Sunday, December 23, 2007

Calgary resumes routine vaccinations

From the Globe and Mail:
Routine measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations have resumed for children in Calgary, officials said yesterday, ending the suspension to the program ordered this month after a cluster of serious allergic reactions.

The Calgary Health Region, which is battling a mumps outbreak among young adults that has hit Alberta, said yesterday it has found a new supply of the MMR vaccine. ...more

Doctor faces limits on practice after morphine death

From CTV News:
Quebec's College of Physicians is imposing strict limits on the practice of a Quebec doctor who administered lethal doses of morphine to a terminally ill patient.

In a judgment released Friday in Montreal, the college's discipline committee says it will restrict Genest from clinical practice to protect the public....more

New safety warnings regarding ALERTEC® * (modafinil) and serious rash, allergic reactions, and mental problems

From Health Canada:
Alertec® (modafinil) is used to relieve excessive sleepiness due to medical conditions called narcolepsy (uncontrollable, brief episodes of daytime sleepiness), obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (breathing abnormalities during sleep) and shift work sleep disorder. Shire Canada Inc., in consultation with Health Canada, would like to inform you of new safety information regarding Alertec®:
For Health Professionals
For the Public

Jean Coutu breaks into generic drug manufacturing

From the Globe and Mail:
In a departure from its core business, drugstore chain Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. is diversifying into the manufacturing of generic drugs.

Longueuil, Que.-based Jean Coutu said yesterday it has acquired Pro-Doc Ltée., a small generic drug maker based in Laval, Que. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Jean Coutu made the announcement on the same day it learned its stake in U.S. drugstore giant Rite Aid Corp. took a $325-million (U.S.) hit.

"This is a new activity for us. It follows on our having sold our U.S. operations and repaying most of our debt and seeking new growth opportunities," said André Belzile, Jean Coutu's senior vice-president of finance and corporate affairs.

"It's embryonic. We want to learn. We'll see where it takes us," Mr. Belzile said in an interview. ...more

Improper use of fentanyl pain patches linked to more deaths: FDA

From CBC News:
U.S. health officials say improper use of patches that emit the painkiller fentanyl is still killing people.

Today's warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the second concerning the powerful narcotic in two years.

The FDA blames some of the deaths on the patches being improperly prescribed to certain patients. Fentanyl should be used to control chronic pain in people already used to narcotics, such as some cancer patients. Yet the FDA has found cases where doctors prescribed it for headaches or post-surgical pain. ...more

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Doctors rely too heavily on drug company data: CMA

From CBC News:
Most of the information doctors receive about prescription drugs comes from the companies making the product, a doctor said Wednesday, pointing to a possible reason doctors continue to prescribe dangerous drugs to seniors.

Dr. John Haggie, a Canadian Medical Association board member who chairs its ad hoc working group on pharmaceutical issues, said government warnings often get lost in the stack of documents physicians routinely receive.

"The average physician is bombarded with written and faxed material in the course of a week.… [Government warnings] tend to get buried sometimes in the noise," Haggie said in an interview with CBC News from Gander, N.L., on Wednesday. ...more

Study: Timing of Pills Might Matter

From Newsday (NY):
Taking a blood pressure pill at bedtime instead of in the morning might be healthier for some high-risk people.

New research suggests that simple switch may normalize patterns of blood pressure in patients at extra risk from the twin epidemics of heart and kidney disease.

Why? When it comes to blood pressure, you want to be a dipper. In healthy people, blood pressure dips at night, by 10 to 20 percent. Scientists don't know why, but suspect the drop gives arteries a little rest.

People with high blood pressure that doesn't dip at night -- the non-dippers -- fare worse than other hypertension sufferers, developing more serious heart disease. Moreover, heart and kidney disease fuel each other -- and the 26 million Americans with chronic kidney disease seem most prone to non-dipping. In addition to heart problems, they're at extra risk of their kidney damage worsening to the point of dialysis. ...more

Doctors warn of potential dangers of OxyContin

From CTV News:
Canadian physicians are warning of the potential dangers of the prescription painkiller OxyContin following a high-profile case in which a Newfoundland and Labrador doctor was convicted of trafficking the potentially addictive narcotic.

On Monday, Dr. Sean Buckingham was convicted of five counts of sexual assault, six counts of trafficking painkillers such as OxyContin and lorazepam (sold under the name Ativan), and one count of assault.

