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07/03/12

  12:23:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 275 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Do Those Energy Drinks At The Counter Really Work?

If you’ve been in the vicinity of a convenience store counter lately, you’ve likely noticed a selection of flavored energy drinks – including the best-known brand, 5-hour Energy. It’s marketed as a “pick-me-up” for when you’re feeling run-down. But does it really work as advertised 00 and is it healthy to drink on a regular basis?

The blog Science-Based Medicine recently took a closer look at 5-hour Energy. In addition to containing large doses of niacin, folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, the drink offers an “energy blend” of caffeine and other ingredients. For most people, the contents hold little danger, though the package label recommends that it not be consumed by women who are pregnant or nursing, or by children under 12. It also warns that large amount of caffeine can be harmful to some individuals.

And as for its potency? The lone study uncovered by Science-Based Medicine compared 5-hour Energy to the same mixture without caffeine or other active ("energy") ingredients. Not surprisingly, the mixture containing caffeine proved more effective than the version without caffeine. They could not find a test that determined whether 5-hour Energy works better than caffeine alone… but they do quote a Consumer Reports report that concluded, “5-Hour Energy will probably chase away grogginess at least as well as a cup of coffee. “

So really, whether to use 5-hour Energy or not comes down to personal preference. In its favor, it’s convenient to carry and costs less than a cup of Starbucks coffee. But as the article notes, if you’re feeling tired during the day, it’s better to look for an underlying cause rather than reaching for a temporary fix.

07/02/12

  12:27:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 220 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Rx Pilot Program Hopes To Lower Accidental Overdoses

Indiana and Ohio will be the first two states to test a program designed to make it easier for doctors, pharmacists and emergency departments to access patients’ prescription drug records.

Reuters reports that the Obama administration is launching the pilot program in hopes of reducing the number of overdoses from prescription drugs, currently the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States.

Even though 49 states already allow prescription drug monitoring programs, which collect information from pharmacies and practitioners, the difficulty in navigating through the data has put off potential users. Lack of real-time information is also a concern.

“Part of the problem we have with the prescription drug abuse problem is we are always playing catch-up,” said Marty Allain, a senior director at the Indiana Board of Pharmacy. “We are moving towards early identification of a problem and toward the preventive side of a problem – to keep things from getting worse or to prevent problems for some patients in the first place.”

MedBen maintains its own prescription drug database – albeit one geared toward patient, not provider, use. RxEOB allows members to review personal prescription history, detail and benefit coverage, plus offers lower cost drug alternatives to save you out-of-pocket expense. To make a visit, simply log on to the MedBen Access site and click on “My Rx”.

  11:45:27 am, by MedBen5   , 452 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Some Midwest States Not Far Along With Insurance Exchanges

While the Supreme Court deliberated on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, some state governments opted to hold back on developing health insurance exchanges. So now that we know the justices’ decision, it’s “game on” again – and state governments currently have until November 16 to submit plan outlines for their exchanges, with implementation expected by the beginning of the 2014. If a state fails to comply, the federal govenment will intervene with its own marketplace offerings.

USA Today has compiled a list of where states stand on implementing the health care reform law. Below, we highlight the progress of several Midwest states that MedBen currently serves.

ILLINOIS has received three federal grants to study and start building its health insurance exchange, but the Legislature has failed to pass a law establishing it. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has considered an executive order to do that, but now may pursue a federal-state partnership instead.

INDIANA Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered state agencies to build a framework for a possible exchange, but he has not implemented one pending the Supreme Court ruling. Indiana also has pushed to use its health savings account to help cover an estimated 500,000 who will become eligible for Medicaid in 2014 under the federal health care overhaul, but federal officials denied the request in September, saying it was premature.

KENTUCKY has laid the groundwork for a statewide health insurance exchange, but Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear opted to wait for the Supreme Court ruling before moving doing anything more.

MICHIGAN’S Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has been working to set up a health insurance exchange but has had limited success because House Republicans refuse to let it use $9.8 million in federal planning dollars. Because of looming federal deadlines to have an exchange in place, state officials are planning for a state-run exchange while also talking to federal officials about a possible partnership on a federal exchange where the state handles just some responsibilities, such as customer service.

