Health News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Health News Articles in Media
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is often accused of serving industry at the expense of consumers. This week, [there are reports] of an institutionalized FDA spying program on its own scientists, lawmakers, reporters and academics that included an enemies list of "actors" and collaborators. "Devicegate" dates back at least to January 2009 when scientists ... wrote President Obama that top FDA managers "committed the most outrageous misconduct by ordering, coercing and intimidating FDA physicians and scientists to recommend approval, and then retaliating when the physicians and scientists refused to go along." Unsafe [medical] devices - including those that emit excessive radiation - were approved. For reporting the safety risks, the scientists became targets. Some lost their jobs. The ... reprisals against FDA device reviewers [did not surprise former FDA drug reviewer Ronald Kavanagh]. "After FDA management learned I had gone to Congress about certain issues, I found my office had been entered and my computer physically tampered with," [said Kavanagh]. "Then, after I openly reported irregularities in an antipsychotic drug review and FDA financial collusion with outsiders to ... the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I was threatened with prison. The threats, however, can be much worse than prison. One manager threatened my children - who had just turned 4 and 7 years old - and ... I was afraid that I could be killed for talking to Congress and criminal investigators."
Note: Read more on how the FDA spied on whistle-blowing scientists to suppress safety concerns. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the scientific community.
People who drink diet sodas daily have three times the risk of stroke and dementia compared to people who rarely drink them, researchers reported Thursday. It's yet another piece of evidence that diet drinks are not a healthy alternative to sugary drinks, and suggests that people need to limit both, doctors said. The researchers, led by Matthew Pase ... and colleagues, studied more than 4,000 people for their report, published in the journal Stroke. "We found that those people who were consuming diet soda on a daily basis were three times as likely to develop both stroke and dementia within the next 10 years as compared to those who did not consume diet soda," Pase told NBC News. "Our study provides further evidence to link consumption of artificially sweetened beverages with the risk of stroke," the team wrote. "To our knowledge, our study is the first to report an association between daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drink and an increased risk of both all-cause dementia and dementia because of Alzheimer's disease." The team did not find the same risk for sugar-sweetened beverages. But they found other troubling signs. "Those who more frequently consume sugary beverages such as fruit juices and sodas had greater evidence of accelerated brain aging such as overall smaller brain volumes, they had poorer memory function and they also had smaller hippocampus, which is an area of the brain important for memory consolidation," Pase said.
Note: Previous research has linked diet soda with abdominal fat gain, as well as found a variety of serious health risks to be associated with the popular artificial sweetener aspartame. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests. Artificially sweetened drinks, such as diet sodas, were tied to a higher risk of stroke and dementia in the study, which was published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke. The researchers analyzed how many sugary beverages and artificially sweetened soft drinks each person in the two different age groups drank, at different time points, between 1991 and 2001. Then, they compared that with how many people suffered stroke or dementia over the next 10 years. Compared to never drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, those who drank one a day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood vessels, the researchers found. They also found that those who drank one a day were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Separate previous studies have shown an association between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and adverse health effects, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and possibly even heart failure.
Note: Explore lots more about the risks and dangers of aspartame in this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
A study in the journal Stroke showed a correlation between drinking diet soda and both stroke and dementia: people who drank at least one diet soda a day were three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia as those who avoided the beverages. Previous research had already uncovered a possible link with higher stroke risk. The findings in this study add some support to those results. The link with dementia, however, is new, and at minimum is enough cause for concern that it's worth studying further. Why might diet sodas contribute to these risks? Diet sodas are designed to trick the brain into thinking it’s getting an extra dose of glucose (the brain’s fuel), but eventually the trick is on us because the brain adapts to not receiving the added glucose by overcompensating in other ways (leading to a variety of effects still under investigation). Diet sodas could imbalance the bacterial jungle in our guts - the microbiome - causing unpredictable results. Since there’s a bacterial superhighway from gut to brain, which we know interacts with key neurotransmitters, this theory may eventually tell us more of a much bigger brain story. This study didn’t narrow down the exact types of artificial sweeteners that were consumed, so it’s an open question how one may have affected the brain differently than another. In the meantime, curtailing how much of any artificial sweetener you ingest, along with added sugar, is a reasonable position to take.
