CONCERN OVER ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE GROWS. The use of antibiotics has resulted in a dramatic drop in deaths caused by bacteria. U.S. deaths are attributed to such germs are a small fraction of what they were a half century ago, when 50 percent of deaths were bacteria-related. Unfortunately, we use antibiotics so frequently that bacteria are adapting and becoming increasingly resistant. On top of overprescribing by clinicians, a New York Times article reported that the Food and Drug Administration estimates more kilograms of antibiotics are sold in the United States for "food-producing animals than for people." Resistant Escherichia coli was detected in more than 1 percent of hospitalized patients. Resistance is even transmitted among bacteria and to completely separate strains. There’s concern that we aren’t doing enough to keep up, especially considering that 15 of the 18 largest pharma companies have abandoned the antibiotic market, likely for financial reasons. The positive news: To fight the problem, funding has increased in many areas including $373 million in the federal budget and $100 million to the National Institutes of Health.
BASIC HEALTH INSURANCE TERMS MISUNDERSTOOD.Twenty-five percent of Texans say they lack confidence in understanding some basic terminology about health insurance plans, according to a study by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation. The survey asked the confidence level in understanding seven terms that describe parts of heath insurance plans. including “premium,” “deductible,” and “co-payment." The obvious question is: How many other Americans don’t know how to read their health insurance package?
DO RETAIL CLINICS REALLY CUT COSTS? A new study reported on in Kaiser Health News suggests they might not. The study notes that 58 percent of retail clinic visits for minor conditions result in a new use of medical services, a bump in overall health care spending of $14 per person per year. “The increase in spending from new utilization trumps the savings we saw from replacing doctor visits and the emergency department,”said Ateev Mehrotra, M.D., co-author of the study. But, Andrew Sussman, M.D., president of the MinuteClinic unit at CVS, says that half of clinic patients don’t have a family physician and the clinics prevent small ailments from turning into chronic illnesses — and higher costs down the road.
TENNIS STAR ADMITS TO USING BANNED CARDIAC DRUG. Maria Sharapova, professional tennis star, admitted to using mildronate, an anti-ischemic agent used outside the United States for treating angina and circulation disorders in the brain, according to a Medpage Today report. The drug is also said to improve physical capacity and mental function, a possible reason she kept taking the drug 10 years after her doctor prescribed it. Mildronate also works to reduce oxygen consumption by increasing and improving blood flow. Currently, the drug is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and is not approved by the Federal Drug Administration. Sharapova said she didn’t know the drug was banned until receiving a letter informing her she had failed a drug test.
HIV LIFE EXPECTANCY UP, but HIV-positive people live nearly 14 years fewer on average than those without the virus, according to another MedPage Today report. “HIV remains a health issue that affects life expectancy,” said Julia Marcus of Kaiser Permanente’s division of research. The additional years of life expected for a 20-year-old with HIV in 1996 was 19; thanks to improved treatment, that number rose to 53 years in 2011.