Articles Posted in Diabetes

ftclogo-300x95While U.S. patients are seeing their finances blown up by skyrocketing prescription drug prices, the members of Congress continue to wring their hands, ponder responses — and do nothing. The Federal Trade Commission, though, has at least launched an investigation of one part of Big Pharma to see if pharmacy benefit managers, the industry middlemen known as PBMs, jack up prices for patients.

Those footing the bill for drugs have plenty of reason for outrage, a trio of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have reported.

Their findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, show just how stark Big Pharma’s recent push for profits has been. As the researchers wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed, calling for congressional action to lower drug prices, based on their study:

diabetesdrug-300x127As medical scientists increase the understanding of diabetes and the role that hormones can play in treating the disease and clinical obesity, doctors, drug makers, insurers, and others in U.S. health care are running smack into familiar, significant problems.

These include issues with public perceptions about weight, diet, and appropriate prescribing of powerful medications, as well as challenges about who pays for what in the nation’s complex health care system.

The latest, evolving tangles concern semaglutide and liraglutide, two drugs in a group that experts at the drug maker Novo Nordisk pioneered to treat diabetes. Investigators developed the drugs as doctors, patients, and researchers suddenly learned more about extreme weight loss through increasingly popular gastric surgeries, finding that the procedures also altered patients’ hormones like ghrelin, popularly dubbed the “hunger hormone.”

sentimscottsc-150x150cathymcmorrisrodgers-150x150While regular folks howl about the need to slash skyrocketing prescription drug costs, Big Pharma is showering lawmakers on Capitol Hill with campaign contributions and favoring Republicans in the House and Senate who show political promise — and an aversion to efforts to ensure the affordability of medications for the sick.

The crushing costs of drugs has returned to the policy-making spotlight as Democrats in the House, with a few defecting Republicans, have approved a bill to limit the soaring price of insulin to $35 a month for most Americans who have insurance and whose health and lives depend on the increasingly unaffordable medication. As the New York Times reported:

“To become law, the bill will need to attract at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. Some lawmakers involved in the effort have expressed optimism that such a coalition might be possible, but few Republican senators have publicly endorsed the bill yet. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has been working with Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, on a broader bill related to insulin prices. The bill would have substantial benefits for many of the nearly 30 million Americans who live with diabetes. Insulin, a lifesaving drug that is typically taken daily, has grown increasingly expensive in recent years, and many diabetes patients ration their medicines or discontinue them because of the cost. About one in five Americans who take insulin would save money under the proposal, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

bloodtest-300x200Lights are flashing and alarms are blaring. A health care nightmare is growing before us and threatens the future of the nation: Younger people — those under age 40 or even age 50 — are sicker than they should be, and their conditions are worsening, not improving, especially with the destructive coronavirus pandemic.

An independent and highly respected federal advisory panel has just recommended a drop in the age at which doctors should screen overweight adults for diabetes and prediabetes, urging that a fasting blood test or possibly a glucose tolerance test be given to these patients and lifestyle questions be posed to them at age 35, not at 40 years old, as was the previous advice.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) — elite specialists who review tests and screenings for their effectiveness and usefulness and issue recommendations that hold big sway, notably with insurers — said that diabetes poses serious and growing risks to young adults. They can benefit from earlier interventions, such as changes in diet and lifestyle, that can prevent prediabetes from developing into a chronic, and potentially debilitating or even fatal condition. As experts reported in an accompanying editorial, published in an online section of the Journal of the American Medical Association:

diabetesreuterrise-300x120More than 100,000 people in this country died last year due to diabetes. That’s 17% more than the year before. And in younger age groups, it’s even worse: deaths from diabetes climbed 29% last year  among those ages 25-44, federal data show.

The figures should raise huge alarms that diabetes, as exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, is “out of control,” reported Chad Terhune, Robin Respaut, and Deborah J. Nelson for Reuters news service.

Their investigation, including an analysis of federal data to draw a depressing depiction of diabetes’ significant damages to the health of millions of Americans, found that the pandemic only begins to show huge failures in the care of what should be a manageable illness:

demeter-300x261It’s not an invitation to pile on the ice cream, cake, and candy. But older adults may get to say pshaw to the finger-wagging they may have endured from doctors and loved ones about their raised blood sugar levels and the condition that specialists ginned up to caution them about it: prediabetes.

As the New York Times reported, a newly published study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere looked at data over six years on almost 3,500 older patients with elevated blood sugar measurements and found they “were far more likely to have their blood sugar levels return to normal than to progress to diabetes. And they were no more likely to die during the follow-up period than their peers with normal blood sugar.”

This is an important finding, the newspaper reported, quoting Elizabeth Selvin, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and the senior author on the study:

bookingpicretamays-150x150She was a 46-year-old Army veteran hired by the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center in 2015 with no certification or license to care for patients. Reta Mays worked in the middle of the night, tending to elderly, onetime service personnel, sitting bedside and monitoring their vitals, including their blood sugar levels. Mays went room to room, largely unnoticed for three years on Ward 3A.

But as unexplained deaths mounted on the surgical unit between 2017 and 2018, the bespectacled mother of three — who had served in the Army National Guard and had deployed to Iraq and Kuwait — shifted from being a nurse’s aide to becoming a murder suspect.

She now has confirmed in court that she injected multiple doses of insulin in at least seven patients in the rural Veterans Affairs hospital a few hours away from the nation’s capital, causing the frail victims’ blood glucose levels to plunge in fatal fashion.

covidweight-300x200Health and nutrition experts may get a rare and unexpected chance in the Covid-19 pandemic time to see whether Americans have experienced even a minor reset in their maintaining a more healthful diet, increased exercise, and maybe even reduction in weight gain and its associated problems.

To be sure, these have been times of high stress, and much popular discussion has focused on people’s “Quarantine 15,” the excess pounds packed on in recent days due to worry, couch sitting, and the availability of food in the close confines of the homes to which so many of us have been confined.

And many restaurants, notably fast food vendors, offered high-fat, high-calorie takeaway for weeks now, even as they make plans to re-open.

amputate-300x157Although the Covid-19 pandemic may be opening more and more Americans’ eyes to the harsh effects of the country’s economic and racial inequities, the stark damage from the nation’s health disparities can be plain to see — in truly disheartening ways.

Lizzie Presser, a reporter for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site ProPublica, deserves high praise for her distressing article on “The Black Amputation Epidemic.” As she wrote recently from deep in the poverty, neglect, and racial discrimination of the Mississippi Delta:

“[W]ithin months, the new coronavirus would sweep the United States, killing tens of thousands of people, a disproportionately high number of them black and diabetic. They were at a disadvantage, put at risk by an array of factors, from unequal health care access to racist biases to cuts in public health funding. These elements have long driven disparities, particularly across the South. One of the clearest ways to see them is by tracking who suffers diabetic amputations, which are, by one measure, the most preventable surgery in the country.

kidfoodobama-300x226Will grownups in the room step up soon and stop the nonsense? Or should consumers, especially parents and those who want to eat in healthful ways, just expect a perpetual food fight about what’s good and reasonable for Americans, especially our kids, to eat?

When it comes to breakfasts and lunches served to 30 million youngsters at 99,000 schools, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, long a standard-setter on dietary matters, has put itself in a head-scratching position.

That’s because the agency backed away from strict nutritional standards, saying it will relax the amounts of fruits and vegetables that schools provide kids under the agency’s Food and Nutrition Service guidelines. Instead, institutions would be permitted to sling more burgers, fries, and pizza, likely increasing youngsters’ consumption of high calories, saturated fats, and sodium.

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