by Diana Lee A recent episode of the A&E show Intervention about a woman with occasional migraines and other serious health problems who takes up to 50 Percocet pills a day made me uncomfortable. Maybe Danielle, the woman featured in the episode, really does have migraine attacks. But she is also an addict. One condition really has nothing to do with the other. Many people with acute or chronic pain use ...

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When it came to Michael Jackson, I argued recently that the singer himself had to share some of the blame. An op-ed in the Houston Chronicle places more blame, however, on a celebrity's enablers, be it a personal physician or part of their entourage with access to a doctor. By enabling a celebrity's dependence to drugs, the piece, citing the case of Anna Nicole Smith, says, "facilitation of Smith's prescription drug ...

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In an effort to cut prescription drug costs, there is constant pressure to switch from brand name medications to their generic equivalents. But in this special report from MedPage Today, there may be some variability between generic medications that can lead to clinical symptoms. However, most of the data is anecdotal, and at best, based on retrospective data. For instance, when it comes to anti-seizure medications, some neurologists are cautioning ...

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by Michael Kirsch, MD Demonizing the pharmaceutical industry has become a parlor game for many who enjoy the challenge of shooting at an oversized target. Scapegoating Big Pharma? Now, that takes guts. Never mind the gazillions they spend on research and development to create tomorrow’s treatments for cancer, arthritis, depression, infectious diseases, heart attacks and strokes. I know that drug industry executives are not all eagle scouts whose mission ...

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I've previously written that direct to consumer drug advertising should be banned, similar to the rest of the world, except for New Zealand. The main reason reason is that many of the advertised products are for expensive, brand name drugs that have little advantage over their generic counterparts. In a New York Times' Room for Debate post on the issue, various viewpoints are presented. I find myself agreeing with internist ...

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Ghostwritten clinical papers. Off-label marketing. Channel-stuffing. Hiding of negative data. Pharma companies have earned a hefty percentage of the opprobrium heaped on them by a skeptical public. And it's mainly because of a failure to heed the Golden Rule. We all know the "classical" Golden Rule: Treat others the way you’d wish to be treated. But in so many cases, drug manufacturers seem to adhere to a different version: the Gold-in ...

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The WSJ Health Blog wrote that Merck is considering selling their asthma medication Singulair over the counter. It's Merck's best-selling drug, with revenues in excess of $1.3 billion. But internist Matthew Mintz has some reservations about the proposal. His issue is that Singulair merely treats the symptoms, rather than the problem that can exacerbate asthma:

Singulair works in the same way that antihistamines work: by treating the symptoms. Inhaled corticosteroids ...

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Things are looking increasingly bleak for Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's personal physician. Reports are circulating that the powerful anesthetic propofol, also known by its trade name Diprivan, was found in the singer's body. According to ABCNews, "the autopsy of Michael Jackson found the powerful anesthetic propofol, as well as several prescription drugs, in his system, and law enforcement sources ...

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When it comes to opiate drugs, like morphine, there is a bitter debate between patients who are in chronic pain, and the doctors who are vilified for under or over-prescribing these medications. But there are some other subtle influences that push doctors to prescribe these drugs, in some cases inappropriately. An ER physician talks about the issue, saying, "when dealing with a patient who is in pain, or appears to ...

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The recent RECORD trial did not associate the diabetes drug Avandia with cardiovascular events. Internist Matthew Mintz, a staunch defender of the drug, argues that because of the scare, "over 100,000 type 2 diabetic patients [needed] insulin, which could have been avoided." Who's to blame? Dr. Mintz blames cardiologist Steven Nissen, whose questionable meta-analysis started the debacle, and The New England Journal of Medicine for fanning the flames. He ...

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