016: Timid Turnbull tinkers at top and bottom

Comment from the semi-libertarian Centre for Independent Studies

CIS policy experts share their 'first glance' assessment of the Budget, with more detailed analysis to follow during the next couple of days as they unpick and unpack all the details.

The 2015/16 Budget has no credible plan to reduce expenditure and return the budget to balance, according to policy experts and economists at The Centre for Independent Studies.

"Far from tackling Australia's spending problem, Treasurer Scott Morrison keeps spending at near record levels," CIS Research Manager Simon Cowan said.

"Government spending remains at 25.8% of GDP the same level as 2015/16, and only falls to 25.2% by the end of the forward estimates.

"Government spending will burst past the $500 billion a year mark before the end of the decade.

"The Treasurer has repeated his predecessor's mistake of relying on future revenue increases to return the budget near balance: receipts continue to rise far above their historical average, increasing by 1.2 percentage points of GDP over the next four years.

"The budget does little to tackle the core areas of spending growth in health, welfare and education, which continue to be the fastest growing areas of government."


"Superannuation changes, including reducing the threshold at which additional contributions tax kicks in and a rebadged low income superannuation tax offset, do not address the core problem of pension dependence," Mr Cowan said.

"The government brags that 96% of people will be no worse off, yet all their changes will do is increase complexity -- they will do nothing to increase the number of people self-reliant in retirement."

Income tax and bracket creep

CIS Research Fellow Michael Potter condemned measures to combat bracket creep by increasing the 32.5 per cent marginal tax threshold from $80,000 to $87,000 as inadequate.

"This measure does nothing to address bracket creep for the majority of taxpayers," Mr Potter said. "The government should deliver a more substantial personal tax cut of $12.5 billion in 2017-18 and then index the tax thresholds."

Corporate tax

Mr Potter applauded the move to reduce corporate tax, but said it didn't go far enough. "The government has some good measures, reducing the corporate tax burden from 30% to 25%, but it won't reach this level until 2025/26. In the meantime, Australian companies remain uncompetitive.

"There are concerns that the funding for this tax cut, including a diverted profits tax, could harm the very investment the tax cut is meant to promote. And measures to combat so-called multinational tax avoidance rarely produce the revenue claimed."

Youth Jobs PaTH Programme

CIS Research Fellow Dr Patrick Carvalho was cautiously optimistic about plans for young jobseekers. "The Youth Jobs PaTH Programme addresses some barriers for longer term unemployed youth," he said.

However he cautions it does not solve the underlying problem:  "at the heart of the problem lies our complex workplace regulations structure, including prohibitive penalty rates that ultimately penalise the most vulnerable jobseekers. The budget doesn't address these issues."

Indigenous funding

It is good to see that the Government will redirect $23.1 million in 2016-17 from Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to support Indigenous entrepreneurs.

"A recent Ernst & Young review of IBA highlighted a number of problems with IBA, specifically, that it was not supporting Indigenous businesses effectively, not providing capital in a timely manner, and had a confusing number of programs," Sara Hudson, Research Fellow and Manager of the Indigenous Research Program, said.


One area the government has stuck to its guns is education policy, choosing not to fund the final years of Gonski, instead budgeting for a 3.6% annual increase­ -- the minimum rate legislated in the Australian Education Act 2013.

Head of the CIS Five From Five Literacy Program, Dr Jennifer Buckingham, said: "there is merit in some of the policy reforms attached to the funding, including the early assessment of reading, but others -- such as mandating the school subjects students must study at senior level to be eligible for an ATAR -- would be difficult to implement."


CIS Policy Analyst Trisha Jha warned the government's childcare strategy would not help more women into work. "Despite the deferral of the Jobs for Families childcare package, the Budget shows spending on an entrenched upward trajectory. These policies will not substantially increase women's workforce participation. More work is needed to address the crucial issue of supply of places, and the impact of the tax-transfer system on work incentives," Ms Jha said.


Two carbon taxes in Labor's climate policy suite

Labor will exempt the electricity sector from its broader emissions trading scheme hoping to limit the hit to the consumer wallet.

Instead, the sector will have its own ETS with an internal carbon market which Labor believes will reduce the impact on power prices.

