At the age of three months, Charlotte Figi had her first seizure. She was later diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. Her seizures continued, increasing in both frequency and severity. In a CNN interview, Charlotte’s mother Paige said that at the age of three, Charlotte was having up to 300 seizures per week. They could last for up to four hours. After all other medical treatments had failed, ...

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There was outrage over the sudden rise in the price of the EpiPen. But the rise in many other pharmaceutical prices gets less attention but is just as concerning. It can be easy to forget issues like this until they affect us personally. My two encounters with irrational drug price increases for dermatologic conditions are a reminder of how pervasive this problem is today. I have rosacea, a ...

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Before direct-to-consumer ads, physicians tried to reassure patients they were probably fine. Today, drug ads and online symptom checkers do just the opposite. The most insidious are "unbranded" ads that scare people about a disease without mentioning the drug they are trying to sell. Notable unbranded disease campaigns sell the obscure exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, shift work sleep disorder, and non-24-hour, sleep-wake disorder. Unbranded advertising is designed to appear like a ...

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"We believe that the current entrepreneurial development model for antibiotics is broken and needs to be fundamentally transformed." This provocative opinion is from a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. The introduction of penicillin, the first antibiotic miracle drug, led to an 80 percent reduction in mortality from infectious diseases. Other antibiotics quickly followed, reducing death rates even further. Over the past several decades, however, the discovery ...

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As an academic psychiatrist who treats people with anxiety and trauma, I often hear questions about a specific class of medications called benzodiazepines. I also often receive referrals for patients who are on these medications and reluctant to discontinue them. There has been increasing attention into long-term risks of benzodiazepines, including potential for addiction, overdose, and cognitive impairment. The overdose death rate among patients receiving ...

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Along with a steeper financial burden and an increasingly competitive academic environment, this year’s incoming freshman university class will likely be confronted with the pressure to take a little pill that some popular culture references say will make you "awesome at everything." Or they may eschew the temptation and rely on the standard practice of study, sleep, repeat. Welcome to #GenerationAdderall, the ...

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There was a time when drug reps fed us lunch and gave us an endless supply of pens, pads, and even umbrellas all emblazoned with their newest drugs. They explained why their drug was better than their competitors’ and what it would offer to our patients. I still have my Zantac umbrella in the trunk of my car for rain emergencies. Although it was somewhat annoying, it did keep us somewhat ...

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The rise in cases of otherwise healthy young adults who have been hospitalized or even died from vaping-associated lung injury is alarming. Many people don’t know what is contained in these vaping devices, what the reported health effects actually mean, and, most importantly, why all of this developed so quickly, considering that e-cigarettes have only been popular for fewer than ten years. Vaping describes the process of inhaling aerosols ...

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In previous posts, we have reviewed the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), as well as the off-label prescribing of gabapentinoids, for treating anxiety disorders. Anxiety is such a ubiquitous problem that it is not surprising that many other compounds have been used off-label as well.  In this posting, we will review some of the common ones: propranolol, mirtazapine, and quetiapine.  ...

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One of the most galling aspects of vaping is not that the industry has targeted minors with candy-like flavors and names. Nor is it that vaping fluid often contains nicotine or THC (one of the principal psychoactive ingredients in cannabis). The most galling thing about vaping is that the industry has managed to convince 3.6 million middle and high school students that vaping is harmless. Recently, the CDC ...

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