Meds

The biggest threat to President Obama’s healthcare reform efforts comes from his own party

I wrote back in February that one of the biggest threats to health reform was not from conservatives and the right, but from within President Obama’s own party.

Today, some four months later, the Washington Post reports that that’s pretty much what’s happening. In its report, the Post writes:

In the high-stakes battle over health care, a growing cadre of liberal activists is aiming its sharpest firepower against Democratic senators …

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Why don’t drug companies use Twitter?

It seems that most industries are rushing to jump aboard the Twitter bandwagon.

That’s true for most cases, with the pharmaceutical industry being the exception.

David Williams points out the lack of Twitter activity from the major pharmaceutical companies, where many of the Pharma-related keywords being owned by those not affiliated with the company.

Worse, when he looks at the Twitter names for the top 10 prescribed drugs, they’re owned by …

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Lose your fingerprints from chemotherapy

Interesting case of a man detained at an airport because authorities couldn’t fingerprint him.

According to MedPage Today, he was taking the chemotherapy drug capecitabine which causes so-called hand-foot syndrome, or palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia. The chronic inflammation causes the skin on the hands to peel and blister, which can eventually eradicate a patient’s fingerprints.

In a study looking at the drug, this type of inflammation occurs in about 65 percent of …

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Should patients be paid to promote drugs?

The story of Andy Behrman made the news a few weeks ago, most notably in The Wall Street Journal.

Apparently, he was a bipolar “celebrity patient,” and was paid $400,000 by Bristol-Myers Squibb for promoting their drug, Abilify.

Things quickly went sour, as Mr. Behrman was afflicted with the drug’s side effects, which included “dazed spells and agitation in his legs.”

Merrill Goozner comments on the case, casting the light on patient advocates, …

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Doesn’t the FDA have better things to do than to target Cheerios?

The FDA versus Cheeros furor is getting some blogosphere play.

Internist Matthew Mintz analyzes the claim that Cheerios lowers cholesterol by 4 percent. Big deal, he says. “The problem is that even though Cheerios may lower your cholesterol by 4 percent, this probably has no impact on your risk for heart attack or stroke . . . it is clear that to derive benefit you need at …

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Is Cheerios really a drug, and why is the FDA targeting the cereal?

The FDA sent a stern-sounding letter to the makers of Cheerios.

Not happy with their claims of being clinically proven to lower cholesterol, MedPage Today reports that Cheerios, by making “unauthorized health claims,” is going to be treated as an “unapproved new drug.”

Pharma watchdog John Mack thinks the FDA is going overboard by targeting Cheerios, with rampant, false claims by herbal and alternative supplements going …

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Hydroxycut causes liver damage, and why we need to regulate supplements

The popular weight-loss supplement, Hydroxycut, has been recalled.

A 19-year old man died, and another needs a liver transplant. MedPage Today reports that these events occurred in 2007, but wasn’t reported to the FDA until two years later. In all, 23 events were reported, ranging from the aforementioned serious side effects, to elevations in the liver enzyme levels.

Who knows how many more will be affected …

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6 top medical comments, May 3rd, 2009

Here are some of the more interesting comments readers have left recently.

1. Carla Kakutani on the lack of primary care access in Massachusetts:
So we have a chicken and egg problem. Do we wait health care reform until we have revived US primary care, or is that even possible without health care reform to create the disruption needed to change our entrenched fee-for-service, procedure-happy payment …

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How the demand for Tamiflu and Relenza may kill us all

The current strain of swine flu appears to be sensitive to the anti-virals Tamiflu and Relenza.

That’s causing huge demand for these medications, with many pharmacies rapidly selling out. For instance, a typical pharmacy may fill one prescription of Tamiflu a week, but now, dispenses up to 25 packages per day.

There’s clear stockpiling going on, and the doctors who acquiesce to patient demand share the …

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Prescription medication pay for performance, and the rationale behind it

Are drug companies putting money where their mouths are?

