Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

Before beginning my story, let’s review a little bit about influenza vaccines. For a long time, we’ve known that older patients and those with certain underlying diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, and others had a lower response to many vaccines than young, healthy subjects. One way to deal with this problem might be to give the vaccine in higher dosage.  This has been done with hepatitis B vaccine in patients with kidney failure as one example – and it does work.

Very recently, the same strategy was applied to the flu vaccine. A high dose vaccine was developed by Sanofi-Pasteur (Fluzone).  In a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers demonstrated...

Two decades ago Africa was considered to be a lost cause. The continent was being decimated by AIDS (as well as "normal" fatal infections like malaria) and there seemed to be no way to slow, let alone stop this new, unprecedented epidemic. Little did we know what would soon follow. Life could not be more different today

Thanks to powerful and effective antiretroviral drugs (1) and efforts to distribute them, Africa in 2017 is now a very different place, something that is illustrated by a December 2017 report by the World Health Organization, which looks specifically at progress in Kenya. 

"[B]y 2030, the WHO says, there should be no new...

There is more (and new) evidence mounting to an already robust knowledge database that a man’s erectile dysfunction (ED) can be linked to a higher rate of cardiovascular (CV) events.

The latest work to be discussed here demonstrated such men had a “higher relative risk of myocardial infarction [or heart attack], total CV events, and all-cause mortality.” (1)

First, let’s review a few facts about ED and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

  • CVD is leading cause of death in men (with significant rates in young & old)
  • > 30 million men in U.S. are affected by ED
  • ED impacts > 50% of men aged 40-70 years...

Sepsis is an overwhelming infection that can lead to organ failure and death. It is a big problem.

In the U.S., 1.6 million patients are affected annually, with about 250,000 dying – far greater than the deaths from breast cancer, which garner much more publicity. Moreover, sepsis requires rapid diagnosis and treatment making it a priority in our Emergency Departments. For the economically minded, it is the most expensive care we provide. [1]

An article in the American Chemical Society Infectious Disease suggests we have overlooked a means of treating sepsis that our body already provides, bicarbonate. It is important to note that the research involves in vitro work only.

Of Bicarbonate and Bacteria

Bicarbonate acts in...

This flu season is turning out to be very bad, something that my colleague Dr. Julianna LeMieux has been covering. (See: here and here). Unfortunately, influenza is difficult to avoid, prevent or treat. This year's vaccine is (at best) moderately effective, and the alternative - flu drugs - is not great either. Even so, there are now shortages of these medicines, despite their shortcomings. In reality, there are simply no wonderful choices for either preventing or treating flu. 

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With bomb cyclones, blizzard conditions and a polar vortex prompting school closures and other restrictions, it would seem an optimal time to detail cold-related illnesses and deaths for the purposes of prevention. But, been there, done that. Instead, as snow days tend to make some a bit stir crazy, I figured I would simultaneously perform a public service by being educational and informative, yet also be compelling.

Nature and the human body in its development and capacity for resilience can be quite fascinating. Before delving into a few conditions that will pique your interest along the “did you know this was physically possible” line, I highly recommend being sensible to avoid some of the pitfalls of winter. To do so, review...

Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senator from Utah, has announced his retirement. When he leaves, the Senate will lose its most ardent supporter of alternative medicine.

Previously, that title was held indisputably by Tom Harkin, a Democratic Senator from Iowa. He is largely to blame for the abomination known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), an organization so worthless that it had to change its name so biomedical scientists would stop mocking it.

If Ted Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate, Sen. Harkin was the Snake Oil Salesman of the Senate. Given that his pet project wasted billions investigating pure...

Those in Hollywood are in a unique position to do tremendous good given their substantial platform. Unfortunately, with that megaphone comes immense responsibility. While many take that very seriously and share meaningful messages that can spread awareness about disease and its prevention, the speed of the news cycle and the endless modes of social media connection can disseminate misinformation in an instant-- with a global reach.

So, let’s take a look back this year at what we learned from Tinseltown--good, bad and indifferent.

 

Health Outreach

Jack Black and Ed Sheeran are among those who had the right idea because their efforts stemmed from an authentic and caring place.   

A...

This year brought about a number of public discussions surrounding not only less mainstream medical conditions, but also physically and emotionally challenging and ethically complex ones. Disorders and illnesses that routinely get minimal light shed upon them made it into the news cycle. It is only via this attention that awareness for prevention opportunities, seeking early care or research discoveries and treatment advancement get pursued, even funded.

 

Here are ten of this year’s more intriguing medical cases that made the spotlight:

 

1.  Ovarian Tumors With Brain Tissue...

The world of contraception might soon have a new participant — if the upcoming trials are successful. And this one’s for men. No longer restricted to the old-hat condoms (ugh) or vasectomies (ouch!), men might soon catch up to their female counterparts if upcoming tests of a hormonal gel show it’s effective in reducing sperm counts.

The gel, which has to be applied daily, contains two synthetic hormones, testosterone, and progestin. Topically applied progestin will decrease the production of a man’s own testosterone, and the added testosterone balances the deficit caused by the progestin — but not in amounts that will stimulate normal sperm production.

According to a...