OHIO has not moved to create a health care exchange but is evaluating its options. It received a $1 million federal exchange planning grant in 2010. Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration has taken advantage of some parts of the new law to expand coordinated care and propose changes to Medicaid eligibility. Democrats have unsuccessfully pushed bills in the Legislature to set up a state-run exchange. But Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who is also Ohio’s insurance director, frequently criticizes the overhaul and says it’s premature to plan for an exchange without further clarification from the federal government.

WEST VIRGINIA has enacted legislation allowing for a state-run health care exchange, but the state has slowed the pace of setting it up to see how the Supreme Court rules.

  10:48:40 am, by MedBen5   , 187 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Coffee Drinking Linked To Reduced Heart Failure, Skin Cancer Risks

If you’re easing into this holiday work week with a cup of coffee, the benefits you get from it may go beyond the customary wake-up jolt. Two new studies suggest that a morning cup o’ joe helps to ward off heart failure and skin cancer.

  • According to WebMD, an analysis has determined that drinking 1-2 cups of coffee daily may reduce your risk of heart failure “Beyond that, any potential benefits seem to decrease and eventually go away,” says researcher Murray Mittleman, MD, DrPH, director of cardiovascular epidemiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

    Mittleman also noted that while the study found a link between coffee intake and heart failure, it did not establish cause and effect.

  • Meanwhile, MedPage Today reports that consuming modest amounts of coffee or other caffeinated bevarges is associated with a significantly lower relative risk of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a common type of skin cancer.

    Based on data from two large cohort studies, people who drank more than three cups of coffee a month showed a 17% reductiion in BCC relative risk compared to those who drank less than one cup per month.

06/29/12

  04:19:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 390 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Media Reacts To Health Care Reform Ruling

The Supreme Court ruling on the health care reform law is still the big news story of the day (or at least until the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes breakup overshadows it). The decision has been scrutinized from a variety of perspectives – judicial, political, financial, medical, and so on.

Below, we offer just a small sampling of media reaction:

Analysis: Why Roberts saved Obama’s healthcare law (Reuters): “Thursday’s extraordinary conclusion to the bitterly fought healthcare battle was quite ordinary in some ways. [Chief Justice John] Roberts hewed to a traditional Supreme Court principle that if the justices can find any constitutional grounds on which to uphold a law, they should do so. The 57-year-old chief justice also followed a stated principle of his own: narrowly deciding cases and trying to preserve the integrity of the judiciary in polarized Washington.”

The healthcare law fight isn’t over (Los Angeles Times): “We have already heard cries for repealing the law in Congress, but the fact is that most of the healthcare industry is resigned to shrugging its shoulders and falling back into line with the political deals it cut with the Obama administration several years ago. The political case for repeal will become much stronger among grass-roots voters – particularly independent ones – outside the Beltway this fall if it is combined with a credible, attractive alternative that offers better solutions to chronic health policy problems.”

Don’t call it a mandate – it’s a tax (SCOTUSblog): “The reality, of course, is that the health insurance industry was never guaranteed a vastly larger pool of premium-payers. The ‘minimum coverage’ provision (that’s the technical name Congress gave what most people have called a mandate) was never to be enforced on its own – that is, the Affordable Care Act has never told people to buy insurance or you go to jail. It was always going to be enforced only by requiring an individual who refused to get health insurance to pay a tax.”

Health Law’s Survival Means More Demand for Fewer Doctors (The Wall Street Journal Health Blog): “The nonprofit Association of American Medical Colleges reckons that, taking into account the new demand, the U.S. will be more than 60,000 doctors short in 2015 – when all those newly covered patients will be in the system – around 90,000 short five years later.”

  03:12:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 152 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

FDA Discourages Use Of All-Metal Hip Implants

Metal-on-metal hip implants were marketed as a longer-lasting alternative to older and ceramic models, but the evidence of late has suggested just the opposite. So it’s not surprising that government health experts have cast a critical collective eye on the devices.

According to the Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration says it can find few good reasons to continue using the all-metal implants. The agency based its conclusion on data that the devices break down early and expose patients to dangerous particles of cobalt, chromium and other metals.

