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Drugs: Oldies Can Be Goodies

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Just because a drug is new, doesn’t mean it’s more
effective.  A recent
article
published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrated that older
diabetes medications may be equally effective as some of the newer, more
expensive drugs.

Now this comes as no surprise to physicians, who know very
well that some of our “old standby” meds work just as well as their newer, more
expensive versions.

For example:

For mild to moderate acne treatment, good old Clearasil may be all you need.
A study
published in the Lancet found that over-the-counter topical treatments (benzoyl
peroxide based) worked just as well as more expensive new oral antibiotics
(including minocycline).

For mild to moderately elevated cholesterol, there doesn’t appear to be much
advantage
to taking a newer statin than on older one.  The cost difference may be as much as ten
times more, for small gains (if any).
For example, mevacor (lovastatin) is as inexpensive as 0.24 cents/pill
while lipitor (atorvastatin) can run up to $2.54/pill.

Dr.
Charlie Smith
, former president of the American Board of Family Practice,
recommends these very cost effective medications to his patients as needed:

Hydrochlorothiazide for hypertension (from 8 cents to 20 cents/pill)

Bactrim (trimethoprim/sulfamethoxisole) for urinary tract infections (15
cents/pill).

Ibuprofen for pain relief/arthritis (about 7 cents/pill).

So consumer beware – those medications that you see in all the TV ads may not actually provide substantial benefits over older, less expensive drugs.  Be sure
to ask your doctor if a less expensive medication might be appropriate for you… or
better yet, healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes make the difference between needing
a medication and not needing it at all.

*Drug prices may vary.

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

Chinese Toothpaste: Not Good

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I’ve been expressing my concerns over the recent quality control issues in China – first the melamine in pet food, then the contaminated medicines, next the anti-freeze in toothpaste.  The New York Times has an interesting piece on the toothpaste scandal.  But they miss an interesting issue at play: cost cutting is the underlying cause of all this.

Antifreeze (diethylene glycol) is less expensive and mimicks the flavor of mouthwash.  Melamine (the poison recently found in pet food ingredients) is a cheap filler product that increases the apparent protein content of pet food.

So China was putting these cheaper imitation ingredients into their products to improve their bottom line, not because they were particularly interested in causing the death of people and pets.

And before we point a finger at them… let’s think about why the toxic toothpaste got into our hospital and prison systems: because the administrators were trying to buy the cheapest possible products to save on costs.  And the least expensive items are often from China.  This is a good example of how cost cutting can endanger lives – with both the US and ChinaThis post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

Bulldozers and ballerinas

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“Bulldozers and Ballerinas” is the whimsical name of the event I attended this past weekend.  A dance troupe decided to pair themselves with some small bulldozers (propane powered) to do some interpretive work to the tune of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.  There were about 8 dancers and two bulldozers on a city street closed off to traffic.  Large speakers blasted the classical music, as construction worker gear-clad ballerinas danced around the moving bulldozers.  This was about as funny as a Monster Truck rally hosted by Luciano Pavarotti.  I watched with  amusement and enjoyed the humor of the contrasts.

In my next post I’ll explain the connection between bulldozers and medicine.

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

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