Friday, April 30, 2010

"Graduating From Lip Smackers"

Much to their mothers’ dismay, an increasing number of girls under the age of 12 have ditched lip gloss and other innocent fashion accessories in favor of more adult makeup. The New York Times reports, "...parents have been fighting a losing battle with the beauty industry, which now markets to children so aggressively that it invites a comparison to Big Tobacco’s efforts..."

Cancer-treatment Vaccine

The biotech, Dendreon (based in my lovely town of Seattle), has just received approval from the FDA to produce the first cancer-treatment vaccine in the U.S. Click here to read more about this ridiculously expensive drug that will be used to treat prostate cancer.

Doctor-for-a-day must Pay

Two subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson have been ordered to pay more than $81 million for illegally promoting an epilepsy drug for psychiatric purposes. Click here to read more.

U dentist abuses inmates but keeps his faculty position

“He was screaming in pain the entire time,” says a dental assistant at Stillwater Correctional Facility, describing a patient subjected to Dr. Norman Eid, a faculty member in the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. “A great deal of his jaw came out along with part of the tooth.”

Eid worked in an unsterile office, humiliated his patients, failed to properly manage their pain, and was recently disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry for unprofessional conduct. Yet the University of Minnesota sees no reason not to renew his contract. “We didn’t feel it would be an inappropriate rehire,” says the Dean. "[Eid] was teaching with us for 20 years without incidents."

Read the whole story
in the Minnesota Daily. (And see Mischke's brutal comments here.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The First Time...Again

For 2,000 Euros, you can restore your V-card. An article in the BBC talks about the "virginity industry" that is thriving in Europe, particularly among Asian and Arab communities.

"You wouldn't want your boyfriend/future husband feel ashamed because your hymen no longer existed..."
-, a site that specializes in information regarding this procedure.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eco-friendly after death

"The desire to be green has expanded to California's funeral industry, which is pushing for a change in state law to allow for an eco-friendlier alternative to cremation and burial: water resolution." Water resolution is chemical process that turns body into "environmentally safe solution that can be safely washed down the drain or even used to water plants." Read more here and full article here.

AstraZeneca settles lawsuit over illegal marketing

"AstraZeneca has completed a deal to pay $520 million to settle federal investigations into marketing practices for its blockbuster schizophrenia drug, Seroquel, the Attorney General, Eric Holder, said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon."

That half-billion dollar fine amounts to about a tenth of the nearly $5 billion AZ earned from Seroquel last year alone. "AstraZeneca agreed to sign a corporate integrity agreement with the federal government over its marketing of Seroquel for unapproved uses" -- take THAT Astra! -- "but will not face criminal charges, company and federal officials said."

The New York Times (yes, it's the only paper I read) reports here.

The latest learning disability

"Parents and teachers often tell children to pay attention — to be a 'good listener.' But what if your child’s brain doesn’t know how to listen?

That’s the challenge for children with auditory processing disorder, a poorly understood syndrome that interferes with the brain’s ability to recognize and interpret sounds. It’s been estimated that 2 to 5 percent of children..." The New York Time reports here.

The diabetes game

Bayer has introduced a blood sugar monitor for diabetic kids that interfaces with handheld Nintendo consoles. "The program rewards players for performing a prescribed number of tests each day by bestowing points that speed the player through the game. Additional points are earned for staying within target blood-sugar ranges, which parents can program in. 'There used to be days when I didn't want to test,' says George Dove, 12, of Nottingham, U.K., who must use the meter as many as eight times a day. 'Now, it's fun.'" Businessweek reports here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Virtually Brainless and Mindless?

"Psychiatry, for me and many of my colleagues, had become a process of corralling patients’ symptoms into labels and finding a drug to match." - Check it out, "Mind Over Meds" in the NY Times.

Brits, Bodies and Bioethics

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an influential research group in the UK, is gearing up to address the question on how to increase organ donation. Click here and here to read more.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Boosting Brain Power

See the 60 Minutes report on Adderall and other stimulants.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Interactive Liquor Bottles

Now you can drunkenly text your friends...through a vodka bottle. They say it's all about unleashing your "inner philosopher, poet, and flirt." Thanks, Medea Spirits!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Anatomy of an Epidemic

Robert Whitaker's disturbing new book is out: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. I recommend it highly. You can read more here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New doctor code curbs industry sway and swag

"No more letting industry help pay for developing medical guidelines. Restrictions on consulting deals. And no more pens with drug company names or other swag at conferences. These are part of a new ethics code that dozens of leading medical groups announced Wednesday, aimed at limiting the influence that drug and device makers have over patient care." MSNBC reports here.

