Amid growing outrage over soaring drug prices, David Mitchell has launched a new advocacy group called “Patients For Affordable Drugs” to lobby for new ways to drag down the high prices that patients are forced to pay for drugs.
Mitchell said he put $75,000 of his own savings into the initiative and received a grant of $500,000 from the Laura & John Arnold Foundation to establish a website and start lobbying for dragging down drug prices.
Speaking on the topic, Mitchell said, “It has become increasingly clear that patients are getting killed by high drug prices. They are losing their homes. They are spending their kids’ education money. They are depleting their 401ks.”
Hefty drug prices have become a major concern among patients as well as politicians. Recently, several members of the U.S. Congress wrote a letter to Kaleo Pharmaceuticals CEO Spencer Williamson, expressing their concerns over the company’s decision of increasing the price for Evzio by a whopping 600 percent.
Turing Pharma is being criticized for increasing the price of anti-parasitic pills from $13.50 to a whopping $750 apiece, making it just impossible for many poor patients to afford it.
Taking an aim at pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and pharmacy benefit managers, Mitchell stressed that the new advocacy group will fight for policies that could lower the prices of life-saving drugs.General: HealthCompanies: Kaleo Pharmaceuticals
Stem cell transplants should be performed in young multiple sclerosis (MS) patients before they go through rounds of other treatments as the procedure is most effective if done in the early stage of the disease, a new study suggested.
The researchers also found in the study that patients with relapsing MS enjoy more long-term benefits from stem cell transplants than those suffering secondary progressive MS.
Long-term outcomes after Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (AHSCT) were found to be good, with roughly half of all MS patients free of the devastating disease progression at 5 years.
Dr. Sorrel Bickley, the chief of Biomedical Research at the UK-based MS Society, said, “It shows that AHSCT can slow or stop progression for many years, and [that] the treatment is most effective in people with MS who have ‘active inflammation’ in their brain and spinal cord.”
The researchers reached the conclusion after the observational study tracked a total of 281 MS patients who underwent the procedure of AHSCT across 25 centers worldwide between 1995 and 2006.
The new research was detailed in the most recent (Feb. 21st) edition of the journal JAMA Neurology.General: HealthResearch
Fewer American teens attempted suicide after same-sex marriage became legal and the biggest impact was seen among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids, a new study revealed.
As per available data, suicide is the second-biggest cause of death among American teens, and suicidal behavior is more common among gay, lesbian and bisexual children and adults. A report suggested that nearly 29 per cent of gay, lesbian and bisexual teens reported attempting suicide as compared with 6 per cent of straight teenagers.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health found declines in teen suicide rates in states that approved measured and made laws to allow gays to marry before the U.S. Supreme Court made legalized gay marriage nationwide.
They analyzed data on nearly 700,000 public high school students who took part in government surveys on risky behavior among teens between 1999 and 2015. Around 230,000 of them admitted being gay, lesbian or bisexual. In 32 states, which enacted same-sex marriage laws, overall suicide attempts among teens and gay teens fell 7 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.
Lead author Julia Raifman added, “There is a need for further research to understand the association between sexual minority rights, stigma and sexual minority health.”
The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of the JAMA Pediatrics.General: Health
In a bid to combat frequent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, South Korea is mulling a plan to set up a manufacturing facility to locally develop a vaccine to cure animals hit by the viral infection.
South Korea currently relies on imported vaccines from foreign manufacturers like Merial to repeatedly inoculate its farm animals and to bolster inventories during foot-and-mouth outbreaks.
Vice agriculture minister Lee Junwon said the fourth-largest economy of Asia has plans to set up the foot-and-mouth vaccine production plant in 2020.
Making the announcement, Junwon said, “After securing original vaccine production technology by 2017 based on our six-year research result... we plan to operate a foot-and-mouth vaccine plant in 2020.”
For the time being, the Asian country has plans to import 32 million doses to tackle the most recent foot-and-mouth outbreak, in which nine cases of the viral disease have already been confirmed.
