Evaluating Physician’s Services

Have you ever wondered if you were receiving the best health care you could be? Doctors aren’t infallible and their diagnoses aren’t always the final word. It’s important know as much as you can about your health and what options are available to you depending your situation.

Not all doctors are equally qualified. Some have more experience that others. Following are some tips on how to ensure you are receiving the best treatment to stay your healthiest.

Do some research before selecting a physician. Ask about his education and areas of expertise. If you have a specific illness, look for a specialist in that field. It’s OK to ask for a second opinion and seek out the best care. Your good health is worth making the effort.

Don’t worry about hurting your physician’s feelings if you go ahead and get a second opinion. It may help set your mind at ease and know that you’ve done all you can for your health and your future.

You should also feel free to ask to see any test results that you may have received. Ask the doctor questions about the tests and/or his diagnosis until you feel satisfied. You may want to inquire if additional tests would be useful.

It’s important to understand your particular health concerns as well as you can. If you’re not an MD you may not know that much about your diagnosis. So, take the time to learn what you can about it. Think of you and your doctor as partners in your health care journey.

Find a doctor that you are comfortable with and rely on them to help you maintain your good health.

Strive to develop a relationship with them so that you feel comfortable asking questions and exploring your options as they pertain to your health.

Three Important Things to Know About Radicava

The ALS Association is the largest charity for people with Lou Gehrig’s disease in the United States. Not only do they provide excellent patient provision through care takers and support groups, they are also the leading fundraiser for new research when it comes to ALS treatment and a possible cure. During the summer of 2014, the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge went viral online and raised over 100 million dollars. This was the largest amount of donations the fundraisers at ALS had ever seen. They were ecstatic! This boost in funding led to the research and development of three new treatments for Lou Gehrig’s disease, one being Radicava, which will likely be available August of this year. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Radicava slows the progress of ALS by reducing oxidative stress in the body. ALS is essentially a slow reduction in the body’s ability to function overall. This eventually leads to the shutdown of vital organs within the body. One of the first signs of ALS is the presence of oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between the presence of toxins in the body and the immune system’s ability to detoxify. These effects will first manifest themselves as a general slowing of autoimmune abilities followed by the more sinister effects of ALS, such as major organ failure. Radicava offers a time out to these unfortunate realities. The new medication has been shown to slow oxidative stress, and most patients see a 33% reduction in the decline of their physical abilities. Additionally, all Radicava test patients had higher scores on the ALS Functional Rating Scale
  2. First new medicine in 22 years. Because the origins of ALS are still largely misunderstood, it is incredibly difficult to approve and test new medications. Since the mid nineteenth century, our knowledge of what causes ALS has not kept up with other medical advancements. Because of this, it is incredibly difficult to find funding for new treatments when legislatures do not understand the medicinal premise. The first and last drug to be approved for treatment of ALS was Riluzole, which slowed lung failure. Unfortunately, the relatively small benefit offered to ALS patients compared to its astronomical costs essentially relegated Riluzole to pipe dream status. The mystery surrounding its origins combined with a lack of funding lead to a two decade ASL treatment dry spell. However, after the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge, three new medications were presented to the FDA for approval. The first to reach the pharmaceutical market will be Radicava in August!
  3. Administered by infusion. At this point you’re probably wondering how Radicava will be administered to patients. Is it overly intrusive or painful? Will it even be worth it? For those who participated in the testing of the drug, Radicava absolutely is. The treatment is administered intravenously over a fourteen day period, followed by a fourteen day rest. After the initial treatment, patients will receive injections for ten out of every fourteen days. While this is a time-consuming treatment, this is the first ASL medication with legitimate promise for, not only extending the lives of those with Lou Gehrig’s disease, but also improving their quality of life!

After so many years of failed treatments and questions surrounding the origins of ALS, Radicava’s approval is a beacon of hope for patients and their loved ones.

Healthcare MVNO, Weight Loss or Health Mangement Solution?

