Comparative effectiveness research — investigations that determine which treatments are best — has attracted attention in the health care debate. Critics charge that these studies are designed to restrict choice. The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest released a report that suggested that they would stifle innovation. Often they are framed as studies to support efforts to keep useful but expensive ...

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In a thoughtful posting in the New York Times, Dr. Pauline Chen, a well respected observer of the doctor-patient relationship, points out an ethical dilemma that faces cancer researchers working in drug development conducting early phase (I) new drug studies. Ethicists have identified that patients in these studies often have unrealistic optimism about their personal outcomes despite ...

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Stem cells will usher in the era of regenerative medicine, allowing the creation of cells, tissues and organs to treat or cure diseases and injuries. This will be a fundamental alteration in our approach to medical care and a transformational medical megatrend. And it will be very "personalized medicine" to provide the specific individual with custom tailored new cells and tissues for organ repair or ...

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Omega-3 fatty acids (more properly called “n-3 fatty acids”) are a group of naturally occurring fat molecules. They are found mainly in fish and other marine-derived oils, but some can also be extracted from plants.  Omega-3′s are currently very popular, but the evidence for their usefulness isn’t so clear.   A recent study failed to show any benefit in preventing dementia.   A new study out ...

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Herpes zoster (or shingles) is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Zoster increases in incidence with advancing age. It is estimated that over 1 million Americans get shingles annually with the resulting acute discomfort and often chronic pain thereafter. A vaccine was introduced by Merck in 2006; the initial studies of 38,546 patients indicated ...

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Holy crap. My medication did not arrive today. How can this possible be happening?  Do they not know this medication is not optional? Let me recap.  I called over a week ago for a refill.  I am only allowed (by my insurance) to use the (non-local) specialty pharmacy that they own for this medication.  They told me my medication would arrive yesterday, which was the day after I’d use my last ...

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Genomics promises to fundamentally change much of medical care.  But the ultimate value of this new understanding of basic human biology will in many cases come with fits and starts. The saga of belimumab (Benlysta) and Human Genome Sciences (HGS) is illustrative. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) occurs in somewhere between 300,000 and 4 million Americans according to the ...

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Actually I’ll take a Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible, thank you very much ... Today’s stream of socially conscious thinking comes to you after having feasted on a tasty lunch paid for by a drug company (and no, it wasn’t Pfizer). It has spurred me to contemplate the ever increasing scrutiny paid to the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry (a.k.a. Big ...

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There’s been a lot of talk in the past year about how we need to re-think the role and profile of the pharmaceutical/biotech sales rep. This dialogue needs to happen, given the trends that are rapidly shrinking the size of sales forces. Of course, when you poll the doctors, they are going to focus on the need for greater depth of clinical knowledge. ...

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The Wall Street Journal reported that a study of prescription patterns in 2009, conducted by IMS Health, showed that 25% of children in the US were on regular medication. IMS Health is a firm that provides "marketing intelligence" to pharmaceutical companies. The firm’s job is to keep the $800 billion per year global pharmaceutical industry on a continued pattern of growth.  Hopefully these consultants accomplished something quite different this week. Hopefully they ...

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