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Do Drug Companies Pay Attention To Herbal Medicine?

I’m only a monthly contributor here, but between being a Science Based Medicine (SBM) reader and having my own blogs, I often grow weary of the blind criticism that researchers and drug companies couldn’t care less about traditional folk medicines as drug products. My laboratory spends every single day working on natural product extracts in the search for compounds that may have selective effectiveness against cancer. So this is a bit of a sore spot for me.

Two [recent] papers from Cancer Prevention Research on the potential anticancer effects of a diabetes drug (see Nathan Seppa’s story here) remind me to tell the story of a Middle Ages European herbal medicine used to treat polyuria that gave rise to one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, metformin (Glucophage in the U.S.). Metformin, known chemically as a biguanide, dimethylguanide to be precise, traces its roots to the plant Galega officinalis. Known as goat’s rue, French lilac, or professor weed, this plant was shown to be a rich source of guanidine and a less toxic compound later called galegin or galegine (isoamyline guanidine). Read more »

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

Generic Drugs: Not So Cheap

I received the following e-mail from a patient (paraphrased):

Dear Dr. Fisher,

Thank you for trying to switch me from lisinopril to generic losartan (Cozaar) to help me with the irritating cough that has been nagging me since I was placed on lisinopril. I did not pick up my prescription, though. At nearly $200 for a three-month supply, I’ve decided to live with the cough, since the same amount of lisinopril costs me about $12.

-Ms. Patient

Interesting how the generic drug market for some drugs only marginally discounts prices. Since the companies that make generics did not have to absorb research and development costs, how do they justify the exorbitant prices? Simple: The middlemen still have to get theirs.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Patients Are Splitting Pills To Cut Healthcare Costs

Patients are pill-splitting more to trim back healthcare costs, according to a poll by Consumer Reports. In the past year, 39 percent took some action to cut costs.

The poll of more than 1,100 people found that 45 percent of people take at least one prescription drug and average four. But 27 percent said they didn’t always comply with a prescription, and 38 percent of those younger than 65 without drug coverage didn’t fill prescriptions at all.

Just over half of patients felt that doctors didn’t consider their ability to pay when prescribing a drug, while nearly half blamed drugmaker’s influence for physicians’ prescribing habits. (HealthLeaders Media)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

U.S. Pharmaceutical Sales: The Top 10 List

Misc drugsThe top moneymakers for the U.S. pharmaceutical industry might surprise you. These aren’t necessarily the most prescribed medications (although some of them are), but they’re the top products in terms of sales in 2009. The revenues were in billions:

1. Lipitor – used for high cholesterol: $7.5 billion

2. Nexium – a proton pump inhibitor for GERD: $6.3 billion

3. Plavix – a blood thinner: $5.6 billion

4. Advair Diskus – used for asthma and COPD: $4.7 billion Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Vending Machines For Prescription Drugs: A UK Trial

The UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is running a trial with two different drug vending machines in two of its West Sussex stores. Basically you can drop your prescription at the machine, the pharmacy will collect the prescriptions and deliver the medications which you can later pick up.

As the machines are placed in stores with an in-store pharmacy service, the only benefit seems to be the lack of face-to-face contact (for those people who consider that a benefit). The trial will run for a year after which it will be decided whether they will be rolled out across all of England. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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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