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Judge Overrules New York County’s Ban on Unvaccinated Kids in Public Spaces
A judge in New York says unvaccinated kids are officially allowed back in schools and public places in Rockland County after they were banned in response to 167 confirmed cases of measles.
religion  vaccine  health  healthcare  lawsuit  legal 
april 2019 by jtyost2
The absurdly high cost of insulin, explained
When inventor Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1923, he refused to put his name on the patent. He felt it was unethical for a doctor to profit from a discovery that would save lives. Banting’s co-inventors, James Collip and Charles Best, sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1. They wanted everyone who needed their medication to be able to afford it.

Today, Banting and colleagues would be spinning in their graves: Their drug, which many of the 30 million Americans with diabetes rely on, has become the poster child for pharmaceutical price gouging.

The cost of the four most popular types of insulin has tripled over the past decade, and the out-of-pocket prescription costs patients now face have doubled. By 2016, the average price of insulin rose to $450 per month — and costs continue to rise, so much so that as many as one in four people with diabetes are now skimping on or skipping lifesaving doses.

Members of Congress have been pressuring drug companies and pharmacy benefit managers to bring insulin costs under control. And on Wednesday, one health care company showed that it’s attempting to respond to the problem.

The insurance behemoth Cigna, and its pharmacy benefit arm Express Scripts, announced a new program that’ll cap the 30-day cost of insulin at $25. That’s a 40 percent reduction from the $41.50-per-month fee people with Express Scripts benefits were paying in 2018.
drugs  health  healthcare  insurance  insulin  patent  economics  business  usa  government  monopoly 
april 2019 by jtyost2
Inmate with wool allergy moves forward with suit over Texas prison's refusal to give cotton blanket
A federal court this week sided with an inmate who sued the Texas prison system to get a cotton blanket after repeatedly telling officials he was allergic to the standard-issue bedding, which he alleged is made of "recycled waste" that caused him to have open sores.

For 10 years, Calvin Weaver has been asking prison staff for a cotton blanket. But officials refused, so last year the Harris County man took them to court, representing himself from inside the Terrell Unit in Rosharon.

The prison system responded with a motion to dismiss, but on Friday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt ruled that the suit can continue. Even though Weaver won't be entitled to money, Hoyt wrote, he could get injunctive relief: a new blanket.
legal  lawsuit  health  healthcare  prison  crime  ethics  government  humanrights  civilrights 
april 2019 by jtyost2
Americans Borrowed $88 Billion to Pay for Health Care Last Year, Survey Finds
Americans borrowed an estimated $88 billion over the last year to pay for health care, according to a survey released on Tuesday by Gallup and the nonprofit West Health.

The survey also found that one in four Americans have skipped treatment because of the cost, and that nearly half fear bankruptcy in the event of a health emergency.

There was a partisan divide when respondents were asked whether they believed that the American health care system is among the best in the world: Among Republicans, 67 percent of respondents said they believed so; that number was 38 percent among Democrats.

But Democrats and Republicans had similar responses about putting off medical treatment. Asked if they had deferred treatment because of the cost, 27 percent of Democrats said they had, compared with 21 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of independents.

Respondents from across the political spectrum also reported pessimism about their leaders’ abilities to reduce health care costs. About 70 percent of respondents said they had no confidence in their elected officials to bring prices down. And 77 percent said they were concerned that rising health care costs would damage the American economy.
health  healthcare  economics  inequality  insurance  politics  poll  government  usa 
april 2019 by jtyost2
I’m Vaccinating My Child the Natural Way—With Measles
Vaccinating with an airborne virus might seem a little unconventional, and according to my child’s pediatrician, Dr. Wong, “completely cuckoo,” but that’s just one person’s opinion backed by numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies. The literature on Facebook and Reddit tells a different story, and honestly, there are way more people on Facebook than the American Medical Associations’ website, so you tell me who the experts are.
vaccine  humor  health  healthcare  satire 
april 2019 by jtyost2
Oprah and Apple TV+: A New Place for Psuedoscience? | Rebecca Watson on Patreon
This week, Apple held an event in which they revealed a new streaming service called Apple TV+. This wasn’t exactly groundbreaking news since most people already knew it was in the works, but there was a new tidbit (also known previously) that I had missed thus far. At the end of the keynote, they revealed a special guest star: Oprah Winfrey!

Now, I have an opinion of Oprah and that opinion has generally not changed over the past fifteen years, but I accept that what started out as an “unpopular opinion” has probably matured into an actual “toxic waste opinion” that no one wants to get within ten feet of. My opinion is this: Oprah is a terrible person who has given our society so many of its worst fads and, unfortunately, mainstays. Oprah is the reason we have the psychologist quack Dr. Phil, the all-around medical quack Dr. Oz, and she’s the reason anyone ever cared what Jenny McCarthy has to say about anything. She had McCarthy on her show first to talk about her child Evan was a “crystal child” and that Jenny herself was an “indigo child,” otherworldly beings who came to Earth to bring peace and light. Yes, really. And when Jenny changed her mind and decided Evan actually was autistic and that vaccines caused it, Oprah still had her on and promoted her.

Oprah promoted disgusting “psychics” who preyed on grieving people, like John Edward. She single-handedly introduced “The Secret” into the national conversation -- that’s the belief system that if you want anything you just have to believe you already have it, so the reason children die of cancer is because they didn’t wish hard enough to not have cancer.
Oprah  science  health  healthcare  psuedoscience 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Lawmakers hear bill to require tourist-focused microhospital to accept Medicare, Medicaid
Tucked just off the Strip, behind Planet Hollywood and across the street from Topgolf, lies a small, 22-bed hospital.

In many ways, it resembles a traditional hospital, providing emergency care, including in-house labs, digital X-rays and CT scans, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In other ways, it doesn’t. Similar to other micohospitals that have recently opened in Las Vegas, you can’t undergo surgery or receive treatment in an intensive care unit there.

But there is one key difference that separates it from the rest of Nevada’s hospitals and microhospitals: It doesn’t take Medicare or Medicaid.

The hospital, Elite Medical Center, is frank about this. Since it opened in July, its business model has been based on providing emergency care to tourists, who make up 80 percent of its patient base. The federally-run Medicare program for the elderly and the state-run Medicaid program for low-income residents just isn’t lucrative and therefore isn’t part of its business model.

“We purposely made the decision not to be part of Medicare and Medicaid because of the inherent burdens that participating in a federal government program can add to quality care and efficiency,” hospital lobbyist Mike Draper told lawmakers on the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

The rub is this: The rest of Nevada’s hospitals use their privately insured patients to subsidize the cost of treating those covered under Medicare and Medicaid. Hospitals argue that the rates paid by government insurance programs don’t come close to the actual costs of providing care, so they must carefully balance the number of patients they take under each type of insurance in order to stay financially solvent.
nevada  health  healthcare  insurance  government  medicaid  medicare 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Sackler-owned Purdue Pharma settles opioid lawsuit for $270m
Purdue Pharma, the drug-maker owned by the billionaire Sackler family, has reached a $270m settlement in a lawsuit which claimed its opioids contributed to the deaths of thousands of people.

As part of the deal, the US firm will fund a new centre to study addiction.

Purdue is one of several firms named in the claim which alleged they used deceptive practices to sell opioids.

The deal is the first Purdue has struck amid some 2,000 other lawsuits linked to its painkiller OxyContin.
PurduePharma  opiod  legal  lawsuit  oklahoma  health 
march 2019 by jtyost2
New York Suburb Declares Measles Emergency, Barring Unvaccinated Children From Public
Rockland County, a suburb of New York City, will declare a state of emergency and bar minors who are unvaccinated against measles from being in public places, the latest effort to fight New York State’s worst measles outbreak in decades.

The declaration comes as outbreaks of measles have cropped up around the country, concentrated in populations with low vaccination rates in places like ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and tight-knit Slavic communities in Washington State.

But Rockland County’s order, one of the most aggressive steps taken since the New York outbreak began last fall, highlighted not just the seriousness of the situations but also the desperation of public officials to control the spread of a highly contagious disease they have so far been powerless to halt.

The declaration will take effect at midnight on Tuesday and expires in 30 days. The prohibition will be enforced retroactively, with parents being penalized if they are found to have allowed unvaccinated children into the public spaces.

The county executive, Ed Day, is expected to discuss the details of the state of emergency in a news conference at 2 p.m.

Rockland County, which has a population of more than 300,000 people, has had 153 confirmed cases of measles since October, a county spokesman, John G. Lyon, said. Of those, 48 have come in 2019.

The outbreak there, as well as in New York City, has mostly affected ultra-Orthodox communities, where vaccination rates tend to be lower and anti-vaccination literature has spread, public health officials have said.
vaccine  newyork  health  healthcare  legal  government 
march 2019 by jtyost2
The Trump Administration Now Thinks the Entire ACA Should Fall | The Incidental Economist
Yet here we are. An administration that claims to support protections for people with preexisting conditions has now called for undoing not only the parts of the ACA that protect such conditions, but also the entire Medicaid expansion and parts of the law that shield those with employer-sponsored insurance from punitive annual or lifetime caps. Not to mention hundreds of rules having nothing to do with health insurance, including a raft of new taxes, mandatory labeling of calorie counts at chain restaurants, and rules governing biosimilars.

Maybe you think this level of disdain for an Act of Congress is to be expected from the Trump administration. Maybe it’s too much to process because of Russia and immigration and North Korea. But this is not business as usual. This is far beyond the pale. And it is a serious threat to the rule of law
legal  health  healthcare  insurance  AffordableCareAct  government  DonaldTrump  DeptOfJustice  lawsuit 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Purdue Pharma Will Settle Major Opioid Lawsuit
Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has settled a closely watched lawsuit with the state of Oklahoma, two months before a trial to examine the role of opioid manufacturers in the drug crisis is set to begin, a person close to the situation said.

Details of the agreement are to be revealed by the Oklahoma attorney general’s office at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

A spokesman for Purdue Pharma declined to comment.

So far, the trial, which includes other pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson and Johnson is still on track to begin May 28. Yesterday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court turned aside a bid by the defendants to delay the start by 100 days.

Details of the settlement were not immediately available but people with knowledge of the negotiations said it would involve a large payout from Purdue Pharma. But settling the case with a company that many believe ignited the opioid crisis also means that the public will not hear a full recounting of Purdue’s actions in promoting OxyContin to doctors and underplaying its addictive properties, including testimony by the Sackler family, who were not personally named in the state’s lawsuit.
opiods  legal  lawsuit  health  PurduePharma  business  oklahoma 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Opinion | The Trump administration just handed Democrats their best 2020 issue
Which brings us to my theory about why such a thing could happen. When he ran for president, Trump made lots of noises that suggested he was something of a moderate, at least on a few issues. He’d claim that he’d protect Medicare and Social Security, and even promised that he’d provide “insurance for everybody.” But no one really took those statements seriously, because it was obvious that outside of trade and immigration, Trump has no particular beliefs about any issues, much less a coherent ideology that guides him.

But instead of producing moderation, Trump’s ideological blurriness led to a more conservative set of administration policies. His own beliefs provide no borders within which his aides are required to work. And since he is so corrupt and personally despicable, many of the more sensible Republican policy wonks who would have staffed a different Republican administration chose to stay away, leaving the administration to be filled either by people who shared Trump’s penchant for self-dealing or by extremist ideologues who correctly surmised that a president who didn’t care about policy would give them free rein to indulge their wildest fantasies.

Now add in the fact that unlike other Republican presidents, Trump sees no political advantage in expanding his support. He firmly believes that his political survival depends only on keeping his most ardent supporters satisfied with what he’s doing while also keeping them agitated and angry at his opponents. So there is never a moment when Trump will say, “Hold on, that’s going too far — moderate and independent voters will be angry if we do that.”

When you combine these two factors — Trump’s indifference to policy, and his desire to play to his base and only his base — the result is an administration that is in many ways more conservative than any in modern history.

For them, the thought of taking away health coverage from tens of millions of Americans and removing vital protections from tens of millions more isn’t an unfortunate consequence of their effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act; it’s the whole point. That’s what victory looks like to them.
politics  AffordableCareAct  government  legal  lawsuit  health  healthcare  republicans  stupid 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Raw Vegan Influencer Busted Eating Meat | Rebecca Watson on Patreon
What’s not admirable is that for months, she continued to sell her “raw vegan lifestyle” to her followers, pretending that she was still on the diet. That’s right -- she was making money promoting the very diet that had made her so sick she had to seek medical attention. That is sociopathic. That is literally placing your own bank account over the health and welfare of thousands of people who look up to you. That makes Ayres a giant piece of shit. The public only found out about it when she went out to eat with other influencers and one livestreamed her plate of fish, and let me tell you, the look on her face needs to go in the Con Artists Getting Caught Hall of Fame.

Now, not only are people realizing she was selling them a bill of goods, but she’s made actual vegans look terrible. I’m not a vegan, but I am a vegan sympathizer because I know the science shows that by and large, you can be healthy on that diet if you take it seriously and pay attention to what you’re eating. But now people who hate vegans (of which there are many) will use this to say that veganism isn’t sustainable. It is. Raw veganism may not be, and it definitely isn’t sustainable when practiced by someone with more Instagram followers than brain cells.
science  health  nutrition  safety  advertising  ethics 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Italian politician who opposed making chickenpox vaccinations mandatory gets chickenpox
An Italian politician known for his vocal opposition to a new law mandating that school-aged children be immunized against several diseases, including chickenpox, has come down with the chickenpox.

Massimiliano Fedriga, a member of the far-right League party, was placed under observation for four days last week after contracting the disease, according to local news outlets.

Fedriga was a chief detractor of the so-called Lorenzin law, which mandates that school-aged children be immunized against chickenpox, measles, polio and more. Parents who do not comply can be fined up to $560 for sending their unvaccinated children to school, and kindergartens and preschools have the option of turning away children under 6 years old who haven’t received the necessary immunizations.

The Italian politician claimed in a Facebook post that he does not oppose vaccinations and has vaccinated his children.
vaccine  health  healthcare  politics  legal  government 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Nearly all Americans fail to eat enough of this actual superfood
When we fret about the deterioration of the American diet, we tend to focus on the excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and calories we’re now eating.

What we don’t talk about: an important ingredient that’s gone missing as we’ve been filling our plates with more chicken and cheese.

Fiber. Only 5 percent of people in the US meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily target of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That amounts to a population-wide deficiency — what nutritionists call the “fiber gap.”

“People are so busy avoiding carbs, they forget that these foods give [them] important dietary components,” said nutritionist Julie Jones, of St. Catherine University.

Fiber is the closest thing we have to a true superfood — or super-nutrient since it’s a part of so many different foods. Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers. That’s because fiber is amazingly helpful in many ways: It slows the absorption of glucose — which evens out our blood sugar levels — and also lowers cholesterol and inflammation.

These benefits grow the more fiber people eat. In a recent Lancet review of 185 studies and 58 clinical trials, researchers found that if 1,000 people transitioned from a low-fiber diet (under 15 grams per day) to a high-fiber diet (25 to 29 grams per day), they’d prevent 13 deaths and six cases of heart disease.

If fiber were a drug, we’d be all over it. But the average American gets just 16 grams per day — half of what we should be eating.
nutrition  science  health  research  diet 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Oklahoma sheriff and staff quit over unsafe jail
An Oklahoma sheriff and all of her deputies have quit in protest of dangerous - possibly lethal - conditions at an old rural county jail.

Nowata County Sheriff Terry Barnett said the dilapidated jail had near-toxic carbon monoxide and mould levels and no fire alarms, among other issues.

Prisoners have been housed in another jail since the end of February due to these safety concerns.

The officers quit after a judge ordered them to return prisoners to the jail.

At a news conference on Monday, Ms Barnett announced that she, along with her undersheriff, deputies, head dispatcher and the majority of the jail staff, were resigning over the "inexcusable" conditions.

The rural jail's carbon monoxide levels were just two points away from lethal and four employees had been taken to hospital as a result, she said. The jail has been closed since that incident.

Other problems at the facility include exposed wiring with outlets that have shocked inmates, no surveillance cameras, faulty sewage lines with methane leaks, inadequate staffing and even "an episode of a snake falling on the head of a prisoner when opening a door".
safety  health  legal  politics  police  oklahoma 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Lawsuit as unvaccinated teen banned by US school in outbreak - BBC News
An unvaccinated Kentucky teenager is suing after his Catholic school excluded him amid a chickenpox outbreak that has sickened at least 32 pupils.

Jerome Kunkel, 18, has not contracted the virus, but he has been banned by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy in Walton.

His lawsuit argues the vaccine is "immoral, illegal and sinful" and his rights have been violated.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department banned unvaccinated pupils on 14 March.

The notification said that due to the outbreak of chickenpox, students who have not been vaccinated or are already immune to the infection must stay home "until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last ill student or staff member".
vaccine  health  stupid  lawsuit  legal  religion  freedomofreligion  kentucky  usa 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Politician Who Fought Against Mandatory Chickenpox Vaccine Contracts Chickenpox | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos
An Italian politician who has railed against mandatory vaccinations, including the one for chickenpox, had to spend four days in the hospital after contracting chickenpox.

So, yes. There might be a God after all.
vaccine  health  healthcare  research  science 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Assemblywoman presents bills to require health insurers to apply certain payments to deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums
Democratic Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel presented two bills on Friday that would allow patients to apply cash payments on drugs and the costs of out-of-network emergency bills to their insurance plan deductibles or annual out-of-pocket maximums.

The two bills aim to reduce the financial burden of meeting high deductibles and annual out-of-pocket maximums, which have become increasingly common in recent years, by allowing patients to contribute payments made outside the scope of his or her insurance plan to them. But health insurers, at a hearing on the bills during a meeting of the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee on Friday, expressed concerns that the requirements as written could be technically difficult to accomplish and overly burdensome.

One of the bills Spiegel presented, AB185, would allow patients who choose to pay the cash price of a drug at the pharmacy counter to apply the payment to their insurance plan’s prescription drug deductible or overall deductible and annual out-of-pocket maximum. Spiegel argued that the change would save money both for patients, who may be able to get a cheaper cash price for the drug than they would with their insurance plan, and insurance companies, which wouldn’t be responsible for paying any share of those cash price prescriptions.

Spiegel showed lawmakers one example where a prescription for the drug levothyroxine, used to treat hypothyroidism, would cost patients a $15 co-pay and the insurers another $20.99 at one pharmacy, while the cash price for patients at another pharmacy would be only $10 with no additional payment required by the insurance company.
nevada  health  healthcare  insurance  government 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Italy Bans Unvaccinated Kids from its Schools Amid Measles Outbreaks | David Gee | Friendly Atheist | Patheos
Italy has once again banned unvaccinated kids from its public schools, ending a relaxed vaccination rule that was previously imposed.
italy  science  health  safety  religion  vaccine 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Proposed amendment to abortion bill would leave parental notification statute, some informed consent provisions untouched
Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela is paring down a bill that would decriminalize abortion and change informed consent requirements related to the procedure ahead of a hearing next week.

During a hearing on the bill scheduled for Monday, Cancela plans to introduce an amendment that would leave in statute some provisions she had originally sought to repeal, including a parental notification law that was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court but remains on the books, criminal penalties for concealing births and two informed consent provisions that she said allow doctors to provide medically relevant information. She framed the changes as an effort to prioritize what’s most important to accomplish this session.

The bill, SB179, had initially proposed to remove the state’s parental notification law, which was found unconstitutional in a 1991 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but remains in statute. The local chapter of the national abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, which is pushing for the bill, was trying to get it off of the state’s books entirely.

But Cancela said that provision “convoluted the intent of the bill” and detracted from the other two issues she’s trying to tackle.

“It is an issue that is separate from this bill,” Cancela said, “and big picture, with the changes on the Supreme Court and the changes in federal government put women’s rights in the spotlight and particularly women’s reproductive rights, the most important thing to me is to ensure that our informed consent laws are in line with medical standard practices and that in statute there aren’t criminal penalties for a procedure that’s legal.”

The amendment will also leave in place a statute that makes concealing the birth of a dead child by the disposition of its body, whether the baby died before or after birth, a gross misdemeanor. Cancela said the decision to remove that provision originally stemmed from a well-publicized case in Indiana where a woman tried to self-induce an abortion but that striking that statute doesn’t accomplish her overall goal with the bill.
nevada  politics  abortion  health 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Amazon Removes Autism “Cure” Books That Promote Kids Drinking Bleach | David Gee | Friendly Atheist | Patheos
Amazon Removes Autism “Cure” Books That Promote Kids Drinking Bleach
By David Gee
March 13, 2019

Until today, when Amazon said it would remove the problematic books mentioned below, the company enabled fraudsters who sold pseudo-scientific autism “cures,” including those involving giving kids bleach to drink.

It’s unclear if the removals are part of a broader policy to remove all anti-vaccination or harmful “cure” books.

Among the dangerous autism “treatments” that were available on the UK version of the website were chemical baths and arsenic poisoning medications, according to an investigation published in WIRED.
autism  amazon.com  business  safety  health 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Anti-Vax Parents Lose Bid to Send Kids to School Amid Measles Outbreak | David Gee | Friendly Atheist | Patheos
Anti-Vax Parents Lose Bid to Send Kids to School Amid Measles Outbreak
By David Gee
March 13, 2019

A judge in New York has ruled against anti-vaxxer parents who want to send their unvaccinated kids to school during a measles outbreak.

More than 40 unvaccinated students were banned from the private Green Meadow Waldorf School in Rockland County, where local residents are currently experiencing a measles outbreak. Several parents attempted to overturn the ban in court, but the judge ruled with the county health commissioner (and with public safety).
measles  vaccine  research  health  healthcare  safety  youth  education  newyork 
march 2019 by jtyost2
The stunning danger of smoking while pregnant
While many people know that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, it’s less appreciated that some of those deaths are newborn babies.

Researchers don’t fully understand why cigarettes increase the risk of infant death, but they think it has something to do with nicotine’s effect on brain regions that interfere with a baby’s sleeping and breathing patterns. Smoking is also known to restrict the blood flow that carries vital oxygen and nutrients between mom and baby.

When smoking kills, it can happen quickly. Roughly 3,600 babies in the US die suddenly every year for unknown reasons. The blanket term for these unexplained deaths is SUID, or sudden unexpected infant deaths, of which SIDS is the most well-known type.

In a new study in Pediatrics, researchers estimated that if expectant moms would just quit smoking, we could prevent 800 of those deaths.

For the paper, a collaboration between Microsoft and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, researchers analyzed national vital statistics data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the 20 million US births and more than 19,000 cases of sudden infant death that occurred between 2007 and 2011.
research  science  health  healthcare  youth  usa  smoking 
march 2019 by jtyost2
National Cancer Chief, Ned Sharpless, Named F.DA.’s Acting Commissioner
Dr. Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, will serve as acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Alex M. Azar III, secretary of health and human services, announced on Tuesday.

Dr. Sharpless temporarily will fill the post being vacated by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who stunned public health experts, lawmakers and consumer groups last week when he abruptly announced that he was resigning for personal reasons.

Dr. Sharpless has been director of the cancer center, part of the National Institutes of Health, since October 2017. He is also chief of the aging biology and cancer section in the National Institute on Aging’s Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics. His research focuses on the relationship between aging and cancer, and development of new treatments for melanoma, lung cancer and breast cancer.

“Dr. Sharpless’ deep scientific background and expertise will make him a strong leader for F.D.A.,” said Mr. Azar, in a statement. “There will be no let up in the agency’s focus, from ongoing efforts on drug approvals and combating the opioid crisis to modernizing food safety and addressing the rapid rise in youth use of e-cigarettes.”

Like many previous F.D.A. commissioners, Dr. Sharpless has had a long career as an academic. Before his appointment to the cancer institute, he had served as director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, a position he held since 2014.

He will begin the job in early April, Mr. Azar said, after the departure of Dr. Gottlieb, who has been commissioner since May 2017. Although Dr. Sharpless has been previously mentioned as a possible successor to Dr. Gottlieb, Mr. Azar said this is a temporary appointment and that the search for a permanent commissioner is underway. A successor must be nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate.
fda  regulation  government  politics  health  healthcare 
march 2019 by jtyost2
How Breast Size Affects How Women Exercise
The results were consistent and rather worrying. As women’s breast sizes grew, their participation in physical activity declined, particularly if that exercise was vigorous. Few very-large-breasted women jogged, for example.

Many of the larger-breasted women also reported that they believed that their breast size prevented them from exercising easily, even in low-impact activities like walking or swimming.

These results remained the same when the researchers considered age, which affects exercise participation, and body mass index, which likewise affects how often we exercise. Over all, slimmer women tended to have smaller breasts and vice versa. But even among overweight women with small breasts and normal-weight women with large bosoms, the relationship to exercise was unchanged.

Women with larger breasts, whatever their B.M.I., exercised less on average than those with smaller ones and were more likely to feel that their breast size interfered with moving.

The upshot is that women should be encouraged to learn how to find and fit a high-quality sports bra or swimsuit with adequate breast support, says Celeste Coltman, now an assistant professor
research  science  health  exercise  women  gender  breast 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Opioid crisis: US schools prepare for student overdoses - BBC News
The US state of Alabama is pioneering a project to train school staff - including teachers, coaches and administrators - how to treat pupils suffering from drug overdoses.

"Times have changed. Kids are getting things out of their parents' cabinets. They don't have to go out on the street, and they don't know what they are taking," says Jan Cibulski, school nursing supervisor in rural Shelby County - one of the regions signing up to the programme.

Until the start of the year, the state - like most others - recommended school nurses administer the treatment, but now they are widening the training to other teaching staff, as the opioid epidemic spirals nationwide.

The medication - naloxone - is being included in schools' standard emergency kits, alongside defibrillators and allergy-remedying Epipens.

For US teaching staff, the training could become another standard procedure, like shooting drills. Florida is considering a similar initiative.
health  youth  education  alabama  usa  healthcare  naloxone 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Weekend ‘catch-up sleep’ is a lie
The negative health effects of skimping on sleep during the week can’t be reversed by marathon weekend sleep sessions, according to a sobering new study.

Researchers have long known that routine sleep deprivation can cause weight gain and increase other health risks, including diabetes. But for those who force themselves out of bed bleary-eyed every weekday after too few hours of shut-eye, hope springs eternal that shutting off the alarm on Saturday and Sunday will repay the weekly sleep debt and reverse any ill effects.

The research, published in Current Biology, crushes those hopes. Despite complete freedom to sleep in and nap during a weekend recovery period, participants in a sleep laboratory who were limited to five hours of sleep on weekdays gained nearly three pounds over two weeks and experienced metabolic disruption that would increase their risk for diabetes over the long term. While weekend recovery sleep had some benefits after a single week of insufficient sleep, those gains were wiped out when people plunged right back into their same sleep-deprived schedule the next Monday.
health  research  sleep 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Tunisian health minister resigns over 11 baby deaths
The Tunisian Health Minister Abderraouf Cherif has resigned following the deaths of 11 newborn babies at a hospital in the capital, Tunis.

Tunisia's health ministry said evidence suggested they had all died from septic shock between 7-8 March.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said investigations have been launched into the state-run facility's medical, pharmaceutical and hygiene practices.

Mr Cherif's resignation comes just four months after his appointment.

In a Facebook post, Tunisia's paediatrics society said the infection may have been caused by an intravenous product.

The group also criticised "precarious conditions in which health professionals work".

Tunisia's public healthcare had a reputation as one of the best in North Africa, and medical tourism is a source of considerable revenue for the country.

But since the overthrow of President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, the system has been hampered by management and financial problems, along with recurrent drug shortages.
Tunisia  health  healthcare  government  ethics 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Man told he's going to die by doctor on video-link robot - BBC News
A doctor in California told a patient he was going to die using a robot with a video-link screen.

Ernest Quintana, 78, was at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont when a doctor - appearing on the robot's screen - informed him that he would die within a few days.

A family friend wrote on social media that it was "not the way to show value and compassion to a patient".

The hospital says it "regrets falling short" of the family's expectations.

Mr Quintana died the next day.
health  ethics  privacy  technology  healthcare  medicine  communication  empathy 
march 2019 by jtyost2
US ambassador defends farming record on chicken and beef
The ambassador defended the practice of treating meat with chlorinated water, telling the BBC that in the US, "we have the lowest levels of food poisoning".

But that's not what the US figures say. The most common bacteria in chicken that cause food poisoning are campylobacter and salmonella. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, there are 1.3 million illnesses from campylobacter and 1.2 million illnesses from salmonella a year. That means about four in every thousand people get sick.

In 2017 Public Health England, which pulls together data from across the UK, recorded 63,946 confirmed cases of infection from campylobacter and 10,089 infections from salmonella. That's one in a thousand and 0.2 in a thousand people respectively.

So the US has four times as many confirmed cases of campylobacter per thousand people as the UK - and twenty times as many cases of salmonella. About 450 people die of salmonella a year in the US, whereas in the UK deaths are very rare.
usa  UnitedKingdom  legal  safety  agriculture  business  health 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Shamima Begum: IS teenager's baby son has died, SDF confirms
The baby son of Shamima Begum - who fled London to join the Islamic State group - has died, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces has said.

The group, which runs the camp where the teenager has been living, confirmed the death on Friday.

The baby died of pneumonia, according to a medical certificate. He was less than three weeks old.

A UK government spokesman said the death of any child was "tragic and deeply distressing for the family".

The spokesman said the government had consistently advised against travelling to Syria and would "continue to do whatever we can to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and travelling to dangerous conflict zones".

Ms Begum left the UK in 2015 with two friends and was found in a Syrian refugee camp in mid-February. She wanted to return to Britain but was stripped of her citizenship.

Her husband, a Dutch IS fighter called Yago Riedijk, is being held at a nearby prison and has been informed of the baby's death.
isis  syria  humanrights  health  healthcare  UnitedKingdom  terrorism  legal  citizenship 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Canada cancels homeopathic foreign aid to Honduras - BBC News
The Canadian government will no longer fund homeopathic therapies in Honduras.

The move comes after an outcry about public funds going to support alternative therapies that have not been proven effective.

Terre Sans Frontières (TSF) had been given C$200,000 ($149,000, £114,000) over five years to provide homeopathy in the Central American country.

Around the world, alternative medicine charities modelled after Doctors Without Borders are still going strong.

The Quebec-based charity had been funded through Global Affairs' Volunteer Cooperation Program, which helps send skilled volunteers to developing countries.
Canada  Honduras  health  healthcare  science  medicine  foreignaid 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Health advocates worry about an FDA without Scott Gottlieb
Scott Gottlieb, one of the most activist Food and Drug Administration commissioners in recent years, pushed ideas such as banning menthol in cigarettes and packaging opioids in small blister packs to prevent overuse.

Those ideas seemed more startling because he was part of an anti-regulatory, pro-business administration. Now, with his surprise resignation, public health advocates are anxious about the fate of some of his more ambitious initiatives, whether his successor will embrace them — and whether the agency will get a permanent successor at all.

“I’m definitely concerned,” said Joshua Sharfstein, who served as principal deputy FDA commissioner during the Obama administration. He said Gottlieb, a physician, was respected by the agency’s career staff, which enabled him to push them "to do more and to do things differently. That combination is hard to find.”

The FDA regulates roughly 25 percent of the economy, and its policies have a major, direct impact on the American consumer. Not only does the agency approve drugs and oversee medical devices, but it also is charged with policing the safety of dietary supplements and overseeing 80 percent of the nation’s food supply.

Tobacco-control activists are among the most worried. While they sometimes pressed Gottlieb to go further on e-cigarette and tobacco issues, they are now anxious his successor will have neither the interest – nor the political or bureaucratic clout – to make the issue a top priority.
ScottGottlieb  usa  fda  health  healthcare  medicine  regulation  government 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Glasses can have a markup of 1,000%. Two former LensCrafters executives revealed why.
Former LensCrafters executives have revealed that the eyewear industry is ripping off customers. Getty Images For many, they’re a basic necessity, but…
health  monopoly  business  economics  eyeglasses 
march 2019 by jtyost2
F.D.A. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Who Fought Teenage Vaping, Resigns
Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, known for his aggressive efforts to regulate the tobacco and e-cigarette industries, resigned Tuesday.

Dr. Gottlieb, whose wife and three children have remained in their Westport, Conn. home since he took office, said recently he was weary of the commute and missed his family. But he has also been subject to increasing pressure from Republicans in Congress and his former associates in the conservative movement for his tough stance against youth vaping and traditional cigarettes.
fda  regulation  government  smoking  tobacco  health  safety  usa  ScottGottlieb 
march 2019 by jtyost2
One More Time, With Big Data: Measles Vaccine Doesn’t Cause Autism
In emphatic language, the researchers, who followed 657,461 Danish children born between 1999 and 2010, stated in the Annals of Internal Medicine: “The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination.”

Denmark offers a national vaccination program that is free and voluntary. At regular intervals, a team led by Dr. Anders Hviid, who is with the department of epidemiology research at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, followed the children, 31,619 of whom remained unvaccinated.

The researchers further broke out subgroups of children according to other inoculations, and whether they had siblings with autism.

In time, 6,517 children received a diagnosis of autism. These researchers found no greater proportional incidence of the diagnosis between the vaccinated and unvaccinated children. This conclusion echoes a finding in their 2002 study of 537,303 Danish children, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
health  healthcare  research  autism  vaccine  science 
march 2019 by jtyost2
How did home cooking become a moral issue?
There is a crisis in American kitchens. But what exactly that crisis is depends on whom you ask. If you turn to food media, the problem is we aren’t cooking…
health  nutrition  family  food  culture  usa  government 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Eli Lilly Will Sell Half-Price Version of Humalog, Its Popular Insulin
Except for the label, an “authorized generic” version of Humalog will be identical to the brand-name insulin drug and manufactured at the same facilities. The…
insulin  health  healthcare  medicine  business  EliLilly 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Emotional support pit bull 'mauled girl at Portland airport'
The mother of a five-year-old girl mauled in the face by an "emotional support" pit bull at Portland's airport has filed a $1.1m (£800,000) lawsuit. Mirna…
legal  crime  health  scam 
march 2019 by jtyost2
Lawmakers consider $6 million in new family planning spending as Trump administration announces restrictions
As a battle over restrictions on federal dollars for reproductive health services unfolds on the national stage, state lawmakers are considering whether to…
legal  nevada  health  healthcare  familyplanning  abortion  plannedparenthood 
february 2019 by jtyost2
Japan Battles Worst Measles Outbreak in Years
Health officials in Japan are combating the country’s worst measles outbreak in years, with many infections clustered among attendees of a Valentine’s Day gift…
japan  vaccine  health  measles 
february 2019 by jtyost2
Insurers would be required to cover out-of-network doctors under new legislation
Health insurance companies may soon be required to cover out-of-network doctor’s visits at no additional cost to patients if no in-network physician is readily…
health  healthcare  insurance  legal  government  nevada 
february 2019 by jtyost2
Why Poor Children Can’t Be Picky Eaters
I met plenty of poor parents who wished that their children liked healthier food. But developing their children’s palates has hidden costs. When I asked her about offering cauliflower 10 times to shape her son’s tastes, a poor mother from a town outside Boston said: “No. No. That’s a lot of wasted food.” This mother faces an uncomfortable choice: She can experiment and risk an empty cupboard, or she can make her food last by serving what her son likes, even if it’s not the healthiest and even if she feels guilty about it.

Wealthier parents didn’t face this trade-off. These parents met plenty of mealtime challenges — time scarcity, resistant children, the emotional toll of serving an unappreciative audience. The cost of waste posed fewer concerns. One middle-class mother has hated fruit all her life. But she offered her daughter a host of fruits early on. When I asked her about the cost of possible food rejections, she said, “Honestly, it never crossed my mind.”

But the poor parents I followed had little leeway to ignore waste. One mother strove to provide healthy food on a budget. She cooked rice and beans or pasta with bruised vegetables bought at a discount. These meals cost relatively little — if they’re eaten. But when her children rejected them, an affordable dish became a financial burden. Grudgingly, this mother resorted to the frozen burritos and chicken nuggets that her family preferred.

To consume a variety of nutritious foods, children need to acquire new tastes. This is an opportunity that many families cannot provide. Schools can familiarize children with nourishing foods through gardening, experience-based nutrition education and healthy school meals. Because many schools lack the funding to expose children to varied, wholesome foods, it is essential to expand the promising programs that have begun to address this problem.

Pediatricians and nutrition educators can also suggest how to reduce waste. Recommendations could include offering foods that are shelf-stable and easily divisible, like frozen fruits and vegetables, so parents can offer small amounts repeatedly without generating excessive waste. Parents’ preferences are also part of the solution. When parents eat foods from apple to zucchini, they can offer children a bite with less risk of waste. Cooking and food education classes can help to shape parents’ tastes, too.

Many parents I met struggled with their kids at mealtime. Many fell back on their children’s favorites when time and energy ran low. And some poor parents used food to make their kids happy amid hardship. But they also faced a hidden cost to fostering healthy habits.

When we think about whether families can afford a healthy diet, we must keep this hidden cost in mind. Let’s start by talking less about how the poor are failing and more about how to help families provide the food their children need.
children  nutrition  health  healthcare  research 
february 2016 by jtyost2
Drug overdose deaths in the US reach record levels - BBC News
More than 47,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014 - the most ever recorded in one year, US officials say.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Friday that showed overdose deaths jumped 7% from just one year earlier.
The spike in deaths has coincided with a rapid rise in the abuse of opioid-based prescription painkillers such as oxycontin and hydrocodone.
The CDC said 61% of the deaths involved some type of opioid, including heroin.
Many abusers of painkillers shift to using heroin as it becomes harder to obtain the prescription medications.
"The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose (poisoning) deaths," the CDC's report reads.
legal  drugs  health  safety  statistics  research  usa  fda  cdc 
december 2015 by jtyost2
My struggle to get health insurance was more irritating than my full-body rash
But COBRA works only as well as insurance companies do, and UHC wasn't working for me at all. Its website was just as dysfunctional as HealthCare.gov in its notoriously disastrous first month. So much for the wondrous private sector.
health  healthcare  insurance  business  government  regulation  legal  usa 
december 2015 by jtyost2
Smoking ban plan for US public housing - BBC News
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has proposed banning smoking in and around all public housing properties across the US.
The agency said the ban was necessary to protect residents from second-hand smoke and to save money in healthcare and repair costs.
Under the ban, smokers would not be able to light-up inside buildings or within 25ft (7.62m) of them.
After a period of public consultation, the plan could become law in 2017.
The HUD has conducted a long campaign to make public housing - known as council housing in the UK - smoke-free.
In 2009, it began pressing the US's more than 3,100 public housing agencies to make their properties smoke-free.
At the moment, over 228,000 public housing units have smoking bans. The new rule would affect the more than 940,000 units that continue to allow smokers to light up.
"We have a responsibility to protect public housing residents from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, especially the elderly and children who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases," said HUD Secretary Julian Castro.
The housing chief said that the rule would protect over 760,000 children and save an estimated $153m (£100.5) in healthcare costs, repairs and preventable fires.
His sentiments were echoed by the US surgeon general, who shared his concerns about second-hand smoke.
legal  usa  housing  government  regulation  smoking  health  healthcare 
november 2015 by jtyost2
Kunduz bombing: MSF demands Afghan war crimes probe - BBC News
Aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres is seeking to invoke a never-used body to investigate the US bombing of its hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz.
MSF said it did not trust internal military inquiries into the bombing that killed at least 22 people.
The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) was set up in 1991 under the Geneva Conventions.
The US says last Saturday's bombing was a mistake. It came amid efforts to reverse a Taliban takeover of Kunduz.
Kunduz, a strategically significant city of about 300,000 inhabitants in north-west Afghanistan, was quiet for the first night in more than a week, reports said.
Security forces say they have spent the past few days mopping up Taliban remnants and sporadic fighting has been largely confined to the outskirts.
legal  usa  government  afghanistan  military  health  humanrights  warcrimes 
october 2015 by jtyost2
Health Benefits of Tea? Here’s What the Evidence Says
At the end of all of this, I’m a little less impressed with the body of evidence regarding tea than I was with that of coffee. I admit that this is an interpretation, and others may disagree. The lack of a dose response in many of these trials, coupled with the fact that so many were performed in countries with markedly different tea consumption from our own, makes these results less generalizable than those of coffee were.

But the conclusions I would make are similar. I wouldn’t strongly recommend that anyone take up tea based on these findings. But there seem to be few harms, and some potential benefits. Drink it if you like it. It, too, seems to be a completely reasonable addition to a healthful diet.
tea  health  science  research 
october 2015 by jtyost2
101 Economists Sign Letter Defending Obamacare's 'Cadillac Tax'
The purpose of the Cadillac tax is to reduce health care spending by counteracting a decades-old tax break that gives employers (and, indirectly, employees) incentive to spend more money on health insurance. Along the way, the tax will also generate revenue to help offset the cost of the law’s expansion of health insurance.

The tax will phase in gradually, and some experts hope that, over time, employers will respond by seeking out more efficient insurance carriers who could provide equivalent coverage for lower premiums.

Critics of the Cadillac tax, so-called because it affects the most expensive plans, take a different view. They fear that some employers would opt for an easier way to avoid the tax: simply shifting more costs onto workers in the form of higher deductibles and co-payments. That could cause real hardship for people with serious medical problems, particularly if those people don’t make a lot of money or have savings with which to pay large out-of-pocket bills.