The latest outbreak forced authorities to cull more than 1,400 cattle to prevent the viral animal infection from spreading and hitting more animals.General: HealthRegion: South Korea
Billions of dollars have already been spent on the fight against the Alzheimer's disease, but a cure for the disease remains elusive.
No new treatment for Alzheimer’s has won the FDA’s approval since 2003, and clinical trials for the disease has 99 per cent failure rate. Merely five drugs have gained the FDA’s approval to treat the disease, and those drugs just alleviate symptoms.
In December last year, U.S. Congress passed a measure to set aside additional $3 billion to fund research of brain diseases and precision medicine to tackle disease like Alzheimer's over the next 10 years.
The effort, part of the 21st Century Cures Act, also offers prize money to egg on research and experiments on Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer's disease remains a major killer in the U.S., and the number of patients is on the rise. Some experts have warned that the disease will probably continue to grow as the U.S. population is aging rapidly.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys the patient’s memory and other key mental functions. It develops when brain cell connections degenerate and die, which destroys memory and other mental functions.General: HealthCompanies: FDA
Following years of struggle with infertility, a couple in Texas is finally expecting twins. Sharing their excitement on social media, Lauren and Garyt Walker also revealed their grueling struggle that forced them to go through hundreds of needles and thousands of tears.
In a recent social media post, Lauren and Garyt Walker described that they prayed for 953 days and went through 452 needles, and faced failed in-vitro fertilization (IVF) rounds and transfers.
Posting the joyous update, they wrote, “We prayed for 953 days...452 Needles, 1000's of tears,1 corrective surgery, 4 clomid/letrozole attempts, 2 IVF rounds, 3 failed transfers & 1 Amazing GOD.”
The couple also shared a photo showing two onesies surrounded by hundreds of needles used during Lauren’s IVF treatments.
After Lauren and Garyt Walker started attempting to have a child, Lauren suffered five miscarriages. They spent more than $30,000 on treatment before 2014, when Lauren suffered her last miscarriage.
In 2016, they took a loan, and made one more attempt, which proved to be fruitful. Just before Christmas, they were learnt that they were expecting. Lauren is due in August, and the couple has already named their twins Diana and Duke.General: HealthRegion: Texas
Flu vaccine has reduced the risk of infections in the United States by nearly half this season but the infection is expected to continue for the next many weeks, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) said in its latest report.
The federal agency said that the predominant virus strain this flu season is influenza A (H3N2), and the estimated effectiveness of the available vaccine in preventing influenza A and influenza B has been 43 and 73 per cent, respectively; with overall protection rate of 48 per cent.
The interim findings are based on analysis of data collected from Nov. 28 through Feb. 4 for 3,144 kids and adults who were enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network.
Brendan Flannery, lead investigator for the network, said the viruses in the flu vaccine proved to be a “good match” for the influenza viruses circulating this season.
Speaking on the topic, Flannery added, “The prediction for the H3N2 virus was right on in terms of that particular virus continuing to be a dominant virus. This vaccine is a much better match for the circulating virus than the vaccine we had two years ago.”
During the 2015-16 and 2014-15 flu seasons, vaccine effectiveness was recorded at 47 per cent and just 19 per cent, respectively.General: HealthCompanies: CDC
Portraying a gloomy picture of the future, the 2015-16 El Niño eroded an unprecedented amount of the West Coast’s beaches across the states of California, Oregon and Washington.
A new study revealed that unusually powerful waves brought by the last El Niño, together with lack of new sediment flushed down onto beaches, eroded 76 per cent more sand than usual from at least 29 beaches in the three states.
David Hubbard, UC Santa Barbara marine ecologist and one of the co-authors of the study, blamed climate change for the devastating El Niño.
Commenting on the findings of the study, Hubbard said, “It looks like climate change will bring us more El Niño events, possibly twice as many, at twice the frequency as in the past. So, this is a taste of what's coming.”
