Members of Congress Put Costly Drugs in Their Crosshairs

November 7th, 2015 by admin
  • by Shannon Firth

WASHINGTON — Prescription drug prices are getting more attention on Capitol Hill, with two senators from opposite sides of the aisle announcing plans to investigate while House Democrats declared they were forming a task force on the issue as well.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this week announced a bipartisan probe into drug costs, according to a press release from McCaskill’s office. The senators are requesting drug pricing information from four companies whose products’ prices have recently spiked: Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Turing Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin, and Rodelis Therapeutics.

“We need to get to the bottom of why we’re seeing huge spikes in drug prices that seemingly have no relationship to research and development costs,” McCaskill said, in the statement.

According to the release, the investigation will look into:

  • “Substantial price increases on recently acquired off-patent drugs”
  • “Mergers and acquisitions within the pharmaceutical industry that have led to dramatic increases in off-patent drug prices”
  • “The FDA’s role in the drug approval process for generic drugs, the agency’s distribution protocols, and, if necessary, its off-label regulatory regime”

The Senate Special Committee on Aging has scheduled an initial hearing on this issue for Dec. 9.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) announced the formation of the “Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force.”

House representatives said they hope to advance legislation that would enable Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to negotiate Medicare prices and to force drug companies to be transparent about the cost of making their products.

Doggett cited the now infamous example of Turing Pharmaceutical’s Daraprim (pyrimethamine), a drug for treating infections common in patients with cancer and AIDS. After the company acquired the drug 3 months ago, the price went from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. On Tuesday, the company said it would lower the price by the end of the year, but did not say by how much.

“But exorbitant drug prices are not about one wrongdoing, or one drug, or one class of drugs; they are a systemic problem that involve a wide range of manufacturers,” said Doggett while standing at a podium flanked by posters of Turing’s CEO Martin Shkrelivilified by the media for his tone-deaf comment that his actions would benefit society — and Michael Pearson, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

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Kidney Stone Patient Guide

September 8th, 2015 by admin

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Kidney Stones

Painful Mineral Deposits in Urinary Tract

Kidney stones are formed from a combination of minerals and waste materials. The stones may not cause symptoms until they move from the kidneys through the ureters and into the bladder.

Even small kidney stones can cause intense pain until they pass out of the body. Larger stones may lodge in the urinary tract, leading to infection.

Most kidney stones pass on their own over several days, but some are too large and must be broken up with sound waves or be surgically removed. Patients who have kidney stones are at higher risk for future stone formation. Dietary changes and medications can help lower this risk.

Cause Intense Pain Over Several Days Until Passed Out of the Body

Kidney stones are a common urinary tract disorder, accounting for many emergency room visits in the United States each year.

Risk Factors

Kidney stones are almost twice as common in men as in women. Age is also important; the risk for men increases after age 40 years, while women are more affected during their 50s. Even children can develop kidney stones; teenage girls have the highest risk.

At any age, a diet high in salt, sugar, and protein increases the risk. Drinking an insufficient amount of water may also contribute to stone formation. Overweight or obese people are at higher risk, as are those with a family or personal history of kidney stones. Certain drugs, as well as diseases of the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract disorders, hyperparathyroidism, and gout, all increase the risk for kidney stone formation.

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Dosage forms: introduction to pharmaceuticals

December 21st, 2013 by admin

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This article is a sufficient beginning to know everything about pharmaceuticals. If you are just starting to know about this amazing field, this is a good guide for you.

Drug is the substance used to cure, treat, restore the health state, or optimize a malfunction. Fundamentally, this substance is brought from plants or animals. Rarely, the drug is administered in its primary or crude form. In other words, the drug can be natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic. The drug’s crude form passes by different processes to give rise to what is called dosage forms.

During manufacturing, the crude drug is called a pharmaceutical preparation. Dosage form is the crude drug in its final form after adding particular characteristics to it. The drug manufacture includes addition of additives; pharmaceutical ingredients.

The additives are mainly non-medicinal substances used for many purposes. They are added to enhance the drug form, quality, and efficacy.

They are used:

As solubilizing agents

For dissolving the drug in a solvent as in the formation of solutions

For dilution

To decrease or optimize concentration

As suspending agents

To suspend solid particles in a solution and form a suspension

As emulsifying agents

To dissolve water in oil or oil in water and produce an emulsion

As thickeners

To harden/thicken creams and ointments

As stabilizers

To maintain the stability of a pharmaceutical preparation

As preservatives

To protect the pharmaceutical preparations from contamination by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi

As coloring agents

To give the drug a perfect appearance and attractiveness.

