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Without proper clinical research, the most popular of medicines can be a mere shot in the dark

Tuesday, April 24, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andrea Van Hook
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The following opinion editorial appeared in STAT News on 4/19/2018.  STAT is a national publication focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery. It is produced by Boston Globe Media.  

Screenshot of OpEd

Without proper clinical research, the most popular of medicines

can be a mere shot in the dark

By Dr. Herbert Pardes

Sports fans and amateur athletes of many different stripes have all heard of cortisone shots. It’s one of the more common treatments for arthritic knees.

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia relied on them to pitch last year. Sam Bradford, the new quarterback for the Phoenix Cardinals, was thought to have used the injection to recover last fall from his latest knee injury. And then there is the uncounted number of non-athletes, regular people, who receive an injection for the pain caused by arthritis in their own knees.

However, these shots don’t really work in the long run.

A groundbreaking study conducted by Timothy McAlindon, DM, MPH, of the Tufts Medical Center looked at people who received a cortisone shot every three months for two years. Dr. McAlindon and his team found that the shots did not offer much pain relief and also damaged the knee cartilage, completely debunking a widely accepted linchpin of orthopedic treatment. And, the findings raise the question of whether injections are implicated in what appear to be more than 600,000 knee replacements that may be performed absent demonstrated need each year in the United States.

It turns out that some of what we assume to be proven therapies in medicine have not really been proven.

Read the rest of the OpEd here