When Drugs Cost Too Much

Our ability to develop new drugs is fast outstripping our ability to pay for them; some are exorbitantly expensive and not very effective. Funds are limited, and as a society we need to have a serious discussion about how they are to be allocated. How much is it reasonable to pay for a drug? If

Flame Retardants Have Ignited a Flaming Controversy

Flame retardants are controversial: proponents say they reduce fire damage and save lives; critics say they don’t work, are poisoning our environment, and should be banned. Flame retardants are a controversial subject. Many fire departments and chemical industry sources praise retardants for reducing fire damage and saving lives. Critics say they do more harm than

Politics, Science, and Health

Carl Sagan said, “We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.” The beliefs that politicians hold affect legislation on public health, medical research, and medical care. If they don’t understand science, they

Fact-Checking Vaccine Statements in the GOP Debate

1.Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, said that there have been numerous studies and they have not demonstrated any correlation between vaccines and autism. TRUE. He said certain vaccines are very important: those that would prevent death or crippling. He said others don’t fit in that category. FALSE. Although some vaccine-preventable diseases have the potential to

Alternative Medicine Is Infiltrating Veterinary Continuing Education

We want the veterinarians who care for our animals to continue their education and keep up to date by learning about new developments in science. A new proposal for veterinary continuing education would encourage them to learn to use questionable treatments based on pseudoscience and fantasy. My friend Carmen Czachor is a science-based veterinarian practicing

Chiropractors Lobby for Acceptance by the VA and TRICARE

It seems alternative medicine is infiltrating into more and more organizations that should be based on science. We have quackademia in medical schools, integrative medicine clinics in hospitals and medical centers, government funding for alternative medicine research and education, coverage of alternative medicine by government and private health insurance, and acceptance of alternative practitioners in the VA and in military hospitals. Two

“Female Viagra?” Misleading Headlines and Regulatory Dilemmas

The FDA recently approved flibanserin (brand name Addyi) for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in pre-menopausal women. The story of flibanserin illustrates several of the issues we have confronted on this blog: It was hyped in the media. Misleading headlines called it the female Viagra. It was initially rejected by the FDA and was

Keep Naturopathy Out of the VA!

AMVETS has joined with The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians in seeking to “promote natural, non-pharmacological approaches to treating patients suffering from chronic pain.” They are petitioning Congress and the VA to authorize bringing licensed NDs into the VA system. As a veteran myself, a retired Air Force Colonel and an MD, I find this

Do Helmets Prevent Head Injuries?

A cycling enthusiast asked me about helmets. It seems compellingly obvious to me that a head impacting the pavement without a helmet is likely to sustain more damage than a head protected by a helmet. He challenged that, citing a BMJ article by Ben Goldacre that questioned whether the evidence showed that helmets do any good. He said I

Smoking Cessation and the Affordable Care Act

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Each year it kills more than 5 million people around the world, 480,000 in the US alone. And for every person who dies, about 30 more have serious illnesses caused by smoking. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Anyone who is concerned about preventive medicine must consider