Witnesses testified during the two-month trial that Buckingham provided them with drugs in exchange for money and sexual favours over a two-year period. ...more

Diabetes drug linked in study to heart risk

From the Toronto Star:
A massive "real world" study of the popular diabetes drug Avandia shows it can produce distressing increases in the risks of heart attacks and death, according to Ontario research published yesterday.

And a key study author says the research, which followed some 160,000 diabetics in this province for more than four years, should cause Health Canada to consider new restrictions on its use.

The drug – prescriptions for which are filled more than a million times a year in this country – can increase the risks of heart failure by 60 per cent and of heart attacks by 40 per cent over other medications meant to control Type 2 diabetes, the study says.

"Our study is the first one done in a real-world population that really supports that these drugs are associated with a higher risk of cardiac events," says lead author Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe.

"We hope that the experts at Health Canada will consider our study ... and make some new decisions about the future of these drugs," says Lipscombe, a researcher with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. ...more

Town desperate for doctor makes unique offer

Here's an innovative way for a pharmacist to help his town. However, if this was done anyplace that didn't have a physician shortage, there would be suggestions of conflict of interest. Undoubtably, the pharmacist is doing this to help his business, but I think the huge public need for a doctor outweighs those concerns in this situation.

From CTV News:
An Alberta community that has been searching without luck for a doctor is trying to sweeten its offer to potential candidates.

Bragg Creek has been without a doctor for the past six months. In July, their previous physician left and since then local residents have been hunting for a new one. But they've had one rejection after another.

Now, they hope to make an offer too good to pass up.

Any physician who wants to set up shop in the community will have a ready-to-go office waiting upon arrival. It comes equipped with a furnished waiting room, scales, and even medical equipment. ...more

Dangerous drugs continue to be prescribed to seniors: CBC report

From CBC News:
Doctors are continuing to prescribe drugs dangerous to seniors in spite of government warnings, a CBC News investigation reveals.

More than two years ago, CBC News first reported that more than a million seniors were prescribed atypical antipsychotics. Atypical antipsychotics are specific kinds of antipsychotic drugs. They are considered by many experts to be ineffective or even dangerous for elderly patients.

Health Canada followed up with warnings pointing to the drugs' side effects — including a 60 per cent greater risk of death in seniors who were taking the drugs than in patients taking placebos — gleaned from 13 scientific studies. It also warned that elderly patients taking atypical antipsychotics were almost twice as likely to die from side effects such as heart failure. ...more

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pharmacists face dilemma over dispensing narcotics: provincial board

From the (Corner Brook, NF) Western Star:
Pharmacists in this province are finding themselves in a dilemma over dispensing narcotics like OxyContin, the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board says.

"The dilemma is you don't want to be sucked in by people abusing it," said Don Rowe, secretary-registrar of the board. "You always have to be vigilant looking for potential abuse or signs of it, but at the same time not making a legitimate customer feel like some kind of a criminal just because they have been prescribed a drug like OxyContin or Percocet or whatever."

The "sucking in" hasn't always come from only patients, as the recent conviction of St. John's physician Dr. Sean Buckingham made evident. Last week, Buckingham was convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault, assault and drug trafficking in Newfoundland Supreme Court. Buckingham, who ran a practice on Queen's Road, was found guilty of having provided several former patients with prescription drugs, including OxyContin and Ativan, in return for sexual favours....more

Women may get pill without prescription

From Reuters (UK):
Women could be able to get the contraceptive pill from their chemist without a prescription, a health minister said on Thursday.

Lord Darzi, a leading surgeon brought into Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government, said the programme could be piloted among pharmacists or nurses.

The pill is currently available only with a prescription from a doctor, although most pharmacies are able to provide the "morning-after pill" without a doctor's authorisation.

Darzi suggested women could be given the oral contraceptive after a full assessment by a trained health professional. ...more

Mumps vaccine being probed for allergy links

From the Globe and Mail:
Health officials across the country are being told to stop using a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine that is now being investigated for possible links to six cases of serious allergic reactions in patients in Alberta.

All six people, who were treated and have fully recovered, received an inoculation from the same batch of a product known as MMR-II, which is sold by Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. They experienced anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction.

But the Quebec-based company said two other lots of the vaccine were made with the same material and are affected by Health Canada's warning to suspend use until a probe is completed. ...more

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Free Trade Zones Ease Passage of Counterfeit Drugs

From the New York Times:
Along a seemingly endless row of identical gray warehouses, a lone guard stands watch over a shuttered storage area with a peeling green and yellow sign: Euro Gulf Trading.