As flavoring agents

To hide a bad taste like the bitter taste. Moreover, flavoring agents are used to add a reasonably good taste to the drug and increase its palatability.

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Children and sports: Choices for all ages

August 21st, 2013 by admin

by Mayo Clinic Staff

Children’s sports promote fitness, but not all children thrive in formal leagues. Help your child find the right sport and venue — school, recreation center or backyard.

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Want to give your child a head start on lifelong fitness? Consider children’s sports and other kid-friendly physical activities.

With your encouragement and support, chances are a few sports will spark your child’s interest. Fan the flame by taking your child to local sporting events and sharing your own sports interests with your child.

Consider age-appropriate activities

Your child is likely to show natural preferences for certain sports or activities. Start there, being careful to keep your child’s age, maturity and abilities in mind.

Ages 2 to 5


Toddlers and preschoolers are beginning to master many basic movements, but they’re too young for most organized sports. Keep in mind that toddlers who participate in organized sports also typically don’t gain any long-term advantage in terms of future sports performance.

At this age, unstructured free play is usually best. Try:

  • Running
  • Tumbling
  • Throwing
  • Catching
  • Swimming
Ages 6 to 9
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Psoriasis and Look-alikes—A Photo Essay

June 19th, 2013 by admin

Click on this picture for a slide show of photos and descriptions of psoriasis and look-alikes

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Understanding Melanoma In Situ (Stage 0)

June 7th, 2012 by admin

Learn about the symptoms, treatment, and prognosis for melanoma in situ, the earliest stage of melanoma.

.By Diana Rodriguez

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With regular and thorough examinations of your skin, you can increase your changes of catching any abnormalities very early — which is good news in terms of treatment and prognosis if that abnormality turns out to be a malignant melanoma. In fact, experts now recommend that men and women of all ages check their skin frequently to increase their odds of spotting potential malignant mole at the earliest possible point: stage 0, or melanoma in situ.

What Is Melanoma In Situ?
Melanoma in situ comes from the Latin phrase “in situ,” which means “in place.” Melanoma in situ is cancer in the very early stages, when it affects only the top layer of the skin. At this point, the cancer has not spread deeper into the body. Cancer diagnosed at this early stage also means that it is less likely to recur or spread to other parts of the body than melanomas that are diagnosed at a later stage.

The very first symptoms of melanoma are any abnormalities in one or more moles on the skin. Abnormalities include moles with anyAsymmetry, uneven Borders, different Colors, large Diameter, orEvolution (any change). That’s why learning the ABCDEs of melanoma and checking yourself regularly are so important. If you see anything different about any of your moles, it could be a sign of melanoma in situ. The best course is to report any changes that you see to your doctor and schedule an exam to rule out melanoma, or to catch and treat it early.

How Is Melanoma In Situ Treated?
The treatment for melanoma in situ is usually fairly simple. In a doctor’s office, an outpatient procedure can be performed in which the melanoma is cut out of the skin, a process that medical personnel call resecting or excising.

“The treatment option for early stage melanoma is a wide excision procedure,” says Bruce A. Brod, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “The key prognostic feature in melanoma is the thickness [in millimeters] of the melanoma, which is based on the initial biopsy of the lesion.”

How much skin needs to be cut out depends, then, on the biopsy results. “The consensus for treatment of melanoma in situ is to remove a half-centimeter diameter around the lesion or the initial biopsy site,” Dr. Brod says. “The consensus for treating melanomas less than 2 millimeters in thickness is to remove a 1-centimeter diameter, if possible, around the lesion.”

If the melanoma is larger in size, more skin may need to be removed, and a biopsy performed. “In melanomas greater than 2 millimeters [in thickness], the consensus is to excise a 2-centimeter diameter area around the lesion,” he says. “Since melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes in close proximity to the initial melanoma, a biopsy of lymph nodes is sometimes performed for melanoma close to or greater than 1 millimeter in thickness at the time of the wide excision procedure.”

Following Up on Melanoma in Situ
The good news? People who are diagnosed with melanoma in situ and receive early treatment have a great survival rate — 100 percent at 5 and 10 years. And everyone with melanoma in situ, including those diagnosed at an early stage, should check in with their doctors frequently to be certain that the cancer has not returned. Patients should have a complete physical and skin exam every six months for a year or two after their initial diagnosis, and typically once each year for several years after that.

“When melanoma is found early, it is easily cured with simple outpatient surgery,” says Catherine Poole, president and co-founder of the Melanoma International Foundation. “When found in later stages, it may become life-threatening, and there are few effective therapies to treat metastasized melanoma.”

