Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) just published distressing accounts of three patients who endured irreparable damage to their vision after seeking treatment at the same unnamed “stem cell” clinic in Broward, Florida.

Shortly, we will address where things went very, very wrong and how such situations can be avoided. But, first, let’s discuss what happened.

The women aged 72-88 years old suffered blindness to near blindness as a direct result of untested “stem cell” therapies being injected into their eyes while being fleeced $5000 for the procedures. Promised “revolutionary” therapy, they were left with catastrophic reminders of the unfortunate and unnecessary ordeal.

Each patient had age-...

There is this unsubstantiated, but widely believed, notion that vitamins and supplements are a panacea. In fact, a multi-billion dollar industry serves to support and perpetuate this often faulty, overly auspicious claim.

Here, I will tackle the true level of importance of the “sunshine” Vitamin D in staving off disease, preserving healthy bones and the actual hazards of deficiency and toxicity.

Why? Because, according to Britain’s leading testing laboratory, excessive exogenous ingestion to overdose levels of Vitamin D supplements purchased online reveal some people are taking 2,250 times the recommended dosages. Such endeavors...

What doctors long feared, and what alternative medicine proponents have long desired, has come to pass. More academic medical centers, which lay claim to being superior, have been embracing alternative techniques that, unlike actual medicine, have never passed double-blind clinical trials.

In 1999, only 8 academic centers embraced the alternative to evidence-based medicine. Now that is over 70, including everything from vague "wellness" notions to naturopathy.

In the Stat News special report, they note that the reason is financial - but real doctors are less happy about things such as “alternative therapies promoted as a way to treat disease...

Dr. Cox: Did you actually just page me to find out how much Tylenol to give to Mrs. Lendsner?

J.D.: I was worried that it could exacerbate the patient's... 

Dr. Cox: It's regular strength Tylenol. Here's what-chya do: Get her to open her mouth, take a handful, and throw it at her. Whatever sticks, that's the correct dosage.

Of Dr. Cox's many rants on the comedy show Scrubs, this is definitely one of the funnier and more memorable1. However, it isn't quite accurate.

Tylenol (a.k.a. acetaminophen or paracetamol2), unbeknownst to many, is actually a fairly toxic drug. Its ubiquity has lulled us into a false sense of security about its safety. But as our resident chemist Dr. Josh Bloom...

A number of recent headlines imply a case study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine proves that gene therapy has cured sickle cell disease—a genetic disorder that incurs tremendous pain, suffering and diminished life expectancy. Here, we will unpack the significance of the researchers’ findings.

First, let’s address why this news could be so groundbreaking to those afflicted and their loved ones.

Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited condition that causes a mutated hemoglobin—the protein within red blood cells (RBCs) that carries oxygen for delivery to vital tissues. Oxygen feeds our organs so they can stay healthy and perform their respective jobs. This Hemoglobin S (aka Sickle...

For the millions of Americans who have interrupted sleep because of frequent trips to the bathroom, a new drug may provide some relief.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Noctiva (desmopressin acetate) - the first treatment for the condition nocturnal polyuria - the overproduction of urine during the night. Although making a bathroom break at night may not seem on the front lines of medical concerns, roughly 80 - 90% of octogenarians report it as a problem. The disrupted sleep has downstream effects - an increase in daytime sleepiness, depressive symptoms, cognitive dysfunction, and a general decrease in the quality of life. 

There are two broad reasons why people end up needing to use the bathroom at night. First, their bladder may not empty properly...

In Did Pompe Disease Get a New Champion in President Trump?, I discussed the significance such a spotlight as a presidential address in front of Congress and the world can have on so rare a disease. Despite the fact these types of “Orphan Diseases” individually impact small populations, collectively they affect 25 million Americans. 

Now, we will dive into why they are so important to understand, raise awareness about and divest resources for in order to advance therapeutic and potentially curative research.

Inborn Errors of Metabolism reflect a host of rare, genetic disorders that can be devastating, fatal and, in certain instances, if not swiftly detected in...

The squeaky wheel often gets the grease but sometimes wheels get an impassioned champion - and that is just as good. That may have happened with Pompe disease when President Trump, addressing a joint session of Congress, highlighted the presence of 20-year old Notre Dame sophomore Megan Crowley, who is afflicted with it.

Pompe disease results from mutations in the GAA gene which result in the inability of the body to break down the complex sugar called glycogen. That resulting buildup, especially in muscles, prevents them from functioning normally.

It's an inherited disease and relatively rare. According to the National Institutes of Health, Pompe disease affects about 1 in 40,000...

Just in time for the President's Address To Congress (a State of the Union, but since he has only been in office a few weeks, a new president doesn't use that term) the Every Child By Two health advocacy group has released a new "State of the ImmUnion" report, to remind people of the importance of immunization.

It's easy to take it for granted now, because a lot of communicable diseases are relatively rare, but among Baby Boomers almost everyone knows of someone with polio. And measles kills far fewer than ever, thanks to vaccines. But anti-vaccine beliefs, which were for most of this century just the domain of fringe kooks on one side and a lot of wealthy...

Two studies on surgeons published in the last month may be instructive on how patients find physicians. First, a report in JAMA Surgery from January by Ziemba et. al Consumers Preferences and Online Comparison tools used for selecting surgeons. The study looked at 25,000 households using a net based survey, with a median age of 50 and predominantly white (73%), female (63%) and 70% had at least one health issue. Let's start with some bad news, how often did they use a search tool to seek a physician? For a primary care physician, 21% of the time; for a surgeon, 7% of the time - that makes sense because we rarely seek surgery as our primary approach to a problem. But to put it into perspective these households searched for...