Scientists expect that erosion, a normal process, will get worse as sea levels rise and climate change makes extreme weather events more extreme.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, highlighted that erosion of coastlines is a major environmental issue that needs bipartisan agreement in Congress to be fixed.General: ResearchEntertainmentRegion: California
A rare bacterial disease carried by rats has killed one person in the Bronx and left two others struggling for their lives, the city health authorities confirmed.
According to the Bronx Health Department, three cases of the deadly bacterial disease of leptospirosis were first spotted in a one block radius of the city’s Concourse section more than two months ago.
Demetre Daskalakis, the department’s acting deputy commissioner, said in a statement that leptospirosis mostly affects animals and it rarely affects humans.
Speaking on the issue, Daskalakis added, “Human leptospirosis cases are very rare in New York City. This is the first time a cluster of cases has been identified. All three cases had severe illness … two cases developed pulmonary hemorrhage and one died as a result of infection.”
From 2006 through 2016, there were merely 26 cases of the leptospirosis disease in New York City, or 1-3 cases per year. The median age of the patients was 42 years.
Symptoms of the potentially deadly disease include sudden onset of fever, headache, conjunctival suffusion, photophobia, nausea, vomiting, and pain in muscles.General: HealthResearchRegion: New York
People suffering low back pain should try drug-free remedies like heat wraps and physical therapy before resorting to medication, the American College of Physicians (ACP) suggested.
In its new treatment guidelines, ACP said that medicines, particularly powerful opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, should be used only as a last resort in cases back pain. The new guidelines put more emphasis on drug-free therapies than previous ones suggested.
Another big change in the new guidelines is the removal of acetaminophen (Tylenol) from the list of medications that can low back pain patients should be used as a last resort.
Dr. Nitin Damle, the president of the ACP, explained that a recent research showed that acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not effective for the condition.
Damle underlined that most people with shorter-term ‘nonspecific’ low back pain can improve their condition with simple non-drug measures, such as heat wraps and changes in activity.
When medication becomes a necessity, the patient should opt for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, or possibly muscle relaxants. Opiate painkillers come with several risks, including accidental overdose and addiction.General: Health
A Detroit-area sheriff has defended his staff over their over their controversial action that allegedly forced an eight-month pregnant inmate to give birth to a baby on a jail cell floor.
Jessica Preston was serving a 14-day sentence last year when she called for help on a morning and told the deputies that she was in labor and wanted medical help. But, the deputies allegedly didn’t believe her. She was sent back to her cell thrice before she finally delivered a baby on the jail’s floor.
A video captured by a surveillance camera showed Preston being sent back to her cell after she told the deputies that she was in labor. But, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham insisted that he is confident that his staff acted accordingly.
Defending his staff, Wickersham said, “They were on the phone with the doctor. The information at that time, the baby started to come, they took her off the cot, which is close to the wall, put her on the floor on a mattress and the baby was delivered.”
Preston had been jailed by Judge Suzanne Faunce for driving on a suspended license. Though it was Preston’s first offense, the judge sent her to the jail because she failed to pay a $10,000 cash bond.
Judge Suzanne refused to comment, but the court administrator said in a statement the judge looked not only at the woman’s current charge but also at her previous court history when determining the bond. In the past, Preston had a record of drug abuse and warrants for her failure to appear in court.
The court administrator also claimed that Judge Suzanne felt that it would be in the woman and her baby’s best interests to be locked up, and that the judge had never imagined that pregnant woman would not be taken to a hospital in case she went into labor behind the bars.General: Health
Marathon Pharmaceuticals will reportedly market decades-old drug deflazacort under the brand name Emflaza with a top price tag of roughly $89,000 for a year's worth of treatment, nearly 70 times higher than the drug's price overseas.
The drug in question is a common steroid that can be used to treat a rare disorder called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which damages the patient's muscles and leaves many of patients dead by their late-20s.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), patients can shave the steroid for less than $1 through online pharmacies, while Marathon will market the drug for roughly $89,000 for a year's worth of treatment.
It is quite surprising how a company can get away with such a shocking list price for the drug in the U. S. It is because the drug was never approved in the country despite its widespread availability to treat other conditions, such as arthritis, in many other countries.
