Category Archives: Pharmaceuticals

Anatomy of an Epidemic | Mad In America

This looks like a good read…

Anatomy of an Epidemic | Mad In America.

ODI: Health insurance premiums to increase 41 percent | wkyc.com

Then again, maybe not.

ODI: Health insurance premiums to increase 41 percent | wkyc.com.

13,000 People Helped Out of the Doughnut Hole by Sen. Whitehouse

RI Seniors:  Help!  We’ve fallen into the Doughnut Hole and We Can’t Get Out!  Please, Senator Whitehouse, come to our aid!

Senator Whitehouse responds below.

Over 13,000 Rhode Islanders Benefitted from Medicare “Doughnut Hole” Fix in 2012

New Interactive Map Highlights Savings for Each Zip Code in State

Cranston, RI – During a visit with Cranston seniors today to commemorate the three-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts discussed how the health care law is saving money for Medicare recipients in Rhode Island. According to new data, 13,834 Rhode Island seniors saved over $8 million dollars through prescription drug discounts in 2012.

Interactive Map: Click here to see how much your community saved.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, thousands of Rhode Island seniors fell into the so-called Medicare “doughnut hole” and were forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs. In 2010, Senator Whitehouse successfully fought to eliminate the doughnut hole as part of the Affordable Care Act.

“Over the years, I’ve heard from hundreds of Rhode Island seniors who were hurt by the doughnut hole,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Seniors should never have to choose between putting food on the table and paying for the medication they need to stay healthy. Fixing the doughnut hole was one of my top priorities when I was elected to the Senate, so I’m proud to see the Affordable Care Act saving Rhode Island seniors millions of dollars every year.”

“While much of the country is still trying to figure out the Affordable Care Act, here in Rhode Island we have been fully committed to ensuring that Rhode Island is a national leader in implementing health reform since the law’s passage in 2010,” said Lt. Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts, chair of the RI Healthcare Reform Commission. “And for Rhode Island seniors who are already benefiting from provisions in the law, such as closing the prescription coverage gap or ‘donut hole’, health reform has improved their lives.”

The doughnut hole exposes seniors to the full cost of prescription drugs after they and their plan spend a certain amount of money ($2,970) for covered drugs in a year, but before they hit catastrophic coverage ($4,750).  The Affordable Care Act closes the doughnut hole in phases over a ten-year period.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, in 2011 and 2012 seniors in the doughnut hole received a 50% discount from the drug manufacturers on all brand name drugs. Starting this year, the federal government will subsidize an additional 2.5% of brand-name drug costs for seniors in the doughnut hole. These subsidies will increase each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.

In 2012, Rhode Island seniors in the doughnut hole saved $579 each on average.

Diet, Pharmaceuticals and Diabetes

Kmareka is proud to cross-post with Elizabeth Carrollton, from Drugwatch.com. Ninjanurse spends her working days nagging people to take their meds, and needs to add the caveat that general advice and debate on the internet is no substitute for medical care for your own individual situation. So talk to your doctor and don’t even think about ignoring diabetes if you like doing stuff like seeing and walking and staying alive.

A Balanced Diet and Healthy Lifestyle for Type 2 Diabetes

The course of action a physician takes to manage diabetes is directly related to the severity of the patient’s diabetes. In some instances, diabetes health can be controlled through diet, exercise and other similar healthy lifestyle modifications. Although prescription drugs may be needed in addition to eating a balanced diet, only a physician can make this call.

Diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are much higher than the normal range, which on a glucometer is around 90. Once a diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes has been established, it is imperative for a physician or registered dietician to create a course of action based on the patient’s weight and lifestyle.

Diabetes medications are also taken into consideration at this time. Patients need to be aware of the severe side effects of certain medications like Actos, which increases the risk of bladder cancer. Additionally, other diseases and health issues are part of the diagnosis and treatment process.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s MedlinePlus, the main factor in eating for diabetes health is to limit sugar intake. The National Institutes of Health also declares that eating smaller portions more frequently is essential in regulating glucose levels. In other words, rather than eating three larger meals per day, a person with diabetes should aim to eat smaller meals about five times a day.

Besides sugar being an issue, carbohydrates are also a variety of food that should be limited, due to their effect on glucose levels. This is because carbohydrates like white bread and crackers generally cause sugar levels in the body to increase.

