Drugs and Supplements

Is ADHD overdiagnosed and overtreated?

Updates in Slow Medicine
Updates in Slow Medicine, Contributing Editors

As the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD has increased in recent years, a new book delves into the connections between pharmaceutical companies and medical experts, and how these relate to rates of diagnosis.

Some medications don’t help back pain as much as we thought

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

With back pain affecting so many of us, it’s eye-opening that a new review of dozens of studies is reporting that many people who took NSAID medications did not feel any better, or felt only slightly better, after treatment.

Parents: As more states legalize marijuana, here’s what you need to know and do

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

As marijuana becomes legal or is decriminalized in more states, teens are less likely to view its use as risky, so parents need to talk with their children about safety, especially if they use it themselves.

Bad bug, no drugs: The real end of antibiotics?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

The constant stream of antibiotics in the food we eat and in the hospitals that treat us is creating the perfect environment for antibiotic resistant bacteria. It’s not cost effective to develop new antibiotics to replace the now-useless ones, so our pipeline is drying up. And while this sounds bleak, there are things you can do as a consumer and as a patient to help. You can start by paying attention to the food you eat and by not pressing your doctor for unnecessary antibiotics.

Taking medications correctly requires clear communication

David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD

Taking medications incorrectly means that patients don’t get the full benefit of the drugs and may experience unnecessary (or unnecessarily severe) side effects. The result can even cause a simple ailment to turn into a hospital stay. It’s essential that patients understand when to take their medications, and why they’re taking them in the first place. This understanding relies heavily on successful communication between patients and their doctors. Gaps, such as language barriers, can be bridged in a number of ways.

Is aspirin a wonder drug?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

People at high risk for heart problems are often prescribed a daily low-dose aspirin, but many more people who could benefit from taking aspirin do not do so. A recent analysis suggests that for people ages 51 to 79 in the United States, regular low-dose aspirin can help reduce rates of heart disease and some cancers as well as save substantial health care dollars.

Vitamin D: What’s the “right” level?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Agreement on the adequate level of vitamin D is difficult to come by in the medical community, with respected organizations offering widely divergent guidelines on how much is enough for most people. All that said, most experts agree that doctors should be checking vitamin D levels in high-risk people — those most at risk for a true deficiency.

Can genetic testing help determine the best medications for you?

Shannon Manzi, PharmD
Shannon Manzi, PharmD, Contributor

The use of pharmacogenomics, the study of how a person’s genes affect the body’s metabolizing of medications, can help doctors predict if a person will have a negative reaction to a particular medication, or whether one drug may provide better results than another. However, this information is just one piece of the puzzle when trying to help find the medication that will provide the greatest benefit with the fewest side effects.

Anti-inflammatory medications and the risk for cardiovascular disease: A new study, a new perspective

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The results of a large study of the anti-inflammatory medication celecoxib in people with arthritis and increased risk for cardiovascular disease are changing previously held beliefs regarding the drug raising the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The latest on glucosamine/chondroitin supplements

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Despite a lack of conclusive evidence, millions of Americans take glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for joint protection or relief from arthritis pain. While these supplements are considered safe, they are not regulated the way prescription drugs are and can cause side effects.