Monthly Archives: May 2007

Latest Medical Rumors: Alli is the Greatest

Alli: New Weight Loss Pill to Be Released in June

The new over-the-counter version of Xenical will be marketed under the brand name “Alli”. Alli is reported to be available to the general public in June. Alli works by blocking the absorption of fat by the intestine, so that several hundred fat calories per day can be sent speeding out of the body from the bowel. For more on this drug please see the blog at titled; “Xenical for Weight Loss. Beware What you Wish For.” The company marketing the drug, GlaxoSmithKline, recognizes the potential for unpleasant side-effects including anal seepage or oily anal discharge. It advises new users to bring an extra pair of pants to work. Wowza!! If that isn’t the coolest marketing stategy we’ve heard this year.

In keeping with this new truth in advertising campaign we at have a suggestion. Since this weight loss drug carries the name of the Greatest Fighter of All Time, Mohammed Ali, what about this slogan to kick off with. “Alli is the Greatest Obesity Fighter! Guaranteed to Knock the Crap Out of You!”

If you don’t care for our slogan come up with one of your own. We dare you!

The Staff

Dr. Shelly Brown, Where are You?

The South Bronx is an odd place to meet up with an expatriot British scientist. But Dr. Shelly Brown was a peculiar sort who almost seemed to fit in at Lincoln Hospital, 149th Street, Bronx, New York. I met Dr. Brown in 1990 when I became the Chief of Endocrinology at the large city hospital and he was still at a junior level despite his advanced degrees. He was one of 5 or 6 doctors who hadn’t been reassigned out of Lincoln after an uprising among the staff almost shut the place down.

During my first year there I was too preoccupied with my new duties to pay much attention to the shy scientist. Slowly I became aware of his intellect and prior accomplishments. He was like an exotic shell washed up on Coney Island Beach. Once we warmed up to eachother he was open and inquiring. Despite our mutual respect he still wouldn’t help me understand why he chose to remain at Lincoln. In fact, I didn’t understand until recently when I picked up the manuscript he casually passed on to me 13 years ago just before I left Lincoln. For all those years that manuscript lay at the bottom of a moving box which resurfaced this past winter in my attic. I had only a vague recollection of the amateurishly bound stack of paper he handed me as I packed up my office. In April I read the whole thing in one night, then frantically tried reaching my old friend and colleague but so far not the slightest trace of Dr. Shelly Brown has turned up. My past acquaintances from Lincoln either don’t remember him at all or those who do, can’t even guess at his whereabouts. The hospital does not have a forwarding address.

My plan is to publish the manuscript bit by bit on this website. Perhaps this will flush out Dr. Shelly Brown. If not, at least others will see as I have, that there was something stirring behind his awkward smile.

Ten Warning Signs: Healthcare Providers Who Could Be Creeps

The articles supportive of non-mainstream treatments found on sometime require comments critical of more traditional practices. This isn’t meant to imply that every alternative form of medical care is worthwhile. Bad medicine is possible with either approach. Whether traditional or alternative, it is important for patients to be aware of healthcare providers who are more likely to harm then help, or those who neither harm nor help but spend a lot of your money. It is also important for providers to know who is doing a lousy job to avoid sending their patients to them. Without this knowledge, it is easy for either provider or patient to be placed in a compromised position by a wayward practitioner.

My little community of Jupiter in South Florida has the dubious distinction of being home to one of the most visible medical scandals in the country. A facility here known as the Rejuvenation Center was recently busted by Federal police along with its founder, for allegations of being one of the largest illegal internet suppliers of steroids and growth hormone. Not long ago a patient from this Center came to my office looking for these hormones after his supplier had been shut down. I guess the word is out that I give “rejuvenation” hormones. If I hadn’t seen an article in the local paper about the alleged criminal activities of the Center I may have assumed the prior hormone treatment was for legitimate reasons.
When choosing a doctor sorting fact from fiction can be a difficult task in our age of misinformation overload. How are patients and providers to protect themselves from being victimized by practitioners who are creeps? Logging on to the website of the Health Department in your State for information is a good first step. These sites may not provide the full story, however. I have put down a few of what I consider warning signs for your review. If you disagree or wish to add your own suggestions feel free. After all, this is a blog.

