When we think of vaccines we need to divide the world into the industrialized countries, those with transitional economies and the developing countries. In the developing world, the proportion of the population less than 15 is very high, e.g., Mali has about 50% of its population under age fifteen compared to about 15% in the industrialized countries. This suggests that the emphasis in the ...

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The Cochrane Collaboration is a very well-respected international non-profit whose 28,000 volunteers review the best, solid evidence to help determine if medications or other health interventions really work. They are, in short, da bomb. When Cochrane speaks, people listen. Cochrane recently released a review of studies examining the effectiveness of zinc supplementation on preventing and treating the common cold. They found that there was good ...

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Recently, 16 states and Washington DC have legalized medical cannabis. An additional 10 states have pending legislation. With all the attention legalized medical marijuana has been receiving, patients have started asking if they are candidates for a prescription. Well, my answer is easy.  Right now it is not legal in Illinois, although it is one of the states that is pending. Even if it does become legalized, I ...

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Three recent studies point to the continued presence and increasing importance of genomic information to improving health care. We have discussed the power of personalized medicine in multiple posts and highlighted the potential of genomics and though this movement is really still in its infancy it is a burgeoning component of medicine. The first study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, explores Helicobacter pylori, a common ...

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A major megatrend in medicine will be the use of vaccines to prevent or treat (non infectious) chronic illnesses. Although we tend to think of vaccines for preventing infections there are now two vaccines that prevent cancer (via preventing the infections that are in part causative), one vaccine on the market to treat residual cancer and many vaccines in development to prevent or treat other cancers ...

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What do hospice nurses and teenage heroin addicts have in common? One may be an unintended consequence of the other. A pair of articles published recently in two prestigious medical journals help make the case. The Lancet reported that 47 million of the 58 million deaths occurring annually worldwide take place in developing countries, and that of these, fully 27 million die without having received proper palliative care. The article attributes ...

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Walgreens is being sued by customers who are not happy that their prescription information – even though it has been de-identified – is being sold by Walgreens to data-mining companies. The data privacy and security concerns surrounding the transfer of de-identified data are significant.  To "de-identify" what is otherwise protected health information under HIPAA, some outfits will simply strip data of 18 types of identifiers listed in federal ...

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As a primary care physician in private practice, I have my own little taste of celebrity. Every day attractive people come to my office seeking time to speak with me and collect my autograph.  They fawn over my partners and I, and bring us food for lunch, and will invite us to the nicest restaurants in town for dinner.   These people also used to bring gifts, until they were barred from ...

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Venture-capital guy Bruce Booth has a provocative post, based on experience, about how reproducible those papers are that make you say, "Someone should try to start a company around that stuff":

The unspoken rule is that at least 50% of the studies published even in top tier academic journals – Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS, etc… – can’t be repeated with the same conclusions by an industrial lab. In particular, ...

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In concert with sanitation and clean water supplies, vaccination has been the most cost effective means of preventing infectious diseases. Most vaccines have been inexpensive, easy to administer (albeit objected to by the recipient’s arm!), safe and effective. From when I was a child until today the number of new vaccines has multiplied dramatically. This will only continue at an accelerated pace in the coming years. In the future many ...

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