HEALTH

Kaiser Family Foundation: Patients hold off medical care due to cost

BY Alaric DeArment

MENLO PARK, Calif. A health tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation released Thursday finds that the recession has forced a majority of respondents to put off medical care due to the cost.

The nationwide telephone poll of more than 1,000 adults found that 42% of respondents substituted home remedies or OTC drugs for doctor visits, while 36% skipped dental care or checkups, 29% didn’t fill prescriptions and 18% cut pills in half or skipped doses.

A large majority of respondents, 59%, said healthcare reform is more important than ever, while 37% said it was unaffordable because of economic problems.

“Our polls suggest strong support for health reform, but the public can be swayed on the key details,” Kaiser president and CEO Drew Altman said. “There is still a tremendous opportunity for leadership, but also for interest groups to define the direction of the health reform debate.”

To pay for healthcare reform, 71% supported increasing taxes on families making more than $250,000 per year, but 28% supported increasing income taxes across the board. At the same time, 61% favored “sin” taxes on items such as alcohol, cigarettes, soda and junk food. Slightly more than half, 52%, opposed taxing money that employers put toward the most generous health benefits, and 62% those who have employer-sponsored health insurance opposed the idea.

Responses did, however, depend on political affiliation. More than 80% of Democrats and 60% of independents strongly or somewhat favored having a public health plan, compared to 49% of Republicans.

The foundation randomly contacted 1,203 adults aged 18 and older by phone and conducted the poll in English and Spanish. The poll had a margin error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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Chill International launches cooling towel for hot flashes, night sweats

BY Michael Johnsen

KEY WEST, Fla. Chill International on Thursday announced the launch of a new menopausal cooling towel, called Chill Cooling Towels, which provides relief for hot flashes and night sweats.

The Chill Towels were first introduced in many Walgreens in Florida this spring, the company reported.

“Initial consumer response has been overwhelming,” stated Allan Wimer, Chill CEO. “Consumers love the fact that the towels do not need to be chilled and are genuinely amazed at how long the towel’s cooling sensation lasts,” he said. “In fact, consumer tests indicate the cooling sensation lasts up to 2-3 hours depending on climate conditions.”

The towels are available in three sizes.

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FDA to expand Plan B availability to 17-year-olds

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday informed Duramed Research, manufacturer of Plan B, that it may market the emergency contraceptive without a prescription to women age 17 years and older, following submission and approval of the appropriate application.

Currently, the emergency contraceptive Plan B is available behind the pharmacy counter for women over the age of 18, but as a prescription-only product for women 17 years old and younger.

The FDA decision came within the 30 days mandated by a federal court to permit the Plan B drug sponsor to make Plan B available to women 17 and older without a prescription.

“The government will not appeal this decision,” the FDA stated. “In accordance with the court’s order, and consistent with the scientific findings made in 2005 by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research,  FDA notified the manufacturer of Plan B informing the company that it may … market Plan B without a prescription to women 17 years of age and older.”

Plan B is manufactured by Duramed Research, which was acquired by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in December as part of its acquisition of Barr Pharmaceuticals.

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