Not as effective, but still helpful
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a health advisory. It appears this year’s flu vaccine is not a great genetic match for the majority of flu cases seen thus far. This is called a virus “drift.”
That’s too bad, but because the flu vaccine is made before the flu season starts, it’s always a bit of an educated guess. Some years are a better match than others.
Related post: Get your seasonal flu shot
The media has been reporting that the vaccine is less effective this year, and perhaps you … Continue reading
Lack of support for vitamin D
I’ve written several posts on vitamin D. That’s because it’s one of my pet peeves.
Because there was a lot of hype surrounding it several years ago when it became the latest health care fad. Suddenly a low vitamin D level was suspected of contributing to many types of cancer and chronic diseases. Physicians began testing everyone’s vitamin D levels and recommending vitamin D supplements, either over-the-counter or a stronger prescription form.
Further research on vitamin D, however, has not provided evidence that general screening for low vitamin D levels is helpful, … Continue reading
A worrisome trend for generics
A year ago I posted about my surprise when my husband’s prescription for levothyroxine, a generic drug, suddenly increased in price by 200%.
After a little investigative work, I discovered the reason for the sudden price hike was a shortage of the drug, which I was told would resolve within a few months.
Actually, the shortage was resolved as promised. The price, however, has remained stubbornly high. In fact, it is about 700% more expensive now than it was 18 months ago ($40 for 30 days rather than $5 for 30 days).
Levothyroxine is … Continue reading
New treatments for hepatitis C
I read an article online the other day in which the author practically shouted at her readers to “Run as fast as you can to your doctor’s office and get screened for hepatitis C!”
OK, what she actually wrote was:
Overall, the outlook for patients with hepatitis C is much better than it was just a couple of years ago. So if you’re a baby boomer who hasn’t been screened for hepatitis C yet, don’t wait.
Still, let’s step back and look at the big picture.
Hepatitis C screening has been in the news a … Continue reading
I was troubled but not surprised to read the other day that the anti-psychotic medication, Abilify, is now so popular that it is the best-selling drug in the US.
Two years ago, Abilify was only the 5th best-selling drug, with its competitor, Seroquel, coming in 6th.
At that time, a psychiatrist warned in the New York Times:
The original target population for these drugs, patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, is actually quite small: The lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia is 1 percent, and that of bipolar disorder is around 1.5 percent. Drug companies have had a
… Continue reading
Another industry starts unbundling its fees
If you’ve bought an airline ticket in the last couple of years, you’ve no doubt noticed the airline industry’s wildly successful profit-generating trick of à la carte pricing, or unbundling. On top of the base ticket price are charges for things that used to be inclusive: baggage, leg room, meals, movies, etc. Some budget airlines are even considering pay toilets on board. Oh, joy.
The health care industry is following the airlines’ lead as insurance companies continue to negotiate lower and lower reimbursement rates. Hospitals and other providers are finding new ways to break … Continue reading
This is an addendum to yesterday’s post about Ebola. I wish I had seen this first, because really he says it all. In only 3 minutes. FN
Two months ago I posted that I was not concerned about an outbreak of Ebola in an American city. By “outbreak” I mean a rapid spread of the virus resulting in many people becoming ill and dying, as is happening in West Africa.
I stand by that belief.
However, listening to and reading the non-stop media coverage of Ebola in the US, I can understand why so many are verging on panic. Mainstream media is designed to “sell” news rather than inform the public, and fear is a powerful motivator when it comes to selling something. I’m … Continue reading
Exploring the “unreasonable, unsustainable” and “immoral” costs of treatment
If you or a friend or a family member have been impacted by the outrageous price of cancer drugs ($100,000 or more/year), take 15 minutes to watch this segment from a recent episode of the news magazine “60 Minutes.”
Heck, watch it even if you don’t have cancer because everyone is affected by the skyrocketing costs of all drugs, not just those that treat cancer. Health care prices go up, health insurance premiums, deductibles and copays increase, and taxpayers pay out more for Medicare and Medicaid.
Related post: The cost … Continue reading
Two things in the media caught my attention last week.
First was a pretty funny bit of pseudo-investigative journalism on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Titled “The Pharmaceutical Drug Epidemic”, it showed correspondent Michael Che probing for answers to this country’s very real (and unfunny) epidemic of prescription narcotic (oxycontin, percocet, vicodin) abuse and overdose deaths.
Yes, he puts a humorous spin on the story, but in true Daily Show style he also hits a few … Continue reading