Health Newsbrief
June 28/July 5, 2000
Vol. 1, No. 11
ISSN 1530-3616
______________________________________________________


Bruce Maxwell, Editor <bmax@silverhammerpub.com>
Silver Hammer Publishing <http://silverhammerpub.com>

Instructions for subscribing and unsubscribing are provided at
the end of this newsletter.


Editor's Note
______________________________________________________

My apologies for not publishing last week. The subscriber
database at the company that actually sends this newsletter
became corrupted (as did the backup), which prevented me from
publishing. Using imperfect data, I've been rebuilding the
database by hand. To make sure you don't miss out on any key
stories, I've written a double issue this week that covers all
the major news from the past two weeks.

If you wish to continue receiving this newsletter, do nothing -
you're in the new database and will receive the newsletter each
week. If you don't wish to receive the newsletter, please do one
of two things: 1) click on the e-mail link at the very end of
this newsletter or 2) send me an e-mail message
(bmax@silverhammerpub.com) and I'll take you off by hand.

Both the newsletter hosting company and I have instituted new
procedures aimed at ensuring this problem never happens again. I
appreciate your patience and understanding, and apologize again
for the inconvenience.


The News
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REPORT ON MEDICAL ERRORS CALLED ERRONEOUS
How many Americans die from medical errors? Last year, the
Institute of Medicine - a branch of the National Academy of
Sciences - pegged the figure at up to 98,000 annually in a
groundbreaking report that quickly led to congressional hearings.
This week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical
Association has two articles about the report: one criticizes its
conclusions, while the other defends the study and says the
98,000 number actually might be low.
Source: Washington Post - July 5, 2000
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47403-2000Jul4.html
JAMA article criticizing report:
http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v284n1/full/jcv00006.html
JAMA article defending report:
http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v284n1/full/jcv00005.html


PRESCRIPTION DEATHS BRING CALL FOR CHECKS
Although millions of prescriptions are filled safely around the
United States every day, errors can be deadly. But no one's
keeping track of the errors or the pharmacists who make them.
Source: Washington Post - July 3, 2000
http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14064-2000Jun28.html


ST. JOHN'S WORT HAS ITS OWN SET OF PROBLEMS
St. John's Wort is an enormously popular herbal treatment for
mild and moderate depression. However, it has dangers just like
any other drug - especially when taken with other medications.
Source: Los Angeles Times - July 3, 2000
http://www.latimes.com/news/health/20000703/t000062654.html


MEDICAL RECORDS CAN WREAK HAVOC ON CAREER, LIFE
If you have a history of a particular disease in your family,
genetic testing can frequently tell you whether you're at
heightened risk for the illness. But a positive report also can
threaten your career and your access to health insurance.
Source: Denver Post - July 2, 2000
http://www.denverpost.com/business/biz0702.htm


STUDY DELVES INTO MENTAL HEALTH
If you've suffered from mental illness or have felt on the verge
of a nervous breakdown, you're far from alone. A study published
in the July issue of American Psychologist reports that 7 percent
of Americans surveyed said they'd had a mental health problem,
and another 26 percent said they had felt on the verge of a
nervous breakdown.
Source: Associated Press - July 2, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000702/hl/
nervous_breakdowns_1.html



MANAGED CARE BALKS AT NEWER DRUGS
Pharmaceutical companies are churning out a dizzying array of new
drugs, but many are complex formulations that carry a hefty price
tag. Health insurance companies are refusing to pay for some of
the drugs, contending that older, cheaper drugs work just as
well.
Source: Associated Press - July 3, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000703/hl/
arthritis_drug_coverage_1.html



GROUP SEEKS TO COUNTERACT DRUGMAKERS
A new coalition that includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Kaiser
Permanente, General Motors, the AFL-CIO, the AARP and dozens of
other organizations plans to take on pharmaceutical companies
over skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. The coalition,
known as RxHealth Value, plans to counter the drug companies'
huge advertising campaigns and to represent consumer interests
before Congress and federal regulators.
Source: New York Times - June 30, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/financial/063000health-drugs.html


MANY CANCER PATIENTS USE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Vitamins, herbs, meditation, and other alternative or
complementary therapies are very popular with cancer patients,
according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical
Oncology. Yet most patients don't tell their doctors about the
treatments, an omission that can have dangerous consequences
because some vitamins and herbs interact badly with prescription
cancer drugs.
Source: Reuters - June 29, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000629/hl/alternative_1.html


