Despite representing only 4% of the world’s population, the United States accounted for almost 35% ($326 billion) of the global market for pharmaceutical drugs in 2012. Not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry’s business practices, considerable marketing budgets, and substantial profits are hotly debated as part of virtually every health policy discussion. But before addressing the possibility of transcendent evil in that industry, we should pose a more mundane yet critical question: ...

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Now that medical marijuana is legal in Massachusetts and licenses have been awarded for the first twenty dispensaries across the state, you'd guess that my practice is busily preparing to meet the demands of patients seeking marijuana prescriptions for several debilitating conditions including chemotherapy-related nausea and AIDS-related weight loss. You'd guess wrong. Since Massachusetts voters approved legalization of marijuana in 2012 I've received no special training (required for physicians to certify patients as ...

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The death penalty has been in the news lately, what with a "botched" execution in Ohio, using a 2 drug method that Louisiana has also recently adopted for it's administration of the death penalty. These changes come on the heels of a new tactic by death penalty opponents: getting European countries to ban their pharmaceutical manufacturers from exporting drugs that may be used to execute people.  These bans were partially responsible for ...

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At least 12 college students have been diagnosed with Meningitis type B (MenB) this year, and cases like this may spread to other campuses unless the Food and Drug Administration intervenes.  While people of any age can contract the infection that affects the brain and spinal cord, children and people over 60 are more likely to contract the infection.  So, too, are college students because of their close contacts in dormitories and ...

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Cardiovascular disease -- including coronary atherosclerosis and cerebrovascular disease -- remains the number one cause of mortality in the United States. One out of three people in this country will die of cardiovascular causes.  Although I can’t say that the other top causes of mortality are particularly attractive -- cancer, chronic lung disease, accidents and dementia -- premature cardiovascular death can certainly be very devastating and it makes sense to do ...

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Kayla wrote in:

Hello!  I am curious what you think about essential oils.  They have recently become incredibly popular in my community, but I am pretty skeptical because so much of the enthusiasm is coming from those who have signed up as ‘distributors’ with doTerra or Young Living (2 essential oil multi-level marketing companies.). The biggest concern I have is that these companies (and all these new distributors) recommend taking many ...

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“I used to be strong, I wrestled the bull,” Sumner Ball said, “but now I can’t even wrestle the rooster.” On the far side of eighty-years-old, he looked lively and trim, and his weathered face hinted at a smile as his blue eyes peered straight into mine. “I think these cholesterol pills are hurting my muscles,” he declared. “I don’t think they’re good for me.” “Is it your back?” I scanned through his last ...

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Overheard in the gym: "Yeah, but I heard that ____ can be dangerous." "Oh, they wouldn't let us buy it if it was." Lately, the public's faith in the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs has been making me uneasy. Advances in drug development mean that many of us truly can live better lives through their wise use. But are we adequately guided and protected by a) regulators, b) our clinicians, c) a ...

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Drug shortages can jeopardize patient safety A guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to KevinMD.com. When doctors don’t have access to medications that are necessary to successfully perform procedures, patient safety is at risk. Over the past several years, drug shortages have significantly impacted the health care industry, making it not only difficult for physicians to do their jobs, but for ...

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No one can deny that medical students today face an increasingly competitive environment with a strong focus on board scores and class grades as strong requirements for entrance into competitive specialties. Mirroring the trends in both primary and secondary school, a standardized test has become the yardstick by which all physicians-in-training are compared. The most recent survey reported by the National Resident Matching Program, showed that scores on Step 1 of ...

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