The opposition's climate change policy - which it will take to the next election - also focuses on a transition away from coal-fired power stations.

Labor wants an orderly, structured phase out of high-polluting energy generators with a support program to transition workers into new industries.

Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler insists the plan is not a reincarnated carbon tax, while maintaining it's necessary to get Australia's pollution levels under control.

"Labor heard a very clear message from the Australian people about the carbon tax," Mr Butler told reporters in south-west Queensland.

But Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Labor was kidding itself that its ETS was not a carbon tax - which the coalition scrapped upon coming into government.

The policy reaffirms Labor's commitment to 50 per cent of the nation's power coming from renewable sources by 2030 and an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent by the same year.

It focuses on reducing land clearing, while aiming to double energy productivity through measures such as smarter buildings.

The ETS would be implemented in two phases - with the first requiring heavy polluters to offset any emissions above a set cap.

From 2020, an ongoing scheme will be in place - but the details won't be sorted until the next term of government, should Labor be elected.

Labor says it wants to get Australia back to the renewable energy superpower it was in 2013. © AAP Image/Glenn Hunt Labor says it wants to get Australia back to the renewable energy superpower it was in 2013. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten warned of increased insurance premiums, inconsistent food supply and a loss of tourism and jobs if nothing is done to limit climate change.

"Australia is now pretty much the only advanced economy on earth where pollution is rising rather than coming down," Mr Shorten told reporters on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who supported the introduction of an emissions trading scheme in 2009 when he was opposition leader, said Labor's plan would raise energy prices.

However, he conceded the coalition's 26-28 per cent target by 2030 would have to rise over coming decades.

The plan has been broadly welcomed by climate groups who believe it could help Australia reach its international obligations under last year's United Nations climate agreement.

In December, 196 parties - including China, India and the United States - agreed to limit global warming to two degrees.

Energy market analysts Reputex modelling shows phasing out coal-fired power stations would have a negligible impact on electricity prices.

However, the peak mining body says the policy puts at risk Australia's export competitiveness by eliminating the "cheapest form" of domestic electricity.

"The inevitable consequences of these policy choices will be higher power prices," Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Brendan Pearson said.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale questioned why Labor's policy was silent on coal exports, accusing all major parties of being beholden to the coal industry.

Labor has also promised to expand the investment mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, retain the Climate Change Authority and pump an extra $200 million into ARENA.


Controversial cop Chris Hurley pursues wages claim despite charges

This is the big goon who dropped his knee on a black guy, Cameron Doomadgee, lying on the floor of a police cell -- splitting the black guy's liver and killing him

CONTROVERSIAL cop Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley will press ahead with a Supreme Court bid to reinstate his pay, despite being charged with criminal offences since he launched the legal battle.

The Queensland Police Union, whose lawyers are representing Sen-Sgt Hurley, confirmed the case was still proceeding and a spokesman reiterated the organisation believed it was “oppressive” to suspend an ­officer’s wages while under investigation.

The case will be heard on Thursday and Friday in the Brisbane Supreme Court, and the union is expected to argue the suspension without pay is “not necessary to protect the interests of the Queensland Police Service”.

Sen-Sgt Hurley was suspended on full pay late last year while under investigation over a police chase which involved him allegedly shooting at a suspect, and an incident unrelated to his duties.

In February, his pay was suspended and he immediately launched a Supreme Court battle to reinstate it.

He won a reprieve when the Supreme Court ordered he be paid while the case is ongoing.
Accused cop Sen-Sgt Chris Hurley is persisting with his wage claim.

Just one month later, he was charged with assault for allegedly choking a motorist and shoving a female officer.

Sen-Sgt Hurley claims he will be unable to pay the mortgage on a unit he owns that his parents live in if the Queensland Police Service’s decision to suspend his pay is upheld.

“The financial consequences ... will have a severe affect on (Sen-Sgt Hurley’s) personal circumstances,” court documents relating to the case allege.

Documents filed on behalf of the Assistant Commissioner Clem O’Regan claim Sen-Sgt Hurley was ordered multiple times to pull out of a police chase on the Gold Coast in May last year before he shot at a car twice, including when it was driving away from him.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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