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

When Doctors Refuse to Believe Evidence

Paul Offit’s new book covers the evidence for many surgeries, medications, and screening tests that have been proven ineffective and harmful yet are still being used by doctors who refuse to follow the science. Science-based medicine is all about testing medical ideas against reality. If there is abundant evidence from well-designed controlled clinical trials that

Bogus Treatments for Bogus Diagnosis Are Killing Patients

Lyme disease is real Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. According to the CDC, “typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.” A short course of antibiotics

New Contraceptive Drug Makes No Sense

I subscribe to The Medical Letter to learn about new drugs. I am frequently appalled by their cost. For example, a year’s treatment with Ozanimod, a drug recently approved for multiple sclerosis, costs $84,800. And some new drugs cost much, much more than that. A gene therapy drug from Novartis currently holds the record: 2.1 million dollars for a year’s treatment. But in

How a Drug Is Born

Big Pharma is not a misnomer. Pharmaceutical drugs are big business. The US is the world leader in producing new drugs and is  responsible for  nearly half of the new molecular entities (NME’s) that come on the market.  Americans spend well over $300 billion yearly on prescription drugs. Both Big Pharma and the FDA have come in for harsh criticism, much

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