In 1994, Penguin Books published what would become a national bestseller titled, Listening to Prozac written by Dr. Peter Kramer, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Brown University at the time. Throughout the book, he debates the ethics of "cosmetic pharmacology" a term associated with the transformation of personality traits through medication. Kramer describes several patients as becoming “better than well” on Prozac -- more socially adept, less inhibited, and ...

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Since the advent of the internet and rise of social media, patients can connect and compare their experiences with prescribed drug withdrawal. A problem that was once considered rare is a worldwide epidemic that is finally getting noticed.  A recent New York Times article discussed the problems many have discontinuing antidepressants, and more than 8,800 readers responded about their difficulty stopping ...

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A patient comes to you asking, "Doc, my seizures are getting worse, I really hate the side effects of my medications, I want to go a different route. What do you think about medical marijuana?" You start sweating profusely, fidgeting in your seat, thinking of every single reason why not to recommend it and come up with the standard response, "Uh, well, I'm not qualified to recommend it, and it's ...

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Part of a series. A pill to end aging. Is there or could there be such a pill? Some researchers think so. Many believe that rather than attack the causes and treatment of chronic illnesses one by one, it would be better to understand the biology of aging and from that learn how to slow the process and hence prevent or delay the onset of various ...

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Many physicians in different fields have voiced criticisms against direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug ads. First, a 2013 survey found that 74 percent of physicians believe DTC drug ads overemphasize the benefits of the drugs and misinform patients. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, interviewed by Rebecca Ruiz on DTC prescription drug ads states, “It’s almost impossible for the public to actually ...

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One of my readers, Natalie, wondered about my thoughts about the digital pill. My initial reactions were similar to several of those who were interviewed for the article. The digital pill, which provides electronic information to confirm whether someone has ingested the medication, has great potential to become a tool of coercion. Aripiprazole (Abilify) is classified as an antipsychotic medication, which is often prescribed to people who have beliefs that machines ...

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I first noticed this phenomenon while watching the world news on a weekday after work.  It was a commercial for a new diabetes medicine that showed overweight people dancing at a barbecue, cooking and enjoying life.  How different this was from my day in the wound clinic, where I saw patient after patient with obesity, diabetes, and nonhealing wounds, as well as other dire medical complications. So I tucked this image ...

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The Sunshine Act is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.  This act went into effect in August of 2013 and requires the full disclosure of any payments (or transfers of value, i.e., lunches and dinners) made to physicians from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. The spirit of the act is to have more transparency with regards to potential conflicts of interest created when physicians receive ...

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Future generations will look back on the opioid epidemic as the greatest tragedy of modern medicine. The recent 60 Minutes special about drug distributors really highlights that manufacturing and prescribing opiates was never about the best interest of patients. The pharma companies saw a business opportunity that could be exploited by offering patients a little pill to take their pain away. What person, given the chance, would ...

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I was surprised when I felt my body stiffen as I became aware that an iPhone had just been fiercely thrown in my direction. “I’m calling security,” shouted a distant voice in the background. “I want the 10 mg oxycodone pills! I am in 10/10 pain!” The patient shouted this to me as he abruptly got up, violently launched his phone in my direction and stomped toward the exit of the ...

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