Among those most spooked by the prospect of employers reacting this way are labor unions that negotiated generous insurance benefits for their members, creating just the sorts of plans likely to incur the tax. Their pressure undoubtedly figured into Clinton’s calculus when she decided on her position, just as it has with other Democratic leaders — and just as pressure from employers and insurers (not to mention anti-Obamacare animus) has likely persuaded some Republicans to oppose the tax publicly.

One other reason politicians are lining up against the tax is public opinion. Just this week, a poll from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation showed that a majority of Americans were opposed to the tax, although respondents to the survey sometimes changed their minds after hearing arguments for and against the measure.

Economists don’t deny that some employers will respond to the Cadillac tax by raising out-of-pocket expenses — or that it will penalize firms that happen to have older workers whose significant medical needs lead to higher premiums. But given the need to reduce health care spending over the long term, these economists say, the Cadillac tax does much more good than harm.

“The Cadillac tax was the only feasible way to curb the bad effects of the unlimited exclusion from income and payroll taxes of employer-finance health insurance,” Henry Aaron, the respected Brookings economist who helped organize the letter, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday. “It may not be the best way, but it is the only game in town. Until such time as Congress enacts something better, it would be bad policy to repeal, delay or weaken the Cadillac tax.”

Conspicuous among the economists signing Thursday’s letter was Douglas Elmendorf, the Brookings economist who was in charge of the Congressional Budget Office from 2009 to 2015. During the debate over the Affordable Care Act, Elmendorf famously warned Obama that, without a provision like the Cadillac tax, health care legislation was likely to increase the deficit and have little effect on overall health care spending.
health  healthcare  AffordableCareAct  economics  insurance  government  budget 
october 2015 by jtyost2
Standing desks and health | The Incidental Economist
I’ve been standing at my workstation for several years, and there’s no way I’d go back to sitting all day. I’m much more comfortable standing (less back/neck/arm discomfort, resulting in a better mood). But that’s as close as I’d get to a health claim. I don’t think it’s making me fitter or adding years to my life. If you’re looking for a massive productivity or health boost from your standing desk, a 2014 systematic review may disappoint you.

It concludes that standing and treadmill desks probably offer some health value, more so for obese users, but the evidence isn’t strong and there are hedge words all over the conclusion (my emphasis):
health  research  science  posture 
october 2015 by jtyost2
Dairy, Supplements Do Little For Bones, Study Finds
A new study should put the final nail in the coffin for any lingering beliefs that calcium supplements are good for you.

The new study finds that people over 50 don't get stronger bones either by taking supplements or from eating extra servings of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products.

The findings, reported in the British Medical Journal's online publication BMJ.com, support what U.S. health officials have been telling Americans for a few years now — taking calcium supplements is not just a waste of time, but it could be harmful. The extra calcium doesn't go to strengthen bones but instead can build up in the arteries, causing heart disease, or in the kidneys, causing kidney stones.

Dr. Ian Reid of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and colleagues did what's called a meta-analysis —they gathered all the high-quality studies they could find from around the world to see what they showed.

Most of the studies showed people over 50 get no benefit at all from taking either calcium supplements or from eating calcium in food. People were just as likely to have a fracture. A few studies showed that people who took calcium supplements might have a lower risk, but they were not very clear.

The most powerful type of study, a randomized controlled trial, showed no differences.

"Dietary calcium intake is not associated with risk of fracture, and there is no clinical trial evidence that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources prevents fractures," they wrote. "Evidence that calcium supplements prevent fractures is weak and inconsistent."

In 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new recommendations saying there's not enough evidence to recommend taking calcium or vitamin D supplements, and recommending against it in some cases.
science  research  health  healthcare 
september 2015 by jtyost2
US drug company to cut 5,000% price rise after backlash - BBC News
A US drug company that faced a backlash after raising the price of a drug used by Aids patients by over 5,000% has said it will lower the price.
Martin Shkreli, the head of Turing Pharmaceuticals, told US media he would drop the price following the outcry, but did not say by how much.
Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to Daraprim in August.
It then raised the cost of the drug, which treats a parasitic infection, afrom $13.50 (£8.70) to $750.
Amid criticism from medical groups - one called the cost "unjustifiable" - Mr Shkreli on Monday defended the increase, saying the profits would help research new treatments.
legal  business  ethics  health  healthcare  insurance 
september 2015 by jtyost2
That Guy Who Is Price-Gouging AIDS Patients Also Did It to Kids with Kidney Disease
The former hedge fund manager whose pharmaceutical company has come under withering attack for allegations of egregious price-gouging on life-saving medication is the subject of a $65 million lawsuit by his former employer for alleged stock manipulation—and it turns out he once tried a similar price hike scheme with that company. During Martin Shkreli’s tenure as CEO of Retrophin—the company that is now suing him—the company increased prices on a decades-old kidney medication by about 20 times its original cost, a move similar to the controversial price increase by his new company reported by the New York Times on Sunday.

Martin Shkreli’s current company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, has been criticized by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for spiking the price of a 62-year-old drug called Daraprim now used to treat AIDS patients. The price of one pill, which once cost $1, went up from $13.50 per tablet to $750 after Turing purchased it.

When Shkreli was CEO of Retrophin, the company purchased a kidney medication approved by the FDA in 1988 called Thiola and increased the cost from $1 per pill to $30 per pill. That drug treated cystinuria, a lifelong disease for which there is no known cure and which afflicts about 20,000 patients in the United States. Forbes health care contributor Steve Brozak described the disease last year when news of the price increase broke:
legal  health  healthcare  insurance  business  economics  lawsuit  MartinShkreli 
september 2015 by jtyost2
The Senate’s 20-Week Abortion Ban Vote Will Be Too Close for Comfort
In the end, whether the 20-week ban passes or not won’t be today’s big story. The big story, instead, will be just how very close the final vote is. Be it just a two vote difference or a larger one, the real story is that for a majority of the Senate, appeasing anti-abortion activists matters more than a pregnant person’s rights—or even, potentially, her life.
abortion  politics  usa  government  congress  senate  legal  health  healthcare 
september 2015 by jtyost2
Feeding Kids Well
All of this is perhaps a little wonkier than it needs to be, so let me try to sum up the thinking behind enforcing rational standards for school lunches.

Eating patterns are set when we’re young, and 31 million kids eat federally assisted school lunches. Thus the school lunch program is more than just an opportunity to feed hungry kids. It’s an opportunity to shape how kids — and grown-ups — will eat in the future. Teaching children bad eating habits means creating yet another generation of Americans who will have to break those habits; and, given what we now know about the effect of those habits on our health, that’s nothing short of criminal.
health  healthcare  food  nutrition  government 
september 2015 by jtyost2
The Quieter Gun Death Toll
The grisly carnage from mass shootings regularly attracts the nation’s focus as a public safety issue, if only fleetingly. But the highest death toll from guns by far continues to be the far less noticed wave of suicides — nearly 20,000 a year — by Americans whose easy access to guns presents an irresistible temptation in a critical moment of despair.

Suicide accounts for two-thirds of the 30,000-plus gun deaths each year, as more than half of all suicides are carried out by firearms, according to the latest federal data.

If it takes a sensational statistic to spur national concern about such self-destruction, consider the latest research showing that 82 percent of teenage suicides by firearms involve guns left poorly secured or foolishly unprotected by members of their families. These young lives are impulsively lost in supposedly safe home environments, where just the presence of a gun has been found to increase the risk of suicide three times, according to a new report by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun safety organization.

The report also notes that 85 percent of people attempting suicide by gun succeed, while drug overdose, the main method chosen for suicide attempts, is fatal only 2 percent of the time. Ninety percent of those who fail in a suicide attempt embrace their second chance at life and do not eventually die by suicide.

There is stark evidence that easy access to guns compounds the crisis. The states with the five highest rates of gun suicides have gun ownership rates notably higher than the national average, according to the Brady study. Meanwhile, the gun lobby and firearm industry are engaged in a reckless campaign to have more Americans own and carry guns.

The suicide problem is enormously complicated without irresponsible access to guns. At a minimum, people who own guns should be required to keep them firmly under lock for the safety of society, let alone their own families.
suicide  health  healthcare  statistics  research  guncontrol  violence  legal  ethics  usa  government 
september 2015 by jtyost2
Blue Cross Hacked, again.
This morning news broke that another member of the Blue Cross family, this time Excellus, was hacked, exposing approximately 10.5 million records. The hack originally began December 23, 2013, but was not discovered until August 5, 2015. In other words, Blue Cross had a persistent, ongoing vulnerability that was actively exploited for almost two (2) years.

