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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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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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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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 ...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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