Author: Emma Yasinski

Emma Yasinski

I am a freelance science and medical journalist, fascinated by how the scientific process leads to incredible discoveries, but also can lead to publication bias leaning toward positive findings and minimizing negatives. With a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Lafayette College and a Master’s in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University, I’ve written about clinical trial transparency, organ donation, and basic molecular biology for publications like The Scientist, The Atlantic, Undark.org, Kaiser Health News, and more. At MedShadow, I research and write about the sometimes unexpected ways that medicines can affect us, and what we can do if and when it does.

In the last week of September 2021, a group of more than 90 doctors and researchers published a call to action, cautioning against the liberal use of Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy. The studies suggested that exposure to the drug could increase the risk of a baby having neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders. The authors added, however, that Tylenol has long been considered one of the few safer options to treat pain in pregnancy, since Advil (ibuprofen) and opioids are considered riskier. They pointed out that, in some cases, a woman’s condition (fever and pain, for example) could be worse for…

Read More

Over the past decade, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated or supported recalls on a handful of drugs, including metformin, ranitidine (Zantac), angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB) (valsartan, losartan and irbesartan), varenicline (Chantix), rifampin (Rifadin) and rifapentine (Priftin) — which treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure and aid in smoking cessation. These drugs that treat a variety of conditions have been found to contain the same chemical contaminant: N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which may cause cancer. MedShadow answers frequently asked questions about the chemical itself and the drugs that contain…

Read More

Shortly after she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, Sarah Lawrence was prescribed Otezla (apremilast). In less than two months after beginning the drug treatment, she says, she started experiencing suicidal ideation. “The thoughts were so intense and so different from my normal thought process, I knew something was horribly wrong.”  Neither she nor anyone in her family has a history of mental illness or suicide. Once she stopped using the drug, it took only a few days for the suicidal thoughts to dissipate. She considers herself lucky in that she was able to recognize the thoughts as a drug side…

Read More

Physician’s assistant Ben Tanner lives alone. During the pandemic, he’s spent much of the time at home, working online. Because he was unable to get away from work, he soon found himself fixating on insignificant details. Little by little, his anxiety increased and he began struggling to sleep at night. Then he took a break over Thanksgiving weekend, during which he realized that he had had no idea how badly he had needed a respite. After four days away from his job, “there was an almost palpable contrast as the constant analysis and overthinking faded away,” he says. “I felt…

Read More

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, but for some people, it can become overwhelming and debilitating. People with types of anxiety disorder feel apprehensive and uneasy, and it’s common for them to experience negative thoughts that make them more fearful. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): More than 40 million American adults ages 18 and older have an anxiety disorder, and nearly one-third of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with depressive disorders or substance abuse. Most people with an anxiety disorder also have depression.  Most…

Read More

Less than 40% of senior adults report adverse events they experience with a medication to their doctor. A retrospective study looked at 860 people 70 and older who were living in their community and had multiple health issues. They were asked if they had experienced a list of symptoms, whether a symptom bothered them, if they thought it was related to a medication and if they had talked about it with their doctor. Results showed that the main reasons patients didn’t tell their doctor about adverse events was that they thought it was related to their old age and they…

Read More

The leukemia drug Mylotarg (gemtuzumab ozogamicin), which was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2010 over safety concerns and questions about its efficacy, is available again. The FDA has approved the biologic for adults with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia and for patients at least 2 years old who have had a relapse or didn’t respond to prior treatment. Mylotarg originally received accelerated approval in 2000 for older adults who had experienced a relapse. But it was removed from the market after patient deaths and a lack of clinical benefit were observed in confirmatory trials. With the new approval, Mylotarg…

Read More

A common side effect of antipsychotic medications is that they can cause users to gain weight. Now researchers believe they have found a way to counteract that weight gain. Scientists from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center discovered that serotonin 2C receptors interacting with antipsychotics for schizophrenia and depression leads to the increase in weight. Similar side effects occur with other metabolic changing drugs, such as many types of birth control and thyroid medications. According to the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, many people who use antipsychotics have found that after using these drugs for an…

Read More

Synthroid (levothyroxine) had no impact on improving quality of life or reducing tiredness in older adults with subclinical hypothyroidism, a slightly underactive thyroid, according to a new study. For at least a year, researchers examined patients with an average age of 74who had higher-than-normal thyroid-stimulating hormone levels by administering levothyroxine to one group and placebo to the other. The drug failed to bring about any improvement. Patients did not become physically stronger or mentally faster after taking the drug. Furthermore, they didn’t lose weight or feel more energetic. Posted April 21, 2017. Via The New England Journal of Medicine. Fourteen…

Read More