Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Fake drug sales are increasing on the Internet and turning up in legitimate supply chains

Counterfeit drugs

Counterfeit Drugs

 

From the 22 February 2012 Eureka News Alert

Major review contains wealth of international facts and figures

Criminal gangs are increasingly using the internet to market life-threatening counterfeit medicines and some have even turned up in legitimate outlets such as pharmacies, according to a review led by Dr Graham Jackson, editor of IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice, and published in the March edition.

Latest estimates suggest that global sales of counterfeit medicines are worth more than $75 billion, having doubled in just five years between 2005 and 2010. Numerous studies have also reported large numbers of websites supplying prescription only drugs without a prescription and people buying internet drugs despite being aware of the dangers.

“Counterfeit medicines pose an every-increasing threat to public health, including death and inadequate healthcare as a result of self medication” says Dr Jackson. “Particularly worrying examples include counterfeit cancer and heart drugs and fake vaccines sold during the bird and swine flu scares.

“The majority of medicines people buy from unverified internet sites are counterfeit and often lack the active ingredients they claim. Others have variable concentrations of active ingredients or even contain dangerous toxins, such as arsenic, boric acid, leaded road paint, floor and shoe polish, talcum powder, chalk and brick dust and nickel.

Counterfeit medicines are a major concern to the authorities and significant European Union legislation is being developed, including stronger penalties. As outgoing European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry Gunter Verheugen said in 2010: “Every faked drug is a potential massacre. Even when a medicine only contains an ineffective substance, this can lead to people dying because they think they are fighting their illness with a real drug.”

Facts and figures highlighted in Dr Jackson’s review include:…..

 

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Saving patients from Internet health information

Quite a few of my blog postings encourage folks to be well informed in making health care decisions.
However, I do agree with the author of this post – use your information to consult with a health care provider.  (I believe even e-patient Dave believes in discussing what he has researched with his physicians) These professionals at the very least are to be viewed as consultants. Please meet with them when considering taking strong actions, as discontinuing a medication based on what you read on the Internet (even trusted resources I quote !)

From the 2 February 2012 article by Stewart Segal, MD at KevinMD.com 

Lately, I get the feeling that I’m doing something wrong.  I’m supposed to form a partnership with my patients.  My patients are supposed to be the working partner and I’m supposed to be the consulting partner.

My job as the consulting partner is to offer sagely medical advice to the boss (working partner).  As a consultant, I’m supposed to help in the making of key decisions, find the appropriate tools to help make the boss healthy and happy, and instruct the boss in how to implement those tools should he decide to follow my advice.

As the boss and working partner, my patient is supposed to weigh his options, institute those procedures and treatments as prescribed and to keep me updated on how he is doing.  His job should also entail reviewing key health decisions with me prior to making changes in his overall healthcare.

Lately, my patients have been making unilateral decisions.  In other words, they have not been consulting with me, their doc, prior to changing or stopping their medications or other treatments.  While it is well within their rights to institute or stop any medical intervention on their own, it is often wiser to utilize the services of a trained consultant/doc……

             Excerpt

HIMSS, and in many cases traditional health IT along with it, is experiencing something of a whirlwind. One force adding wind has been the fact that President Obama has funded EHR systems with meaningful use, and made it clear that the future of healthcare funding will take place at Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) that are paid to keep people healthy rather than to cover procedures when they are sick. It is hard to understate the importance of this. Meaningful Use and ACOs will do more to computerize medicine in five years than the previous 50 years without these incentive changes.

But in the same breath, we must admit that the healthcare system as a whole is strained and unable to meet the needs of millions of its patients. The new force in healthcare is peer to peer medicine. There are really only a few things that doctors provide to patients. They either provide treatment, or they provide facts, or perhaps, they provide context for those facts. More and more, patients are seeking facts and context for that information, from the Internet generally and other patients specifically. This can be dangerous, but when done correctly it can be revolutionary .

It’s not rocket science really; our culture has changed. Baby boomers still wonder if it is OK to discuss sexual issues in polite company. Their kids blog about their vasectomies. It’s not just that we blog about vasectomies. We read blogs about vasectomies and consider it normal….

For whatever reason, the epatient community centers around Twitter. More than likely this is because of the fundamentally open nature of this network. Although it is possible to “protect” tweets, most account holders tend to tweet to the whole world. If you are interested in a particular health-related issue, you can use Twitter to find the group of people who are discussing that issue. Twitter is a natural way for people who are connected by a common thought or issue to organize. Facebook, on the other hand, is about connecting with people you already know. The famous quote applies: “Facebook is about people you used to know; Twitter is about people you’d like to know better.” You could change that quote to read “Twitter is about people you’d like to know who have had vasectomies.”..

