Study Finds Higher STD Rates Among Users Of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs

Main Category: Erectile Dysfunction / Premature Ejaculation
Also Included In: Sexual Health / STDs
Article Date: 06 Jul 2010 – 2:00 PDT

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Physicians who prescribe erectile dysfunction drugs for their male patients should be sure to discuss the importance of safer sex practices, even with older patients: that is an important implication of a report in the July 6 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. The analysis of insurance records of more than 1.4 million U.S. men over 40 found that those who used ED drugs were more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases than were non-users.

“Anyone who does not practice safer sex, no matter their age, can contract an STD,” says Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Medicine, the study’s lead author. “Even though STDs are quite rare among older men – on the order of 1 per 1,000 individuals – we found that STD rates in men who used ED drugs were two to three times higher, both before and after they filled their first prescription.”

Jena and his co-authors note that ED drugs have become popular since sildenafil (Viagra) was first introduced in 1998. As early as 2002 it was estimated that up to 20 percent of U.S. men over 40 had tried an ED drug. Studies have shown both that rates of STDs, including HIV/AIDS, are rising in older individuals as well as the general public and that people over 50 are much less likely than those in their 20s to use condoms during sex or be tested for HIV infection. A survey of primary care physicians found that they rarely if ever discussed reducing sexual risk factors with middle aged or older patients.

Small studies of men who have sex with men had associated the use of ED drugs with higher-risk behaviors and increased rates of STDs. But no previous study had examined the relationship between ED drugs and STD risk in a large, representative sample of privately insured older men. For the current study, the researchers examined health insurance claims records covering 1997 though 2006 from 44 large U.S. employers. For male beneficiaries over 40 who used ED drugs, the researchers collected data covering one year before and one year after the first prescription was filled. Each ED drug user was matched with five non-users randomly selected from the database, for whom claims data covering the same two-year periods was collected.

The final study group included about 40,000 men who used ED drugs and nearly 1.37 million who did not. In both the year before and the year after the first ED drug prescription, users had significantly higher rates of STDs than non-users did in matching time periods. HIV/AIDS was the most frequently reported STD in both groups, followed by chlamydia. Since the prevalence of STDs did not markedly change after ED drug therapy began, the authors note that the difference between groups probably reflects higher-risk sexual practices among users of the drugs. The data gathered could not indicate whether ED drug use itself increased STD risk, but the authors are investigating that question in a further study.

“Health care providers need to recognize that their older adult patients who are on ED drugs are already at a higher risk of having or acquiring an STD,” says Dana Goldman, PhD, director of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California (USC), the study’s senior author. “Both the physicians who prescribe these drugs and the pharmacists who fill those prescriptions should counsel all patients on the importance of safer sexual practices.”

Co-authors of the Annals of Internal Medicine report are Amee Kamdar, PhD, University of Chicago; Darius Lakdawalla, PhD, Schaeffer Center at USC; and Yang Lu, PhD, RAND Corporation. The study was supported by grants from the RAND Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation, the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Bing Center for Health Economics.

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University of Southern California



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New Study Links Inflammation To Plaque Buildup In The Arteries Of People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Main Category: Arthritis / Rheumatology
Also Included In: Cardiovascular / Cardiology;  Vascular
Article Date: 09 Nov 2010 – 2:00 PST

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New data presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta show that systemic inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis disease activity may contribute to the progression of atherosclerosis in people with RA. The data also show that this progression may be modified favorably by TNF inhibitors and detrimentally by glucocorticoids.

“These data suggest that by limiting inflammation in RA patients, you can potentially limit the rapidity of accumulation of at least carotid atherosclerosis, which is what our study looked at,” says Jon T. Giles, MD, MPH; assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at Johns Hopkins and lead investigator in the study. “And because carotid atherosclerosis tends to be correlated with coronary atherosclerosis, then potentially you would have fewer cardiovascular events like myocardial infarction and stroke in RA patients. These links with subclinical atherosclerosis make intuitive sense, but they haven’t [previously] been shown in prospective studies.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and limitation in the motion and function of multiple joints. Though joints are the principal body parts affected by RA, inflammation can develop in other organs as well. An estimated 1.3 million Americans have RA, and the disease typically affects women twice as often as men.

Coronary and extra-coronary atherosclerosis the buildup of plaque in the artery walls are increased in people with RA, when compared to people without the disease. However, few studies have explored predictors of change in atherosclerosis in RA patients. In a study funded in part by the ACR Research and Education Foundation, researchers recently addressed this by following 158 people with RA who were already enrolled in a study of cardiovascular disease in RA.

