A health research company just released a list of the 100 top drugs in America according to sales. 29th on the list, with sales of over $1.8 billion, is the cholesterol lowering drug ezetimibe, brand name Zetia. This drug was released over 10 years ago because it worked really well in combination with statin drugs such as Zocor (simvastatin) to lower LDL cholesterol levels. It was released as a single agent and combined ...

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Back when Prozac (fluoxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) were new, I remember the mental acrobatics doctors made to justify giving these drugs to anxious patients. The drugs were approved for treating depression, but we knew they often seemed to help anxiety. The reason, we were told, was that some anxious patients were actually depressed, deep down, and we had just failed to recognize their depression. Now, with studies to support their use ...

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One of the frustrating aspects of medical practice is trying to decide if the medication I am prescribing is covered by the patient’s insurance company. Even with the advent of electronic medical records, which should be able to determine this, we are often left to hope and pray. Here’s how it works. Individual insurance companies have formularies -- lists of approved drugs -- that they encourage patients and their physicians to use. ...

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Over the past few months, more attention has been paid to the prescription drug epidemic, with increasing rates of accidental deaths noted across the country. Legislatures in different states are currently considering laws to provide first responders access to reversal agents, such as naloxone, to treat people found on the scene who have likely overdosed on these medications. With increasing media coverage, the public is becoming more aware about the ...

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I’m 34 weeks pregnant and working hard to keep this baby inside me for as long as possible. As with my last pregnancy, there’s a real risk that the baby could come too early. But we’re both holding on so far, thanks to a combination of luck, modified bed rest and medical science. The science is my biggest concern right now. I will spare you much of it because, man or ...

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There is a new emerging health threat to our children: nicotine poisoning. The number of nicotine exposures in children reported to the National Poison Data System has more than tripled in the last year. Here’s the fact every parent should know: 1 tablespoon of nicotine oil can be lethal to a 60-pound child! When doctors were campaigning against tobacco companies through public health legislation, we did not foresee a resultant new market for ...

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There are plenty of examples of direct-to-consumer advertising that the pharmaceutical industry use to lure new customers. These ads almost universally make emotional appeals to the consumer, as well as focusing on the benefits rather than presenting any real discussion of risks. What if someone used a similar concept, but instead of trying to get people to take a drug, they try to convince patients to stop one. That’s just what ...

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A prostate cancer breakthrough: The good and not so good newsThe annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology is a place where many commercial interests jostle for attention to make their latest promising therapy the star of the show. But a standard widely available generic drug stole the show by producing incredible results in improving survival for men with advanced prostate cancer. And that has some of us ...

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Dr. Bob Sears deserves blame for declining vaccination rates Measles is on its way to an all time high. In 2000, measles was eliminated (meaning some travelers from areas with low vaccine penetration might arrive in the U.S. with the disease, but no case came from U.S.), but has been slowly creeping back. Since 2008, this has been more than a trickle. Let’s put the important goal of measles elimination in perspective. Before ...

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Applying the anti vaccine mentality to car seats What if a big TV station came out with a blockbuster story claiming that infant car seats were implicated in cerebral palsy (CP)? After all, something like 99.7% of babies diagnosed with cerebral palsy had been brought home from the hospital in a car seat. In fact, every single time they went anywhere in a car, they were strapped into them. That’s ...

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