Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 6:02 pm
The way that prescription drugs are advertised on TV could be better, especially when it comes to communicating the risks and side effects of medicines. Now the Food and Drug Administration is calling for research into how the ads could be improved.
The problem, as Michael Wolf, a health services researcher and cognitive scientist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine describes it, is that most ads work like this:
With a bit more than a month left for people to sign up for health insurance plans set up under the Affordable Care Act, the federal website known as HealthCare.gov finally seems to be working smoothly — in 36 states.
But what's happening in the 14 states that are running their own exchanges?
Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 2:42 pm
This year's flu season is hitting younger and middle-aged adults unusually hard, federal health officials say.
More than 60 percent of flu patients who ended up in the hospital this year have been between the ages of 18 and 64. The proportion of young people among the hospitalized is much higher than usual, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only about 35 percent of flu patients who were hospitalized in the previous three years fell into that age group, the CDC says.
The weekly flu report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found flu cases trending downward nationwide for the week ending February 8. Connecticut, however, remained among six states continuing to report high numbers of cases of the flu. Over 2,600 flu cases have been reported this season.
Drug companies like operating in the shadows, but a recent move by Johnson and Johnson may change all that. In collaboration with Yale University's Open Data Access Project (YODA), the pharmaceutical giant will now share its clinical trial data with researchers.
As flu-watchers like to say, you can always count on influenza virus to surprise.
The latest revelation is that scientists have apparently been wrong about where new flu viruses come from. The dogma is that they always incubate in wild migratory birds, then get into domestic poultry, and then jump into mammals — especially pigs and humans.
Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 11:40 am
We usually think of the flu as an illness that afflicts the elderly. But this season the virus seems to be hitting younger people hard.
This winter at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., the median age of people hospitalized with influenza was 28.5 years. Many of the worst cases of flu occurred in young, otherwise healthy people.
The actresses Teri Garr and Annette Funicello, the television hosts Montel Williams and Neil Cavuto, the writer Joan Didion, Ann Romney, the wife of the presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the comedian Richard Pryor. These are some of the people that you quote-unquote know that have, or in Pryor's case had, Multiple Sclerosis.
Over the last six years, heroin use nationwide has nearly doubled. In Connecticut, attention has focused on the city of Torrington, where there are reports of multiple fatalities last year from heroin overdoses.
The goal of the Affordable Care Act was to insure more people at a lower cost. Affordability is still a moving target. At least in Connecticut, the enrollment numbers are looking good. State officials announced that they have beaten their goal of enrolling 100,000 people in the Affordable Care Act by March 31 by more than 20 percent.
It hasn't been easy for Barbara Amaya to talk about her past. She was abused at home as a child, and when she was 12 she ran away to Washington, D.C. — where she was picked up by sex traffickers and forced into prostitution.
"I fell into the hands of a woman. I was sitting in the park and she just started talking to me," Barbara tells her daughter, Bianca Belteton, on a visit to StoryCorps in Arlington, Va.
Heroin use is on the rise in Connecticut and nationwide. According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin arrests and seizures in the northeast outpace the rest of the country, two to one.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 4:19 pm
Food industry, beware of the power of the online petition.
Just a few days after food blogger Vani Hari, known as Food Babe, created a buzz with an online petition raising questions about the safety of a food additive commonly used in commercial baking, sandwich giant Subway has announced plans to phase it out of its fresh-baked breads.
The additive, azodicarbonamide, is used by the commercial baking industry to bleach flour and condition dough.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 2:26 pm
The teenage years are a tumultuous time, with about 11 percent developing depression by age 18. Lack of sleep may increase teenagers' risk of depression, two studies say.
Teenagers who don't get enough sleep are four times as likely to develop major depressive disorder as their peers who sleep more, according to researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. They tracked the habits of more than 4,000 adolescents over a year.
To some it’s "smack"; to others, it’s "tar." But the majority of us know it as heroin, the dangerously addictive opioid drug that has claimed countless lives across the nation.
Less than a week ago, 46-year-old actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a heroin overdose in his Manhattan apartment. Sadly, he’s just one of many creative minds lost to addiction. Singer-songwriter Janis Joplin was 27 when an overdose took her life. Frankie Lymon was 25.
But heroin isn’t just a celebrity drug. Its use spans the country -- particularly in northeast states, like Connecticut, where it has become a growing problem among teens and adults.
Researchers used medical record data for more than 61,000 patients from 2005 to 2011. They studied more than 20 common problems patients typically encounter after admission to a hospital -- things like drug reactions, bed sores, and infection.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:04 am
Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you're not alone.
The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn't a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they're not a true representation of the past.
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 11:43 am
Saying it is "the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," the CEO of CVS Caremark announced Wednesday that the company's 7,600 pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products by Oct. 1.
Larry Merlo also said CVS will try to help those who want to quit smoking with a "robust national smoking cessation program" at its locations.
At Able Care Pharmacy and Medical Supplies in Enfield, Ashraf Moustafa often tries to avert disasters involving drugs displayed on his store’s shelves.
Moustafa, the pharmacy manager, recently spoke to an elderly woman seeking ways to treat dark blue patches on her arms. Instead of suggesting any remedies, he asked the woman what medicines she was taking, and discovered that she was dangerously mixing over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs with aspirin and the prescription blood thinner Plavix. He sent the woman to the hospital, fearing that she was suffering from internal bleeding.
“People have the impression that if a drug is approved for over-the-counter use, then it must be much safer than prescription medicine,” Moustafa says. “That’s when trouble happens.”
Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 2:12 pm
If you are buying health coverage in the Colorado ski resort towns, the Connecticut suburbs of New York City or a bunch of otherwise low-cost rural regions of Georgia, Mississippi and Nevada, you have the misfortune of living in the most expensive insurance marketplaces under the new health law.
Sure, you think, my kid's on a football team. That takes care of his exercise needs, right? Probably not.
"There are these bursts of activity," says Jim Sallis, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "But if you think about it, one hour of playing football out on the field means that the vast majority of that time is spent standing around waiting for the next play."