It’s once more cold season, bringing up the question parents commonly face. Should they buy one of those rows and rows of cough, sneeze, and runny nose medicines one finds in every drug store and supermarket? In a nushell, no -- none of the preparations sold over-the-counter to treat upper respiratory infections in children work, and all could be dangerous. That’s the conclusion of a report some years ago by the Food and Drug Administration, ...

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New guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association on the assessment of cardiovascular risk and the manipulation of cholesterol levels to mitigate that risk have certainly been in the news. The guidelines appropriately use high quality evidence to abandon old untested or unproven paradigms such as treatment to LDL targets and manipulation of non-HDL cholesterol as a secondary goal. In many ways, the new guidelines ...

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The HPV vaccine is in the news again. This time it is Katie Couric’s daytime talk show that is shining the spotlight. And, I am thankful. A medicine that prevents cancer is worth giving airtime. In the segment, Couric chose to highlight the experience of 3 mother-daughter duos and their experience with the HPV vaccine. One story ended in loss, one in pain, and one in quiet confidence. Couric also highlighted advice from ...

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I just returned from the annual American Heart Association meeting where I heard distinguished cardiologists and researchers from around the world present the latest in cardiovascular disease. Yet, amidst all the late-breaking clinical trial presentations and ask-the-expert sessions, what I didn't hear were the speakers' financial conflicts of interest. Don't get me wrong -- the AHA mandates that all speakers present a disclosure slide at the beginning of every talk, and this rule was ...

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Ever get confused over the names of medicines? I do. There’s Zantac and Xanax. Zanaflex and Zaleplon. But Zanaflex is also known as tizanidine. Tizanidine functions very differently than Zantac and its other name, ranitidine, even though they sound alike. Every drug has (at least) two names -- one proprietary, and one generic. Proprietary names are created to sound catchy by the original manufacturer, almost always under a patent. The generic names are more like chemical ...

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From gas stations to grocery stores, slender cylinders of nicotine “e-juice” seem to be available everywhere. On my drive to work, in fact, 2 new e-cigarette shops have opened their doors in just the last 3 months. So I was not surprised to read a recent report suggesting a rise in the number of teens trying e-cigs. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine by heating nicotine-containing fluid into a vapor that is inhaled. ...

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The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recently published new guidelines for screening and treating cholesterol. In some ways these guidelines are more like the British guidelines. Instead of setting up doctors and patients to fail by calling for certain cholesterol number targets as in the old U.S. guidelines (i.e. LDL level below 100), they instead focus on putting higher risk patients on drugs called statins and then ...

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The American Heart Association, in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology, recently released recommendations that should change the way we prescribe medications called statins, including drugs like Lipitor and Crestor and their generics, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin. The headlines say stuff like, "More Americans may be Eligible to Receive Cholesterol Lowering Drugs!" I am a bit skeptical of news about statin therapy because Lipitor, before it went generic, was responsible for over ...

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It was a huge relief to Carol Thompson in 2011 when her breast cancer drug Femara (letrozole) went off patent and became available in a generic version. With a high deductible in her private insurance plan, Thompson was forking over $450 for a month’s supply of the life-saving drug. After the generic hit the market she was thrilled to find letrozole available for just $11 a month at Costco. But ...

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Well, this isn’t good news. The CDC has compiled an extensive report of the top US health risks from infections. Called “Threat Report 2013,” their evaluation shows that the three most worrisome risks have all been created by our own indiscriminant overuse of antibiotics. The biggest baddies: Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. The carbenapenem antibiotics were first developed in the 1970s and grew into wide use in the late 1980s. They had been the ...

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