Some good advice for healthy, cancer-free skin: Protect your skin at all times. “The most effective sun protection is to wear protective clothing, a broad-rimmed hat, seek shade, avoid being in the sun during the prime-time solar hours of 10 to 4, and use sunscreen as an adjunct to these behaviors,” says Poole.

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Note *

A couple of weeks ago an ugly mole was removed from my stomach. After the biopsy results came back Doctor Rowe said that it was confirmed to be ‘Melanoma In Situ.’
Got it early enough that it shouldn’t be serious. I Praise God and thank the Veterans Administration!

Going back for one more minor surgery as a precautionary move. — Bob Diamond

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Worried about those pills you found in your teenager’s room? What are they?

January 17th, 2012 by admin

What kind of pills are these?

Worried about those capsules you found in your teenager’s room? Not sure about some of those leftover pills still in the bathroom cabinet? There’s a good chance that our Pill Identification Wizard (Pill Finder) can help you match size, shape, colour… then lead you to find the detailed description in our drugs database.

NOTE: As a general rule, we should all periodically check our medicine cabinets for any expired, re-bottled, or unidentified pills. The safest bet is to keep all medications in their original bottles or packets, with pertinent labeling and instructions attached, to avoid confusion and mistakes.

Most pills can usually be identified by color, size, shape and a combination of letters and numbers.

Click here for a Pill Identification Wizard

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Listeria death toll now at 23, making outbreak deadliest in 25 years

October 13th, 2011 by admin

By Ryan Jaslow

cantaloupe, listeria
(Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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(CBS/AP) The Listeria outbreak from cantaloupes is now the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in the U.S. in more than 25 years.

Pictures: 10 dangerous but common food safety mistakes

The CDC announced Wednesday that 23 people have died from listeriosis, while another 116 have been sickened. Not since 1985, when Listeria from Mexican-style soft cheeses killed 52 people, has a foodborne illness outbreak been this deadly in America. The current death toll also surpassed a 1998 Listeria outbreak linked to processed meats that killed 21 people.

Officials say the tainted cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo., should be off store shelves by now, as they were recalled mid-September and their shelf life is about two weeks. But the number of deaths may continue to grow. Symptoms of listeriosis can take up to two months to appear.

The CDC on Wednesday confirmed two more deaths in Louisiana. Other deaths have been reported in Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.

Listeria illnesses have been reported in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

FDA investigators said that Colorado health officials found Listeria in cantaloupes taken from grocery stores and from a victim’s home that were grown at Jensen Farms. Matching disease strains were found on equipment and cantaloupe samples at Jensen Farms’ packing facility in Granada, Colo. FDA officials have said they were looking at the farm’s water supply and possible animal intrusions among other things to figure out the source of the problem. Listeria grows in moist and muddy conditions, and the bacteria are often are carried by animals.

Jensen shipped the cantaloupes to about half the states, but added that it wasn’t sure where the cantaloupes went because they have been sold and resold. Some companies may be unaware that they bought or distributed the tainted fruit.

Listeria is more deadly than other well-known pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli. While most healthy adults can consume Listeria with no ill effects, it can kill the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and unborn children of pregnant women. The CDC said the median age of those sickened is 78, and most people who are ill are over 60. The CDC said it is also aware of one miscarriage linked to the outbreak.

Colorado has the most illnesses with 34, while Texas has reported 17.

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The Mayo Clinic Diet: A weight-loss program for life

August 3rd, 2011 by admin

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a different approach to weight loss. It’s a lifestyle that can help you maintain a healthy weight for a lifetime.

By Mayo Clinic staff

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If you’re overweight, you’ve probably tried many diet and weight-loss plans, yet the weight keeps coming back. You might have even tried what you thought was a Mayo Clinic diet — but it was probably bogus.

If the diets you’ve tried haven’t worked, don’t be surprised or call it quits. Most people who diet find that weight loss is a never-ending roller coaster ride. You may lose some weight at first, but then the weight loss stops or you regain the weight.

The problem may be that you just haven’t found the right approach yet. The Mayo Clinic Diet — the real one, that is — can help. The Mayo Clinic Diet isn’t like most diets. The Mayo Clinic Diet is a lifestyle approach that can improve your health and help you maintain a healthy weight for a lifetime.

The Mayo Clinic Diet: A new approach to healthy weight

The Mayo Clinic Diet is a program that helps you make simple, healthy, pleasurable changes in your lifestyle that result in a weight you can maintain for the rest of your life. Why the emphasis on lifestyle? It turns out that a healthy lifestyle is also a great way to lose weight and keep it off. You get better health and better weight. Not a bad deal.

