Drug Interactions a Serious Health Concern

We live in an age where medical and pharmaceutical research is something we take for granted. The medical procedures and medications we rely on to maintain and improve our health are often seen as safe, reliable and easy to obtain. Yet these advances in medical technology do not come without risks, especially when we take two or more types of drugs. The risk of drugs interacting with one another to cause negative, and potentially deadly, side effects is a very real one, and one that leads to a shockingly high number of deaths and injuries each year.Drug Interactions Deadlier Than Car CrashesAbout 34,000 people die every year as the result of automobile crashes, while more than 2 million people sustain injuries. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration reports that , or ADRs, are responsible for killing nearly three times as many people as those killed in car crashes. The FDA reports that about 100,000 people die from ADRs each year, while another 2 million suffer serious complications.Drugs a Part of Modern LifeThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 82 percent of the population takes at least one type of medication, while nearly 30 percent take five or more types of drugs. These figures include both over-the-counter medications, as well as prescription drugs.The CDC also reports that about 700,000 people visit emergency rooms every year because of ADRs, while another 120,000 people have to be hospitalized. The extra expenses caused by ADRs account for an additional $3.5 billion in health care costs every year.A Growing, and Often Preventable, ProblemDrug companies are constantly developing new medications, while researchers are regularly discovering new uses for already existing drugs. The population is, as a whole, becoming much older, and older Americans are much more likely to regularly use both prescription and over-the-counter medications than younger people. When these factors are combined with the fact that physicians are more often prescribing medications as a preventative measure, and more people have access to prescription drug coverage, the trend lines are clear; adverse drug interactions will increase, and continue to do so, for the foreseeable future.Fortunately, there is at least one positive factor in all of this. …

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Optimizing custody is child’s play for physicists

Ensuring that parents in recomposed families see their children regularly is a complex network problem.Physics can provide insights into societal trends. Problems involving interactions between people linked in real-life networks can be better understood by using physical models. As a diversion from his normal duties as a theoretical physicist, Andrs Gomberoff from the Andres Bello University in Santiago, Chile, set out to resolve one of his real-life problems: finding a suitable weekend for both partners in his recomposed family to see all their children at the same time. He then joined forces with a mathematician and a complex systems expert. This resulted in a study published in EPJ B, showing that solving this problem essentially equates to minimizing the energy in a material model.The authors assume that they deal with a network of people who are connected, either because they are in a current relationship or because they are ex-partners. Another assumption is that all involved in the network are willing to cooperate and communicate in an open manner.They then attempt to verify whether it is possible to find a custody arrangement whereby all parents see all of their children together every other weekend, thus satisfying the expectations of all members of the network. The answer is that it is not possible, in general, to have such an agreement.However, they also found that it is possible to have an arrangement in which one of the parents gets to see all of their children every other weekend. They also found an algorithm to maximize the level of contentment of members of this extended family network. Maximizing the number of parents spending time with their own children and those of their current partners was akin to minimizing the energy of a particular magnetic material called a spin glass.Who said that physics can’t have real-life applications?Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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HIV drug used to reverse effects of virus that causes cervical cancer

