Angry Toxicologist

The NYTimes reports that some genetic links to restless leg syndrome have been found and this might reduce the ridicule that the drugs that treat the condiditon are getting.

Not from this quarter, though. Almost all of our traits have a gentic link. That doesn’t mean they need to be cured. I have a wandering eye; my spouse says I need to stop it but I keep saying, “It’s genetic, I can’t do anything about it without drugs”

This isn’t to say that some people with restless leg syndrome don’t suffer, and will benefit from treatment. But the fact that there is a huge marketing campaign for a ‘disease’ hadn’t even been heard about before, makes me think that the pharmaceutical companies are starting to run out of disease targets they think they can do anything with.

PS to my other half – okay, I don’t have a wandering eye, but I do wander all over the house when I’m on the phone and I know that annoys you a bit. It too is genetic, I swear.

Comments

  1. #1 Dlanod
    July 19, 2007

    I assume you me mean wandering (as in moving about) instead of wondering (as in being inquisitive.) If not I am very confused.

  2. #2 angrytoxicologist
    July 19, 2007

    Yep. Thanks. (embarrassed)

  3. #3 Ezekiel Buchheit
    July 19, 2007

    Outside of the (possibly eeeeevil) motives of the drug companies, I’ve got to wonder about the people that see these comercials for Restless Leg Syndrome and instead of laughing until the bourbon shoots from their nose, sit up straight and go,oh God, that’s me. Fnally, lord thank you, finally a CURE!

    I mean, I’ve had those nights where I can’t seem to sleep and I’m all antsy and I shake my legs around and stuff. If I’m really desperate I can self medicate myself with beer or nyquil, or as I did in my early college days (I’ve restarted college), both plus whatever other more controlled substances I may have had lying around.

    If the greatest pain in your life is RLS, you need to drop to your needs and thank the pantheon of Gods through out time and history (future ones included) that you are so priveledged to live in an age, country, and socio-economic demographic that entriely insulates you from actual problems.

  4. #4 Ezekiel Buchheit
    July 19, 2007

    Damn it. “drop to your needs” just makes no sense. “drop to your knees” might work, but dropping to your needs is beyond even simple typo. It probably indicates a mental disorder.

    Incapable Keystroke Sysndrome. I wonder what they prescribe for IKS? Probably some incredible narcotic.

  5. #5 MarkH
    July 19, 2007

    I think I liked it better as wondering.

    Great blog by the way, welcome to the family.

  6. #6 angrytoxicologist
    July 19, 2007

    Well I guess it did work, I acutally DO have a wondering eye, and mind, and…
    Thanks for the welcome.

  7. #7 Jenbug
    July 19, 2007

    I don’t know if I would be diagnosed with RLS, but I am definitely fidgeting up a storm every night in my sleep. I travel and roll all over, kick and poke at my poor boyfriend. He’s mostly gotten used to it but sometimes I’m more revved up than normal and unignorable.

    But I have no interest in medication for such a thing. I also am a somnolent tooth-grinder, but I wear a bite-guard and am fine. I guess drug-free solution to RLS would be leather straps. Which works just fine for me!

    Great blog btw, I found my way over from Pharyngula!

  8. #8 Nat
    July 19, 2007

    The article in the New England Journal was primarily dealing with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and not RLS. Despite the two conditions being linked clinically they were not strongly linked genetically. But this is really despite the point as it just brings us back to the “so what if there is a genetic component” argument (as Angry points out).

    Periodic Limb Movement Disorder has become a bit of a kicking bag hasn’t it? Despite the fact it was described in 1945 it’s now widely touted as a case study of an invented disease. Which must seriously suck if you’ve actually got a severe case of it. The main reason it’s been widely ignored for so many years is that medicine until recently was only practiced 16 hours a day. Sleep and sleep disorders have been ignored.

    Yes drug companies can be dodgy and yes the prevalence estimates may be overstated (the long term effects of PLMD in the community are not being studied very well so we don’t know if the condition leads to for instance, diabetes).

    But patients with a severe dose of this condition have terrible sleep and suffer accordingly. Some of the clinical videos of the bad cases might be enlightening to those ridiculing the condition. Stick to ridiculing those who manipulate the media on this condition in order to derive profit. This is a condition that we might actually be able to do something about.

    My ‘favourite’ is the patient who took a baseball bat to bed so they could rythmically beat their own leg in order to achieve some sort of relief.

  9. #9 Ezekiel Buchheit
    July 19, 2007

    Nat: There’s probably somebody out there with Terminal Flatulence too. There are enough people on this Earth that something that we all suffer from time to time is bound to exist in some severe form here or there. That being said, is there really such an overwhelming prevalance of chronic, life-affecting PLMD and RLS to merit the marketing of drugs for it? I’m not saying I know one way or the other. Clearly I’ve done zero research. Just the old BS detector going off. And if I ever see a commercial touting a cure for TFS (Terminal Flatulence Syndrome) I’m gonna laugh and then turn off the TV before my mind becomes infected.

    RLS is funny. So is flatulence. And improbably large women with impossibly small dogs. It doesn’t make it right, it just is.

  10. #10 AngryToxicologist
    July 19, 2007

    Good point. As I said, I think some people need this treatment and that’s great for them but it seems from the data available thus far that estimates on perscribing are many multiples of the estimates of true disorder. It’s the whole “Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you restless? Ask your Dr about…” that could fit any Tom, Dick, or Sally that is the problem and thus creates a handy punching bag. Symptom relief for disordered people: good; Pharma widening what it means to have that condiditon (in effect creating a new syndrome): bad.

