Articles Posted in Medications

magazines-199x300For those who may have more time on their hands due to the pandemic and who may be seeking deeper digs into Covid-19, excellent long-form coverage is abounding.

Consider, for example, taking time for the New Yorker article by  Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer doctor, biologist, and best-selling nonfiction author who delves into the question of “What the coronavirus crisis reveals about American medicine.”

His premise includes in its painful illumination a quote from Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, whose quip assumes a different poignancy when applied to the post-pandemic state of medicine:  “When the tide goes out, you discover who has been swimming naked.”

gileadremdesivir-300x169Optimism and realism should not be oppositional characteristics when looking hard at the slowly evolving measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Experts always have said many ways will be needed to battle the novel coronavirus and much attention has focused on a few: effective treatments, a vaccination, as well as testing, testing, testing.

There are reasons to be skeptical and hopeful about what is going on in each area:

covidprotestersmich-300x138Even as the nation battles the Covid-19 pandemic, leaders at all levels need to protect our democracy by both allowing appropriate expression of different points of view while also ensuring that extremists do not shove themselves into the center of public policy-making about crucial health concerns.

Americans — to their great distaste — have gotten a dose of the serious consequences that can occur when fringe, counter-factual thinking infects leaders thinking (or what passes for thought). Private companies and medical experts had to rise up to push back against President Trump’s “musing” or “sarcasm” about somehow “getting into the body” bleach, disinfectant products, and powerful light sources to attack the novel coronavirus.

As the New York Times reported:

ammo-300x191As Americans have hunkered down to safeguard themselves from Covid-19 infection, too many people also have stocked their homes with potentially harmful items — and the nation soon may be reckoning with the health consequences.

Will consumers come to regret that officials, locality by locality, deemed “essential” and chose to keep open marijuana shops, gun dealers, and liquor stores? Will doctors rue their decision to support patients, understandably unnerved by the pandemic, with a spike in prescriptions of potent and problematic anti-anxiety drugs?

Experts are sounding the alarms — with reasons worth wide public reminder.

cvirussurrenderWith the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic now framed as one of the planet’s major battles, it may be worth considering  the historical record on the timing of turning points in matters of war.

The American Revolutionary War, historians note, hit a crucial point at Saratoga — 14 months after the conflict became official with rebels’ declaration of independence. A key moment of the Civil War occurred at Gettysburg — two years and a few months after an attack at Fort Sumter tore the nation apart. In World War I, the tides did not seem to shift until the clash at Marne —  four years after an assassin’s bullet had plunged the world into war. And in World War II, it is a matter of some controversy, but many experts cite the brutal Battle of Stalingrad as a turning point — roughly 3.5 years after Germany launched a global calamity with its invasion of Poland.

The novel coronavirus, in roughly three months, has killed more than 50,000 Americans, with experts conceding that toll is likely an undercount.

zantac-300x169Big Pharma’s slavish devotion to maximizing profits and “enhancing shareholder value” has led industry executives to shove the manufacture of their products to far-flung shores. The dubious consequences of these moves have become clear not only with common, over-the-counter medications but also — with potentially tragic results — with drugs needed in the war on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even before the world was terrorized by the coronavirus outbreak in China, safety advocates warned about serious “supply chain” issues in drug making, with one small lab sounding alarms about Zantac, a widely used over-the-counter heartburn pill.

Valisure, a commercial pharmacy that sought to distinguish itself by testing and assuring consumers of the quality of the drugs it sold, provided the federal Food and Drug Administration its lab tests and analyses as evidence that Zantac (aka ranitidine) was contaminated with, what the New York Times has described as, “a type of nitrosamine called N-nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, which is believed to be carcinogenic in humans and is found in a variety of products, including cured meats.”

logowalmart-300x117Walmart and Johnson and Johnson, two of America’s corporate titans, each acted in ways that helped to fuel the opioid crisis that federal experts estimate claims 128 Americans’ lives each day, news media investigations show.

Walmart ignored repeated complaints from its own pharmacists and permitted the over-subscribing of logojj-300x57hundreds of thousands of potent prescription painkillers by sketchy doctors across the country, with the company’s refusal to deal with rising problems leading federal prosecutors to ready hefty civil and criminal cases, according to ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site.

The retailing giant, however, pulled powerful political strings, with Trump Administration officials stepping in to stymie potential lawsuits and criminal charges against Walmart — despite a previously secret settlement the company earlier had signed, pledging to step up its oversight of prescription drugs it sold, ProPublica reported. Reporters Jesse Eisinger and James Bandler wrote:

drugpromotrump-300x178President Trump has stormed past accepted professional practices and triggered alarms about ethical decision making by caregivers, as he persists in his noisy advocacy for treating seriously ill patients with Covid-19 infections with an unproven pair of prescription drugs.

Promoting this drug regimen — on social media and in White House news conferences — has pitted the onetime real estate developer and reality show host with an undergraduate economics degree squarely against Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease experts at the National Institutes of Health.

They have squared off publicly, with the leader of the free world talking about how he “feels good” about giving patients two, long-used antimalarial drugs — chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine (aka plaquenil) — while Fauci has insisted such prescribing has no basis now, and, at best, should be subjected to rigorous clinical trial to determine their effectiveness.

AAMedals-300x156Although federal experts estimate that alcohol abuse leads to 88,000 Americans’ deaths annually and economic costs of almost $250 billion, one of the nation’s oldest and best-known programs to deal with this problematic behavior has long been surrounded by doubts.

Critics have questioned its effectiveness, criticized its “irrationality,” and focused on its stepped regimen, desperate and self-enrolling participants, and core tenets, including its spiritual appeals to higher and external powers.

But after a deep dig into the building and rigorous evidence about it — including scrutiny of 27 studies, (some of them randomized clinical trials) with more than 10,000 participants — researchers from Harvard, Stanford, and Europe have concluded in a published, research review for the respected Cochrane Collaboration that Alcoholics Anonymous, indeed, can be beneficial for many but not all excessive alcohol users.

cdcHepCopioidabuse-300x150The opioid-overdose crisis has not disappeared, not by a long shot, and there’s a new warning about its toll: A blue-ribbon expert panel has urged doctors to expand testing for hepatitis C to all adults, ages 18 to 79, and no longer limiting the screening to those born between 1945 and 1965. That’s because the risky conduct that goes with abusing opioids also bumps up the risk of this potentially deadly but treatable liver infection.

Hepatitis C is growing as a significant health concern, the New York Times reported:

“Despite substantial advances in treatment over the past five years, infections are on the rise. Roughly 44,700 new hepatitis C infections were reported in the United States in 2017, according to federal data. A major challenge for health officials is that a significant number of people have the virus but do not know they are infected … Hepatitis C leads to chronic liver disease in most people who contract it, and some eventually develop cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is spread primarily through the sharing of needles among people who use illicit drugs.”

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