Ever get confused over the names of medicines? I do. There’s Zantac and Xanax. Zanaflex and Zaleplon. But Zanaflex is also known as tizanidine. Tizanidine functions very differently than Zantac and its other name, ranitidine, even though they sound alike. Every drug has (at least) two names -- one proprietary, and one generic. Proprietary names are created to sound catchy by the original manufacturer, almost always under a patent. The generic names are more like chemical ...

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From gas stations to grocery stores, slender cylinders of nicotine “e-juice” seem to be available everywhere. On my drive to work, in fact, 2 new e-cigarette shops have opened their doors in just the last 3 months. So I was not surprised to read a recent report suggesting a rise in the number of teens trying e-cigs. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine by heating nicotine-containing fluid into a vapor that is inhaled. ...

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The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recently published new guidelines for screening and treating cholesterol. In some ways these guidelines are more like the British guidelines. Instead of setting up doctors and patients to fail by calling for certain cholesterol number targets as in the old U.S. guidelines (i.e. LDL level below 100), they instead focus on putting higher risk patients on drugs called statins and then ...

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The American Heart Association, in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology, recently released recommendations that should change the way we prescribe medications called statins, including drugs like Lipitor and Crestor and their generics, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin. The headlines say stuff like, "More Americans may be Eligible to Receive Cholesterol Lowering Drugs!" I am a bit skeptical of news about statin therapy because Lipitor, before it went generic, was responsible for over ...

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It was a huge relief to Carol Thompson in 2011 when her breast cancer drug Femara (letrozole) went off patent and became available in a generic version. With a high deductible in her private insurance plan, Thompson was forking over $450 for a month’s supply of the life-saving drug. After the generic hit the market she was thrilled to find letrozole available for just $11 a month at Costco. But ...

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Well, this isn’t good news. The CDC has compiled an extensive report of the top US health risks from infections. Called “Threat Report 2013,” their evaluation shows that the three most worrisome risks have all been created by our own indiscriminant overuse of antibiotics. The biggest baddies: Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. The carbenapenem antibiotics were first developed in the 1970s and grew into wide use in the late 1980s. They had been the ...

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It seems to be trendy these days to say we’re all overmedicated. People say we  swallow a pill to try to escape any fleeting negative feeling, or that we throw them at our kids for any bad behavior. To be honest, there are times I agree. However, sometimes people take the anti-medication thing way, way too far. They say antidepressants are a conspiracy of the drug companies to make us all ...

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Recently, colleagues and I published what I consider a very important paper in the American Journal of Public Health, indicating that tens of thousands of relatively young women who have undergone hysterectomy are dying needlessly because of an over-generalized fear of hormone replacement. Publication in the the Journal of the American Medical Association of a rich compilation of findings from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial does nothing to change our ...

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Dr. Google, you’ve let a whole lot of people down. If you Google a vaccine question, and many parents have, you’re very likely to find a good, science-based answer -- but it will be buried among dozens of sites with anti-science, pro-disease propaganda. The mountain of misinformation is staggering, with multiple anti-vaccine sites repeating each other in a seemingly endless loop of worry and dread. Let neither facts nor truth nor ...

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To understand the Vicodin story we first have to understand how habit-forming medicines are currently prescribed in the U.S. The Drug Enforcement Agency divides potentially addictive substances into different schedules. Schedule II controlled substances are prescription medicines that have a high potential for abuse and severe dependence. They include all the opiate (narcotic) pain medicines, like morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl. These medications must be prescribed on a paper ...

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