Biology exemplar powerpoint

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Biology exemplar powerpoint

  1. 1. Thalidomide What is it? Thalidomide is a drug that was prescribed during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was developed as a sleeping pill, but it was also thought to be useful for easing morning sickness in pregnant women. Unfortunately, it had not been tested for use in this way. The Thalidomide disaster was part of the reason drugs are so strictly trialled and regulated today. Why do I need to know about it? By 1960, thalidomide was found to damage the development of unborn babies, especially if it had been taken in the first four to eight weeks of pregnancy. The drug led to the arms or legs of the babies being very short or incompletely formed. More than 10,000 babies were affected around the world. As a result of this disaster, thalidomide was banned. Is it used now? Thalidomide is now used as a treatment for leprosy and bone cancer. Its use is heavily regulated, however, to prevent a repeat of the problems it caused in the last century. What regulations do you think there are regarding the use of thalidomide today?
  2. 2. Statins People taking statins can’t eat grapefruits as grapefruits contain an enzyme which stops the liver breaking down the statins properly! What is it? Statins, such as Simvastatin are drugs which people take to lower their cholesterol. Statins act on your liver to reduce the amount of LDL in the blood (litter droppers!) Do you think it’s right that some people take statins instead of altering their diet? Why do I need to know about it? • Coronary Heart Disease is the single biggest killer in the UK, so drugs which prevent it are very important, and big business! • There is currently a debate about whether everyone should be offered the drug, or just people with very high cholesterol. Currently different doctors have different criteria for prescribing the drug. • Current thinking is that the lower someone’s cholesterol is, the better. • Statins have very few side effects, although about 1/100,000 people develop a serious kidney condition called rhabdomyolysis (try saying that in a hurry!) Some issues... Statins cost the NHS over a billion pounds a year. This sounds like a lot, but if it prevents enough heart attacks and strokes, the NHS could make its money back as hospital stays are really expensive! Scientists can do a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ to work this out, but it can take many years to do this research.
  3. 3. Natural Drugs What does that mean? Currently, we are encouraged to believe that natural things are better for us. Can you think of any examples of natural things which are very harmful? •Drugs are substances that cause changes to the body. •Some drugs can help the body, but others can harm it. •Some drugs can be extracted from natural sources and their existence has been known about for a long time. An example Willow bark was used by the ancient Greeks to help cure fevers and pains. It was later discovered that the active ingredient was salicylic acid. This was modified by chemists into the substance we call aspirin, which is less irritating to the stomach than salicylic acid. Why do I need to know about it? •St. John’s Wort is such a powerful natural drug that it can affect the way that conventional drugs work. •Some natural drugs can be just as useful as conventional drug. Many doctors recommend Cod Liver Oil as a treatment for joint disease, this is because there is good evidence to suggest that it works! •Other treatments have less of science behind them. Homeopathy has been around for hundreds of years, the theory is to treat diseases with an incredibly dilute version of the disease and relies on the concept that water has a memory. This is obviously controversial and many scientists believe that homeopathy is a waste of time and money!
  4. 4. Alcohol What is it? Alcohol is a legal drug, it has effects on the nervous system. People might feel more awake when they drink alcohol but it’s actually a depressant! It slows down the nervous system and can make people more relaxed. Why do I need to know about it? Too much alcohol can lead to lack of self control, unconsciousness and even coma. Long term effects of alcohol include: • liver damage (cirrhosis), which can lead to liver cancer or the need for a liver transplant • brain damage, causing permanent memory loss and even hallucinations. • dependency: people can become dependent on alcohol which has a massive effect on their lives. Alcohol-related death rates by sex, United Kingdom, 1991-2008 People who have damaged their liver with alcohol can only have a transplant if they have not drunk alcohol for a year. Do you think this is right? Legal Issues Only people over 18 are allowed to by alcohol, in some states in America, you have to be 21! Can you think of any reasons for the increase in alcohol-related deaths in the UK?
  5. 5. The Drug Industry What are they? Drug companies are massive corporations which research and develop drugs. Drug make billions of pounds in profits every year, but as you know, testing and trialling of drugs is incredibly expensive. The ‘gifts’ that drug companies can give doctors are now closely regulated. Why do you think this is? Why do I need to know about it? Drug companies are incredibly powerful organisations. Some new drugs cost the NHS thousands of pounds per dose. If one drug company discovers a new drug and licenses it, then they can charge as much as they like for it because people can’t get it anywhere else. Eventually the drug will be allowed to be produced by other companies and the price will come down, but really new treatments for diseases can be incredibly expensive. Any issues? Some people believe that drug companies should do more to help prevent the AIDS crisis in Africa by making their drugs more affordable. Many drug companies sponsor charities as they have a pretty bad reputation. It’s up to you to make up your own mind whether you think they are bad or not!

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