The Seven Year Rule

Newer drugs are not necessarily better drugs

A few days ago at the gym, I was leafing through an issue of Health magazine.

What caught my eye was not the article about preventing stress injuries, or the recipe for a zingy, low-fat curry, but rather the pages devoted to ads for prescription drugs. Drugs to treat psoriasis, hepatitis C, dry eyes, depression, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, and overactive bladder, to name but a few.

Each ad took three pages. After doing a little mental math, I discovered the ads for these new prescription drugs made up more than 30% of the … Continue reading

Choosing an antifungal cream

antifungal creamOne cream to treat them all

Over the weekend, I discovered I had a minor case of athlete’s foot. I’m no athlete, but note to self: wear flip-flops when taking a shower at the gym!

I couldn’t find a tube of antifungal cream in my medicine cabinet—it’s been years since anyone in my family has needed it—so I went out to buy one.

A large number of options confronted me. As always, I thought to myself, “How do ordinary consumers decide which of these fifty tubes of antifungal creams they need?”

Most manufacturers market the creams (or ointments, powders or … Continue reading

Baby boomers and HCV screening

harvoni and hcv screeningDon’t get health advice from commercials!

While nursing my cold last weekend, I was watching TV and one prescription drug commercial caught my eye. (One of oh so many. FTC—please make these go away!)

Actually, the ad didn’t mention any drug by name, but it was sponsored by Gilead Sciences, the makers of the new hepatitis C drug, Harvoni.

The commercial was aimed at baby boomers, who were advised to get tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

One in 30 baby boomers could have HCV and not know it, the voice over said, “…because Hep C can hide Continue reading

Use over-the-counter sleep aids with caution

over-the-counter sleep aidsNot safe for everyone

I’ve had problems sleeping most of my adult life. And I admit over the years I’ve tried using Benadryl (diphenhydramine) as a sleep aid now and then.

So I was interested when Consumer Reports recently published a warning that too many people are too frequently turning to over-the-counter sleeps aids.

A 2015 Consumer Reports national survey of 4,023 adults found a troubling trend: Of the 20 percent who took an OTC medication within the past year to improve sleep, almost 1 in 5 respondents, or 18 percent, said they took it on a daily basis. Most

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Whitening toothpaste abrasiveness

whitening toothpaste abrasivenessThe allure of whiter teeth

I’ve never whitened my teeth, and usually I’m happy with that. But sometimes I get the niggling idea that I would look younger and more sparkling if only my teeth were whiter. My life would be so much better!

Not true, of course, but we all have those unhelpful thoughts now and then, don’t we?

Having your teeth whitened professionally, by a dentist, is the safest way to go and offers the best result. However, it can be expensive.

There are many over-the-counter teeth bleaching sets available for a fraction of the cost—although still pricey, … Continue reading

LASIK – Know the risks

lasikLASIK isn’t a cure all

LASIK has tempted me.

I’ve been nearsighted almost my entire life, and began wearing glasses when I was 5.

I would love to wake up in the morning and not have to fumble for my glasses, or worry about my lenses getting wet in the rain or fogging up when I come in from the cold.

I would love to say goodbye to irritating contact lenses, and the yearly expense of buying contact solution, new lenses and some years new eyeglasses. They’re expensive and I don’t have vision insurance.

But the truth is LASIK isn’t … Continue reading

Stay healthy this holiday season

And save money, too

With both Thanksgiving and Black Friday over and done, the holiday season is in full swing!

But so is the cold-and-flu season :/

Want to stay healthy and save some money? Here are some of my favorite cold-prevention, money-saving posts.

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Life Line Community Healthcare and Life Line Screening

Buyer Beware

I’ve posted before about the limitations of Life Line Screening.

