I’ve posted many times about the problems with the multi-billion-dollar supplement industry, and there was a good Op-Ed piece on Live Science yesterday that supported my own opinion: These 5 Supplements Do Nothing For Alzheimer’s, Despite Claims
The article was co-written by two physicians, both geriatric (aging) specialists.
The Latin axiom “caveat emptor,” let the buyer beware, applies to people of all ages. But in our medical practices, we have witnessed the incredible dependence elderly patients have on herbal supplements to help them (in their minds, at least) prevent and manage chronic illness.
When we see patients, we ask them
… Continue reading
More and more frequently I come across stories of patients who have inadvertently received care from “out-of-network” providers. And it can be a costly mistake.
When you are billed for the costs that your insurance company has denied, that’s called “balance billing.”
My insurance company doubles the deductible for out-of-network care; instead of $10,000, our deductible becomes $20,000. But insurance companies aren’t required by law to put a limit on a patient’s out-of-pocket spending when it comes to out-of-network care. In theory, you could get hit with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills even though you have insurance.… Continue reading
I read a good post from a surgeon urging everyone to use good judgement when driving: Driving advice from a trauma surgeon
After my own stint in the OR of the local trauma center, I can attest to the fact that a seemingly minor bad decision when behind the wheel of a two-ton, fast-moving vehicle can result in horrific injuries. (Not to mention the financial cost is astronomical.)
The surgeon writes:
In my non-scientifically-proven experience, the majority of my patients are in the hospital due to someone’s bad decisions — either their own or someone else’s. However, no one ever
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I posted about Belsomra (suvorexant), the newest sleeping pill to hit the market, a few months ago. At that time, it wasn’t available to buy yet. Now it is.
As I predicted, it’s expensive, although not quite as costly as I thought it might be. According to GoodRx, a 30-day supply of 10mg tablets in my area code will cost on average $275.
Generic Ambien—zolpidem—costs about $30.
Belsomra works differently in the brain than Ambien or Lunesta. Will it work better? Hard to know, since at this time there have been no studies directly comparing the efficacy of Belsomra … Continue reading
I read a lot of medical and nursing history, and I loved the Pulitzer-prize winning book “Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD.
And I love the PBS films by Ken Burns, such as The Civil War and Baseball.
So I was excited to find out that Ken Burns has produced a new PBS documentary based on the book. The six-hour special, Emperor of All Maladies, will air in three, two-hour parts on March 30. March 31, and April 1.
For more about the book, here’s the … Continue reading
A few days ago, Vox.com published an interview with Stanford researcher John Ioannidis, MD. Dr. Ioannidis is a meta-researcher, that is he researches research.
How accurate are research studies? How are they designed? How many subjects are involved? Can the results be duplicated? How do the results from one study compare with another?
These are the types of questions Dr. Ioannidis attempts to answer, as well as leading the effort to fix what is broken in our medical research system.
Because it is broken.
As the article states:
Medical research is in bad shape. Fraud, bias, sloppiness, and inefficiency are
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I love this YouTube clip of John Oliver, The Daily Show alum and now host of his own HBO show, Last Week Tonight, in which he takes a humorous but scornful look at how Big Pharma markets drugs to doctors.
In 2013, we spent close to $330 billion on prescription medications; 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug. As John Oliver quips,
Walter White could have made a lot more money if he was cooking up rheumatoid arthritis drugs.
He also points out that 9 out of 10 pharmaceutical companies spend … Continue reading
I’ve written a couple of posts about the Number Needed to Treat, aka the NNT. That’s the number of people that must be treated with a drug, a procedure or a screening test to save one life.
The lower the number, the better.
Related post: Number Needed to Treat
Well, the dark twin of the NNT is the Number Needed to Harm, or the NNH. How many people can be treated before one person is harmed? In this case, the bigger the number, the better.
Aaron Carroll, MD, of The Incidental Economist blog, wrote a terrific piece in The New … Continue reading
Here’s a link to the PBS Frontline special Being Mortal, based on the book of the same name by the brilliant surgeon/author Atul Gawande.
The hour-long report shows Dr. Gawande talking with patients and colleagues about difficult end-of-life issues. Both doctors and patients have trouble managing their expectations about death and the process of dying. After all, doctors want to fix things and patients believe there is always “something more” that can be done.
But as Dr. Gawande says, “The two big unfixables are aging and dying. You can’t fix them.”
Overall, Being Mortal asks, “What matters to you … Continue reading
I read a recent article that New York’s attorney general has ordered some drugs stores (Target, Walgreen’s, GNC and Wal-Mart) to stop selling their store-brand supplements because of quality concerns: Herbal Supplements Without Herbs.
Using DNA analysis, several products were examined in a university study:
Among the popular products examined were ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort and ginseng pills. Four out of five of the products tested did not include any of the herbs listed on their labels. Even worse, hidden ingredients and contaminants could be dangerous to people with allergies to those substances.
I’ve posted about supplements many … Continue reading