Can the MVNO phenomena really extend to healthcare? Qualcomm thinks so, as in May 2007 they announced plans to create LifeComm a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) with a healthcare focus. What’s important in Qualcomm’s plans and what will perhaps be the most important factor in determining the long term success of LifeComm is their plans to integrate some of the core health care monitoring functions in to a range of custom handsets coupled with network based services.

It is not farfetched to imagine a mobile phone (cell phone) based solution that encourages the improvement of ones diet and to encourage weight loss. For example it is suggested that the mobile device could monitor a number of body functions and parameters. A patient’s clinician could remotely monitor such data from the web, setting the patient new targets, send text messages of encouragement or indeed warnings of deviation from the health care program. Such proactive healthcare technology could have a revolutionary effect on diet and weight-loss programs.

Critical to the success of healthcare MVNOs is a range of clever biometric sensors linked to the web via the patients mobile phone (cell phone), all integrated with a proven clinical program.

Whether or not one really needs a MVNO to deliver these services is unclear. Could the airtime service be provided using the patients existing mobile (cellular) provider? Or, are these applications strong enough to force the consumer to switch providers, bringing over their mobile spend? In Piran Partners experience this very much depends on the attitude of consumers in a particular target segment, whether that be by geographic region or interest group.

The Health Care Crisis in a Faltering Economy

Many American’s are writing their health care out of their budget due to the uncertain economy. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll, which showed that 53 percent of participants said that they or someone in their family has cut back on health care because of the high costs associated with it. Especially for American’s who are out of work, not having coverage can send health care costs skyrocketing with bills piling up rather quickly. The poll also indicates that more people are turning to home remedies and over the counter drugs, as opposed to seeking the help of a physician. Lastly, more American’s are not filling prescriptions and/or avoiding medical tests or treatments in order to just get by.

A few things that will help you save money is to request your own records and do it well in advance of your doctors appointment, Take note of any changes you have had in the last six months and write everything down before your visit, so you don’t forget to ask any important questions. Essentially, get the most out of one appointment as possible. Ask your doctor for free samples of any prescriptions to help keep costs down and ask about cheaper generic alternatives to your current medications.

American’s do have an option to ask for financial help as many hospitals and clinics usually have financial assistance programs. Some doctors, like Feltheimer of New York Presbyterian, lowers his fees to $50.00 for patients’ who are out of work or uninsured. Many doctors will work out a payment schedules, so do not hesitate to ask what your physician’s policies are. People with chronic or debilitating disease such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, can access the Patient Advocate Foundation. They provide help negotiating with insurers and helps people get the most out of their health plan. There are no financial requirements to qualify, so call (800) 532-5274 to be assigned a case manager.

Journey of a Drug: Design to Market Seller

Where do the medicines we take from chemists come from? How do the doctors know which drug is good for which disease? How the medicines really are able to cure a particular ailment they have been prescribed for? Do these questions come to your mind, whenever you buy any medicine?

Come, let us today know about the medicine development from the beginning

The development of medicine is called a Clinical Research and has different Phases. Phases of the clinical research are the steps of experiments with a health intervention in an attempt to find enough evidence for a process which the scientists think would be helpful in medical treatment.

The pharmaceutical study starts its journey from a drug design and drug molecule discovery which further progresses into animal testing and then human studies to see the drug’s effectiveness.

Drug undergoes many trials- Preclinical, Phase 0, Phase I, II, III and IV. Sometimes combined trials also are undertaken to reduce the time of development, like Phase I/II and II/III.

Pre-Clinical Study

When the drug molecule is identified, it undergoes many in vitro (test tube or cell culture) and in vivo (animal) experiments. These experiments are conducted to know the preliminary efficacy, toxicity, and pharmacokinetics of the various doses of the drug. Many drug molecules are designed at a time and these pre-clinical studies let the pharmaceutical companies decide which molecule has a greater potential in further studies.