Three months ago, when the authorities announced that they had seized a large cache of counterfeit drugs from Euro Gulf’s warehouse deep inside a sprawling free trade zone here, they gave no hint of the raid’s global significance.

But an examination of the case reveals its link to a complex supply chain of fake drugs that ran from China through Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and the Bahamas, ultimately leading to an Internet pharmacy whose American customers believed they were buying medicine from Canada, according to interviews with regulators and drug company investigators in six countries.

The seizure highlights how counterfeit drugs move in a global economy, and why they are so difficult to trace. And it underscores the role played by free trade zones — areas specially designated by a growing number of countries to encourage trade, where tariffs are waived and there is minimal regulatory oversight. ...more

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pharmacy tycoon makes new bid for Oilers

From the Globe and Mail:
Rexall Founder and Chairman Daryl Katz has made a new offer to purchase the Edmonton Oilers and related assets. The terms of the offer, which were not publicly disclosed, are being delivered directly to the shareholders of the Edmonton Investors Group.

The offer, according to sources, is for $188-million and the difference this time around is, it appears to have a chance of succeeding. Katz's previous offers for the team had fallen on deaf ears.

Katz's offer was made at the encouragement of a number of significant EIG shareholders over the past six months. In particular, Katz called Cal Nichols, Founding Chairman of the Board of EIG on Thursday morning to outline the terms and conditions of the offer. Nichols said that it was an offer that he would enthusiastically support. ...more

New guidelines boost folic acid recommendation

From the Globe and Mail:
Women of childbearing age should increase their intake of folic acid to five milligrams a day to protect against common birth defects, according to new Canadian guidelines.

That is 10 times the level in standard multivitamins and five times that in most prenatal vitamins, but experts say the change reflects the latest science. Boosting intake, even among women who are not planning to get pregnant, could sharply reduce the rate of devastating birth defects such as spina bifida, congenital heart disease and childhood cancers such as neuroblastoma.

"A lot of this heartache can be very easily prevented," said Vyta Senikas, associate executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. "Women just need to take multivitamins containing a little more folic acid."

The guidelines, issued jointly by the SOGC and Motherisk and published in today's edition of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Canada, also call for higher levels of folic acid to be added to commercial food products. ...more

Canadian professionals over-regulated, says competition report

From the Canadian Press:
A new study is recommending Canada's lawyers, real estate agents and other self-regulated professions re-examine their rules to ensure they serve the public good and encourage competition.

The study by the Competition Bureau found rules that limit advertising, set prices and restrict who can offer professional services may go too far.

The bureau says such rules can boost prices, limit choice and restrict access to information consumers need.

Competition commissioner Sheridan Scott says rules are necessary but removing some could benefit consumers and the economy.

Scott notes professions are more regulated in Canada than elsewhere. That could be compromising productivity and Canada's economic growth.

The report focuses on five disciplines - accountants, lawyers, optometrists, pharmacists and real-estate agents - but it says its findings can be applied to any self-regulated profession. ...more

Monday, December 10, 2007

Treatment using antibiotic may help slow MS

From CTV News:
An experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis that uses an antibiotic along with a common MS medication may slow the progress of the disease, finds a preliminary study set to appear in the February 2008 issue of Archives of Neurology.

The treatment involved combining doxycycline and interferon, a commonly prescribed MS medication that boosts the immune system and fights viruses.

Many patients with relapsing-remitting MS -- the most common form of the disease -- take interferon, but many still experience relapses and may continue to develop new areas of damaged brain tissue called lesions, one of the key markers of MS. ...more

J&J, Bayer Pill Caused Fewer Clots Than Sanofi Drug in Study

From Bloomberg:
Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson's experimental blood thinner led to fewer clots and deaths in patients after hip surgery than a widely used therapy sold by Sanofi-Aventis SA, a study found.

About 1.1 percent of patients had serious blood clots or died on the Bayer and J&J pill, rivaroxaban, compared with 3.7 percent of those taking Sanofi's injected medicine, Lovenox, according to research reported today at the American Society of Hematology meeting in Atlanta. Both drugs had similar rates of bleeding, a side effect of anti-clotting medications.