Apparently, the market responded even before the government decided to make its recommendation: Metal hips accounted for about 27% of all hip implants in 2010, way down from 40% just three years earlier. A recall by Johnson & Johnson of 93,000 metal hips in 2010 further tarnished the device’s reputation.

Every year, nearly 400,000 Americans receive a hip replacement to relieve pain and restore affected by arthritis or injury.

  12:35:01 pm, by MedBen5   , 191 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Mammography Rates Have Declined Since Guideline Controversy

Even though the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advisory that women in their 40s refrain from regular breast cancer screenings met with widespread criticism, the recommendation has apparently had an impact. A new Mayo Clinic study determined in recent years, mammography rates across the United States have dropped nearly 6%.

“The 2009 USPSTF guidelines resulted in significant backlash among patients, physicians and other organizations, prompting many medical societies to release opposing guidelines,” study co-author Nilay Shah, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, said in a clinic news release. “We were interested in determining the impact that the recommendations and subsequent public debate had upon utilization of mammography in younger women.”

According to HealthDay News, the researchers based their findings on a national database of 100 health plans, identifying 8 million women between the ages of 40 and 64 years old who had gotten a mammogram between January 2006 and December 2010. They compared the number of screenings that took place before the guidelines were issued to the number after they came out.

The Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society recommend that all women 40 and older have an annual mammogram.

06/28/12

  11:13:44 am, by MedBen5   , 294 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Supreme Court Upholds Majority of ACA

Supreme Court

Well, it’s done.

The decision we’ve been waiting for (patiently or not) has been made. So what does it really mean now that the United States Supreme Court has found the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional (save for part of the Medicaid Expansion provisions)?

It means that, for now, we need to continue working towards full implementation. At least until November! The pending Presidential election will play a substantial part in what happens next. If the Republicans take the White House, Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal and replace the current law with more reasonable reforms, including State-based initiatives and tort reform. In addition, we may see the Republican leadership move to immediately defund the remaining open ACA mandates and pursue state waivers as they work toward full repeal. There is a significant chance of this happening if the Republicans hold their majority in the House and also take back the Senate this November.

We may also see other legal challenges to the law – including one regarding the contraceptive coverage mandate.

Unfortunately, plan sponsors will need to keep moving forward with ACA implementation, including developing and distributing SBCs, covering contraceptives, collecting information for next year’s W-2 reporting, and preparing to pay the PCORI tax. Between now and November, we may see a mad rush from federal agencies as they push to continue their efforts to get as much of the ACA implemented before the election. That means more regulations, more analysis and more comment letters!

No matter what, MedBen’s got your back. As always, we are available to our clients to discuss this landmark decision, answer questions and assist in any way we can. You can read the opinion at the Supreme Court website.

It’s not over yet!

  10:36:59 am, by MedBen5   , 231 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Approves Prescription Weight Loss Drug

For the first time in over a decade, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a prescription diet pill. Lorcaserin, which will be sold under the name Belviq, was approved for use by obese people (those with a body mass index of 30 or more) and overweight people with a BMI of 27 or more who have at least one weight-related health condition, according to NPR.

“Obesity threatens the overall well-being of patients and is a major public health concern,” Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s drug center, said in a statement. “The approval of this drug, used responsibly in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, provides a treatment option for Americans who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition.”

Observing “a healthy diet and lifestyle” is indeed important, as the drug itself provides relatively small weight loss. Studies found that about half of patients taking Belviq lost only about 5% of their body weight after a year. But with roughly one-third of Americans considered obese, the FDA decided that some additional help, however minor, was warranted.

Notable side effects of the drug include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and constipation. Arena Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Belviq, must monitor the drug’s safety through continued study, as a condition of its approval.

There is no word yet when Belviq will be available in pharmacies, or its cost.

  10:11:04 am, by MedBen5   , 405 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Ease Up On Medical Tests, Physician Argues

On the KevinMD.com blog, physician Joe Kosterich opines that doctors have, of late, gone overboard with medical tests. “Medicine started treating people who did not actually have symptoms but had risk factors,” he says – factors you many not even be aware you have unless you’re tested.

