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Anecdotal Therapies

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Part of the book series: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology ((AEMB,volume 455))


Traditionally, many advances in medicine have been serendipitous. Are serendipitous and anecdotal synonymous? Many of our materia medica today relate to initial probes and anecdotal reports that matured to full investigation and therapeutic indications. The recent situation regarding Skin Cap is one that highlights the downside of this scenario. Several drugs in the US continue usage largely related to anecdotal indications, and anecdota extension of legend indications is a standard for American Dermatology. The situation with systemic drugs, such as Trental, zinc preparations, imidazoles for extended indications, lysine and melatonin, all will be discussed. Topical preparations such as skin cap, cantharone, Vioform, all also are included in this category. It is important to place this topic in perspective in regards to geographic variation and therapeutic need. Many diseases lacking specific therapy are important targets for anecdotal therapy, and this will foster continued approaches in this area. The growing standardization of medicine and pharmaceutical regulation, threatens the anecdotal approach, but it provides still an important link to the future for some forms of therapy in diseases that are difficult to treat.

Traditionally, the anecdote has been the first step in the therapeutic chain. Withering discovery of the benefits of the common fox glove in dropsy, was followed by many other anecdotes arriving via folk-medicine in the New World. This approach of utilizing folk medicine has now reached new heights, with very active searches by major pharmaceutical companies throughout the third world for remedies that may have potential. Couched with this is the history of anecdotal “snake-oil” remedies, that clearly had no benefit to anyone except the huckster marketing same.

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Correspondence to Larry E. Millikan M.D. .

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© 1999 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Millikan, L.E. (1999). Anecdotal Therapies. In: Mallia, C., Uitto, J. (eds) Rheumaderm. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 455. Springer, Boston, MA.

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