Weekend Reading

Napanee River

Links, updates and articles for your weekend digestion:


Let’s start with the big one. Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us is an epic long read – at 25,000 words, you’ll need some time to get through it. But it’s an engaging read for anyone interested in why the US healthcare system is expensive, inefficient, and leaves millions uninsured.

What’s the Matter With Vermont? Anti-vaccine activists derailed a bill that could have blunted the whooping cough epidemic. They need to see this: How Vaccines Have Changed Our World In One Graphic. And related: Cut the Shit and Vaccinate Your Kid. And also: The tragic myths about vaccines. Caution: lots of antivax in the comments.

When it comes to vaccines, GMOs, and alternative medicine, perhaps the facts don’t matter.

Choosing Wisely campaign releases an additional 18 lists of tests or procedures to question, highlighting potentially unnecessary —sometimes harmful — care: The consumer sheets give yet another caution about how pharmacy-sold IgG tests like Hemocode are not useful for diagnostic purposes:

You can now get allergy tests in places outside the doctor’s office. Many drugstores and supermarkets, for example, offer free screenings. And you can even buy kits to test yourself at home. But random allergy testing may detect responses in people who don’t have the same reaction in everyday life. In addition, screenings for food allergies sometimes use a blood test for a protein called immunoglobulin G (IgG). But those allergies are related to a different protein, IgE, and the usefulness of the IgG test to detect food allergies is unproven.

The death of a 30-year-old woman who ran the London Marathon is linked a supplement found in many energy drinks. And if you need another example of the consequence of permitting a lowered safety and efficacy standard for “supplements”: Ephedra supplements cause cardiovascular effects, some brands were found to be heavily contaminated with Bacillus species.

Did you miss Ben Goldacre during his swing through North America? Here he is on CBC The Current, speaking about clinical trial transparency and the obligation of manufacturer to provide all data.

The NHS Choices page on homeopathy has been improved dramatically (see background), even calling it a “treatment” with quotation marks.

If anti-fluoridation activists were consistent, they’d call for the active removal of naturally occurring fluoride. But they don’t.

On toxic couches and carcinogens: Chemophobia, deconstructed.

Early 2013 estimates of flu vaccine effectiveness–an analysis. Original CDC report. Expect antivaccinationists to spin, spin, spin the findings.

So fantastic.  Calvin & Hobbes photoshopped into real photographs.

I’ve finally set up a Facebook page for Science-Based Pharmacy. Please like,share and comment.

Photo from flickr user NapaneeGal used under a CC licence.