Besides restricting sugar and carbs, a person with diabetes should incorporate foods into his or her diet that are part of a well-balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables, for example, are a vital component of a healthy diet, since they contain the necessary nutrients for cells and organs to function properly. Not to mention, the vitamins and minerals in veggies and fruits help support a healthy immune system.

Plus, the fiber within fruits and vegetables plays a positive role on cholesterol levels and on heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) note that fiber is important to heart health, which is oftentimes comprised by diabetes and certain diabetes medications, such as Actos.

Living a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise affects heart health, diabetes health and overall health. Being overweight, especially being in the category of obese, contributes to cardiovascular problems, such as congestive heart failure, which are made worse by taking certain diabetes drugs like Actos. Moreover, being overweight can lead to type II diabetes. It may worsen the severity of the diabetes if a person gains weight after he or she received a diagnosis of diabetes. When a person is considered to be in the stage of prediabetes, gaining weight can force that person into having full-blown diabetes.

Therefore, living an active lifestyle can help one maintain a healthy weight that can help manage diabetes, prevent complications of diabetes and prevent cardiovascular disease. It reduces stress and according to the National Institutes of Health, exercise contributes to a lower blood sugar and prevents future weight gain.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.

The Controversial Placebo Effect of Antidepressants

The article linked below captures many facets of the complicated beast known as psychiatry under the influence of corporate pressure from Big Pharma.  In particular what struck me were the descriptions of how colleagues of Irving Kirsch, whose research exposes that antidepressants on the whole are no more effective than placebo, have been ostracized and dressed down for supporting him.

I could go on for days with shop talk about how as a therapist I approach my clients and their use of pharmaceuticals for mood stabilization.  My overall philosophy is to tread cautiously in those waters, and to support patient education and self-leadership.  I help clients do what they want to do after they have educated themselves as best they can about all of the relevant issues.

Anyway, for those who can stand to have the curtain pulled aside and to look directly at this beast of an issue:  Why Antidepressants Are No Better Than Placebos.

Children born in December 48% More Likely to be Medicated for ADHD

I worry about the overdiagnosis of ADHD, particularly for children (mainly boys) who are younger than most of their peers in the classroom.  This video helps me realize I am worrying for a good reason.  The video cites a study showing that children born in December (the youngest in their class) were 48% more likely to be put on medication for ADHD.

Let’s All Go Back to Using Baby Shampoo and Lotion

The Environment Minister of Denmark has created legislation to ban certain chemicals which are believed to cause disruption to the endocrine system. A small blurb here — there will likely be more news about this once it hits the mainstream publications. It sounds like a good idea for anyone concerned about endocrine disruptors to try out using baby shampoo and lotion from Denmark, if they are able to make them propyl and butyl paraben-free — it may be a good way to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.

Mood Swings

The psychologist Abraham Maslow once wrote, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” This metaphor aptly describes the mindset that has plagued the field of psychiatry over the past couple of decades, particularly when it comes to treating children with severe forms of emotional and behavioral disturbance. The consequence of this one-tool-fits-all mentality has been an epidemic of Bipolar Disorder diagnoses and off-label prescribing of powerful anti-psychotic medications, which has often done more harm than good. Disturbingly, these trends persist—although there are signs that the pendulum may finally be swinging the other way, as reported by the New York Times:

A Child’s Ordeal Shows Risks Of Psychosis Drugs for Young

OPELOUSAS, La. — At 18 months, Kyle Warren started taking a daily antipsychotic drug on the orders of a pediatrician trying to quell the boy’s severe temper tantrums.

Thus began a troubled toddler’s journey from one doctor to another, from one diagnosis to another, involving even more drugs. Autism, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, insomnia, oppositional defiant disorder. The boy’s daily pill regimen multiplied: the antipsychotic Risperdal, the antidepressant Prozac, two sleeping medicines and one for attention-deficit disorder. All by the time he was 3.

He was sedated, drooling and overweight from the side effects of the antipsychotic medicine. Although his mother, Brandy Warren, had been at her “wit’s end” when she resorted to the drug treatment, she began to worry about Kyle’s altered personality. “All I had was a medicated little boy,” Ms. Warren said. “I didn’t have my son. It’s like, you’d look into his eyes and you would just see just blankness.”

