Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is Overseas Going Overboard?

Recently there has been a trend of drug research going overseas, purportedly to save money for increasingly tightening budgets.  However, recent cases have shown a perhaps darker incentive for going overseas, and that is looser FDA regulations.

One of the main issues that arise with overseas research is the lax monitoring of consent forms.  There are strict regulations within the United States to ensure that test subjects understand the trials and that they may be given placebos.  Oftentimes, though, when the trials occur overseas, people are not aware that they are being given placebos.  Instead, they believe that they are receiving actual treatment.

Another issue is the testing subjects themselves.  It is a generally held rule in the pharmaceutical research that the subject pool should have the drug available to them if it becomes FDA approved.  However, in many cases when the research happens overseas, they use indigent populations due to the low cost.  It is highly unlikely that the indigent population would have access to the drug once it became FDA approved.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The More You Know: When Information Turns Dangerous

A few weeks ago I had a patient come in with some stomach issues.  After telling me what her symptoms were, she started listing off a number of complicated drug names, inquiring which would be the best treatment.  I had to gently tell her that none of the drugs listed would be the best treatment because it was unlikely that she had hypopituitarism.  Or mumps.

This sort of self-diagnosis is becoming increasingly common with patients.  They have symptoms and turn to Dr. Oz or WebMD before finally calling their actual doctors.  With the increased availability of information, doctors become a second opinion before a first has even been issued.

The greater ownership that patient's have over the last decade or so is definitely positive, but it proves problematic when it hinders physicians in doing their jobs.  So, please, next visit let us do the diagnosing.