Perhaps best of all, this program is enjoyable. Eating is one of the great joys in life. What you eat on this diet has to taste good, or you won’t do it. The Mayo Clinic Diet emphasizes foods that not only are healthy but also taste great.

The Mayo Clinic Diet: How does it work?

The Mayo Clinic Diet involves changing habits. With the Mayo Clinic Diet, you work to reshape your lifestyle by breaking unhealthy old habits that sabotage your weight and adopting healthy new habits that will lead you down a path toward better health.

The Mayo Clinic Diet has two phases:

  • Lose It! This two-week phase is designed to help you begin seeing results right away, with weight loss of 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.5 kilograms, or kg). Unlike fad diets that promise rapid weight loss, the Mayo Clinic Diet approach is safe and healthy while building momentum and enthusiasm. It’s based on changing habits for a lifetime so that the weight you lose doesn’t come back, as it probably has in the past on fad diets.
  • Live It! This second phase builds on Lose It! and is designed to help you continue to lose weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kg) a week until you reach your weight goal. This phase also helps you maintain your weight goal permanently by continuing and tweaking lifelong healthy habits.

Within each phase, the diet helps you uncover your inner motivation — what really matters to you — that will help keep you on track in your effort to lose weight.

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Seven signs and symptoms not to ignore

July 21st, 2011 by admin

Take note of important signs and symptoms — from unexplained weight loss to sudden flashes of light — and know when to seek medical care.

by Mayo Clinic staff
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Chest pain, sudden loss of vision or speech, and severe abdominal pain require immediate medical attention — but what about more subtle red flags? It can be tough to know what to do. Here’s a list of seven signs and symptoms that merit attention.

No. 1: Unexplained weight loss

Losing weight without trying might sound like a dream come true, but in reality it can signal a health problem. If you’ve lost up to 10 percent of your weight during the past six months — for instance, 15 pounds (7 kilograms) if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kilograms) — consult your doctor.

An unexplained drop in weight could be caused by various conditions — including overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), diabetes, depression, liver disease, cancer or disorders that interfere with how your body absorbs nutrients (malabsorption disorders).

No. 2: Persistent or high fever

A fever isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. Fever seems to play a key role in fighting infection. If you’ve had a fever for more than three days, however, get checked by your doctor. Persistent fever can signal a hidden infection, which could be anything from a urinary tract infection to tuberculosis. In some cases, cancerous (malignant) conditions — such as lymphomas — cause prolonged or persistent fevers, as can some medications.

If you have a high fever — 103 F (39.4 C) or higher — consult your doctor as soon as possible.

No. 3: Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath that feels more severe than what’s caused by a stuffy nose or vigorous physical activity could signal an underlying health problem. If you’re unable to get your breath, or you’re gasping for air or wheezing, seek emergency medical care. Feeling breathless when lying down also is a symptom that needs to be evaluated promptly.

Causes for breathlessness may include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), as well as other heart and lung problems. Difficulty breathing can also occur with panic attacks — episodes of intense anxiety that can cause rapid heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath and other physical symptoms.

No. 4: Unexplained changes in bowel habits

What’s considered normal for bowel movements varies widely. Consult your doctor if you notice unusual or unexplained changes in what’s normal for you, such as:

  • Bloody, black or tarry-colored stools
  • Persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • Unexplained urges to have a bowel movement

Changes in bowel habits could signal a bacterial infection — such as campylobacter or salmonella — or a viral or parasitic infection. Other possible causes include irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer.

No. 5: Confusion or personality changes

Seek medical attention if you have:

  • Sudden confused thinking
  • Confusion about time or place (disorientation)
  • Sudden problems with concentration or memory
  • Sudden personality or behavior changes, such as becoming aggressive

Changes in behavior or thinking could be caused by many problems, including infection, anemia, low blood sugar, dehydration or mental health conditions. Sometimes medications contribute to confusion or personality changes.

No. 6: Feeling full after eating very little

If you consistently feel full sooner than normal or after eating less than usual, get checked by your doctor. This feeling, known as early satiety, also may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, bloating, fever, and weight loss or gain. If so, be sure to tell your doctor about these signs and symptoms as well.

Possible causes of early satiety include gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD, and irritable bowel syndrome. In some cases, a more serious problem — such as pancreatic cancer — could be a factor.

No. 7: Flashes of light

Bright spots or flashes of light and other visual disturbances sometimes indicate a migraine. In other cases, sudden flashing lights could signal retinal detachment. Immediate medical care can help prevent permanent vision loss.

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