The screening tests they offer in their basic “wellness” package are either not recommended at all because they aren’t effective screening tools (carotid ultrasound), or are not recommended for the general public (abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound). Please read my previous post for more information on that: Don’t reach for Life Line Screenings

Screening tests are best discussed with your primary care physician. He or she will help you know which tests are right for you—based on your age, health history and family history—as well as how often they … Continue reading

Think Pink? Think twice!

think pinkI just returned from an errand to the bank where I saw a huge cardboard advertisement for a pink-ribboned Susan G. Komen credit card. That reminded me that October (or Pinktober) is all about Think Pink and breast cancer awareness.

But be aware that there are less-than-worthy charities and lots of for-profit merchandising, too. This post from last October has excellent links to help you know if a charity deserves your money. FN

Profiting from breast cancer?

I know October is all about the color pink and supporting breast cancer, but don’t be too hasty giving your money away, … Continue reading

What defines a “healthy” food to you?

The FDA wants your input!

Add your comment here: Use of the Term “Healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products

Do you remember a couple years ago when the maker of a particular brand of granola bars was told by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cease and desist from using the term “healthy” to describe their product?

The problem with those particular granola bars was their high saturated fat content. They were made with nuts, peanuts, peanut butter. coconut and dark chocolate—foods generally considered to be healthy and “good fats,” but fats nonetheless.

This caused a lot … Continue reading

Don’t reach for Life Line screenings

I first posted about Life Line screenings two years ago. I’m re-posting today as this post still gets a lot of traffic and I wanted to reopen the comments. 

life line screeningsOvertreating, overspending

I just received an invitation in the mail!

Not to a party or a wedding or anything fun, but to a Life Line Screening event being held at a local church. The letter says they’re holding a spot for me on this particular date, but I must call NOW to confirm and register, because spaces are LIMITED!

“These aren’t just routine medical procedures—they can help save your life”

Oh, … Continue reading

Drug commercials do more harm than good

I think it was a mistake to allow prescription drug commercials on TV. In my humble opinion, at least.

But I’m not alone in disliking these commercials, or direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads, as they’re called.

The news website Vox recently released a video that explains more about how DTC ads came to be ever present on our TVs. They attempt to be fair and present both sides of the debate, but it seems to me they lean negative. What do you think?

One of my objections to DTC ads is that these multi-billion dollar campaigns are … Continue reading

FDA finally bans triclosan, but only in soaps

triclosanTriclosan isn’t effective

Finally!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began drafting guidelines for the use of the popular antibacterial, triclosan, about 40 years ago.

Two years ago they announced they were ready to implement some much-needed oversight of this chemical. They asked the manufacturers of soaps and body washes to provide more evidence of both its effectiveness and safety.

Well, those companies came up short. Last week the FDA made its final decision to ban triclosan and some other chemicals used in “antibacterial” soaps.

Manufacturers haven’t shown that these ingredients are any more effective than plain

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Outrageous cost of EpiPens finally getting some attention

Wow. Talk about timing.

I just posted a few weeks ago about my dread of renewing my EpiPen prescription because of its cost—over $700 without insurance, and still over $600 with my insurance!

It seems other healthcare advocates, the media, Congress and even the presidential nominees are at last realizing how insane it is to charge that much for literally a few cents worth of epinephrine.

EpiPens are not even new to the market, like so many other high-priced drugs. It’s been around for a long time, so Mylan pharmaceuticals can’t claim it’s trying to recoup R&D costs. In fact, … Continue reading

View Prevnar 13 ads with caution

prevnar 13Prevnar 13: As seen on TV

I was watching TV the other evening and, as usual, was forced to sit through multiple back-to-back prescription drug commercials.

One that caught my attention was for Prevnar 13, which is one of the pneumonia vaccines. (13 because it protects against 13 strains of streptococcus pneumonia.)

The commercial stated Prevnar 13 was for adults aged 50 and older.

That statement’s true, but needs some clarification.

Yes, Pfizer did get FDA approval a few years ago to market Prevnar 13 to adults over the age of 50. Previously, the vaccine was only used for … Continue reading