A commonly-used HIV drug has been shown to kill off the human papilloma virus (HPV) that leads to cervical cancer in a world-first clinical trial led by The University of Manchester with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi.Drs Ian and Lynne Hampson, from the University’s Institute of Cancer Sciences and Dr Innocent Orora Maranga, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at KNH in Nairobi examined Kenyan women diagnosed with HPV positive early stage cervical cancer who were treated with the antiviral HIV drug lopinavir in Kenya.The study looked at 40 women with both high and low-grade pre-cancerous disease of the cervix and the antiviral drug, normally used orally to treat HIV, was self-applied directly to the cervix as a pessary.The results, due to be presented at two international scientific conferences later this month and next, showed a high proportion of women diagnosed with HPV positive high-grade disease returned to normal following a short course of the new treatment. The findings build on previous peer-reviewed laboratory based research carried out by Drs Hampson and will be submitted to a journal soon.They have been described by an independent leading specialist in gynaecological cancer as very impressive. The 40 women, who were all HPV positive with either high-grade, borderline or low grade disease, were treated with one capsule of the antiviral drug twice a day for 2 weeks.Repeat cervical smears showed a marked improvement within one month of the treatment although after three months, there was a definite response. Out of 23 women initially diagnosed with high-grade disease, 19 (82.6%) had returned to normal and two now had low-grade disease giving an overall positive response in 91.2%.of those treated.Furthermore the 17 women initially diagnosed with borderline or low-grade disease also showed similar improvement. Photographic images of the cervix before and after treatment showed clear regression of the cervical lesions and no adverse reactions were reported.Dr Ian Hampson said: “For an early stage clinical trial the results have exceeded our expectations. We have seen women with high-grade disease revert to a normal healthy cervix within a comparatively short period of time.”We are convinced that further optimization of the dose and treatment period will improve the efficacy still further.”It is our hope that this treatment has the potential to revolutionize the management of this disease most particularly in developing nations such as Kenya.”Cervical cancer is caused by infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) and is more than five times more prevalent in East Africa than the UK. In many developing countries, HPV-related cervical cancer is still one of the most common women’s cancers accounting for approximately 290,000 deaths per year worldwide. The same virus also causes a significant proportion of cancers of the mouth and throat in both men and women and this disease is showing an large increase in developed countries, such as the UK, where it is now more than twice as common as cervical cancer.Dr Lynne Hampson said: “Current HPV Vaccines are prophylactics aimed at preventing the disease rather than curing or treating symptoms. Other than surgery, as yet there is no effective treatment for either HPV infection or the pre-cancerous lesion it causes which is why these results are so exciting.”Further work is needed but it looks as though this might be a potential treatment to stop early stage cervical cancer caused by HPV.”On a global scale HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Although in the developed world vaccination programmes against HPV are well underway, these are not effective in women already infected with the virus.The current vaccines do not protect against all types of HPV and they are expensive, which can limit their use in countries with low resources. …

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Doctors likely to accept new Medicaid patients as coverage expands

Oct. 16, 2013 — The upcoming expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) won’t lead physicians to reduce the number of new Medicaid patients they accept, suggests a study in the November issue of Medical Care, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.However, doctors may be less likely to accept those patients who remain uninsured, according to an analysis of historical data by Lindsay M. Sabik, PhD, and Sabina Ohri Gandhi, PhD, of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. They write, “Our results suggest that after increases in Medicaid coverage within a market, access may be limited for the remaining patients.”Doctors Likely to Continue Accepting Medicaid Patients After ExpansionAs part of the ACA, Medicaid coverage will expand substantially beginning in 2014, with the goal of improving the health of people who were previously uninsured. Whether that goal is achieved will partly depend on how doctors respond to changes in their local market — and how those decisions affect low-income individuals who rely on “safety-net” care.Drs Sabik and Gandhi analyzed data from a long-term, nationwide study of changes in the health care system (the Community Tracking Study Physician Survey). Physician survey responses from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s were analyzed to assess how market-level changes in Medicaid coverage affected doctors’ acceptance of new patients: both patients covered by Medicaid and uninsured patients who were unable to pay.For most of the period studied, Medicaid coverage rates increased while uninsurance rates trended lower. Both rates varied between different markets. About 70 percent of physicians surveyed were in solo or group medical practice.The data suggested that changes in Medicaid coverage did not significantly affect doctors’ acceptance of new Medicaid patients. “[P]hysicians who were already accepting (or not accepting) Medicaid patients before changes in Medicaid coverage rates continue to do so,” Drs Sabik and Gandhi write.On average, new Medicaid patients were accepted by about 72 percent of office-based and 90 percent of facility-based doctors (those who work at hospitals or other facilities). These rates remained about the same after changes in Medicaid coverage.But May Not Accept Patients Who Remain UninsuredHowever, when Medicaid coverage rates increased, physicians became less likely to accept new uninsured patients. …

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