nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Massachusetts governor asks hospital, health-insurance leaders to hold down costs.

The Boston Globe (1/13, Bombardieri) reports that on Jan. 12, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) asked the "most prominent hospital and health-insurance leaders" in the state "to take quick action to hold down rapidly rising healthcare costs, suggesting that if they did not take steps on their own, they might face new government regulation."


Doc D:  I can’t help repeatedly poking Massachusetts, the poster child on how not to do universal healthcare…formerly hailed as the forerunner in solving healthcare availability.  Combine runaway costs with only 3% of graduates going into primary care, and Ole Mass is heading for the bottom of the heap in healthcare delivery…but, hey, everybody’s covered.


Fatal car accidents involving older drivers appear to have declined markedly in past decade, researchers say.

The New York Times (1/13, D5, Parker-Pope) reports that, according to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), "fatal car accidents involving older drivers have actually declined markedly in the past decade." In fact, "while fatal crashes are declining overall, the rates for older driving deaths are falling the fastest. …  Currently, IIHS "is conducting further research to determine why the risks appear to be going down for older drivers." Perhaps "today's older drivers are simply in better physical and mental shape than their counterparts a decade ago, so they are not only less likely to make a driving mistake, but also less frail and better able to survive injuries."


Doc D:  Maybe we’re just hiding their keys. 


Study suggests Vicks VapoRub may increase mucus production in children under two.

The Los Angeles Times (1/13, Maugh) reports, "Many parents slather Vicks VapoRub on their sniffling, coughing kids when they're sick," but "using the ointment to ease coughing and congestion in children" under two years of "age might lead to severe breathing problems by increasing mucus production and inflammation," according to a study published in the journal Chest. For the study, Bruce K. Rubin, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest's Brenner Children's Hospital, and colleagues, "applied the ointment directly to cultured ferret tracheal cells, as well as under the noses of healthy ferrets and ferrets with tracheal inflammation similar to that of humans with a cold."

        The researchers also "applied K-Y jelly instead of VapoRub to a similar group of ferrets," which served as controls, USA Today (1/13, Rubin) adds. The investigators found that, "compared with the K-Y jelly groups, mucus secretion rose in the VapoRub groups by 14 percent in the healthy ferrets, and eight percent in those with inflamed windpipes, which itself increases mucus production."


Doc D:  For those of you who have small children, drop everything and check your kiddo’s for ferret tracheal cells.  Not there?  Whew, that’s a relief.  Seriously, these products are a waste of money.   My parents liked Ben-Gay.  I can still remember the first-degree burns on my chest.  Little boys learned very quickly not to get it on their fingers and scratch you-know-where (by nature, little girls don’t share the same proclivity, so needed no warning).


Nearly 70 weight-loss pills sold in the US as dietary supplements may harm consumers, FDA says.

The Los Angeles Times (1/11) reported, "Almost 70 weight-loss pills sold in the US as dietary supplements contain drugs that aren't disclosed on the labels and can harm consumers, regulators said, expanding an earlier list." According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "products, sold under names including Imelda Fat Reducer, Powerful Slim, and 24 Hours Diet, may cause high blood pressure, seizures, heart attacks, or strokes." In addition, "the products contain drugs that are legally available by prescription only, and in some cases the pills contain medicines that haven't been approved in the US, the FDA said."


Doc D:  This, unfortunately, is not a joke.  Congress gave a “regulatory pass” to all complementary and alternative supplements.  While a standard drug has to undergo several phases of human testing and research, lasting up to 10-15 years, by law these products can be put on the market with no review at all.  I recommend highly that you do careful research before taking any unregulated herbal, supplement, additive, or alternative product.



Medical quote of the Day:

Ignorance and credulous hope make the market for most proprietary remedies.—Samuel Hopkins Adams [1871-1958]           



Nature Note:    If you’re worried about salmonella-tainted peanut butter, go here:  The problem is that the alleged source was a provider not only of peanut butter, but peanut paste, which is used in cookies, ice cream, nutrition bars, etc. This magnifies the complexity of tracking down any contaminated sources, because scores of companies use the paste in their own products, under hundreds of labels. 

The last salmonella peanut butter recall was in 2006.    


Doc D

Opinions are entirely my own.  Quotations from Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report ( © Kaiser Family Foundation), PND News Briefs – Texas Edition ( © 2008, Physician's News Digest, Inc.), AMA Morning Rounds (© U S News Custom Briefings), and other sources in the public domain.  As always, you may share this column, with appropriate attribution (here and in the text) included.



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