Category Archives: Drugs & Medicines

Error: You have no payments from Pharma

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Data GlobeDoctors checking a soon-to-be-unveiled federal website that will publicly list drug company payments are encountering error messages if they have not accepted industry money.

by Charles Ornstein
ProPublica

The federal government has a word for physicians who don’t have financial relationships with pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers: “Error.”

This week, the government began allowing doctors to log into a secure website to check the payments attributed to them by drug and device makers.

Doctors who were expecting the site to clearly confirm that they don’t have relationships with pharmaceutical companies have met with a surprise.

This information will be made public later this year under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

In advance, if doctors believe the material about them is wrong, they can contest it.

But early reports suggest the new site has some glitches. Doctors say it is taking them as long as an hour, sometimes longer, to verify their identities and log in. (Because the information is not yet public, doctors have to go through several steps to prove they are who they say they are.)

Once they get that far, doctors who were expecting the site to clearly reflect that they don’t have relationships with pharmaceutical companies have met with a surprise.

“You have the following errors on the page,” the Open Payments website tells them. “There are no results that match the specified search criteria.” Continue reading

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How to protect your children from cancer – CDC

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Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood

Tips from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Photo of two parents and three children sitting outside

You can reduce your children’s risk of getting cancer later in life.

Start by helping them adopt a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits and plenty of exercise to keep a healthy weight.

Then follow the tips below to help prevent specific kinds of cancer. Continue reading

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Measles cases up sharply

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Washington has had more measles cases so far this year than in the past five years combined. State health officials are sounding the alarm to remind people that vaccination is the best protection against the spread of this serious disease.

Alert IconFrom the Washington State Department of Health

So far in 2014 there have been 27 measles cases in Washington, up from the five reported in 2013.

The most recent cases reported in the past month have been in King County (11 confirmed cases) and Pierce County (two confirmed cases).

This is the third measles outbreak in our state this year and the number of cases so far is the highest reported in any year since 1996. Continue reading

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Some plans skew drug benefits to drive away patients, advocates warn

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The insurers say they’re in compliance with the law.

Four Florida insurers allegedly discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS by structuring their prescription drug benefits so that patients are discouraged from enrolling, according to a recent complaint filed with federal officials. Continue reading

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Painkiller prescribing varies widely state-by-state

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 VitalSigns

Icon: Mortor and pestleEach day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers in the US.

Icon: Pill bottleHealth care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.

Icon: U.S. map10 of highest prescribing states for painkillers are in the South.

 

Health care providers in some states prescribed far more painkillers than those in other states in 2012.

 

  • Southern states had the most prescriptions per person for painkillers, especially Alabama, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
  • The Northeast, especially Maine and New Hampshire, had the most prescriptions per person for long-acting and high-dose painkillers.
  • Nearly 22 times as many prescriptions were written for oxymorphone (a specific type of painkiller) in Tennessee as were written in Minnesota.

What might be causing this?

  • Health care providers in different parts of the country don’t agree on when to use prescription painkillers and how much to prescribe.
  • Some of the increased demand for prescription painkillers is from people who use them nonmedically (using drugs without a prescription or just for the high they cause), sell them, or get them from multiple prescribers at the same time.
  • Many states report problems with for-profit, high-volume pain clinics (so-called “pill mills”) that prescribe large quantities of painkillers to people who don’t need them medically.

Some states have more painkiller prescriptions per person than others.

Some states have more painkiller prescriptions per person than others.

SOURCE: IMS, National Prescription Audit (NPATM), 2012.

To learn more go here.

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Do teething babies need medicine on their gums? No

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Baby drinks from bottleConsumer Update from the US Food and Drug Administration

There are more theories about teething and “treating” a baby’s sore gums than there are teeth in a child’s mouth.

One thing doctors and other health care professionals agree on is that teething is a normal part of childhood that can be treated without prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Too often well-meaning parents, grandparents and caregivers want to soothe a teething baby by rubbing numbing medications on the tot’s gums, using potentially harmful drugs instead of safer, non-toxic alternatives.

That’s why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents that prescription drugs such as viscous lidocaine are not safe for treating teething in infants or young children, and that they have hurt some children who used those products. Continue reading

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Measles outbreak in south King, Pierce Counties

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Alert IconLocal public health officials are investigating eight confirmed cases of measles among members of the same extended family in south King County, and a single suspected case in Pierce County.