They focused on monitoring intima-medial thickness the thickness of artery walls that is used in diagnosing atherosclerosis. Participants underwent an ultrasound of their common and internal carotid arteries (arteries that provide blood to the head and neck) at the first and third study visits, which were an average of 3.2 years apart. Through this, researchers found that the thickness of the common carotid artery walls increased over time in 82 percent of the participants and the thickness in the internal carotid artery walls increased in 70 percent of the participants.

When the researchers adjusted their data to consider demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, and the thickness of the carotid artery walls at the beginning of the study, they found that those participants who used anti-TNF treatment at the beginning of the study had a 37 percent lower rate of progression of the thickness of the common carotid artery walls than those who did not use anti-TNF treatment. They also noted that the adjusted average yearly change in the thickness of the common carotid artery walls was significantly higher for patients earlier in their RA when compared to those who had the disease longer.

When looking at thickness in the internal carotid artery walls, prednisone exposure was the only RA feature researchers associated with progression of atherosclerosis after adjusting the data to consider demographics, cardiovascular risk factors and thickness of the internal carotid artery walls at the beginning of the study. And, this rate was significantly lower in participants who were prescribed statins at the beginning of the study.

“There seem to be some medications used in RA that can either be protective or can promote atherosclerosis,” Dr. Giles says. “Prednisone may be more associated with progression of atherosclerosis in some vascular beds, but medications like TNF inhibitors and statins that are taken to lower cholesterol may limit atherosclerosis in these patients.”

Finally, researchers noted that those participants with a higher than average number of swollen joints and a higher than average c-reactive protein were independently and significantly associated with incidence of plaque.

The next step for researchers is to conduct interventional studies that randomize patients to receive one medication or another and determine the direct cause-and-effect relationship between the medications and the progression of atherosclerosis, either in coronary artery circulation or the carotid artery circulation.

“Those studies are in the planning stages,” Dr. Giles says. “They are big studies and hard to organize, but they’re really required to determine what the role of the medications are in terms of protection.”

Source: American College of Rheumatology (ACR)






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New ACR/EULAR Classification Criteria May Identify Rheumatoid Arthritis In At-Risk People Prior To Clinical Presentation

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Article Date: 09 Nov 2010 – 2:00 PST

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Rheumatoid arthritis researchers are using the 2010 ACR/EULAR Rheumatoid Arthritis Classification Criteria in hopes of improving the ability to identify people with the RA even before they’re diagnosed with the disease in a clinical health care setting. They presented their findings this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and limitation in the motion and function of multiple joints. Though joints are the principal body parts affected by RA, inflammation can develop in other organs as well. An estimated 1.3 million Americans have RA, and the disease typically affects women twice as often as men.

Classification criteria are the standard and accepted means by which researchers study and define a disease. They allow researchers to classify individuals as having or not having a given disease, helping to standardize recruitment into clinical trials and other research studies. Although not intended as criteria for diagnosis in clinical practice, with some additional research, classification criteria may be modified and adopted for such use. Patients to whom these RA criteria should be applied must have confirmed presence of joint swelling, indicating synovitis the inflammation of the synovial membrane, which lines a joint in at least one joint, and should have no other possible diagnosis that might better explain the symptoms (such as lupus or gout).

Researchers recently applied the criteria to undiagnosed participants at potentially higher risk for RA based on family and genetic risk factors. The ongoing study involves a group of 1,790 participants who are being evaluated in several different ways including evaluation of symptoms, joint examinations, and biomarker assessments to determine the relationship between these factors, the new RA criteria, and the course of disease over the long-term.

The researchers found 21 previously undiagnosed participants with “definite RA,” including 17 females with an average age of nearly 49 years. Six (28.6 percent) of these 21 participants were positive for rheumatoid factor, one (4.8 percent) was positive for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody which are autoantibodies (antibodies directed against one or more of an individual’s own proteins) that are frequently detected in the blood of people with RA and 11 (52.4 percent) had elevated levels of C-reactive protein (indicating the presence of inflammation, which could be due to RA). The median number of joints swollen was three and tender joints was 11.

Jason R. Kolfenbach, MD lead investigator in the study and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology says the study’s findings may indicate an earlier phase of RA development than observed in people who are seeking diagnosis and care from a health care professional. “These were a group of subjects that had features of early arthritis,” Dr. Kolfenbach says of the participants in the study. “What will be interesting is following these subjects in order to see if they develop persistent findings that most of us would consider to be consistent with RA. Just defining them as early arthritis isn’t as good as following them over time to see if they develop more of the features that we typically see in chronic disease.”

