(NewsUSA) - It's a David-vs.-Goliath dispute, and millions of patients are caught in the middle -- perhaps even unaware they're about to lose coverage for the compounded medications they need for their conditions.
At issue are the customized medications pharmacists prepare for patients who can't metabolize or tolerate commercial drugs. Compounded medicines often are the only option for doctors treating certain children and seniors, patients coping with the pain of cancer and diabetes, and those with liver or kidney diseases.
In one corner: powerful insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) hell-bent on saving money by eliminating or cutting coverage of those medications.
In the other corner, fighting to reverse their moves: a coalition of patients, physicians, pharmacists and pro-patient groups like the Veterans Advocacy Group of America, the Kidney Cancer Association and the Arthritis Foundation.
"This is about shifting costs to patients," says Jay McEniry, executive director of Patients and Physicians for Rx Access (saverxaccess.org). "Physicians are being placed in the impossible position of either prescribing a compounded medication the patient needs but can't afford, or prescribing a less effective treatment because it may be covered by the patient's insurance."
The list of "Goliaths" who've announced or already implemented such cutbacks now includes United Healthcare/Optum Rx, Catamaran, CVS/Caremark, Harvard Pilgrim and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in several states.
But the coalition's immediate wrath is directed at the nation's largest PBM: Express Scripts, which in September is slated to stop covering 1,000 drug ingredients commonly found in compounded medications -- effectively "eliminating an entire class of medications," says McEniry.
Express Scripts and others argue that commercial drugs can do the job just as well for less money. But try telling that to patients like Linda Sauer.
The Dwight, Illinois, woman relies on her doctor-prescribed compounded medications for relief from several painful and debilitating conditions, and is outraged that Express Scripts' decision leaves her no choice but to pay for them out of pocket.
"They're denying me access to medicines that work better than the mass-produced drugs I've tried," she says. "It will cost me and others hundreds of dollars per month."
Sauer at least has read the advisory notice from Express Scripts, which the coalition claims gives "misleading reasons" for targeting what it calls "essential medicines" whose ingredients are purchased from FDA-regulated suppliers. But what of patients who didn't?
Sadly, they're in for a shock the next time they try to fill a prescription.
(NewsUSA) - If you happen to be a person who just can't seem to find enough hours in the day, it might be time to get an earlier start. And, if you've already tried waking up before sunrise, only to meet a crashing halt following lunch, these four tips may help:
Tip 1: Avoid hitting "snooze" at all costs. Try moving your alarm clock far enough away from the bed so you'll be forced to stand up and walk to turn it off.
"When you hit the snooze button repeatedly, you're fragmenting what little extra sleep you're getting, so it is of poor quality," says Robert S. Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.
Tip 2: Fuel up with a hearty breakfast. So, you're probably tired of hearing this advice by now. Yet, if more people actually followed through with it, there wouldn't be a need to stress it over and over. According to a January 2014 Penn Schoen Berland study, although nearly 85 percent of Americans believe breakfast is important, just over half say they choose to skip it because they don't have enough time, would rather sleep in or don't like preparing it. If time is really an issue, consider quick options like Hormel Compleats breakfasts (www.hormel.com), which can be ready in just 60 seconds.
Tip 3: Power up with protein. According to health.com eggs --and even bacon -- can be potent breakfast options to keep you going and give your body the energy it needs to get through the day. Some easy-prep breakfast options -- like the Compleats varieties mentioned in tip number two -- even feature eggs.
"Eggs are a great source of nutrients," said Mitch Kanter, Ph.D., executive director of the Egg Nutrition Center. "Just one egg contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein and antioxidants."
Tip 4: Set an earlier bedtime. If you are a night owl by nature, but want to start your day sooner, gradually shift your bedtime earlier each night. Once you find a time that allows you to wake up early and get through the day without feeling like you need a nap, stick to it. The most productive early birds aren't sleep deprived. As Aristotle noted, "It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth and wisdom."
(NewsUSA) - Remember how mom always reminded you about your posture? Turns out she was right.
Years of poor posture, we now know, puts undue pressure on the spine and supporting muscles and ligaments that can result in everything from back pain to muscle strain to degenerative arthritis. And many of us make things worse on a daily basis.
Research has found that common things like stress, obesity, incorrect posture while sleeping, walking and working, and -- yes, all you fashionistas out there -- wearing high-heeled shoes can contribute to poor posture.
