December 12, 2005 |
Every day on the front lines of medicine, doctors quietly weigh treatments. They consider which ones might help patients and which ones might harm them. And sometimes, rightly or wrongly, which ones might simply please or appease them. I'm a pleaser at heart. My family and friends know it, and so do most of my patients. However, when I think about doctors dispensing prescriptions merely to please, I feel my gut wrench. I first witnessed placebo medicine in the 1970s. Back then, a few doctors at my university hospital treated patients with saline injections and little blue sugar pills.
July 6, 2010 |
Many people who suffer with lower back pain rely on glucosamine supplements for some relief. But does the stuff really work? A new study shows that glucosamine was no different from a placebo in treating lower back pain. The study, released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., was a large, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial that included 250 adults with chronic lower back pain. It was conducted at the Oslo University Outpatient Clinic in Norway. Chronic lower back pain plagues millions of people in the U.S., and treatments include physical therapy, medication and the use of glucosamine supplements.
July 20, 2012 |
Silymarin, an extract of milk thistle widely used around the world for treating liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, provides no more benefit than a placebo, researchers reported this week. Some estimates are that as many as a third of the estimated 3.2 million Americans with hepatitis C -- as well as many more millions around the world -- are consuming the drug in an effort to alleviate their symptoms. The new research by a team headed by Dr. Michael W. Fried of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine suggests that they are simply wasting their money.
June 5, 2012 |
A drug already on the market to treat severely clenched fingers may also be useful in treating the excessively curved penis caused by Peyronie's disease, researchers reported Monday. If the findings are validated in larger trials, the drug, called Xiaflex, could become the first effective medical treatment for the condition, which apart from embarrassment can cause impotence and pain. The company that manufactures the drug, Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Malvern, Pa., said it hopes to have approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market the drug for this purpose by the end of the year.
August 9, 2010 |
Statins are widely considered to be one of the safest drugs available. An estimated 24 million Americans take the cholesterol-lowering drugs, and most of them feel no different after their daily dose. "The vast majority of patients tolerate statins extremely well," said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at UCLA. But like any drug, statins carry a risk of side effects. With so many people taking them, and millions of other potential users out there, doctors and patients need to be alert for symptoms that could be related to the drugs.
September 13, 2011 |
Inhaling a concentrated cloud of insulin through the nose twice a day appears to slow — and in some cases reverse — symptoms of memory loss in people with early signs of Alzheimer's disease, a new pilot study has found. The study involved only 104 people and is considered very preliminary. But it suggests that a safe, simple and cheap measure that boosts flagging metabolism in key areas of the brain could hold off or possibly derail the progression of the devastating neurological disorder in its early stages.