side effects

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I remember, several years ago, going to a national drug development meeting; the first time I had been at such a meeting, with drug company folks from the highest national levels. I remember how excited I was.  Maybe someone could develop an antipsychotic that really could escape all those neuromuscular side effects.  Maybe they had new things that were more powerful than antibiotics, which I already knew were not working as well as they ought to. I remember, with characteristic naivete, that it felt impossible to find anyone with whom I could discuss the pharmacology that so impassioned me, for the “big” drug guys seemed to be more interested in the business and politics of the thing. Read more on Could Fish Oil Prevent Schizophrenia?…

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I enjoyed a social evening with a respected colleague who is one of my closest friends.  He and his wife are great conversationalists, and during the course of the dinner he wondered about the dangers of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) in precipitating dementia.

Read more on The Dangers of Benadryl…

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I idolized the American medical establishment. When I was a mere Blue Cross number-collecting lackey working at the front desk of the Emergency Room of Massachusetts General Hospital, I sometimes saw, slipping into the doctors’ lounge, notable people — doctors whose surname in footnotes graced the basic core medical textbooks I was using as parallel reading in France, to prepare myself for my American examinations in medicine. I never wanted to penetrate more than the lowest echelons of the American medical establishment when I returned from France.  I mean I doubted the Harvard-types would open their world to me easily, no matter how clever I was. I proved to be right.  At a Harvard-associated residency program, I was actually asked at the interview if anyone in my family was a Harvard University trained physician. I still remember the program chairman’s barely muffled laughter when I told him my father held a graduate degree from the Harvard University School of music. Read more on Drug Misuse in American Medicine Leads to Possible Catastrophe…

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If I haven’t convinced everyone yet, I don’t know how.

I have written on this before.

Vaccination keeps kids alive.  Kids who could die dead as door nails from preventable diseases.

Vaccination has very few side effects. Read more on We Can Fix This Vaccination Bit…

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My field is health – which is radically removed from bodybuilding.  Oh, the work-out gurus will tell you they are experts in nutrition and health, but their knowledge is often flawed (to put it charitably).  And they view someone like me with “Book Learning” as a real kill-joy.

There is something special about bodybuilding supplements — allegedly natural ones.  I remember a fairly brittle bipolar – a young and pumped-up muscular male model — who refused, as both I and his girlfriend pleaded with him, to give up a body building supplement. I told him the contents seemed strange and unknown to me.  This supplement had made him go angry and seemingly psychotic and she was ready to break up with him if he did not stop this strange supplement.

The girlfriend trusted me.  The young man was lost in wishful thinking (and perhaps an adverse drug reaction bordering on psychosis). Read more on Deadly Health Supplements…

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Warning:  Daily use of aspirin can lead to side effects which may include total loss of impulse control, man boobs, toe hair, and third nipples.  Please consult your doctor before taking this and other over the counter medicine.

Well, not really. But your really should know the risks and benefits of anything you take, even if it’s over the counter, even if it’s aspirin. I have an early memory, and I cannot have been beyond high school or early college, for I was still going to Friday night services with my Parents-of-Blessed-Memory.  My father would not let me in the choir with the other retired senior types with weak voices; but, it seemed to amuse him to no end when I out sang them and the cantor from the congregation.  The cantor had some kind of a congenital dislocation of the hip and some kind of back pain and I don’t know what else.  My parents had discouraged my still premature medical curiosity and told me not to ask him. Read more on To Aspirin or Not To Aspirin; That Is the Question…

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I was trying to remember when prescription drugs were allowed to advertise on television (called “Direct To Consumer Advertising, or DTCA”).  Fortunately, I didn’t have to bust my memory cells – I just had to “Google it.”

1995. The year all HHHHell broke loose.  At least if you were a doctor.

Suddenly, patients could make their own diagnoses and prescriptions and just phone the order in to their doctor.  At least, that’s how most patients thought it should work.  And – hoo boy! – were they upset when it wasn’t quite that easy.

