Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Older Americans At Risk From Drugs

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms what most of us have already discovered the hard way ... that older folks take too many dangerous drugs. Older folks take more drugs to begin with and their more frail bodies are less able to handle drug interactions.

How big a problem is it? Experts say that among older men the number could be 10% or one man in every ten. The study says that there could be 2 million people in America taking potentialy harmful mix of medications today.

It's not just medications but combinations of medications with over-the-counter supplements that can be a problem. There are so many prescription drugs on the market and so many supplements that no one really knows all of the possible combinations or how each person will react.

BUYER BEWARE and be careful!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Drug Firm Lawsuit in Texas

Front page of the Dallas Morning News today features an article about the lawsuit the State of Texas just filed against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson. The filing claims they used kickbacks, distributed false marketing materials and deployed phony advocacy groups to get its expensive schizophrenia drug prescribed to low-income Texans.

The lawsuit claims that in the mid-1990's Janssen provided "substantial funding" to Texas officials to influence the adoption and implementation of drug protocols by funneling it through third-party vendors, charitable organizations, advocacy groups and governmental entities. Janssen is said to have used Texas' mental health officials as "pitchmen" to get other states to adopt the drug by providing them with trips, perks, travel expenses, honoraria and other payments.

Texas has spent millions of state Medicaid dollars on the drug. Risperdal appeared on the Texas list of approved drugs for children for eight years before it was approved by the FDA for use in juveniles. Recent studies show that Risperdal fails to perform better than older, generic drugs.

"It's standard practice in the industry to influence a few key decision-makers," according to Allen Jones, a Pennsylvania whistle-blower who brought the case to the attention of Texas authorities. "But this is the most transparent example I have seen."

A Janseen spokesman said none of the allegations has any merit.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happiness Is Contagious

Our emotions are infectious but positive emotions are much stronger than negative ones, that's the conclusion of a recent study that followed 4,700 people for 20 years published recently in BMJ, a British medical journal. One person's happiness can affect another's for up to a year too so it's not simply a fleeting ripple through social circles.

It's interesting that proximity is such a major factor in our responses. For example we need a friend who lives close to us for greater affect. The greater the distance the lower the impact. It's also fascinating that we apparently have social filters because a neighbor we see rarely can have more impact on our emotions that co-workers that we see every day.

So next time you're sad, it may just be the people you're hanging around with! Find happy people and you'll be happy too!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2007 CAM Health Study

The 2007 National Health Interview Survey of 23,000 adults suggests overall use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices has remained relatively steady at about 40% but with significant increases in the use of deep breathing, meditation, massage therapy and yoga.

The latest study is consistent with the 2002 research showing CAM use among adults was greater among women than men (42.8 to 33.5 percent), among older people than younger (30-39 years: 39.6 percent, 40-49 years: 40.1 percent, 50-59 years: 44.1 percent), and among people with higher levels of education (55.4 percent).

It's interesting to note that CAM is now being used by 1 in 9 kids but this can include supplements like echinaccea for colds. It would appear their parents' practices played a big role because kids were 5x more likely to use CAM if a parent or other relative did. The top health issues kids used CAM for were head and neck pain, colds, anxiety, body aches and insomnia.

The study was done by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Saving $700 Million

In these difficult economic times wouldn't you like to save $700 million? That's the figure that experts say we're wasting in health care every year in America. Right now we spend 16.3% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care, more than any other nation on earth, yet we rank #48 for life expectancy and 19 out of 19 industrialized countries in preventable deaths.

Recent news reports make it clear. "We're not getting what we pay for," said Dr. Denis Cortese, president and chief executive of the Mayo Clinic. "It's just that simple."

Experts say as much as half of the $2.3 trillion spent each year on health care is wasted. Since he promised every family savings of $2,500 President-Elect Obama faces steep challenges on health care.

One way to reduce costs is to capitalize on the hundreds of CAM therapies that have been proven safe and effective for hundreds, even thousands, of years. Not every health problem needs prescription drugs and high tech.