Dr. Kosterich lists his specific concerns about overtesting, summarized below:

  1. Not everything that is found is actually a sign of disease. More tests can mean both more expense but also worry and the risk of complications or side effects.
  2. Our capacity to interpret has exceeded our ability to find. It is likely that every person has a cancer cell somewhere in their body on any given day but they will never manifest as cancers.
  3. The lowering of thresholds brings more people into the “disease” category. Every time normal levels for cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar are lowered a whole new group of people can be reclassified as having a condition and hence a candidate for treatment.
  4. Historically treatment benefits were determined on more severe cases. For example, a person with a blood pressure of 200 gets much more benefit from lowering the pressure than someone with a pressure of 145. Yet both are classed as hypertensive and in equal need of treatment.
  5. The reclassifying of normal body processes as a disease. Menopause (a normal part of life) was a classic example of this. Osteoporosis is another. Bones get “thinner” for many as we age. This is not a disease.
  6. Treatments can do harm. Surgery can have complications and medications have side effects. These can be justified where benefit outweighs risk. The wider we cast the net and the milder and less significant the “abnormalities” the greater the chances of harm outweighing benefit.

Dr. Kosterich makes some good points, and while MedBen does believe strongly in medical testing and proactive care, we also appreciate that the care must be balanced with a dose of common sense – such as prescribing drugs as a means to reduce blood pressure as a short-term fix, while promoting lifestyle changes that keep blood pressure low as a long-term solution.

Dr. Kosterich also notes that the testing trend led to “mass screening programs so people didn’t even need to go to the doctor for testing” – and on this point, we agree 100%. That’s why our Worksite Wellness program emphasizes that testing and all other preventive care should begin with a patient’s family physician.

06/27/12

  12:10:04 pm, by MedBen5   , 304 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Employers Face More Changes If Health Care Law Falls

Based on just about everything we’ve read of late – including the opinions of legal experts – the smart money is on the Supreme Court striking down the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act while leaving the rest of it intact. That said, we’ve still got at least one day to speculate on other possible outcomes, so why not seize the opportunity?

The likelihood that the justices could invalidate the entire health care reform law isn’t too high… but as Kaiser Health News notes, if it did happen, the effect on employers would differ depending on their size.

As the ACA stands now, businesses with more than 50 workers will have to provide health care coverage or pay a penalty beginning in 2014. If the law is struck down, however, that rules comes off the books.

On the other side of the coin, small employers are not required to provide coverage, but those who do are currently eligible for tax credits to offset the costs. Again, that goes away if the law falls.

It’s also possible that small businesses would lose access to state-run health insurance exchanges designed to offer lower-cost coverage. Most states would probably abandon these marketplaces if they were no longer required to offer them, but the states that have already put time and effort into creating them could decide to make them available no matter the outcome.

Chances are we’ll know tomorrow if these circumstances change or stay the same. But regardless of the court’s ruling, one thing we can say with absolute certainty will not change: MedBen will continue to help employers make smart benefit plan choices that save both them and their employees money. If you’re interested in learning how we can accomplish this for your business, contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  11:15:13 am, by MedBen5   , 187 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Pharmacists Stepping Up To Serve Patients Better

As primary care doctors expand the number of patients they accept, and the number of those patients taking medications rises, pharmacists have taken on an increasingly important role. And some drugstore chains, as well as independent pharmacies, are hoping to foster customer loyalty by making their pharmacists even more accessible:

“They are counseling patients face-to-face and on the phone, contacting patients who don’t refill prescriptions and checking for potential interactions between drugs prescribed by different doctors. Pharmacists can’t actually prescribe drugs, but with a patient’s permission they can call the physician to discuss recommended medications that may have been overlooked and ask whether the doctor wants to prescribe them.

“Many patients, especially those with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, don’t adhere to medication regimens. Studies show only 25% to 30% of medications are taken properly, and only 15% to 20% are refilled as prescribed.

“Pharmacy groups and drugstore chains say an enhanced role for the pharmacist makes it easier for patients to stay on the wagon and significantly reduces unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency-room visits that can occur when patients skip their meds.”