Design of the Studies:

Trials are always conducted by following the set of steps, called the protocol, developed by the researchers to find the specific questions related to the medical product. Information from the prior studies become the base for the researchers to develop research questionnaire and objectives:

  • Participant selection
  • Number of participants
  • Duration of the study
  • Controlled or not
  • How and what dosage will be given
  • What and when the data will be collected
  • Review and analysis time

Phase 0 Study

It is also called micro-dosing trials, 10-15 human subjects are taken and single sub-therapeutic doses are administered to gather the pharmacokinetic (PK) data of the drug. This enables the company in deciding to go or no go for the further development of the drug, based on more relevant human data instead of animal data.

Such trials exceed the speed of promising drug development by establishing whether or not the drug acts on humans as expected in pre-clinical studies.

After the company decides to take the molecule of the drug forward in development, it will have to submit the data of its preliminary studies to the FDA called Investigation New Drug (IND) application filing.

Phase I Study

Also called First-in-man studies as these are the first stage of human testing studies. These are the studies which are designed to determine the maximum dose that can be administered without showing adverse effects.

Contract Research Organizations (CROs) conduct such studies in the clinical trial clinics where medical staff provides full-time attention to 2-100 healthy subjects enrolled for the study and collects the data.

These studies determine the safety (pharmacovigilance), tolerability, pharmacokinetics (PK)and pharmacodynamics (PD) of the drug. The design of Phase I studies is dose-ranging also called dose escalation studies conducted in controlled clinics called Central Pharmacological Units (CPUs).

Usually, healthy subjects are hired but sometimes terminally ill patients like of cancer and HIV and also those who have already tried and failed to improve on existing medications.

There are two divisions for Phase I study:

Phase Ia: Single ascending dose

Phase Ib: Multiple ascending dose

Phase II Study

More than 100 diseased subjects are enrolled for a longer period study, to know the benefits of the drug along with its safety which includes genetic testing. These studies are also called as “Proof of Concept or Pilot” studies.

This is the phase when the drug’s development can fail due to toxicity or less than expected results.

Two divisions of this phase are:

Phase IIa: Pilot study, to determine the clinical efficacy or the biological activity.

Phase IIb: Dose-finding study, to check the biological activity with minimal side-effects.

A combined trial determining the efficacy as well as toxicity are Phase I/II trials.

Phase III Study

These are pre-registration trials means the data of this study is submitted to the regulatory agency through New Drug Application (NDA) for its registration. Also called Pre-marketing or Pivotal trials.

Such studies are multi-central, randomized, in large diseased population (more than 500) with much longer duration of treatment and short follow up period, to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of the drug.

Even if the regulatory submission is pending, the drug is received by the patients in case it’s a lifesaving drug until the drug can be purchased.

‘Label expansion’ that is drug can treat an additional disease, other than the disease for which the drug is already approved, may also be the reason for running the Phase III trial.

It is said that for FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) and MHRA (United Kingdom’s Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency) needs at least two trials of successful trials data to register the drug.

After these trials, the drug is approved for market selling.

Phase IV Study

These are Post Market Safety Monitoring studies done after the drug is registered. Also called Late Phase or Confirmatory trials.

This kind of study determines the long-term adverse effects on the much larger population for a very long duration (at least 2 years). If harmful effects are detected in this study, then the drug is disapproved and the company has to retrieve the drug from the market as it can no longer be sold.

The entire journey of the drug from a molecule to a market selling product takes around 15-20 years.

Natural Remedies Best for Head Lice Treatment

Natural Remedies Best for Head Lice Treatment

After treating an outbreak among elementary school-age children, public health doctors in Wales discovered that 80% of head lice were resistant to the insecticidal shampoos commonly used to eliminate them.

Despite the wide availability of treatments, head lice infestations are on the rise. Why? After years of using the same products to eradicate lice, they are becoming immune to our treatments. Insects either evolve methods of neutralizing the insecticide before it destroys them or simply become less sensitive to the toxins in the insecticide.

At the National Public Health Service for Wales Communicable Disease Surveillance Center, Dr. Daniel Thomas discovered that four out of five lice were resistant to pyrethroids (the chemicals commonly used in head lice treatments) due to the development of a specific gene.

