Friday, August 24, 2007

migraine news roundup 42

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The AP reports pain medication use has grown exponentially in recent years.

AP: Pain Medicine Has Nearly Doubled
Retail sales of five leading painkillers nearly doubled over the last eight years, reflecting a surge in use by patients nationwide who are living in a world of pain, according to a new Associated Press analysis of federal drug prescription data.

The analysis reveals that oxycodone usage is migrating out of Appalachia to areas such as Columbus, Ohio and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and significant numbers of codeine users are living in many suburban neighborhoods around the country.

The amount of five major painkillers sold at retail establishments rose 90 percent between 1997 and 2005, according to Drug Enforcement Administration figures.

Research shows some people are responding to placebo effect, not medication, when placed on an anti-depressant.

Placebo Effect Among Antidepressants
Researchers believe a new study helps explain why some antidepressants seem to lose their effectiveness after being used for six months to a year. The answer is that the medications were never effective in the first place; rather the benefit individuals received while taking the drugs came from a placebo response.

Mark Zimmerman, MD, and colleague Tavi Thongy, MD, conducted a meta-analysis of continuation studies of new generation antidepressants that began as placebo-controlled acute phase studies.

Treatment studies of depression have found that approximately 50 to 65 percent of patients respond to medication and that approximately 25 to 35 percent respond to placebo.

CNN's Empowered Patient offers advice for deciding to fire your doctor.

Know When It's Time to Fire Your Doctor

So once you've decided it might be time to divorce your doctor, how do you do it? First of all, make sure whatever's bothering you isn't just a one-time thing. "Make sure it's not just a quirk of the doctor's day," Groopman says. "Maybe they're just having a bad day."

If the problems continue, Groopman, Roter, and DiMatteo agree it's best to try to express your dissatisfaction instead of just bolting. "Use the first person plural, such as 'We're not communicating well' as opposed to 'You seem distracted or irritable with me,'" suggests Groopman. "That may cause cause the physician to stop and reflect and shift gears."

When it doesn't, you can be sure it's time to get another doctor, Roter says. She described two friends who wrote letters to their doctor saying they were unhappy with some of the treatments they'd received. "The both got back letters saying, 'Good luck with your new doctor.'"

Interaction with chemicals and other toxins could be the source of many chronic health problems.

Our Assumptions About What Causes Chronic Diseases Could Be Wrong

Although some diseases are inherited through a single genetic mutation -- cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia are examples -- the classic "one gene, one disease" model doesn't adequately explain the complex interplay between an individual's unique genetic code and his or her personal history of environmental exposures.

That fragile web of interactions, when pulled out of alignment, is probably what causes many chronic diseases: cancer, obesity, asthma, heart disease, autism, and Alzheimer's, to name just a few.

To unravel the underlying biological mechanisms of these seemingly intractable ailments requires that scientists understand the precise molecular dialogue that occurs between our genes and the environment -- where we live and work, what we eat, drink, breathe, and put on our skin.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to study how prescription drug ads affect prospective patients.

FDA to Study Images' Impact in Drug Ads

The announcement, posted Tuesday to the Food and Drug Administration's Web site, comes a week after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested the agency's drug-ad enforcement has steadily declined.

The FDA says it plans to study how 2,000 people react to television drug ads to determine whether they have an overwhelmingly positive impression of products despite audio warnings about potential side effects.

Conversely, some say drug ads have unexpected good influences.

Drug Ads May Carry Healthy Side Effect
A recent study suggests some direct-to-consumer drug ads may spur people to change their health behavior for the better, even if they never buy what the drug companies are selling, a recent study suggests.

Tech giants Google and Microsoft both have plans to give patients access to powerful health care tools.

Google and Microsoft Look to Change Health Care
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By combining better Internet search tools, the vast resources of the Web and online personal health records, both companies are betting they can enable people to make smarter choices about their health habits and medical care.

“What’s behind this is the mass consumerization of health information,” said Dr. David J. Brailer, the former health information technology coordinator in the Bush administration, who now heads a firm that invests in health ventures.

It is too soon to know whether either Google or Microsoft will make real headway. Health care, experts note, is a field where policy, regulation and entrenched interests tend to slow the pace of change, and technology companies have a history of losing patience.

A law professor who is also a schizophrenic has written a book about balancing her disease and her career.

Waking Nightmares
In a powerful new book, an accomplished law professor writes about her struggle to overcome the debilitating psychotic episodes she suffered as a schizophrenic.

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