All posts by Scott Gavura

Beware the Integrative Pharmacy

Imagine a retail pharmacy where some of the medicines on the shelves have been replaced with similar-looking packages that contain no active ingredients at all. There is no easy way to distinguish between the real and the fake. Another section of the store offers a number of remedies with fantastic claims, such as “boosting” the immune system, “detoxifying” the body, or “cleansing”...

/ May 22, 2014

We’re a drug-taking, supplement-taking nation. So how do we do so safely?

Do you take a vitamin or dietary supplement? It’s increasingly likely that you do, as over half of all American adults took some sort of supplement over the past 30 days. Now there’s evidence to suggest that about one-third of all Americans are taking supplements and prescription drug at the same time, which is renewing questions about risks and benefits. The same...

/ May 8, 2014
evil-mr-vaccine

Naturopathy vs. Science: Vaccination Edition

We saw it coming. The re-emergence of vaccine-preventable disease should surprise no-one that’s been following the anti-vaccine movement. Rebutting anti-vaccine rhetoric feels like a Sisyphean struggle. Steven Novella likened it to a game of whack-a-mole, where the moles are the same old tropes that keep popping up, no matter how often they are refuted with facts. Vaccines are a remarkable success of...

/ April 24, 2014

New evidence, same conclusion: Tamiflu only modestly useful for influenza

Does Tamiflu have any meaningful effects on the prevention or treatment of influenza? Considering the drug’s been on the market for almost 15 years, and is widely used, you should expect this question has been answered after 15 flu seasons. Answering this question from a science-based perspective requires three steps: Consider prior probability, be systematic in the approach, and get all the...

/ April 10, 2014

More questions about acetaminophen: Does it cause ADHD?

“Will Tylenol harm my baby?”   Pharmacists are among the most accessible of health professionals, and so we receive a lot of questions from the public. No appointment required, and the advice is free. Among the most frequent sources of questions are women seeking advice on drug use in pregnancy. This is an area where some health professionals are reluctant to tread....

/ March 27, 2014

Naturopathy vs. Science: Allergy Edition

I glanced at my pharmacy license recently, and noticed I became a licensed pharmacist almost exactly twenty years ago. Two decades seems like a long time to do pretty much anything, yet I can still vividly recall some of the patients I encountered early in my career, working evenings in a retail pharmacy that drew heavily on the alternative medicine crowd. It...

/ March 20, 2014

The Diet Fix

Diets fail. Not just often, but almost always—90% of the time. If diets worked we wouldn’t have a worldwide obesity problem. And obesity is a problem that needs to be solved. The prevalence of obesity has doubled since 1980. As a public health issue, there are few determinants of illness that are more destructive, as obesity contributes to the growing rates of...

/ February 27, 2014

False “balance” on influenza with an appeal to nature

One of the encouraging shifts I’ve seen in health journalism over the past few years is the growing recognition that antivaccine sentiment is antiscientific at its core, and doesn’t justify false “balance” in the media. There’s no reason to give credibility to the antivaccine argument when their positions are built on a selection of discredited and debunked tropes. This move away from...

/ February 13, 2014

Does treating fever spread influenza?

Treating a fever with medication like Advil or Tylenol is reflex action when we come down with colds and influenza. But could treating fevers actually worsen an illness and contribute to its spread in the population? That’s the impression you may have gained from the headlines and press last week, where antipyretics (fever-reducing medications) were described as some type of “anti-vaccine”: Fever-reducing...

/ January 30, 2014

The New Cough and Cold Products for Children: Evidence is Optional and Science is Marketing

It’s the time of year where if you’re not sick, someone you know probably is. The influenza season in the Northern hemisphere started out slowly, but seems to be accelerating and hasn’t peaked yet. Add that to cold viruses circulating, and you get the peak purchasing period for cough and cold remedies. John Snyder gave a nice summary of the evidence base...

/ January 16, 2014