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
Free housecleaning for women undergoing cancer treatment
I write a lot of posts complaining about the high cost of health care, and cancer care specifically.
Related post: The high costs of cancer drugs
So it’s a nice change to be able to give a shout out to a non-profit group that seeks to take some of the burden off women with cancer.
Finances aside, cancer treatment can be a huge drain on an individual’s or family’s time and energy. Keeping up with house cleaning chores is often the first thing to go, and few families can afford house cleaning … 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
An email from a friend this weekend made it clear that many people don’t understand how the much-lauded Obamacare subsidies work.
That’s understandable, if they are not directly affected. However, it seems even those who qualify for and receive subsidies don’t necessarily understand how they work.
The devil is in the details, as they say, and Obamacare is nothing if not full of fine print and unintended consequences.
Unfortunately, not knowing the details of how the subsidies work will result in nasty financial surprises for some families, especially when tax time rolls around next year.
… 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
The power of positive thinking
I’ve been meaning for some time to write a post about the placebo effect.
A placebo (from the Latin “I shall please”) is a fake treatment—such as a sugar pill—that is intended to deceive the patient. If that patient improves, or at least thinks so, that is known as the placebo effect.
Before a new drug can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the drug maker must have studies to prove that it is more effective than a placebo. If neither the patients nor the researchers know who is getting the … 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
Lots of data, but not user friendly
Have you ever wondered if your physician receives a substantial amount of money from a pharmaceutical or medical device company?
Is your physician’s decision to write you a prescription for the newest brand-name drug, or replace your knee with a state-of-the-art joint, based on corporate influences? Conflicts of interest run rampant in health care, and it would be nice to know, wouldn’t it?
Earlier this fall, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a new website called Open Payments. It’s part of the Sunshine Act, which in turn … Continue reading
How many are helped; how many are hurt
My son sent me a great link to an article in Wired magazine about a physician and his colleagues who have started a website called TheNNT.com.
What is the NNT? It stands for “the number needed to treat” and it’s a pretty common measurement talked about in health care. Simply put, it quantifies how many people need to be treated for one person to be helped.
The best therapies have a low NNT:
If your kid is throwing up and you take her to the hospital, she might get a drug
… Continue reading