Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

Aristolochic acid or its derivatives (AA) have been linked to kidney damage — sometimes severe enough to require kidney transplants, as we've described here. Unfortunately, some supplements containing these substances are used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Their use is particularly prevalent in Asian countries that are more likely to use TCM. A study just published in Science Translational Medicine now links aristolochic acid to liver cancer. 

Dr. Steven G. Rozen of the Duke NUS Medical School in Singapore and colleagues noted that while AA is implicated in multiple cancer types, and their study on...

Where is the best state to practice medicine? I would argue the latest study on the topic does little to answer the question given the metrics chosen. But, the project does provide a template and way to calculate your personal level of interest in the pre-selected benchmarks. The result is a starting point that guides your thought process more than it might firm up any decisive actions on the subject.

Given the parameters of cost of living, residency retention rate, tax climate, physician density, malpractice premiums (averages) and Medicare’s Geographic Cost Index (1),...

In the unlikely event that your "people who are talking out of their ass" list is growing too short, fear not. Help is on the way. All you need is to read STAT's Charles Piller's insane article about Michael Laufer, a self-proclaimed hero of the masses, who wants to teach you how to synthesize your own prescription drugs to save yourself a ton of money, while at the same time, keeping it from those evil drug companies. How precious! And what could possibly go wrong? Maybe this?

A Frozen Addict from 1982. Source: Neurology Update.

This guy was not doing Pilates...

The body likes things like oxygen to go where it is designed to go. So, when it escapes the lungs and enters the surrounding cavity that houses them, they get unhappy and one might even collapse if the amount and pressure it creates is significant enough. Such is the situation for a One Direction concert-goer whose difficulty breathing after “intense screaming” yielded a published case report in the Journal of Emergency Medicine

The article entitled ““Screaming your Lungs Out!” A Case of Boy Band-Induced Pneumothorax, Pneumomediastinum, and Pneumoretropharyngeum,” uses some big words. Let us break it...

Many of our readers have been curious about the status of Dr. Harvey Friedman's (University of Pennsylvania) trivalent sub-unit herpes vaccine, given the recent disappointment of Genocea's GEN-003 vaccine candidate (1).

In my interview with him, Dr. Friedman addresses many of these questions:

JB: This past January you published a paper in PLOS Pathogens which discussed the immunological response of rhesus monkeys and guinea pigs to your trivalent HSV vaccine.  At the time you said, “I really do think this is more promising than other vaccine research out there. I've never seen anything published that comes close to our efficacy.

Has...

What were the top selling prescription drugs last year? What segment of the population is most increasing its drug intake? What are the projections of medication spending in the next five years? The answers were just published and will be addressed here.

A new report “produced independently by the QuintilesIMS Institute as a public service, without industry or government funding” reviewed 2016 medicine use and spending in the United States and provides an outlook through 2021. Among their in-depth analysis includes trends in medicine usage, out-of-pocket costs along with spending and growth dynamics. 

With an ever...

Have you ever been prescribed a drug by your doctor only to find that your insurance company won't pay for it until you try (and fail) an older, cheaper alternative first?

There's a pretty good chance you have, something that American Council friend Dr. Robert Popovian, the Vice President of US Government Relations at Pfizer discusses in his recent editorial in Morning Consult (1,2). Popovian maintains that the answer is "yes," and that this practice comes at the expense of patient health? He is not alone.

Dr. Paul Barton Brown writing earlier this year in the Seattle Times certainly agrees. Barton makes his feelings known before you read even one word of his editorial: "Insurance companies’ ‘fail-first’ policy enough to make you sick...

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal, regarding approved cancer drugs in the European Medicines Agency from 2009-2013 has found that most of them did not significantly lengthen survival time nor did they improve quality of life. 

Two important outcomes of cancer treatment are the quantity and quality of life.  Most clinical trials, however, do not measure these outcomes directly, rather they look at "surrogate" measures of drug efficacy.  The study end-points are not a reflection, or are a poor reflection of, valuable patient-centered outcomes.  The authors continue to state that based on their findings from two separate systematic reviews, what had been touted as "breakthrough" treatment, really...

I have written frequently about hepatitis C. First, during my former career in drug discovery research, I spent 10 futile, frustrating years working in this area. Second, the quarter-century campaign that led to a cure for the infection is unquestionably one of the most impressive accomplishments in the history of medicinal chemistry (1)

I have also written about the benefit of second- and third-generation drugs, which are dismissed as "me-too" drugs by know-nothing critics of the industry, such as Sidney Wolfe and Marcia Angell. Ignorant critics would have you believe that the fourth approved drug in a class is nothing more than a non-innovative cash cow for drug companies...

The major problem with chronic disease is that by nature of its indolence, it can become exceedingly easy to ignore – none more so than diabetes.  Whether you're dealing with patients with insulin dependent diabetes or even those requiring oral medications, noncompliance is a plague.  A key feature, unique with diabetic patients, especially in those who rely solely on exogenous insulin administration, is the maintenance required to achieve optimal health outcomes. 

Given that constant adherence to monitoring blood glucose levels, calculating amount of insulin required, implementing dietary modifications, diabetes becomes a disease that requires a complete lifestyle overhaul. If you have ever had the misfortune of having your finger pricked to check your blood sugar, you can...