Pricey EpiPen Irks Doctor, So She Does Something About It
A family physician in Maine considered the hike in the price of EpiPens — from just over $100 in 2009 to the current $600 for a two-pack of the one-use-only devices — so steep it was “disgusting.” There had to be an alternative to the auto-injector that delivers the life-saving drug epinephrine to patients suffering severe allergic reactions, she thought, so she did the obvious. “I started Googling,” Cathleen London, M.D., told Kaiser Health News’ Shefali Luthra. And that's where London found a low-cost reusable auto-injector that she fills herself to deliver the right amount of medicine to pediatric and adult patients. She charges $50 for an initial device and $2.50 for a refill. Whil replicating such an approach on a large scale might pose challenges, there are lessons for other health care providers trying to help their patients find alternatives to all kinds of medical devices they can’t currently afford even to save their own lives. For more insights on this topic, read “3 Lessons Health Care Leaders Can Learn from the EpiPen Story” by Paul Keckley and Marina Karp.
One of the First Incubator Babies Dies
In a bizarre, but inspiring story, STAT recognizes the death of 96-year-old Lucille Conlin Horn who was one of thousands of premature babies treated in the early 20th century by Dr. Martin Couney, a pioneer in using incubators, whose method of demonstrating the technology was somewhere between morally questionable and heroic. Couney, now viewed as a leader in neonatology, demonstrated the value of the technology by showing the premature infants in their incubators at carnivals and public venues and charging guests admission — but never took money from the parents of the babies on display. He is credited with keeping alive nearly 7,500 of the 8,500 children at his “baby farm” at the Coney Island boardwalk, the report notes. The late Horn was born in 1920 at a mere two pounds and was taken to Couney by her father where she stayed for nearly five months. Horn met Couney again when she was 19, thanking him for helping her, and last year was quoted as saying, “I’ve had a good life,” according to STAT.
The 12 Most Feared Superbugs
The World Health Organization Monday named the 12 strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose the biggest threat to human health and already kill millions of people around the globe every year. As Lena H. Sun reports in The Washington Post, these superbugs “are responsible for severe infections and high mortality rates, especially among patients in intensive care or using ventilators and blood catheters, as well as among transplant recipients and people undergoing chemotherapy.” WHO urged hospital infection control experts and drug researchers to focus on these 12 superbugs. “We are fast running out of treatment options,” said Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s assistant director general. “If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.” The New York Times Donald G. McNeil Jr. writes that “the rate at which new strains of drug-resistant bacteria have emerged in recent years, prompted by the overuse of antibiotics in humans and livestock, terrifies public health officials.” For the complete list, read the WHO press release here.
It’s Not Easy Caring for Kids
The ability to interview and examine patients is learned early on in medical school, but what happens when the patients trained to answer scripted medical cases become children who can barely communicate what is wrong with them, or barely communicate at all? That’s the question tackled in an opinion piece on KevinMD.com that discusses the difference between the patient skills learned in medical school and the ones needed when treating children in pediatrics. Nathaniel Fleming notes, “After four weeks on my outpatient pediatrics rotation, it has quickly become clear that the traditional ‘rules of engagement’ that we learned during our first year are thrown out the window when it comes to working with kids.” Fleming writes that he was able to learn tips from his superiors on handling children and working with their parents to better handle cases. And although working with kids has become easier, he asks, what if the advice was provided during med school? It may have been a much easier transition.
Facebook Continues Mental Health Advocacy
Facebook has come under some fire for controversial events being streamed through its Facebook Live feature, and the media giant just announced plans for a new tool that will allow users to report video in which someone live-streams a suicide attempt or self-injury, The Mercury News reports. The tool is very similar to the one announced last year that lets users flag posts and provide resources for those who might be suicidal. In January, an actor in Los Angeles County killed himself on Facebook Live and in that same month a 14-year old-girl in Florida hanged herself and broadcast it in via Facebook Live, the report notes.