Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

About two decades ago, "common wisdom" dictated that the way to control drug prices in the US was to import the same drugs from Canada for a fraction of the price. The only problem with this strategy was... everything (1):

1) Most of the time, it is illegal.

2) You never know what you're getting. For example, although Canadian pharmacies "require" a prescription, some of them employ a "rent-a doc," who will ask you a few questions online, and then OK the prescription.(See Figure 1)

3) Canada has one-tenth the population of the US. If we imported every single drug from the entire country, it would make little difference in drug prices here.

4) There are...

Microbiologists often study microbes in isolation. In the scientific vernacular, this is called "pure culture." While this is necessary to understand how individual microbes work, the trouble with this approach is that microbes do not live by themselves in the natural environment. Instead, they live in communities with multiple other species, cooperating and competing in order to survive.

As a result, microbes can behave very differently in the environment compared to the artificial solitude of the laboratory. This insight has helped spur the field of microbial ecology, which studies microbial interactions with each other and the environment. One technique to do is "co-culture." Instead of growing...

Actress Shannen Doherty revealed in an Instagram message that she is in remission from breast cancer. In it, she eloquently articulated a very harsh reality for cancer patients about what remission does and does not mean.

As she indicated, the word “remission” does not mean she's in the clear. It is instead a hope that treatment and disease are about to become a closed chapter in the book of her life. She recognizes that before then it means five years of monitoring and surveillance and fluid emotions...

It is no secret that I consider the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) to be a corrupt, harmful farce perpetuated on us by a government that should know better. Because it is just that—I have written about it numerous times. (1-4)

DSHEA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, but really this was bipartisan buffoonery. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), (5) cosponsored it with Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) (6), and it remains the quintessential example of how crafty language can be used to circumvent science and the FDA. This was intentional.

There can be no better example of both the built-in sleaziness of the act, and how it enabled the supplement industry to get away with murder, than the recent, ...

As a society, we immediately understand a broken arm. A gaping wound. The wasted appearance of a body overrun by cancer. But, often there are more silent and invisible conditions that not only wield a physical furor, but also an emotional and psychological one.

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is such a malady. Its manifestations influence not only the afflicted, but also their loved ones, community and care givers. Such is the case with Alexa Besser, featured in the photo accompanying this article, whose story and benefits from much enhanced and innovative technology will be addressed shortly.

The tiers of worry that accompany parenthood, in general, get amplified when a child suffers from a chronic disease. With respect to T1D, a parent compounds such fears with the realization...

Inspired by the extraordinary artistry of medical illustrator and aspiring surgeon, Dr. Raf Ratinam, in my piece From Anatomy to 3D Printing: Art Inspires Life, I decided to expand the discussion. Yes, his animations and mastery of anatomy acquired through graduate level medical training and now a PhD pursuit permits endless possibilities for his future career path.

But, it also begs the question: Are there roles for others so creatively or empathetically inclined to contribute to the field of medicine without partaking in the arduous and formal, traditional medical school track? An emphatic yes would be my response.

We tend...

Oscar Wilde believed “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Upon viewing the accompanying video animation of the anatomical relationships of Pectoralis Major and Minor created by Dr. Raf Ratinam, I became truly inspired. 

Inspired to write an article, even two. Inspired by the mastery of the complexity of the human form—and, an artist’s understanding of it. Inspired to explore the possibilities of the endless meaningful and powerful ways to impact my chosen field of medicine. Ways that involve navigating traditional and outside-of-the-box realms. All carrying the potential to change the world.

So, I will let you be the judge of whether life influenced art...

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released a 2017 draft recommendation statement on screening for prostate cancer which is based on systematic evidence review and assessment— updated from their prior 2012 version. As indicated by the authors’ viewpoint published in JAMA, the goal of this release is to raise awareness of newly acquired data on the topic while inviting review and commentary before the report is officially finalized. (1)

Because there was concern that universal PSA (aka prostate-specific antigen, a blood test) population screening often...

President Trump has convened a panel to address America's opioid epidemic. Its first mission should be to find convincing data to identify the actual cause(s) of the problem. That will be much harder than it sounds, since ideologues are always in plentiful supply.

Indeed, many influential people already seem to have a strong opinion about who is to blame. Claire McCaskill, a Senator from Missouri, points her finger at pharmaceutical companies. She is launching an investigation, but there is little need for one, given that she has already told us what its conclusions are ahead of time: 

...

Every now and then, people screw up. Who amongst us has never made a mistake? Even the American Council gets it wrong now and then. Yet, we are nothing if not humble. Since it's World Homeopathy Week, this provides the prefect opportunity for some self reflection and humility. Is it possible that we have been unfairly criticizing homeopathy and homeopaths all this time? 

In the interest of keeping an open mind, I decided to search for evidence that might indicate that I may have been wrong all along. It was a humbling experience, but I'm glad I did it. I feel so...... cleansed. I was dumbfounded by what has been in front of my face all this time that I failed to see. Clearly, I was so arrogant and unshakeable in my belief system of traditional science that I did not give...