In Roodepoort, South Africa this year 2007, a pretty 17 year old girl, Risma du Toit with a mild case of acne began taking Ginette 35 (Generic of Diane 35). It was prescribed by her family doctor as an oral contraceptive that was dually touted to prevent conception and cure acne, it also happened to be the only option available under her mothers medical aid scheme. Within five months and 10 days of regular intake of Ginette 35, Risma had a bad case of acne, was chronically depressed, and totally blind.
I strongly believe in a women's right to have control over her reproductive system, but at what cost is this sometimes being achieved. In the case of Ginette 35, which perhaps intentionally, greatly appeals to any teenager with a pimple and sexual curiosity, the cost just seems too high. This being said I don't think Ginette 35 is wholly to blame in this case. It seems the possibly criminally apathetic doctor and the questionable medical aid scheme restrictions need to share the limelight of guilt with Ginette 35. Without them Ginette 35 would never have been prescribed to Risma in the first place, and certainly her continued use of it, in the face of recognisable symptomatic side effects, contra indicated on the Ginette 35 packaging, would not have occurred. There is an astounding list of Contra Indications, Side Effects and Special Precautions listed, and well worth reading if you take Ginette 35.
"We consider that the risks far outweigh the benefits of Diane 35 for the treatment of acne"-Canadian Health Department 1996
For Risma, who was never allowed a choice, Ginette 35 should never have been prescribed; she did not even have chronic acne. Furthermore was Risma actually put through all the necessary tests that would have indicated any of the numerous contra-indications of the above list? It just has that feeling of another pill blindly thrown at the patient, in the hopes that they are not; the one out of however many statistic that will be negatively effected by that pill. What is worse though, is when Risma did begin to display symptomatic conditions associated with Ginette 35 as listed on their box insert;
2. When there is a gradual or sudden loss of *vision* or hearing.
3. At the first signs of thrombo-embolic disorders, e.g. pulmonary embolism, cerebrovascular insufficiency, thrombophlebitis, cerebral haemorrhage, *retinal thrombosis*, coronary or mesenteric thrombosis.
Risma's doctor did not connect them to Ginette 35 at all, and he gave her antibiotics to treat what he supposed was an eye infection, and she continued taking Ginette 35. One week later she was totally blind, the cause; Retinal Thrombosis or the formation or presence of a blood clot in a blood vessel within the retina. The doctor in question stated that there was a chance, (a chance!) that Risma's eyesight would return once the toxins worked themselves out of her body. But until that chance of a day, young beautiful Risma on the very cusp of adulthood has been thrown into a pit of darkness.
For the doctor perhaps it was his turn to be unlucky on the roulette table of generalised allopathic doctor prescriptions, Risma was that 1 out of 1666 people who are negatively effected by Ginette and form blood clots that can and have killed other users.
"I would place Diane 35 at the most risky end of the range of combined contraceptives" Dr Jurgen Beckman
So why are doctors doling out such dangerous contraceptives to our teens for whom it has such an obvious appeal? They are effectively condemning every 1666th teenage to possible blindness and death. With a current estimated world population of 6,612,833,325 people of those 293,228,885 are female teens between 15 - 19 years of age, and therefore 176,008 of them could be negatively affected by Ginette 35, and possibly die. Is this an acceptable loss to the pharmaceutical companies and doctors, should any loss at all actually be an acceptable loss, this is not a war, this is our teenagers very lives, and quality of life we are talking about here. Admittedly the pharmaceutical companies have themselves well covered from liability; their detailed insert took care of that. But not so with the doctor, whose implicit care and trust Risma was placed under the moment she walked through his office door. In this case the tragedy was obviously avoidable, and should never had occasion to be so blithely presented to Risma as the only cure all it was touted to be.
We are all unique individuals and this is something that will always trouble allopathic doctors and pharmaceutical companies. We do not fit; can not fit; into neat boxes and classifications in the terms of our medical treatments. The barest glimpse we have had of the true complexity of each persons DNA is proof of this. Beside these unique genetic differences there are always individual unique circumstances that lead a patient to a doctor's door. It is time for allopathic institutions, and the doctors they turn out; to see this and begin to treat us as the individuals we are. To start looking at our problems holistically and not just instinctively reach for that Russian roulette prescription pad.
I have always been under the impression that an essential holistic part of being an allopathic doctor died out when they stopped making house calls. When a doctors stopped being a part of the family, and truly observing and understanding a family's whole situation and history, before issuing individual advice and prescriptions. Perhaps the conveyor belt system of a doctor's office has detached and isolated the average doctor from the real world, real people and their real problems in it. If this is so it is to the detriment of both doctor and patient, and therefore us all. It is an issue that should be addressed; in amongst a horde of others, that together end up treating us like a herd of branded cattle.
What is even worse in this particular case is that any one with online access and a credit card can order Ginette 35 and have it delivered to their doorstep world wide, I got this off a pharmaceutical online shop FAQ, ranked at no 1 on Google Search in a search for Ginette 35;
Q: Do I need to forward a doctor's prescription to supply me with the medications I want to buy?
A: No a prescription is not required to supply any of the medications listed on the website. Most countries worldwide accept the importation of prescription medications into the country. You can import up to a three months supply for personal use.
And if something goes wrong while you are taking the product they sold to you?
Q: Does your company offer medical advice?
A: NO! We are not a medical center nor are we medically qualified. We will not advise or recommend. The information listed on the website is to be used as general information only and is not a substitute for professional medical services or advice. The onus is placed on the customer to be responsible for their own health issues. Please seek the advice of a medical professional if you have any questions regarding suitability etc PRIOR to placing an order.
And so they are not liable just like the pharmaceutical company that supplies them, if anything happens to you while taking Ginette 35. So again it falls to the doctors as their responsibility, though not so, if you bought it without their prescription and counsel. The doctor is the only thin white line between these pharmaceutical companies and their own patients. If they fall victim to the known corruption inflicted by pharmaceutical companies and others like; medical aid schemes and insurance companies, we are statistically doomed before we as patients, even knock on the doctor's door.
If you take a broader look at oral contraceptives a whole horde of other problems begin to show up statistically. My mother was a dutiful taker of her pill, a teen of the sixties for her it was an inalienable right as a liberated woman. When she was diagnosed at the age of 52, with chronic osteoporosis, her doctor laid the blame squarely on the contraceptive she had been taking for nearly 30 years. In other cases the side effects have included the inability to have children after stopping the pill, sometimes for years and sometimes never again. There are countless more of theses cases and their incidence does seem to be on the rise. They are all high level risks that women have to take on a daily basis to express that unquestionable right of control over their reproductive systems.
With 6 billion of us and growing, we have to have the means to limit our world birth rate, and the pill would seem to be the most reliable way to do that. But again I ask, at what costs is this being achieved, and are we consigning the Risma's of the world to an atrocious fate with a combination of all of these factors