The Food and Drug Administration announced in April proposed new regulations that would cover for the first time e-cigarettes as well as other tobacco products, including pipe tobacco, cigars and waterpipe (hookah) tobacco. Electronic (or e-cigarettes) have become a huge billion dollar industry which had escaped federal oversight until now. As tobacco remains the leading cause of death and disease in this country, this expanded FDA oversight is an important moment for consumer protection.
With only 60 days left for consumers to enroll in the Health Care Marketplace, I joined health care advocates from across the country to hear from healthcare experts at the annual Families USA conference. Keynote speaker, Vice President Joe Biden, opened the conference with rousing words stating, “Now for the first time, health care coverage for all, is the law of the land.”
By Rebecca Burkholder, NCL Vice President for Health Policy October is Talk about Prescriptions Month, and with 50 percent of Americans taking at least one or more prescription drugs, there are a lot of conversations that need to happen. If you are taking a prescription medication, always ask your doctor or pharmacist why you are taking the medication, its name, how to take it properly, and if there are any side effects. Taking medication as directed is important to obtain the full benefits of the medication; this is especially true if you are taking a medication for a chronic condition.
By Rebecca Burkholder, NCL Vice President for Health Policy In a significant win for patients and consumers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued important Guidance on pharmacy-run sponsored medication adherence (i.e., “refill reminder”) programs last week, reinforcing that patient health cannot take a back seat to privacy concerns.
By Rebecca Burkholder, NCL Vice President for Health Policy For the last several days I have been in Miami at the 8th International Conference on HIV Treatment and Prevention Adherence. The conference hosts over 400 delegates from more than 30 countries, who work directly providing care to HIV patients or on HIV research. The conference provides a forum where state of the art science and adherence research for treating HIV are presented, discussed, and translated into evidence-based approaches. While there has been remarkable progress in HIV medicine over the last several years, allowing us to imagine an end to the HIV pandemic, this is tempered by the real world challenges around adherence and prevention. The keynote speaker, Dr. Badara Samb, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, made a call to action to treat 15 million with HIV by 2015. Globally, 34 million people are living with HIV. He noted that there are still barriers to care - millions do not have access to treatment, and millions of others who are HIV positive don’t know it yet since they have not been screened. Many people who do know their status, are not getting treatment due to stigma associated with being HIV positive. General sessions and research presentations focused on various aspects of adherence. Dr. Ira Wilson, Brown University, moderated an interactive panel of HIV health care providers about how to talk to patients about adherence. The discussion included the following tips: ask patients open-ended questions about adherence, be non-judgmental, don’t make assumptions about a patient’s ability to understand instructions and information, and ask questions about a patient’s life in order to learn about medication-taking behavior. I was invited to give a workshop on NCL’s Script Your Future campaign to raise awareness of the importance of adherence. While the campaign currently focuses on three chronic condition areas – respiratory, diabetes, and cardiovascular - there was interest in expanding our campaign to include HIV, since many of those with HIV suffer from other chronic conditions as well. The research and clinical work showcased at the conference, along with the clear dedication and commitment of these health care professionals, is key to the ongoing treatment and prevention of HIV.