And the back pain alone that often follows hurts us in more ways than one. "Americans spend at least $50 billion each year (seeking relief from) back pain," notes the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. "And it's one of the most common reasons for missed work."
If you just read those stats while seated, here's a quick checklist to see if you're maintaining the correct posture:
* Relax shoulders and keep forearms parallel to the ground when working at a keyboard.
* Don't cross your legs.
* Use a footrest if your feet don't reach the floor.
For those who are past the checklist stage, know that the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research almost twenty years ago recommended spinal manipulation provided by a doctor of chiropractic as a "safe and effective, drugless" treatment for sufferers of low back pain.
"Old habits die hard," says Ron Kirk, DC, an avid supporter of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress and founder of Straighten Up America (straightenupamerica.org). "But a doctor of chiropractic can recommend exercises to strengthen core postural muscles and can help you choose proper postures to reduce your risk of injury during activities."
For more information, visit www.yes2chiropractic.org.
(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - "Join The Force" and Help Save Lives is an initiative formed to fight lung cancer in women, which is the No. 1 cancer killer of women. LUNG FORCE will make lung cancer in women a public health priority, drive policy change and increase research funding. Learn more at Lungforce.org.
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(NewsUSA) - When it comes to natural marketing expertise, there may be no other like Peter Tabibian.
As founder of the Z-Burger restaurant chain located in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore region, Tabibian has grown his business with a mix of great food, great style and breakthrough marketing and promotions.
"Marketing is the engine of any successful business," says Tabibian. "And once you turn the engine on, business just grows and grows."
What makes Tabibian's success impressive, however, is that he never attended college. Instead, he honed his craft working low-level fast food jobs before taking a significant personal credibility risk opening his first Z-Burger (www.zburger.com) in the Tenleytown section of Washington, D.C.
"Throughout the past seven years, I've expanded the menu from hand-crafted burgers with endless toppings and fresh-cut fries to one that includes 75 varieties of hand-spun milkshakes and concretes," says Tabibian.
As new Z-Burger locations were opened, he helped design exteriors and interiors to give each one a unique look and feel. But great looking restaurants were only the beginning. Tabibian had to let the world know -- and with his wild imagination and street-sense marketing practices, he created some of the restaurant industry's most talked about promotions.
Six years ago, Tabibian created the annual "Independence Burger Eating Championships," which now rivals Nathans as the top eating competition in the U.S.
Tabibian has become a champion of the American worker with his promotions offering free food to government employees who were without paychecks due to the sequestration -- which landed Z-Burger in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
His restaurants have also become places where people in distress can find comfort in a free meal -- whether for local residents without power due to storms, or for the homeless who have annual Thanksgiving meals at Z-Burger, complete with turkey burgers and French fries with gravy.
Other memorable promotions included free purple burgers in celebration of the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl victories, and heart-shaped burgers on pink buns for Valentine's Day.
What's more, his all-around genius recently earned Z-Burger the "Best Burger Award" from the No. 1 radio station in Washington, WTOP-FM.
Certainly, Tabibian's marketing prowess is having an effect as Z-Burger has been featured on the History Channel, TMZ, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX national news broadcasts. Even former President Bill Clinton has stopped by for a meal.
(NewsUSA) - The kids are back in school, football season is starting and fall is around the corner, which means it is time to turn down the air conditioner and rely a little more on your ceiling fan to save energy and money.
This September 18 marks the second annual National Ceiling Fan Day (NCFD). More than 20 ceiling fan manufacturers, the American Lighting Association (ALA) and leading energy conservation groups invite everyone to join the fight to reduce energy consumption by turning off their central cooling systems and staying cool with ceiling, floor, desk and wall fans to save trillions of kilowatt hours of energy consumption.
As an extra incentive to participate in the energy-saving effort, many fan retailers are offering discounts to consumers in conjunction with NCFD. You can find a list of local ALA-member fan retailers online at AmericanLightingAssoc.com.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using ceiling fans to reduce or eliminate the need to use your AC, because ceiling fans consume far less electricity. Many ceiling fans consume as few as 15 watts of electricity, while AC systems can use upwards of 5,000 watts when used for the same amount of time.
