Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sleep, Nutrition Routines In Hospitals May Compromise Patients’ Immune System, Physicians Say

Reuters (10/22, Kennedy) reports three physicians from Johns Hopkins argue, in a viewpoint paper in BMJ Quality and Safety, that noisy conditions in hospitals can interrupt sleeping habits of patients, and hospital policies of withholding food for long periods of time before procedures can weaken a patient’s immune system while he or she is hospitalized..

Top FDA Official Says Regulators Should Consider Potential Benefits Of E-Cigarettes

The Congressional Quarterly (10/22, Siddons, Subscription Publication) reports that Mitch Zeller, head of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, said Wednesday that regulators have to consider the possible health benefits for smokers who transition to e-cigarettes. “If there is an opportunity to shift those unable or unwilling to quit from the most harmful form of nicotine delivery, to the least harmful form,” Zeller said, “then I think that we as regulators have an opportunity to explore what those options are. “

President Obama Announces New Steps To Fight Opioid Abuse Epidemic

A number of major national outlets covered President Obama’s announcement yesterday of new initiatives to fight the nation’s abuse opioid abuse epidemic. The efforts, announced during the President’s visit to West Virginia, drew mostly positive reactions from medical groups and lawmakers. However, several sources suggest the Administration’s work on the issue so far has been largely ineffective.
        The Washington Post (10/22, Mufson, Zezima) reports that the Obama Administration “announced Wednesday it will take steps to increase access to drug treatment and the training of doctors who prescribe opiate painkillers.” The efforts, which President Obama unveiled at a forum in Charleston, West Virginia, include doubling the number of physicians who can prescribe buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opiate addiction, to 60,000 over the next three years. The Administration will also double the number of providers that can prescribe naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The Post adds that “West Virginia — the home of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell — is the epicenter of America’s opiate epidemic, where more than a decade ago people started getting hooked on prescription drugs.”
        Reuters (10/22, Edwards) reports that the President directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to invest $8.5 million in opioid addiction prevention. Reuters adds that about 45 percent of heroin users in the US are also addicted to prescription opioids, according to the CDC.

Most Americans Say They Can’t Afford Monthly Premiums Above $100

CNBC (10/22) reports that a “large majority of adults say ‘$100 a month or less’ is the highest monthly premium they can afford to pay for health insurance in 2016, according to a survey released Wednesday” by Fifty-seven percent of respondents gave that price range when asked about coverage affordability. The second-most common answer “was $200 per month, which was the response of just 17 percent of respondents.” CNBC adds that cost “or perceived cost” is the main reason that the remaining uninsured give when asked why they haven’t purchased health insurance. According to the article, ACA plans “routinely cost more than $100 per month before the federal subsidies available to many enrollees are factored into the price.”