Note: Artificial sweeteners have also been connected with blood sugar level spikes, obesity, and diabetes. There is undeniable evidence that aspartame is toxic to the human body. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food industry corruption and health.
Increasing inequality means wealthy Americans can now expect to live up to 15 years longer than their poor counterparts, reports in the British medical journal the Lancet have found. Researchers said these disparities appear to be worsened by the American health system itself, which relies on for-profit insurance companies, and is the most expensive in the world. Their conclusion? Treat healthcare as a human right. The Lancet studies looked at how the American health system affects inequality and structural racism, and how mass incarceration and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, have changed public health. Among the studies’ key findings: the richest 1% live up to 15 years longer than the poorest 1%; the same gap in life expectancy widened in recent decades, making poverty a powerful indicator for death; more than one-third of low-income Americans avoid medical care because of costs; the poorest fifth of Americans pay twice as much for healthcare as a share of income; and life expectancy would have grown 51.1% more from 1983 to 2005 had mass incarceration not accelerated in the mid-1980s. The poorest Americans have suffered in particular, with life expectancies falling in some groups even while medicine has advanced. All of these health outcomes arrive in the context of widening general inequality. The share of total income going to the top 1% of earners has more than doubled since 1970.
Many patients come to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion or diagnosis confirmation before treatment for a complex condition. In a new study, Mayo Clinic reports that as many as 88 percent of those patients go home with a new or refined diagnosis – changing their care plan and potentially their lives. Conversely, only 12 percent receive confirmation that the original diagnosis was complete and correct. When people are sick, they look to their doctor to find solutions. However, physicians don’t always have the answers. Often ... the physician will recommend a second opinion. Other times, the patient will ask for one. This second opinion could lead to quicker access to lifesaving treatment or stopping unnecessary treatments. The [study's research] team compared the referring diagnosis to the final diagnosis to determine the level of consistency between the two. In 21 percent of the cases, the diagnosis was completely changed; and 66 percent of patients received a refined or redefined diagnosis. “Effective ... treatment depends on the right diagnosis,” says Dr. Naessens. “Knowing that more than 1 out of every 5 referral patients may be completely [and] incorrectly diagnosed is troubling ─ not only because of the safety risks for these patients ... but also because of the patients we assume are not being referred at all.” Insurers often limit access to care outside their network, effectively limiting referrals. Further, primary care providers may be more confident in their diagnostic expertise than warranted.
Note: Medical error kills an estimated 251,454 people in the US every year, making it the third leading cause of death in the US. And prescription drugs were reported to have caused 123,000 deaths and 800,000 adverse patient outcomes such as disability in the US in 2014 alone. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Back in 2015, Brazil reported a horrific a surge in birth defects. Thousands of babies were born with ... a condition called microcephaly. Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil's summer months ... health officials expected another surge in microcephaly cases. But that never happened. "We apparently saw a lot of cases Zika virus in 2016. But there was no microcephaly," says Christopher Dye of the World Health Organization. The difference between 2015 and 2016 "is spectacular," he says. Health officials were predicting more than 1,000 cases of microcephaly in the northeast of Brazil last year. But there were fewer than 100, Dye and his colleagues report Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. "This is a huge, huge discrepancy," Dye says. "So what could possibly be the explanation for that?" Scientists aren't sure, Dye says. But he and his colleagues suggest a few possibilities in their study. First off, Dye says, health officials could have vastly overestimated the number of Zika cases in Brazil. Another possible explanation: Zika might not be working alone. Maybe another infection combines with Zika to make the disease worse and increase the risk of birth defects.
