The debate over e-cigarettes has been heating up. Are the smokeless, battery-powered, nicotine-dispensing devices a gateway to smoking for young people or a helpful way for smokers to quit? Public health experts can be found on both sides of the debate. An article in the New York Times cited two leading figures, Dr. Michael Siegler from Boston University and Dr. Stanton A. Glantz from the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. ...

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I’ve been involved in several boisterous Twitter debates about vaccines, at least to the extent that one can debate using snippets of 140 characters or less. I’ve also been a "super moderator" at a very large Internet message board for many years and have seen my share of passionate vaccine debates there. I’ve been a pediatrician for over 30 years and trained in the subspecialty of pediatric infectious diseases before ...

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The statistics tell us that our children are getting sicker and sicker. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has more than tripled in just 20 years: It is now diagnosed in 11 percent of all kids, and in an astounding 20 percent of teenage boys. Autism is also on a rapid rise.  The latest reported rate suggests that it occurs in one in every 68 kids -- 20 years ago it ...

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A Canadian study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that about one third of new prescriptions (written by primary care physicians) are never filled. Over 15,000 patients were followed from 2006 to 2009. Prescription and patient characteristics were analyzed, though patients were not directly interviewed about their rationale for not filling their prescriptions. In short, patients were less likely to fill a prescription if the treatment was expensive, but certain ...

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You know those little packets of paper, folded over eight times, written in type that can’t possibly be seen? You’ve seen them glommed onto the side of stock bottles of medications, or shoved into the paper box alongside a tube of prescription ointment. That unreadable thing is the official “product information,” often called the “label,” required for every FDA-approved medication. It contains all sorts of information, including lists of 
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The shocking ingredient in natural medicine So you think your medicine is natural. Ever wonder what’s inside? A product can be labeled “natural” if the main ingredient is from an animal, plant, or mineral. Arsenic, horse urine, and cow brain are natural. But are they natural for you? Here are four drugs whose origins may surprise you. Insulin was discovered in 1922. Until the 1980s, all insulin was “natural” ...

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Research and development is critical to battling disease.  Now, more than ever, technology can rapidly impact a patient and their disease process in a very positive way.  The process of developing a new drug or device is expensive and can be very time consuming.  As government funding for projects continues to decline, more funding is coming from private sponsorship according to a recent New York Times piece. Another critical source of ...

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In March 2014, Zohydro ER (hydrocodone extended-release) was introduced to the market. Never in my medical lifetime do I recall a medication stirring such angst. Worries of mass overdoses, backdoor FDA conspiracies, and blatant disregard for the public well-being abound. Is there method to this madness? Zohydro ER is a pain pill that, when taken by mouth, is released slowly over twelve hours. The active ingredient, hydrocodone, is an opioid (i.e. narcotic) that’s been around for ...

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As physicians, we often write prescriptions for our patients. Where, when, and how patients fill their prescriptions are usually outside of our realm of expertise. But should we be more involved? On occasion, the cost of a medication and possible alternatives will be the subject of my conversation with a patient. I was surprised, however, when one of my patients complained about the price of an antidepressant that I had prescribed. ...

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Readers have contacted me about a recent study that links acetaminophen use in pregnancy to the later development of ADHD in children. Is Tylenol yet another thing pregnant women need to avoid? The study, titled “Acetaminophen use during pregnancy, behavioral problems, and hyperkinetic disorders” was published this month in JAMA Pediatrics. Dutch researchers looked at about 60,000 children born from 1996-2002. Their parents have been filling out questionnaires and ...

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