Mary Carmichael

Why Don't More Medical Discoveries Become Cures?

From 1996 to 1999, the U.S. food and Drug Administration approved 157 new drugs. In the comparable period a decade later—that is, from 2006 to 2009—the agency approved 74. Not among them were any cures, or even meaningfully effective treatments, for Alzheimer's disease, lung or pancreatic cancer, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, or a host of other afflictions that destroy lives.

Your Genetic Profile, Now Available in Aisle 10: What's the Big Deal About Pathway, the New Take-Home DNA Test?

Attention, Walgreens shoppers, The Washington Post wants you to know about a new product going on sale:Beginning Friday, shoppers in search of toothpaste, deodorant and laxatives at more than 6,000 drugstores across the nation will be able to pick up something new: a test to scan their genes for a propensity for Alzheimer's disease, breast cancer, diabetes and other ailments … For those thinking of starting a family, it could alert them to their risk of having a baby with cystic fibrosis,...

A New Reason Not to Teach Evolution to Kids: It's 'Philosophically Unsatisfactory'

Here is a vignette from a small newspaper  that will sound familiar to Southerners like me who were taught creationism in school:Mark Tangarone, who teaches third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program at Weston Intermediate School, said he is retiring at the end of the current school year because of a clash with the school administration over the teaching of evolution . . .

Meet Your New Doctor: The Three-Year Medical Student

Last week it was revealed that for the first time in years, there's been an increase in young doctors going into primary care. That may have a lot to do with new scholarships for students interested in that field. (One of the reasons young doctors tend to shy away from primary care is that four years of medical school can cost an awful lot of money—cash that's hard to pay back if your salary is in the mid-$100,000s, compared with the $400,000-something a doc can make as a specialist.) But, as...

Smackdown! Why We Need More Head-to-Head Drug Trials

As part of its plan for health reform, the Obama administration has lavished attention on a particular type of medical research: "comparative effectiveness" studies, which pit different treatments directly against each other to see which one works better. (They're like medical cage matches: in this corner there's Prozac; in the opposing corner there's Zoloft.) The stimulus package included $1.1 billion for this type of research, which is often the best guideline doctors have for deciding how to...

The Powerful Story Obscured-Oscar's Interrupted Speech

Roger Ross Williams reacted the classiest way he could to being Kanye'd at the Oscars after his win for the documentary Music By Prudence. As his producer, Elinor Burkett, held forth on "my role models and my heroes—marvelous and energy," he tried to put the focus back on the subject of his film. "Prudence is here tonight," he said, half-interrupting Burkett and pointing at a smiling young woman in the audience.