Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

My attention fell this week on the reporting of an article accepted for publication in one of the main journals in my field. According to the ABC, placebo treatments for pain can be effective even when patients know that it’s a placebo.

The source for this report is the following article which is about to be published in the premier pain research journal Pain (as an interesting aside, note how the more authoritative a scientific journal is, the shorter its name is. I give you Nature, Science, Cell,...

Earlier this month, the FDA required that a black box warning—the most serious category— be placed on the "super hepatitis C drugs," such as Sovaldi and Harvoni. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

This is because there have been a grand total of 24 cases where the drugs, which cure hepatitis C (HCV) a very high percentage of the time, have reactivated a very different virus, hepatitis B, which shares two things with its better known cousin - part of the name and the liver - but not much else. An overreaction? I would argue yes.

The FDA safety communication said, "We identified 24 cases of HBV reactivation reported to FDA and from the published literature in HCV/HBV co-infected patients treated with DAAs (direct-...

In the spirit of Breast Cancer awareness month and promoting women’s health, we are excited to have had Dr. Susan Wolf in our Manhattan office today for our Making the Rounds Facebook Live video streaming series

Dr. Wolf is a Reproductive Endocrinologist specializing in infertility and menopause.  Additionally, she is a breast cancer and melanoma survivor - and, “borderline ovarian” which she personally addressed in our discussion.

This series is intended to be an interactive experience, so questions from the public are welcomed.  

With respect to her expertise, Dr. Wolf spoke on debunking myths related to infertility, menopause,...

Online medical diagnoses

A new study says human physicians are "vastly superior" to computers when it comes to diagnosing conditions and illnesses. 

Is this welcome news? Sure, it's good we know one way or the other. Given the technological explosion we've witnessed and continue to experience, it's become more and more common for patients to access the internet and a growing list of smartphone apps in order to self-diagnose. And logically, such a trend has given rise to questions about the accuracy of the technology, as well as comparing those types of diagnoses to the "real" thing. 

That said, is the result surprising? Not at all. Because, honestly, what other conclusion would we expect medical researchers to reach in evaluating the diagnostic performance of ... medical doctors and the medical...

Don’t go breaking my heart. Seriously, love —oops, I mean life— is a battlefield. Literally.

Who knew musicians had so vast an understanding of cardiology?

This week a study came out that I will invoke to abdicate personal responsibility should actual heartache consume me. I can now implore anyone I interact with to be kind and peaceful and not drive me to anger - which clearly would not be within my own control in our current culture of blame displacing - for the sake of my own heart health.

Don’t you just adore scientific studies and their ability to fit your chosen narrative?!

Apparently, INTERHEART performed a large case control, 12,461 person, 52 country-wide study on the significance of anger, vigorous physical exertion and emotional upset in the hour...

I hope you enjoyed Part I of the "Brain Tumors: Fact vs. Fiction" series.  

Welcome to the concluding piece where I continue to enlist Dr. Gregory Riggins, Professor of Neurosurgery and Oncology and Director of the Brain Cancer Biology and Therapy Research Laboratory at Johns Hopkins, to help clarify myth from reality:

 

Why is location so critical to a patient's success?  

Dr. Riggins:  Location is critical and the location – along with the neurosurgeon’s skill - dictates how much can be removed, and whether removal will on average...

In this week's Annals of Internal Medicine, doctors Peter A. Ubeland and Peter B. Bach have written an opinion piece entitled Co-pay Assistance for Expensive Drugs: A Helping Hand That Raises Costs. You may remember Dr. Bach from his previous attempts to draw attention to this issue last year. I have written previously about the reality underlying co-payments for both drugs and other therapies. The authors make the following points:

Drug costs are one of the fastest growth components of health care and out of pocket drug costs have kept...

Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, died from brain cancer.  As did Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy.  Brittany Maynard - suffering from a terminal type - became widely known for fighting for her right-to-die.  

Aside from the occasional high profile cases and Hollywood movies, brain tumors rarely make center stage.  And, when they do, it tends to be the most ominous story that gets told.  

Fortunately, there is variability in diagnoses and early discovery can better your chances with certain forms.  Benign (aka not cancerous) masses are common.  As I have previously emphasized, however, location is crucial to many disease states.  When it comes to the brain and tumors, prime real estate exerts tremendous influence on operability, survival, and impairments.  So does...

Algorithms are a set of rules or calculations that computers use in making decisions. Unlike neural network programs, which often are too complex for its programmers to understand (implicit), explicit algorithms are code that can be understood. Algorithms are everywhere and have become the topic of an on-going series by Pro Publica. Pro Publica series began by concentrating on a program written to advise courts on recidivism. But given the ubiquitous nature of algorithms, they have moved on to look at what big data and it's algorithms know about you from...

Don't worry. You'll feel better soon.

By any measure, the opioid addiction epidemic was (and still is) a huge mess. For years, doctors and dentists were too lax in prescribing narcotics, paper prescriptions permitted drug seekers to "doctor shop," and quite a few people got addicted. Many of them died. Clearly, something had to be done.

"Done" turned very quickly into "overdone." It is now increasingly difficult to get strong pain medications when you really need them—even for short-term use. Some oral surgeons are even considering giving their patients Advil (ibuprofen) rather than Vicodin following a surgical procedure. This is especially barbaric since oral surgery is notoriously painful. Perhaps an oral surgeon or two with this mindset should get a bone graft or have an impacted wisdom tooth removed and be sent...