All posts by Scott Gavura

Is that pharmacist making an evidence-based recommendation?

What are health professionals telling consumers about dietary supplements?

The popularity of dietary supplements continues to grow. A few weeks ago I described how dietary supplements have become a $34 billion industry, despite the fact that there’s very little evidence to support their use. While there are absolutely some medical circumstances where specific supplements may be warranted, the vast majority of supplements are taken for general purposes, such as “wellness” or...

/ November 17, 2016

Supplements: Still popular despite little evidence they’re useful

As healthcare systems struggle to cope with growing and aging populations, there is renewed interest in eliminating wasteful, and possibly harmful, care. The Choosing Wisely campaign suggests that up to 30% of health care services may be unnecessary. Driven by the medical profession itself, Choosing Wisely is challenging both patients and health care providers to have an honest dialogue about the appropriateness...

/ November 3, 2016
karela_capsules

Natural Health Products: Loosely regulated, little evidence of benefit, and an industry intent on preserving the status quo

This week’s post will revisit a topic I recently covered, but it’s time-sensitive and needs your input. Health Canada, the Canadian equivalent to the US Food and Drugs Administration, is considering revisions to the way in which it regulates dietary supplements, which are called “natural health products” in Canada. It is rare that a regulator acknowledges that a regulatory system isn’t working,...

/ October 20, 2016
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Another way ibuprofen can kill us?

Do you ever take ibuprofen? Naproxen? Cold medication with an anti-inflammatory ingredient? The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among our most well-loved medications. We start giving them in infancy, for fever, and continue use through to adulthood for everyday aches and pains. But it’s our later stages of life when we really ramp up the use, and daily consumption becomes common for...

/ October 6, 2016
vitamins and supplements

Fixing the supplement market for consumers

When it comes to regulating and selling dietary supplements, should consumer interests be higher priority than those of manufacturers? While regulations are seemingly created to protect consumers, governments around the world have consistently given manufacturers the upper hand, prioritizing a company’s desire to sell a product over a consumer’s right to a marketplace with safe, effective products. Nowhere is this more the...

/ September 22, 2016

Oxygen water? You can’t breathe through your stomach

My exercise of choice is running. Despite the heat I’ve been having a great summer, training for the Chicago marathon. I’ve followed the training schedule fanatically since June. But it all came crashing down in one run last week when I moved from the ranks of “marathoner in training” to “injured runner”. With the sudden onset of very sharp, radiating back pain,...

/ September 8, 2016

Do pill organizers help or hurt?

In order for medication to work, getting a prescription filled isn’t enough. You have to actually take the medication. And that’s where you (the patient) come in. Estimates vary based on the population and the medication, but a reasonable assumption is that 50% of people given a prescription don’t take their medication as prescribed. In pharmacy terminology we usually call this medication...

/ August 25, 2016

Does acetaminophen during pregnancy raise the risk of behaviour problems?

In my career as a pharmacist I’ve answered a lot of questions about medication use in pregnancy. Pharmacists are among the most accessible health professionals, and we’re usually found near a wall of medicines and supplements.  Many don’t trust Dr. Google, and for good reason: There are conflicting answers online. When it comes to medication use in pregnancy and effects on the...

/ August 18, 2016

Pharmacy and homeopathy: Will the profession change, or will change be forced upon it?

Retail pharmacy is giving itself a credibility problem. While pharmacists are highly trusted health professionals, there are increasing questions about the products sold in pharmacies. Many of the non-prescription products that you can find aren’t backed by good evidence. And the number of dubious products seems to be growing. Homeopathy is an extreme example. Homeopathic “remedies” look like conventional medicine, but unlike...

/ August 11, 2016
A new study examined 26 Traditional Chinese Medicine products and determined that 90 per cent were unfit human consumption.

Should you try a “natural alternative” before medication?

The idea of taking medication can be frightening. And as consumers and patients that want to make our own informed health decisions, it’s understandable and even appropriate to question our physicians when they recommend drug treatments. We need to understand the rationale for any medication that’s recommended or prescribed, the benefits of therapy, the side effects, and if there are any other...

/ July 14, 2016