Since Marathon recently won the FDA's approval to treat a condition that afflicts fewer than 200,000 people in the U. S., and there has been a dearth of treatment options, the Illinois-based pharmaceuticals giant has carte blanche over the drug's pricing.General: Health
FedEx has launched a new service named FedEx Fulfillment for small and medium business owners. The service will first serve customers in the United States and Canada and business owners will be able to store their goods at FedEx warehouses. The logistics service will also offer custom delivery boxes with branding options for small and medium business owners.
The service would compete with Amazon for ecommerce based clients and small business owners. Amazon has registered strong growth in its similar program under which the company offers third-party sellers to store their goods at Amazon warehouse. Amazon directly ships the products and this reduces hassle for seller and delivery time for products.
Amazon has registered growth in its fulfillment business but many sellers are concerned about Amazon competing with them for their best-selling products. This won’t be the case with FedEx as the company is only into logistics and not into retailing.
In a report published on CNN, Ryan Kelly, senior vice president of FedEx Supply Chain informed, "We're focused on the retailer, and doing what's right for the retailer, in helping them grow their business. I think that is differentiated in the marketplace. It's why we're getting such great feedback."
Amazon has been working hard on improving delivery of goods on its network. The company has invested a lot of money in improving its logistics network. FedEx and UPS are now trying to compete by offering flexibility to small and medium business owners.Business: Business NewsRetail SectorCompanies: FedExRegion: United StatesGeneral: Featured
An advisory board of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on Thursday released its 2017 advisory for recommended flu shots affecting adults.
The federal agency revised its guidelines on seasonal flu shots by modifying shot advice for individuals with egg allergy and eliminating nasal flu vaccines. In addition, it tweaked recommendations for vaccines against hepatitis B, meningococcal disease and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Doctors use the FDA’s annually updated vaccine schedule to make sure that patients get the right vaccines according to their age, medical conditions and other risk factors. The updated list includes thirteen vaccinations.
Dr. David Kim, the deputy associate director for adult immunizations in the agency’s Immunization Services Division, said, “All adults need immunizations to help them prevent getting and spreading serious disease that could result in poor health, missed work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family.”
The federal agency also suggested that there are some ways to tell if a patient have a cold or the flu, such as symptoms of a cold often come gradually, whereas symptoms of flu appear suddenly, and symptoms like stuffy nose and sore throat are more common with colds than with the seasonal disease of flu.General: HealthCompanies: CDC
Coca-Cola announced strong quarterly results as the company reported strong demand in North America. Coca-Cola reported strong numbers for quarter ending by December 2016 but the company has reduced its guidance for year 2017. Coca-Cola is offloading most of its bottling operations in North America and this will lead to additional charges in 2017. The company will be refranchising its bottling operations in North America and has announced that there could be 1-4 percent drop in earnings in 2017.
Coca-Cola reported flat sales for soda and carbonated beverages but it reported stronger earnings in other segments. As people are becoming health conscious with rising awareness about obesity, Coca-Cola and other beverage companies face challenge of reducing sugar content in their carbonated beverages. In many overseas markets, Coca-Cola has ventured in other drinks segment to keep its earnings healthy.
With price increase, Coca-Cola reported stronger revenue in North America. During fourth quarter, Coca-Cola registered 1 percent decline in sales. The sale for non-carbonated beverages increased by 2 percent during last quarter while sale of carbonated beverages declined by two percent.
A report published by USA Today informed, “Overall, the company's revenue fell 6% to $9.4 billion for the fourth quarter. The company said that included a 2% decline attributable to foreign exchange rates and a 10% decline attributable to corporate deals and one-time items, which included bottling refranchising efforts.”
“In North America, net revenue rose 8 percent during the quarter, outperforming total retail value growth for both the North America nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverage industry and U.S. consumer packaged goods companies," CEO Muhtar Kent said.Business: Company ResultsCompany UpdatesCompanies: Coca-ColaPeople: Muhtar KentGeneral: Featured
Women with breasts composed mainly of dense glandular tissue rather than fat face a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.
