Articles Posted in Medications

coronapreventablenpr-300x226President Biden has ordered flags in public buildings across the country to be flown at half staff as the nation officially mourns 1 million American deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic. As he noted in a statement:

“One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic. Jill and I pray for each of them. To those who are grieving and asking yourself how will you go on without him or what will you do without her, I understand. I know the pain of that black hole in your heart. It is unrelenting. But I also know the ones you love are never truly gone. They will always be with you. As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before …”

The milestone that the country likely hit a while ago, a toll that many experts hoped would never be reached has proved hard to grasp for too many people in this country. The coronavirus deaths are the equivalent or exceed the populations of cities like San Jose, Calif., Austin, Tex., or Jacksonville, Fla. The comparisons are inexact and not easy, but with Memorial Day approaching, is it appropriate to note that the U.S. pandemic deaths now roughly equal the nation’s fatalities in the Civil War, World War I and World War II combined?

cabinetdrugcomputertech-300x178Big Pharma has made the nation so pill-obsessed that prescription drugs pose big risks to the safety of the seriously sick and injured and the finances of retirees.

Recent news stories have warned, for example, that:

aspirinme-225x300Aspirin has gotten its crown knocked askew as a cheap, effective low-dose heart problem preventer for older Americans.

That’s because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has weighed the evidence, heard the comments, and recommended against patients 60 and older taking the common drug to avert cardiovascular diseases. The experts gave this purportedly protective step a “D” grade.

The USPSTF is an elite, independent, and influential group of experts who advise the federal government, insurers, and clinicians about the safety and effectiveness of medical tests and procedures based on rigorous consideration of their merits.

changingcovidtollap2022wp-300x216The coronavirus pandemic has become such a central part of so many people’s lives that the temptation is great to ignore its persistent, calamitous effect — and how some of the worst of these can be dealt with more than ever in relatively easy, safe, convenient ways.

Looking recent data about the disease, it is possible to start to downplay the virus, suggesting it could be reaching the endemic stage in which it still poses high perils but is not a crisis condition, as it has been for months now. Consider, for example, how widespread coronavirus infections have become, especially due to the recent surge involving the highly contagious Omicron variant. As the New York Times reported:

“Sixty percent of Americans, including 75% of children, had been infected with the coronavirus by February, federal health officials reported … — another remarkable milestone in a pandemic that continues to confound expectations. The highly contagious Omicron variant was responsible for much of the toll. In December 2021, as the variant began spreading, only half as many people had antibodies indicating prior infection, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the numbers came as a shock to many Americans, some scientists said they had expected the figures to be even higher, given the contagious variants that have marched through the nation over the past two years.”

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.”

dcpolicetweet-300x214The opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has veered into a frightening new phase in which the rise of the easy-to-make, exceedingly powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl is causing multiple, interconnected deaths at one time.

The nation’s capital already has experienced this grim situation, which only shows signs of worsening, the Washington Post reported on April 12:

“Ten people in two neighborhoods in Northeast Washington have now died from a lethal batch of fentanyl, police said .. the second mass-casualty incident involving the deadly opioid in the District this year. Police said at least 17 people overdosed on cocaine laced with fentanyl in Trinidad and Ivy City from [April 9-11] and seven of them survived. In January, nine people died after taking a similar concoction in a neighborhood near Nationals Park. Authorities arrested two people in that case and said they do not believe the most recent incidents are connected to the earlier overdoses.”

alzassoc-300x200Although Medicare officials have slammed the door for now on paying for widespread use of a drug targeted for Alzheimer’s treatment, patient advocacy groups have thrown themselves into the battle over Aduhelm and whether taxpayers should pay its hefty price.

Aduhelm is the risky, costly prescription medication with sparse evidence of its purported benefits for those in early stages of cognitive decline.

The giant federal health insurer for seniors will cover Aduhelm only for patients participating in clinical trials that may yield more persuasive evidence about the drug’s safety and effectiveness, Medicare officials have decided. In doing so, they withstood a furious lobbying campaign from the nonprofits Alzheimer’s Association, a leading patient advocacy group reporting more than $400 million in 2021 revenue, and UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, which reported $9 million in 2020 revenue.

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.

cdcmarch22covidhospitalization-300x174The coronavirus pandemic does not have a magical on-off switch, and even if its current lull turns out to be longer lasting — and signs suggest this may not be so — the lethal infectious outbreak will keep sending shocks through the U.S. health care system that will affect us all.

Experts are expressing growing concern about several areas where patients, insurers, and medical providers must make major, challenging changes if federal officials truly see huge reductions in the pandemic’s threat and they begin to wind down key programs put in place to battle it, the Associated Press reported.

If that occurs, health insurance for millions of Americans could change swiftly and dramatically, while many patients and health providers may be forced to reconsider the future of telehealth care, the AP reported. And how much support will there be for continued efforts to test, vaccinate, and provide treatments for the coronavirus, if the pandemic diminishes as a major peril?

boozeabuse-150x150Alcohol abuse blew up from a rising concern to a significant killer during the coronavirus pandemic, with 100,000 Americans losing their lives to booze-related causes, a 25% increase year-over-year in the first 12 months of the global infection’s outbreak.

The figures from research newly published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows the lethal damage caused by the pandemic, not only directly by the 1 million-plus deaths blamed on the virus but also in its closely linked menaces.

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