I have already opined on my disapproval of a medical marijuana law recently passed in Ohio.  Once of my points in that piece is that I did not want legislators making medical decisions for us.  They can’t even do their own jobs. I am not against medical marijuana; I am for science.  The currency of determining the safety and efficacy of a medicine should be medical evidence, not faith, ...

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I was seeing a patient who brought me a bag of supplements she bought from another specialist. I looked skeptical and then she pulled out the list of lab results the other doctor ordered on her. I reviewed the results with her and asked why all these tests were ordered in the first place, some of which I had never ordered in my life. She said she told the specialist ...

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One of the most difficult things I deal with as a physician is patients’ demands for pain medications. I treat patients with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease present at birth with no cure, and its issues are indeed complex. There are legitimate causes for misery from the chronic coughing, abdominal pain, and joint pain recognized as common symptoms of the disease. But the associated issues of depression, stress with family, and ...

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I'm seeing a fifty-something with knee pain when I feel the curtain behind me erupt open. It's Roland, my last patient, and his breath is at my neck: "Why are you being so difficult?" he says. "Why can't you just give me the prescription?" I turn, and wave my hand over Roland's head. "Call security." He's swearing again, and I can hear security's racing footsteps as a code white is called. "I have nothing more to ...

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Over the past year I’ve lost track of how many times the opioid epidemic has, in one incarnation or another (Prince, naloxone, fentanyl, newborns in agonizing withdrawal and so on) found its way onto the front page news. What distinguishes this epidemic is not only its catastrophic toll -- hundreds of thousands dead, uncountable millions harmed -- but also the fact that, unlike SARS, Ebola or influenza, this epidemic has ...

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Dear Ms. Bresch, I couldn’t help but notice the barrage of negative press you’ve received lately regarding the significant price increases in EpiPens. A 461 percent increase since 2007, to be exact. People who require this medication for themselves or their children are up in arms about spending over $600 for a twin pack of autoinjectors. Most of these people have life-threatening anaphylaxis if they are exposed to certain allergens. To ...

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When I found out my daughter was allergic to peanuts, she was a year old. She couldn’t have cared less. She was smiling and happy, sitting on my lap in the allergist’s office, blissfully unaware of the big red mark on the side of her face. And I was crying and sad, crushed for that moment that the first challenge had been put in her path. I wasn’t sad that she was different, that ...

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Pharmaceutical companies are brilliant. They make profit off of chemicals that can be potentially life-saving. The list is quite impressive: antibiotics for somebody who would otherwise succumb to sepsis, insulin for someone whose pancreas loses the ability to function, antivirals for chronic viral suppression, antineoplastic agents for somebody whose cells have lost their regulatory mechanisms, just to name a few. The recipe seems to be quite simple: Charge as much money ...

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CMS announced that they will remove questions related to pain from the hospital consumer assessment of health care providers and systems (HCAHPS), commonly known as patient satisfaction survey.  This means that hospitals would continue to use the questions to survey patients about their inpatient pain management experience, but these questions would not affect the level of payment hospitals receive. This is a big victory for patients and the house of medicine. Here ...

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Say the words, "drug addiction," and most of us think of heroin, alcohol, cocaine, or opiates. However, lurking in the shadows is a less talked about epidemic: addiction to benzodiazepines, commonly known as "benzos." I should know because after taking a nighttime dose of lorazepam (Ativan) for about ten years; I finally weaned myself off this and all other prescription sleep medications. About twelve years ago, my father died and then ...

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