Led by Dr. Natalie Engmann of UC San Francisco, a team of researchers examined data on more than 18,000 women suffering breast malignancies and another 184,000 women without the deadly disease of breast cancer.
The researchers were surprised to find that breast density emerged the biggest indicator of the disease, even bigger than other common risk factors, such as family history or waiting until after age of 30 years to have babies.
Dr. Engmann called dense breasts a big problem because dense glandular tissue makes it harder for doctors to detect a potentially cancerous tumor. Nearly 60 per cent of younger women and 40 percent of older women who have attained menopause have been found to have dense breasts.
Sharing the study's findings, Dr. Engmann said, "Women with dense breasts have a roughly 2-fold higher breast cancer risk relative to women with non-dense breasts . reducing the number of women with dense breasts may prevent a substantial proportion of breast cancer cases."
A different study indicated that only a relatively small percentage of women with early-stage of breast cancer get genetic testing prior to surgery.
The findings appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 7th, edition of the journal JAMA.General: HealthResearchRegion: San Francisco
An Iranian infant in need of life-saving heart surgery, who was temporarily banned by President Donald Trump’s immigration order from entering the United States, has finally made it to Portland.
Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad’s parents told reporters that Iranian doctors told them that their little daughter needed at least one urgent heart surgery to correct heart defects, or she would die.
But, when Fatemah’s parents were on their way to Dubai to fly to the United States for the surgical procedure to save the life of their daughter, President Trump signed the controversial executive order banning visitors and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Luckily, Gov. Cuomo secured legal assistance for the infant, and a federal court judge granted a temporary injunction on the executive order. On Tuesday, the Iranian infant was admitted to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.
Dr. Laurie Armsby, interim head of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology at the hospital, said, “Fatemeh looks well. Our tests this morning have confirmed her diagnosis and the urgent need for treatment. As we suspected, her heart condition has resulted in injury to her lungs, however the studies today indicate that she has presented to us in time to reverse this process.”
Fatemah is in need of a crucial life-saving heart surgery to fix a number of structural abnormalities and two holes in her heart.General: HealthPeople: Donald Trump
One-quarter of American teens who have experienced e-cigarettes have also tried a potentially dangerous vaping method called “dripping,” a new substance abuse behavior study revealed.
The potentially dangerous vaping method of dripping involves dropping liquid nicotine directly onto the e-cigarette’s hot coils to produce thicker and more flavorful smoke.
Dripping is drastically different from normal vaping that slowly releases the liquid. Dripping may expose users to higher levels of nicotine as well as to harmful non-nicotine toxins, like acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, which are carcinogens.
Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a Yale professor of psychiatry who led the study, said, “When people smoke cigarettes, they say they smoke it for, for lack of a better word, a tingling in the back of the throat … The teen brain has been shown especially sensitive to nicotine.”
Sixty-four per cent of the surveyed high school teens revealed that used dripping to get thicker smoke, 39 per cent said they did so for getting better flavor and 28 per cent said they did that for the stronger throat hit or sensation.
The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition (Feb. 6th) of the journal Pediatrics.General: HealthResearch
South Korean authorities have confirmed that a cow bred at a farm in North Chungcheong Province has been tested positive for foot-&-mouth disease (FMD).
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, the confirmed case of FMD was detected at a dairy farm in Boeun county, around 170 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
Taking a precautionary step to prevent the disease from spreading further, authorities ordered culling of all the 195 cows that were raised at the farm.
It is not the first time that the agriculture ministry of South Korea has confirmed an outbreak of FMD. Previously, a case was discovered at a hog farm in the south part of the Chungcheong Province in March 2016.
The outbreak comes as South Korea, the fourth largest economy in Asia, has been grappling with a countrywide spread of virulent bird flu virus that was first detected in November 2016, prompting authorities to cull more than 33 million farm birds.
Authorities will soon hold a meeting to discuss further measures to contain the spread of the disease, including an absolute ban on movements by livestock as well as people who spent time at farms in North Chungcheong.General: HealthRegion: South Korea
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