Note: The hysteria around Zika was almost certainly manufactured, with complicity of the major media, as clearly evidenced by this article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
President Trump recently selected Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent vaccine skeptic who believes that shots may cause autism, to chair a panel on the safety of vaccines. The appointment has provoked howls of outrage from public health officials. Unfortunately, in their zeal to defend the benefits of vaccines, these advocates have pushed a narrative that vaccines are without risk. Every year, thousands of Americans receive vaccinations and then suffer a host of well-recognized reactions, ranging from chronic pain to paralysis. A 30-year-old federal program - meant to encourage vaccinations - compensates these patients for their medical costs and suffering. Unlucky patients who have terrible reactions to vaccines can seek compensation for their lost wages, medical bills and suffering through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Established in 1986, the vaccine program [grants] vaccine makers and doctors immunity from lawsuits. One of the most common vaccines, the flu shot, can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome. Each year, as many as 6,000 Americans contract the disease, which causes an individual’s immune system to attack its own nerve cells. Persons diagnosed with the syndrome ... may experience permanent nerve damage, respiratory failure, or even death. Instead of seeking compensation from drugmakers, vaccine-injured patients can file a claim with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The program has awarded 5,269 victims more than $3.5 billion to date out of 17, 935 petitions filed.
Note: Robert F. Kennedy is highly respected for his great work as a lawyer defending the environment and much more. Yet now that he is challenging the safety of vaccines, most of the media are making him out to be a kook. If you want to understand why he is a threat to big pharma, which has a lot of control over the media, read Kennedy's excellent article "Deadly Immunity." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine news articles from reliable major media sources.
Vitamin D supplements could spare more than three million people from colds or flu in the UK each year, researchers claim. The sunshine vitamin is vital for healthy bones, but also has a role in the immune system. The analysis, published in the British Medical Journal, argues food should be fortified with the vitamin. The immune system uses vitamin D to make antimicrobial weapons that puncture holes in bacteria and viruses. But as vitamin D is made in the skin while out in the sun, many people have low levels during winter. The researchers pooled data on 11,321 people from 25 separate trials to try to get a definitive answer. The team at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) looked at respiratory tract infections - which covers a wide range of illnesses from a sniffle to flu to pneumonia. Overall, the study said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking vitamin D supplements. That is more effective than flu vaccination, which needs to treat 40 to prevent one case. There were greater benefits for those taking pills daily or weekly - rather than in monthly super-doses - and in people who were deficient in the first place. One of the researchers, Prof Adrian Martineau, said: "Assuming a UK population of 65 million, and that 70% have at least one acute respiratory infection each year, then daily or weekly vitamin D supplements will mean 3.25 million fewer people would get at least one acute respiratory infection a year."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Robert De Niro and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are looking for proof that vaccines are safe. The unlikely duo teamed up to offer $100,000 to anyone who can provide proof. “On one hand, the government is telling pregnant women which mercury-laced fish to avoid so that they don’t harm their fetuses, and on the other, the CDC supports injecting mercury-containing vaccines into pregnant women, infants and children,” Kennedy said at a joint press conference Wednesday. “This defies all logic and common sense.” De Niro, whose son has autism, and Kennedy specifically called out the use of thimerosal, which contains mercury. An FDA study in 1999 found that thimerosal used as a vaccine preservative posed no harm except for hypersensitivity. Despite that, the FDA phased the preservative out of vaccines for children and hasn’t been used since 2001, according to the Center for Disease Control. De Niro and Kennedy apparently don’t find that satisfactory and are offering a large cash reward, through Kennedy’s World Mercury Project, for anyone “who can find a peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrating that thimerosal is safe in the amounts contained in vaccines currently being administered to American children and pregnant women.” Kennedy, the son of the late Robert Kennedy and the nephew of the late John F. Kennedy, has long warned of the dangers of vaccines, [and] said recently that President Trump still wants him to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, which was proposed in early January when he met with the then-President Elect at Trump Tower.