Rivaroxaban may help J&J and Bayer take market share from the injectable Lovenox, Sanofi's best-seller with $3.5 billion in sales last year. Bayer, Germany's largest drugmaker, asked European regulators to allow sale of the drug under the brand name Xarelto in October, and has projected peak sales of $2.9 billion. J&J, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, has said it will seek U.S. marketing approval in the second half of 2008. ...more

Busy Pharmacy and Over-Worked Pharmacist is Prescription for Error

Here's an interesting opinion regarding pharmacy safety from an American personal injury lawyer. He raises some good points and there are some good tips for patients as well.

Pharmacy error in both the local neighborhood stores and hospital setting is on the rise. The consequences of Pharmacy errors can range from harmless to fatal. More than 100,000 Americans die each year of adverse drug reactions, according to an article in the Journal of The American Medical Association. No one knows for sure how many of those deaths are the direct result of pharmacy/pharmacist's negligence, but we do know that the leading cause for prescription mistake is overworked pharmacists.

Many pharmacies fill over 300 prescriptions a day and some pharmacists are being asked to fill 30 prescriptions an hour and work 12 hour shifts, sometimes back to back. This means that within two minutes the pharmacist must: fill the prescription, check for drug interactions, check for contraindications for use and counsel the patient. It's no wonder mistakes are being made. ...more

Paragon buys assets of Westcoast Central Fill for $5.75M in cash and stock

From Canoe Money:
Paragon Pharmacies Ltd. (TSXV:PGN) has signed a deal to buy the assets of Westcoast Central Fill Ltd. from Westcoast and its parent, Catalyst Healthcare Ltd., for $5.75 million in cash and stock. ...more

FDA eyes 'behind the counter' drug category with greater clinical role for pharmacists

From the American Medical News:
The Food and Drug Administration is contemplating the establishment of a class of medications that would be available only after counseling from a pharmacist but without a physician's prescription. Physicians widely oppose the development, arguing that it could disrupt continuity of care and put patients at risk.

"We're concerned about patient safety," said Rebecca J. Patchin, MD, an American Medical Association trustee. "If a medication requires oversight, it should be available by prescription, and a physician should be involved in prescribing it and monitoring the patient." The AMA testified in opposition to this action at the FDA's Nov. 14 hearing on the subject.

Known as "behind the counter," this category exists in many other countries in various forms. The FDA is considering the possibility for the fourth time since the 1970s because agency officials feel the emergence of the Internet means that consumers are more informed than ever and the time may be right to make this change in the United States. ...more

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Fears over medicine unproven: industry

From the National Post:
It would likely take two to three years before a decision could be made to pull controversial children's cough and cold products from the shelves, says the umbrella association for Canada's non-prescription drug manufacturers.

Defending the remedies against a withering assessment in the influential New England Journal of Medicine that calls for their immediate removal, the spokesman of the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association of Canada (ND-MAC) is confident that science will vindicate the popular decongestants, cough suppressants and expectorants. Before proceeding with their own trials, however, the industry says it needs a clearer direction of evidence needed to satisfy Health Canada that they work.

"We're in a holding pattern -- I don't deny it," said Gerry Harrington, NDMAC's director of public affairs. "But the first step is to decide what will work best as a standard for efficacy." ...more

Recruiting pharmacists called 'shameful'

From the Globe and Mail:
A small group of AIDS activists demonstrated outside a recruitment meeting held by Shoppers Drug Mart in Cape Town last night. The session, at a hotel in the upmarket neighbourhood of Camps Bay, was designed to inform South African pharmacists about opportunities working with Shoppers in Canada. ...more

Pharmacists worry about police requests

I applaud the actions of this Vermont pharmacist. The "War on Drugs" is much more aggressive in the States, but I could see a similar situation occuring in Canada. As pharmacists, we need to ensure that patient info is only released when appropriate.

From the Barre Montpelier (VT) Times Argus:
Law enforcement offices in Vermont are supposed to collect information about the purchase of prescription drugs only when they have a reason to believe a specific crime may have been committed.

But in at least one case last month, Vermont State Police asked for a list of all customers seeking powerful pain medicine, according to a pharmacist.

Fairfax Pharmacy owner Rick Hogle said he refused to hand over a list of his customers prescribed schedule-two drugs, which include medications such as oxycodone, when asked by a state police trooper who was investigating the spread of such drugs on the street.

Hogle, a pharmacist for 16 years, said he felt caught between protecting the privacy of his customers and assisting law enforcement in stopping the illegal sale and use of these medications.

