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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HEALTH

Biocodex appoints new VP, managing director

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN BRUNO, Calif. Biocodex, manufacturer of Florastor and Florastor Kids probiotic supplements, on Thursday announced the appointment of Marc Rohman as VP and managing director of Biocodex, Inc., the French company’s U.S. subsidiary.

According to Nicolas Coudurier, international director of Biocodex, the U.S. market is a key priority for the company for its planned strategic expansion in the pharmaceutical arena.

“Florastor has been a tremendous success worldwide, and we feel there is great potential for the U.S. to be one of our largest footprints for this and other brands,” Coudurier said. “We’re thrilled to have someone with [Rohman’s] vast pharma expertise, not only on the marketing side, but also on the medical affairs side, to lead our foray into new U.S. product offerings.”

Prior to joining Biocodex, Rohman was part of the senior management team at FlowMedica where he was responsible for directing the company’s collaboration efforts for targeted renal therapy. While at FlowMedica, he also directed the collaborative pharma and other general business development efforts, as well as lead marketing, market development and general promotion of the company.

“Maximizing the potential of the Florastor brand is going to be a key priority for me, but at the same time, I will also be focusing on strategic alliances to build the company’s U.S. portfolio,” Rohman said. “Within the next five years or so, I’d like to see the U.S. arm of Biocodex bring at least two or more products to market.”

In addition to his work at FlowMedica, Rohman also worked for leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies, such as Scios, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2003, Mallinckrodt (now Tyco Healthcare), Boehringer Mannheim, Knoll Pharmaceuticals and Marion Labs.

Rohman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising from Michigan State University.

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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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