Rx for Change: Mentioning the Unmentionable: Urinary Incontinence (UI)

Urinary incontinence (UI) is finally something women can talk about—and do something about.  A new comprehensive study and a national meeting of UI researchers and other experts demonstrate widespread agreement that Kegel exercises and bladder training can improve UI symptoms for many women.[i] It’s time to make UI a topic for women’s health activism!

Rx for Change: Transgender Gender-Affirming Hormone Treatment

Article taken from page 10 of the July/August 2019 Newsletter By Nancy Worcester and Mariamne Whatley The NWHN’s leadership and advocacy on hormone safety has saved numerous lives by educating the public about hormonal contraceptives, advocating for the Women’s Health Initiative, promoting findings on menopause hormone therapy’s dangers, and critiquing testosterone’s marketing for industry-hyped “Low … Continued

Rx for Change: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

By Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD and Charlea T. Massion, MD  Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is another name for “chronic oligoanovulation”—irregular or absent ovulation resulting in  irregular or absent menstruation. PCOS may be associated with ovaries that have multiple cysts; hyperandrogenism (increased DHEA and/or testosterone); excessive facial or body hair (hirsuitism); acne; and weight gain. Diabetes, … Continued

Rx for Change: Changing the Culture Around Urinary Tract Infections

By Nancy Worcester and Mariamne Whatley Many women may be surprised to discover that what they know about Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) treatment and what, previously, seemed to serve them well is being questioned and may no longer be recommended. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria and can be treated by antibiotics. Until recently, the … Continued

RX for Change: The ABCs of Hospice and Palliative Care

Taken from page 10 of the January/February 2019 Newsletter By Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD and Charlea T. Massion, MD  An 83-year- old woman dies on a ventilator in the ICU. She’s been hospitalized for five of the last six months of her life. A 57-year-old woman with recurrent metastatic breast cancer develops cancer-related fluid inside her … Continued

Rx for Change: Throw Away Your Opioids

Taken from Page 10 of the Summer 2018 Newsletter By Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, and Charlea T. Massion, MD Adriane just had dental surgery and the surgeon provided a prescription for Tylenol with codeine. When she told him that opioids were not better than over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers for dental pain, the surgeon argued, “But it’s such … Continued

Rx for Change: Obfuscating Opioid Risks

By Adriane Fugh-Berman and Charlea Massion Back when we were in training, more than 30 years ago, opioids were considered dangerous drugs that could cause addiction and life-threatening respiratory depression. Medical students were taught that opioids were very useful for end-of-life pain (especially for cancer, which can cause excruciating pain) and that they were important … Continued

Rx for Change: Alternatives for Chronic Pain

By Adriane Fugh-Berman and Charlea Massion We’ve previously discussed the risks of opioids, and how pharmaceutical companies have encouraged over-prescription of these drugs that has created an opioid addiction epidemic. But what’s a person in pain to do? First of all, drop the idea that opioids are the best treatment for chronic pain. Except for … Continued

Rx for Change: Waiting Room Activism

By Adrianne Fugh-Berman Rx for Change (Nov/December 2005) “Even the scale I was weighed on had the name of a drug on it – a weight loss drug,” said my friend, after visiting her doctor. If it’s any consolation, the ad wasn’t directed at her. A doctor’s scale is a more extravagant present than the … Continued

Rx for Change — Help Your Doctor Break the Sample Habit

By Adriane Fugh-Berman May June 2008 Does your doctor give you drug samples? It’s always nice to get something for free. But, medication samples aren’t like the free samples you get at the supermarket. If you accept a cube of cheese offered to you at a grocery store, you can decide to purchase more if …

RX for Change: The Real Cost of EpiPen Shots? Peanuts!

The EpiPen is an automatic injection device (an “autoinjector”) for administering epinephrine, which can be life-saving for someone who is going into anaphylactic shock as a result of a severe allergic reaction. EpiPens have been available since 1980, but after Mylan Pharmaceuticals acquired the EpiPen from Merck, in 2007, it increased the price of two … Continued

RX for Change: Jane’s History Resonates

When I decided to write The Story of Jane, a history of Chicago’s underground, feminist abortion service that operated before Roe v. Wade, I had a few goals in mind: first, the Abortion Counseling service, aka Jane, was an important piece of the women’s movement’s history that needed to be better known. I also thought … Continued

Rx for Change: Alternatives for Chronic Pain

By Adriane Fugh-Berman and Charlea Massion We’ve previously discussed the risks of opioids, and how pharmaceutical companies have encouraged over-prescription of these drugs that has created an opioid addiction epidemic. But what’s a person in pain to do? First of all, drop the idea that opioids are the best treatment for chronic pain. Except for … Continued

Rx for Change: Waiting Room Activism

By Adrianne Fugh-Berman Rx for Change (Nov/December 2005) “Even the scale I was weighed on had the name of a drug on it – a weight loss drug,” said my friend, after visiting her doctor. If it’s any consolation, the ad wasn’t directed at her. A doctor’s scale is a more extravagant present than the … Continued

Rx for Change — Help Your Doctor Break the Sample Habit

By Adriane Fugh-Berman May June 2008 Does your doctor give you drug samples? It’s always nice to get something for free. But, medication samples aren’t like the free samples you get at the supermarket. If you accept a cube of cheese offered to you at a grocery store, you can decide to purchase more if … Continued

