04/10/2006 02:05 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Medical News from The Comics

If you still have the Sunday Comics, you can get your daily medical news the same place that I, a real doctor, do.

Read "Opus" by Berkeley Breathed.

As the Opus the penguin stands in fear of a self-flushing toilet, he's confronted by two officious men who challenge him thusly:

"We understand you're making protestations against the arrangement here"

Expressing great anxiety, Opus answers "It . . . it just flooshes when it wants! I have no say about any of it!" and then pointing to the toilet exclaims, "I think somebody's in there controlling things!!"

One of the men gets in Opus' face and tells him:

"Sir . . . you were afraid of the commmunists . . ."
"You were afraid of the drugs."
"You were afraid of the terrrorists."
"You were afraid of the Clintons . . . Saddam . . . gay people.

"Now fear the germs."

"Let us make the decisions. Trust us."

Opus responds, "So much scary stuff!" and the self-flushing toilet gets the last words: "Exactly. Sit down."

The United States government (and England's) wants us to worry about bird flu. Period.

Sir David King, the United Kingdom's Chief Scientific Advisor calls this very misleading and goes on to say, "The bird flu virus is very unlikely to change into a form that will infect human beings . . . "

A month or two ago, I read a story about a preschool which is washing the kids' area with alcohol twice a day. All I could think of was "Where're you going?"

Kids have to build their immune systems by catching colds and more. That how is has to work. Ten years from now, a whole bunch of teens are going to miss their math final because they're getting a miserable little virus they should have gotten in preschool during the winter of 2006.


The FDA is wasting it's time debating over-the-counter status for a nearly-worthless--but very lucrative weight loss drug, Xenical. If the drug really worked, one would have expected the number of prescriptions for it to rise each year. Instead, sales have dropped 60%. Why? Because doctors know the drug doesn't help obese and overweight people lose meaningful amounts and keep them off.

The solution: Change the snake oil's name to "Alli" and make it available without a discussion with a doctor or a pharmacist who could warn the patient about the drug's ineffectiveness and possible side effects. Brilliant. Immoral, but great business. By the way, the FDA panel voted 11-3 to approve this change from prescription to non-prescription drug.

Like a feeble magician practicing misdirection, the government is attempting to get us to look at all the wrong things. We have serious medical problems in our country but if they can keep us looking at "the wrong hand" they can get away with their tricks.