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

Covid-19 Tests: Can You Trust the Results?

If your Covid-19 test was negative, can you breathe a sigh of relief? What if it’s a false negative? If it was positive, is that reliable evidence of infection or might it be a false positive result? How trustworthy are these tests? As with so much in science, the answer is complicated; it’s not a

No, No, No, NO! Testimonials Are Not Evidence!

We are programmed to respond to testimonials. Blame evolution. For most of human history, we had only two ways to learn about the world: our own observations, and what other people told us about their experiences. Gathering information from others gave us a survival advantage. Unfortunately, those testimonials can be unreliable. We now have something

‘Clinically Tested’—What Does That Mean?

They used to call useless treatments “snake oil.” We don’t hear that term anymore; now they may be called “dietary supplements” or “natural remedies.” A dietary supplement may contain a single herb or a combination of several ingredients. The ads frequently say they have been “clinically tested” or “clinically proven.” Do you believe that? I

Self Esteem Is Overrated

Most people believe that fostering self-esteem in children will have many benefits, from happiness to better school performance, but that belief is not supported by the evidence. We are encouraged to reward children and not punish them, to praise them not only for real accomplishments but also for trivial successes and even failures (“everybody’s a

Adele’s Sirtfood Diet

I recently got an email newsletter from TRC Natural Medicines. One of the articles was “Understanding the Hype Behind Adele’s Sirtfood Diet.” It’s brief enough to quote in its entirety:   “English singer-songwriter Adele has made headlines in recent months for her dramatic weight loss. You might start getting questions about the diet she followed—it’s called the

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

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

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