by Michael Smith It's a classic good-news, bad-news story. The vaccine against shingles, already shown to be effective, is both safe and well-tolerated, researchers found after following more than 38,000 participants in the randomized trial that led to the 2006 approval of the vaccine. On the other hand, few people are getting the vaccine, and for a variety of reasons -- including its cost -- researchers noted in a separate study. Both analyses ...

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While I was still the editor of JAMA, I was in Boston in January, 1997, to do my regular teaching at Harvard. I dropped in to see my friend Jerry Kassirer, the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. Little did I know that Jerry was in the midst of a firestorm of protest for his just-published editorial called "Federal Foolishness and Marijuana." Jerry told me that he received ...

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I watched 60 Minutes on CBS recently, and was surprised to hear how many college students are using stimulants like methylphenidate (Ritalin)  and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall) to get better grades. These drugs are amphetamines, and Schedule 2 drugs that require a written prescription, cannot be faxed or called into pharmacies, and are considered to have high abuse and addiction potential by the FDA.   They have the same type of effect on the ...

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So what do I know about this issue? As the physician and City public health administrator tasked with the initial implementation of Proposition 215 (legalizing medical marijuana) – I learned a lot. On the data side, I compiled every bit of published research about marijuana (positive and negative) from the previous thirty years, researching every conceivable symptom and/or adverse event. The results were published and widely cited. I also ...

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by Cole Petrochko As a person who has handled salt in cooking, is prone to headaches from sodium, and has written an article on legislating salt content in prepared and packaged foods, let me tell you about salt, because I know a thing or two. Well, it would be hard to not know much about salt after the recent string of attention paid to the "white shaken one" -- eat too ...

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Free is good, right? If you have to pay out of pocket for medicines, free prescription drug samples from your doctor's office might seem like a godsend. But nine times out of ten, these free samples end up costing you more money. Here's how. First of all, pharmaceutical reps only get paid to give out brand new medicines that their companies are trying to promote. They are giving out these drugs ...

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by Peggy Peck First, my disclosure: I've written at least one news article about every major statin trial since 4-S, and I've been mightily impressed with almost all of the statin data. So, I was also impressed when the JUPITER results were reported about a year and a half ago -- although I became a little less "impressed" as JUPITER continued to spew forth ...

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by Crystal Phend Physicians don't know much more about complementary and alternative medicine than their patients do, according to a new survey. Most healthcare professionals who answered an online survey of Drug and Therapeutic Bulletin subscribers said their profession was just as poorly informed about herbal medicines (75.5%) as the general public (86.3%). And almost half of respondents rated their own knowledge about herbal medicines as "quite" or "very" poor (36.2% and 10.4%, ...

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Frequently in preventive health we ask patients to take medications that will reduce the risk of a certain bad medical outcome years down the road: cholesterol-lowering agents that lower the risk of a heart attack, blood pressure-lowering agents that reduce the risk of kidney disease, glucose-lowering medications that reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. Sometimes these medications make patients feel better — for example, insulin in patients with symptomatic diabetes or ...

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Colchicine is a commonly used drug to treat gout. It used to cost pennies a pill, but now its price has since soared to $5 or more a pill. What happened? It's an unintended consequence of FDA regulation. Colchicine had been used for centuries, but was caught up with the FDA's zeal to regulate unapproved drugs. A profit-driven pharmaceutical company swooped in at the opportunity, and performed the studies showing ...

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