You would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the opioid crisis going on today. 

It is at an all time high in the US and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, the epidemic has gotten so bad that members of the White House's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction called on the President this week to "declare a national emergency." 

The numbers are staggering with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimating that 142 U.S. citizens die every day from a drug overdose. At the heart of these deaths are opioids such as Percocet, OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl.

What we are currently doing to stop the crisis is, obviously, not working.

We, as a society, have not made an effort...

There is nothing more effective for treating acute pain than opioids, said University of Washington pharmacology professor Charles Chavkin at a recent discussion on the "next generation" of pain therapeutics hosted by Life Science Washington in Seattle.

For some people, however, opioids aren't just painkillers. Instead, they serve as a lure into an addictive, self-destructive lifestyle. The sense of euphoria that opioids can cause proves irresistible to some addicts. For this reason, pharmaceutical companies are seeking to discover and develop non-opioid, non-addictive drugs to treat pain.

Alternatives to Opioids

Jeffrey Herz reported that his company, Algomedix, is studying a drug that blocks a protein ion channel called...

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: 


Since “fake news” seems to be the catch all buzz worthy expression of the moment, we also don’t need to look very far to find common medical falsehoods that tend to originate from the Hollywood stratosphere. Whether it is a press statement about a celebrity or a concept in a film, the nugget for fodder gets picked up by all media forms and insidiously spread.

Especially in the realm of celebrity—a category many politicians tend to fall into these days, there is what gets publicized and the truth. Being a physician who still believes in the right to privacy and is bound by certain codes of ethics and regulations, the standard for the release of health information is pretty clear and reflects the fact that the public is not entitled to know the details of another person’s health...

Babies inside the womb, as they exit and once out into the world —especially if breastfed—are influenced to varying degrees by their mother’s exposures, albeit illicit or prescription drug intake, food ingestion or smoking, to name a few.  

If a pregnant mother is chronically using opioids, for example, then birth with subsequent severing of the umbilical cord enacts an abrupt cessation of the substance to the baby.  The result is a newborn in withdrawal.  This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).  It can be mild or happen upon a wide array leading to severe.

A new research letter in JAMA Pediatrics...

And, so it begins.   With yesterday’s release by The Daily Mail of Anthony Weiner’s alleged entry into a rehab facility for the treatment of sex addiction, the media headlines ignited.

Then, Reuter’s.  With domino-like precision, the other outlets soon succumbed as well.

The never-ending speculation of what goes on in sex rehab and whether sex addiction is or isn’t a legitimate diagnosis continues today.  Along with publications of salacious specific texts that hit the internet.  

The incendiary match was lit. 

Whether you think it is a PR stunt.  A hail mary.  Well or poorly spun mea culpa.  An orchestrated play of crisis management teams — a la the popular television show Scandal.  In the grand scheme, all are red herrings.

In this instance...

My pregnant mom - while caring for her ill father - got a call her grandfather died.  She started to shake uncontrollably as her water broke.  Shortly thereafter, out I came  - nearly a month before I was due.

The upsetting news induced a physiologic reaction.  Current science supports this conclusion as the paradigm is ever-shifting to recognize the strong link between environment in prenatal life and health outcomes that span the spectrum into adulthood.

The film IN UTERO, directed by Kathleen Gyllenhaal, aptly articulates my battle cry after over a decade of pediatric practice.  Though intended to speak to the perils of...

With medical letters and the general health of the U.S. Presidential candidates being the big topic of discussion last week, we were all treated to analyses of issues like blood clots and BMI and other topics. Pundits on both sides suggested some concern about the medical fitness of the opposing candidate.

But, where did this interest in medical fitness come from? What's fit or unfit in 2016?  Basically, what would cause you, or the leadership of a major party, to declare a candidate not medically qualified to be President and not worthy of a vote?  

This answer is different for a physician.

Fitness is not as obvious as you might think. Doctors, me included, will automatically defer to the primary physician of a candidate as the final arbiter of medical health,...

The contents within may be dangerous to society. (Credit: Shutterstock) The contents within may be dangerous to society. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Science can make us uncomfortable. Astronomy proved that the Earth goes around the sun, upending centuries of geocentric theology. Physics tells us that our universe will someday come to an end. DNA sequencing can reveal our true ancestry or genetic predispositions to cancer and Alzheimer's disease, forever changing our life's...

Cocaine via Shutterstock Cocaine via Shutterstock

Addiction to drugs and alcohol have devastating consequences costing people their families, homes, jobs and even lives. Yet in the face of this many addicts continue to use. How can someone choose to continue using a drug knowing what s at stake?

The answer to this question is not simple. It is known that the release of dopamine (the happy chemical) in the brain makes...