Articles Posted in Research Studies

cdchq-300x180A public health agency once held up as the world’s gold standard will put itself under the microscope and try to diagnose swift, appropriate remedies for the relentless criticism it has received for months of faulty performance in dealing with one of the most lethal infectious disease outbreaks in a century.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must improve its work in its core functions, including “beefing up the nation’s public health workforce, data modernization, laboratory capacity, health equity, rapid response to disease outbreaks, and preparedness within the United States and around the world,” the agency’s chief, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, has written to her 13,000 expert colleagues. She is insisting, no matter the political risks and practical difficulties, that significant changes must occur, the Washington Post reported, noting of the agency’s much-derided work on the coronavirus pandemic:

“Since the pandemic began more than two years ago, the once-storied agency has been under fire for its pandemic response, from initial delays developing a coronavirus test, to the severe eligibility limits to get the test, to missteps often attributed to Trump Administration meddling. But even under the Biden Administration, the agency’s guidance on masking, isolation and quarantine, and booster doses has been repeatedly faulted for being confusing. A consistent criticism has been the agency’s failure to be agile, especially with analysis and release of real-time data.

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.

covid19-300x193Even as the coronavirus pandemic’s pause shows signs of faltering, medical experts are continuing their deeper digs into the novel infection’s long-term effects including how to treat debilitating long and medium Covid and the calamitous intersection between Covid and chronic conditions like diabetes.

The Biden Administration — taking fierce criticism for not acting sooner and more aggressively — has announced plans to kick start the research to combat long Covid, a condition that may affect as many as 23 million Americans who have suffered infections ranging from severe to mild and still have not shaken the disease’s harms. As the Washington Post reported:

“Experts who have been studying the condition, which is linked to fatigue, brain fog and other symptoms that can linger for weeks, months or even years, hailed Biden for assembling a government-wide effort to combat long Covid. They said it was an overdue recognition of the condition’s impact and reach. But many also said the administration must go further in devoting resources and making long covid a priority, reiterating that millions of people are eager for immediate treatment and help.

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.

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.

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.

childgetsvax-150x150After months of experiencing how the coronavirus vaccines safely can slash infections, avert serious illnesses that can lead to hospitalizations, and prevent epic numbers of deaths, young and older patients soon will be asked to show (again) their confidence in the life changing and life saving value of Covid-19 shots.

The pandemic-weary U.S. public, though, may not be eager enough to roll up their sleeves to try to quell the worst infectious outbreak in a century. Vaccination efforts have reached lows not seen since 2020, this in spite of the fast spread of BA.2, a newer and more infectious variant of the coronavirus.

Even as millions of people struggle with sustained harms of the illness — serious debilitation with so-called long and medium covid cases — the pandemic is well into one of its sustained lulls. This means that cases have plunged, hospitals are nearing more normal occupancy, and deaths are declining to distressing still levels — hundreds of people dying of the disease on average daily, rather than thousands.

creditagencylogos-300x227Patients battered by sky-high health care costs are getting a bit of promising news:

ecrilogo-300x112The coronavirus pandemic and the wrenching demand this public health nightmare has put on the U.S. health care system and its people have become such a worry that staffing shortages and workers’ mental health have become top safety concerns in 2022.

That is the evidence-based view of ECRI, aka the nonprofit, independent Emergency Care Research Institute. It has provided rigorous research to the public and parties in health care to better safeguard patients and their medical care for more than a half century.

The organization issues a Top 10 annual list of patient safety concerns, which is “typically dominated by clinical issues caused by device malfunctions or medical errors,” ECRI reported. But the group is raising different alarms this year about “crises that have simmered, but [that] Covid-19 exponentially worsened.”

deptvetaffairslogo-300x183One of the largest, most important health care systems in the country has plans in the works for a huge revamp, including shutting down many of its big, aging hospitals or slashing services there, shifting to smaller clinics, and refocusing its caregiving to parts of the country where its patients live.

Taxpayers will want to pay attention to these plans because they will pay tens of billions of dollars for them — likely with gratitude. That’s because this reimagined system provides care to millions of current and past U.S. service personnel and their families and is best known as the VA, aka the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Washington Post reported.

The Biden Administration has launched the VA on potentially decades of changes in the way it provides the nation’s sacred commitment to those who have fought with honor for their country and earned the right to quality care for what can be considerable, long-term health needs.

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