“This is the first study of its kind, and like any first study it needs to be followed up and the findings replicated,” says V. Michael Holers, MD; the senior author of the study and a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology. “However, we’re certainly excited about the results and think that these new criteria might also be an excellent research tool to identify individuals who may be at high risk of progressing further in the disease course to a clinical diagnosis of RA.”

The identification of these subjects in a research, rather than clinical, setting may allow researchers to study and earlier phase of RA than is usually found in a clinical health care setting. Dr. Holers adds, “It’s too early to draw clinical or treatment inferences from this study, but we are very interested in closely following these individuals. If we can, in the future, confirm that this kind of screening test or related biomarker analysis is predictive of developing clinically-diagnosed RA, then we’ll be quite interested to address the question of clinical and therapeutic relevance again.”

The American College of Rheumatology is an international professional medical society that represents more than 8,000 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals around the world. Its mission is to advance rheumatology. The ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting is the premier meeting in rheumatology.

Editor’s Notes: Jason R. Kolfenbach, MD will present this research during the ACR Annual Scientific Meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center at 2:30 PM on Monday, November 8 in the Sidney J. Marcus Auditorium. Dr. Holers will be available for media questions and briefing at 8:30 AM on Monday, November 8 in the on-site press conference room, B 212.

Learn more about living well with rheumatic disease as well as rheumatologists and the role they play in health care. Also, discover how the ACR Research and Education Foundation’s Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign is accelerating RA research.

Presentation Number: 658

Application of the New ACR/EULAR Classification Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis to At-Risk Populations May Identify RA Prior to Clinical Presentation.

Jason R Kolfenbach, MD (Division of Rheumatology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO)

Lezlie Derber (Division of Rheumatology, University of Colorado Denver)

Kevin D Deane, MD (Division of Rheumatology, Division of Rheumatology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO)

Jan Hughes-Austin (Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver)

Michael H Weisman, MD (Rheumatology, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA)
Jane Buckner (Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason)

Ted R Mikuls, MD (Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

James R O’Dell, MD (Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Peter K Gregersen, MD (Biology Human Genetics, N Shore Univ Hosp Rsch Ctr, Manhasset, NY)
Richard M Keating (institution, location)

Jill Norris, MPH, PhD (Biology Human Genetics, N Shore Univ Hosp Rsch Ctr, Manhasset, NY)
V Michael Holers, MD (Epidemiology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO)

Objective: The proposed ACR/EULAR classification criteria were developed in part to identify early RA. Applying the new criteria to at-risk populations prior to evaluation in the health care setting may identify a unique cohort in which to study the evolution of very early symptomatic RA. We have established prospective cohorts of subjects at potentially higher risk for RA based on genetic risk factors as part of the SERA study (Studies of the Etiology of RA). The purpose of the current analysis was to identify and characterize a cohort within these populations with ‘definite RA’ according to the newly proposed criteria.

Methods: We have established a cohort of first-degree relatives (FDRs) of probands with RA. FDRs without RA by the 1987 ACR criteria undergo a joint exam and have laboratory data obtained. Identical data is collected on a second at-risk DR4-enriched population containing parents of children with high risk HLA alleles and/or Type I diabetes. The proposed RA criteria were applied to subjects in these cohorts with swelling suggestive of synovitis in ≥ 1 joint on clinical exam after exclusion of findings attributed to alternative diagnoses (e.g. trauma, osteoarthritis). Data regarding joint distribution, duration of symptoms, antibody status and presence of elevated inflammatory markers were used to apply the new criteria. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the identified cases.

Results: 1790 subjects were available for analysis. 153 subjects (8.5%) had synovitis in ≥ 1 joint on clinical exam. 21 subjects (1.17%) had ‘definite RA’ according to the proposed algorithm. 17/21 (81%) subjects were female with a mean age of 48.9 years old. 6/21 subjects (28.6%) were positive for rheumatoid factor (RF), one (4.8%) was positive for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, and 11 (52.4%) had elevated levels of CRP. Median swollen and tender joint counts were 3 and 11, respectively. The average total score in the 21 subjects was 6.76. The mean scores for joint involvement, serology, acute phase reactant and duration were 4.33, 0.9, 0.52 and 1.0, respectively (Table 1).

Conclusion: Individuals with ‘definite RA’ according to the new criteria can be identified in these unique at-risk populations. A score ≥ 6 was driven primarily by joint involvement with the majority stemming from tender rather than swollen joints, a finding which may indicate an earlier phase of RA development than individuals presenting for clinical care. The identification of these subjects in a research rather than clinical setting may allow us to study an earlier phase of RA than possible in usual clinical practice. These subjects will be followed prospectively with multiple modalities including serial joint evaluations and biomarker assessments to evaluate the relationship between the new RA criteria and the longer-term evolution of RA.

Disclosure: Jason Kolfenbach, nothing to disclose; Lezlie Derber, nothing to disclose; Kevin Deane, nothing to disclose; Jan Hughes-Austin, nothing to disclose; Michael Weisman, nothing to disclose, Jane Buckner, nothing to disclose; Ted Mikuls, nothing to disclose; James O’Dell, nothing to disclose; Peter Gregersen, nothing to disclose; Richard Keating, nothing to disclose; Jill Norris, nothing to disclose; V Michael Holers, nothing to disclose.

Source: American College of Rheumatology (ACR)






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Frequency Of Foot Disorders Differs Between African Americans And Whites

Main Category: Arthritis / Rheumatology
Also Included In: Seniors / Aging
Article Date: 11 Nov 2010 – 0:00 PST

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Common foot disorders such as flat feet, corns and bunions are more prevalent among African Americans than in whites, a new study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers has found.

African Americans in the study age 45 or older were three times more likely than whites of the same age to have corns or flat feet (medical name: pes planus). In people who were not obese, African Americans were twice as likely to have bunions (hallux valgus) and hammer toes than whites, said Yvonne M. Golightly, PT, PhD, lead author of the study, titled “Racial Differences in Foot Disorders: The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project,” and a post-doctoral fellow at UNC’s Thurston Arthritis Research Center. There were no significant differences by race for bunions or hammer toes among obese participants.

“That suggests there is a real racial difference there, that it’s not something where obesity is also playing a role,” she said.

Tailor’s bunions (inflammation of the joint at the base of the little toe) and high arches (medical name: pes cavus) were nearly five times more common among whites than African Americans.

Golightly presented these results of the study, based on data collected as part of UNC’s long-running Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals in Atlanta.

In the study, 1,536 participants were clinically evaluated for foot disorders from 2006 to 2010. Golightly and study co-authors identified the most common foot disorders and used statistical analysis to compare each foot problem by race, controlling for age, body mass index (BMI) and gender.

“These foot disorders are very common among people age 45 and older, and can lead to more serious problems such as falls, decreased physical activity and decreased quality of life,” Golightly said.

“The next step in our research is to determine the origin of these disorders,” she said. “We’re interested in looking at the influence of factors such as genetics, shoe wear, multi-joint osteoarthritis, and what type of work a person does.”

Co-authors of the study are Marian T. Hannan, DSc, MPH and Alyssa B. Dufour, MA, both from Hebrew Senior Life in Boston, and Joanne M. Jordan, MD, MPH, Chief of the Division of UNC Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, director of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center and principal investigator of the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project.

Source:
Tom Hughes
University of North Carolina School of Medicine






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ChemoCentryx Reports Positive Phase I Results For CCX168, A Novel C5aR Antagonist, At The Annual American College Of Rheumatology Meeting (ACR)

Main Category: Arthritis / Rheumatology
Also Included In: Clinical Trials / Drug Trials;  Conferences;  Pharma Industry / Biotech Industry
Article Date: 11 Nov 2010 – 4:00 PST

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ChemoCentryx, Inc., announced favorable Phase I results for CCX168 at the Annual American College of Rheumatology Meeting (ACR). CCX168, the Company’s orally-active small molecule antagonist, is designed to target the receptor for the pro-inflammatory protein known as ‘complement 5a’ (C5a), a so-called anaphylatoxin that drives inflammatory responses associated with autoimmune diseases such as vasculitis, aged-related macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis and related pathologies. Data from Phase I clinical trials showed that CCX168 exhibited an excellent safety profile, while producing greater than 90% receptor blockade of inflammatory cells in the blood throughout the day. Additionally, data from preclinical studies using transgenic mice (which express human C5aR) demonstrated robust efficacy of CCX168 in a vasculitis model. CCX168 is poised to enter Phase II clinical development for the treatment of patients with renal vasculitis.

These data were highlighted in poster presentations entitled:

— “Phase 1 Clinical Safety, Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Evaluation of the Novel C5aR antagonist CCX168, a Potential Therapeutic for ANCA-Vasculitis”

— “The Human C5a Receptor (hC5aR) Antagonist CCX168 Effectively Ameliorates Symptoms in a Model of ANCA Glomerulonephritis (GN) in hC5aR Knock-in Mice”

“We are very pleased to report that CCX168 appears to be the first true orally-active small molecule C5aR antagonist drug ever advanced into the clinic,” stated Thomas J. Schall, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of ChemoCentryx. “CCX168 has the ability to safely achieve far greater than 90% receptor coverage throughout the day. While other approaches have attempted, without success, to accomplish such an attractive pharmacokinetic behavior and safety profile, CCX168 may well be in a class by itself. We think that this new agent has extraordinary potential in treating previously intractable conditions such as the devastating vasculitis seen in autoimmune diseases.”

CCX168 Study Results and ANCA-Associated Vasculitis

In Phase I clinical trials CCX168 was safe and well tolerated, with excellent oral bioavailability and dose-proportional exposure increases in human subjects. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data indicated that 30 to 50 mg of CCX168 given orally twice daily in humans results in greater than 90% C5aR coverage in blood at all times, and this is considered optimal for CCX168 evaluation in Phase II trials in vasculitis.

Supporting the Phase I data are results from a mouse model of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA) associated glomerulonephritis (GN). In this study, human C5aR transgenic mice were employed, and ANCA kidney disease was profoundly inhibited by doses of CCX168 that are very similar to those achieved safely in the human Phase I studies.

CCX168 is a highly potent and very selective compound that specifically targets the receptor for the anaphylotoxin designated C5a, a component of the body’s complement system and a potent driver of the inflammatory response associated with ANCA-associated vasculitis and other autoimmune disease. In ANCA disease, auto-antibodies lead to the activation and increased adhesiveness of neutrophils to endothelial cells that line the interior surfaces of blood vessels in the kidney and other organs. These adhering neutrophils accumulate inside the blood vessels and initiate an inflammatory cascade. Activation of the complement pathway occurs as a consequence, with production of C5a, one of the most potent pro-inflammatory mediators of the complement system. C5a, through binding to its receptor C5aR, induces expression of additional adhesion molecules and chemotactic factors, thus perpetually amplifying the destructive inflammatory cascade. C5aR also mediates smooth muscle contraction, increasing vascular permeability and altering blood flow. If left untreated, ANCA-associated vasculitis may lead to renal and pulmonary failure and is often fatal. Current therapies include toxic treatments such as cyclophosphamide and high dose corticosteroids. Under an alliance between ChemoCentryx and GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK’s) Center of Excellence for External Drug Discovery (ceedd), GSK has the right to exercise an option to license CCX168 after Phase II clinical trials.

Certain statements in this press release may constitute “forward-looking statements”. These statements are made on the basis of current expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, economic, competitive, governmental and technological factors outside of our control, that may cause our business, strategy or actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied. We do not intend, and undertake no obligation, to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Source: ChemoCentryx, Inc






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Alpine Mountaineer And Alzheimer’s Advocate To Climb Highest Peak On Each Continent To Raise Awareness Of Growing Prevalence And Burden Of Alzheimer’s

Main Category: Arthritis / Rheumatology
Also Included In: Pharma Industry / Biotech Industry
Article Date: 11 Nov 2010 – 6:00 PST

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Alpine mountaineer and Alzheimer’s disease advocate Alan Arnette will embark later this month to climb the 7 Summits, the highest peak on each continent. This ambitious year-long climbing campaign The 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer’s: Memories are Everything aims to raise awareness of the growing Alzheimer’s prevalence in our aging population and the enormous financial and personal burden it places on people with the disease, their caregivers and society.

“The mental and physical demands of scaling seemingly insurmountable peaks are not unlike the everyday challenges faced by those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers,” said Mr. Arnette, who cared for his mother with Alzheimer’s until her death last year. “Both involve understanding personal limitations, reaching out for support and taking steps daily on a very long road.”

Alzheimer’s, the nation’s 6th most deadly disease, robs individuals of collected memories, corrupts their distinct and true personalities and makes them unable to function independently. The burden of caring for these patients often falls to family members. In the United States, an estimated 10.9 million unpaid caregivers see to the daily needs of people struck by Alzheimer’s. Last year, these caregivers provided about 12.5 billion hours of care.

Mr. Arnette, who has been mountain climbing since he was 38, retired from his job with a leading technology company to care for his mother, Ida, who has since died from Alzheimer’s. Since then, the 54-year-old advocate has worked tirelessly to inspire people to join his efforts to help raise $1 million to advance Alzheimer’s research.

The Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Program of Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is funding Mr. Arnette’s climbs. All money Mr. Arnette raises from donations will go directly to the organization he selected, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund™, for research. International Mountain Guides is also supporting Mr. Arnette’s efforts.