Today, 6-year-old Kyle is in his fourth week of first grade, scoring high marks on his first tests. He is rambunctious and much thinner. Weaned off the drugs through a program affiliated with Tulane University that is aimed at helping low-income families whose children have mental health problems, Kyle now laughs easily and teases his family.

Ms. Warren and Kyle’s new doctors point to his remarkable progress — and a more common diagnosis for children of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder — as proof that he should have never been prescribed such powerful drugs in the first place.

Kyle now takes one drug, Vyvanse, for his attention deficit. His mother shared his medical records to help document a public glimpse into a trend that some psychiatric experts say they are finding increasingly worrisome: ready prescription-writing by doctors of more potent drugs to treat extremely young children, even infants, whose conditions rarely require such measures.

More than 500,000 children and adolescents in America are now taking antipsychotic drugs, according to a September 2009 report by the Food and Drug Administration. Their use is growing not only among older teenagers, when schizophrenia is believed to emerge, but also among tens of thousands of preschoolers.

A Columbia University study recently found a doubling of the rate of prescribing antipsychotic drugs for privately insured 2- to 5-year-olds from 2000 to 2007. Only 40 percent of them had received a proper mental health assessment, violating practice standards from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“There are too many children getting on too many of these drugs too soon,” Dr. Mark Olfson, professor of clinical psychiatry and lead researcher in the government-financed study, said. [full article]

Taken in Context

Is this a case of Puritanical bureaucrats putting their blue-stockinged heel on the throat (a lovely swan-like throat, let’s say) of sexual happiness? From NYT…

Drug for Sexual Desire Disorder Opposed by Panel

A federal advisory panel on Friday unanimously voted against recommending approving a drug to treat female sexual desire disorder, but it encouraged the company to continue its research.

A close reading shows that the drug is a dud without much effect, certainly not enough to justify the health risks. It is intended for pre-menopausal women only, and doesn’t really do much. It works on the brain chemistry, so the possible unwanted effects could be just about anything. You might find yourself collecting cats. Or blogging.

Maybe desire is like happiness. When you pursue it, it is always out of reach. But happiness comes unexpected when you are in the right place. Maybe desire is like a cat, who never comes when she’s called but is unexpectedly underfoot, rubbing against your leg, tripping you up.

Bonnie Rait sang, ‘You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t’.

There’s so many mood-altering drugs being pushed on us, to make us better cogs in the machine. A drug to enhance desire would be a good thing, life being short and all. But maybe a better remedy is a three-day weekend.

Do You Need That Purple Pill?

Just a quick one before work, so you’ll have to follow the link and check this out for yourself. I see a lot of patients on a med called ‘proton-pump inhibitor’ that is used for heartburn. I suspect that it is often prescribed for a symptom or problem, and then never discontinued.

Shockingly, there are potential side-effects when you take a drug to stop your stomach from making acid. Who would have thought?

I’m going to have ‘Risk vs Benefit’ tattooed on my bicep. I spend a lot of time telling people to take their pills because it’s really risky not to, but there’s times I wonder if a particular pill is benefiting anyone but the drug company. I can only say, ‘ask your doctor.’ I get information on a ‘need to know’ basis and it’s between the doctor and patient to identify any drugs that can be stopped without risk of harm.

But since you won’t hear it on TV, next time you’re in the office, ask your doctor if there’s any drugs you can stop, or change to PRN, that is, ‘as needed.’

THE DOCTOR ANSWERS: I sent a link to this post to my doctor and got a nice reply–

I very much agree with you on this. people are started prophylactically to prevent stress ulcers. no one does due diligence to take them off when they leave.

He’s referring to the fact that people are prescribed stomach meds when in the hospital, it goes on their discharge med list, and no one ever questions. I’ve asked lots of patients why they take these meds, have they had ulcers or do they have indigestion. A lot of the time they say no, and don’t even know what the pills are for. They’re pretty low in side-effects, but why take something you don’t need?

It’s always good to bring your med list and your med bottles to the doctor when you go for an appointment. Bring the OTC’s, herbs and vitamins too. If you think you would like to take fewer pills, ask if there are any that you can stop or just take when you need them. You’ll come out with more knowledge of the risks and benefits of your meds, and maybe fewer of them.

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