Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

What Are The Most Popular, And Most Expensive, Drugs In America?

The top 10 prescribed drugs in the U.S. for 2010 in order of prescriptions written are:

  • Hydrocodone (combined with acetaminophen) — 131.2 million prescriptions
  • Generic Zocor (simvastatin), a cholesterol-lowering statin drug — 94.1 million prescriptions
  • Lisinopril (brand names include Prinivil and Zestril), a blood pressure drug — 87.4 million prescriptions
  • Generic Synthroid (levothyroxine sodium), synthetic thyroid hormone — 70.5 million prescriptions
  • Generic Norvasc (amlodipine besylate), an angina/blood pressure drug — 57.2 million prescriptions
  • Generic Prilosec (omeprazole), an antacid drug — 53.4 million prescriptions (does not include over-the-counter sales)
  • Azithromycin (brand names include Z-Pak and Zithromax), an antibiotic — 52.6 million prescriptions
  • Amoxicillin (various brand names), an antibiotic — 52.3 million prescriptions
  • Generic Glucophage (metformin), a diabetes drug — 48.3 million prescriptions
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (various brand names), a water pill used to lower blood pressure — 47.8 million prescriptions.

Notice that most of these are generic so they aren’t the ones that make the most money for Big Pharma.  Those drugs are not offered in generic and they brought in  n $307 billion  in 2010.  What was number one?  Drumroll……..

Lipitor, a cholesterol lowering statin.

In case you wondered who is paying for these drugs…Commercial insurance helped pay for 63% of all prescriptions.  Medicare Part D (Federal government) paid for 22% of prescriptions.  The average co-payment for a prescription was $10.73.  The average co-payment for a branded drug was $22.73.

If you are paying for prescriptions, make sure you ask your physician if it is available in generic.  It can save you a lot of $$.

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

From Drug Addict To Grad School: This Is Why I Blog

Last July we wrote about the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and spoke of Buzz Aldrin’s autobiography about his battle with alcoholism in the years following. The post drew a comment from a reader who I’ve renamed “Anon.” It read:

Thank you so much for this post.

I am a recovering drug addict and am in the process of applying to graduate programs. I have a stellar GPA, have assisted as an undergraduate TA, and have been engaged in research for over a year. I also have a felony and was homeless for 3 years.

I don’t hide my recovery from people once I know them, but I sometimes, especially at school, am privy to what people think of addicts when they don’t know one is sitting next to them. It scares me to think of how to discuss my past if asked at an admissions interview. Or whether it will keep me from someday working at a university.

I’ve seen a fair amount of posts on ScienceBlogs concerning mental health issues and academia, but this is the first I’ve seen concerning humanizing addiction and reminding us that addiction strikes a certain amount of the population regardless of status, family background or intelligence.

I really appreciate this post. Thank you.

While I’m not a substance abuse researcher, many drugs of abuse come from my research area (natural products) — think cocaine, morphine and other opiates. I also have special compassion for folks with the biochemical predisposition to substance dependence, as I come from a long line of alcoholics, including my beloved father who I lost way too early. 

With that said, I’m sure you understand how Anon’s comment hit me and how grateful I was for her appreciation. So moving, in fact, that I raised her comment to its own post. Since many of you are in academia and serve on graduate admissions committees, I figured you’d have some good advice for her. Well, you did. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*

The Game of Life & American Tragedy

A game worth learning

Three of my children love to play the game ‘Life,’ where players choose college or career and are paid, take out loans, pay taxes, have families and all the rest as they navigate towards retirement.  I especially love playing with them when they each become frantic, not for the highest income, but to finish the game with the most children.  Along the way, my daughter is even naming her kids as the tiny blue and pink pegs fill up her little plastic car.  (Talk about your parental validation!)

But after playing, then thinking back on my week at work, I fear that we could easily make a new game that was more familiar to many modern kids.  I suppose we’d have to call it ‘The Game of Death,’ or maybe just ‘The Game of Pain.’ Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*

Fake Doctors With Real Drugs: Quackery In Canada

Two weeks ago, Canadian Skeptics United published on their Skeptic North site a piece by an Ontario pharmacist criticizing a proposal by the province to grant limited prescribing rights to naturopaths. The essay, which was reprinted in the National Post on Tuesday, outlines the intellectual and practical conundrum presented by allowing those with education that diverges from science-based practices to prescribe drugs.

The naturopath lobby came out in force and was relatively unopposed in the 54 comments that followed, primarily because the NP closes comments 24 hours after online posting. Therefore, those with a more rational and considered viewpoint based in facts were locked out from commenting. This is quite disappointing to me personally and professionally because of the wildly emotional appeals, strawman arguments, and smears and attacks on the author himself without, of course, addressing his well-founded criticism of the prescribing proposal before the provincial government.

At the Skeptic North post, the piece even drew a naturopath who equated the criticism of his/her field with the Nazis and Mussolini. However, you can’t write critiques of these practices without attracting attacks ad hominem, especially Godwin’s Law, that are the resort of those whose arguments are logically flawed. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Talking To Teens About Drug Addiction

A recent survey commissioned by Hazeldon, a substance abuse treatment center, has inspired a campaign to start family conversations about alcohol. They call the campaign “Four Generations Overcoming Addiction,” and it encourages parents to talk with their children about their own alcohol use when they were teenagers.

The survey results from Ipsos Public Affairs are based on interviews done online with 603 teens between the ages of 15 and 18 and telephone interviews with 620 parents of teens. Some of the interesting results included: Read more »

This post, Talking To Teens About Drug Addiction, was originally published on Healthine.com by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »