Have you heard the parable about the blind men and the elephant? Each is holding a different part of the animal and comes to a different conclusion about what he’s dealing with. The man holding the tail is sure it’s a rope; the one with the trunk fears a snake; the one holding the tusk is certain he has a spear. It’s all in their perspective. They’ll need to share ...

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At this point, few would argue against the need for increased oversight of the legions of so-called pain management clinics that have sprung up in the past decade. After all, an annually increasing majority of them are nothing more than lucrative cash and carries for the legal sale of prescription narcotics to anyone with a need or want -- and the cash in hand. They have become a public mental health ...

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A recent $3 billion settlement between drug giant GlaxoSmithKline and the FDA really got me thinking. On one hand, it’s a breathtakingly huge number, breaking the old record of $2.3 billion set by Pfizer a couple years back.  And there are some initial indications that the pharmas may be cleaning up their act a bit, expanding their compliance departments and reining in their sales forces in order to avoid ...

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The revolution in medicine brought about by greater understanding of genomics has led to a number of targeted therapies in cancer care. The basic concept is to first find the genomic change or mutation that leads to a disease, then learn its gene product and then develop a drug that inhibits the action of the aberrant gene product. The first was imatinib (Gleevec) for chromic myelocytic leukemia (CML.) When a ...

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One might assume that inmates in correctional facilities would not be influenced by big pharma’s direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) strategies. After all, their communication channels with the outside world have largely been silenced. However, many do have access to television. And despite an increase in online pharmaceutical marketing, TV remains a common medium for trying to persuade patients to “ask your doctor” about drug X. Inmates also read magazines, another common ...

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Over the past decade or so, there have been at least 20 prescription drugs removed from the market, including several cases of high-profile blockbuster drugs that were found to be harmful only after millions of patients had taken them. Vioxx, the pain reliever sold by Merck is one example; taken by an estimated 20 million Americans, it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke in some patients. The company ...

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Never in recorded history have Americans been more distrustful of how the U.S. government spends its money.  According to Gallup poll, Americans on average say that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, the highest level ever recorded since the poll was first taken in 1979.  DTC marketers should understand that this mistrust is also leading to mistrust of marketing and advertising as well as big ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 60-year-old man with type 2 diabetes mellitus and hypertension visits the office to establish medical care. He reports monitoring his blood pressure and blood glucose measurements at home with good results. He had a cholesterol panel checked approximately 5 years ago, at which time ...

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I see this as a glass half-full, glass half-empty issue. Recently, a study was published in Pediatrics detailing research conducted in May of 2010 about parents’ preferences to use alternative vaccination schedules versus following the recommended CDC vaccination schedule. The majority of the media coverage focused on the finding that over 10% of parents followed a schedule other than the one recommended by the CDC. Not perfect and not ...

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As the clock ticks away on Primatene Mist, the only over-the-counter asthma inhaler left on the market, it is being ginned up as an argument against regulatory overreach by the Obama administration. I have been observing the Primatene controversy for decades as an asthma specialist. I have to say that there’s blame enough on many sides of this discussion, not just pro and con government regulation, but both the pharmaceutical ...

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