In a new trend, the pharmaceutical industry is offering what the NY Times calls, “money-back guarantees,” essentially paying for treatments if their drug fails.

For instance, the makers of the osteoporosis drug Actonel will pay “$30,000 for a hip fracture . . and $6,000 for a wrist fracture,” if a patient taking their drug suffers those conditions.
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Accepting drug perks, or hiding the fact that you did. What’s worse?

There’s a movement afloat where medical students would cover up the names of drugs on promotional gifts with duct tape.

But, as medical student Adina Cappell notes, does that really solve anything?

“The problem is, by covering up the name of the pharmaceutical company,” she writes, “the future doctor does his patients and colleagues a disservice . . . By accepting perks, but refusing to give up …

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Will banning drug company sponsorship harm patients?

Often times, when something is banned, unintended consequences ensue.

And when it comes to industry sponsorship, including free drug samples and pharmaceutical sponsorship of CME, it’s no exception.

In a recent piece, it’s no secret that I’ve thought that doctors continue to be influenced by industry sponsorship. To combat this, there are various forces that advocate banning drug company sponsorship of continuing medical education courses, eliminating …

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Is the bipolar child and ADHD a purely American phenomenon?

Bipolar disease and ADHD is becoming increasingly diagnosed in the United States, but isn’t an issue in the rest of the world.

Investigative journalist Philip Dowdy has some strong reasons for that, and lays the blame squarely at the drug companies, along with child psychiatrists at Harvard.

“The pharma companies and the Harvard crew worked hand-in-hand to bring America a generation of ADHD kids and bipolar children,” Mr …

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How injecting silicone for beauty can kill

The price people are paying for beauty is getting higher.

Tough economic times are preventing people from obtaining plastic surgery, so they’re resorting to more illicit means. Shady practitioners are offering silicone injections, administered in motel rooms or in so-called “pumping parties.” Industrial grade silicone can be found in hardware stores, but sometimes, castor oil, mineral oil, petroleum jelly and even automobile transmission fluid are substituted.
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Did the pharmaceutical industry pressure CBS to pull a television pilot?

With the decline in network television viewership, sponsorship dollars become more important.

Showtime, the premium cable network, recently canceled a Tim Robbins pilot (via Schwitzer), a show that took a “scathing look at the pharmaceutical drug industry, focusing on a dysfunctional family behind a major drug concern.”

It was considered a shoo-in to be on the schedule, so the move came as a surprise.

Showtime’s owner is …

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Vitamin sales are booming at the expense of prescription drugs

The recession is forcing people to look for ways to cut their health care costs.

One unfortunate method is bypassing physician visits and prescription medications in favor less expensive vitamins and supplements.

According to the NY Times, here’s a typical example: “In flusher times, Ms. Parham said, she spent $50 a month on prescriptions for her asthma, allergies and other chronic problems. Now, she pays $6 a …

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Should we believe the polypill hype?

One piece of big news out of the recent American College of Cardiology meetings was a “proof of concept” study involving a cardiovascular polypill.

Made up of five cheap, generic medications – aspirin, a statin, a beta-blocker, diruetic, and ace-inhibitor – the pill was shown to be well tolerated and reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol.

Which is exactly what this 5-in-1 pill should do.

That …

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When will we have a safe and effective prescription diet pill?

The first company that comes up with a effective drug for obesity is bound to make billions.

Prior failures notwithstanding, a trio of small pharmaceutical companies are trying to come up with the next great obesity pill. That means clinical studies are ongoing.

So, what’s it like to participate in such a trial? Ed Susman, a contributing writer at MedPage Today, was involved in one, …

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Death of the drug rep, and who will take their place?

Representatives from drug companies are undergoing some hard times, as physicians increasingly are closing their doors to them, or seeing them only via an appointment.

Subsequently, the number of drug reps is predicted to fall from about 102,000 at its peak in 2007, to 75,000 by 2012.

There are a variety of reasons for this, including the fact that more doctors simply don’t trust the information that’s presented, …

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