“As a former caregiver for his mother, Alan understands the burden of Alzheimer’s and the needs of patients and caregivers who are devastated by the disease. “His efforts to embark on this incredible journey are an inspiration to Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers and beyond,” said Gregory Rippon, MD, MS, Disease Area Medical Lead, Specialty Neuroscience, Clinical Development Medical Affairs, Pfizer, on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Program. “We are proud to support Alan Arnette’s efforts to advance education and research to help fight this disease.”

Every 70 Seconds, Someone is Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, with another person newly diagnosed every 70 seconds. It has been estimated to affect more than 5 million Americans and more than 25 million people worldwide. The lack of awareness around dementia is a global problem, leading to misunderstandings of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging and gradually destroys a person’s memory and their ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out basic daily activities like bathing and eating. As there is neither a cure nor a treatment that addresses the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s, there remains a significant need to advance treatment options that change the course of Alzheimer’s, improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden on caregivers.

The indirect and direct costs of caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to be more than $100 billion a year in the United States alone. The worldwide costs of dementia are estimated to exceed one percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, which equates to $600 billion, further demonstrating the global prevalence of the disease.

“Research is the key to solving the complexities of Alzheimer’s disease and Alan Arnette’s courageous fundraising efforts will help the Alzheimer’s community come one step closer to finding a cure,” said Tim Armour, President of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund™.

The Summits

Mr. Arnette, a resident of Colorado, departs on the first climb of his seven climbs on November 24, 2010. The first peak is the 16,067-foot (4897 meter) Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica. By December 2011, he intends to reach the summits of:

— Aconcagua, Argentina, South America – 22,841ft/6962m

— Everest, Nepal, Asia – 29,035ft/8850m

— Denali, Alaska, North America – 20,320ft/6194m

— Elbrus, Russia, Europe – 18,481ft/5633m

— Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa – 19,340ft/5896m

— Carstensz Pyramid, Indonesia, Oceania – 16,023ft/4884m

Mr. Arnette is taking on the extended challenge of climbing an eighth mountain, Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia, which is part of the Oceania continent.

Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Program

The Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Program of Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer Inc. is an equal collaboration committed to researching and developing selective products for the treatment and/or prevention of neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Program believes that it is possible to reduce the burden of disease through early intervention in the illness. It is dedicated to delivering comprehensive and integrated solutions that help address the needs of people impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

Its research focuses on the beta amyloid hypothesis. Scientific evidence supports the idea that preventing the accumulation and/or promoting the removal of beta-amyloid may have the potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and help preserve function in people with the disease. This theory is being tested in clinical trials.

Source: Pfizer Inc






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Employer-Based Insurance, Funding To States Among Future Implementation Issues

Main Category: Health Insurance / Medical Insurance
Also Included In: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP
Article Date: 12 Nov 2010 – 4:00 PST

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The Atlantic spoke with Andrew Webber, president and CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health, “a national, not-for-profit organization that represents public and private sector employers,” who said: “There are a lot of different requirement issues [in the health reform law]. … To be brutally honest, do [employers] like a lot of new regulation? No, they’re business people. But I like the delivery system reforms.” Webber added, “Big picture, what worries me is the president said, ‘If you like your current coverage, we won’t touch it.’ Individuals with jobs enjoy getting health insurance through their employer. But there is no question that with the new regulation, more employers are asking the question, ‘Are we going to stay in the game?’ Maybe we’re moving to a system and people get a voucher and they find insurance on the exchanges. That worries me. … I think the tax subsidy provides some incentive from a pure economic sense to have more and more comprehensive health insurance. I think it probably makes sense that that issue be debated. But this is a voluntary employer based system, and I worry about consequences of that provision and other provisions, to the foundation of employer-based insurance” (Thompson, 11/10).

Orlando Sentinel: “A repeal bill almost certainly would die in the Senate or get vetoed by President Barack Obama, but it would set up a national debate leading into the 2012 presidential election. Some congressional Republicans – and Florida legislators – also hope to block spending needed to implement the law, such as enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service and funds to help states phase in some provisions. … One big question is whether most Floridians during the next two years will want to ditch, scale back or expand the new law. Public reaction, now almost evenly divided, could change once more provisions kick in.” Nationwide polls and interviews in Florida “indicate the public is conflicted and confused about measures intended to make coverage affordable and accessible while also making it mandatory, starting in 2014” (Gibson/LaMendola, 11/11).

