4.14.15:  US prescription drug spending jumped 13 pct. in 2014


TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — U.S. spending on prescription drugs soared by 13 percent last year to $374 billion.

The increase was driven primarily by costly breakthrough medicines, price hikes and a surge from millions of people newly insured under the Affordable Care Act.

A new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics found a record 4.3 billion prescriptions were filled in 2014. Many were inexpensive generics going to patients now insured through Medicaid in states that expanded eligibility.

The higher spending was mostly due to the many recent drugs costing tens of thousands of dollars for a year or course of treatment.

Last year saw an unusually high 42 novel medicines launched, 18 for rare diseases. Ten new drugs were designated breakthrough therapies, for conditions including multiple sclerosis, various cancers and hepatitis C.

4.1.15:  April is Autism Awareness Month


Later today the City of Grand Rapids will join Hope Network in hosting the Bridge Autism Walk.

The purpose is to raise awareness and honor those individuals and families affected by autism.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell will join others on the Blue Bridge on Front Avenue, for a walk that will begin at 5 p.m.


Autism Disorders affect 1 in 68 children.

To help, you can show your support by getting involved in the Bridge Walk, or donate by going to

2-24-15  A New Approach to Peanut Allergy Prevention?

Early exposure to peanuts helps prevent allergies in kids

For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Doctors found that exposing infants like these to peanuts before their first birthday actually helped prevent a peanut allergy. The early exposure seemed to help build tolerance.

The research involving more than 600 babies is the largest and most rigorous test of this concept. They were checked first to make sure they didn’t already have a peanut allergy. So parents of babies should not try this on their own.

Study results were released Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed at a medical meeting in Houston.

2-20-15  Is Cholesterol No Longer a Concern?


WASHINGTON (AP) — An extra cup or two of coffee may be OK after all. More eggs, too. But you definitely need to drink less sugary soda. And, as always, don’t forget your vegetables. Those recommendations come today from a government advisory committee. They call for an environmentally friendly diet lower in red and processed meats. The committee wants to reverse earlier guidance on limiting cholesterol. And it says the caffeine in a few cups of coffee could actually be good for you.

2-20-15  Cold Blast Hitting MI and Northeast Hard


We are not the only one’s suffering under this arctic chill.

Michigan is in the grip of this bitterly cold weather and that means school closings, bad roads and trouble with the furnace.

But the arctic air is also putting more pressure on portions of the Northeast United States.  Warnings have been going out to remind people to avoid prolonged exposure.  Health officials in Philadelphia are urging residents who are older or with health problems to avoid going out into the dangerously cold weather.

Boston is getting a little reprieve after suffering under close to 100 inches of snowfall.  Temperatures will move into the teens this weekend.  But the cold weather and snowfall have forced the closure of schools along the east coast.

2.19.15:  Study finds diets of people worldwide are worsening despite more healthy food


LONDON (AP) — A new study finds the world is increasingly hungry for junk food, despite there being more fruit, vegetables and healthy options available than ever before

In survey of eating habits in nearly 190 countries, researchers found that even though people are eating more healthy foods including whole grains and fish, there has been an even bigger jump in the amount of junk food eaten.

Among the findings, older adults ate better than younger adults and women ate healthier diets than men.

There was a mixed picture in the U.S., with increases both in the amount of healthy and unhealthy foods eaten.

One of the study authors says while Westerners are among the biggest eaters of junk food, China and India are catching up and that governments should step in.

Mongolia had some of the best nutritional improvements.

But researchers found in some countries in Africa and Asia, there has been no improvement in their diet during the past 20 years.

The study was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Britain’s Medical Research Council and was published online in the journal, Lancet Global Health, as part of an obesity series.

2.16.15:  Doctor who survived Ebola seeks to impact disease treatment


DETROIT (AP) — A doctor who recovered from Ebola in New York City last year says he’ll use his notoriety to make an impact on the understanding and treatment of epidemic diseases.

Craig Spencer is scheduled to deliver a lecture Tuesday entitled “The Challenges and Controversies of the Ebola Epidemic: Experiences from a Provider and Patient.” The appearance by Spencer, a Wayne State University alumnus, is at the Detroit school.

Spencer says he’s told government officials that he believes that future outbreaks could be minimized by deploying people who were successfully treated for Ebola as “cultural survivors to their own communities.”

Spencer, a graduate of Grosse Pointe North High School, also will receive the Global Peacemaker Award from Wayne State University’s Center for Peace and Conflict Studies.

2.4.15:  The deadline is drawing near to sign up for health care


GRAND RAPIDS, MI, (MLIVE) - Cherry Health will hold a free enrollment event Feb. 15, the last day to sign up for a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The event, held in partnership with River City Scholars Charter Academy, will be 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, at the school at 944 Evergreen St. SE.

Community members can get help enrolling in a health plan through the website.

Anyone interested in applying is asked to bring household income documents, information about any employer-offered plan, social security numbers or ID cards. Those who have applied should bring their username and password.

The event will include refreshments, drawings and prizes.

No reservation is required for the free event. For more information, call 866.299.1339 or

11.10.14:  Study: Hundreds of kids harmed by detergent ‘pods’


UNDATED (AP) — Accidental poisonings from squishy laundry detergent packets called pods have landed more than 700 U.S. children in the hospital in just two years.

An analysis of poison center data for 2012 and 2013 shows that there were more than 17,000 poison center calls about the products involving children younger than 6.

Most children weren’t seriously harmed. But some of those who were hospitalized suffered seizures and some fell into a coma. One even died last year.

The analysis is in today’s Pediatrics online.

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Authorities in Sierra Leone say a doctor has died of Ebola — the fifth local doctor in the West African nation to succmb to the disease.

The government said Monday that Dr. Godfrey George, medical superintendent of Kambia Government Hospital in northern Sierra Leone, died overnight.

George’s death was announced by Dr. Brima Kargbo, the chief medical officer of Sierra Leone.