Building a grassroots database to send a message to Big Pharma

Do any of your family or friends suffer from prescription drug side effects? If so, this is a website that you’ll want to know about and share. The James Gang got involved in sending a message to Big Pharma through a personal connection. Friends of ours, whose son died due to prescription drug side effects, contacted us to help with this important cause. Julie and Peter Wood, along with psychiatrist and Pharmageddon author Dr. David Healy, are profiled in the Globe and Mail: Drug-risk website aimed at consumers.

“A high-profile critic of Big Pharma and a Toronto couple are building a grassroots database to gather information about side effects” Globe and Mail

We are working with Dr. David Healy, Dr. Nancy Olivieri, many other medical professionals, and patient advocates like Julie and Peter Wood, to build a database of real-world, patient-reported, drug side effects. This grassroots data will be used to provide the full picture on prescription drug side effects. Most of us believe that Rx drugs are fully tested, and pronounced safe, before being sold. However the determination of what is “safe” is currently skewed by clinical trials. The trials are controlled by pharmaceutical companies whose objective is to sell as much product as possible. To do this they promote the benefits and minimize the dangers of their medications. Drug side effects which are not listed as “known side effects” are often dismissed by both the drug companies and doctors.

To counter this distortion, will collect patient data on drug side effects, publish the data publicly, and provide a free report to patients to take to their doctors. The big bonus for patients, is that once this medical data is published, the drug companies are obligated to acknowledge the negative side effects exist.

“In designing, we recognized the powerful opportunity we had to combine grassroots activism, social media, and storytelling to deliver a message to Big Pharma they couldn’t ignore. We decided to use Skype, and other video-conferencing software, to interview patients around the world — and ask them to tell us their true-life stories about drug side effects and the impact its had on their lives.” Billiam James, Co-founder The James Gang will feature personal stories — Skype interviews — with people around the world who want to share their personal experiences to help raise awareness about dangers of prescription drug side effects. Here is the first published interview with Maria Bradshaw, the co-founder and CEO of CASPER (Community Action on Suicide Prevention Education & Research) in New Zealand.

The site has just been launched in beta-mode with a complete search function listing all medical drug side effects using FDA and Lexi-Comp Data. We are working on the patient reporting function, which will record and save patient-reported side effects. Users will be able to print-out this detailed listing of side effects and share it with their doctor and pharmacist.


Franke James’ “Bothered By My Green Conscience” Wins 2010 Green Book Award

Green Book Festival Medal by Franke James

May 2010: Bothered by My Green Conscience is the winner of the 2010 Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels. The award honors books that, “… contribute to greater understanding, respect for and positive action on the changing worldwide environment.” Bruce Haring at the Green Book Festival said, “Franke’s book is a sheer delight and the judges are proud to honor it with this award.”

Author and artist, Franke James commented, “I’m absolutely thrilled it won the Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels! Book awards catch the attention of the media — and are therefore a great way to get the core message of my book to the public, and that is, ‘Do the hardest thing first.’ And then brag about it, shamelessly!”

“Do the hardest thing first.”

“Tell everyone about the wonderful green thing you did! Pretty soon, you’ll discover it’s fun and you’ll be inspiring others. Your friends and family may feel envious at first — but before you know it, they’ll be doing their own ‘hard green thing.’ And then we’ll have a real green revolution happening! And we need that.

“We’re treating our world as though it was disposable, and we had another shiny new one just waiting on a shelf for us. But we don’t! We need to get serious about protecting the environment, so that our children and grandchildren will have a healthy planet to live on. We can do a lot to fix the world, but we need to get ambitious now — and not wait for the politicians to save us.

“Do the hardest thing first. You’ll be surprised how fun it is, and how good it makes you feel!”

Franke James’ book is in good company — other Canadians who won the US Award…

climate cover up  cover James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore won the overall Green Book Festival prize for Climate Cover-Up (Non-fiction). It is a book I highly recommend. It’s a fascinating, and illuminating read about the crusade to deny global warming.  It will give you insight into the inner-workings of the PR campaigns (financed by the fossil fuel industries) that are sewing climate confusion, and in many cases, using outright deception to fool the gullible public.

The campaign to deny global warming mirrors the campaign by the tobacco industry to convince people that smoking was safe. And we all know how that ended up. Decades were wasted, lives lost, all unnecessarily, because society refused to face the scientific truth.

Now every cigarette pack in Canada comes with warning labels, such as “Smoking Kills.” What warning label should we put on our planet that will wake people up? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

smoking illustration by Franke James