These cases are linked to another case who returned to the United States from the Pacific Islands on May 26th with measles.

Given the unfolding investigation and uncertainty about places where the people with measles may have visited, anyone residing in south King County or Pierce County should:

  • Be aware that measles cases are occurring in the community,
  • Be up to date on measles vaccine,
  • And follow the recommendations below if they develop symptoms of measles.

Known public exposures occurred at several MultiCare healthcare facilities where the infected individuals were treated, including a hospital in Tacoma.

Details about these exposures will be updated regularly at the MultiCare website.

These medical facilities are directly contacting persons who were present – clients, visitors, and staff – during the times of potential exposure.  Continue reading

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Acne products can cause severe allergic reactions, FDA warns

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Alert IconFrom the US Food and Drug Administration

FDA is warning that certain over-the-counter acne products can cause rare but serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions or severe irritation.

Consumers should stop using their topical acne product and seek emergency medical attention immediately if they experience hypersensitivity reactions such as throat tightness; difficulty breathing; feeling faint; or swelling of the eyes, face, lips, or tongue, the FDA warns.

Consumers should also stop using the product if they develop hives or itching. The hypersensitivity reactions may occur within minutes to a day or longer after product use.

These serious hypersensitivity reactions differ from the local skin irritation that may occur at the product application site, such as redness, burning, dryness, itching, peeling, or slight swelling, that are already included in the Drug Facts labels.

The hypersensitivity reactions may occur within minutes to a day or longer after product use. The OTC topical acne products of concern are marketed under various brand names such as Proactiv, Neutrogena, MaxClarity, Oxy, Ambi, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, and as store brands.

They are available as gels, lotions, face washes, solutions, cleansing pads, toners, face scrubs, and other products. Continue reading

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Employer health costs forecast to accelerate in 2015

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$100-dollar bill inside a capsuleBy Jay Hancock
KHN

Health costs will accelerate next year, but changes in how people buy care will help keep them from attaining the speed of several years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers says in a new report.

The prediction, based on interviews and modeling, splits the difference between hopes that costs will stay tame and fears that they’re off to the races after having been slow since the 2008 financial crisis.

“This is not an immediate return to double-digit growth rates,” says Ben Isgur, a director in PwC’s Health Research Institute. However, he adds, “what we’re seeing for 2015 will be our first uptick in some time.” Continue reading

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Shortage of saline solution has hospitals on edge

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Saline bag 300

Photo: Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED

This story is part of a partnership that includes KQEDNPR and Kaiser Health News.

Reid Kennedy, materials manager at San Francisco General Hospital, stands next to racks of saline solution. (Photo by Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Hospitals across the country are struggling to deal with a shortage of one of their essential medical supplies. Manufacturers are rationing saline — a product used all over the hospital to clean wounds, mix medications and treat dehydration. Now drug companies say they won’t be able to catch up with demand until next year. Continue reading

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Ohio Amish reconsider vaccines amid measles outbreak

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Photo: Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN

 This story is part of a partnership that includes WCPNNPR and Kaiser Health News. 

The Amish countryside in central Ohio looks like it has for a hundred years. There are picturesque pastures with cows and sheep, and big red barns dot the landscape.

But something changed here when, on an April afternoon, an Amish woman walked to a communal call box.

She called the Knox County Health Department and told a county worker that she and a family next door had the measles. Continue reading

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“My Medicines” … This brochure can be a lifesaver

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Three red and white capsules

A Consumer Update from the US Food and Drug Administration

Can carrying around a brochure help save your life?Yes, if it’s the “My Medicines” brochure offered by FDA’s Office of Women’s Health (OWH). It’s designed to help consumers track the medications they use.

My Medicines features a chart that allows you to list information about your prescription medicines, including the names of the medicines, how much you take, when you take them, what condition they are treating, and the number of refills. Continue reading

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Insurers push back against growing cost of cancer treatments

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 This KHN story also ran in .

Some cancer patients and their insurers are seeing their bills for chemotherapy jump sharply, reflecting increased drug prices and hospitals’ push to buy oncologists’ practices and then bill at higher rates.

Patients say, “‘I’ve been treated with Herceptin for breast cancer for several years and it was always $5,000 for the drug and suddenly it’s $16,000 — and I was in the same room with the same doctor same nurse and the same length of time’,” said Dr. Donald Fischer, chief medical officer for Highmark, the largest health plan in Pennsylvania. Continue reading

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