Lack of support for vitamin D
I’ve written several posts on vitamin D. That’s because it’s one of my pet peeves.
Because there was a lot of hype surrounding it several years ago when it became the latest health care fad. Suddenly a low vitamin D level was suspected of contributing to many types of cancer and chronic diseases. Physicians began testing everyone’s vitamin D levels and recommending vitamin D supplements, either over-the-counter or a stronger prescription form.
Further research on vitamin D, however, has not provided evidence that general screening for low vitamin D levels is helpful, … Continue reading
A worrisome trend for generics
A year ago I posted about my surprise when my husband’s prescription for levothyroxine, a generic drug, suddenly increased in price by 200%.
After a little investigative work, I discovered the reason for the sudden price hike was a shortage of the drug, which I was told would resolve within a few months.
Actually, the shortage was resolved as promised. The price, however, has remained stubbornly high. In fact, it is about 700% more expensive now than it was 18 months ago ($40 for 30 days rather than $5 for 30 days).
Levothyroxine is … Continue reading
New treatments for hepatitis C
I read an article online the other day in which the author practically shouted at her readers to “Run as fast as you can to your doctor’s office and get screened for hepatitis C!”
OK, what she actually wrote was:
Overall, the outlook for patients with hepatitis C is much better than it was just a couple of years ago. So if you’re a baby boomer who hasn’t been screened for hepatitis C yet, don’t wait.
Still, let’s step back and look at the big picture.
Hepatitis C screening has been in the news a … Continue reading
The power of positive thinking
I’ve been meaning for some time to write a post about the placebo effect.
A placebo (from the Latin “I shall please”) is a fake treatment—such as a sugar pill—that is intended to deceive the patient. If that patient improves, or at least thinks so, that is known as the placebo effect.
Before a new drug can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the drug maker must have studies to prove that it is more effective than a placebo. If neither the patients nor the researchers know who is getting the … Continue reading
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
… Continue reading
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
… Continue reading
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
… Continue reading
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