Note: For more, see the World Mercury Project website. The major media consistently slams almost any news questioning the safety of vaccines, despite the fact that the US government's Health Resources & Services Administration website on this webpage states, "Since 1988, over 17,835 petitions have been filed with the VICP [Vaccine Injury Compensation Program]. Over that 27- year time period, 16,113 petitions have been adjudicated, with 5,205 of those determined to be compensable. Total compensation paid over the life of the program is approximately $3.5 billion." Why isn't that $3.5 billion price tag for compensation of vaccine injury being talked about?
Jackson Leyden had always been a healthy kid. But in 2011, a few months after his eighth birthday, he began having seizures several times a day. His parents took him to more than 20 doctors. He tried more than a dozen medications. Nothing worked. Two years ago, the Leydens ... decided to see whether marijuana might help. “Within a few days, he was having hardly any seizures,” says his mother, Lisa. “I was shocked.” Over the next few months, he stopped taking other medications. Not only did the medicine help, it did so without making him high. The strain of marijuana that Jackson takes is unusual: It contains high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, one of the two main molecules in marijuana; the other is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. While THC is famously mind-altering, CBD is not. Over decades, researchers have found that THC may help treat pain, nausea, loss of appetite and other problems, while CBD was thought to be biologically inactive. But in the past 10 years ... dozens of studies have found evidence that the compound can treat epilepsy as well as a range of other illnesses, including anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease and cancer. Now 13, Jackson ... continues to use marijuana every day. He still has seizures, but they are less severe and they occur once every week or two, down from around 200 a month before he started using cannabis. Although it doesn’t make users high, CBD ... is classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug [with] no accepted medical use.
Note: While more people are arrested in the US for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined and the US federal government continues to regard non-psychoactive CBD as a dangerous drug, the UK government recently announced it will regulate CBD as medicine. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
FBI agents arrested former Insys Therapeutics CEO Michael Babich and five other former company executives on Thursday for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe an extremely addictive opioid painkiller to patients who didn’t need it. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that the executives took part in a “nationwide conspiracy” to give healthcare providers kickbacks in exchange for the improper prescribing of Subsys - an opioid medication containing the highly addictive substance fentanyl, which is considered even more dangerous than painkillers like Vicodin. Subsys is meant to provide pain relief to cancer patients who are going through particularly excruciating pain episodes. It’s reserved for these neediest of patients due to its potency and addictive qualities. But federal prosecutors allege that Babich and his co-conspirators doled out kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drug even to non-cancer patients, and even set up a special “reimbursement unit” to sway insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers to provide coverage for these non-authorized uses. The charges range from racketeering to conspiracy to mail and wire fraud. The FBI’s actions come in the wake of a newly invigorated federal effort to tackle the prescription painkiller epidemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 165,000 Americans since 1999.
Note: These charges come on the heels of an ex-DEA official's public accusation that Congress has been helping drug makers avoid responsibility for their role in the US opioid epidemic. How many deaths and ruined lives are being caused by greedy executives and the politicians in their pockets? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, C. J. Hardin wound up hiding from the world. He had tried almost all the accepted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. “Nothing worked for me,” said Mr. Hardin. Then, in 2013, he joined a small drug trial testing whether PTSD could be treated with MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy. “It changed my life,” he said. “It allowed me to see my trauma without fear or hesitation and finally process things and move forward.” Based on promising results like Mr. Hardin’s, the Food and Drug Administration gave permission Tuesday for large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials of the drug - a final step before the possible approval of Ecstasy as a prescription drug. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a small nonprofit created in 1985 ... sponsored six Phase 2 studies treating a total of 130 PTSD patients. Two trials ... focused on treating combat veterans, sexual assault victims, and police and firefighters with PTSD who had not responded to traditional prescription drugs or psychotherapy. Patients had, on average, struggled with symptoms for 17 years. After three doses of MDMA administered under a psychiatrist’s guidance, the patients reported a 56 percent decrease of severity of symptoms on average, one study found. By the end of the study, two-thirds no longer met the criteria for having PTSD. Follow-up examinations found that improvements lasted more than a year after therapy.
Note: Read more about how MDMA has been found effective for treating PTSD in a therapeutic context. This FDA approval to begin Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA suggests that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.
