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

Shooting the Messenger: Activists Persecute Scientists Whose Findings They Don’t Like

Alice Dreger’s book recounts many instances of shooting the messenger, when scientists were persecuted for research findings that activists found objectionable. Social justice matters, but it should rely on science and reality, not ideology. Don’t shoot him. He’s just bringing a message. Alice Dreger is an academic historian who has been active in supporting those

New Drugs for Sickle Cell Disease: Small Benefit, Large Price

The FDA has approved two new drugs to treat sickle cell disease. They don’t do much, and they are prohibitively expensive.  Sickle cell disease is a serious condition, an abnormality of hemoglobin that is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, where both parents have to pass on the defective gene. The red blood cells take

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