Why patients hate the C-word

Way back in 1847, the American Medical Association panel on ethics decreed that “the patient should obey the physician.” There may very well be physicians today – in the era of empowered patients and patient-centred care and those darned Medical Googlers who glance nostalgically backwards at those good old days.

Let’s consider, for example, the simple clinical interaction of prescribing medication.  If you reliably take the daily meds that your doctor has prescribed for your high blood pressure, you’ll feel fine.  But if you stop taking your medication, you’ll still feel fine.  At least, until you suffer a stroke or heart attack or any number of consequences that have been linked to untreated hypertension.

Those who do obediently take their meds are what doctors call “compliant”. And, oh. Have I mentioned how much many patients like me hate that word? Continue reading

Google forfeits $500 million for illegal Canadian pharmacy ads

The New York Times has published a report announcing that Google will pay $500 million to settle U.S. government charges that it has been running illegal ads for online Canadian pharmacies in the U.S. It’s the first time an Internet search engine is being held responsible for the illegal distribution of drugs.

The fine, which the U.S. Justice Department said is one of the largest such penalties ever imposed, covers revenue that Google earned from the illegal advertisers and revenue that the Canadian pharmacies received from United States customers.

As part of the settlement, Google acknowledged that it improperly aided the Canadian pharmacies – which operate illegally by failing to require a prescription or selling counterfeit drugs – in advertising through its AdWords program. This ad network is a major moneymaker for Google, expected to generate more than $30 billion in revenue this year.

So perhaps this new $500 million penalty is not as painful as it seems at first blush?  Continue reading

Amazing (and strange) examples of placebo miracle effects

Join science broadcaster Daniel Keogh (aka Australia’s Professor Funk and host of the ABC series The Stupid Species: Why Everyone – Except You – Is An Idiot) as he leads us on this short and enlightening exploration of the many strange effects of placebos (and nocebos).  Watch his 3-minute video.  See also: Dr. Ben Goldacre’s Rapid-Fire Story of the ‘Nocebo Effect’