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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Health Minister Must Act On Complaints

Health Minister must act on complaints.

Last week I raised the issue of the complaints that have been made about The National Health and Medical Research Council that is the government’s peak health research advisory body.

Due to time today I’ll just mention one issue from a recently published document where-in the NHMRC gives the Australian developed Naltrexone Implant device the thumbs down.

This device has saved many lives from drug addiction and overdoses as part of a very successful and safe addiction recovery program.

But the NHMRC seem to have read the published evidence and come to completely different conclusions to the experts who published the papers.

For example the NHMRC document makes a statement that they are quoting scientific studies that they say found Naltrexone Implants to be ineffective when compared to another alternative....

…...But that isn’t in fact what the relevant scientific study actually said at all.

If anyone of us were the Federal Health Minister and the NHMRC told you something was ineffective when they were in fact scientifically significantly effective at saving lives would you let it pass and ignore the public’s complaints?

Turn It Up
I’m Michael Robinson

Please Note, this is a follow up comment on the issue of who the Public Service actually serves from last week and can you trust "scientific" statements..

See also

Post scripts and additional comment below further to my on air comments.

This is a controversial isue and one that has seen previous misinformation published - yes, but it is usually by media or campaigners lobbying for alternatives, not professional bodies relied upon to advise governments.

NOTE I include this link to show the misinformation and distortion of the information.  

See other links like these, there are many more, I'll include these two to show some balance. The Federal Government and W.A. Government have helped many patients recover from their drug addictions by funding treatment through this life saving Special Access program.

The NHMRC the National Health Medical Research Council says - in part - it is:
Australia's peak body  for developing health advice on medical research.
The reason I raise this issue is because a number of doctors treating patients, patients who want to recover from their drug addictions, have raised complaints about the NHMRC website and it’s published information on Naltrexone Implants as being inaccurate.

They, and many others, are questioning the NHMRC’s motives, conclusions and conflict of interest - in the issue of the NHMRC recent publications and advice on Naltrexone Implants.

I’ve been across this issue for over a decade and unfortunately rather than the NHMRC base it's advice on sound evidence accepted by experts, experts such as the TGA, and other medical experts and governments across Australia and around the world, - instead of that -  the panel of 5 people who authored this document gave Naltrexone Implants the thumbs down and the NHMRC document come across as having some anti Naltrexone implant vendetta to carry out.

These are actions of a public body relied upon for it’s advice and instead of best practice the NHMRC publication will deny (see access to a world leading treatment one that for 11 years has safely and effectively helped close to 10,000 patients safely undergo recovery from their drug addictions.

It is a treatment that is 25 times more effective than the next closest recovery option.....
and the NHMRC  call themselves a peak medical body acting in the public interest....Turn It UP.

Australian patients are allowed access to the Naltrexone Implants under a “clinic trial” that many call a loop hole but it is not uncommon in medical treatments as new treatments are developed such clinic trials are able to provide life saving treatment and patients who might otherwise die are allowed to access these clinical trials in the interests of saving their life. For drug addicts this is a life and death issue.  

The basis of such treatment is that the treatment is life saving because addicts could die when using illicit drugs including death from an overdose.  The Naltrexone Implants do not act as a quick fix, but assist in the recovery program helping patients to survive episodes they may use drugs after undergoing detox.

Many critics of the implants say rather than help addicts to detox and put them at risk of of using drugs again and therefore overdosing.  Instead of recovery from addiction these same critics promote unending management of drug addiction and legalisation of drugs or supplementing illicit drug use with government subsidised methadone.  Neither of these options are in the public best interests nor the patients’ health.

The long running public debate over this issue is not about genuine concerns on medical best practice but a handful of people expressing their lack of understanding or personal bias to patients recovering from their addictions.  Naltrexone Implants assist patients in that recovery process and Dr George O’Neill’s Fresh Start Program  in Perth Western Australia has often been criticised for not providing the same facilities as private clinics around the world.  What should be clearly understand is many of the observed treatments where patients lay on mattresses on the floor etc are for good medical reasons.
Patients often don’t pay all the costs and costs are covered by the charity’s fundraising efforts with no one in need being turned away from the Fresh Start program.  Naltrexone Implants are also offered in other clinics in Australia under the same live saving clinic trial access.

I will continue to follow this issue and I urge those involved to work in the public interest and look at best medical evidence not speculation or fear of new treatments or procedures.

I will be able to provide more information on this issue soon......


See the Fresh Start website  for the program run by Dr George O'Neill in Perth. This program is also available in some other clinics around Australia, we need to encourage government support to see it made available in every town and city where people want to recover from their addictions and where this program could be of great assistance for those it is suitable for.


This week a charity in focus - visit this link




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