Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Je Suis Charlie!

This morning, Charlie Hebdo published a new edition with a simple depiction of Mohamed on the cover:

Some Muslims complain that this cover is an insult to their religion, which forbids any depiction of of Mohamed, and they suggest that Charlie Hebdo acted immorally in publishing it.  For example, Egypt's Grand Mufti complained about the publication of the above drawing (see quote below).   Their outrage is completely absurd, and should be completely disregarded.

Muslims have every right to practice their religion as they see fit. If they do not wish to create or view images of Mohamed, that is certainly their prerogative.  No one should force them to do so.

Under no circumstances, however, do they have any right to tell anyone else not to make or view such images, any more than a Jew has the right to tell a Christian not to eat pork or not to drive to the store on Saturday.  If a Jew sees a Christian driving to work on a Saturday, eating a McRib sandwich and gets offended, that is his problem.

Ironically, the Koran and the Hadith contain statements that I find extremely offensive.  For example, they state that homosexuals should be killed, and that women must be subordinate to men.   Muslims assert that these dictates are the word of God.  

I find parts of the Koran and the Hadith to be utterly ridiculous, and I find the claim that these are the words of God to be very offensive.  As a result, I do not read the Koran or other Islamic literature, and I certainly do not practice Islam.  But I do not tell others what to do.

I do not warn Muslims not to publish the Koran or other religious books with material that I find offensive because of my sensitivities.  Quite to the contrary, I know that people will disagree about all sorts of things, and I am happy to live in peace with anyone who will allow me to do so.  I do not seek to force others to live by my views, nor to live the way I live.  But I expect the same respect in return.

So let's compare: Charlie Hebdo publishes the image above, and Muslims (some of them) are outraged.  These same people repeatedly proclaim that a book that says I should be killed as the word of God, and they see no problem with that.  And, even worse, some non-Muslims in the West sympathize with their offense.  But that is for another day.  

Quote from the Grand Mufti of Egypt, copied from Huffington Post:

"This edition will cause a new wave of hatred in French and Western society in general and what the magazine is doing does not serve coexistence or a dialog between civilisations," the office of Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, one of the region's most influential Muslim clerics, said in a statement.

"This is an unwarranted provocation against the feelings of ... Muslims around the world."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why Switch to a New Blood Thinner?

Last time I needed a blood thinner, I received Xarelto.  That was 2013, and Xarelto was new on the market and very expensive.  Previously, I had used Coumadin (generic name warafin) with no significant problems.  The patent on Coumadin has expired, and as a result it was very inexpensive.

Today, Facebook showed me an ad placed by lawyers who are suing the maker of Xarelto in a class action, alleging that the drug causes excessive internal bleeding.  From what I can tell, however, the drug is still on the market.

Two of my friends recently needed blood thinners, and both received Eliquis, yet another new drug.  It is also very expensive.  Their doctors did not discuss alternatives, they just prescribed Eliquis.

So, what was wrong with Coumadin that suggested that I should take Xarelto instead?  There may well be an answer to that question, but if so I cannot find it.  A brief internet search suggested that the most serious side effect of Coumadin is sever bleeding, which is exactly the same problem alleged with Xarelto.   I have no medical training, and I have not done researched the issue extensively.  Nevertheless, I would expect that, if there were a clear reason why Xarelto was better than Coumadin (or why Eliquis is better than both) that it would be easy to find.  

Moreover, all other things being equal, it makes sense to stick with an older drug.  By definition, a new drug has no history and we do not know what other problems may arise with Xarelto after it has been in wide use for a number of years.  

I do not believe that our doctors are part of a conspiracy to sell us expensive medications.  But I am concerned that they do not do enough research, and simply accept the drug companies' claims that the new drugs are better.  And, we patients often respond to advertising by asking for the new drugs.  

The solution is to ask your doctor why he/she is prescribing a particular drug.  Ask for alternatives.  Ask about the risks and benefits of each.  Then make your own decision!