Awaiting the Court's decision on healthcare

The Supreme Court has already decided the fate of the health reform law, and in a few short weeks the rest of us will know whether it is upheld, struck down entirely, or badly damaged. Of the possible decisions, four are the most likely and each would have significant ramifications.
1)  The Court could uphold the law. Prior to oral arguments, this was the conventional wisdom. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s stinging questions led many to change this view, but he has surprised Court watchers before.
If he springs another surprise and supports the individual mandate, the law’s implementation would continue unabated. States that have waited for the Court’s decision would start moving on exchanges and essential benefits.


Why waste money on research that doesn't work?

A recent blog post by the president of a facility that experiments on chimpanzees grossly misrepresented the scientific and ethical reality of performing research on our closest genetic relatives. This discussion is one surrounding the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, a bill that has gained momentous support in the 112th Congress, and for good reason.
Only a handful of researchers do any form of experimentation on chimpanzees. The rest are warehoused in inadequate housing at great taxpayer expense.
Following recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report findings that chimpanzees are not necessary for current medical research, laboratories have had to change their talking points from “chimpanzees are essential” to “what if we might need them one day.” This isn’t their concern about human health. This is a fight to keep the huge taxpayer-funded grants they receive to warehouse the chimpanzees in facilities that are noncompliant with recent IOM report criteria.


PDUFA Reauthorization is critical to millions of Americans with chronic diseases

Ten years ago, most Americans had never heard of lupus - a chronic autoimmune disease. Today, through education and outreach, more people are becoming familiar with the serious impact lupus has on the health of an estimated 1.5 million Americans. With Congress actively considering reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), it has never been more important to focus on the future development of lupus drugs and what is needed to help people with lupus overcome their life-diminishing and life-threatening disease.
Consider the following: it is doubtful that more than 1,000 new critical treatments would have moved through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug approval process in the last 20 years had PDUFA not been in place. Since its 1992 passage, PDUFA-provided user fees have helped the FDA fulfill its core function of ensuring safe and effective drugs are available to improve the health and well-being of Americans. PDUFA offers hope for new treatment for people who suffer from underserved and chronic diseases such as lupus by helping expedite the drug approval process, resulting in new drugs getting to patients in a more timely and efficient manner.


Chimpanzee research must continue - Here's why

A recent blog on the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act by Kristin Bauer and Martin Wasserman (A shared passion for ending chimpanzee experiments, May 9, 2012) was filled with inaccuracies, some of which are refuted below.
The authors assert that “. . . the Institute of Medicine’s recent report on chimpanzee experimentation found that chimpanzees aren’t needed for a single area of human health research.”

In fact, the Great Ape Protection Act would eliminate chimpanzee research despite the findings of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report and the charge to the National Institutes of Health Working Group on the Use of Chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research.


Chemophobes continue attack on FDA

There is an old story that’s told around major league baseball parks. An umpire, whose name is lost to the mists of time, reported for duty one evening.  He had brought two people with him, and stopped at the stadium’s business office to see if he could get them passes to watch the game. The team’s representative wasn’t sure whether this request could be granted, so he phoned the team’s general manager for help.
“One of tonight’s umpires is here,” he said, “and he wants to know if he can get free tickets for two of his friends.”  “Absolutely not—the guy’s a fake,” the GM responded immediately. “Umpires don’t have any friends.”


Animal health and human health are inextricably linked

The Food and Drug Administration’s long-awaited policy announcement on antibiotic use in food animals has accomplished an almost impossible Beltway feat – just about everyone’s happy about it.
The new policy aligns antibiotic use in animals and humans and eliminates the use of antibiotics as growth promoters, similar to the European ban on antibiotic growth promoters. The FDA’s new guidance requires that all medically important antibiotics used in animal agriculture be administered with the supervision of a licensed veterinarian for therapeutic purposes -- meaning disease treatment, control and prevention. Use for growth promotion will be phased out. Medicines will now be used in animal health much the same way they are by humans –to address disease and under the watchful eye of a licensed medical professional.


FDA proposal threatens access to care for asthma and allergy patients

It wasn’t that long ago when asthma and severe allergies, like anaphylaxis, were treated with fumigating powders, caustic vapors, opium and stramonium cigarettes. Patients were debilitated, unable to work, go to school and many died.
The last 30 years have brought radical advancements in research, technology, medical devices and treatment. Federally funded evidence-based national asthma and anaphylaxis treatment guidelines are shown to prevent needless death and suffering while reducing healthcare costs.

Yet a new paradigm to cut healthcare costs proposed by the Food and Drug Administration threatens to deliver us back to the dark ages.


A shared passion for ending chimpanzee experiments

We might seem like an unlikely couple: one of us is a Hollywood actress who plays a vampire on True Blood, the other a physician who served as the medical director of immunization practices in the vaccine division of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. But a common desire brings us together: improving human health and ending cruel chimpanzee experiments by passing the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2012.
We know that it’s a critical moment for this bill. The legislation currently has more than 175 congressional co-sponsors who want to see it pass this year for scientific, financial and ethical reasons.
The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act will help the United States move toward more effective treatments for a laundry list of human diseases. It will save more than $330 million in taxpayer dollars over the next decade. And it will help the nearly 1,000 chimpanzees currently suffering in U.S. laboratories.


Give us a healthcare system that works and is affordable

With Mother’s Day approaching, many of us think of the usual ways to honor the women who hold this most important 24/7 job – beautiful flowers, a relaxing day at the spa, or perhaps a scrumptious brunch that mom actually doesn’t have to prepare. But, for the moms out there who also happen to be small business owners, they have one major Mother’s Day wish that they are sending out to our nation’s leaders: resolve the healthcare crisis and give us some definitive answers on what will happen when it comes to health insurance costs.

Not only are these women concerned about insuring themselves and their families without breaking the bank, but they want to be able to provide cost-effective, easy-to-understand healthcare plans for their employees. As moms, in particular, they know how important good-quality medical care is to the growth and development of healthy children. They are anxiously waiting for the Supreme Court to make its final decision on the fate of President Obama’s landmark healthcare reform. There are many who oppose it, and just as many who favor it. But, whether in favor or against, Democrat or Republican, one fact is certain for all those who are self-employed: something needs to be done to lower skyrocketing health care coverage costs.


Action required on influenza research

In the sobering annals of disaster prevention, genetic manipulation of the H5N1 influenza virus is looming as a seminal case. As has been widely reported, laboratory experiments have rendered the highly virulent avian strain transmissible among ferrets, strongly suggesting that it would be transmissible among humans as well. The potential is seriously alarming. The 1918 H1N1 strain is believed to have killed some 20 to 100 million people worldwide with a case fatality rate of 2- 20 percent, disproportionately young adults. The naturally occurring H5N1 virus has so far infected only about 600 people but half of them have died. If the virus could achieve efficient transmissibility while retaining anything like its current case fatality rate, it could inflict global disaster of unprecedented proportions.