We Have Moved

June 21, 2010
Concord MA chiropractor

Moving on UP!!

Well I feel like I have taken the training wheels off of my bike!!  We have moved our blog over to the main website.

You can visit us here

We are really excited about the new site, please come over and say HI!!


Can We Trust the FDA?

October 13, 2009

fda-logoThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services established to regulate the release of new foods and health-related products.  Health related products includes but are not limited to medicine, cosmetics, supplements, and even certain veterinary products.  Their mission is to be responsible for ensuring that foods are safe, wholesome and sanitary; human and veterinary drugs, biological products and medical devices are safe and effective; cosmetics are safe; and electronic products that emit radiation are safe.

In a nutshell, we trust them to have our back when new products hit the market.

There have always been whispers that the FDA was ignoring the risks of artificial sweeteners, that they had been bought off by the companies that produced and used them.  MSG was another one that people have forever said the FDA is looking the other way despite mounting evidence that it may not be all that great for you.

Most of these claims were written off to conspiracy theorists with nothing better to do…..until now.

The FDA recently came out and admitted that 2 senators and 2 representatives from New Jersey placed undo influence on the FDA to approve a knee operation patch made by the company ReGen Biologics, which happens to be located in New Jersey.  The well wishing senators claim that the money that was donated to their coffers, around $26,000, had nothing to do with the pressure they put on the FDA, they were merely looking out for a constituent company.

Here is how it went down.  The agency’s scientists for years unanimously ruled that this device was unsafe due to a high failure rate, forcing the patient to have another surgery.  A clinical trial of the device failed to show that it worked any better than routine surgery.  That should have been the end of it, however, the agency managers overruled the scientists and approved the device for use.

The FDA’s report said that its Office of Legislation began receiving calls from members of Congress in December 2007 complaining about its review of the device, and the office’s director “described the pressure from the Hill as the most extreme he had seen.”

With all this pressure from the Congress the FDA caved and approved a device that does not appear to work.  The San Antonio Spurs, of the NBA, orthopedic physician Dr. David R. Schmidt said he was involved in the original clinical trial of ReGen’s Menaflex device and concluded that patients did not benefit. He said he was surprised that the FDA approved it.

In January, the Government Accountability Office concluded that it was long past time that the agency demanded that manufacturers prove that all complex devices are safe and effective before being approved for sale.

What should we make of this?  Do we need more oversight?  Do we really want politicians placing calls to the FDA to approve things that shouldn’t get approved?

Hopefully in the future these agencies can stay above the fray of campaign finance and rule on things as they see fit.


Doctors Getting Paid To Market Drugs

October 5, 2009
Drug Marketing

Drug Marketing

A while back I wrote a post on a drug company, Eli Lilly, using ghost writers to write favorable articles and having doctor’s sign their names to them as if they had written them.  You can read that here.  At best it is a murky situation.

Recently, Eli Lilly was back in the news here in Boston, when the Boston Globe reported that at least 60 area doctors received more than a half million dollars in speakers fees.

A very common practice in the drug industry is to hire physicians as speakers , provide them with the literature on the drug they are marketing, and turn them loose speaking on behalf of the company that hired them.

Imagine the difference in credibility between a drug salesman and a renowned doctor.  When that doctor, whom may be at the top of their field, speaks people will listen.  The drug companies know this and have very smartly used the doctor’s credibility to help them push drugs through these talks.  The question I have is this:  Hasn’t that doctor become nothing more that a glorified drug salesman?  Is their credibility now under fire?  I think it has to be and I am not alone in those thoughts.

Mass General researcher, Eric Campbell found out that 16% of all US doctors and 25% of hospital department heads belong to one speaking bureau or another.  Mr Campbell is quoted as saying, “Academics who want to be drug salesmen should go be drug salesman. But don’t do it under the shroud of academia.’’

Everyone from politicians to other physicians are voicing concern that these company paid doctors cannot give unbiased information, whether that may be downplaying the side effects of a drug or not talking about the generic equivalent which would cost less.

What do these doctor’s whom are paid this money say?  They claim they vet all information and would only present material that they believe in, even if the company is the one providing the material.  They also claim these talks are great ways to educate other doctors about new drugs.  Although one doctor did admit he was doing the talks in order to cover his children’s college tuition.

The public is starting to wake up to this and put pressure on these companies to disclose their financial relationship with doctors.  To their credit Eli Lilly released a list of all their paid speakers.  Good for them, it is nice to see that the much asked for transparency is starting to become reality.

Because of this debate and other problems – pharmaceutical firms have paid millions in fines for illegally marketing medications – companies are under political pressure to disclose their financial relationships with doctors. Lilly is one of the first companies to publicly release a list of paid consultants and speakers.

In January the FDA reported they were fining Eli Lilly 1.4 billion dollars for illegally marketing a drug.  That is a lot of money until you realize that Eli Lilly did 20.38 billion in sales in 2008.

