Bleats

We’re So Desperate For Pills Doctors Are Prescribing ‘Active Placebos’

No, we're not talking about your Dad’s favourite band.

In a terrifying new study, it turns out that the majority of Australian doctors have admitted to prescribing people placebos. Before you head to Google, a placebo is a medication given to people even though it doesn’t actually have any effect. So that’s fun.

All up, 77% of doctors admitted to prescribing ‘active placebos’, which are drugs that will fix some people’s problems, just not your particular one. Most of this was people prescribing antibiotics for people with viruses – to recap, antibiotics do sweet FA for viral infections.

And if that wasn’t a fun enough statistic, 39% of doctors admitted to giving people ‘inactive placebos’, which are just straight up sugar pills. 

You’re most likely to cop a placebo if you rock up with a virus, but that might actually be partially our fault. One doctor interviewed as part of the study said that she had been verbally abused by patients when she told them that the best treatment for their viral infection was time, and so she wouldn’t give them medicine.

Don’t be this person

If the choice is being screamed at by a patient or giving someone antibiotics that they don’t need, I know for sure that I’m giving them the meds. Which is exactly how we wind up with antibiotic resistant superbugs by the way, so great job to the people yelling at doctors I guess. 

Placebos themselves do actually have some benefit, even if it’s just a sugar pill. If a person genuinely believes that what they’re taking is going to take their pain away, then their body will release the chemicals needed to dull that pain. 

Having genuine psychological benefits is great of course, but that’s all well and good if you have a headache. A placebo isn’t going to work quite as well on, say, a broken arm.

Whether they do any good or not, 77% is a massive number of people to be prescribing placebos. Keep an eye on what you’re prescribed, and for the love of everything, don’t scream at any doctors.

'Meth. I'm On It.' Is The Accidental Meme Only Government PSAs Can Create

Imagine how many people had to give this the OK.

There is almost nothing funnier in this world than a serious government ad campaign that becomes a meme. Lest we forget the meme gold that came from the NSW Government’s Stoner Sloth campaign. The internet’s newest target comes from a bit further away though – South Dakota has just launched a campaign called “Meth. We’re On It.” and it’s going about as well as you’d expect.

Stoner Sloth will be funny for the rest of time

The campaign actually has some really good intentions. At the moment, 83% of South Dakota’s court admissions for drugs from this year were meth related, so it’s obviously a massive problem for South Dakotans. 

The campaign website – onmeth.com – says that “South Dakota has a problem. There isn’t a single solution because meth is widespread. But we can approach it from different angles, so it doesn’t take over counties, towns, neighborhoods.” 

And then it all falls apart with the tagline, “Let’s work together. Meth. We’re on it.”

Obviously the internet is losing its mind, it doesn’t take a creative genius to see the jokes that are right there ready to be made. And what makes it even more amusing is that state records show the government paid an advertising agency $448,914 for the ad. That’s $661,058 in Australian dollars.

South Dakota’s Governor, Kristi Noem, reckons that this isn’t a spectacular failure on behalf of the government and advertising agency, but rather a spectacular success.

Yep, massive success

“South Dakota’s anti-meth campaign launch is sparking conversations around the state and the country,” she said in an interview. “The mission of the campaign is to raise awareness – to get people talking about how they can be part of the solution and not just the problem. It is working.”

It’s absolutely possible for a government ad to work and change people’s behaviours. The Speeding: No One Thinks Big Of You campaign is probably the best example of an effective government ad, but I’m not quite sure the same can be said of “Meth. We’re On It.”

The Anti Vax Movement Is Being Blamed For A Measles Epidemic Overseas

Really great job, anti-vaxxers.

Once again, anti vaxxers have a lot to answer for. A state of emergency has been called in Samoa, closing all schools and cracking down on people under 17 gathering in public as a way to try and handle a measles epidemic that’s affecting the whole island. 

There have been 716 suspected cases of measles since late October, which is a huge amount seeing as Samoa only has a population of 200 000. Of those 716 suspected cases, 40% were bad enough that the person was sent to the hospital.

This was totally avoidable!

At least six deaths have been linked to the outbreak, mostly unvaccinated kids under two. 

At the moment, the Samoan health ministry is reporting that about a third of the entire population of Samoa is unvaccinated. 

The government is going to make getting a vaccine a “mandatory legal requirement” for unvaccinated people, but it may be too little too late. Their director general of health, Leausa Take Naseri, has predicted that the situation is going to get worse.

“The way it is going now and the poor (immunisation) coverage, we are anticipating the worst to come.”

The best guess at this point is that measles got to the island in the first place after some Tongan rugby players got back from New Zealand, and from there it spread around to Samoa.

The island right next door to Samoa is called American Samoa, and their vaccination rates are 90%. In the same time frame, there have been far fewer cases of measles reported, and no reported measles-related deaths. 

The world was so close to getting rid of measles. As recently as 2016, measles was declared eradicated in the Americas, but we’re seeing the disease come back with the rise of the anti vax movement. The most recent World Health Organisation data says that “all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases” of measles, so that’s just fan-bloody-tastic.

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