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.
September 27, 2011 |
More than 2 million American men have turned to saw palmetto extract to help alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of having an enlarged prostate. It remains a popular herbal remedy despite the fact that a spate of clinical trials in the past 10 years have found its benefits to be limited at best. That may change once men learn about the results of a new trial published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. First, a primer on enlarged prostates.
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.
April 23, 2014 |
Two drugs given to people who suffer migraines reduced the frequency of their headaches in early trials, scientists said. The test results “may potentially represent a new era in preventive therapy for migraine,” Dr. Peter Goadsby, an author on studies of both drugs, said in a statement. One of the researchers called migraine headaches the third most common medical disorder in the world. Both drugs must undergo larger trials to confirm the results. Both drugs are intended to prevent rather than treat migraine headaches, and the studies of them are the first to test monoclonal antibodies for migraine prevention, the scientists said.
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.