Comedian Dennis Miller has a hilarious line: “I divide medical practitioners into two camps. Those who will give me a scrip for Vicodin over the phone, and those who won’t.”

Hilarious if you aren’t a doctor, that is. Read more on RX Package Insert — Just Read It!…

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Why would a pharmaceutical manufacturer want to change a drug from prescription to over the counter (OTC)?

Well, one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime is – When the Question is “WHY?” then the answer is “MONEY.”

Prescription Drugs Go Over The CounterIn this case, the most obvious reason is more money for pharmaceutical companies.  I certainly cannot think of anything — I mean any way shape or form — that can benefit patients.

Oh, sure – in our economically-ignorant country, many people think – “Whee!  I can buy any drug I want without spending money on a doctor’s appointment and without having to get a prescription! ”

These people are prime candidates for the Darwin Awards.

Yes, believe it or not, the “RX to OTC Switch” can actually HURT patients.

Drug patents expire relatively quickly, competitors are waiting at the gates with generic equivalents, and when a drug becomes OTC, there is a chance that insurance does not cover it.

This makes insurance companies and government programs (Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, etc.) very happy.  They are so strapped for cash that even paying for a cheaper generic is a strain on the budget.  When this kind of money is involved, you can bet that lobbyists are pressuring the government to ease their restrictions so that drugs once considered risky enough to warrant a prescription so that not just anybody can have access will be available to anyone who can walk into a drug store or click on a shopping cart on the web.

Patients will have to pay for OTC meds in cash money and doctors usually do not bother prescribing an equivalent drug.  If they do not already know of an equivalent, they will probably — and generally do — just tell a patient to go buy it over the counter.

A patient who cannot afford the drug will go off it.

OK – so what’s the big deal if a cold medicine, allergy remedy or hair-restoring pill is no longer a prescription drug?

Read more on When Prescription Drugs Go Over-The-Counter…

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I was making one of my rare but periodic attempts to watch commercial television.  Sometimes I amaze myself that I have not given up, especially when I saw a few minutes of “the View.”  I mean, someone has to get in there and promote stereotypes about women, and they are doing an incredible job, what with asking women involved in politics about bathing their babies or something.

Claire Danes in "Romeo + Juliet"

Claire Danes in "Romeo + Juliet"

I admittedly learn a great deal from the commercials.

Like Claire Danes — whom I used to consider a Shakespearean-quality actress — does not seem to be getting any good roles, because she did this incredible commercial, where her eyelashes and face were photographed every couple of weeks.  Admittedly, after four to six weeks, she had pretty lush looking eyelashes compared to week 1.

Here is the prescription drug— yes prescription drug — she was advertising. On the website they have Brooke Shields, too.

Read more on … By An Eyelash…

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He was in his mid-fifties and seemed pretty clueless.  What’s more, he had more abnormal movements than any 20 people and looked like he was dancing with an invisible partner.

Prescription Drugs Should Not Be Shared

It's Dangerous To Take Drugs Prescribed For Someone Else

He sat at home all day trying to get himself involved in things like doing laundry and watching television so that he could get himself tired enough to sleep, focused enough to avoid the voices. He was safe — no forced hospitalization was necessary or even possible here. He promised that he would not harm himself no matter what the voices said, but it became clear that he lived in a world where devils and demons gave him a continuous commentary on everything from why Obamacare would never help him to — the size of his wife’s behind. There may have been some exhortations to harm self or others in the distant past, but they were indeed distant.

He said he had no medicine for the past ten years.  I asked how he lived and he said his family was no help, but his woman was. He was married to someone else but this woman was the only person who knew his day-to-day life and she had brought him to the clinic, so I got a release signed and got her in there. I told her he said he had no medicines in say, the past ten years or so.  She started laughing.

“He ought to be telling you the truth.  He gets his Mama’s old Seroquel whenever he can. Makes the voices shut up so he can sleep a little. ” Read more on Taking Mama’s Pills…

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