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hep C Now Trumps HIV as Cause of Death in US

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More U.S. residents are now dying of hepatitis C complications than HIV-related illnesses, according to data summarized in the February 21 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. Fortunately, an accompanying editorial notes, the future looks particularly bright for people living with hepatitis C, on account of the anticipated arrival of new treatments that are expected to substantially improve disease-free survival rates.

The report, authored by Kathleen Ly, MPH, and her colleagues of the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, is based on data involving 21.8 million deaths reported to the National Center for Health Statistics between 1999 and 2007. Data included in the CDC analysis are similar to those presented in November at the 62nd annual meeting of the American Association for the Studies of Liver Diseases (AASLD) in San Francisco.

The only cases included in the analysis involved reports that specified HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C virus (HCV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection as possible contributors to the deaths. As viral hepatitis infection status may not have been known at the time of death in several cases, the reported data may not be completely accurate, Ly and her follow authors warn.

Encouragingly, death rates associated with chronic HBV infection—a major cause of liver failure and liver cancer—remained relatively flat between 1999 and 2007. In 2007, for example, 1,815 U.S. residents died of HBV-related complications, which translated into less than one chronic hepatitis B-attributable death per 100,000 people in this country.

The discovery that HCV infection is now responsible for more deaths than HIV infection is due, in large part, to the continued decline of AIDS-related deaths over the decade. Whereas HIV contributed to six per 100,000 deaths in 1999, the rate dropped to less than four per 100,000 deaths in 2007.

Conversely, hepatitis C–related deaths have increased sharply. Whereas HCV contributed to roughly three per 100,000 deaths in 1999, the HCV-related death rate exceeded four per 100,000 people in the United States by 2007.

With respect to crude numbers, roughly 12,700 HIV-related deaths were reported to the National Center for Health Statistics in 2007. More than 15,000 HCV-related deaths were reported to the center that year.

Most viral hepatitis deaths occurred in people in the prime of their lives. About 59 percent of people who died of complications related to hepatitis B were baby boomers—men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. The impact of chronic hepatitis C was even more substantial: Roughly 73 percent of the deaths related to HCV were in baby boomers.

Not surprisingly, death rates were highest among certain populations. For example, people coinfected with both HBV and HCV faced a 30-fold increase in the risk of death from liver disease or related complications. Alcohol abuse was associated with a four-fold increase in the risk of death. Coinfection with HIV nearly doubled the risk of death from HBV-related complications and quadrupled the risk of death from HCV-associated liver disease.

“By 2007, HCV had superseded HIV as a cause of death in the United States, and deaths from HCV and HBV disproportionately occurred in middle-aged persons,” Ly and her colleagues conclude. “To achieve decreases in mortality similar to those seen with HIV requires new policy initiatives to detect patients with chronic hepatitis and link them to care and treatment.”

  • hep- Your Guide to Hepatitis includes information (transmission, treatment, symptoms, etc) as well as news and community resources (blogs, videos, personals, and an ask-the-expert area)
  • Hepatitis (MedlinePlus) has trusted links on topics as overviews, treatments, specific conditions, news, and journal articles
  • Viral Hepatitis (CDC) has information for both professionals and the rest of us through links as Resource Center, Training Resources, Statistics, For the Public, Populations (as Injection Drug Users), and Specific Settings (as health care settings)

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

The Interrupters – Online Two Hour Video via PBS About Chicago “Violence Interrupters”

The link to the video and additional material may be found here.
The video may be viewed in its original format (with graphic language) or the broadcast version.

From the press release

On Feb. 14, FRONTLINE presents the television premiere of the award-winning documentaryThe Interrupters, the moving story of three dedicated “violence interrupters”—Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra—who, with bravado, humility and even humor, work to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they themselves once employed. Their work and their insights are informed by their own journeys, which, as each of them points out, defy easy characterization.

From acclaimed producer-director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and best-selling author-turned-producer Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here), The Interrupters is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities. The New York Timessays the film “has put a face to a raging epidemic and an unforgivable American tragedy.”

The interrupters work for an innovative organization, CeaseFire, which is the brainchild of epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who for 10 years battled the spread of cholera and AIDS in Africa. Slutkin believes that the spread of violence mimics that of infectious diseases, and so the treatment should be similar: Go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source.

Shot over the course of a year out of Kartemquin Films in Chicago, The Interrupters follows Ameena, Eddie and Cobe as they attempt to intervene in situations before those situations turn violent: two brothers threatening to shoot each other; an angry teenage girl just home from prison; a young man heading down a warpath of revenge. The film captures not only the interrupters’ work, but reveals their own inspired journeys from crime to hope and, ultimately, redemption. As they venture into their communities, they confront the importance of family, the noxious nature of poverty and the place of race. And they do it with incredible candor and directness.

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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