While saving energy is a good thing, saving money is not bad either. Operating a fan can cost as little as $1 per month. That is quite a savings compared to approximately $100 per month to run an AC unit in a typical home. To maximize your savings, use an Energy Star-certified fan. Ceiling fans that have earned the Energy Star label are 60 percent more efficient than conventional fans.
Initiated by fan manufacturer Fanimation, NCFD is supported by the ALA and many additional ALA-member fan manufacturers, including Casablanca/Hunter Fan Company, Craftmade; Emerson Ceiling Fans, Feiss-Monte Carlo, Kichler, Matthews Fan Company, Minka-Aire, Progress Lighting, Quorum International, Regency Ceiling Fans, Savoy House, Sea Gull Lighting, The Modern Fan Co., Vaxcel International and Westinghouse Lighting, as well as The Home Depot and Lowe's Companies, Inc.
Many of the nation's leaders in energy conservation and efficiency are also on board. Those supporters include the EPA's Energy Star Program; Alliance to Save Energy; Affordable Comfort, Inc.; and Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
The purpose of NCFD is to bring national attention to escalating energy costs and consumption. The day is devoted to saving energy and raising awareness about how ceiling fans can fit into an overall energy- and cost-savings plan. If every American participates in NCFD by turning off their AC and using fans for their cooling needs, the United States will save enough energy to power the entire city of New York for months.
For more information about how to save energy with ceiling fans and for a list of ALA-member fan retailers and manufacturers, go to AmericanLightingAssoc.com.
(NewsUSA) - Some of the most serious injuries among older adults, age 65 and older, are caused by falling. More than 1.6 million older Americans end up in the emergency room or hospital because of a fall, according to the National Institutes of Health. Seniors who have broken a hip by falling can have trouble recovering and regaining mobility.
The good news is many falls are preventable. One of the first things you can do if you take prescription medication is have your health care team review your medication.
"Some prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs, or a combination of them, can make you dizzy or sleepy. Either can lead to a fall," said Jaza Marina, M.D., a geriatrician at Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta. "If you fall, be sure to let your doctor know, even if you aren't hurt. Sometimes falls are a sign of a new medical problem that needs attention."
Many underlying causes of falls can be treated or corrected. Dr. Marina recommends these 10 proactive steps to reduce the risk of falling.
Make your home safe.
1. Remove clutter, throw rugs and electrical cords that might cause you to trip.
2. Store items on bottom shelves.
3. Add grab bars where necessary -- in hallways, stairways and bathtubs.
4. Add a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.
5. Make sure your home is well lit. Use night lights in hallways and bathrooms.
6. Keep a phone and flashlight by your bed.
Take care of yourself.
7. Stay as physically active as you can.
8. Wear comfortable shoes with good support.
9. Have your vision and hearing checked.
10. Use a cane or walker if you feel unsteady.
For more information on how to prevent falls, visit share.kp.org/preventing-falls. Also check out everybodywalk.org for tips on walking as an exercise. For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk to your physician.
(NewsUSA) - If you are a parent, you are probably well aware of how difficult it is to find quality family-friendly programming on TV. You know, shows that don't force you to keep your finger hovering over the remote "just in case."
Well, parents can breathe a little easier thanks to America's favorite source for weather. The Weather Channel has a new live morning show, AMHQ with Sam Champion. Champion, one of the best-known and most-liked TV personalities in the country, joined Weather in March after years at WABC-TV and more recently Good Morning America (GMA).
According to Champion, what drew him away from his long-standing role as America's No. 1 weatherman while at GMA was the format for AMHQ -- short for "America's Morning Headquarters" -- because the show "not only aims to prepare viewers for the day by forecasting regional and local weather, but looks ahead at the news and events that will unfold and shape their days."
What's really hitting home for parents, however, is the show's educational material. Most recently, AMHQ aired pieces on orca whales, National Heat Stroke Prevention Day, hail formation with a replica of the largest hailstone ever found and flash floods in Colorado. It's this type of programming that parents -- and their children -- are enjoying together.
"We got feedback from viewers telling us they liked having the show on in the morning when their kids are getting ready for school because there is content about science and the natural world around us," says Champion.
Regular science segments include "Science Behind...," which takes viewers through the reasons weather phenomena occur, and "View from Above," pieces about space. And while Champion says he didn't set out to create a family show, it's not necessarily a bad thing to be branded that way.
