Our Friday Song of the Week – Summer of 69
Americans Pay Far More for Medications Than Anywhere in the World – The International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP) released its 2013 Comparative Price Report, detailing its annual survey of medical prices. The report examines the price of medical procedures, tests, scans and treatments in nine countries. This year the survey also shows pricing for five specialty prescription drugs. As in prior years, the survey data shows that the United States continues to have the highest fees of those countries surveyed for drugs and various medical procedures.
Some of the larger disparities were in prescription and specialty drugs prices. For example, the price for the cancer drug Gleevec ranged from $989 in New Zealand to $6,214, the average price paid in the United States. The price paid for the drug Copaxone ranged from $862 in England to $3,903 in the United States.
Other more common drugs such as Cymbalta, commonly prescribed for depression, cost less than $100 in Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and England. Cymbalta cost an average of $110 in Canada and $194 in the United States. Similarly, a drug prescribed for acid reflux averages from $33 in the Netherlands to $215 in the United States.
IFHP’s Chief Executive Tom Sackville explained why he believed to the data to be important.
“We have looked here at a number of procedures and products which are identical across the markets surveyed. The price variations bear no relation to health outcomes: they merely demonstrate the relative ability of providers to profiteer at the expense of patients, and in some cases reflect a damaging degree of market failure.”
Prices examined in the study included those from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. The data for the report was gathered from participating IFHP member organizations in each country. Prices in the U.S. were based on prices negotiated between private health plans and health care providers.
The IFHP was founded in 1968 by a group of health fund industry leaders, and is now the leading global network of the industry, with more than 80 member companies across 25 countries. IFHP aims to assist in the maintenance of high ethical and professional standards throughout the industry.
See this VOX post for more perspective.
Internet Use May Cut Retirees’ Depression say the authors of the article “Internet Use and Depression Among Retired Older Adults in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis.”
Spending time online has the potential to ward off depression among retirees, particularly among those who live alone, according to research published online in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. The authors report that Internet use reduced the probability of a depressed state by 33 percent among their study sample.
Late-life depression affects between 5 and 10 million Americans age 50 and older. This new study shows that the Internet offers older Americans a chance to overcome the social and spatial boundaries that are believed to fuel depression.
The research was conducted by Shelia R. Cotten, PhD, of Michigan State University; George Ford, PhD, of the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies; Sherry Ford, PhD, of the University of Montevallo; and Timothy M. Hale, PhD, of the Center for Connected Health and Harvard Medical School.
“Retired persons are a population of interest, particularly because one mechanism by which Internet use may affect depression is to counter the effects of isolation and loneliness, which are more common among older adults,” the authors stated. “Also, working individuals may be required to use the Internet rather than choosing to, and may use the technology for different reasons than those not working.”
The data were obtained from four waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey collecting information from more than 22,000 older Americans every two years. The current study sample included 3,075 community-dwelling respondents observed over 4 waves of data, from 2002 to 2008, yielding a total of 12,300 observations.
The measurement of Internet use was based on a question asking participants, “Do you regularly use the World Wide Web, or the Internet, for sending and receiving e-mail or for any other purpose?” Depression was measured using an eight-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
With other factors constant, the authors found that Internet users had an average predicted probability of depression of .07, whereas that probability for nonusers was .105. Based on the difference, Internet use led to a 33 percent reduction in the probability of depression.
“Number of people in the household partially mediates this relationship, with the reduction in depression largest for people living alone,” the authors wrote. “This provides some evidence that the mechanism linking Internet use to depression is the remediation of social isolation and loneliness. Encouraging older adults to use the Internet may help decrease isolation, loneliness, and depression.”
We are in the process of trying to alleviate that loneliness by bring live streaming concerts to elders in their home through Stage It. To do it effectively, we need student volunteers and corporate sponsors. Contact me to find out more.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease titled, “Coconut Oil Attenuates the Effects of Amyloid-β on Cortical Neurons In Vitro.” adds to an accumulating body of anecdotal reports that coconut oil may alleviate and/or regress cognitive deficits associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.
Medical researchers from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada, investigated the effects of coconut oil supplementation directly on cortical neurons treated with amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide, the main component of certain deposits found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease believed to contribute to the disease.
The researchers noted that coconut treated Aβ cultured neurons appeared “healthier,” and that coconut oil “rescued” Aβ-treated neurons from mitochondrial damage caused by their toxicity. The researchers observed coconut oil preventing Aβ-induced changes in mitochondrial size and circularity. These findings have great significance, as mitochondria function is often compromised in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
According to the researchers, “The rationale for using coconut oil as a potential AD [Alzheimer's Disease] therapy is related to the possibility that it could be metabolized to ketone bodies that would provide an alternative energy source for neurons, and thus compensate for mitochondrial dysfunction.”
I wonder if my coconut suntan oil applies here!
Our Friday Song of the Week – Jack and Diane