  11. #11 S.
    July 19, 2007

    It’s easy to make fun of people with RLS or PLMD; or to fault pharma for marketing drugs for them. But you should try being the person who suffers from it, or the spouse of the person who can’t sleep for hours and hours during the night, because the entire bed shakes every 16 seconds (literally) due to the really severe jerking motion of limbs and entire body. He isn’t getting good sleep, and I’m getting no sleep. Pharma advertising was how we learned there was something that might provide relief and good sleep for both of us. And it does.

    Not every single thing pharma does is evil.

  12. #12 Lorri Talley
    July 19, 2007

    On the last of many nights when my itchy, twitchy, jerky legs wouldn’t let me sleep, I went online looking for information. The one thing that kept coming up was iron deficiency. Went and had a blood test, started taking shots. No more twitchy legs or sleepless nights.

  13. #13 Anonymous
    July 19, 2007

    Hi Lorrie,

    I tried iron also. I’m glad it worked for you, but it didn’t do a thing for me. What worked was the product of evil Pharma, Requip.

    Just so you all know, before taking the evil, over-prescribed drug, I was having about 20% of normal slow wave/deep sleep and about 50% of normal REM sleep per sleep tests. I never woke rested. I was always tired and foggy.

    Now, I sleep nearly normally, can get out of bed in the morning and am much more clear headed. It’s nice to have a life.

    No, I’m not a drug company shill, just a middle-aged broad who thinks there are better targets out there than IDLM sufferers.

  14. #14 Colin McHenry
    July 20, 2007

    >but I do wander all over the house when I’m on the phone and I know that annoys you a bit. It too is genetic, I swear.

    Oh my God! I do that too – I thought I was the only one. I swear I can’t talk on the phone if I’m sitting down, I end up reading blogs…

  15. #15 Ezekiel Buchheit
    July 20, 2007

    When did the drug manufacturers become evil? I hope it wasn’t me that incited that term. I tried to make sure it was clear I was being silly (hence the six or seven e’s, you know, all drawn out and cartoon like). I’m all for drug companies. Like any other industry, they need to be watched closely, held accountable, and regulated, but without medicines available in known quantities, we’re stuck with woo-woo science. I for one embrace our pharmacological overlords.

    However, that doesn’t mean that RLS isn’t silly. If you personally, or someone close to you, suffers severely from a case of RLS or whatever, that is sad and is a difficult part of your life. It isn’t f-ing cancer. It’s rough sleep. Perhaps really, really, oh man, really ough sleep. Doesn’t make it any less a silly commercial for a silly syndrome.

  16. #16 JScarry
    July 21, 2007

    Anyone who ridicules restless leg syndrome hasn’t experienced it. I haven’t seen the commercials so I can’t comment on who they are targeting, but RLS is not just having difficulty falling asleep. It is a real hard-to-describe pain that seems to be coming from your bones. Removing alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate from your diet can control it for many people, myself included.
    My father has it and it seems to have gotten worse over time. Requip worked for a while for him but either he has built up a tolerance or it gets worse as you get into your 80′s. He has many nights where he is up all night because of the pain. Lately, he’s been using Demarol to control/ease the pain, but it doesn’t do anything for the symptoms.

  17. #17 apy
    July 23, 2007

    I’m not entirely sure what the point of this blog post was. To state RLS does not exist? To badmouth big-pharma? Looking at replies from AT it seems neither.

    “Almost all of our traits have a gentic link. That doesn’t mean they need to be cured.”

    It doesn’t mean it should be ignored either! Wandering eye may be annoying but usually not threatening to your quality of life for the most part. The same cannot be said for RLS or its cousins.

    Now, I don’t know much of anything about RLS or even if it’s legitimate, but really, the argument here is weak and doesn’t seem to be based on any research just upset about some commercials. You can do better on Scienceblogs.

  18. #18 Stagyar zil Doggo
    August 2, 2007

    Angrytoxicologist:

    I’m with apy. You really haven’t said anything beyond what’s become a popular joke on late night TV. You can to do better on Scienceblogs.

    Information from scientifically reliable sources on how far the claims of these ads differ from reality could be a start.

    Ezekiel Buchheit sez :
    Clearly I’ve done zero research.

    And:
    If you personally, or someone close to you, suffers severely from a case of RLS or whatever, that is sad and is a difficult part of your life. It isn’t f-ing cancer. It’s rough sleep. Perhaps really, really, oh man, really ough sleep. Doesn’t make it any less a silly commercial for a silly syndrome.

    You seem to be saying that the only diseases worthy of treatment are the immediately lift-threatening ones. Also, that this particular syndrome is nothing but a ridiculous exageration of a trivial or non-existent condition. Perhaps a non-zero amount of research might make you reconsider. A possible starting point is here.

  19. #19 Abercrombie
    December 1, 2009

    However, that doesn’t mean that RLS isn’t silly. If you personally, or someone close to you, suffers severely from a case of RLS or whatever, that is sad and is a difficult part of your life. It isn’t f-ing cancer. It’s rough sleep. Perhaps really, really, oh man, really ough sleep. Doesn’t make it any less a silly commercial for a silly syndrome.

  20. #20 wp10
    January 31, 2010

    tank you administartors

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