Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

As we've explained in the past, shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, varicella zoster, that results in an extremely painful eruption of blisters along a nerve pathway (a dermatome), and which can provoke long-lasting pain even after the blisters have healed (post-herpetic neuralgia). Shingles is most often seen in older people and those whose immune system is compromised for various reasons. The Zostavax vaccine against shingles (Herpes zoster) has been recommended for individuals over 60 for over 10 years.

A report just published in the New England Journal of Medicine presents the results of an...

Some men would give their right testicle to have access to contraception that doesn't involve pleasure-killing condoms or cringe-inducing surgical snips. Biology, unfortunately, has made targeting contraception at the female reproductive system far easier than targeting the male reproductive system. In a nutshell (no pun intended), preventing a single egg cell from being fertilized is simpler than deactivating the 40 million to 1.2 billion sperm cells found in a single ejaculation. Also, it's easier to block ovulation than sperm production.

But it's not like scientists haven't tried...

Parents or other caregivers are responsible for seeing that sick kids get the proper medicine — in the correct amount. But does that always happen? According to a new report in the journal Pediatrics, dosing kids isn't always done properly — and sometimes it's the equipment that's used and how it's labeled that makes the difference. Led by Dr. H. Shonna Yin from the New York University Medical School, investigators assessed the accuracy (or lack thereof) of parents' measurement of children's liquid medications.

The investigators assessed the accuracy of parents' medicine measurement while varying the labeling on packages and measurement tools (e.g., spoons, syringes, and cups)....

Anyone who has ever suffered from chronic constipation knows how miserable the condition can make you feel — headachy, bloated, and all-around unhappy; thus, the popularity of a variety of laxatives. According to proponents of "complementary" or "alternative" medicine, acupuncture can be helpful in this situation but a new report in the Annals of Internal Medicine says there are few reliable data supporting its efficacy. So Dr. Zhishun Liu from the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in  Beijing and colleagues ran a multi-center trial to investigate that possibility.

Acupuncture is a standard treatment of Traditional Chinese...

“Just imagine that a bond is a slice of cake, and you didn’t bake the cake, but every time you had somebody a slice of the cake a tiny little bit comes off, like a little crumb, and you can keep that. […] If you pass around enough slices of cake, then pretty soon you have enough crumbs to make a gigantic cake.

That was a description of Sherman McCoys’ job, bond trading, and how the little crumbs he made on each trade soon amounted to a gigantic cake. In our tale, the little crumb is 6%. Physicians provide drug infusions to patients, antibiotics, chemotherapy and other medications not taken orally. Medicare pays doctors 106% of the average cost of the drug; the 6% to cover administering the drug, you know the necessary equipment, placing an intravenous line, etc. Fair...

Pain Scale

If you have ever been in severe pain, you understand the feeling of urgent relief at any cost – unless of course, you enjoy pain, but that’s a topic for another article.  According to a recent paper, 120 million people have experienced pain, and 40 million of them have experienced severe pain at some point in their lives.  While most acute pain eventually resolves, chronic pain may be a lifelong burden.  

Science has shown that standard pharmacotherapy is effective in treating most types of pain and safe when used as prescribed.  However, 30-40% of the U.S. population is looking for alternative ways to...

  Fasten your seat belts, this ride is about to get bumpy.  For those of you following my series on foreign bodies in the body, we made our way to the urethra and all things penis and scrotum.

  My goal was to start from the top and work my way down the body, but jumping from the big head to the little one just seemed to make more sense. 

  As a doctor, my barometer of what is normal and not normal is a bit skewed.  It takes quite a lot to faze me (and my peers).  This article will allow you to journey through our lens of the medically not-so-mundane world of clinical practice. 

  Let’s ease you in to the bristling realm of the penis by starting with the G-rated stuff.  The racier parts will come soon enough.  The field of urology is the surgical and medical...

The story of Liberia’s former research chimpanzees is both well-known and contentious. A non-profit blood bank, the New York Blood Center (NYBC), set up a virus-testing laboratory in the country in 1974, and wild chimpanzees were trapped from their forests and housed within the “Vilab II” facility. They were subjected to medical experiments and were intentionally infected with hepatitis and other pathogens to help develop a range of vaccines.

By 2005, the director of Vilab II, Alfred M Prince, announced that all research had been terminated and that the NYBC had started to make “lifetime care”...

When I was a child, getting chickenpox was a rite of passage. Everyone had to get it, sooner or later, and sooner was preferable. The day I noticed in 2nd grade the itchy little bumps forming, I celebrated because I knew that it meant several days away from school. 

Of course, after just a day or two of itchiness, I learned that chickenpox wasn't all that fun. Then, when I turned 30, I suffered an outbreak of shingles, which was incredibly unpleasant. It was then that I wished the chickenpox vaccine had existed when I was a tot. And because the virus that causes chickenpox is a type of herpesvirus, it will live inside me forever, meaning that I could have an outbreak of...

Despite the public shaming of anti-vaxxers, the anti-vaccine movement remains fairly strong in America. Yet, it has nothing on the anti-vaxxers in France, a country where over 40 percent of its citizens believe vaccines are unsafe, according to a global survey published in EBioMedicine.

A group of universities commissioned the survey of 66,000 people across 67 countries to discover their views on whether vaccines are important, safe, effective, or compatible with their religious beliefs.

The European region contains 7 of the top 10 vaccine denial populations. French anti-vaccine sentiment (41 percent) was over 300 percent higher than the global average (12 percent) so even uneducated peasants...