COMMENTS: Eye on Pharma

Tyndall Report always approves of a decision by the nightly newscasts to publicize cautionary research about prescription drugs. So much of the advertising that their viewers see--delivering the revenue that the news divisions pocket--extols the virtues of popping pills that the newscasts gain extra credibility by expending the editorial effort to alert viewers to contradictory evidence, especially at the risk of seeming to bite the hand that feeds them.

Thus hats off to Nancy Cordes at CBS for bringing us a red flag about Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium, so-called proton pump inhibitors, drugs that suppress the stomach's production of hydrochloric acid in order to treat heartburn. The trouble is that the acid has the beneficial effect of facilitating the absorption of calcium into the bones. Long term poppers of PPIs run the risk of weaker hips and broken bones. A broken hip is frequently fatal in the elderly.

On ABC, in-house physician Timothy Johnson (embargoed link) warned us that Vitamin D deficiency is bad for our health. It can lead to diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and early death. Rather than advise us to get our Ds the old fashioned way through the skin by sucking up some extra sun, Dr Tim offered his personal testimonial. He pops a daily multivitamin plus an extra daily 1,000 units of D3 supplement. The good doctor stopped short of endorsing a particular brand.


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