Two New Promising COVID-19 Drugs – Analysis and Questions

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet. Despite the success of vaccines, people continue to get the disease. Most cases are in the unvaccinated, but even those who have been fully vaccinated can have “breakthrough” infections. Relief appears to be in sight. Two new antiviral drugs promise effective treatment in pill form. Well-designed randomized controlled clinical studies

Genetic Testing for Selection of Psychotropic Medications

GeneSight is a blood test to determine which neuropsychiatric medications are indicated for an individual based on genetic analysis. The test is expensive and not likely to be helpful for most patients. Patients who suffer from major depression and other neuropsychiatric conditions usually improve with medication, but about half of patients fail to respond to

The FDA Blundered When It Approved Alzheimer Drug

The FDA has a difficult job. It is understaffed and underfunded. It has to walk a very fine line between prematurely approving a new drug that may turn out to be useless or even harmful and rejecting or delaying approval of a drug when earlier approval might have been saving lives. On the whole, I

Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

I could have chosen a prescription eye drop for my dry eyes. I decided not to. Here’s why. Dry eyes can have many causes: disease, medications, environmental irritants, or just age. Tear production tends to decrease as we get older. My husband (age 80) and I (age 75) were both diagnosed with dry eyes by

A New Medication to Combat Obesity

New study in The New England Journal of Medicine finds impressive evidence that weekly semaglutide injections produce clinically significant weight loss as well as many other benefits, approaching the improvements seen with weight loss surgery. Not a definitive answer to obesity, but a very encouraging step in the right direction. Science works. Science works. The rapid development

Evenity for Osteoporosis

Hip and wrist fractures are a common result of osteoporosis. A new drug, Evenity, reduces the risk of vertebral fractures, but it doesn’t significantly reduce the risk of non-vertebral fractures. Other drugs do. Atypical fractures of the femur can occur with bisphosphonate drugs, but the benefits exceed the risk. Evenity reduces the risk of vertebral

Statin Side Effects Revisited

Patients on statins frequently report muscle pain and other side effects, but controlled studies have shown side effects are not more frequent than with placebo. Why this discrepancy? A new study sheds some light. His muscles hurt. Is it from statins or some other cause? Something strange is going on. People who take statins frequently

Salonpas

Salonpas is an over-the-counter topical NSAID used to treat pain. It’s probably safe and might be worth trying for minor pain, but the effect is small and the advertising is more hype than substance. Do you get annoyed when the media keep repeating the same commercials? I do. And recently I’ve been particularly annoyed by

Appendicitis: Surgical vs. Medical Treatment

Surgery or antibiotics for appendicitis? This new study can help with the decision. The standard treatment for appendicitis has long been appendectomy, the removal of the appendix. The successful use of antibiotics instead of surgery was first reported in 1956 by Dr. Coldrey in the British Medical Journal, and since then there have been several randomized trials of

Don’t Ice Sprains

Ankle sprains are common; as a family physician I treated a lot of them. My most memorable ankle sprain patient was a young woman I saw during my residency training. Doctors had diagnosed a sprain. They gave her crutches and told her not to try to bear weight on the injured ankle until the pain

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