F.D.A. CONSIDERS SWITCHING SOME PRESCRIPTION
DRUGS TO OVER-THE-COUNTER STATUS
Americans may soon by able to buy everything from antibiotics to
birth control pills just like they do aspirin: over the counter.
The Food and Drug Administration is reexamining how it regulates
over-the-counter drugs. The last such review, in 1972, resulted
in more than 600 prescription drugs becoming nonprescription.
Needless to say, the idea of making more drugs nonprescription
has raised a host of controversial issues.
Source: New York Times - June 28, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/health/
062800hth-fda-otcdrugs.html



DOCTORS WHO LOVE PUBLICITY
Some doctors, especially those in practices like dermatology and
plastic surgery, are hiring publicists at hefty prices to get
exposure in the news media. Many also provide free services to
editors at women's magazines, expecting that in return they'll
get a nice article in which they'll be prominently mentioned. For
some reason, the articles rarely mention that the services
described were provided for free.
Source: New York Times - July 2, 2000
http://nytimes.com/library/style/weekend/
070200doctors-publicity.html



JOURNAL EDITOR BLASTS DRUG PRICES
In a scathing editorial, the editor of the New England Journal of
Medicine blasted drug companies for using "exaggerated or
misleading" claims to justify the high prices of drugs. Drug
companies got a second, separate blast from Rep. Tom Coburn
(R-Okla), who is a physician. He asked Attorney General Janet
Reno to investigate whether drug companies are colluding to fix
prices.
Sources: Reuters - June 21, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000621/hl/editor_1.html
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000621/hl/collusion_1.html


HOSPITALS EMBRACE ALTERNATIVE CARE
According to a new survey, about 13 percent of U.S. hospitals
offer alternative treatments such as acupuncture, aromatherapy,
and chiropractic procedures. The hospitals aren't rejecting
traditional Western medicine - they're just trying to get a piece
of the $27 billion that Americans spend annually on alternative
care.
Source: Associated Press - June 23, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000623/hl/
alternative_care_1.html



BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION BACKS ACUPUNCTURE
Acupuncture is effective in treating some conditions, according
to a new report by the British Medical Association. Those
conditions include nausea, vomiting, back pain, dental pain, and
migraines, among others. The report also recommends that medical
schools include acupuncture training in their curriculums.
Source: Reuters - June 26, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000626/hl/acupuncture_1.html
BMA report summary:
http://web.bma.org.uk/public/science.nsf/sciencedocsvw/
ReportAcupuncture



ASSOCIATION BETWEEN DEPRESSION AND MORTALITY
IN OLDER ADULTS
Elderly people who suffer from depression are at higher risk of
dying than those who are not depressed, according to a study
published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers
suggest the reason is that depression often causes a lack of
motivation.
Source: Archives of Internal Medicine - June 26, 2000
http://archinte.ama-assn.org/issues/v160n12/abs/ioi90600.html


THE BIG DECISIONS? THEY'RE ALL YOURS
Today's move toward patient empowerment means patients are far
more responsible than in the past for learning about their
medical problems. Most like that idea until they realize that
with it goes the responsibility for making crucial treatment
decisions.
Source: New York Times - June 25, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/health/
062500hth-women-decisions.html



FOR PEDIATRICIANS, A STRUGGLE AGAINST THE
'NEW MORBIDITY'
With children growing up faster than ever, pediatricians are
increasingly finding themselves forced to deal with everything
from depression to substance abuse in their patients. Despite
doing their best, many of the doctors aren't trained in the
myriad of emotional, behavioral, and school problems they now
face - and their patients can suffer as a result.
Source: New York Times - June 25, 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/health/
062500hth-family-behavior.html



MORE FOOD SAFETY TESTS NEEDED TO PROTECT
CONSUMERS
The federal agency that inspects the nation's meat and poultry
plants needs to expand its laboratory testing and improve its
monitoring of plants to better protect consumers from food-borne
disease, according to a report by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's inspector general. The inspector general's report
examined the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service's multi-year
program to improve inspection procedures.
Source: Reuters - June 21, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000621/hl/consumers_1.html
USDA report: http://www.usda.gov/oig/auditrpt/auditrpt.htm


US WARNS OF POSSIBLE FLU VACCINE SHORTAGE
Better get in line early for your flu shot this fall. A study by
the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports
that production problems could cause a shortage of flu vaccine
this year, although the exact extent of the problem is not yet
known.
Source: Reuters - June 23, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000623/hl/flu_vaccine_1.html


REPORT: SMOKERS NEED MORE HELP
Doctors should treat smoking just like any other chronic illness,
according to a report by the U.S. Public Health Service. The
agency said most Americans who smoke want to quit, but that their
doctors often provide little or no help. Some doctors don't even
ask their patients whether they smoke, the report said.
Source: Associated Press - June 27, 2000
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000627/hl/
quitting_tobacco_1.html

U.S. Public Health Service report:
http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco


Will You Please Help?
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