Health

US Agencies Start Inquiry Into Generic Drug Shortages
Health

US Agencies Start Inquiry Into Generic Drug Shortages

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday that they would examine the causes of generic drug shortages and the practices of “powerful middlemen” that are involved in the supply chain.The federal agencies’ inquiry is aimed at the group purchasing organizations and drug distributors that have been in the spotlight in recent months as drug shortages reached a 10-year peak. The agencies want to examine the companies’ influence on how the drugs are sold to hospitals and other health facilities, assessing whether the middlemen put pressure on pricing and manufacturing that led to breakdowns.During Congressional hearings in the last year, oncology experts have testified about the effects of the shortages, describing difficult decisions that for...
Brooke Ellison, Prominent Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 45
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Brooke Ellison, Prominent Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 45

Brooke Ellison, who after being paralyzed from the neck down by a childhood car accident went on to graduate from Harvard and became a professor and a devoted disability rights advocate, died on Sunday in Stony Brook, N.Y., on Long Island. She was 45.Her death, in a hospital, was caused by complications of quadriplegia, her mother, Jean Ellison, said.As an 11-year-old, Brooke had been taking karate, soccer, cello and dance lessons and singing in a church choir. But on Sept. 4, 1990, she was struck by a car while running across a road near her home in Stony Brook. Her skull, her spine and almost every major bone in her body were fractured.After waking from a 36-hour coma, she spent six weeks in the hospital and eight months in a rehabilitation center. And for the rest of her life she was de...
Memory Loss Requires Careful Diagnosis, Scientists Say
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Memory Loss Requires Careful Diagnosis, Scientists Say

A lengthy report by the Department of Justice on President Biden’s handling of classified documents contained some astonishing assessments of his well-being and mental health.Mr. Biden, 81, was an “elderly man with a poor memory” and “diminished faculties” who “did not remember when he was vice president,” the special counsel Robert K. Hur said.In conversations recorded in 2017, Mr. Biden was “often painfully slow” and “struggling to remember events and straining at times to read and relay his own notebook entries.” So impaired was Mr. Biden that a jury was unlikely to convict him, Mr. Hur said.Republicans were quick to pounce, some calling the president unfit for office and demanding his removal.But while the report disparaged Mr. Biden’s mental health, medical experts on Friday noted tha...
J&J, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb CEOs Will Testify at Senate Hearing on Drug Prices
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J&J, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb CEOs Will Testify at Senate Hearing on Drug Prices

The chief executives of three major pharmaceutical companies are set to appear in front of the Senate health committee on Thursday to defend how much they charge for drugs in the United States, drawing them further into a confrontation with lawmakers and the Biden administration over the cost of some of the most widely used prescription medications.The three executives scheduled to testify — Joaquin Duato of Johnson & Johnson, Robert M. Davis of Merck and Christopher Boerner of Bristol Myers Squibb — are expected to clash with the health committee’s chairman, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who has made reining in drug prices a signature cause of his late-career years in Congress.Mr. Sanders plans to focus the hearing on why drug prices are higher in the United States...
Cancer Diagnosis Like King Charles’s Is Not Unheard-Of
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Cancer Diagnosis Like King Charles’s Is Not Unheard-Of

A patient checks into the hospital for a routine procedure to treat an enlarged prostate. And, unexpectedly, a test done in the hospital — perhaps a blood test or an X-ray or an examination of the urethra and the bladder — finds a cancer.Apparently, something like that happened to King Charles III. When the British monarch was treated for an enlarged prostate in January, doctors found a cancer that the palace said is not prostate cancer. Charles started treatment Monday. The palace did not disclose what had led to the king’s diagnosis.While some prostate specialists like Dr. Peter Albertsen at the University of Connecticut called such situations “pretty rare,” other doctors said they were not unheard of.Dr. Otis Brawley, an oncologist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, said a ma...
When a Spouse Goes to the Nursing Home
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When a Spouse Goes to the Nursing Home

Even as the signals of approaching dementia became impossible to ignore, Joseph Drolet dreaded the prospect of moving his partner into a long-term care facility.Mr. Drolet, 79, and his beloved Rebecca, 71, both retired lawyers and prosecutors in Atlanta, had been a couple for 33 years, though they retained separate homes. In 2019, she began getting lost while driving, mishandling her finances and struggling with the television remote. The diagnosis — Alzheimer’s disease — came in 2021.Over time, Mr. Drolet moved Rebecca (whose surname he asked to withhold to protect her privacy) into his home. But serving as her round-the-clock caregiver, as she needed help with every daily task, became exhausting and untenable. Rebecca began wandering their neighborhood and “getting dressed in the middle ...
6 Reasons That It’s Hard to Get Your Wegovy and Other Weight-Loss Prescriptions
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6 Reasons That It’s Hard to Get Your Wegovy and Other Weight-Loss Prescriptions

About 3.8 million people in the United States — four times the number two years ago — are now taking the most popular weight-loss drugs, according to the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, an industry data provider.Some of these prescriptions are for diabetes. The medicines are Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy (the same drug sold under different brand names), and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro and Zepbound (also the same drug).Pent-up demand is even higher, because many people who want the drugs cannot find or afford them. Without insurance coverage, people have to pay out of their own pockets. If they obtain a coupon offering a discount from Eli Lilly, people with commercial insurance pay $550 a month for Zepbound. For those who are commercially insured, a coupon from Novo Nordisk for Wegovy ...
U.S. Makes Initial Offers in Medicare Drug Price Negotiations
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U.S. Makes Initial Offers in Medicare Drug Price Negotiations

Why It Matters: The price offers kick off negotiations.The medicines selected for negotiations are taken by millions of Americans to treat conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The administration identified them in August, beginning a lengthy process intended to result in an agreed-upon price that would take effect in 2026, assuming the negotiation program survives legal challenges.The initial round of price offers is a key step in the negotiation process. Each drugmaker has until early March to accept the offer or propose a counteroffer to the government. A series of negotiation sessions could follow, with the process set to conclude by August.Health policy experts said the announcement of the initial round of offers amounted to a kind of starting gun, giving the Biden admin...
The Stanley Cup Lead Scare Is Not Something to Worry About, Experts Say
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The Stanley Cup Lead Scare Is Not Something to Worry About, Experts Say

You might have heard of the Stanley tumbler, the hip, trendy water bottle that has people camping outside stores or getting into fights to get their hands on one.They’ve become a fashion accessory, especially since Stanley has made use of influencer culture to target women and make sales of its tumblers skyrocket. The reach of the bottles has been amplified by social media users.But social media giveth and social media taketh away. In recent weeks, several widely shared posts on TikTok, Instagram, Reddit and X have amplified concerns Stanley cups may contain lead, with one X user calling it “The Leadening.” YouTubers have also jumped into the fray. One TikTok video on the topic was viewed nearly seven million times.Some Stanley owners, hoping to check the claims, started to use home lead-t...