Streamlined Access to HIV/AIDS Assistance Programs

An estimated 56,000 persons in the United States become infected with HIV every year. Of the 1.1 million persons living with HIV in the United States, approximately 250,000 are not aware of their infection and their risk for transmitting HIV to others. Of those who are unaware, many are diagnosed late in the course of their infection, after a prolonged asymptomatic period during which further transmission may have occurred. Persons who are diagnosed late in their infection miss a valuable opportunity to start HIV care and are at greater risk for AIDS-related complications (than those diagnosed earlier). Therefore, it should be a priority to identify HIV-infected persons and actively link the newly diagnosed to medical care, prevention and retention programs in the HIV care system. However, depending on the availability of publicly funded programs on a state by state basis, HIV medications are often not readily accessible to those who are uninsured.

Of the 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, approximately 25% are uninsured and even more than that will experience a gap in health coverage at some point during

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Is that Drug Really Necessary?

A recent Boston Globe article described a large settlement a family won against Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Children’s Motrin. There’s an old adage, “All I know is what I read in the newspaper” and that is the case here. While it may sound like a windfall for the family, there was more to the story than just suing for—and winning—millions of dollars, and there is no happy ending nor winner.

According to the article, when a little girl was seven years old her parents gave her Children’s Motrin for a fever. She apparently received three doses over 24 hours, but the article did not go into further detail. All we know is that shortly after taking the Motrin she started to experience symptoms the paper called a “severe reaction” that doctors diagnosed as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TENS).

Toxic epidermal necrolysis is a rare, potentially deadly skin condition. Usually the cause is drug-related reaction, but there are other causes and often the cause isn’t found.

The girl suffered a lot from her TENS—she lost most of her skin, developed permanent lung and liver damage and blindness. She had multiple complications,

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Gender-Specific Medicine: Part 2

This week we continue to look at gender medicine- how diseases may manifest themselves differently, and how medications may affect differently- depending on whether you are male or female.

An editorial in Nature in 2010 urged us to “put Gender on the Agenda,” as increasingly we are seeing from research results that there are distinct gender-based differences in disease incidence and activity, and treatment methods, especially medication. Cancer, for example, is the second leading cause of death among women and men, (Anderson, R.N., Deaths: Leading Causes for 2000. National Vital Statistics Reports. 2002, National Center for Health Statistics: Hyattsville, MD), however mortality rates and the disease course differ according to gender.

In looking at cancer, we see that in general, more women are screened but more men are diagnosed, and that “The gender differential in cancer incidence rates is comparable to ethnic and racial disparity in magnitude, and yet, most studies fail to look for it.” That is beginning to change with recent studies and clinical trials seeking to reduce disparities by including more women.

If we look at lung

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Gender-Specific Medicine

“Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars.” “Women think differently than men.”

These viewpoints appear to be widespread and popular, fueling spirited and on-going debate in the media and the arts, but what about healthcare and medicine?

Most medical research over the years has focused on white men as subjects, and results were then extrapolated to include everyone else. From an ethical perspective, there were some humanistic reasons for this, e.g., protecting women and children from experimental research that may not have benefited them. In many cases, however, research focused on those in positions of power. This situation is slowly but surely changing, and we are now witnessing the rise of Gender Medicine.

A very interesting article in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, entitled “Gender Medicine: A Task for the Third Millennium,” defines gender-specific medicine as the study of how diseases differ between men and women in terms of prevention, clinical signs, therapeutic approach, prognosis, and psychological and social impact. They

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The Lowdown on Specialty Drugs II: Biosimilars and How to Get Your Insurance Company to Cover the Costs

Biosimilars are defined as “similar versions of an existing biological medicine by a different manufacturer.” Biosimilars may be used to treat difficult-to-manage conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, HIV and cancer, among other conditions. Because they are more complex and more difficult to manufacture than other pharmaceuticals, rigid compliance to regulations and quality control are crucial to avoid contamination and drug shortages. Their complexity also means that they are more expensive for the patient.

A recent article by NBC News suggests that “the number of patients who could benefit from these more sophisticated therapies will only continue to grow, in some cases by 15% annually.” But how will we afford them?

Changes are afoot in many health insurance plans, and some new rules state that any cost-savings must be weighed against severe health consequences, particularly where obtaining prior approval (an often lengthy process) or “step therapy” where a number of cheaper drugs are tried before moving on to more expensive ones.

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About Us

Welcome to the NeedyMeds Voice! We look forward to presenting you with timely, provocative pieces on healthcare reform, patient advocacy, medication and healthcare access, and other health-related news. Our goals are to educate, enlighten, and elucidate; together, we will try to make sense of the myriad and ongoing healthcare-related changes in the U.S. today.