Sugar pills worked as well at preventing kids' migraines as two commonly used headache medicines, but had fewer side effects, in a study that may lead doctors to rethink how they treat a common ailment in children and teens. It's the first rigorous head-to-head test in kids of two generic prescription drugs also used for adults' migraines: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The idea was to see if either drug could reduce by half the number of days kids had migraines over a month's time. Both drugs worked that well - but so did placebo sugar pills. The results "really challenge what is typical practice today by headache specialists," said study author Scott Powers, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "The fact that it shows that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a placebo and have adverse effects makes a very clear statement," said Dr. Leon Epstein, neurology chief at Ann & Robert Lurie H. Children's Hospital of Chicago. The only government-approved migraine medication for kids is topiramate. Side effects from the drugs [included] fatigue, dry mouth and forgetfulness. Kids on topiramate also had tingling sensations in their hands, arms, legs or feet. There was one suicide attempt in the topiramate group, another known side-effect of that drug. The side effects were not unexpected, but given the risks, the results suggest the drugs shouldn't be "first-line prevention treatments" for kids' migraines, Powers said.
Note: This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. For more, see this mercola.com article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
HIV likely landed in the United States a full decade before the first AIDS reports made headlines, according to a report released Wednesday that also strongly dismisses the long-held myth that a single man, a flight attendant notoriously known as “Patient Zero,” was responsible for the domestic epidemic. The report, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, traces the lineage of HIV from Africa to Haiti to New York and, finally, San Francisco. The virus seems to have arrived in New York around 1971, and in San Francisco five years later. By the time doctors were reporting the first AIDS cases in 1981, the virus would have been deeply embedded in cities all over the country. The fact that HIV predated those first AIDS reports - and that the so-called Patient Zero could not have been responsible for the epidemic - has long been known by AIDS researchers. But the new paper ... provides perhaps the most detailed genetic history of the virus’ geographic movement. The new study, when coupled with previous work, gives a fairly clear picture of HIV’s global travel, said co-author Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona at Tucson. He said studies suggest the virus moved from chimpanzees to humans in the early 20th century, but languished in rural villages for decades before passing into Kinshasa, the capital of Congo. From Kinshasa it may have spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and finally moved to the Caribbean, including Haiti, in the mid-1960s.
Note: Watch this astounding 10-minute video where one of the world's leading vaccine experts says that AIDS was imported through "wild viruses" in vaccines. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Using the playbook of Mylan, Turing and, well, their own company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals has hiked the price of yet another life-saving treatment to astronomical values. This time, it’s calcium EDTA, a lead poisoning treatment that cost US hospitals and poison control centers about $500 for a packet of six ampules (6 grams) before 2012, when Valeant acquired the drug. Poison control experts now say that US centers pay about $5000 per gram for the drug, compared to $15 per gram for Canadians. In a 6-year period ... Valeant increased the US price of the drug by as much as 7200%. Two physicians - Michael Kosnett from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Timur Durrani at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - expressed their concerns about these price hikes in a letter to U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. According to Kosnett and Durrani, the average price per milliliter for the drug went from $18.57 in 2008 to $1346.37 in 2014. U.S. hospitals have no other source for calcium EDTA. Most of those who develop acute lead poisoning are children. The effects of lead poisoning are lasting and profound. Calcium EDTA is on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines, which lists medications that are most critical for a healthcare system to have on hand.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
New research shows that human pollution of the atmosphere with acid is now almost back to the level that it was before the pollution started with industrialisation in the 1930s. The results come from studies of the Greenland ice sheet and are published in the scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology. By drilling ice cores down through the kilometre-thick ice sheet, the researchers can analyse every single annual layer, which can tell us about ... pollutants in the atmosphere. Acid in the atmosphere can come from large volcanic eruptions and human-made emissions from industry. For many years, there has been a quest to solve the problem of measuring acidity in the porous annual layers of the ice and now scientists from the Niels Bohr Institute have succeeded [by employing] a Continuous Flow Analyses or CFA method. The CFA system can ... distinguish whether the emissions come from volcanic eruptions, large forest fires or industry. The researchers can therefore filter out both volcanic eruptions and forest fires in the assessment of industrial pollution and the new results are revolutionary. "We can see that the acid pollution in the atmosphere from industry has fallen dramatically since humanmade acid pollution took off in the 1930s and peaked in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1970s, both Europe and the United States adopted the 'The clean air act amendments', which required filters in factories, thus reducing acid emissions," explains [researcher] Helle Astrid Kjćr.
