Medications

Online Pharmacies: Buyer Beware

With the price of prescription drugs climbing more than 16 percent a year, its little wonder consumers are looking for new ways to save money on medications, including hunting for better deals on the Internet. But in the world of online pharmacies, where regulations are hard to enforce, telling the difference between a legitimate online company that sells brand-name medications, and a questionable outfit that might be selling contaminated, counterfeit or outdated drugs, is not…

When That Once-Wondrous Drug Works For You No More

When arthritis becomes severe, and anti-inflammatory drugs no longer stop the pain, many people turn to stronger pain-killing medications, such as opiate-containing narcotics, for relief. But with narcotics, the more you use them, the less effective they become. To get the same effect, you have to increase the dose, a phenomenon known as tolerance. A specific receptor in the brain is upregulated, or activated, by opiates, explains Nagy Mekhail, M.D., chairman of the department of…

Is Your Painkiller Putting You In Danger Of A Heart Attack?

Afew years ago, physicians became encouraged when two new drugs, Celebrex and Vioxx-COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors, called coxibs-became available for arthritis sufferers. Your doctor may well have prescribed these drugs for you, since they markedly reduce the risk of stomach ulcers associated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Motrin (ibuprofen) and Naprosyn (naproxen). This was important because almost 110,000 patients are hospitalized and 16,500 die every year in the U.S. due to NSAID-related ulcer complications.…

Pain: What Meds Do You Grab First?

Joint pain is one of the early symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Because the pain can become so debilitating, patients typically ask their doctor: Is there anything I can take that will make the pain go away? The answer is yes, but what pain reliever you should take depends on whether you suffer from OA or RA, and how persistent and severe your pain happens to be. …

Aspirin: The 104-Year-Old Wonder Drug Thats Still Young At Heart

Since the commercial launch of aspirin 104 years ago, its believed that more than one trillion aspirin tablets have been consumed. Today, 50 billion tablets are taken every year. Aspirin, which goes by the chemical name acetylsalicylic acid, has often been called a Wonder Drug or Miracle Drug-but why? What does it do and how does it work? …

Ask Dr. Marks: 08/03

In cleaning out my medicine cabinet recently, I noticed a number of drugs that have expiration dates that have passed. Is there any danger in my taking these drugs now? When do good drugs go bad? All over-the-counter medications will have an expiration date printed on their label. Expiration dates will vary from medication to medication and from lot to lot. They are based on the pharmaceutical companys test for stability of the drug. …

Experimental Therapies May Hold Key To Future Pain Treatment

The treatment of arthritis and damaged joints is about to enter the era of regenerative orthopedics, in which physicians use detailed knowledge of your own cells, proteins and DNA to help you fight inflammation, repair the immune system, and rebuild joint cartilage. Although most of these experimental therapies are still in the research lab or in early stages of clinical testing, they hold the promise of earlier diagnosis, more effective medications, and better results. Following are…

Ask Dr. Marks: 06/03

What is reactive arthritis? What causes it? The symptoms? How is it treated? The term reactive arthritis usually pertains to a group of inflammatory diseases that are triggered by an infectious agent. The most important disease in this group is Reiter's syndrome. The triggering agents are usually Salmonella or Shigella organisms. The organism does not infect the joint but triggers an immune response which causes inflammation of the joint. The syndrome can involve any joint but…

In the News: 06/03

Arthritis Plus Ulcers? Pricey COX-2 Inhibitors Not Your Only Option If you suffer from arthritis and have a history of ulcers, stomach-friendly but expensive COX-2 inhibitor drugs (Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra) aren't your only option, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine. A traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), when paired with an ulcer drug, may prevent bleeding just as well. The study involved 287 patients who had used NSAIDs for their arthritis…

Six Ways To Save On Drug Costs

Split Pills. Ask you doctor to prescribe your pills in double strength. Then, using a plastic pill-cutter (available at any pharmacy), split them in half. Note: Some medications-time-release pills, capsules, and tablets coated to reduce stomach irritation-lose their effectiveness when split. Buy Generics. Once a patent runs out on a well-known drug, others made of the same chemicals hit the market with a different name, at a lower price. Ask your doctor if there's a…

Ask Dr. Marks: 05/03

What is inflammatory arthritis? I thought only rheumatoid arthritis was inflammatory. There are two major families of arthritis: "wear and tear" or degenerative arthritis, and inflammatory arthritis. The prototype for degenerative arthritis is osteoarthritis. The prototype for inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. Although a prototype, rheumatoid arthritis is only one of a large group of conditions that causes inflammation and pain within the joint. Other forms of inflammatory arthritis are psoriatic arthritis, Reiter's syndrome and…

Popular Arthritis Drugs Less Cost-Effective Than Common Pain Killers

Selective COX-2 inhibitors, such as rofecoxib (Vioxx) and celecoxib (Celebrex), are not as cost-effective as common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin), indomethacin, and naproxen, in treating arthritis in the average patient. This was the conclusion of a recent study conducted by the University of California (Los Angeles) and the Veterans Affairs of Greater Los Angeles. Researchers found that the newer COX-2 drugs, developed to offer the same pain relief as NSAIDs but…