This and other studies indicate that natural remedies to the problem might be the best solution. Specially designed combs trap and kill lice and nits, and mixtures composed primarily of coconut or olive oil have proven extremely effective in head lice treatment. Not surprisingly, natural treatments are also much safer for the patient. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continually maintains that no pesticide can legally be sold as a “safe” product, and as such, chemical shampoos for head lice treatment cannot be assumed completely nontoxic.

The active ingredients in head lice treatment shampoos are pediculicides: nerve poisons which are neurotoxic to children as well as lice. Lindane is the most dangerous of the pediculicides, and it can be absorbed through your skin. Some of the tamer side effects include headaches and vertigo, but lindane also has the potential to cause nerve damage, convulsions, disrupt hormonal function, and damage the liver, kidneys, and immune system.

Guaranteed safety and guaranteed louse immunity make an all-natural treatment like olive, coconut, or neem oil the preferred choice for many who suffer and are seeking head lice treatment. In addition to being less expensive and more readily available, you can rest assured these natural treatments will always work and that those who suffer won’t run the risk of developing any dangerous side-effects.

The Best Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

There are many health benefits of aloe Vera:

  • Treating skin disorders
  • Promoting wound healing
  • Fighting allergies
  • Maintaining healthy hair and scalp
  • Treating teeth and gum disorders
  • Reducing inflammation and pain
  • Promoting healthy immune system

Elaborating further, aloe acts as a deep skin moisturizer, increasing collagen and reducing pigment formation. It cleans the skin by removing bacteria and also nourishes it. By eliminating dead skin cells, scars, wrinkles and blemishes are eliminated.

The aloe plant is very effective for cuts, boils, abscesses, cold sores and skin ulcers. The impurities are drained out and the natural healing process of the skin is sped up.

Because of allergies, pain and itching occur and aloe Vera acts as an anti-allergenic substance, allowing the body to deal the harmful substances.

Deep penetrating actions by aloe allows nutrients to access the scalp. It soothes scalp itching and the dead skin cells are discarded allowing new growth which combats dandruff and seborrhea infections.

The active aloe ingredients reduces inflammation of the gum and rids the mouth of pain. Mouth sores and surgical wounds heal better with the application of aloe gel.

Pure aloe also reduces body inflammation and pain by externally and internally attaching the symptom. As a juice it treats symptoms of IBS, indigestion colitis, peptic ulcers and even excessive stomach acid.

Because of its wide range of vitamins and minerals, aloe Vera is the best immune system stimulant. It creates in the body a better defense against viruses and bacteria and allows the body’s own healing abilities to tackle foreign substances.

A word of caution, Aloe Vera is not to be used as a substitute for genuine medical emergencies. A doctor should always be consulted prior to using aloe Vera especially if you are pregnant or have been diagnosed with diabetes or gall bladder problems.

6 Healthy Packaged Foods That Save You Time And Money

When choosing packaged foods, it’s important to read the labels. This can be time consuming but worth it. To save time, try focusing specifically on foods low in sugar, low in salt and high in protein. Stay away from anything containing high fructose corn syrup which is an unnecessary sugar additive. Why do we even need sugar in bread? Foods with the fewest ingredients are best. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, chances are it’s not good for you.

Marketing techniques labeling foods as Lite, gluten free, healthy or wheat may not always be the healthiest choice. As an educated consumer you should know the difference. Many so called “wheat” products may not be whole grain or made from whole wheat. The first ingredient should be whole wheat flour. Wheat flour, unbleached wheat flour, multigrain, enriched, and stone-ground wheat flour are alternative ways of saying “refined white flour.”

To save you some time in the grocery store, I’ve compiled a list of packaged healthy foods that can also save you money. Here are 6 packaged foods that I recommend:

1. Canned beans. Opt for the low salt version if you can. Always rinse the beans thoroughly to wash away any unnecessary salt. Try to avoid beans with sauce or refried beans that tend to be high in sodium.

