Cholesterol pills are one of the great medical advances I’ve witnessed during my professional career. I am talking specifically about a category of medications called statins, drugs like Lipitor and Pravachol. These drugs have prevented probably hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes. Only one problem with these drugs, however: statins won’t help people who don’t take them. And according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, when ...

Read more...

Many of my patients are taking herbal supplements, or so they think.  This herbal and health supplements industry likely is envied by traditional pharmaceutical companies.  The latter has to spend zillions of dollars proving safety and efficacy to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Many of these drugs are cast aside during the approval process or afterwards when serious side effects become known, or a new medicine is proved safer ...

Read more...

The letters are usually four pages long and begin by saying that my patient has received a temporary supply of the medication I prescribed. Next, there are general paragraphs about how the drug either isn’t on their formulary or the quantity exceeds the plan limits. None of these letters contains a reference to an online formulary physicians can access to compare covered alternatives. Then there are several cumbersome explanations about the appeal ...

Read more...

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that people who received this season's influenza vaccine were only 23 percent less likely to be diagnosed with influenza than unvaccinated persons, CDC director Tom Frieden was publicly urging high-risk patients and their physicians to use antiviral medications to prevent complications and disease transmission:

People who are sick with flu, if they're very sick in the hospital or if they have ...

Read more...

Parents are appropriately expressing concern about the safety of Miralax®, a commonly used stool softener in kids, after a recent New York Times article exposed a potential association with long-term use of the drug and undesired behavioral side effects. As the article explains, the FDA has awarded a research grant to a team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to directly address these concerns. Miralax® has been used ...

Read more...

Spend less.  Live better.  Except, she didn’t have that long to live.  Maybe ten days ... probably not. Thirty-three years old, an illegal Mexican migrant worker, she was diagnosed in an emergency room with an aggressive stomach cancer two years ago, and she had been fighting for her life ever since.  Multiple rounds of chemo administered through our community medical clinic had not worked. And now, here she was in my ICU, ...

Read more...

The really incredible advances in the treatment of hepatitis C bring to life several relevant questions as we move forward into 2015. First, who should be treating hepatitis C patients (primary care providers, gastroenterologists, infectious disease specialists)? Second, can we really afford to use these new treatments? I recently discussed this topic with my GI and hepatology colleagues in AGA Perspectives, the bi-monthly opinion magazine of the American ...

Read more...

If I could drop our health insurance altogether, I would. With a high deductible of $4,000 for in-network providers, my family of three has yet to reach our collective deductible over the last three years. This means we have to pay out of pocket for medical care until we reach that amount. To make matters worse, our health insurance premiums increased by 10 percent, forcing us to find a less ...

Read more...

Doctors prescribe way too many medicines for patients who don't really need them. A lot of the pressure comes from intense drug company marketing. Some comes from patients who aren't happy leaving the office without a pill. And doctors have too little time with each patient to explain non-pill solutions to problems. Wild prescribing is not new. For thousands of years, doctors have given patients useless (and often quite harmful) ...

Read more...

medpagetoday A woman told me she saw her physician recently and, when she told him all the things she was doing to help herself, naturally he told her he practices Western medicine and that he does not believe in that stuff. Not a good conversation. A number of research studies have found that one in three patients routinely use alternative treatments, but ...

Read more...

Most Popular