The drug they are getting fined over….in 2006 did 4.7 billion in sales.

Now let me ask you this, if I told you I would let you market a drug to 4.7 billion in sales, but if you get caught you would have to pay a fine of 1.4 billion would you take that deal?  Darn right you would.

Paying doctors to market drugs needs a complete overhaul.  We need to be demanding complete transparency.  Good for Eli Lilly to be the first one to do it, let’s hope it keeps going.


I Am a Bottled Water Fan!

August 4, 2009
Sugar

Sugar

I know that bottled water is totally not vogue right now and I may be angering some of you with my stance on it, however, I am a huge fan of bottled water.  Please let me explain before you scorch me with emails and comments.

Recently, RTI, a non profit research group,  health economist Eric Finkelstein offered a blunt message for lawmakers trying to revamp the health care system: “Unless you address obesity, you’re never going to address rising health care costs.”

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in April in The New England Journal of Medicine, “Sugar sweetened beverages may be the single largest driver of the obesity epidemic.’’

Last year 26 percent of beverages consumed were soda.

The average 20 ounce soda has 17 teaspoons of sugar in it.  17 teaspoons!!! That is an insane amount.  Try this; place 17 teaspoons of sugar in a bowl and look at how much sugar is in there.  I did it and was horrified.

I don’t think anyone would argue with me that there is no way it is good for you to consume that much sugar in one drink.  Please keep in mind that the average person will drink a couple of these a day!!

Last year we as a country spent $147 billion on obesity.  For an obese person that adds up to over $1400 per person per year in additional medical costs.  The two biggest diseases linked to obesity are heart disease and diabetes.

Would anyone argue that all this sugar contributes to obesity?  Of course, the beverage companies that produce these drinks may not be on board with the sugar and obesity link.

“It’s counterproductive when you have folks out there trying to single out one particular product as a unique contributor to a problem so complex,’’ said Kevin Keane, senior vice president of the American Beverage Association, which represents the makers of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other leading drinks. “You could get rid of soft drinks tomorrow, and you would still have overweight and obese people.’’

It is counterproductive?  No one blames ONLY the soft drinks for contributing to obesity but for sure it is a part.  Soda draws people’s ire due to how easy it is to consume all this sugar.  When you eat food, the body does a decent job of telling you that you are full and it is time to stop eating.  Unfortunately when it comes to drinking the body is not as diligent about telling you when to stop, thus leading to consuming many more calories than you actually need.

How many calories are in bottled water???  None.

Now look, you must be socially aware that bottled water is bad for the environment if you throw them away.  You must recycle your bottles, not doing so is just flat out wrong.  There are also trucking issues related to delivering the water.  Even with all of these factors, the side effect of all the sugar people are consuming still makes the bottled water a better choice, in my opinion.

Now we can argue that paying more for water than gasoline is crazy and I would agree.  So why not tap water?  There are two reasons that I don’t like tap water.  The first is the taste.  Every town is different, some towns that water taste great and some taste nasty.  If the water taste gross I am less likely to drink it.

The second reason is the chemicals that are present in tap water.  I am not a huge fan of them.  I feel that bottled water companies like Poland Springs® do a good job of filtering their water to reduce the chemicals better than tap water does.

At the end of the day, I am making the case that bottled water, warts and all, is an excellent choice if you are reaching in the cooler at your favorite sub shob.

It for sure beats drinking all that sugar.  Wait you want to drink diet soda, don’t even get me started!


Seatbelts Save Lives

July 5, 2009

Woke up this morning to this headline in the Boston Herald….Eight killed in wrecks before dawn

For anyone who knows me, inexplicably, I am a huge NASCAR fan. I watch the race, the minor league races, the talk shows, I even read websites about it. I have often joked that I would pick going to the Daytona 500 over most any other sporting event.

To make this more of a conundrum, I barely know which side of the screwdriver to hold, never mind having any knowledge of cars. It is the science of the sport that absolutely fascinates me and today’s post is about the safety side.

When I went to bed last night, at the conclusion of the NASCAR race from Daytona, Kyle Busch, one of the sports biggest stars, had just got turned into the wall at 180+ MPH. His car then spun, was struck from behind, spun again and was hit even harder on the drivers side door. Again all of this at 180+ MPH. His car was totally destroyed. A few weeks prior to that Carl Edwards, another huge star, got hit, spun, hit again, his car went into the air, flipped, hit a fence before finally landing on the track. Again his car was totally destroyed.

What a car looks like after getting hit at 180 MPH

What a car looks like after getting hit at 180 MPH

The common theme in these two 180+ MPH wrecks is that both drivers walked away. Carl Edwards even made a big show of jogging across the finish line, not 15 seconds after his car stopped.

