The CDC reported that influenza was widespread in 49 states during the week ending Jan. 6, with flu hospitalizations nearly twice the level seen the previous week and seven additional pediatric deaths reported, bringing the season's total to 20. Flu activity may already have peaked, but 11 to 13 weeks remain in the season, said Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the CDC's influenza division.
CDC researchers found that 34.7% of pregnant women prescribed an antibiotic for a urinary tract infection received nitrofurantoin and 7.6% were given trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, even though the drugs have been associated with an elevated risk of birth defects when taken during the first trimester. Clinicians said the findings, discussed in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, suggest health care providers may not all be aware of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines advising use of these antibiotics only as a last resort treatment during early pregnancy.
AstraZeneca's Lynparza, or olaparib, has been approved by the FDA to treat patients with metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer whose malignancy involves mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. The drug, which was previously approved for treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, is the first PARP inhibitor to win FDA approval against breast cancer.
The CMS said Friday it has approved Kentucky's request to require Medicaid beneficiaries to work, get employment training or perform community service, making Kentucky the first state in the US to be allowed to reshape eligibility around employment requirements. The state will require most able-bodied Medicaid recipients ages 19 to 64 years to participate in at least 80 hours of "employment activities," per month, and it will also require premiums from those whose incomes qualify and lock those who do not pay out of the program for six months.
The $850,000 price tag for Spark Therapeutics' Luxturna, a gene therapy for treating a rare form of retinal disease that can lead to blindness, is too high for the value it provides, according to a report from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. The authors said a more cost-effective price would fall about 50% to 75% below the figure Spark proposed.
An OfficeTeam survey found 66% of human resources managers said their companies have increased health and wellness programs in the past five years and 89% believe their company supports employee health and wellness goals. The survey showed 30% of respondents said food provided at office parties was the biggest obstacle to attaining their health goals, while 44% said they had healthier eating habits when they worked from home.
Employee wellness is an $8 billion industry in the US and companies see about a 50-cent return-on-investment, writes Matt Riley of Marathon Health. Improving ROI and employee health requires companies to focus wellness efforts on workers with the greatest health risks through programs that help manage chronic conditions, Riley says.
German researchers evaluated data from two population-based surveys involving 7,107 adults, mean age of 47.8, and found that men with high life satisfaction had a 28% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with medium or low life satisfaction, but no association was found between life satisfaction and diabetes risk among women. The findings were published in Diabetic Medicine.
Many have pointed to economic, cultural and social displacement of white, blue-collar Americans as a driving force behind the opioid addiction epidemic. A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests, however, that the problem likely stems from widespread availability.
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