Fresno Bee: California’s efforts to implement a state-run health insurance exchange “could be vulnerable as House Republicans threaten to starve the federal health program of funding.” Republican control in the House “‘could make things very messy. Actually, it’s already very messy,’ said professor John Ellwood of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, a former special assistant at the Congressional Budget Office. ‘If something requires an appropriation’ of federal funds, ‘that’s where the Republicans will attempt to starve it,’ Ellwood said” (Calvan, 11/11).

CQ HealthBeat: “The range of challenges states are facing next year in their efforts to create health insurance exchanges, coupled with the changed political landscape, may lead a number of them to delay legislative action to create the new marketplaces until 2012, [Molly Voris], an official with the National Governors Association (NGA) Wednesday told insurance executives meeting here.” States have until 2014 to set up insurance exchanges but because of their complicated nature and certification requirements, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “has urged state officials” to act quickly. Among the issues lawmakers and governors will face are “churning,” the movement of Americans from Medicaid to subsidized exchanges and back, and how states will create information technology “sophisticated enough to handle complex tasks such as determining eligibility for coverage” (Reichard, 11/10).

This information was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at kaiserhealthnews.org.

© Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



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Physicians And Military Officers To Congress: In Honor Of Veterans Day, Protect Military Health Care

Main Category: Veterans / Ex-Servicemen
Also Included In: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP
Article Date: 12 Nov 2010 – 4:00 PST

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This Veterans Day, with Medicare and TRICARE physician payment cuts of 25 percent looming, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) are calling on Congress to act immediately to protect health care for America’s military families and seniors. The organizations are asking lawmakers to take action during this month’s “lame duck” session to prevent a crisis in access to care for military families. Without congressional action, the scheduled cut will begin on December 1 with a 23 percent reduction in TRICARE and Medicare physician payments. Current law also requires another 2.5 percent cut on January 1.

“The clock is ticking,” said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, M.D. “Without swift action to stop the cut, in three weeks America’s military families will face reduced access to health care. The brave men and women who serve our country deserve better. To honor our military families on Veterans Day, Congress must act to prevent these damaging cuts.”

Because TRICARE ties its physician payment rates to Medicare, the scheduled 25 percent Medicare cut will automatically impact the nearly 10 million military families who rely on TRICARE for their health care needs.

“This payment cut is the number one threat to military beneficiaries’ health care access,” said MOAA President Vice Admiral Norb Ryan, Jr., USN-Ret. “The last thing our deployed servicemembers should have to worry about is whether their sick spouse or child will be denied an appointment by their doctor.”

The ongoing threat of cuts is already having an impact on patients. Because of low payment rates and the threat of future cuts, physicians are forced to make difficult decisions about the number of TRICARE and Medicare patients they can see in their practice.

“Physicians want to continue seeing their TRICARE and Medicare patients,” said Dr. Wilson. “Congress must reverse this cut to stabilize the TRICARE and Medicare systems. It is imperative that patients and physicians make their voices heard on this critical issue.”

Concerned members of the military community, and all patients, can contact their elected officials through the AMA’s Patients Action Network online at www.patientsactionnetwork.org.

Source:

American Medical Association (AMA)

Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)



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Docs Continue To Worry About Medicare Payment Cuts While CMS Updates Ratings For Medicare Advantage Plans

Main Category: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP
Article Date: 12 Nov 2010 – 5:00 PST

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WBUR in Boston reports on Medicare payments to doctors and the sustainable growth rate, and “the latest installment of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act and attempts to rein in spending on health care for the elderly.” Congress set up the rate formula for doctors pay. But medical costs increased at a greater rate than expected and “Congress started telling doctors they had to take a cut to make the formula work. The annual fights began, with Congress postponing the adjustment year after year. The accumulated effect this year is 23 percent. The Balanced Budget Act would trigger another 2 percent on Jan. 1. The American Medical Association is asking Congress to postpone these Medicare cuts until January 2012, giving doctors and lawmakers just over a year to work on a remedy. … The estimated cost of clearing the backlog of postponed cuts and funding a formula more in line with health care spending is $350 billion” (Bebinger, 11/10).

Senior Journal: “The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) made three announcements today which it describes as ‘significant’ — (1) updated star plan ratings for 2011 Medicare health and drug plans, (2) a 3-year demonstration to provide Medicare Advantage plans financial incentives to provide high-quality care, and (3) proposed regulations to implement several provisions of the Affordable Care Act to strengthen and improve the Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug programs. The enhanced 5-star rating system for health and drug plans is introduced just in time to be helpful to senior citizens as the opportunity nears for changing plans. The open enrollment period, when seniors can make changes, will open on November 15 and end at midnight on December 31” (11/10).