"I'm not going to release patient information," Hogle said. "The woman from the state police was very polite and did not throw her weight around, but unless they get a court order, I'm not going to release this information." ...more

Baclofen Aids Abstinence in Alcoholics With Cirrhosis

I found this article really interesting. I've never heard of baclofen being used to help maintain alcohol abstinence before.

From U.S. News and World Report:
The drug baclofen promotes alcohol abstinence in alcoholics with cirrhosis of the liver, says an Italian study in this week's issue of The Lancet.

The study included 84 alcohol-dependent patients with liver cirrhosis who received either oral baclofen (42 patients) or a placebo (42 patients). Total alcohol abstinence and duration of this abstinence were assessed during outpatient visits. Relapse was defined as alcohol intake of more than four standard drinks per day (a standard drink defined as equal to 12 grams of absolute alcohol) or overall consumption of 14 or more standard drinks per week over a period of at least four weeks.

Among those taking baclofen, 71 percent (30 of 42 patients) achieved and maintained alcohol abstinence, compared to 29 percent (12 of 42) of those who took the placebo. The study also found that patients taking baclofen abstained from alcohol for more than twice as long as those taking the placebo -- 62.8 days vs. 30.8 days. ...more

Front-line AIDS drugs show staying power: study

From AFP:
Standard triple-drug treatment for HIV provides long-term protection against the development of full-blown AIDS, according to a study released Friday.

But when this front-line therapy fails, HIV-infected people in poorer nations could find themselves nearly defenceless against AIDS-related disease, it warned.

Data on 7,916 HIV-infected individuals in Britain who began standard triple-drug therapy showed that only 167 developed extensive resistance to all three types of medication, the researchers found.

The risk of such "triple-class" failure at the end of 10 years was estimated at 9.2 percent, according the study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet. ...more

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Isotope shortage leads to cancelled medical exams

From the National Post:
The worldwide supply of medical isotopes used to help diagnose a host of health problems, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, may be in short supply in the weeks and months ahead because of an extended shutdown at a Canadian nuclear reactor.

The reactor in Chalk River, Ont., about 180 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, provides the raw material from which MDS Nordion produces medical isotopes, which are injected into patients to help create images of the body for diagnostic purposes.

However, MDS Nordion announced Wednesday the planned shutdown at the Chalk River facility -- owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited -- had to be extended into the new year to conduct additional maintenance work. ...more

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

N.B. tops absenteeism list for Canadian health-care workers

From CBC News:
New Brunswick has the highest rate of absenteeism among health-care workers in Canada while those in Alberta missed the fewest days, according to a Canadian Institute for Health Information study.

Health-care workers in New Brunswick are absent an average of 16.1 days annually, compared to a national average of 12 days a year, according to the study, published Monday. In Alberta, the average was 7.2 days a year.

New Brunswick's health-care workers also far exceeded the national average for workers of all kinds in Canada, who missed an average of seven days of work in 2006. For 20 years, health-care workers have had the highest average of lost work days compared to the rest of the Canadian population, according to the study.

On a national level, the researchers found that nurses are far more likely to be away from work than other health-care professionals — averaging 14.1 days a year. Doctors average 2.8 missed days annually, while those working in therapy and medical assessments average 8.1 days and pharmacists average four. ...more

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Is Shoppers Drug Mart poaching pharmacists from South Africa?

From the Globe and Mail:
Michael and Berdine Fazakas liked what they heard: that in Canada, they could own a profitable business - really profitable. That there are fewer murders in most Canadian cities each year than there are in a week in Johannesburg, where they live now. Canada has good, free schools for their future kids and vast expanses of nature - "just lots of opportunity," Mr. Fazakas said.

That's what they took away from a meeting held here last week by Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. Canada's largest drugstore chain has a team in South Africa seeking pharmacists to hire and sponsor as immigrants to Canada. The company provides legal assistance and covers the costs associated with immigration for the pharmacists it hires here. There's another Shoppers' information session in Durban tonight and in Cape Town on Thursday.

This is the only developing country where Shoppers recruits, and it's one with a dire shortage of pharmacists: In KwaZulu-Natal province, for example, one in three adults has HIV but 75 per cent of jobs for public pharmacists are vacant.

