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Warning Issued For Medications Used To Treat Male Pattern Baldness

Propecia and Proscar are formulations of the drug finasteride. These medications are used to treat male pattern baldness and prostatic hypertrophy. Prior studies have found side effects including sexual changes (loss in libido and function) and now new studies are finding increased incidence of male breast cancer in some of the patients taking the drugs.

Health Canada has issued a warning:

Although the apparent risks are low, Health Canada issued a warning Thursday telling consumers the drug, finasteride, could be potentially dangerous. The drug, which comes in one-milligram and five-milligram formats, is used in the lower dose to treat baldness and the higher dose to treat non-cancerous enlarged prostate. Previous studies have raised flags about the five-milligram format, sold in Canada under the brand name Proscar, including an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Source: theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/
popular-baldness-drug-linked-to-male-breast-cancer/article2119701/?%20Fitness

As these drugs inhibit Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*

Big Herba’s Research Deficit: Why It Isn’t About The Money

This is a guest post from Erik Davis of Skeptic North.

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Bankers, Buyouts & Billionaires: Why Big Herba’s Research Deficit Isn’t About The Money

It’s a scene from the blogosphere that’s become all too familiar. A skeptic challenges a natural health product for the lack of an evidentiary base. A proponent of that product responds that the skeptic has made a logical error — an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and in such a scenario it’s not unreasonable to rely on patient reporting and traditional uses as a guide. The skeptic chimes back with a dissertation on the limits of anecdotal evidence and arguments from antiquity — especially when the corresponding pharma products have a data trail supporting their safety and efficacy. The proponent responds that it’s unfair to hold natural health products to the same evidentiary standard, because only pharma has the money to fund proper research, and they only do so for products they can patent. You can’t patent nature, so no research into natural health products gets done.

Okay, so maybe this isn’t a scene from an actual blog. The participants are way too civil, the arguments too coherent, and no one has been compared to Hitler. But it’s not a straw man either (look herehere, and here for recent examples), merely a distillation of an argument I’ve seen made repeatedly — that the deck has been stacked by Big Pharma, which has set a research bar that the much poorer natural health industry can’t possibly meet given the costs and lack of financial upside.

In my observation, skeptics don’t often have a good response to this argument beyond their basic scientific disposition toward only making assertions based on positive evidence. Typically, that’s not a disposition shared by the proponent, and thus they simply agree to disagree (read: trade barbs until the thread peters out from fatigue). Yet this need not be a purely philosophical debate. After all, there’s a testable premise embedded in this disagreement — that the natural health industry isn’t rich enough to sustain proper research. Is that true? Read more »

Medical Devices, Daylight Savings Time, And Y2K Nostalgia

Remember that cold December in 1999 when we all thought that planes would soon be dropping out of the sky, nuclear power plants were to be melting down, and the world was going to end? This weekend Health Canada is giving clinicians across the country (and really all of North America) an opportunity to feel the anxiety, fear, and excitement all over again.

In 2007, the dates for switching between Standard and Daylight Saving time were changed, and the authorities, three years into the new schedule, have issued a warning for this weekend’s one hour rollback:

Medical equipment manufactured prior to 2007 may not function optimally if the equipment has not been updated by manufacturers to compensate for the new dates.

To date, Health Canada has not received any reports of device malfunctions because of the revised time change that began in 2007. However, examples of medical devices that could be affected by the change include (but are not limited to): implanted pacemakers/defibrillators with sleep modes that can only be adjusted by physicians; Holter monitors, used to continuously record heartbeat; and glucose monitors that store data on glucose levels.

If a medical device displays the incorrect time after 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 7, 2010, users should contact the manufacturer to bring the problem to their attention and consult a health care professional.

Press release: Health Canada Reminds Canadians to Check Medical Device Clocks After the Switch to Standard Time …

Image credit: Dan Woods…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

FDA Actively Monitoring Medical And Healthcare Apps

Bradley Merrill Thompson, an attorney with expertise in the FDA approval process for medical devices, is stating that the FDA is actively monitoring app stores on various platforms. Regulating medical devices and health care-related applications falls under the FDA’s jurisdiction.

James Kendrick from JkOnTheRun spoke with Thompson, where he stated the following:

The FDA is actively engaged in surveillance of various app stores to see if apps should trigger their involvement. Applications where a smartphone is connected in any way to imaging are under scrutiny, in particular. Any app that is used to transmit images to a medical facility requires FDA approval.

By “various app stores,” Thompson is likely referring to the App store [Apple], Palm App Catalog [Web OS], App World [BlackBerry], and the Android Marketplace [Android OS]. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

FDA Warning: Industrial Bleach As A Cure For Cancer And HIV?

On the heels of Scott Gavura’s superb post on dietary supplement regulation in the U.S. and Canada, I bring you one of the most egregious and obscene product cases I have seen in 15 years of teaching on botanical and non-botanical products: Miracle Mineral Solution. Please accept my apologies in advance for not having a scholarly post for you – this is just too unbelievable not to share with science-based medicine readers. Read more »

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

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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