I was troubled but not surprised to read the other day that the anti-psychotic medication, Abilify, is now so popular that it is the best-selling drug in the US.
Two years ago, Abilify was only the 5th best-selling drug, with its competitor, Seroquel, coming in 6th.
At that time, a psychiatrist warned in the New York Times:
The original target population for these drugs, patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, is actually quite small: The lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia is 1 percent, and that of bipolar disorder is around 1.5 percent. Drug companies have had a
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How many are helped; how many are hurt
My son sent me a great link to an article in Wired magazine about a physician and his colleagues who have started a website called TheNNT.com.
What is the NNT? It stands for “the number needed to treat” and it’s a pretty common measurement talked about in health care. Simply put, it quantifies how many people need to be treated for one person to be helped.
The best therapies have a low NNT:
If your kid is throwing up and you take her to the hospital, she might get a drug
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Two things happened last week that reminded me you can never be too careful in our health care system, especially when medications are involved.
Large pharmacies oversee hundreds of prescriptions every day. Add that to numerous phone calls, glitchy computers and impatient customers, and mistakes are bound to happen.
Protect yourself with a few simple steps at the counter:
Check the name on your prescription
Or, a tale of two patients (with the same last name)
My 84-year-old mother called me on Friday afternoon in a bit of a panic. She had just returned from visiting my brother on the … Continue reading
Phillips’ Colon Health probiotic—”bloated” claims?
One of my favorite websites to look at on occasion is Truth in Advertising.
From their website:
Each year, American consumers lose billions of dollars as a result of deceptive marketing and false ads. These run the gamut from blatant lies and fraudulent scams to subtle ploys intended to confuse and mislead. Not only do these tactics impact us as consumers, but a mind-boggling amount of money is misdirected in our economy as a result of deceptive marketing. All too often, companies with quality goods and services lose out to businesses premised on false
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Natural does not mean safe
I read an article the other day about a man who developed a nasty rash after taking kava kava, a popular herbal supplement for stress and anxiety. He was also taking a prescription anxiety medication, Celexa (citalopram), which may have contributed to the bad reaction.
The article warns, with good reason, that herbal supplements are not necessarily safe, and may interact badly with other supplements and medications.
Always tell your health care provider if you are taking any over-the-counter herbs, supplements or vitamins!
Kava kava in particular, I think, highlights the problem of herbal … Continue reading
Exploring the “unreasonable, unsustainable” and “immoral” costs of treatment
If you or a friend or a family member have been impacted by the outrageous price of cancer drugs ($100,000 or more/year), take 15 minutes to watch this segment from a recent episode of the news magazine “60 Minutes.”
Heck, watch it even if you don’t have cancer because everyone is affected by the skyrocketing costs of all drugs, not just those that treat cancer. Health care prices go up, health insurance premiums, deductibles and copays increase, and taxpayers pay out more for Medicare and Medicaid.
Related post: The cost … Continue reading
Two things in the media caught my attention last week.
First was a pretty funny bit of pseudo-investigative journalism on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Titled “The Pharmaceutical Drug Epidemic”, it showed correspondent Michael Che probing for answers to this country’s very real (and unfunny) epidemic of prescription narcotic (oxycontin, percocet, vicodin) abuse and overdose deaths.
Yes, he puts a humorous spin on the story, but in true Daily Show style he also hits a few … Continue reading
The high cost of insomnia
I read with some trepidation that the pharmaceutical giant Merck recently received FDA approval for a new sleeping pill, Belsomra (suvorexant). It will be available later this year or early in 2015.
2/20/15 Updated post: Belsomra – Use with caution
Great, I thought, what will another brain-altering drug cost us?
Financially, Belsomra is expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in its first year. That’s great for Merck, whose shares went up after the announcement. But not so great for the individuals, insurance companies and government agencies that will need to … Continue reading
Because it doesn’t help everyone
There is nothing I like more than cleaning clutter out of drawers, closets, shelves and…my medicine cabinet.
Over the last year, as I’ve been researching for my blog, I’ve eliminated multivitamins, calcium supplements, vitamin D supplements and niacin. Now it’s time to give that unopened bottle of baby aspirin the heave-ho.
My husband bought it a few of years ago on the advice of his physician. At that time, many doctors were recommending a daily baby or low-dose aspirin to patients that had some risk of heart attack or stroke, usually those … Continue reading
Which is cheapest?
As I did my grocery shopping the other day, I ran into a large cardboard brochure holder at the end of one aisle. Literally ran into it. Why do store managers place these displays where they block cart traffic? Oh, right, to get our attention.
Well, it worked. But the bright purple brochures would have attracted my eye anyway. They touted the recent release of Nexium (“The Purple Pill”®) as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication; that is, you no longer need a prescription to buy it.
The brochure tells us that Nexium is the “#1 doctor prescribed acid … Continue reading