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

  10:39:34 am, by MedBen5   , 236 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Type Of Calories Count When Keeping Weight Off, Study Suggests

Ask someone who’s battled a weight problem about the toughest part of dieting, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll say it’s not losing the weight, but keeping it off. For that reason, a new study examined how different types of diets help or hinder weight maintentance.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the seven-month experiment closely controlled the diets of 21 overweight men and women. The study began with a 12-week weight-loss regimen that help participants shed 10-15% of their body weight, followed by a four-week weight stabilization phase.

Next, participants followed three different diets for four weeks at a time: a traditional low-fat diet (with 60% carbohydrates, 20% fat and 20% protein), a low glycemic index diet 40% carbs, 40% fat and 20% protein) and a very low-carbohydrate diet a la Atkins (10% carbohydrates, 60% fat and 30% protein).

At the start of the study and every four weeks thereafter, participants were hospitalized and tested over a three-day period. Researchers measured resting energy as well as energy burned in a day.

And the findings? Participants burned more than 300 more calories per day on the very low-carbohydrate diet compared with the low-fat diet – “roughly equal to an hour of moderate physical activiety,” noted study senior author Dr. David Ludwig. However, he added that low-carb diets could be risky for the heart, so didn’t recommend it as a long-term solition.

As for the low glycemic index diet, participants burned 200 additional calories compared to the low-fat diet.

06/26/12

  05:01:47 pm, by MedBen5   , 176 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Days Before Decision, Health Care Reform Law Gets Tepid Support

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal have managed to sneak in one final poll about the health care reform law before The Supreme Court puts the matter to rest (for the time being, anyway) later this week.

According to MSNBC, the survey shows that 37% of respondents would be pleased if the justices find that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, compared with 22% who would be disappointed with the decision.

Asked the question from the opposite perspective, 28% say they would be pleased if the court rules the law is constitutional, versus 35% who would be disappointed.

As for the individual mandate – the provision that requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, and the most controversial aspect of the law – 25% say it would hurt them and their families if it were deemed unconstitutional; 18% say it would help; and 55% say it wouldn’t make a difference.

Lastly, 35% think the law is a good idea, compared to 41% who feel otherwise – numbers that have remained pretty much constant since the ACA was passed in March 2010.

  04:35:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 161 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Test All Adults For Obesity, Task Force Advises

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended that doctors screen all adults for obesity, WebMD reports.

Actually, this is not the first time USPSTF has advised this – it made a similar suggestion back in 2003. But the independent panel now also recommends that doctors should refer obese patients to intensive counseling for weight loss.

“The prevalence of obesity in the United States is high, exceeding 30% in adult men and women,” the statement says. “Obesity is associated with such health problems as an increased risk for coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, various types of cancer, gallstones, and disability. These comorbid medical conditions are associated with higher use of health care services and costs among obese patients.”

The task force also notes that for adults younger than 65 years, obesity increases their risk of death.

As for patients who aren’t obese but are at risk for developing weight issues, USPSTF advises that doctors counsel them to make smarter lifestyle choices.

06/25/12

  02:02:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Supreme Court Will Rule On ACA This Thursday

Say what you will about the Supreme Court, but the justices know a thing or two about heightening the drama.

The Court had two high-profile cases to rule on this week: The constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act as well as Arizona’s anti-immigration law. Ultimately, the justices opted to settle the immigration controversy and hold health care reform as the headliner until Thursday, the last day of its 2011-12 term.

As USA Today aptly observes, the three extra days until the decision gives Monday morning quarterbacks in the media an additional 72 hours to second-guess an outcome that still isn’t known:

Washington Post: “Some prominent legal scholars say a series of tactical decisions by President Obama’s legal team may have hurt the chances of saving his landmark health-care legislation from being gutted by Supreme Court conservatives.”

The New York Times: The White House team once “assumed any (legal) challenge” to the law would fail, but officials now fear “that a centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s presidency may be partly or completely overturned on a theory that it gave little credence. The miscalculation left the administration on the defensive as its legal strategy evolved over the last two years.”

