Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] New CDC study finds dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers | Press Release | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

New CDC study finds dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers | Press Release | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC.

Rapid rise highlights need to monitor nicotine exposure through e-cigarette liquid and prevent future poisonings

Infographics: Poison center calls involving e-cigarettes have risen. 

Poison center calls involving e-cigarettes have risen.
Entire infographic Adobe PDF file

The number of calls to poison centers involving e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine rose from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014, according to a CDC study published in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The number of calls per month involving conventional cigarettes did not show a similar increase during the same time period.

More than half (51.1 percent) of the calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes involved young children under age 5, and about 42 percent of the poison calls involved people age 20 and older.

The analysis compared total monthly poison center calls involving e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, and found the proportion of e-cigarette calls jumped from 0.3 percent in September 2010 to 41.7 percent in February 2014.  Poisoning from conventional cigarettes is generally due to young children eating them. Poisoning related to e-cigarettes involves the liquid containing nicotine used in the devices and can occur in three ways: by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the skin or eyes.

“This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes – the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue.  E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.”

E-cigarette calls were more likely than cigarette calls to include a report of an adverse health effect following exposure. The most common adverse health effects mentioned in e-cigarette calls were vomiting, nausea and eye irritation.

Data for this study came from the poison centers that serve the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. The study examined all calls reporting exposure to conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or nicotine liquid used in e-cigarettes.  Poison centers reported 2,405 e-cigarette and 16,248 cigarette exposure calls from September 2010 to February 2014. The total number of poisoning cases is likely higher than reflected in this study, because not all exposures might have been reported to poison centers.

“The most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey showed e-cigarette use is growing fast, and now this report shows e-cigarette related poisonings are also increasing rapidly,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.  “Health care providers, e-cigarette companies and distributors, and the general public need to be aware of this potential health risk from e-cigarettes.”

Developing strategies to monitor and prevent future poisonings is critical given the rapid increase in e-cigarette related poisonings. The report shows that e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine have the potential to cause immediate adverse health effects and represent an emerging public health concern.

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May 13, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | Leave a comment

[News article] Health Insurance, Death Rates and the Affordable Care Act

Health Insurance, Death Rates and the Affordable Care Act.

From the 12 May 2014 article at Pew State and Consumer Initiatives

The mortality rate in Massachusetts declined substantially in the four years after the state enacted a law in 2006 mandating universal health care coverage, providing the model for the Affordable Care Act. 

In a study released last week, Harvard School of Public Health professors Benjamin Sommers, Sharon Long and Katherine Baicker conclude that “health reform in Massachusetts was associated with a significant decrease in all-cause mortality.” 

 

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                                        A portion of the chart

The authors caution that their conclusions, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, may not apply to all states, and other studies have shown little correlation between having insurance and living longer. Nevertheless, the Harvard study adds to a growing body of evidence that having health insurance increases a person’s life expectancy.

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May 13, 2014 Posted by | Health Statistics | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The illegal ways patients buy drugs

The illegal ways patients buy drugs.

From the 27 March 2014 KevinMD article by Pamela Wible, MD

Tom is diabetic, asthmatic, and broke. He’s back for a checkup.

“I take my metformin every morning with my grits,” he says, “but I don’t need no refill. I just got me some metformin XR.”

“How did you get extended release? They’re super expensive.”

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“Well, my neighbor runs a tattoo shop. We live behind her store. Her doc switched her up to insulin, so she gave me her old meds—a big sackful in the alley. That’s gonna last me another year.”

Prescriptions dispensed behind a tattoo parlor? Wow. I’m constantly impressed by my patients’ ingenuity. One gal this week told me she’s on her deceased grandfather’s antidepressants. Another gets his pharmaceuticals from the farm supply store. I’m just glad to know he doesn’t have fleas.

“Are you good on your inhalers?” I ask.

“Well, the cheapest inhaler is 52 bucks. So I basically can’t afford to breathe. On Craigslist, I found some for ten bucks. I contacted the guy, and he met me at the Walmart gas station in a black Jaguar. I went to the door. He asked if I was Tom. Then he said, ‘You know this is illegal.’”

…….

And from one of the comments

Considering the high prices that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to legally charge in the US, this kind of thriving illegal underground market does not surprise me at all. It may be wrong and potentially dangerous, but it’s also wrong for Big Pharma to price millions of Americans out of being able to buy the drugs they need legally. Think of that huge segment of the population as “what the market can’t bear.”

Read the entire article here

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May 13, 2014 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

   

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