- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Pharmaceutical Company Has Hiked Price On Aid-In-Dying Drug
- More Sickle Cell Patients Survive, But Care Is Hard To Find For Adults
- Public Health and Education 3
- Managing Chronic Back Pain Through Mindfulness
- Keeping Fit May Keep Aging Minds Agile, Study Finds
- Philanthropist Aims To Shed Light On 'Dark Matter Of Bioscience' With $100M Commitment
Latest From California Healthline:
Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes Seconal, the drug most commonly used in prescribed for terminally ill patients who want to end their lives, physician-assisted suicide, has doubled the price to more than $3,000. (April Dembosky, KQED, 3/24)
For many years, most people with sickle cell died in childhood or adolescence, and the condition remained in the province of pediatrics. During the past two decades, advances in routine care have allowed many people to live into middle age and beyond, but barriers to care remain. (Erin N. Marcus, 3/24)
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Summaries Of The News:
Starting May 1, Medi-Cal will be available to all children regardless of their immigration status. But officials worry they will have to overcome the distrust that makes some families reluctant to seek coverage and care.
Group Gets The Word Out: Undocumented Children Now Eligible For Health Care
Area health providers are starting to spread the word about California’s pioneering decision to expand medical insurance to cover children 19 and under regardless of their immigration status. Starting May 1, California makes available full-scope Medi-Cal benefits for children who meet the eligibility requirements for the low-income Medi-Cal program but previously did not qualify because they did not meet immigration requirements, said Yunkyung Kim, plan chief operating officer for Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare of California. (Steinberg, 3/23)
The California-based pharmaceutical company's stock fell 28 percent at the news.
Portola's Long-Acting Blood Thinner Misses Main Study Goal
Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc said late-stage data showed its oral anticoagulant was not superior to an injectable standard therapy in preventing blood clots in acutely ill patients. ... An estimated 20 million acutely ill patients in the G7 countries are at risk of developing [blood clots] either while in the hospital or following discharge, San Francisco, California-based Portola estimates. (Grover, 3/24)
A new study finds that mindfulness can be an effective treatment option for back pain. Dr. Madhav Goyal, a physician in Northern California and an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine hypothesizes that it allows a patient to detach from the pain. One of his patients "still has the chronic pain, but he was dancing with it rather than fighting with it, and that made all the difference for him."
Is Mindfulness Catching On As A Treatment For Chronic Pain?
What if there was a way to reduce back pain just by using your mind? A new study says that's possible. The study, published this week in JAMA, finds that the practice of mindfulness can be an effective treatment option for chronic back pain. (Plevin, 3/23)
In other public health news —
Like Alcohol, Heavy Pot Use Linked To Economic, Social Problems
Persistent, heavy use of marijuana is associated with economic and social problems in adults, according to an international study led by researchers at UC Davis. (Aliferis, 3/23)
Hip-Hop Pioneer Phife Brought Attention To Diabetes
Rapper Phife Dawg, of the iconic group Tribe Called Quest, is continuing to raise awareness around diabetes in his death, as he did in life, throughout his music career. The rapper’s family confirmed Wednesday that Phife died at age 45 at his home near Antioch due to complications resulting from diabetes, sparking a wave of disease-related tributes on social media. (Dembosky, 3/23)
A recent study links strenuous exercise with positive cognitive benefits in older Americans.
Los Angeles Times:
Intensive Exercise May Keep The Aging Mind Sharp
Older Americans who engage in strenuous exercise are more mentally nimble, have better memory function and process information more speedily than do their more sedentary peers, new research suggests. And as they continued to age, participants who were very physically active at the start of a five-year study lost less ground cognitively than did couch potatoes, according to the study. The latest research, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, is the most recent study to underscore the importance of moderate to intensive exercise in healthy aging. In addition to keeping diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis at bay or in check, a welter of studies suggests a good workout is powerful medicine for the aging brain, preventing and treating depression and shoring up cognitive function. (Healy, 3/23)
In other news, a university research center and a foundation team up to build a registry of patients with Alzheimer's to help accelerate clinical trials —
The San Francisco Business Journal:
In War On Alzheimer's, Group Deploys New Way To Enlist
Like the journey of a thousand miles, the path leading to an Alzheimer's disease treatment begins with a single step: Getting people through the doors of hundreds of clinical trial sites. Now a program based at the University of California, San Francisco, is teaming up with a global foundation to build out a registry of current and potential Alzheimer's patients from which the right people can be quickly assigned to the right drug studies. (Leuty, 3/23)
Billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen's goal is to give money to scientists who have out-of-the-box ideas and unconventional approaches to projects in tissue regeneration, antibiotic resistance, gene editing and the development of brain circuitry. Stanford and Tufts will receive the initial set of grants.
The Washington Post:
Philanthropist Paul Allen Announces $100 Million Gift To Expand ‘Frontiers Of Bioscience’
Billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen has announced a $100 million commitment over 10 years to fund scientific endeavors at the “frontiers of bioscience" that he describes as having major implications for humankind. An initial set of grants, announced Wednesday, will go to Stanford and Tufts universities for the creation of new research centers and to individual scientists with unconventional approaches to projects in tissue regeneration, antibiotic resistance, gene editing and the development of brain circuitry. (Cha, 3/23)
Public officials are investigating commonalities in the 12 cases, but they have yet to pinpoint a cause.
The Ventura County Star:
Second County Death Linked To Heart Disease Cluster
A second death in Ventura County has been attributed to cardiomyopathy, part of a cluster of 12 illnesses linked to the heart condition, a public health official said. Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County's public health officer, revealed few details of the death Wednesday except to say it happened in mid-December. The link to cardiomyopathy was confirmed late Monday. (Kisken, 3/23)
Elsewhere in the state —
Kern County Health Officials Warn Of Salmonella Risk From Illegal Cheese
Public health officials have a pretty good idea of where "illegal" cheese is coming from, but they're trying to track down the exact source. In Kern County, seven people have gotten sick from eating cheese linked to homemade, soft, Mexican-style cheese. Overall, 50 people in the state have been affected. (Ferguson, 3/23)
Justice Anthony Kennedy -- seen as the possible swing vote in the challenge on the health law's contraception mandate case -- asked whether the accommodation is making the groups "complicit in a moral wrong" by hijacking their insurance plans.
The program, which was implemented by YMCAs, was developed with an $11.8 million innovation grant under the health law. Participants who were at high risk of developing diabetes lost about 5 percent of their body weight. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said expanding the initiative within Medicare would save $2,650 over 15 months per beneficiary.