Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

It is no secret that I consider the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) to be a corrupt, harmful farce perpetuated on us by a government that should know better. Because it is just that—I have written about it numerous times. (1-4)

DSHEA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, but really this was bipartisan buffoonery. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), (5) cosponsored it with Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) (6), and it remains the quintessential example of how crafty language can be used to circumvent science and the FDA. This was intentional.

There can be no better example of both the built-in sleaziness of the act, and how it enabled the supplement industry to get away with murder, than the recent, ...

As a society, we immediately understand a broken arm. A gaping wound. The wasted appearance of a body overrun by cancer. But, often there are more silent and invisible conditions that not only wield a physical furor, but also an emotional and psychological one.

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is such a malady. Its manifestations influence not only the afflicted, but also their loved ones, community and care givers. Such is the case with Alexa Besser, featured in the photo accompanying this article, whose story and benefits from much enhanced and innovative technology will be addressed shortly.

The tiers of worry that accompany parenthood, in general, get amplified when a child suffers from a chronic disease. With respect to T1D, a parent compounds such fears with the realization...

Inspired by the extraordinary artistry of medical illustrator and aspiring surgeon, Dr. Raf Ratinam, in my piece From Anatomy to 3D Printing: Art Inspires Life, I decided to expand the discussion. Yes, his animations and mastery of anatomy acquired through graduate level medical training and now a PhD pursuit permits endless possibilities for his future career path.

But, it also begs the question: Are there roles for others so creatively or empathetically inclined to contribute to the field of medicine without partaking in the arduous and formal, traditional medical school track? An emphatic yes would be my response.

We tend...

Oscar Wilde believed “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Upon viewing the accompanying video animation of the anatomical relationships of Pectoralis Major and Minor created by Dr. Raf Ratinam, I became truly inspired. 

Inspired to write an article, even two. Inspired by the mastery of the complexity of the human form—and, an artist’s understanding of it. Inspired to explore the possibilities of the endless meaningful and powerful ways to impact my chosen field of medicine. Ways that involve navigating traditional and outside-of-the-box realms. All carrying the potential to change the world.

So, I will let you be the judge of whether life influenced art...

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released a 2017 draft recommendation statement on screening for prostate cancer which is based on systematic evidence review and assessment— updated from their prior 2012 version. As indicated by the authors’ viewpoint published in JAMA, the goal of this release is to raise awareness of newly acquired data on the topic while inviting review and commentary before the report is officially finalized. (1)

Because there was concern that universal PSA (aka prostate-specific antigen, a blood test) population screening often...

President Trump has convened a panel to address America's opioid epidemic. Its first mission should be to find convincing data to identify the actual cause(s) of the problem. That will be much harder than it sounds, since ideologues are always in plentiful supply.

Indeed, many influential people already seem to have a strong opinion about who is to blame. Claire McCaskill, a Senator from Missouri, points her finger at pharmaceutical companies. She is launching an investigation, but there is little need for one, given that she has already told us what its conclusions are ahead of time: 

...

Every now and then, people screw up. Who amongst us has never made a mistake? Even the American Council gets it wrong now and then. Yet, we are nothing if not humble. Since it's World Homeopathy Week, this provides the prefect opportunity for some self reflection and humility. Is it possible that we have been unfairly criticizing homeopathy and homeopaths all this time? 

In the interest of keeping an open mind, I decided to search for evidence that might indicate that I may have been wrong all along. It was a humbling experience, but I'm glad I did it. I feel so...... cleansed. I was dumbfounded by what has been in front of my face all this time that I failed to see. Clearly, I was so arrogant and unshakeable in my belief system of traditional science that I did not give...

When I received my official summons for jury duty the other day, the form guided me to complete a juror qualification questionnaire. In so doing, I came upon my state’s list of acceptable excuses which included, among others, an automatic exemption for those 75 years or older if so inclined—no infirmity required.  

When I delved further, it appears not all states comply with the same age guidelines. Some allow self recusal over 65 or 70, others warrant proof of distance to courthouse or doctor’s written verification. Pennsylvania permits those 75 or older and breastfeeding women to be exempt if so desire. Each state supports its own policies, as expected, with some more...

Vitamin D status and supplements seem to have become a societal preoccupation. Encouraging the latter’s use as a cure-all, the “magic bullet” commercialization of vitamins and supplements has created a multi-billion dollar industry. One that is often unchecked due to absent regulation and universally promotes these items whose mechanisms of action are poorly understood and of questionable value—let’s not forget that they also have the capacity to do harm. (1,2)

Hence, why it is important to write about a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that set out to determine if vitamin D3 and Calcium supplementation in older women would reduce their...

A paper in the Journal of Infectious Disease provides clinical data for Genocea's genital herpes vaccine GEN-003. The good news is that infected patients did respond to the vaccine. The not-so-good news is that the response was not as impressive as patients would hope. Here is a summary:

In Phase Ia/II trials (1), a total of 134 participants who were infected with HSV-2 were given a total of three injections of 003 three weeks apart. Three different doses of the vaccine were given, and the enrollees received genital swabs for four weeks before administration of the vaccine, and four more weeks after they got the last injection.

Summary of the results:

  • The vaccine was safe
  • The rate of viral shedding (2) for...