RX for Change: Abortion Disconnect

Whenever I hear a pro-choice politician say, “No one is pro-abortion,” I want to shout, “Excuse me but I’m pro-abortion, and I am not alone.”  I’m pro-abortion in the same way I’m pro-organ transplant or any other medical procedure: when you need one, you should be able to get one.  The fuzzy thinking that even …

RX for Change: Hepatitis drugs and skyrocketing health care costs

U.S. drug prices are out of control and unsustainable. We’re the only developed country where public programs cannot negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers; as a result, the U.S. generally pays more for branded prescription drugs than any other country. In 2014, we spent a stunning $3 trillion on healthcare — almost $10,000 ($9,523) per …

RX for Change: Medicare 101

For months I’ve been training as a Medicare counselor with my State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Too often, when I’m answering questions about Medicare, an iron gate seems to drop over people’s eyes. So, I thought I’d give you a simple explanation of the two ways you can get your Medicare benefits. Medicare, a Federal …

Rx for Change – Dying in America: Better than Ever?

Happy New Year — how recently have you thought about dying? Do you already have an Advance Directive and designated health care proxy? If so, good work! If not, this column can help you complete one in 2015. As described in renowned cartoonist Roz Chast’s graphic memoire about her aging parents, Can’t We Talk About Something …

Rx for Change — Binge-Eating Disorder: Another Invented Disease Brought to You by Pharma

Ever notice how dinner party hosts estimate portions based on their own appetites? Small eaters may leave their guests hungry; large eaters may have plenty of leftovers. Adriane’s in the latter category; her guests learn to enjoy her food in generous portions, or risk her wrath. Charlea, on the other hand, considers salad dinner. Somehow, …

 

RX for Change: Bending the Old Saw

There’s an old saw that says: The right cares only about individuals and not about people in the aggregate, while the left cares only about people in the aggregate and not about individuals. Sadly, in my own life, the old saw has all too often been true. When my cousin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer …

RX for Change: Language Matters, Especially When Talking About Root Causes

For my 67th birthday this year, my dear friend Peaches — with whom I shared those heady years in Jane, the underground, feminist abortion service — sent me a card. On the front was a picture of an elderly woman (much older than me) carrying a placard that said, “I Cannot Believe I Still Have …

Rx for Change: Oncologists Avoid Using the Best Treatment for Ovarian Cancer

Why is an ovarian cancer treatment that saves women’s lives being underused? Using intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy (infusing chemotherapy into the abdomen) along with intravenous chemotherapy (IV chemo, which is infused into veins) dramatically extends lives in women with ovarian cancer. Yet, a recent study found that only 41 percent of women treated at 6 academic centers …

RX for Change: Singing the Part D Medicare Blues

One of the few things I looked forward to when I approached 65 was becoming Medicare eligible. Before becoming eligible for Medicare, I found a high deductible plan that I could afford as a self-employed person. Since I’m a really healthy person, it worked fine until I broke my ankle and needed surgery and a …

 

RX for Change: Choosing Wisely on Getting a Bone Density Test

Recommendations about bone density (BD) testing have shifted over the last few years — we are proud to say, more toward what the NWHN has recommended for over a decade! This article reviews the BD testing recommendations from the Choosing Wisely® (CW) campaign. This campaign grew from an American Board of Internal Medicine program called

Rx for Change: Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetics often experience neuropathy (nerve pain or dysfunction); some people with diabetic neuropathy (DN) may be unaware of it because symptoms can be subtle. DN symptoms range from numbness or tingling to severe pain that interferes with daily activities and keeps people up at night. Numbness increases the risk of injury, especially to toes and …

 

RX for Change: Pass the Poop!

You’re crawling with germs – and that’s a good thing. All of us are coated inside and out with a complex protective film of microorganisms. If that film’s disrupted, the consequences can be devastating. We tend to think of ourselves as individuals, but part of what makes you you are trillions of individual bacteria. Many of …

 

RX for Change: Forget Fat!

We constantly hear that obesity is a killer and that the obesity epidemic will surely sink our health care system — but are a few extra pounds really bad for your health? A recent study suggests that being a little overweight may actually reduce your chance of dying.  Hear us out, though, before scarfing some …

RX for Change: The Low-Down on Low-T (or Menopause for Men)

Does the man in your life have “Low-T” (low testosterone) Syndrome? Oh, wait; make that “the men in your life” — chances are any of the men you know over age 40 qualify for a diagnosis. Symptoms supposedly associated with “Low-T” Syndrome are vague and overlap with symptoms of aging, like fatigue, reduced libido, and reduced body …

RX for Change: CT Scan Safety

“Lets just do a CT scan to be sure…” the doctor says. These days, having a CT scan seems routine, like having a strep test when you have a sore throat. In 2007, about 70 million CT scans were performed in the U.S. — triple the number done in 1993.1 About two-thirds of CT scans are …

RX for Change: Excuse Me, Is that a Metal-on-Metal Device You’re Wearing?

Hip replacement, a surgical procedure where the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic device, is usually done to relieve severe pain and mobility problems in a natural joint damaged by arthritis or trauma. Usually, both the “ball” (i.e., femoral head) and “socket” (i.e., acetabulum) are replaced, with excellent results. Unsuccessful hip replacement, however, can …

RX for Change: Sorry, We’re Out of Aspirin…

Here’s an all too common scenario in health care today: Dehydrated from a severe stomach flu, you’re admitted to a hospital. Your doctor wants to order medication to relieve your nausea and vomiting. A savvy user of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), she enters an order for prochlorperazine, a generic drug in use for over 30 …