HEALTH

Economic analysis: Prescription-only status for PSE would drive up physician visits, healthcare costs

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — According to an economic impact analysis released Tuesday by Martin Kennedy, a former professor of economics who spent seven years on the faculty of Middle Tennessee State University, adopting a prescription requirement for pseudoephedrine products in Tennessee would result in an influx of more than 497,000 additional physician office visits at a direct cost of $44.3 million annually.

"A prescription mandate for pseudoephedrine is a costly and ineffective approach to dealing with Tennessee’s meth problem," stated Tennessee State Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet. "With direct costs estimated at over $44 million dollars and indirect costs substantially higher, such a proposal would need to guarantee positive results to even be considered. Yet there is no guarantee that a prescription requirement would truly address the real sources of the overall meth problem since it does nothing to deal with the near-constant flow of meth from outside of Tennessee, or the necessary treatment of those who suffer from serious drug addiction," he said. "State leaders need to focus on balanced policies that don’t burden law-abiding Tennessee families if they are going to make real progress in this fight."

"I approached this study with a very open mind. As a Tennessee citizen and a father of five, I believe very strongly that something more must be done to tackle the scourge of meth production in our state," Kennedy said. "As an economist, however, there’s no question that when conducting a detailed analysis of a prescription requirement, the new costs associated with such a policy change are striking and considerable. I hope that these empirical findings will provide policymakers with a fuller understanding of the potential impacts of the prescription-only approach."

"Members of the Tennessee General Assembly are to be commended for looking for new policy solutions to the state’s ongoing methamphetamine problem," stated Scott Melville, president and CEO for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "But as Dr. Kennedy’s new analysis makes clear, a prescription requirement for safe and effective cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine would have significant — and in our view — unnecessary economic consequences for consumers, healthcare providers, businesses and the state as a whole," he said. "Tennessee families should not be punished for the actions of a criminal minority."

Kennedy’s study was supported by a grant from CHPA. 

 

 

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Survey: Latinos see diabetes as biggest health concern for their families

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — A new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health poll released Tuesday found that Latinos in America see diabetes as the biggest health problem for their own families.

Nearly 1-in-5 (19%) Latinos said diabetes is the biggest health problem facing their families. The next most cited problem, cancer, is mentioned by just 1-in-20 Latinos (5%). Diabetes was the biggest health problem reported by both immigrant (16%) and non-immigrant Latinos (22%).

"These findings are surprising," stated Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. "Previous polls have shown that Latinos see cancer as the most important health problem facing the country. But when asked about their own families, Latinos cite diabetes as the biggest problem."

Researchers have long cited diabetes as a threat for the nation’s Latino population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic adults are 1.7 times more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, and 1.5 times more likely to die from diabetes.

Prior studies have shown that obesity rates among immigrants increase as their duration of residence in the U.S. increases, and suggest that this may be attributable in part to changes in lifestyle, including unhealthy diet. However, the poll suggests that Latino immigrants generally do not perceive their diets as less healthy in the U.S. About 4-in-10 (38%) immigrants said their diet is healthier in the United States, and about the same number (39%) sees their diet about as healthy. Only 1-in-5 (21%) see their diet as less healthy. 

Cuban immigrants are significantly more likely to see their diet as more healthy in the U.S. (60%) than are immigrants of Dominican (37%), Mexican (36%) or South American (21%) heritage.

Among Latinos who have received medical care during the past twelve months, about one in five (19%) rate the health services they received as fair or poor. Among Latino groups, those reporting care was fair or poor range from 24% among Latinos of Mexican heritage to 7% among those of Cuban ancestry.

Over half of all Latinos (52%) are not confident that they would have enough money or health insurance to pay for a major illness.

 

 

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FDA launches advisory committee membership nomination portal

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday launched the advisory committee membership nomination portal, an online, interactive system that allows interested individuals to submit nominations for membership to any of the agency’s 33 advisory committees.  

The portal will enable nominees to submit their application for membership on an advisory committee from the FDA’s website, creating a paperless, streamlined process that will enable the agency to accept, evaluate and ultimately nominate qualified individuals for membership in a timely fashion. 

“The portal allows applicants to complete their entire application online,” Jill Hartzler Warner, acting associate commissioner of the FDA’s Office of Special Medical Programs, said. “Applicants will experience an interactive, step-by-step process that eliminates confusion and accelerates the timeframe for submitting and processing an application.”

The system will securely store all applicant information and enable the FDA to develop metrics for assessing the entire applicant pool to identify qualified candidates to fill specific vacancies on advisory committees. Currently, applications must either be emailed or mailed to the agency.

Nominations for scientific members and consumer and industry representatives may be submitted by professional societies, industry and consumer groups, and other interested persons and organizations. Potential candidates are asked to provide detailed information concerning such matters as financial holdings, employment and research grants and/or contracts in order to permit evaluation of possible sources of conflict of interest. 

Advisory committees provide the FDA with independent, expert advice on a range of complex scientific, technical and policy issues.

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