I'm seeing a fifty-something with knee pain when I feel the curtain behind me erupt open. It's Roland, my last patient, and his breath is at my neck: "Why are you being so difficult?" he says. "Why can't you just give me the prescription?" I turn, and wave my hand over Roland's head. "Call security." He's swearing again, and I can hear security's racing footsteps as a code white is called. "I have nothing more to ...

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Over the past year I’ve lost track of how many times the opioid epidemic has, in one incarnation or another (Prince, naloxone, fentanyl, newborns in agonizing withdrawal and so on) found its way onto the front page news. What distinguishes this epidemic is not only its catastrophic toll -- hundreds of thousands dead, uncountable millions harmed -- but also the fact that, unlike SARS, Ebola or influenza, this epidemic has ...

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EpiPens have gotten crazy expensive, yes: $600 for a two-pack. Here are some alternatives that might help you save a few bucks. 1. Wait a few weeks, and see what Mylan does. Mylan, the company that makes the “EpiPen” brand of epinephrine auto-injector, has been under a lot of pressure lately to back off their unseemly price gouging. They’ve introduced a savings card that claims to lower your ...

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Last week I had an appointment with one of my well-controlled diabetics.  She has been in my care for the last six years.   Our usual cheery interaction turned sour when she stated in an accusing tone, “My husband is diabetic, and I talked to his doctor about the medication you have me on.  He says it is junk, and he only writes it for poor people, and he doesn’t understand ...

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Dear Ms. Bresch, I couldn’t help but notice the barrage of negative press you’ve received lately regarding the significant price increases in EpiPens. A 461 percent increase since 2007, to be exact. People who require this medication for themselves or their children are up in arms about spending over $600 for a twin pack of autoinjectors. Most of these people have life-threatening anaphylaxis if they are exposed to certain allergens. To ...

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When I found out my daughter was allergic to peanuts, she was a year old. She couldn’t have cared less. She was smiling and happy, sitting on my lap in the allergist’s office, blissfully unaware of the big red mark on the side of her face. And I was crying and sad, crushed for that moment that the first challenge had been put in her path. I wasn’t sad that she was different, that ...

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Pharmaceutical companies are brilliant. They make profit off of chemicals that can be potentially life-saving. The list is quite impressive: antibiotics for somebody who would otherwise succumb to sepsis, insulin for someone whose pancreas loses the ability to function, antivirals for chronic viral suppression, antineoplastic agents for somebody whose cells have lost their regulatory mechanisms, just to name a few. The recipe seems to be quite simple: Charge as much money ...

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Recently, friends of ours had a frightening experience: They were on vacation, and ordered takeout from an unfamiliar restaurant. They specifically asked about peanuts: "Are the egg rolls fried in peanut oil? Our daughter has an allergy." The server replied: "No, no peanut oil." And so they ordered the egg rolls. Awhile after eating an egg roll, their school-aged child Anna (not her real name) complained of a tummy ache. Then, nausea. They ...

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We have a vaccine crisis in the this country. Not just the one caused by anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy, scaring Americans away from life-saving childhood vaccines with pseudo-scientific claims about autism. Instead, I’m talking about a bigger crisis, one caused by a dangerously thin supply of vaccines. Wise parents who ignore the blatherings of people like McCarthy may soon arrive at their pediatricians’ offices prepared to vaccinate their children, only ...

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Say the words, "drug addiction," and most of us think of heroin, alcohol, cocaine, or opiates. However, lurking in the shadows is a less talked about epidemic: addiction to benzodiazepines, commonly known as "benzos." I should know because after taking a nighttime dose of lorazepam (Ativan) for about ten years; I finally weaned myself off this and all other prescription sleep medications. About twelve years ago, my father died and then ...

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