Articles Posted in Cancer

newportsFederal regulators say they soon will ban the manufacture, distribution, and retail and wholesale selling of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, an action expected to take effect in a year or two and which anti-smoking advocates argue could save hundreds of thousands of lives of black and young Americans.

The Food and Drug Administration says the best available evidence argues powerfully for its planned ban, which some opponents have flipped as risky for one of the biggest groups that researchers say will benefit: African Americans.

Big Tobacco has targeted black consumers for decades, getting them and young people addicted to powerful nicotine by pushing the soothing effect of mint-derived menthol on the harshness of cigarette smoke, as the Washington Post reported:

cancercenterlogoWhile patients often seek treatment at big, fancy hospitals, in part because they are designated as National Cancer Institute centers, these institutions provide a sticker-shock surprise for those receiving their specialized care: They jack up the already sky-high cost of prescription cancer drugs with markups going up from 120% to 630% above what they pay for the medications.

Those are the findings of researchers at the Harvard and Yale medical schools and elsewhere as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine publication. As they noted with expert restraint:

“The findings of this study suggest that, to reduce the financial burden of cancer treatment for patients, institution of public policies to discourage or prevent excessive hospital price markups on … chemotherapeutics may be beneficial.”

FDA-Logo-300x167Taxpayers and lawmakers may be grasping just how far in the wrong direction the federal Food and Drug Administration has gone in approving prescription drugs for sale on U.S. markets — in too much haste and with too little facts about whether the new drugs really work and are safe.

The issue, of course, may have stormed into public awareness when drug maker Biogen got the FDA to give fast-track approval for Aduhelm. It’s a medication targeted at Alzheimer’s but with light evidence of its benefits to patients. Biogen set such a sky-high price for Aduhelm that Medicare announced one of its biggest, recent premium increases and an expert furor exploded over the med and its approval.

That, in turn, has put the FDA processes under new, intense scrutiny, particularly as critics noted that 14 of 50 new drugs approved last year alone by the agency, including Aduhelm, received expedited review, Axios, the news and information site reported.

blueberryicepuffbar-179x300Grownups have gotten stark reminders why they must stay vigilant against buck-raking enterprises that exploit young people’s experimentation with intoxicants. Even as Congress has shut a legal loophole used by the vaping industry to keep addicting its customers to harmful nicotine, other dealers are pushing candy-like marijuana edibles on youths.

In passing a $1.5 trillion bill to keep funding the federal government, lawmakers on Capitol Hill also extended the authority of the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate not only nicotine from tobacco but also its synthetic varieties.

This was not an esoteric matter of chemistry or pharmacology. It became a flashpoint between regulators anxious to crackdown on harmful vaping and vendors who tweaked their products, so customers could get potent, addictive jolts from nicotine  purportedly was made in a lab. This, vendors claimed, put their vaping devices — notably the pen-like “Puff Bar” that surged in popularity among youths — beyond FDA oversight.

cancerno-150x150President Biden, returning to an important health issue with which he has deep, tragic personal connection, has reprised a White House call for a “moon shot” campaign to keep the public and the medical establishment focused on finding even more effective ways to battle cancer, a leading killer of Americans.

Biden wants the nation to halve its cancer death rate. But aside from using the bully pulpit of the presidency and pushing people in his administration to promote and oversee cancer-fighting proposals, he did not discuss new federal money for research or treatment.

The president, who lost a son to brain cancer, may have provided a fine public service by reminding Americans to see their doctors and not postpone what can be valuable health screenings.

bloodcrisis-300x108It has no artificial replacement. Patients can require enormous amounts of it, suddenly and quickly, as well as on a sustained basis. But safe, abundant supplies of blood are desperately needed now, the Red Cross says, having declared what it says is its first-ever national crisis with the country facing its most dire shortages in a decade.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted donations, which already were spare, says the nonprofit agency that collects 40% of the nation’s supply. In more regular times, just 3% of those who are eligible donate blood, and donations have fallen off a cliff since the pandemic started.

Demand, however, persists. As a selection of the agency’s reported statistics show:

debt-300x200Soaring medical costs crush the finances of far too many patients, as the public was reminded by the release of an annual report on the high toll of cancer-care spending and a surprising congressional reverse aimed at reining in runaway prescription drug prices — or at least attempting to.

Leading organizations dealing with cancer treatment — including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries — found that patients in 2019 (the most recent year data were available) “shouldered a whopping $21.09 billion in costs,” the Washington Post reported.

Patients and their loved ones get hit with major costs in the first year of disease diagnosis, as well as the highest expenses at the ill individuals’ end of life, the report found.

fdabreastimplantFederal regulators have toughened the requirements for surgeons and medical device makers to inform women in detail about rising risks associated with breast implants, which also now will carry the government’s sternest warning — a “black box” label cautioning about the products’ potential harms.

The implant alarms, announced after years of complaints by patients, include the Food and Drug Administration’s counseling women that implants carry significant complications and should not be considered long-lasting products, secure for extended periods after surgery. The agency also ordered manufacturers to disclose ingredients used to make the devices.

The FDA, which is seeking public comment on its new oversight, has issued a 22-page document that describes how doctors and makers should discuss with patients the risks of implants.

referee-300x176While Republicans and a handful of Democrats in Congress may be filling campaign coffers and pleasing wealthy corporations to the nth degree during the current lawmaking session, regular folks have reason to be aghast at how companies are throwing around their money and weight to get their way.

The signs are evident as to how companies are maneuvering to:

  • keep prescription drug prices sky high

vuse-117x300The federal Food and Drug Administration has infuriated health and anti-smoking advocates by handing Big Tobacco a major first — the agency’s seal of approval for an e-cigarette as a way for consumers to reduce or stop harmful use of burning tobacco cigarettes.

The decision allowing RJ Reynold’s Vuse product (shown, left) to stay on public markets is the latest in a series of disastrous actions by the agency, putting a smoking alternative for adults ahead of the health and safety of young people, critics said. They repeated their contention that  with bungled oversight on alternative delivery devices and the vaping fad, the FDA has opened the way for a new generation to get addicted to toxic nicotine and lethal tobacco items.

Erika Sward, national assistant vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association, told the New York Times this of the FDA ruling allowing an e-cigarette delivering high levels of nicotine:

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