50th Anniversary of the Pill

"There's no such thing as the Car or the Shoe or the Laundry Soap. But everyone knows the Pill, whose FDA approval 50 years ago rearranged the furniture of human relations in ways that we've argued about ever since." Read about birth control history here

Misuse of DNA by ASU

A case has been settled regarding the misuse of Havasupai tribe DNA by researchers at Arizona State University. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hospital Equality

With President Obama’s recent memorandum to Kathleen Sebelius, there is greater progress in the fight to allow same-sex couples hospital visitation rights and authority in making medical decisions for ailing partners. Read more here.

Whistle-blowing Minneapolis cardiologists step up again

Unlike doctors at the University of Minnesota, who appear to be either working for industry or afraid of it, two cardiologists at the Minneapolis Heart Institute blew the whistle five years ago on a potentially lethal defect in a heart defibrillator made by Guidant. One of their patients, a 21 year-old man, had died unexpectedly as a result of the defect. Yesterday, those two cardiologists, Barry Maron and Robert Hauser, again spoke out publicly to oppose a plea agreement, urging U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank to reject the proposed plea "on behalf of the patients who died or suffered pain and mental anguish as the direct result of Guidant's illegal and unethical behavior."

Read more in the Strib.

Hallelujah! Another Diet!

It's called the "Hallelujah Diet" and it enlists the help of God to help you shed your pounds.

NewsFlash: Viagra Can Ruin Your Sex Life

That's what the "Viagra Brigade" reports in The Daily Beast. Yikes!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Listening to Bourbon

Nicotine in a Tic Tac

RJ Reynolds is selling nicotine pellets that look like candy and dissolve like breath mints in your mouth. Critics say kids will see their parents enjoying them and will be tempted to try the pellets themselves. R.J. Reynolds says no. “Virtually every household has products that could be hazardous to children, like cleaning supplies, medicines, health and beauty products," said a spokesman for the company. A Harvard professor disagrees. “The difference here is that kids potentially will be watching grown-ups ingesting these products,” he said. “The last time I checked, we don’t have adults drinking toilet bowl cleanser in front of their kids.” Read more in the Times.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sorry, we're out of your life-saving drug. Try back next year.

Genzyme, the only manufacturer of two spectacularly expensive life-saving drugs for rare diseases, has stopped making them because of a manufacturing problem, says the New York Times.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Insurance companies hold billions in fast food stock

"According to Harvard Medical School researchers, 11 large companies that offer life, disability, or health insurance owned about $1.9 billion in stock in the five largest fast-food companies as of June 2009." Read here

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Lost Cause

It's not medical, but it's from a native son of SC. Watch it here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Psychedelics are back to ease the pain

Hallucinogenic drugs are back understudy to help alleviate the problems associated with illnesses such as cancer and depression. Click here to read more.

Expensive Spinal Surgery

Why go in for simple low cost back procedure, when you can get a ridiculously expensive spinal fusion?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Pfizer payments

If you want to check to see whether your doctor is getting paid by Pfizer, you can look at their disclosure list here.

I Feel Fantastic

Here is the Jonathan Coulton video Krystal mentioned.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Feeling Fantastic, Thanks to JoCo.

Recently, I spoke with a friend of mine that is a DJ for a rock station in Champaign, IL. He mentioned that he was hooked on this artist he discovered not too long ago by the name of Jonathan Coulton, a former programmer turned musician. Most of his songs are on the geeky side, related to the internet, gaming, and technology in general. In any case, I thought his song “I Feel Fantastic” is rather amusing and quite germane to medical consumerism. Apparently the 2005 Popular Science article "Will Drugs Make Us Smarter and Happier?" inspired Coulton, also known as "JoCo," to write that song, which is kind of ironic. The narrator is depicted as being quite dependent on meds to get through his day. Click here to see one of the many music videos for this song. There is also this article in Popular Science from 2005, called “The Future of the Body: The Soundtrack," which talks about Coulton's other songs related to medical consumerism culture.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Secret Sunshine

Attached to Obama's health care form bill was a little-known rider that Sen. Charles Grassley has been working on for years: the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. Starting in 2012, the provision will force drugmakers to report all gifts and payments to doctors and teaching hospitals. Ed Silverman interviews The Prescription Project's Allan Coukell on the bill at Pharmalot.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Artificial joint implants with no warranties

"The million or so artificial hips and knees implanted each year in the United States are normally not guaranteed. Instead, the costs of replacing implants that fail early because of design or mechanical problems — devices that sell for as much as $15,000 each — are largely paid by Medicare, insurance companies and patients." Read in NY Times

Drugs ASAP

San Francisco public health doctors have taken up a new policy of advising persons recently infected with HIV to start taking antiretroviral medications immediately. Will this be a sound policy to follow? Click here to read more.

Friday, April 02, 2010

"Feds found Pfizer too big to nail"

"Imagine being charged with a crime, but an imaginary friend takes the rap for you. That is essentially what happened when Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, was charged with illegally marketing Bextra, a painkiller that was taken off the market in 2005 because of safety concerns." Read at CNN