The American Medical Association (AMA) recently called for a ban on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices, arguing that this type of advertising drives the nation's escalating drug bill by creating demand for new, expensive medications that are often no more effective than older ones. Since the first televised prescription drug ad aired in the U.S. in 1983, pharmaceutical companies have spent billions ...

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“Help me stop doing this.” Mr. G was a 55-year-old homeless man who uttered these words to us during his fifth hospitalization for problems related to his alcohol use:  intoxication, falls and alcohol withdrawal. He was on a downward spiral through the hospital’s revolving door and felt helpless. As a medical team, we felt helpless too. We did not know how to address his real problem -- his cycle of addiction. Hospitalized ...

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asco-logo The past year had been a tremendously exciting time to be an oncologist, and to be a lung cancer oncologist in particular. It seems we hardly have time to get used to one newly approved agent before another one becomes available. In 2015, we have seen gefitinib (don’t I know you from somewhere?), afatinib, nivolumab (twice), pembrolizumab, necitumumab, and osimertinib all ...

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I am a bit of a coin collector, and recently I visited my favorite coin shop in downtown Louisville.  I was met with this news: A coin dealer I know in Austin, Indiana had been killed recently, murdered in his own coin shop, shot in the head by robbers.  Four persons were later arrested when coins belonging to this elderly man were found in their possession.  Austin, Indiana is, by ...

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After a New York pharmaceutical company recently raised the price of a drug that’s been around for more than 60 years from $13 to $750 a pill, the nation appeared to collectively gasp over a seemingly capricious, “anything goes” approach to drug pricing. The move also revived a recurring debate over whether pharmaceuticals should have free rein to charge outrageously high prices for important medications. Madness? Perhaps. But pharmaceutical companies are simply responding ...

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The letter from the insurance company was addressed to my patient. The two pages of information boiled down to one simple sentence: “After a thorough review, our decision to not cover the medication Provigil (modafinil) is unchanged.” The letter went on to explain that there was no further recourse, and that the medication would not be approved because it was not Food and Drug Administration–approved for the condition my patient had: ...

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It was recently World Antibiotic Awareness Week and Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. According to the CDC, 2 million people in the United States become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and 23,000 people die from such infections each year. What's worse is that antibiotic resistance continues to increase. "To give you an idea of how high the pressure is to prescribe antibiotics, I didn't get a job once because during the interview ...

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According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the use of dietary supplements sends an estimated 23,000 Americans to the emergency department each year. Approximately 25 percent of the ER visits that were supplement related were by adults who were using herbal weight loss products. Another 10 percent were caused by adults consuming “energy products” (although people using energy drinks were excluded from the ...

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A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine finds that two-thirds of cancer drugs considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the past five years were approved without evidence that they improve health outcomes or length of life. (This study closely corroborates and acknowledges the findings published last year by John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Elbert Chu of MedPage Today.) Follow-up studies showed ...

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Most of my patients think about pain medicines in terms of the symptoms they treat. “This is my headache medicine, and this is my arthritis medicine,” they often say. Health care providers are more likely to categorize pain medicines by the way they work: some are anti-inflammatory, some affect nerve endings, and others influence how the brain perceives pain. But the truth is that no matter how you classify pain ...

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