At MedBen, we’ve also got a few thoughts on the decision… but we’ll wait to share them until we actually hear what that decision is. The justices are expected to make their ruling at about 10 a.m. on June 28, so be sure to check in here then!

06/22/12

  01:26:26 pm, by MedBen5   , 198 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Money Talks, But Other Wellness Incentives Work, Too

Money makes the world go round, they say… and if used right, it makes people get healthy, suggests new research.

WebMD reports that the study encouraged adults aged 21 to 60 – all of whom ate poorly and exercised little – to practice healthier habits. And to provide an extra push, participants who reached set goals (i.e., eat more fruits and vegetables, work out more, reduce couch time) after three weeks received $175.

Once completed, the participants no longer had to meet wellness goals, but still got $30 to $80 for reporting activities to their coach. And after six months, the researchers found that 88% of participants tried to maintain healthy changes once they had made them.

At MedBen, our own experience with worksite wellness has shown that offering even modest incentives can indeed have a major impact on program participation. However, we have also learned that rewards don’t necessarily have to be monetary – sponsoring a team competition, giving recognition through the company newsletter, or sharing member success stories can be equally valuable, so long as management shows a shared wellness commitment.

To learn more about MedBen Worksite Wellness, please contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683.

  12:50:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 200 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

If Justices Remove Individual Mandate, Don't Stop There

Business columnist David Lazarus anticipates the fallout if Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act but keeps other provisions intact:

“Put simply, by eliminating the individual mandate but leaving in place what’s known as ‘guaranteed issue’ of coverage, the Supreme Court would be giving Americans a green light to wait until they get sick before seeking health coverage.

“Why spend thousands of dollars on insurance when you’re young and healthy? Without a mandate but with guaranteed issue, you could just put off paying annual premiums until you actually need medical care. It would be almost foolish to do otherwise.

“This would have enormous ramifications for the insurance industry. It would essentially mean that insurers would be covering only sick people, rather than spreading their risk among the entire population, healthy and unhealthy.

“If insurers are covering only sick people, they’ll have no choice but to jack up their rates to reflect the higher risk they face.

“And if rates go significantly higher, fewer people will be able to afford insurance, even with government subsidies.

“The upshot: higher insurance costs and millions more people without access to affordable healthcare.”

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

  12:22:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 169 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Rx Companies May Back Off On Internet Advertising

Rx Online Ad Spending

The Pharmalot blog reports that drugmakers may spend about $1.58 billion on online advertising this year, nearly a 25% leap from 2011, according to a market research analysis from eMarketer. But while dollars-and-cents spending will continue to go up over the next few years, actual spending growth is expected to drop dramatically during this period (see chart).

Does this mean pharmaceutical companies are backing off on their advertising efforts and putting more money into other areas, such as research and development? Not exactly. “Drugmakers have been slow to shift to online tactics. Without definitive online marketing guidelines from the FDA for direct-to-consumer advertising, many marketers prioritize spending in print and broadcast media, for which there is a clearer road map. The shift to digital is under way, but has not progressed as quickly as it has in less-regulated industries,” the firm writes.

eMarketer also notes that the growing emphasis on newer drugs that target more specific patient populations have led drugmakers to refocus their marketing efforts at patients and health care providers.

  11:29:29 am, by MedBen5   , 169 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

More Young People Developing High Blood Pressure

On the heels of news that childhood obesity has resulted in an increase in diabetes comes a study showing that the number of young people sent to the hospital for high blood pressure that nearly doubled during a recent 10-year period.

WebMD reports that hospital stays for Americans 18 and under due to high blood pressure spiked from 12,661 in 1997 to 24, 602 in 2006. And though hospital records usually don’t make a reference to the patient’s obesity, the researchers believe that the ongoing weight crisis is a key reason for this growth trend.

In an editorial published along with the study, Joshua Samuels, MD, of the University of Texas, noted that high blood pressure affects more children than higher-profile conditions like autism or epilepsy. The “significant increases in blood pressure are likely riding the wave of pediatric obesity that is spreading across America,” he wrote.

Samuels added that blood pressure in kids can cause damage to the heart and put them at higher risk for heart disease and stroke in their adult years.

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