Articles Posted in Medications

Back-Pain-300x188As the nation rapidly grays, not only are middle-aged and older patients undergoing increasing numbers of knee, hip, ankle, and shoulder surgeries, back operations also have spiked — and a significant number of these procedures may be unwarranted and harmful.

Spinal surgery is a booming business for orthopedic surgeons and hospitals, with  Wall Street analysts forecasting, according to one report, that the “sales of spinal surgery implants, instruments, pharmaceuticals and other novel treatments for chronic and disabling back pain will … rise from $10 billion in 2020 to $14 billion -$ 16 billion by 2030.”

While rising numbers of patients, starting around age 42, complain of back pain and many eventually seek surgical relief, skepticism and concern may be deserved for the common, costly, and lucrative spinal fusion surgery, Modern Healthcare, an industry trade publication reported in its Oct. 5 edition.

mckinseylogo-300x169When Big Pharma gets jammed up by federal regulators overseeing what may be risky prescription drugs, what to do? How about hiring the help of a powerful, secretive business consulting company — which also happens to be advising the feds on how best to regulate drug companies?

That’s the gist of yet more disturbing findings about McKinsey and Co.’s sketchy dealings with Big Pharma and now the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The corporate consulting titan, though it was required to do so, failed over a decade to formally disclose its work for drug makers, including those involved in the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis, at the same time as it won big contracts with the FDA, according to excellent digging by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site.

cdcflushot-300x199The battle to quell the coronavirus pandemic and especially its deadly Delta variant surge soon may extend to the nation’s children.

A drug maker has submitted required data and formally requested from federal regulators an emergency approval for a vaccine for youngsters ages 5 to 12. Officials say they will take up this request, pronto, with the possibility that parents by Halloween or early November can start to see the great relief of strong, safe protection for their children from the debilitating and deadly virus.

It already has taken a stark toll on youngsters, with an estimated 140,000 of them losing their main caregivers — parents or grandparents — between April 1, 2020, and June 30 of this year, a newly published study estimates.

dea1pillcampaign-300x157Federal officials have sharply escalated their battle with opioid painkiller abuse and overdoses, issuing an urgent public warning that street drugs of many different varieties may be tainted with tiny but lethal doses of the synthetic painkiller fentanyl.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department also provided stark evidence of the risks involved, announcing a bust involving 810 people and the seizure of “8,843 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,440 pounds of cocaine and 158 weapons,” CBS News reported. Officials asserted that the seizure contained enough illicit materials to “kill more than 700,000 people and to potentially make tens of millions more lethal pills.”

The DEA said it has recorded a scary spike in cases involving pills sold in illicit fashion, fake medications of many different kinds, that are tainted with fentanyl, which pushers say provides a powerful high but which doctors and law enforcement warns can kill in minute doses:

fdaStemCells-300x200Yet more derelictions of duty by the federal Food and Drug Administration are happening now, in its handling of largely hokum treatments and health-threatening devices.  The latest examples: drug safety regulators step back from their oversight of those who peddle sketchy “stem-cell” treatments for a bevy of ills. And twiddle their thumbs as who knows how many more young people get addicted to nicotine because experts just aren’t ready to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping.

Here’s what the Associated Press reported about the agency and how it has allowed a boom in unsupported therapies using so-called stem cells (real versions, shown above):

“Hundreds of clinics pushing unproven stem cell procedures caught a big break from the U.S. government in 2017: They would have three years to show that their questionable treatments were safe and effective before regulators started cracking down. But when the Food and Drug Administration’s grace period expired in late May — extended six months due to the pandemic — the consequences became clear: Hundreds more clinics were selling the unapproved treatments for arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Covid-19 and many other conditions. ‘It backfired,’ said Leigh Turner, a bioethicist at UC Irvine. ‘The scale of the problem is vastly larger for FDA today than it was at the start.’ The continuing spread of for-profit clinics promoting stem cells and other so-called ‘regenerative’ therapies — including concentrated blood products — illustrates how quickly experimental medicine can outpace government oversight. No clinic has yet won FDA approval for any stem cell offering and regulators now confront an enormous, uncooperative industry that contends it shouldn’t be subject to regulation.”

coviddeathsnytoct22021-300x174It’s one thing when toddlers in their terrible twos react to common sense directions for their own good, throwing themselves to the floor, declaring, “I won’t, I won’t — and you can’t make me …” When grownups behave in, basically, the same way, the results can be catastrophic.

The estimated death toll of the coronavirus pandemic in this country — a figure likely to be far understated — has hit 700,000.

That’s like wiping out the equivalent or more of the population of cities like Boston, Nashville, or Las Vegas.

becerra-150x150biden-150x150With the Biden Administration battling the coronavirus pandemic and Democrats in the throes of determining what could be big spending for major changes in the U.S. health care system, even the president’s biggest supporters are baffled why he still hasn’t nominated a commissioner to head the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA, entrusted to safeguard the safety and quality of the nation’s prescription drugs, medical devices, and foodstuffs, has a huge lift in the best of times.

In the Biden administration’s 10 months, the agency — demoralized and banged up, big time, by the Trump Administration and its politicization of health matters across the board — has found itself in a relentless crossfire in areas in which the 18,000-employee organization holds sway.

drugselderly-150x150The nation’s nursing homes, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, are under more fire for their resurgent reliance on powerful and risky psychiatric drugs and shaky diagnoses of mental illness to treat elderly residents, as well as for the institutions’ inability to safeguard the old, sick, and injured in their care by ensuring their staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Facilities across the country have recorded a 70% spike in dubious designations of elderly residents as schizophrenic. This means they may be dosed with potent antipsychotic drugs, which, critics say, act akin to pharmaceutical restraints and can reduce the vulnerable to near vegetative states, the New York Times reported, based on its investigation of the issue.

The newspaper noted that federal regulators and mental health professionals have campaigned for years to get nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to stop using certain medications, which once were more routinely administered and pack more than a wallop for the old:

pewopioidharmsfigure-300x238In a landmark opioid painkiller case, a federal bankruptcy judge has approved what potentially may be a $10-billion settlement.  It included a plutocratic clan winning sweeping protections from further civil lawsuits by pledging to fork over $4.5 billion from their family fortunes.

Despite the seeming bounty in this case, the Purdue Pharmaceutical payout also may go in the legal books as unacceptably mean and little.

Robert Drain — the jurist who presided over the dissolution of Purdue, the enterprise that enriched the Sackler family in unimaginable fashion through the peddling of powerful prescription pain drugs like OxyContin — not only conceded the company’s bankruptcy was a bitter end. He also spelled out that term, B-I-T-T-E-R, letter for letter for the court record.

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:

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