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.
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.
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.
January 9, 2012 |
Older people with mild cognitive impairment may get some help from a nicotine patch, a study suggests. Researchers tested nicotine patches and a placebo on memory and other brain functions in 74 people (average age 76) in a double-blind study. None of the participants, who had minor memory loss, was a current smoker, although some had smoked previously. The patches were worn for six months and tests on memory and thinking skills were administered at the start of the study, and three and six months later.
December 10, 2010 |
Depression increasingly looks to researchers and clinicians like, say, a psychiatric version of bronchitis or a heart attack. Some people come down with a case of it, have it treated (or not), and it goes away. But for a great number of patients, it's a chronic condition that must be treated when it flares. And after depression's acute symptoms subside, many patients need to manage the disease -- to continue with some kind of treatment -- to reduce the likelihood of experiencing repeated bouts of mental suffering.