Meds

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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Why does my new asthma inhaler suck? Questions surrounding the CFC to HFA inhaler transition

Beginning this year, inhaled beta-agonist asthma medications had to switch to a more environmentally friendly form.

MedPage Today has a special report on the issue, one where most primary care doctors were not well educated on.

Apparently, the new inhalers, which use hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) as a propellant, have been attracting a litany of patient complaints, including that the medicine tastes funny, the propellant isn’t as strong, it’s less …

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Making up drug studies, and is the pressure for results too intense for clinician-scientists?

You may have heard the story of anesthesiologist Scott Reuben, who allegedly fabricated the results of 21 medical studies.

Orac, over at his blog Respectful Insolence, provides some perspective of the issue, saying, “Dr. Reuben’s fraud appears to eclipse even that of Andrew Wakefield [the disgraced researcher who wrongly linked autism to the MMR vaccine].”

Apparently, the pressure for academic physicians to generate results is intense, often with …

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Why free antibiotics are a terrible idea, and what drug and grocery stores should give away instead

So, while watching Lost the other night, I saw an add for a local grocery chain advertising free antibiotics.

Apparently, it’s a nationwide promotion, with multiple chains using antibiotics as a “loss leader” to bring people into their stores.

Well, it has now gotten the attention of both the CDC and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, with latter organization writing, “If you give antibiotics …

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AstraZeneca’s weight gain and diabetes side effect cover up, and the sleazy Seroquel sex scandal

In the staid world of drug research, this is about as scandalous as it gets.

The antipsychotic drug quetiapine, or Seroquel, is coming under fire. As MedPage Today reports, damning e-mails from the past are resurfacing, implicating the drug maker for “burying” studies linking the drug to weight gain and diabetes.

But here’s where it gets juicy.

AstraZeneca’s former US medical director has admitted prior sexual relationships …

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Op-ed: Pads, pens, prescriptions

The following op-ed was published on February 26, 2009 in the USA Today.

Have you ever noticed the pens, coffee mugs and prescription pads at your doctor’s office? Chances are, they were prominently adorned with the brand name of the prescription drug its company is touting.

The pharmaceutical industry has been giving these types of small gifts to doctors for years, in hopes of raising physician awareness of …

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USA Today op-ed: Will restricting gifts to doctors reduce pharmaceutical influence?

So, what’s better than having one opinion piece published in a week?

Well, how about two.

My latest USA Today op-ed was published this morning: Pads, pens, prescriptions.

I talk about the “voluntary ban” that the pharmaceutical industry has instituted on itself, preventing doctors from receiving any type of gifts from drug representatives.

Will restricting gifts to doctors remove the specter of Big …

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Cheap Viagra can kill, or, the dangers of counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs

When looking for a prescription of Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra, make sure you get the real thing.

Amy Tuteur points to a recent NEJM article detailing cases in Singapore where hospitalized men were found to have taken imitation erectile dysfunction medications containing contaminents like the glucose-lowering medication glyburide, as well as host of herbal substances.

Glyburide, in particular, can be deadly in those who do not have diabetes, …

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Is fibromyalgia real, and if so, are drug companies profiting from the uncertainty of the disease?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that has no clear cause, and there’s no definitive diagnostic test.

However, there is no doubt that the symptoms are real, and many patients are suffering from the disease. Two brand-name medications, Lyrica and Cymbalta, represent several billion dollars in revenue.

The Washington Post points out that both Pfizer and Eli Lilly donated more than $6 million in education funding in 2008 to …

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Should some doctors be restricted from prescribing narcotic pain medications?

The FDA is about to get serious on inappropriate prescribing of narcotic pain medications.

What exactly they’re going to do is unclear, but as reported in the NY Times, it “will result in further restrictions on the prescribing, dispensing and distribution of extended-release opioids like OxyContin, fentanyl patches, methadone tablets and some morphine tablets.”

Part of the problem is that some patients who present with musculoskeletal injuries …

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