"We don't need to be a show that leads with the latest sensational tabloid crime or be a place with people yelling and arguing just for entertainment," he says.
Throughout AMHQ, the show will cover every aspect of the day's weather, along with news, business, sports, technology and health, all told uniquely through a weather lens and with the goal of forecasting the day ahead. The show airs weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET. To learn more, visit weather.com/AMHQ.
(NewsUSA) - Remember the last time you walked into a professionally designed home and marveled at its beauty? Chances are, the designer carefully planned the interior finishings -- like crown mouldings and interior doors. While trim and doors have a major impact on interior décor, few homeowners select them with the same care as their furnishings or paint.
Interior finishings are decorative interior products that create the look, feel and flow of design throughout your home. They include trim, interior doors, wall treatments, chair rails, ceiling treatments and mantels -- and they all significantly impact the design of a room. Because these products are critical to a room's design, you will notice their use in many movies or TV series, where sets are carefully designed using trim and doors -- setting the stage for dramatic stories to unfold. It's almost impossible, for example, to imagine "The Great Gatsby" or "Sex and the City" filmed with bare walls behind them. Designers know that it's trim and doors that create the character of a home.
In addition to making a space look professionally styled and creating character, these architectural elements are also functional. Interior finishings can make walls seem taller, hide seams between windows and walls and conceal flaws. When incorporated into plans early in the design process they can also help save money. The richness of finishings used on walls, ceilings and doors lessens the need to fill a room with furniture and accessories.
However, in the past, finding the right interior finishings was often difficult and uninspiring for homeowners, builders and designers. That is, until recently.
"Gone are the days of rummaging through a chaotic selection of trim and doors," says Jan Rutgers, who led the design of Metrie's (www.metrie.com) unique Then & Now Finishing Collections.
According to Rutgers, the Metrie collections of coordinated and professionally designed trim and interior doors take the guesswork out of selecting finishings. Metrie's collections are designed to blend with today's home décor styles, are sized to fit together with ease and are coordinated so that trim and doors are harmonized in design and detailing.
"Now interior finishing can be a simple three-step process: First, choose a Metrie collection that matches your style. Then select the elements you want. Finally, add personal touches like stains, paints or finishes for a cohesive, professional look and feel. In other words, finish before you start," says Rutgers.
For inspiration and design ideas, Metrie has created a library for each collection at Metrie.com/inspired-living.
(NewsUSA) - Over 200,000 tons of dried, farmed, tropical seaweed are produced every year. The majority of the world's red seaweed is farmed by nearly 60,000 family farmers in Africa, the Philippines and Indonesia. These families apply sustainable farming techniques that help to protect and preserve the habitats where they farm.Seaweed farming is one of the most environmentally friendly types of aquaculture. Tropical carrageenan cultivation utilizes no chemical treatments, such as fertilizers. Seaweed farms help to preserve coral reefs by providing a sheltered habitat for local species of fish and invertebrates, which increases diversity where the seaweed is grown. Further, seaweed farming does not cause major physical landscape or seascape changes and can serve to mediate green house gas emissions and excess nitrogen in the water that causes harmful algae blooms.Carrageenan is extracted from red seaweed with minimal processing. It is included in recipes for shelf-stable beverages, dairy desserts, baked goods and many other foods enjoyed across the world -- foods that taste delicious with less fat and sugar, foods that are vegan, kosher and halal.With 7 billion people in the world to feed, it is essential to have products that can travel distances safely and arrive to needful communities intact and nutritious. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, millions of people around the world suffer from protein malnutrition. When used in protein-enriched beverages, carrageenan aids in the extension and protection of the nutritional value of protein while improving the creaminess that is affected by processing. Carrageenan is used to stabilize liquid nutritional supplements for infants and young children, ensuring safe access to nutrition for children, particularly in regions with unreliable water quality where malnutrition is prevalent.Beyond enhancing nutrition, carrageenan also contributes to the reduction of food waste. More than 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted globally each year. When used in packaged food and beverages, carrageenan enables processes and recipes that extend shelf life, making them more widely available and less prone to waste.Carrageenan is a valuable food additive that helps to ensure the health, safety and reach of the global food supply. The product of seaweed harvested by hand by farmers across the globe provides a sustainable foundation for the creation of a food system that can feed the world.To learn more, visit fmccarrageenan.com. NewsusaInfographic. See full-sized image here.