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SURVIVAL IN A CHEMICAL WORLD Prescription Drugs Q. There has been so much publicity about the adverse health effects of industrial chemicals. What about the toxicity of many of our prescription drugs? Please, could you comment. A. In point of fact, prescription drugs, in contrast to chemicals, have been for the most part evaluated for adverse health effects in both animal and pre-clinical human studies. There is also a mechanism for any adverse health effects of drugs to be reported to the Food and Drug Administration. This is in direct contrast to the minimal evaluation of industrial chemicals that enter into the marketplace. It is therefore logical to conclude that prescription drugs are far safer from a toxicological standpoint than industrial chemicals. At one time our knowledge of the toxicity of drugs was negligible. As an example of how far we have come, consider this ex Marvin S. Legator is a professor and director of the division of environmental toxicology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Amanda M. HowellsDaniel is with the Toxics Assistance Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of UTMB Galveston. cerpt concerning the death of King Charles II in 1685, who was probably suffering from a blood clot on the brain or kidney disease: “…As the first step of his treatment the king was bled to the extent of a pint from a vein in his right arm. Next, his shoulder was cut into and the incised area ‘cupped’ to suck out an additional eight ounces of blood.” After this homicidal onslaught, the drugging began. An emetic and purgative were administered, and soon after a second purgative. This was followed by an enema containing antimony, sacred bitters, rock salt, mallow leaves, violets, beet root, chamomile flowers, fennel seeds, linseed, cinnamon, cardamom seed, saffron, cochineal and aloes. The enema was repeated in two hours and a purgative given. The king’s head was shaved, and a blister raised on his scalp. A sneezing powder of hellebore root was administered, and also a powder of cowslip flowers “to strengthen his brain.” The cathartics were repeated at frequent intervals and interspersed with a soothing drink composed of barley water, licorice and seed almond. Likewise white wine, absinthe and anise were given, as also were extracts of thistle leaves, mint, rue and angelica. For external treatment, a plaster of Burgundy pitch and pigeon dung was applied to the king’s feet. The bleeding and purging continued, and to the medicaments were added melon seeds, manna, slippery elm, black cherry water, an extract of flowers of lime, lily-ofthe-valley, peony lavender and dissolved pearls. Later came gentian root, nutmeg, quinine and cloves. The king’s condition did not improve, indeed it grew worse, and in the emergency 40 drops of extract of human skull were administered to allay convulsions. A rallying dose of Raleigh’s antidote was forced down the king’s throat; this antidote contained an enormous number of herbs and animal extracts. Finally, beozar stone was given. Then, says the author, “Alas! After an ill-fated night, his serene majesty’s strength seemed exhausted to such a degree that the whole assembly of physicians lost all hope and became despondent: still so as not to appear to fail in doing their duty in any detail, they brought into play the most active cordial.” As sort of a grand summary to this pharmaceutical debauch, a mixture of Raleigh’s antidote, pearl julep and ammonia was forced down the throat of the dying king. While this account has its comical aspects, it should be remembered that his physicians were doing their best, according to the state of their knowledge. It is our opinion that in years to come, the hazardous substances we use in the cancer treatments of today will be viewed in the same way. 0 names of the big banks that have bought $800,000 worth of him; And when Gramm’s jowly face opened to speak, a single gold tooth would glint in the light, symbolizing the $1,042,574 oil companies have already pumped into him. After all, truth in advertising ought to apply to politicians, too. Soccer Ball Shame Our report is about the world’s number-one sport. Not baseball, not footballsoccer! Played in urban parks and the tiniest villages all around the globe, even children in the USofA are turning to this true game of football, shouting, laughing and playing in Saturday morning soccer leagues. But there’s another, little-known, indoor children’s soccer league that’s not playful, that has no laughter and that’s not at all fun. It takes place every day inside sweatshops in Pakistan, where half of the 12 million soccer balls sold in America are made. Inside these dreadful, windowless rooms, children as young as 6 work up to 10 hours a day, hand-stitching soccer balls for Adidas, Umbro and other major U.S. marketersmaking less than a quarter an hour. They get about 75 cents for stitching a ball that typically sells here for $29.95. Excuse me. What kind of greedy business is this that these companies feel justified in paying 25 cents an hour to Pakistani 6-year-olds to stitch soccer balls that are then sold to your 6-year-old for $29.95? The companies try to wash their hands of this stain by saying that they don’t directly employ the children or condone such child laborthey simply contract for the balls from Pakistani firms. Well, excuse me again. Since the companies profit, they’re responsible. Plus, at $29.95, why can’t these outfits pay a fair wage and make soccer balls right here in the USofA? How can we teach children fair play, when there’s not a stitch of fairness in the ball they’re kicking around? To learn more about it, contact the Child Labor Coalition: 202-639-8140. Heavy Metal I’ve said all along that most of the new Republican Congress’ ideas are as hokey as a three-dollar billand now they’re proving me right by attacking our dollar bills! Believe it or not, these gooberheads actually intend to eliminate the George Washington, the single, the buckreplacing it with a one-dollar coin. They say, because coins last longer, they’re cheaper for the government, so sacking the dollar bill will help cut the federal budget. Anyone remember how much that Susan B. Anthony dollar coin cost us? You think it can’t happen? Too wacko? Grab your butt-pocket, buster, because Newt Gingrich himself backs the scheme, the skids are greased andget this there’s a “coin lobby” behind the whole deal. Who? Copper-mining corporations for one; they’re in line to provide mountains of metal to weigh you down. There’s a “Save the Greenback Coalition.” Call them on 800-NO-COIN-8. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 ,00