Recently, I spent a few days in California when both my parents ended up in the hospital with different issues.   They're home, settled and doing well at this point. Just as when I first wrote about experiencing healthcare with my family, there are important lessons to learn about this trip. As we strive to achieve meaningful use and create health information exchange in the US, the ...

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As a primary care doc, I have compiled several tips to help patients save money on prescriptions. All the prices quoted in the following examples are from Costco. 1. Patient assistance programs (PAP). Try to get free meds from the pharmaceutical company that manufactures your medication. Most of the time this service is only offered if there is not a generic available for your medicine. I heartily recommend you check out NeedyMeds.org and ...

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The non-profit media organization ProPublica last year announced a new website/database called Dollars for Docs. It lists cash payments made to 17,000 U.S. doctors by seven large drug companies. I’ve been browsing through the database and I have some thoughts about its strengths and weaknesses—and how it might be useful for patients. First, here’s what these journalists did. Rather than waiting for the provisions of the Physician’s Payments Sunshine Act ...

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by Marianna Rakovitsky, RPh Recently, I have talked about the concerns with the use of NSAIDs and their effects on the heart.  All medications carry a risk of adverse effects. NSAIDs are usually very effective in controlling pain especially muscle and bone pain, but they also carry a potential risk of side effects such as stomach and kidney problems, increased risk of bleeding and adverse effects ...

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The other day, I happened to be talking to Mark, a sales representative from one of the pharmaceutical companies.  He’s the type of rep that many doctors don’t mind seeing – someone who is careful of your time, is happy to hunt down the answers to questions that come up on the medications his company makes, and brings by useful information about new drugs that seem to be practice-appropriate.  He ...

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Antibodies are complex proteins created by immune cells that are targeted to very specific parts of other large and complex molecules called antigens. Much smaller molecules like nicotine, called haptens,  do not normally induce any significant immunologic response so researchers chemically bound several nicotine molecules to a large protein to form an adduct. This combined molecule does induce an immune response, i.e, causes  immune cells to produce antibodies targeted to the ...

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An excerpt from White Coat, Black Hat. by Carl Elliott Many of us have a relatively simple, commonsense view of the way that drug development and marketing work. People get diseases; scientists develop drugs to treat those diseases; and marketers sell the drugs by showing that the drugs work better than their competitors. Sometimes, however, this pattern works in reverse. Drug company scientists develop a drug ...

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An excerpt from Tabloid Medicine: How the Internet is Being Used to Hijack Medical Science for Fear and Profit. by Robert Goldberg, PhD From the beginning, there were two problems with the connection between thimerosal and autism. The first problem with was that thimerosal, while about half mercury, contains ethyl mercury, for which there were no exposure guidelines. So the scientists used the ones for methyl mercury. However, the ethyl mercury ...

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Many people are already aware that marijuana is now legal in some states in the US with a medical prescription. What many people may not realize is that cocaine is also used in medical care, especially in the ENT world. Cocaine is one of the most potent anesthetic and vasoconstrictor. These two characteristics make it an ideal medication for use during sinus surgery as well as any nasal procedure where bleeding and ...

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Hold onto your hats. I am about to enter dangerous territory. I am about to suggest maybe doctors should profit from dispensing medications from their office to offset declining reimbursements and rising expenses by using prescriptions as a source of ancillary revenues. Why dangerous?  For a number of reasons. One, physicians still grapple with the perception that it is improper for a physician to make money from ...

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