So meetings like last week's dinner-drinks-and-information session (from which Shoppers' staff barred a Globe and Mail reporter) are controversial. ...more

Life-saving meds wrapped in red tape

From the McGill (Que.) Daily:
Six months after Industry Canada finished its review of legislation that allows Canadian drug manufacturers to produce and export generic medicines, a report of the findings has yet to be completed.

The legislation, known as the Canada Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR), was passed in 2004 to facilitate access to affordable essential medicines in developing countries. But the legislation is widely recognized as flawed – so far, not a single pill has left the country. ...more

Promising new HIV-AIDS drug, 1st in new class, approved for Canadian market

From Canada East:
Health Canada has granted licence approval for a new HIV-AIDS drug, the first in a promising new class of medications.

Drug maker Merck Frosst says it has been given permission to bring Isentress to the Canadian market for treatment of HIV-positive people whose viruses are resistant to multiple other HIV drugs. AIDS expert Dr. Mark Wainberg says there is tremendous optimism about the drug in the community of HIV patients, doctors and researchers.

The drug's generic name is raltegravir.

It is the first in a new class of drugs known as integrase inhibitors to hit the global AIDS drug market; another drug, eltegravir, is in development by Gilead Sciences Inc. of Foster City, CA. ...more

Prescription for shortage?

There's no sign that the pharmacist shortage will end anytime soon. Perhaps one of the highest demand locales for pharmacists in the world is Indiana, where three huge mail order pharmacies will soon open and need to hire hundreds of pharmacists.

From the Indianapolis Star:
Bre Taylor has two more years before she graduates from Butler University with a doctorate in pharmacy, but job recruiters around the country are already deluging her with pitches. Starting salaries range from $75,000 to $100,000, sweetened by signing bonuses and tuition reimbursements.

"There's all kinds of job expos, e-mails, drugstores offering us free gifts, companies offering internships," said Taylor, 22, of Vincennes, dressed in a crisp white coat as she mixed an ointment for an assignment in a Butler lab. "I can pretty much go anywhere in the country and have a job."

The reason: A national shortage of pharmacists, fueled by a surge of retirements, a flurry of hospital and drugstore expansions, an aging population and an increased number of prescriptions written. ...more

Monday, December 03, 2007

Doc-rating U.S. website has Ontario MDs angry

This isn't really a pharmacy story, but I am somewhat fascinated by the website mentioned. I'm pretty sure that the ratings on this website shouldn't be your sole basis of choosing a new MD. However, I feel that it has some value. With the supply/demand curve so extremely weighted on the side of physicians, I think some of them have taken the constant oversupply of patients for granted, and treat their patients accordingly. Maybe this site helps in a small way to bring some accountability into the equation.

From the London (Ont.) Free Press:
Thousands of Londoners have turned to a controversial U.S.-based website to rate their doctors and dentists. lets patients anonymously rate their doctor's performance -- on punctuality, helpfulness and knowledge -- and post comments about their care.

Some doctors are accused on the website of being rude, misdiagnosing ailments -- even falling asleep during appointments.

The site has raised the ire of Ontario's medical community, with the latest issue of the Ontario Medical Association journal advising doctors how to take legal action for defamatory comments on the website. ...more

Common diabetes drug may increase chances of developing osteoporosis

From CBC News:
The popular diabetes drug marketed as Avandia may increase bone thinning, a discovery that could help explain why diabetics can have an increased risk of fractures.

New research raises the possibility that long-term treatment with rosiglitazone, as Avandia is also called, could lead to osteoporosis. The diabetes drug is used to improve response to insulin.

While bones seem solid, they constantly are being broken down and rebuilt by the body. Researchers found that in mice, the drug increased the activity of the cells that degrade bones, according to a report in this week's online issue of Nature Medicine. ...more

HIV infections rise in Canada, fall globally

From the London (Ont.) Free Press:
James Armstrong can't walk. He is blind in his left eye. He has survived cancer, kidney failure and numerous blood and lung infections, but he is happy to be alive.

The 45-year-old Toronto man has been on the verge of dying a dozen times since he began living with HIV in 1986.

In May, he agreed to be pulled off life support in the hospital while suffering from his third bout of pulmonary edema. Armstrong's doctor told him he would have 20 minutes left to live, yet he managed to survive.

"The doctor told my mom at my bedside before he left that it was an honour being my doctor for 12 years and to be sure to let him know when my funeral was -- but somehow I miraculously survived again," Armstrong, who lives at Casey House, said. ...more