Consumer Health Digest #15-33
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 23, 2015
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
CDC warns about hazardous contact lens care. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that to prevent infection, contact lens wearers should:
- Wash hands with soap and water and dry them well before touching contact lenses.
- Take contacts out before sleeping, showering or swimming.
- Rub and rinse contacts in disinfecting solution each time they are removed.
- Rub and rinse the case with contact lens solution, dry with a clean tissue and store it upside down with the caps off after each use.
- Replace cases at least once every three months.
- Avoid "topping off" solution in the lens case (adding fresh solution to old solution).
- Carry a backup pair of glasses in case contact lenses have to be taken out.
However, a recent national survey has found that more than 99% of the estimated 41 million contact lens wearers in the United States may be engaging in at least one behavior known to increase their risk of eye infections. The majority of wearers reported (a) keeping their contact lens cases for longer than recommended (82.3%), (b) adding new solution to the existing solution instead of emptying the case out fully before adding new solution (55.1%), and/or (c) wearing their lenses while sleeping (50.2%). The CDC Web site has additional information about contact lenses.
FDA publishes new vaccine guide. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published a guide to childhood vaccines that covers benefits and risks; vaccine types; steps to take when a child is vaccinated; key facts about the vaccines that are routinely administered; and frequently asked questions.
Report targets excessive drug prices. A report jointly sponsored by Carleton University and Public Citizen has concluded that Medicare Part D pays needlessly high brand-name drug prices compared with other developed countries and U.S. government programs. (Medicare Part D—also called the Medicare prescription drug benefit—is a federal-government program to subsidize the costs of prescription drugs and prescription drug insurance premiums for Medicare beneficiaries.) The report states:
- After including rebates, brand-name drugs cost Medicare Part D 198% of the median costs for the same brand-name drugs in the 31 countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
- Medicare Part D pays on average 73% more than Medicaid and 80% more than the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for brand-name drugs. Medicare Part D would save from $15.2 billion to $16 billion a year if it could secure the same prices that Medicaid or VHA receives on the same brand-name drugs.
- While Medicaid and VHA often are used as benchmarks because of the rebates or discounts they secure, even these organizations pay higher prices than many OECD countries.
- Under current Medicare Part D pricing, non-innovative "me-too" drugs are priced as much or more than older, equally effective versions. This artificially increases the incentives for developing non-innovative "me-too" drugs rather than innovative medicines for unmet needs.
- Reducing brand-name drug prices would reduce the high level of cost-related non-adherence (people not filling their prescription for financial reasons) and reduce taxpayers' contribution to Medicare Part D would decrease by at least $11 billion every year.
The report recommends that Medicare Part D reduce brand-name drug prices to at least the level of Medicaid or VHA. [Gagnon M-A, Wolfe S. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, July 23, 2015] This would require Congressional action because Public Law 108-173 prohibits the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from negotiating drug prices.
Another chelationist disciplined. The State of Washington's Medical Quality Assurance Commission has concluded that Zbigniew M. Grudzien, M.D., provided substandard care to 11 patients with serious health problems seen at his Hope Medical Holistic Clinic between September 2006 and March 2010. The Commission's concerns included (a) failure to provide appropriate care for heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, depression, and glaucoma, (b) frequent intravenous infusions of vitamins and minerals to patients without any objective clinical basis for doing so, (c) frequent use of laboratory tests without clinical justification, (d) failure to correctly chart care provided to the patients, (e) failure to refer to specialists when needed, and (f) billing of treatment without medical justification. The statement of charges, which details the inadequate care, noted that one patient received 87 vitamin/mineral infusions during a 2-year period without any objective clinical indication to justify them. After concluding that Grudzien had committed unprofessional conduct, the Commission placed him on five years' probation during which he must enroll in a clinical skills assessment program, undergo periodic monitoring of patient records, and complete a continuing education course in medical recordkeeping. The Commission's order also notes that during the proceedings, Grudzien agreed to stop providing intravenous vitamin and mineral infusions.
This page was posted on August 23, 2015.