One of the most significant balancing acts in medicine involves figuring out when—and which—treatments do more harm than good. It’s an issue that has implications for everything from the opioid crisis to the rising rate of ADHD drug overdoses to the generally lavish (and unaffordable) cost of American health care, which still favors the bulk of services provided over demonstrable, cost-effective outcomes.
Powerful prescription drugs draw a big share of the attention on this front. But over-the-counter and non-prescription treatments are an important factor to consider in the dilemma, too. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been on a recent tear calling out companies (and therapies) that it considers all-steak, no-sizzle, and possibly harmful. The latest target? Children’s gel teething products that contain the painkiller benzocaine.
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