Osphena (ospemifene) is an oral medication recently approved by the FDA for painful sex (dyspareunia) due to vaginal dryness for menopausal women. As typically happens when a new drug gets FDA approval the PR machine for the company goes into overdrive flooding the media with press releases. Since sex sells, well, Osphena received a fair amount of air time and print space. Headlines like FDA-Approved “Female” Viagra might lead someone to believe that Osphena is freaking amazing. Which, ...

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E cigarettes: Are they effective? Are they safe? Electronic cigarettes are here, settling over the country, quite literally,  like a fine white fog.  Smokers in turn, have been turning to them as a tool to help them quit, though the device manufacturers are are not allowed to market them that way in U.S. It seems intuitive that a device that mimics the action of smoking but without the combustion ...

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With Governor Rick Perry signing the restrictive Texas abortion bill into law many news organizations have shed light on traveling to Mexico for abortion and there has been much talk about the “Mexican abortion pill.” The medication that people typically call the Mexican abortion pill is misoprostol, marketed under the trade name Cytotec. It is a prostaglandin analogue and is used for prevention of stomach ulcers. It also has many uses ...

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Secrecy shrouds the prescribing habits of doctors You’re searching for a new primary care physician or a specialist. Is there a way you can know whether the doctor is more partial to expensive, brand-name drugs than his peers? Or say you’ve got to find a nursing home for a loved one. Wouldn’t you want to know if the staff doctor regularly prescribes drugs known to be risky for seniors or ...

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The Supreme Court on Myriad: Will it stifle innovation? The recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court brought Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics back to the headlines, with interest being stoked by Angelina Jolie’s recent disclosure of her double mastectomy. The lawsuit revolved around patents owned by Myriad related to its BRACAnalysis test, which assesses the likelihood that a person will develop certain cancers, including breast cancer, by searching the DNA for disease-causing ...

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Move the placebo debate beyond the discussion of ethics "Promising new drug shown to be no better than placebo" – and so the careers of countless drugs in development have terminated, from pain medicines to chemotherapies to antidepressants. The success of investigational drugs depends on their capacity to outperform the pesky placebo effect, so researchers are often trying to control or minimize the placebo effect so they can demonstrate more clearly ...

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It’s happened at last: the epitome of ridiculousness in the already pretty ridiculous world of drug prior authorizations. I wish I could say that I made this up. I got a fax from a pharmacy requesting a prior authorization for a brand name drug called Protonix, one of a family of medications used to treat ulcers, acid reflux, and other forms of tummy ache. This happens. Because there are five different ...

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Hardly a day goes by when some news outlet does not report, often breathlessly, some new breakthrough in cancer research. We need to turn a skeptical eye on most of these reports, particularly those that contain information about very preliminary research findings. The always astute Gary Schweitzer gives a good perspective on this in his HealthNewsReview.org; it’s a good site to bookmark if you follow the medical news. News on cancer breakthroughs: Curb your enthusiasm
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Recently a patient of mine brought in a bottle given to her by her acupuncturist. She had turned to acupuncture with my encouragement after traditional medicine fell short at addressing her chronic pain. Indeed, there is data to support the efficacy of acupuncture in the management of chronic pain. I was encouraged to hear that this treatment, often labeled as "alternative," seemed to be helping her substantially. However, my patient’s ...

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If the soul of a free society is free speech, what role is the mind? Anyone and everyone has the right to express their opinion, but nowhere in our country’s founding documents does it say all opinions are based upon fact and reason, or equal in merit.  Recent observations regarding the high and rising hesitancy toward childhood immunizations in our country have me thinking tonight about the tension between personal ...

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