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Why are preemies getting this awful 'Frankenshot'?

The horrible secret ingredient being injected into tiny babies

Imagine a newborn, especially one born prematurely. Tiny and vulnerable, you would certainly think that it would receive the most cautious care possible.

Now imagine this precious and helpless infant being injected with a solution that contains an antibody derived in part…from a rat.

You read that right… a rat.

Rodent DNA is being injected right into these helpless babies not once, but every month during the flu season. And then again the next year. And possibly the year after that.

Now that on its own is shocking.

But since a major pediatric group is trying to pull in the reins on just how many babies will receive these very expensive, rat-infused injections, Big Pharma is fighting back.

It’s trying to convince moms and dads that without this shot, their babies will be at grave risk. And it tells them they must “take action.”

The drug is called Palivizumab, and goes under the brand name of Synagis. It was approved by the FDA in 1998 for babies at “high risk” of a common infection called respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Now Synagis doesn’t protect against RSV, and it isn’t used as a treatment for it either. The drug is given to supposedly reduce the severity of the illness and to maybe keep these babies from being hospitalized.

That’s a claim that many parents say is pure hype.

Despite that, it has been given to babies, mostly preemies, for some time now. And even when a baby comes down with RSV, parents are told that their child would have been much, much sicker without the shot.

Sound familiar?

Now you’ve seen how Big Pharma gets hysterically happy when important medical groups say that millions more should take its drugs. But when the powerful American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its guidelines, saying far fewer babies should get Synagis, it gets them hopping mad.

So mad, that the maker of the drug, MedImmune (which is a division of AstraZeneca), is fighting back with dramatic, full-page newspaper ads. And it’s also getting preemie moms to post blogs about how these babies are now in grave danger. And that they might die without Synagis.

Now one thing that you won’t read in any of these MedImmune ads or “sponsored” blog posts is how, exactly, these antibodies in Synagis are made.

You’ve heard about “Frankenfoods.” Well, this is a “Frankenshot.”

They took rat antibody genes and “grafted” them onto human ones. And this drug, complete with these genetically modified rat antibodies, are then injected into the tiniest of infants.

I dare any doctor to look me in the eye and tell me that they know — for sure — that pumping antibodies from a rat into a newborn baby is perfectly safe. None of them will, because none of them know. And we may never find out.

But MedImmune makes a lot of money from this drug. A lot of money.

A series of 5 shots for one RSV season can cost up to $16,000 per child.

So it has a lot of bucks to advertise with.

Back 13 years ago, apparently not enough sleepless and anxious new parents were “asking their doctor” about Synagis. So the drug company did an ad blitz with similar scare tactics. The rat DNA wasn’t mentioned in those ads, either.

And while the Synagis label warns of possible fatal, anaphylactic shock, it also says that is not a common side effect.

But, interestingly, one doctor reports that each package of Synagis she receives comes complete with a pre-measured, ready-to-use shot of epinephrine. The only reason that would be given is to treat a life-threatening allergic reaction.

With all that money to be made from Synagis, it’s clear that MedImmune will do whatever it takes to keep selling as much as it can.

Pretty sure I know who has rat DNA after all…

“Virus drugmaker fights pediatricians’ new advice to scale back use of Synagis” Lindsey Tanner, July 28, 2014, ABC News,

“AstraZeneca unit rolls out preemie newspaper ads to fight Synagis limits” Tracy Staton, July 29, 2014, Fierce PharmaMarketing,

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