hepatitis c

Who among us hasn’t been tormented by the itch after a mosquito bite? This is due to the histamine release at the offending site. In some, it is a bit more exaggerated and an oral antihistamine or topical cream with the passage of time does the trick to provide optimal relief.

Now imagine that intensity and urge to scratch diffusely spread over your entire body in a constant and unrelenting fashion. Night and day. Where a more significant underlying cause won’t be benefitted and cured by time or a Benadryl, for instance.

That is called chronic “generalized pruritus” and its etiologies can range from the readily fixable to the necessitation of a liver transplant in those where treatment for the symptom might be refractory. In the extreme, sleep is impaired and even...

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 4.48.00 PMBy definition, people who are undergoing hemodialysis pumping a patient s blood through a filtration device to remove toxins that failing kidneys can no longer handle, and then pumping it back into the body are gravely ill.

The process is not only exhausting three visits per week to a medical facility, each taking about four hours but it can only do so much. Dialysis is an effective short- and medium-term treatment for patients with kidney failure, but it does not replace normal functioning kidneys. Not even close.

Within five years of beginning...

liver disease via shutterstock liver disease via shutterstock

Liver cirrhosis is the late final stage of chronic liver disease and it has devastating consequences. Cirrhosis is accountable for 49,500 deaths annually, and in 2010 it was the eighth leading cause of death. What's more, cirrhosis is irreversible, and once...

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 2.10.12 PMFox Health News really dropped the ball on this one, but it had help.

The news site's article, "Utah fears thousands infected in hepatitis C outbreak after exposure to hospital nurse," was so inaccurate and unnecessarily scary that I had to read the piece three times -- to find anything that was...

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 2.22.28 PMOver the past few years, the timing of the initiation of treatment of hepatitis C has taken a number of twists and turns. Now, there seems to be one more. Earlier treatment is being recommended.

Prior to 2011 there were no specific antiviral therapies available to treat the infection. A combination of interferon and ribavirin was the only option, and it was a poor option. The cure rate was as low as 20 percent (depending on the strain of the virus), the side effects were awful,...

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A recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paints a clear picture: needle-exchange programs under which addicts exchange dirty syringes for clean ones prevent the transmission of HIV.

The report comes on the heels of an outbreak (more than 70 cases of viral contagion) earlier this year of IV-drug-induced HIV in Scott County, IN. That spurred Gov. Mike Pence to reverse his position on...

blood transfusionIn a lengthy column this week in the Wall Street Journal, Laura Landro discusses "The Rising Risk of a Contaminated Blood Supply." Since Ms. Landro is an established health and science writer and author of the "Informed Patient" column, I was sufficiently alarmed at the prospect referred to in her headline.

Imagine, then, my surprise to find the dearth of actual data supporting the bold type. Here's...

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 1.57.28 PMThere are very few issues as complicated and controversial as those involving the pharmaceutical industry.

Adding to the misplaced, visceral hatred that is evoked by even the mention of drug companies, is a profound misunderstanding of what really goes on inside them. Yet when given even a remote idea of both the difficulty of discovery of medicines, and their value to, many people begin to change their minds.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, a 27-year veteran of drug discovery research, has written frequently about the disconnect between public perception and reality,...

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 2.12.38 PMIn terms of public perception, drug companies rank in the general vicinity of ringworm.

Some of this is warranted (especially when companies fudge or withhold safety data), but much is not. We hear the negative constantly, and the positive very rarely.

Much of this is based on a long-running script used by politicians and others looking to score points, as well as media bias and incomplete information, for example, the following.

A new...

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.50.30 PMIt is rare when a single drug entirely revolutionizes the treatment of a disease. Yet, Gilead s Sovaldi did just this, following its FDA approval in late 2013.

Sovaldi set the stage for the eradication of hepatitis C, a disease that infects about 170 million people worldwide four times that of HIV.

Sovaldi became the first $1,000 pill $84,000 for a full twelve-week course which set off the usual rhetoric about evil pharmaceutical companies bankrupting Americans. But the debate was quite different this time.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, a long time HCV...