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EpiPen prices aren't the only thing to jump at Mylan. Executive salaries have also seen a stratospheric uptick. Proxy filings show that from 2007 to 2015, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch's total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase. During the same period, the company raised EpiPen prices, with the average wholesale price going from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase. In 2007 the company bought the rights to EpiPen, a device used to provide emergency epinephrine to stop a potentially fatal allergic reaction and began raising its price. In 2008 and 2009, Mylan raised the price by 5 percent. At the end of 2009 it tried out a 19 percent hike. The years 2010-2013 saw a succession of 10 percent price hikes. And from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2016, Mylan steadily raised EpiPen prices 15 percent every other quarter. After Mylan acquired EpiPen the company also amped up its lobbying efforts. In 2008, its reported spending on lobbying went from $270,000 to $1.2 million, according to opensecrets.org. Legislation that enhanced its bottom line followed, with the FDA changing its recommendations in 2010 that two EpiPens be sold in a package instead of one. And in 2013 the government passed a law to give block grants to states that required they be stocked in public schools.
A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015. Out of some 2,750 drugs covered by Medicare’s Part D benefit, two pills for hepatitis C infection - Harvoni and Sovaldi - accounted for nearly $7.5 billion in catastrophic drug costs in 2015. Medicare’s catastrophic coverage was originally designed to protect seniors with multiple chronic conditions from the cumulatively high costs of taking many different pills. Beneficiaries pay 5 percent after they have spent $4,850 of their own money. With some drugs now costing more than $1,000 per pill, that threshold can be crossed quickly. Lawmakers who created Part D in 2003 also hoped added protection would entice insurers to participate in the program. Medicare pays 80 percent of the cost of drugs above a catastrophic threshold that combines spending by the beneficiary and the insurer. That means taxpayers, not insurers, bear the exposure for the most expensive patients. Catastrophic spending accounts for a fast-growing share of Medicare’s drug costs, which totaled nearly $137 billion in 2015. The catastrophic share was 37 percent, yet only about 9 percent of beneficiaries reached the threshold for such costs. Catastrophic coverage will soon cost as much as the entire prescription program did when it launched. Experts say the rapid rise in spending for pricey drugs threatens to make the popular prescription benefit financially unsustainable.
Note: Read an excellent essay by former New England Journal of Medicine editor Dr. Marcia Angell exposing The Truth About the Drug Companies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Something strange is going on in medicine. Major diseases, like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease, are waning in wealthy countries, and improved diagnosis and treatment cannot fully explain it. Scientists marvel at this good news, a medical mystery of the best sort. The leading killers are still the leading killers - cancer, heart disease, stroke - but they are occurring later in life, and people in general are living longer in good health. Colon cancer is the latest conundrum. While the overall cancer death rate has been declining since the early 1990s, the plunge in colon cancer deaths is especially perplexing: The rate has fallen by nearly 50 percent since its peak in the 1980s. [Dr. Steven R. Cummings of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute], intrigued by the waning of disease, has a provocative idea for further investigation. He starts with two observations: Rates of disease after disease are dropping. Even the rate of “all-cause mortality,” which lumps together chronic diseases, is falling. And every one of those diseases at issue is linked to aging. Perhaps, he said, all these degenerative diseases share something in common, something inside aging cells themselves. The cellular process of aging may be changing, in humans’ favor. For too long, he said, researchers have looked under the lamppost at things they can measure. “I want to look inside cells,” Dr. Cummings said. Inside, there could be more clues to this happy mystery.
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