Misfit Photographer

Government Just Sends Letters To Providers Accused Of HIPAA Violations, Doesn’t Tell Public

The federal government is not as rich and all-powerful as we sometimes think: while the Office for Civil Rights of the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has the responsibility of dealing with possible violations of patients’ privacy by medical care providers, it doesn’t have tee budget to post the warning letters that it sends after a single breach online. Is that useful information that the government should know about? Experts say that it is. [More]

Cancer Centers Tripled Ad Spending In Last Decade; Are They Pushing Hope Or Hype?

Cancer Centers Tripled Ad Spending In Last Decade; Are They Pushing Hope Or Hype?

If you watch cable TV — especially basic cable during the daytime — you’ve likely seen your share of heartwarming ads showing off cancer survivors who were saved from the brink by the handsome physicians and nurses at [Fill In The Blank] cancer treatment center. Over the last decade, direct-to-consumer marketing by cancer centers has soared, with much of that spending concentrated in the hands of about two dozen operators. However, some doctors are concerned that these ads aren’t selling patients on the reality, but on the experiences of a few rare cases. [More]

MeneerDijk

Superbug Gene Found For Second Time In U.S.

Weeks after federal researchers confirmed the first discovery in the U.S. of a particular gene plasmid that can make bacteria resistant to an important antibiotic of last resort, a new report has turned up a second stateside instance of the gene. [More]

David Blackwell

One Free Meal From A Pharma Sales Rep May Be Enough To Change Doctors’ Prescribing Habits

Your physician may have any number of degrees, honors, certifications, and other framed pieces of paper mounted to their office walls, but does any of that make them less susceptible to a glad-handing pharmaceutical sales rep who comes armed with some reading materials, free samples, and a lunch charged to their expense account? [More]

Natasha L.

Inspector General: FDA Still Takes Too Long To Recall Tainted Food Products

Five years ago, the Food Safety Modernization Act granted the Food and Drug Administration the statutory authority to compel food producers to recall tainted products. However, a new report from a federal investigator shows that people are falling ill while the FDA sometimes takes months to issue recalls, even after it has evidence of contamination. [More]

How Well Do You Know The Real Names Of The Drugs You Take?

Steven Depolo

Ads for prescription and over-the-counter drugs are everywhere, so much so that we’ve become accustomed to hearing and seeing the brand name of a medication immediately followed by a parenthetical containing the generic name [ex: Valtrex (valacyclovir)], but how well have we been paying attention to these ads? Are we now so savvy that we immediately know that Chantix is the trade name for varenicline, or have we become so inured to these ads that we aren’t paying any attention? [More]

Ben Schumin

FDA Issues Warning That Misuse, Abuse Of Imodium Can Cause Heart Issues

Following reports that some opioid addicts are taking potentially lethal doses of over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about the dangers of abuse and misuse of these seemingly innocuous products. [More]

‘Biggest Loser’ Doctor Sues Former Contestant, New York Post Over Scandalous Story

‘Biggest Loser’ Doctor Sues Former Contestant, New York Post Over Scandalous Story

About two weeks ago, several former contestants on NBC weight-loss competition The Biggest Loser spoke to the NY Post, publicly accusing trainers, show staff, and the show’s resident physician, Dr. Robert Huizenga of a variety of questionable behaviors. Now “Dr. H” is firing back with a lawsuit against both the Post and one of the former “losers.” [More]

In Wake Of Superbug Scare, Lawmakers Renew Push For New Antibiotics

In Wake Of Superbug Scare, Lawmakers Renew Push For New Antibiotics

Last week, military scientists confirmed the discovery of a patient in Pennsylvania infected with a bacteria that was not only resistant to many traditional antibiotics, but also contained a gene (MCR-1) making it resistant to colistin, an antibiotic of last resort used when all others are ineffective. In response, Senators are making a renewed push on bipartisan legislation intended to speed up the approval of new antibiotics. [More]

Nonprofit Hospitals Suing Poor Patients Without Telling Them They Qualify For Reduced Or Free Care

Nonprofit Hospitals Suing Poor Patients Without Telling Them They Qualify For Reduced Or Free Care

Given that nonprofit hospitals are tax-exempt, the general view is that their primary focus should be on providing care for those who need it rather than making using the court system to make those patients pay up. Almost all of these hospitals have programs to reduce bills for people living below or near the poverty line, but some are suing poor patients without ever telling them about these options. [More]

frankieleon

Drug Companies Subpoenaed Over Questionable Charity Connections

Whenever there is a report of a drug company jacking up the price of a prescription medication, the pharma industry is often quick to point out that there are non-profit charities ready and willing to help patients get these drugs at a more affordable rate. However, those charities may have very close ties to the drug maker that could not only help the company turn a profit, but avoid some tax obligations. In recent months, several large pharmaceutical companies have been subpoenaed as part of an ongoing federal investigation into these connections. [More]

CDC Director: Drug-Resistant Superbug Means “Medicine Cabinet Is Empty”

frankieleon

You know that scene in action movies where the hero has fired every bullet, thrown every piece of throwable furniture, set off every explosive, but still the bad guy lurches forward? At that point, there’s nothing left for the hero to do but run and pray. After the recent discovery in the U.S. of a bacteria that is resistant to a vital last-resort antibiotic, some scientists believe we’re inching dangerously close to that run-and-pray moment in the world of medicine. [More]

In Denial About America’s Opioid Painkiller Problem? This Map Might Change Your Mind

In Denial About America’s Opioid Painkiller Problem? This Map Might Change Your Mind

If you think the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being alarmist by urging primary care physicians to stop prescribing so many opioid painkillers, or that the fact that 10% of doctors are writing more than 50% of the prescriptions for opioids is not a concrete indicator of a problem, then perhaps this map of overdose deaths in the U.S. will help to drive the point home. [More]

Audrey Brevet

Government Warns Eye Doctors: Provide Prescriptions After Eye Exams Or Else

It’s really easy to find eyeglass stores that also offer eye exams. You get your eyes checked, pick out the frames, and get the final product all from the same place, so you might not notice that you didn’t get a copy of your prescription after the exam. That’s against the law, and one federal agency is reminding eye doctors of the costly penalty for failing to provide prescriptions. [More]

Ben Schumin

Some Opioid Addicts Are Risking Their Lives By Taking Large Amounts Of Imodium

The use of opioid painkillers can result in constipation, so the last drug you might expect to see an opioid addict consume is the over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication Imodium. What you might not know is that loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium and its store-brand knock-offs, is itself an opioid — one that must be taken in very high, potentially lethal, doses to achieve any noticeable effects, but one to which a growing number of addicts are turning. [More]

Michael G. Chan

Health Insurers Looking To Pay Less When Drugs Don’t Work As Advertised

If a drug maker says their new prescription medication will reduce cholesterol by a certain percentage, or that it will counter symptoms of some chronic illness, but it doesn’t quite live up to its marketing, should the insurance companies still pay the price they originally agreed to? A growing number of insurers are making deals that tie the price of a drug to its real-world performance. [More]

FBI Investigating Virus That Took Major Hospital Chain Offline

FBI Investigating Virus That Took Major Hospital Chain Offline

Earlier today, healthcare provider MedStar Health, which operates nearly a dozen hospitals in the D.C. area and some 100 clinics, took its network offline after detecting the presence of a computer virus. Now the FBI is investigating. [More]

CharlesWilliams

New Warning Labels Coming To Opioid Painkillers

A week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called on physicians to stop prescribing opioid painkillers when less-problematic therapeutic treatments will do the trick, another federal agency is joining in the effort to alert consumers to the potential risks of using these frequently prescribed medications. [More]