Members of Congress Put Costly Drugs in Their Crosshairs

  • 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

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.

Allergy Season: Experts Predict Severe Allergy Symptoms, But A Shorter Season

By

There was no short supply of sniffles, sneezing, or stranger side-eye on the subway this winter (sorry about that) — and allergy season may be a similar scene. Experts predict the 2015 season will be more severe than years past.

Dr. John Basso, chief of allergy and immunology at Nyack Hospital in New York, told USA Today “the prolonged moisture in some regions this winter may have laid the groundwork for a bad season.” Basso explained a warm, dry spring following a wet winter is a recipe for high pollen counts. But if we were to have a wet spring, pollen might not be such a problem.

Pollen levels over the past few years have been unusually elevated, the overall season starting earlier and lasting longer. This year, Dr. Tanya Laidlaw, director of Translational Research in Allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told Tech Times the classic oak, birch, and maple trees will be late to pollinate — so there’s a chance seasonal allergies will be cut short by at least a few days.

Still, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for experts to predict what exactly is in store for allergy sufferers. Global warming is considered to be partly responsible for the unpredictable shift, the increased carbon dioxide and climate change stimulating pollen growth. This then makes pollen more prevalent and potent.

This is why experts have started recommending sufferers take any medication and otherwise precaution before the onset of spring allergies. Basically, experts find sufferers are better off when they plan a preemptive strike against miserable symptoms.

“It’s a really good idea to start early, because if you have your armamentarium on board protecting you, the medication will be a lot more effective and you’ll feel better,” Dr. Laura Mechanic, chief of allergy at White Plains Hospital, told USA Today. “A lot of people who wait end up suffering longer and on even more medication for a longer period of time.”

If your allergies aren’t bad enough to warrant a prescription, there are other ways to reduce symptoms. Eating healthy foods can reduce symptoms; cleaning air conditioning and furnace filters every three months can minimize pollen and mold in the air; and wearing sunglasses when outside keeps irritants away, reducing itchiness and redness.

Bonus: Several apps are available for smartphones now to help sufferers better manage and even predict the severity of their symptoms. For example, ZYRTEC® AllergyCast delivers a GPS-based allergy forecast for today and tomorrow, as well as the day’s top allergens based on a person’s location. Check out four other options here.

Article reprinted from Medical Daily

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How to take a child’s temperature

Several methods for taking a child’s temperature quickly, accurately, and safely are available.

Devices used to measure body temperature in children include the digital thermometer (for rectal, oral, or underarm readings), the digital ear thermometer (tympanic membrane thermometer), the digital pacifier thermometer, and the forehead (temporal artery) thermometer.

Mercury thermometers are no longer considered safe because the glass can break and release the liquid mercury, which is highly toxic. Digital thermometers, which are safe and measure body temperature in seconds, should be used instead of mercury thermometers.
Never Leave a Child Alone While Taking Temperature

Taking a child’s temperature with a digital device is easy and quick, but the patient should never be left alone while the thermometer is in place. When a child has a fever, healthcare professionals recommend recording the time and temperature readings, along with any medication given to lower the fever. The following are descriptions of the different methods used to measure body temperature in children.

Click here > to learn more about Rectal, Oral, Axillary, Ear and Forehead Methods and here > to download the Pediatric Thermometry.pdf

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Fixing Healthcare Can Be As Close As Your Neighborhood Pharmacy

by John Nosta

The clinical emergency is medicine itself

Demand for primary care services is projected to increase through 2020, due to the increasing aging and population as well as the expanded insurance coverage implemented under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In other words, the demand for primary care physicians will grow more rapidly than the supply, resulting in a projected shortage of over 20,00 full-time physicians.

The value of your neighborhood pharmacy

Nearly 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug and over 50% of Americans are on at least two prescription drugs. Given the shaky assumption that these folks are actually taking their medicines, it’s fair to say that beyond the physician, the pharmacist plays a key role in the health dynamic. Currently pharmacists can provide many services to their patients–from information to specific medicines.  In fact, the pharmacy is often a first source of medical information for many.  Pharmacy services have evolved from strictly dispensing medications to offering services such as medication therapy management, medication education, improving medication adherence, administering immunizations, and health/wellness. In addition, pharmacists can now be found in specialty areas such as oncology, organ transplant and even psychiatry. RxWiki–an on-line patient information service–now extends the pharmacy experience into the digital landscape, offering patients on demand access to medication information, pharmacy transactions, and medication adherence. RxNetwork is another emerging company with a unique methodology to link the pharmacy and patient–providing real-time support from compliance to education.  RxNetwork’s patient relationship management solution bridges the pharmacy-patient communication gap and provides an efficient, non-disruptive solution for the pharmacies with a convenient, rewarding, motivating solution to their connected patients.

Click here to read the rest of this article by John Nosta in Forbes Magazine