Headlines: March 8, 2010
by Meg Larkin
In the face of uniform Republican opposition, President Obama continues to press forward with his health reform proposal. The Obama Administration is using a recent analysis by Goldman Sachs as a key part of their closing argument for health reform. According to the New York Times, the analysis advises investors to buy shares in two insurance companies because premium rates have increased sharply and competition has decreased. The White House claims that the report signals how badly a health care overhaul is needed. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has criticized President Obama’s approach to the health care overhaul. Sebelius said that Obama’s attempts to gain Republican support for the bill had slowed the health overhaul effort, and also said that President Obama had to spend too much time fending off wild accusations by Republicans instead of speaking about what is contained in the health care bill itself.
In academic medical news, researchers have found that the AIDS virus can hide in bone marrow cells. When the virus resides in bone marrow, it can avoid the effects of treatment with antiretroviral drugs and emerge later to cause illness in the patient. Researchers see this finding as an important step towards developing treatments that can allow AIDS patients to stop taking medication after their initial infection is over. This could make treatment more effective in countries where lifelong treatment is harder to afford and deliver.
In drug news, the Boston Globe has unearthed some concerning information about nursing home prescribing practices for antipsychotic drugs. The powerful drugs, usually used to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, are often given to patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia in order to make them easier for nursing home staff to control. The Globe also found that the rates of prescription drug use differed dramatically from one nursing home to another. There is now a bill pending in the Massachusetts State Legislature that would make it necessary for nursing home staff to consult with a resident’s health care proxy before prescribing antipsychotic medication.
Meg Larkin is a second year law student at Boston University. Please feel free to email her with any comments, questions, suggestions, or concerns.