Pharmacosis: So long and thanks for all the fish

In 1860 at a meeting of the Massachusetts’ Medical Society Oliver Wendell Holmes made one of the most celebrated comments in medicine. While noting that medicines, particularly opium, could help, he nevertheless made it plain that he thought that on balance medicines risked doing more harm than good. You can’t be much plainer than this:  "I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica, as now … [Read more...]

Pharmacosis: the day the music died

Syphilis appeared in Italy in 1498 just after Columbus had returned from the New World. This later led to suggestions that it had been brought back from the New World, in exchange for the many European illnesses that decimated the populations of North American Indians. Exposed to a virgin population new infections can be particularly virulent and during the subsequent century in Europe syphilis … [Read more...]

Pharmacosis: terminator algorithm

The single commonest question to has been about dependence on and withdrawal from treatments, such as anticonvulsants, statins, diuretics and others. We often think that it is only drugs of abuse that can cause dependence and withdrawal but in fact an astonishing number, perhaps most medicines, can cause problems (see Medicine Induced Stress Syndromes, Dependence and Withdrawal, Halting … [Read more...]

Pharmacosis: trigger algorithm

The first descriptions of a drug causing suicide came in 1955. A few years later in 1958 and again in 1959 the problem was described with imipramine. Treatment induced suicide became a prominent media issue in 1990 with a paper by Teicher and Cole. But it was not until 2004 that regulators and companies conceded that these drugs can cause a problem. There are now 38 drugs listed as causing … [Read more...]


There is a new Contagion out there. Kate Winslet beware. Disease with no name This new epidemic has rapidly become at least the fourth leading cause of death and disability - it may even be the greatest cause of death because all we have counted so far are deaths in hospital where such deaths can be spotted. Where every other disease comes with a guideline for its management, this has none. Where … [Read more...]

The unbearable lightness of being

This is the last of 3 posts laying out the philosophical basis for which will be live in the next few weeks. The others are Cri de Coeur & Once is Never. In his masterpiece on love and life The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera faces us with a dilemma about the important things in life “einmal ist keinmal” – “once is never”. Academics need lovers But Kundera doesn’t mean … [Read more...]