The attack on Excellus compromised the following information: Name, DOB, SSN, mailing address, telephone number, member ID, financial account information and claims information. Amazingly, the attack also exposed records of individuals who were not Excellus members, but belonged to other Blue Cross plans, including but not limited to: any BCBS client who received services in New York; BCBS Central New York; BCBS Rochester; and BCBS Utica-Watertown.

According to BCBS, the hacking event occurred, but they are not sure whether any data was taken. Honestly, how is that even possible, unless you are not monitoring network traffic or logging access and downloads. Further, while the information was encrypted (according to BCBS), there is a rather obtuse statement from them saying that the hackers had administrative access, so they had access.

On top of the above exposures of personal data, the hack also exposed the information of business partners and vendors. Specifically, those who provided Excellus with financial account information and SSN’s.

Let’s recap the banner year for BCBS and its affiliates.
health  healthcare  insurance  privacy  legal  hippa  security  technology 
september 2015 by jtyost2
DEA Impersonating Medical Board Investigators To Gain Access To Personal Health Records | Techdirt
Medical records have long been given an increased expectation of privacy, something that dates back to before the passage of HIPAA. (See also: Hippocratic Oath.) Consultations with doctors -- and the written records resulting from them -- have generally been treated as confidential, seeing as they contain potentially embarrassing/damaging information. Personal health information can be reported to law enforcement for many reasons: suspicion of criminal activity on the health entity's property, suspicion of criminal activity related to an off-site emergency, reporting a death, patients with stabbing/gunshot wounds, or in the case of a serious/immediate threat. Otherwise, HIPAA's rules for law enforcement say personal information can only be released under the following conditions:
To comply with a court order or court-ordered warrant, a subpoena or summons issued by a judicial officer, or an administrative request from a law enforcement official (the administrative request must include a written statement that the information requested is relevant and material, specific and limited in scope, and de-identified information cannot be used).
The bar is set pretty low and the DEA has been taking advantage of it. Jon Cassidy of Watchdog.org is reporting that the agency is rooting around in medical records in hopes of finding patients or health care providers who might be abusing drugs.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has been sifting through hundreds of supposedly private medical files, looking for Texas doctors and patients to prosecute without the use of warrants.
What the DEA is using instead is a blend of impersonation and administrative permission slips sporting the agency's own signature.
Instead, the agents are tricking doctors and nurses into thinking they’re with the Texas Medical Board. When that doesn’t work, they’re sending doctors subpoenas demanding medical records without court approval.
How often is this happening? Apparently it's so close to "all the time" that the DEA doesn't even have an approximate guess. This is what a DEA spokesperson told the Daily Caller.
“It’s not like there’s ten of them. There’s probably thousands — I know there are thousands,” Matt Barden, spokesman for the DEA, told the Daily Caller News Foundation about the DEA’s use of administrative subpoenas.
Early last year, a federal court in Oregon ruled the DEA could not access the state's prescription database without a warrant. Unfortunately, this was due to Oregon's state laws being more restrictive than federal law. A federal judge in Texas reached the opposite conclusion, finding that the DEA's use of administrative subpoenas complied with both HIPAA and state law. This decision is now headed for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it is hoped a finding similar to the decision in Oregon will be the end result. But judging from the laws in place, that outcome is doubtful.
legal  dea  health  healthcare  hippa  privacy  civilrights  warrant  freedomfromsearchandseizure  freedom  usa  texas  lawsuit 
september 2015 by jtyost2
The devastating argument against prescription drug cost shifting | The Incidental Economist
Ezekiel Emanuel made the very popular cost shifting argument in today’s New York Times:

Medicare negotiations would do nothing to contain drug prices for the 170 million Americans who have private health insurance, through their employer, the exchanges, or by self-purchase. Having the federal government negotiate lower prices for Medicare would most likely drive up prices on the private side as drug companies tried to recoup their “lost” profits.

Almost ten years ago I wrestled with exactly this cost shifting idea for the first time while writing a paper about a VA prescription drug plan for Medicare-enrolled veterans.

The VA purchases drugs at prices about 40% below those paid by Medicare drug plans, which are all private plans. Medicare does not use its price-setting power for drugs the way it does for hospital and physician services. Whether it should is a hot topic today, as it was during the run up to the 2003 law that created the Medicare drug benefit, Part D. The market consequences of a VA-Medicare drug plan would be similar to Medicare drug price setting: it would push the price paid for many drugs well below manufacturers’ claimed costs.

This is why drug manufacturers argue against Medicare drug price setting. Their argument frequently includes the claim that if Medicare (or the VA) pays a lot less for drugs, manufacturers will just shift costs to commercial market payers. Premiums will go up for everyone else. (It’s unclear to me why this should bother drug manufacturers, since, by this logic, they get paid either way, if not from Medicare, the VA, or Medicaid, then from commercial market plans. You’d think they’d want to keep quiet about that.)

I worked this cost shifting argument into my manuscript on a VA-Medicare drug plan. When he saw it, one of my co-authors paid me a visit. “Do you buy this cost shifting argument?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said. “If drug manufacturers are paid less by the VA or Medicare, don’t they need to make up for that lost revenue?”

“Well, do you think drug manufacturers are profit maximizing organizations?” His question was a trap.

“Of course! That’s why they cost shift.” I had just fallen right into it.

“Austin,” he said, “if they could profitably raise prices to commercial market payers after government ones pay less, why didn’t they raise those prices before? It suggests they left money on the table.”

There’s no response to this. It’s devastating. More in my cost shifting talk, papers [1 and 2], and blog posts.
medicare  health  healthcare  insurance  politics  economics  statistics  research 
september 2015 by jtyost2
Why a "universal" flu vaccine may soon be a reality
But there are two big reasons to seek out a universal vaccine. One is the difficulty of matching the seasonal shot against circulating strains, given that mismatch can lead to thousands of excess deaths. The other, however, is that it a universal vaccine should significantly improve preparedness for a pandemic flu. In a pandemic flu the virus mutates so significantly that humans have little or no residual immunity to it. This can allow the virus to spread easily from person to person all around the world. The last flu pandemic, of H1N1, was in 2009. The Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta has estimated that the global death toll was more than 284,000. History is also replete with outbreaks of pandemic flu, some with far higher death tolls. (The so-called Spanish flu, a type of H1N1 which swept across the world in 1918-9, may have been responsible for between 50m and 100m people.) Many fear the next outbreak of pandemic influenza.

The good news is that even without a universal vaccine the world is better prepared than it has ever been for both seasonal and pandemic flu. Since 2006 the World Health Organisation has been working to help countries to improve their ability to protect citizens from pandemic disease. In that year it was only possible to produce 350m doses of vaccine. Since then, production capacity has been ramped up around the world, with many new manufacturers starting up in developing countries. The technology to produce vaccines in only three months is also widely available. In theory, were a new influenza pandemic to arise, manufacturers could now make 5.4 billion doses of pandemic vaccine. (The seasonal flu shot comprises three strains, while a pandemic flu would be only one strain thus allowing three times the quantity of pandemic vaccine to be produced.) With or without a universal vaccine the world is in a good position to meet the challenge of the next pandemic flu.
health  healthcare  research  science  vaccine 
september 2015 by jtyost2
Quantifying Planned Parenthood’s Critical Role In Meeting The Need For Publicly Supported Contraceptive Care
Planned Parenthood health centers serve a considerable proportion of all clients obtaining contraceptive care from safety-net health centers.
In 2010, 36 percent of the 6.7 million U.S. women receiving contraceptive care from safety-net family planning health centers were served at Planned Parenthood centers. And there are some areas of the country where women rely particularly heavily on Planned Parenthood: In 18 states, Planned Parenthood health centers serve more than 40 percent of women obtaining contraceptive care from a safety-net family planning health center. In 11 of those 18 states, Planned Parenthood serves more than half the women obtaining contraceptive care from a safety-net health center.

Planned Parenthood health centers often serve most or all of the safety-net contraceptive clients in their county.
In 68 percent of counties with a Planned Parenthood site (332 counties out of 491), these sites serve at least half the women obtaining publicly supported contraceptive services from a safety-net health center. And in 21 percent of counties with a Planned Parenthood site (103 counties), Planned Parenthood serves all of the women obtaining publicly supported contraceptive services from a safety-net health center.
plannedparenthood  health  healthcare  statistics  research 
september 2015 by jtyost2
Parental Benefits Where One Parent Counts for More
Companies are becoming more generous with family-friendly benefits, but in many cases they have a catch. They are awarded not to all parents of young children, but to so-called primary caregivers.