2. vegetables. Plain vegetables without sauces and added salt are a healthy and delicious addition to any meal. Steamables are a great choice when you’re in a hurry or just too tired to cook. They are quick and easy and leave you with little clean up. They can be more expensive, so stock up when they’re on sale. I’ve found them on sale for as little or close to $1 a bag.

3. Frozen berries. Not only are they delicious, but can really save you money. Especially in the winter when berries are out of season and more expensive. Try mixing them in plain Greek yogurt. Or serving them with pancakes or French toast. It makes a natural sweet sauce. Sometimes we thaw them in the microwave, making them a little warm to pour over our pancakes. Try topping them with a dollop of Greek yogurt too. It gives it a taste that’s almost like a crepe.

4. Nut butter. If the ingredient says almonds, you have a winner. It takes some time to stir, but if you store it in the refrigerator, you shouldn’t have to stir it again.

5. Low sugar cereals. Ideally cereals should have less than 6 grams of sugar. Opt for whole grain cereal such as toasted oats and muesli. Unsweetened instant oatmeal can be thrown in the microwave for a quick & healthy breakfast.

6. Canned Tuna fish. Packed in water. This is a quick and inexpensive source of protein. I pack my tuna salad with lots of vegetables like onions, celery, carrots, vinegar, pepper and olive oil mayonnaise (it tastes just like the real thing without adding as much fat and calories).

When choosing pre-packaged foods just remember, marketing can be deceptive. The fewer ingredients, the more natural the product. Look for whole wheat flour as a first ingredient when selecting whole grain foods. Try to stay away from processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar or contain high fructose corn syrup.

Making Use of Your Doctor

When a busy person goes to see his doctor, it is because he wants to get better. This may sound obvious – but often things happen so quickly, or the tests and treatment sound so complicated, that one can lose sight of one’s original goal. It can even happen that one ends up feeling worse than one was before!

Here are some practical hints to help you get the best possible treatment from your own doctor. Decide before you actually go to see your doctor, in what way you are feeling unwell. Plan how you will describe these symptoms to your doctor. Thinking about them beforehand and even writing down exactly what bodily changes you feel which make you think that you are unwell, will help clarify things in your own mind and so will help your doctor get a clearer picture of what is going on. Remember – doctors can only diagnose from the information which you, the patient, reveal to them!

Don’t underplay your symptoms – either because you feel that the symptoms are trivial, or because you are frightened that they will cause the doctor to suspect that you have some serious disease. This may sound silly but I have met patients who did not reveal to their doctor that they had a lump in the breast “because it might have been cancer”. It is far better to voice one’s fears to the doctor, get him or her to do a full examination and reassure you that you have no serious cause for worry(or, on the other hand, detect in its early stages some major ailment) rather than keep one’s symptoms hidden.

At the same time, don’t exaggerate your symptoms either.

What Are Centers of Excellence at Hospitals?

When I first began researching information on various hospitals across the United States, I came across many hospitals that offered a variety of Centers of Excellence. I was curious as to what constituted a Center of Excellence as opposed to just listing a program as a specialty service, so I decided to research this as well.

What I found out was that a Center of Excellence essentially means that a hospital specializes in the treatment of a certain illness or specializes in particular treatments. Centers of excellence can be anything from heart or cancer care to neurosurgery or organ transplants. Some hospitals offer a variety of Centers of Excellence whereas other hospitals might just offer one or two.

It was more difficult to find out how a hospital was able to claim the distinction of having a Center of Excellence. From what I could gather, each individual program and treatment has particular criteria that needs to be met in order for the hospital to state that their program is a Center of Excellence. They might require that the treatments be performed by a certain type of doctor or that a certain amount of treatments are performed annually.

I also found that different health care programs and health insurance programs will also designate a program of a hospital as a Center of Excellence based on their own criteria. This might mean that they are more likely to recommend this hospital as opposed to another hospital. They do this as a service to the patients who have their insurance to help them make an informed decision about which program is right for them. If you have a question about a particular hospitals Center of Excellence designation, you should ask them about how they received the designation and who gave it to them.