Warning Signs of Healthcare Providers Who Could be Creeps:

1. Money is the major issue at your visit. They usually want cash
2. An office with a solo provider calling itself a “Center”, “Institute”, “Clinic”
3. No other doctor in the community recognizes the methods being used as legitimate, e.g. chelation therapy.
4. The office or provider is disheveled and the staff chaotic.
5. It is impossible to find out what the providers’ credentials are, or the certifications come from unknown organizations or seem phony.
6. You are pressured to participate in a research project in which you have no interest.
7. You are pressured to get consultations from a single specific provider or tests at a specific facility for vaguely related complaints
8. Treatments or practitioners that are being promoted on infomercials.
9. Practitioners who claim to have unique knowledge or abilities that no one else has.
10. The practice is centered on a new therapy which develops a cult like following. The therapy is generally promoted by a celebrity or book but there is no true medical authority behind it.

Another pitfall for patients is the mistake of going to the “Chief of the Department” for the ultimate word in treatment or diagnosis. Sometimes this is a good idea but many times the “Chief” is not involved in patient care, spending their time traveling, lecturing, raising money or doing research. Before going to the “Chief” try to make sure this person is respected for their clinical skill by other doctors in their community.

Do you have an experience or comment you want to share on the topic of practitioners who could be creeps? Let’s hear from you.

The views expressed here are not meant to provide medical care. Only you and your personal healthcare provider can decide what treatment is right for you.

Gary Pepper, M.D.

Once Yearly Osteoporosis Drug

Here’s more on the once yearly osteoporosis treatment. The drug is Zometa (zoledronic acid), marketed by Novartis and is sometimes referred to as Vitamin Z. It is given once a year intravenously by an office procedure taking only a few minutes. Side-effects are reported to be minimal but may include transient decrease in kidney function. In a three year study the effect of the drug was at least as good if not better than that seen with the oral medications such as Fosomax and Actonel. Fracture of the spine was reduced by 70% whereas the oral medications only achieve a 50% reduction.

One possible drawback was the occurrence of a non-fatal heart arrythmia which was more common with Vitamin Z than with placebo (the dummy medicine).

Don’t expect to find Vitamin Z in the pharmacy any time soon. It hasn’t been approved by the FDA for routine use in treatment of osteoporosis. Rumor has it that a yearly dose will cost around $1000, not including the doctor’s charge for giving it intravenously.

Only you and your doctor can decide the best treatment for you. Consult your physician before initiating any treatment program.

Latest Medical Rumors: Weight Loss and Osteoporosis

According to unreliable sources the FDA will be reviewing Ramona (Ramonabant aka Acomplia) in June. If approved by the FDA this weight loss medication may be available in the United States within a few weeks after that. As for now all we can do is wait…and wait. I am disappointed at how few people have contributed lyrics to the Ramona song. Give it a try (see what has been written so far at the bottom of this post).

A new treatment for osteoporosis which is given by injection once a year is the subject of a research paper soon to be released. Expected cost is about $1000. This may simplify the lives of many women now taking pills for osteoporsis every week or month.


Ramonabant song

Oh Ramona, Oh Ramona
Why you left me so blue?
Xenical not nearly so sweet as you.

Oh Ramon, My Ramona
Me want to shed these ugly pound
Me getting to look so soft and round

Oh Ramona, Oh Ramona
Why you left me so blue?
I’m all alone wit’a powerful taste for some yellow cheese fondu.

Oh Ramona, Oh Ramona
I don’t know if you sinner or saint
You make my liver happy but the rest of me body complaint.