Health care updates, February 12



What do we have in store for you this Valentines’ weekend? The HHS has something to say about increasing health insurance premiums and the chicken pox vaccine. FDA changes its mind about BPA and approves a first-ever drug. Check them out!

Update on Bisphenol A (BPA) for Use in Food: January 2010
The US FDA issued an update on bisphenol A (BPA) for use in food last month. Here’s what the update has to say:

FDA is taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply.  These steps include:

FDA is supporting a shift to a more robust regulatory framework for oversight of BPA.
FDA is seeking further public comment and external input on the science surrounding BPA.

Sebelius Responds to Letter from WellPoint
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took on health insurance companies when she asked Anthem Blue Cross to publicly justify the plan to raise premiums by up to 39% for its California customers. Mother company WellPoint cited the economic recession and the increasing medical costs as valid reasons for the premium increase. Sebelius is not convinced that this is justified:

“It remains difficult to understand how a company that made $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2009 alone can justify massive increases that will leave consumers with nothing but bad options: pay more for coverage, cut back on benefits or join the ranks of the uninsured. High health care costs alone cannot account for a premium increase that is 10 times higher than national health spending growth. Without comprehensive reform, fewer people will be able to afford health insurance and Anthem’s decision to raise their rates only demonstrates the urgent need for real reforms that fix our broken health insurance system. Reform will end the worst insurance company practices and put doctors and patients — not insurance companies — in charge of medical decisions. If we fail to implement reform, insurance companies will continue to prosper while families will continue to struggle.”

Refusing the chickenpox vaccine
In an audiocast, HHS reports on a survey of children who had chicken pox between 1998 and 2008. Jason Glanz of Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Research in Denver reports that

“Children of parents who chose not to vaccinate with the chickenpox vaccine were nine times more likely to be infected than vaccinated children.’

In addition, chicken pox in unvaccinated children manifest in more severe symptoms that last for couple of weeks can leave permanent scars, and can lead to life-threatening complications.

FDA Approves Xiaflex for Debilitating Hand Condition
Xiaflex (collagenase clostridium histolyticum) is the first drug to be approved in the US to treat a progressive hand disease known as Dupuytren’s contracture. This condition affects the connective tissue found beneath the skin in the palm of the hand. Too much collagen can build up, forming thick, rope-like cords of tissue that can prevent the fingers from being able to relax and straighten normally. Xiaflex, made from the protein product of a species of the bacterium Clostridium, is the first non-surgical therapy for Dupuytren’s contracture, a disease common in Caucasian men over 50.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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