Sunday New York Times article
AnonymousMay 6, 2007 at 9:28 am
There is a very interesting article in Sunday’s (May 6) New York Times (front page featured story) entitled [B]From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine. [/B]
Here is an excerpt from this very long, excellent investigated reporting article:
“Early last September, doctors at Panama City’s big public hospital began to notice patients exhibiting unusual symptoms.
They initially appeared to have Guillain-Barré syndrome, a relatively rare neurological disorder that first shows up as a weakness or tingling sensation in the legs. That weakness often intensifies, spreading upward to the arms and chest, sometimes causing total paralysis and an inability to breathe.
The new patients had paralysis, but it did not spread upward. They also quickly lost their ability to urinate, a condition not associated with Guillain-Barré. Even more unusual was the number of cases. In a full year, doctors might see eight cases of Guillain-Barré, yet they saw that many in just two weeks.
Doctors sought help from an infectious disease specialist, Néstor Sosa, an intense, driven doctor who competes in triathlons and high-level chess.
Dr. Sosa’s medical specialty had a long, rich history in Panama, once known as one of the world’s unhealthiest places. In one year in the late 1800s, a lethal mix of yellow fever and malaria killed nearly 1 in every 10 residents of Panama City. Only after the United States managed to overcome those mosquito-borne diseases was it able to build the Panama Canal without the devastation that undermined an earlier attempt by the French.
The suspected Guillain-Barré cases worried Dr. Sosa. “It was something really extraordinary, something that was obviously reaching epidemic dimensions in our hospital,” he said.
With the death rate from the mystery illness near 50 percent, Dr. Sosa alerted the hospital management, which asked him to set up and run a task force to handle the situation. The assignment, a daunting around-the-clock dash to catch a killer, was one he eagerly embraced.
Several years earlier, Dr. Sosa had watched as other doctors identified the cause of another epidemic, later identified as hantavirus, a pathogen spread by infected rodents.
“I took care of patients but I somehow felt I did not do enough,” he said. The next time, he vowed, would be different.
Dr. Sosa set up a 24-hour “war room” in the hospital, where doctors could compare notes and theories as they scoured medical records for clues.”
AnonymousMay 6, 2007 at 10:43 pm
The article is about a tailor, in a poor, remote section of China, who decided to make extra money by forging a license and laboratory analysis reports to sell cough syrup, which turned out to be tainted, to a pharmaceutial company in Shanghai. The company in Shanghai shipped it to a company in Barcelona, Spain, who repackaged it and shipped it to Panama with a new set of shipping documents. There was no documentation to verify the source of the medicine. They were able to track it down only because the people developed the illness from drinking the cough syrup.
The New York Times article did not raise this issue, but in my opinion, this will support the U.S. drug companies arguement that imported drugs, including those from Canada, should not be allowed to be sold in the States.
I merely pass this informtion along because it made reference to Guillain Barre’ Syndrome, which I thought may be of interest to some people.
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