Articles Posted in Diabetes

conferencehungernutrition-300x133The Biden Administration, already locked in a long battle with the coronavirus and committed to a “moonshot” campaign against cancer, has announced it will tackle yet more persistent harms to the health of regular folks in this country — hunger, poor nutrition, and pernicious (but heavily marketed and highly profitable) foods.

The White House rolled up these issues and pledged at the first White House conference on them in a half century that this country will end U.S. hunger in a decade, the New York Times and other media organizations reported. The newspaper said this of the administration ambitions to deal with a fundamental of Americans’ health and wellbeing:

“The White House plan hinges on $8 billion in commitments from the private sector to help fight hunger, including $4 billion that will be dedicated by philanthropies that are focused on expanding access to healthy food. The investments will come from some of the largest corporations in America, including Google, Tyson Foods, and Walgreens. Other actions include expanding nutrition research and encouraging the food industry to lower sodium and sugar. But some of the most ambitious proposals — such as expanding food stamps (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) and introducing coverage of ‘medically tailored’ meals to Medicare — would require congressional action, a difficult prospect at a time of deep political divisions.’

ozempicpen-300x129Troubling but perhaps predictable news is traveling from a vanity trend-setting capital of this country: Hollywood stars have made the taking of a relatively new prescription drug, targeted for the treatment of diabetes, into a fad.

The injectable drug semaglutide, whose brand name is Ozempic, has become a must-have among A-listers because of one of its important outcomes among most users: dramatic weight loss. As Variety, one of the entertainment industry’s leading trade-media sources, reported about Ozempic:

“The drug is an insulin regulator for the pre-diabetic, made by the Danish pharma juggernaut Novo Nordisk, whose primary side effect is dramatic weight loss. It has saturated the industry in recent months, helping the beautiful and wealthy shed extra pounds in the never-ending Los Angeles pastime of optimizing appearances. Hollywood nutritionist Matt Mahowald tells Variety that the chief benefits of the injections are ‘moderating and pulling back insulin secretion and slowing down your stomach from emptying. It promotes satiation from food.’

IRAapproval-300x174President Biden and congressional Democrats have embarked on a major political experiment, testing the public’s willingness to delay gratification on seeing big benefits of a landmark measure with important elements to improve their health and wellbeing.

Is it more persuasive to regular folks that one political party is trying to tackle huge problems, or will relentless naysayers reap rewards for doing little or nothing?

As a little more than four score days remain before important midterm elections, Democrats will be seeking to convince voters of the significance of the giant Inflation Reduction Act — aka the much-reduced Build Back Better legislative package originally proposed by President Biden.

dietdrug-150x150They’re expensive and often uncovered by health insurance. They’re unfamiliar for now to many doctors, especially those in primary care. But — as expected — patients are hearing a lot about the effectiveness of new prescription medications aimed at treating diabetes and how these drugs have another positive outcome:

They help users lose weight, potentially lots of it.

Now, add in the capacity of the internet to spread information rapidly and quickly. And figure in the growing trend for patients to consult with doctors online and to be prescribed drugs by them via telehealth appointments.

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:

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