Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

Carrie Fisher’s tragic death after last week’s inflight medical emergency is sadly an all too familiar occurrence.  In fact, upticks of cardiac-related deaths on Christmas and New Year’s, in particular, are well-documented. 

This is often referred to as the “holiday effect” with the ‘why’ being unknown and most elusive, but speculated to range from any or a combination of the following:  abrupt behavioral changes albeit dietary, alcohol, exercise, work or vacation-induced, stress secondary to travel itself or familial discord or preparations, financial issues, capacity for displacement of death, delayed access to medical care due to remote locations, being en...

With the evidence already established regarding known upticks of cardiac deaths (aka heart-related) on Christmas and New Year’s, a new study seeks to elucidate if winter is a main culprit.  

A team from Australia and New Zealand recently endeavored to expand upon the canon, in particular, on Phillips et al’s work published in the journal Circulation in 2004:  Cardiac mortality is higher around Christmas and New Year’s than at any other time:  The holidays as a risk factor for death.  Here, the United States’ researchers analyzed death certificates in both heart and non heart diseases in a larger dataset than previously performed (n=53...

It isn't often when an invention that changes the landscape comes along. But one just did. 

A new paper in the British journal The Lancet, which had 30 authors, reports results that seem too good to be true. 

But they are not. A group led by the World Health Organization using a vaccine that was invented in Canada conducted a large scale inoculation in Guinea and Sierra Leone to assess how well it protected people against Ebola—the virus that ravaged Africa in 2014, killing 60 percent of the people that it infected. How well did it work? Spectacularly. The vaccine protected 100 percent of the people who received it. This is the first and only therapy for Ebola, other than prior supportive measures such as rehydration.

The vaccine, which is a...

In October, I wrote about the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report which reflected record highs in the three most commonly reported conditions in the United States in 2015:  primary and secondary syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. (1)

Concerns over increasing antibiotic resistance risks accompanying the rapid rate of rise of gonorrheal infection prompted researchers in Australia to investigate alternate means of prevention in addition to conventional measures (e.g. condoms).  

Dr. Chow...

 

Official Health Report for SANTA CLAUS

 

 

 

 

CLAUS, SANTA

One St. Nicholas Icy Drive

North Pole, Arctic

Date of Birth (DOB):  Immortal

Medical Record #:  12-24-0000

This letter reflects the official summary of SANTA CLAUS’ (aka St. Nick) recent health visit to determine medical fitness to serve as himself on Christmas Eve in a global capacity.  As the Director of Medicine and a Board-Certified physician at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), I can...

While I rarely admit it, I can be intensely competitive. When I heard about JAMA’s latest article, Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates for Medicare Patients Treated by Male vs. Female Physicians I dropped everything to read that article**. How could this be? I carefully searched the article (checking it twice) for a flaw, in methodology, results or conclusions. Finally I found a flawed assumption the authors made because, well frankly, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the rest of us did too. Here is the problem:

“We assigned each hospitalization [and the consequent outcomes] to a physician …that accounted for the largest amount of Medicare...

Are you shocked by this news?  Me, not so much.  But, hats off to the Harvard research team and their new approach to tackling gender inequality in medicine by getting back to the basics:  Let the evidence speak for itself.  And, it does (to a certain extent).

Since all most people care about is who lives and dies or patient outcomes, why not study if the physician’s gender plays a critical role in the all-important realm of survival?

Ok, so for full disclosure, this article brings me joy.  For so many reasons.  On so many levels.  Mainly, for the chuckle and laughter I already have enjoyed in response to some reactionary, knee-jerk posts on social media and in person that range from dismissing the publication as another feminist attack that would never be granted in the...

Dr. Henry Heimlich, thoracic surgeon and creator of the famed maneuver that saves people from choking to death, died at the age of 96.  

In his own words, he best elucidates the profound nature of this triumph: 

“What makes the Heimlich Maneuver particularly special is this: it is accessible to everyone.  Because of its simplicity—and the fact that it works when performed correctly—just about anyone can save a life.  Each of us can save the life of a stranger, a neighbor, a spouse, or a child.  And it can happen anywhere—in restaurants, homes, ballparks—you name it.  You see, you don’t have to be a doctor to save a life.  You just have to have knowledge and the instinct to respond in a  crisis.”

...

It is a longstanding myth that suicides surge during the holiday season.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate reaches its lowest of the year in the month of December.  

The Spring and Fall apparently reflect peak times— a rather consistent finding in recent years.  Regardless of this nuance, suicide is a major public health threat impacting all ages, careers and socioeconomic strata prompting a rippling devastation of families and communities throughout the calendar year.  

Spurred by the Germanwings Flight 4U 925 crash last year, the journal ...

Donald Trump. The Pharmaceutical Industry. If those terms two don't get you into a fight at a cocktail party, nothing will.

But, they need to be discussed, because there could be some big changes coming in both the manner and speed with which new drugs navigate the arduous US Food and Drug Administration pathway from lab bench to pharmacy.

Just one example to provide some context. Media have been making much of the fact that Jim O’Neill, a libertarian with a free-market mindset, has been floated as one possible candidate to head the FDA. Some of his prior statements are troubling but his philosophy could also be helpful, since he is "pro-biotech."

Either way, in talking about one even...