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

John Oliver on scientific studies

I love John Oliver and his show Last Week Tonight. Maybe because he frequently comments on or makes fun of our behemoth and costly healthcare system.

Related post: John Oliver mocks Big Pharma tactics

If you missed it, here’s the video of his show lampooning “scientific studies.” You know, the research mass media loves to package into scary sound bites (everything causes cancer) and healthcare corporations use to sell us something we probably don’t need.

TODD Talks

Especially funny is this skit that shows how those TV infomercials can beguile us into thinking their … Continue reading

Why are EpiPens so expensive?

epipensEpiPens – lifesaving but costly

I’m allergic to bee stings, so I keep an EpiPen handy when I’m working out in my garden this time of year.

But my EpiPens are more than 3 years old now, and it’s time to invest in a new set.

Why do I say invest? Because EpiPens are incredibly expensive!

Related post: First aid for bee stings

I didn’t know that three years ago when I bought them. At that time, my health insurance did not include coverage for prescription medications (all ACA-compliant plans must now), so I paid the full price out of … Continue reading

How accurate is your Fitbit?

fitbitIt’s OK for steps, but not much else

I was feeling really good about myself the other day when I came home after finishing a 6,000 step walk that burned—according to the Fitbit Zip in my pocket—720 calories.

Woo!

I boasted about this to my husband, who immediately burst my pride bubble by saying, “There is no way you burned that many calories in a 40-minute walk. Think about it.”

He was right. I knew in the back of my mind that 720 calories was just too high. Have you ever run on a treadmill for 15 minutes and felt … Continue reading

“Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”

gwyneth paltrowDon’t take health advice from celebrities

I just finished reading a thoughtful, informative and thoroughly entertaining book that examines how our celebrity-crazy culture affects our healthcare and lifestyle choices.

In “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”, author Timothy Caulfield makes it his quest to “analyze and debunk the messages and promises” behind celebrities’ overhyped and oversold health, diet and beauty products.

Indeed, celebrity culture has emerged as one of the most significant and influential sources of pseudoscientific blather….The popularity of juicing, cleanses, detox diets, weird exercise routines, and a boatload of beauty and antiaging products and practices can be

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Addyi – Will a new ad campaign really help?

A few months ago I wrote a post about Addyi (flibanserin), the new drug that supposedly boosts the female libido. It’s also referred to as “pink Viagra” or “female Viagra” although it doesn’t work like Viagra.

In fact, it’s debatable whether it works as advertised at all.

Addyi was supposed to a blockbuster drug for Valeant Pharmaceuticals, but it’s had lousy sales since it appeared on the market in August.

More than half a million men got prescriptions for Viagra in its first month on the market in 1998. The number of prescriptions for Addyi, the women’s libido-boosting

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FDA warns about imported supplements

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just released this consumer education video about supplements and dietary aids:

I’ve written many, many posts on the dangers of trusting supplement manufacturers to tell you the truth about their products. Not to mention buying supplements (aka nutriceuticals or herbal remedies) is often just a waste of money.

Although the video focuses on imported supplements, the same warning can apply to domestically-manufactured products.

Related posts:

The FDA consumer safety webpage on this topic is an … Continue reading

Don’t use the Instant Blood Pressure app

Aura Life, the makers of the popular smartphone blood pressure app Instant Blood Pressure, probably made a mistake when they initially used the well-known medical research complex Johns Hopkins in their marketing campaign.

Aura Life boasted their app “uses a patent-pending process developed by a team from the Johns Hopkins University—a world leader in health innovation.”

Baffled, Johns Hopkins sent Aura Life a cease-and-desist letter, but they also decided to do some research into how well the blood pressure app performed.

Not well.

The researchers recently released their findings that showed the Instant Blood Pressure app, which uses an… Continue reading

5 tips to save money on prescription drugs

save money on prescription drugsOne of the driving forces behind rising health care costs is the increasingly high cost of prescription drugs.

And because 60% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, that adds up to a lot of money.

Insurance companies are trying to rein in costs by having tiered copayments (higher for brand names) or limiting the selection of drugs on their formularies (the list of drugs your insurance will cover).

This post gives you some suggestions to save money, and some resources that might be helpful.

But first, ask yourself and your physician if a prescription drug is really … Continue reading