How is it possible that these two guys walk away from their wrecks, yet 8 people were killed last night, July 4th, in wrecks where people weren’t going near half their speed?

After I read the headline of the article, I found this later in the piece…”A common thread in the tragic, predawn carnage was that none of the drivers or passengers in the deadliest accidents in Walpole and Attleboro were wearing safety belts while driving at high speeds.

When a NASCAR driver gets behind the wheel, he does so knowing that this race could be his last. The possibility of death stares him right in the face.  In order to give these drivers a much better chance to survive these crashes a complex safety system is used.  The drivers are basically strapped into their seats.  Trust me when I tell you this, there is not much wiggle room.  There is a 5 point seat-belt and even their helmets are attached to the seat.  A window netting is also included to prevent arms from coming outside of the car.

When a young driver gets behind the wheel, I suspect they are more pre occupied with how they look in the car versus how safe they are.  No wonder parents can’t sleep when their kids are out late.

The safety devices available to a driver pale in comparison to what you would find in a typical NASCAR car, however, since the speeds are hopefully only 1/3 of what they will drive, they are more than sufficient if used properly.

There are 4 key points to safety within the car:

  1. Seat-belt
  2. Airbag
  3. Seat
  4. ABS

Seat-belt.  To not wear your seat-belt is shear idiocy.  There is absolutely no excuse.  Plainly stated the seat-belt will keep you in the car.  It will also keep you in your seat and off the steering wheel or windshield.  You must use the lap and shoulder belts.  This point is not open for debate.

Airbag.  If you strike something hard enough the airbag will deploy.  While this will make a sound and you will smell something odd, these are very effective at keeping your head off the windshield and steering wheel.  Word of caution, short people need to sit as far from the steering wheel as possible, maybe even consider getting pedal extenders.  Same for pregnant women, you don’t want the airbag striking you with too much force, it is best to sit as far back as you can.

Seats.  The seat is designed to absorb the energy if you crash.  In order for it to work properly, you must have the seat as upright as possible and have your head no more than 1 inch from the headrest.  The headrest should also be high up enough so your entire head touches it, don’t just leave it on the seat.  Riding like the gangsta with the seat all the way back and you leaning forward has to end.

ABS.  These are standard on most cars today.  These brakes will allow you to continue steering in the case where you need to stop quickly.  One note of caution, these brakes only work if you keep the pedal depressed.  DO NOT pump these types of brakes.  When you have these brakes all the way pressed down, sometimes they will vibrate or pulse, that means they are doing their job, don’t let up.  If the car that you are looking at buying does not come with ABS, please consider another model.  If you must choose between the moon roof and the ABS, please choose the ABS.

If you know you are going to get in an accident there are a couple of things you can do to try and lessen the imapct of the crash.  Begin by forcing your head against the head rest, while looking straight.  The second thing you can do is tense for the crash, this goes against the old advice of staying loose.  Lastly, if you are in a postion to try and avoid the accident, focus on where you want to go.  If you want to stay on the road and avoid the trees, focus on the road and do your best to ignore the trees.  You will be shocked at how effective this is.

Hey wait, that sounds like life advice also, focus on where you want to go…………

Your state of mind may be the most important tool in your arsenal of safety.  Driving while drinking, under the influence of drugs, tired, angry, or now dialing/talking on the cell and texting is severly limiting your chances of staying out of an accident.  Changing the radio station and eating are also distractions that you must be very careful with.

If you do get in an accident please check in with your doctor right away.  If the accident is bad enough a trip to the ER is a good idea for a set of x-rays.  In most cases you will not need a neck brace, those have been shown to increase scar tissue formation and actually slow down healing.

Lastly, please slow down.  Driving 50 on a road designed for 30 is going to get you in trouble.

If you have any questions you can always ask here through the comments or give me a call at the number above.


Slip Sliding Away

January 29, 2009

ice-bear-fall1

 

In the never ending saga that is winter here in the Northeast, we are now under siege from ice.  I got up this morning, slid across my driveway and thought, when will this end.

After walking across the ice in hundreds of hockey games, I would like to think I have learned a thing or two about how not to make tons of hockey parents giddy with joy while I am wiped out on the ice.

The key to walking on ice is to stay athletic.  What does that mean, you ask?  Keep your knees bent!  Do not walk tall when trying to get across a slippery surface.  If your center of balance shifts quickly, you are probably going down, so let’s avoid that.

The second key is to shuffle.  No big steps here. Slide your feet over the ground without making any big steps.

Lastly, keep your hands out for balance.

The slower you go, the better the chance you have for not slipping and falling.

If you are interested in putting things on your shoes to keep you from slipping the yaktrax really work well.  Any outdoor store will have them.

In the department of sometimes sprains are worse than breaks, sometimes a slip is worse than a fall.  If either one of these occur, please give the office a call so we can check your spine and keep you healthy.