This information was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at kaiserhealthnews.org.

© Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



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Calif. Nurses Emerge As Political Force; Iowa Official Under Fire For Strict Policy On Nursing Home Inspections; New ‘Homey’ Facilities For Seniors

Main Category: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP
Also Included In: Caregivers / Homecare;  Seniors / Aging;  Nursing / Midwifery
Article Date: 12 Nov 2010 – 6:00 PST

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The Wall Street Journal: “One of California’s most powerful political players these days is a Bay Area-based nurses’ union, which helped torpedo Republican Meg Whitman’s efforts to become governor and boosted the prospects of the eventual winning candidate, Democrat Jerry Brown. Now officials of the 85,000-member California Nurses Association say they will keep Gov.-elect Brown’s feet to the fire on their agenda of improving conditions for nurses and the state’s health-care system” (Carlton, 11/11).

The Des Moines Register: “The embattled head of the state agency that inspects Iowa’s hospitals and nursing homes says one of Iowa’s new legislative leaders is ‘blindly endorsing’ industry-fueled attacks on state regulators. The conflict underscores what is likely to be a major change in the way Iowa protects the 40,000 elderly and disabled people now living in 730 care facilities. Gov.-elect Terry Branstad and legislators in both parties have called for state health facility inspectors to cooperate with the industry and take a less punitive approach to violators” (Kauffman, 11/11).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: “Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe on Wednesday proposed a nearly $4.6 billion budget for the coming year that would cut the state’s grocery tax by a half cent, but said there’s no room for other tax cuts without threatening state services. The proposal presented by the governor’s office would increase the state’s budget by 2.5 percent, or about $109 million, for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011. … Beebe recommended increasing the state’s funding for Medicaid by $174 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012. Human Services officials say the state faces a major shortfall in Medicaid in the coming years because of the program’s growth. Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, called Beebe’s budget proposal reasonable but said she wants more details on how the state will deal with growing needs in Medicaid” (DeMillo, 11/10).

Health News Florida: “Florida lawmakers could revive a plan to limit the costs of drugs that doctors dispense to workers-compensation patients — bucking Gov. Charlie Crist, medical groups and a major Republican donor. House and Senate leaders say they might use a special legislative session next week to override Crist’s veto of a bill aimed at restricting the prices of drugs that are repackaged in small doses and then dispensed by doctors to injured workers. One of the state’s most-powerful business groups, Associated Industries of Florida, helped get the limit passed on the final day of the spring legislative session. It argues that the physician-dispensing practice is driving up workers-compensation costs for businesses” (Saunders, 11/10).


Stateline.org reports on the Leonard Florence Center for Living outside of Boston that “is one of a new breed of small, homey nursing facilities cropping up around the country, thanks to state collaborations with the nursing home industry, federal regulators and advocates for the elderly and disabled. It looks like a place only wealthy families could afford, but about half of its residents get their bills paid by Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor. Massachusetts played a big role in making the $37 million center in Chelsea possible. And it’s encouraging other nursing homes across the state to provide similar settings and more personalized services, whether in new buildings or traditional ones. In fact, nearly every state now is promoting what policymakers and advocates simply call ‘culture change’ – creating environments for the aged and disabled that feel more home-like than institutional” (Vestal, 11/10).

The (Columbia, S.C.) State: “South Carolina’s largest health care agency is projecting a $228 million deficit, and it told state officials Tuesday it will have to end payments to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in March if not allowed to run a deficit or make additional cuts. The Department of Health and Human Resources said the state’s Medicaid program, which provides health care for the poor and disabled, has been growing faster than expected during the recession. In addition, the agency said in a report, lawmakers have cut the agency budget while transferring HHS funds to other agencies. If forced to end doctor payments, the agency report said, the state risks federal penalties and lawsuits from Medicaid recipients. The agency laid out some cuts in the report, including eliminating optional services such as some prescription drug coverage” (O’Connor, 11/10).

The Boston Globe: “Mayor Thomas M. Menino vowed yesterday to go to Beacon Hill to fight for a state law that would allow the city of Boston to save millions of dollar on health care insurance. Menino said he could save at least $12 million a year if he gained the authority to shift a larger share of the city’s insurance costs from taxpayers to teachers, police, firefighters, and other city employees, retirees, and elected officials. State law blocks Menino and other municipal managers statewide from shifting costs unless the unions representing municipal employees agree, something most unions have been unwilling to do” (Murphy, 11/11).

This information was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at kaiserhealthnews.org.

© Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care
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