Category: Pharmaceuticals

Food and Drug Administration building.

Donald Trump and Peter Thiel vs. the FDA: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Donald Trump's three most likely picks for FDA Commissioner all favor loosening drug approval standards. Two are cronies of Peter Thiel, of which one believes that the FDA shouldn't require evidence of efficacy, only safety, and the other believes that a "Yelp for drugs" would do a better job than the FDA. The third candidate is a bona fide, honest-to-goodness pharma shill....

/ January 16, 2017
Emergency Room sign

Drug therapy is still sending too many people to the emergency department

Prescription drugs continue to send thousands to the emergency room every year. Many of these adverse drug events are predictable and avoidable.

/ December 1, 2016
When Dr. Oz met Donald Trump: Somehow this photo just seemed appropriate for this post.

Medical science policy in the U.S. under Donald Trump

The election of Donald Trump was unexpected. Given Trump's history of antivaccine beliefs and conspiracy theories, coupled with a fervor for deregulation (a fervor shared by the Republican Congress), it is reasonable to fear what will happen to medical science policy during the next four years.

/ November 14, 2016
Martin Shkreli testifying

R&D and the High Cost of Drugs

Until a year ago very few people had ever heard of Martin Shkreli. In 2015 the then-32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC became the poster boy for Big Pharma eXXXcesses when Turing acquired rights to Daraprim, an antiparasitic drug used widely to treat toxoplasmosis. The acquisition itself wasn’t particularly controversial. Raising the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per...

/ October 15, 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
Randomized controlled clinical trial

Whither the randomized controlled clinical trial?

One of the most frequent complaints about evidence-based medicine (EBM), in contrast to science-based medicine (SBM), is its elevation of the randomized clinical trial as the be-all and end-all for clinical evidence for an intervention for a particular disease or condition. Unknown but enormous quantities of “digital ink” have been spilled explaining this distinction right here on this blog, beginning with our...

/ June 20, 2016
Cancer cell immunofluorescence

Is there a reproducibility “crisis” in biomedical science? No, but there is a reproducibility problem

Reproducibility is the key to scientific advancement. It has been claimed that we suffer from a "reproducibility crisis," but in reality it is a chronic problem in reproducibility. Here we will look at the scope of the problem and strategies to address it.

/ June 6, 2016

Hormone Replacement Therapy for Menopausal Symptoms: Setting the Record Straight

Whether you call them hot flashes or “power surges,” the symptoms of menopause can be very distressing. They were routinely treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) until the Women’s Health Initiative study in 2002 persuaded many patients and doctors to abandon that treatment. The results of that study were misunderstood by some and questioned by others, and there continues to be confusion...

/ May 17, 2016
Will this help you recover from exercise?

More drugs, more supplements, and potentially more problems

Early in my career I was fortunate to be offered a role as a hospital pharmacist, working on an inpatient ward along with physicians, nurses, and a number of other health professionals. My responsibilities included conducting a detailed medication review with each newly admitted patient. We would sit together, often with family members, going through what was sometimes a literal garbage bag...

/ March 24, 2016

Testing Testosterone Treatments

Ponce de Leon is said to have been looking for the Fountain of Youth when he explored Florida. That’s only a myth. Now there’s a new myth, that testosterone supplements are a Fountain of Youth for aging men. Men are urged to get their testosterone levels checked if they have any of a long laundry list of vague symptoms. Anti-aging clinics promote...

/ March 22, 2016