At many companies, primary caregivers get much longer leaves and other benefits. And most often, those who identify themselves this way are women.

Yet in families where both parents plan to work full time and share child-rearing responsibilities, the designation can end up enforcing more traditional gender roles. That can potentially hurt women’s careers.

“I’ve never liked the notion of primary caregiver, because it does force families to choose,” said Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute, a research group. “It’s defining gender roles when in reality men are being much more involved.”

At Nestlé, primary caregivers get 26 weeks off, 14 of them paid, while those who are not primary caregivers receive two weeks, one of which is paid. At Accenture, women who give birth get 16 weeks of leave, other primary caregivers get eight weeks, and secondary caregivers get two weeks. At Orrick, the law firm, primary caregivers get 22 weeks and others get four weeks.
gender  legal  health  youth  business  feminism 
september 2015 by jtyost2
My school district fired me after I gave a free meal to a student who couldn’t pay
Our society shouldn’t allow children to go hungry because of their parents’ debts.

There is a simple solution to ensuring that every child receives a hot, filling, nutritious meal every school day: provide taxpayer-funded free lunches for all of them. We already do this for millions of schoolchildren. About 19 million students are enrolled in the federal free-lunch program because of low family incomes. Through the Community Eligibility Provision, the federal government splits meal costs with school districts to provide free lunches to 6.4 million children attending high-poverty schools. And more than 13 million students eat free breakfasts at school, too.

The infrastructure already exists to establish a universal free school-lunch program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently reimburses schools $2.98 for every lunch they provide under the free-lunch program. Instead of the byzantine system of income qualifications, eligibility forms and meal-by-meal reimbursements that inflate the cost of operating the National School Lunch Program, simplify it and redistribute the program’s $11.6 billion budget to provide free meals to all 31 million public school students who eat school lunches.

Any extra money it would cost to do this is well worth it. Providing a quality education to all children is one of our national values, but we cannot effectively educate children who are not properly fed. Numerous studies have shown the negative effects of hunger on the learning process. Poor nutrition is linked to weaker cognitive ability, impaired school engagement and hyperactivity in children. More and more school districts are recognizing the educational benefits of providing free, nutritious meals. Baltimore schools, for instance, now offer free breakfast and lunch to all students. The program was launched through Maryland’s new Hunger Free Schools Act with the understanding that “being able to eat at school is directly tied to better academic performance, better success and outcomes, and it lets students focus on getting through the day without having to be hungry,” State Delegate Keith Haynes, chief sponsor of the legislation, told the Huffington Post.
culture  usa  government  politics  education  health  healthcare  youth 
september 2015 by jtyost2
Why salad is so overrated
One of the people I heard from about nutrition is researcher Charles Benbrook. He and colleague Donald Davis developed a nutrient quality index — a way to rate foods based on how much of 27 nutrients they contain. Four of the five lowest-ranking vegetables (by serving size) are salad ingredients: cucumbers, radishes, iceberg lettuce and celery. (The fifth is eggplant.)

Those foods’ nutritional profile can be partly explained by one simple fact: They’re almost all water. Although water figures prominently in just about every vegetable (the sweet potato, one of the least watery, is 77 percent), those four salad vegetables top the list at 95 to 97 percent water. A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.

Take collard greens. They are 90 percent water, which still sounds like a lot. But it means that, compared with lettuce, every pound of collard greens contains about twice as much stuff that isn’t water, which, of course, is where the nutrition lives. But you’re also likely to eat much more of them, because you cook them. A large serving of lettuce feels like a bona fide vegetable, but when you saute it (not that I’m recommending that), you’ll see that two cups of romaine cooks down to a bite or two.

The corollary to the nutrition problem is the expense problem. The makings of a green salad — say, a head of lettuce, a cucumber and a bunch of radishes — cost about $3 at my supermarket. For that, I could buy more than two pounds of broccoli, sweet potatoes or just about any frozen vegetable going, any of which would make for a much more nutritious side dish to my roast chicken.

Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table. When we switch to vegetables that are twice as nutritious — like those collards or tomatoes or green beans — not only do we free up half the acres now growing lettuce, we cut back on the fossil fuels and other resources needed for transport and storage.
nutrition  health  research  climate  agriculture  business 
august 2015 by jtyost2
Water, Water Everywhere—in Bottles - WSJ
Despite obvious drawbacks—the plastic and the extra cost for something essentially free out of the tap—thirst for bottled water just keeps growing. U.S. bottled water volume rose 7% last year. That puts it on track to outsell soda by 2017, according to forecasts by industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp. Nestlé SA, whose water brands include Pure Life and Poland Spring, sold more water than Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. sold soda last year, making Nestlé—not Dr Pepper—the No. 3 company in the U.S. for nonalcoholic beverages, according to Beverage Digest.

That is bad news for Coca-Cola Co. and chief rival PepsiCo Inc., which together control roughly two thirds of the higher-margin U.S. soda market. Between 2000 and 2014, per capita bottled-water consumption more than doubled to 34.02 gallons from 16.74 gallons while soda fell to 39.92 gallons from 53.17 gallons, according to Beverage Marketing. There are now hundreds of brands vying in a market that was nonexistent not that long ago, leaving those hallway and playground drinking fountains in the dust.

Coke and Pepsi together do have about a fifth of the bottled-water market. Coke’s main brand is Dasani; Pepsi’s is Aquafina. But they would rather be selling soda. Over the past decade, according to Beverage Marketing, the wholesale price for a gallon of water has dropped to $1.23 from $1.63 while soda has risen to $4.05 from $3.05. With water, “The philosophy is stack it high and sell it low,’’ said Bill Sipper, a beverage consultant at Cascadia Managing Brands. Retail sales of bottled water totaled $18.82 billion last year, estimates market researcher Euromonitor, compared with $36.87 billion for soda.
water  environment  health  soda  statistics  2015  economics 
august 2015 by jtyost2
A systematic review of standing and treadmill desks in the workplace. - PubMed - NCBI
Treadmill desks led to the greatest improvement in physiological outcomes including postprandial glucose, HDL cholesterol, and anthropometrics, while standing desk use was associated with few physiological changes. Standing and treadmill desks both showed mixed results for improving psychological well-being with little impact on work performance.
health  science  research  healthcare  statistics  desk  standingdesk  exercise 
august 2015 by jtyost2
Remembering to respect the preferences of the poor
But it is important to understand because, as the authors remark, “things that make life less boring are a priority for the poor”. They tell the story of meeting a Moroccan farmer, Oucha Mbarbk. They ask him what would he do if he had a bit more money. Buy some more food, came the reply. What would he do if he had even more money? Buy better, tastier food. “We were starting to feel very bad for him and his family when we noticed a television, a parabolic antenna and a DVD player.” Why had he bought all this if he didn’t have enough money for food? “He laughed and said ‘Oh, but television is more important than food.’”

Nutritionists and aid donors often forget this. To them, it is hard to imagine anything being more important than food. And the poorer you are, surely, the more important food must be. So if people do not have enough, it cannot be because they have chosen to spend the little they have on something else, such as a television, a party, or a wedding. Rather it must be because they have nothing and need help. Yet well-intentioned programmes often break down on the indifference of the beneficiaries. People don’t eat the nutritious foods they are offered, or take their vitamin supplements. They stick with what makes life more bearable, even if it is sweet tea and DVDs.

This does not mean outsiders cannot improve the diet of the poor (still less does it mean not intervening during a famine). But as Banerjee and Duflo remark “governments and international institutions need to completely rethink food policy”. Less cheap grain, more fortified and biofortified foods. More broadly, it teaches a vital lesson about the poor, one too often ignored: however little money they may have, the poor have preferences and their preferences deserve the attention they get in this book, and all too rarely elsewhere.
economics  economy  statistics  research  food  nutrition  poverty  health 
august 2015 by jtyost2
The Question That Will Decide the 2016 Election
“Will you take away my health insurance?”

That question does not get asked often at Republican presidential forums. Yet it will be the most decisive question in the 2016 presidential election.

Since the last presidential election, the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act have taken effect. Millions of people are now enrolled in Medicaid, or are receiving health insurance subsidies through state exchanges, who were not enrolled or subsidized in November of 2012. Obamacare skeptics may disparage these benefits as inefficient, counter-productive, and excessively costly. Fine. Those who receive them won’t cherish them any less. The mortgage-interest deduction is not exactly a model of economic rationality. Try taking it away. Go ahead. Try.
health  healthcare  insurance  AffordableCareAct  politics  usa  republicans  government 
august 2015 by jtyost2
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