Drug Companies Expand Their Prescription Drug Help

The current economic recession has affected many patient’s ability to pay for their prescription medicine. Some drug companies are responding with improved prescription drug help. Merck, which makes Singulair for asthma, Januvia for diabetes and Fosamax for osteoporosis, increased the amount of total annual income a family can make and still qualify for free medication in March. Individuals making less than $43,000 and families of four making less than $88,000 now can qualify for help with prescriptions. Merck says it has helped 1.7 million patients with $1.9 billion of medicine over the last seven years.

“We are committed to helping patients, and that commitment is evident in the $140 million of financial assistance we provided in 2008,” spokesperson Shannon Altimari from drug maker Biogen says. Biogen Idec provides help for prescription Avonex and Tysabri which is used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Pfizer announced a program earlier this year called Maintain that provides free medicine to unemployed patients who need prescription drug help. Maintain is just one of several patient assistance programs that the company offers.

AstraZeneca just announced that it was changing its medication assistance program to provide assistance sooner to certain patients. The company’s program offers free medicine or low-cost medicine to uninsured, low-income patients. AstraZeneca said in a statement that it “would immediately extend assistance to qualifying patients who have lost their jobs, had their incomes reduced or had a change in marital status or family size”. The company said these types of patients had been having problems qualifying for prescription drug help because their tax returns showed too high an income. Qualifying patients can now enroll by providing documentation of their current income and family size, AstraZeneca said.

Jason Richards is a patient that has experienced such problems. The 46-year-old plumber was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005. His income from social security and a small disability policy barely covers his mortgage, medical bills, and other living expenses. “I have tried all sorts of things to see if I can get prescription drug help,” he says. He called the drug companies, Social Security, and his doctor’s office. He has also followed several leads on the Internet and finally found a company that would process all of the paperwork for him.

Richards’ prescription medicine cost over $600 a month and his medical expenses are more than $300 per month. “There were times when I have had to skip taking my medicine for a day or two,” he admits. Jason is not sure what the future holds for him but at least now he is getting the help with prescriptions that he needs.

The 13 Most Powerful Superfoods

What makes them “super?”

Ask five nutritionists to rate the 13 most powerful foods and most likely you will end up with five different lists, but many of the selections overlap. Why? Because every food provides something different: Some are a rich source of protein or fiber, but lacking in vitamins and minerals, while others contain disease-fighting phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, but lack protein. The trick, experts say, is to get a variety of the very best foods. Agreat starting point is these 13 super foods.

Avocados

Sure, they’re high in fat, but avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats, which has been linked with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. “Avocados aid in blood and tissue regeneration, stabilize blood sugar, and are excellent for heart disorders,” says Ed Bauman, Ph.D., director of Bauman College. They are loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per fruit) and are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant linked to eye health and skin.

Apples

“An apple a day really does keep the doctor away,” says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth”. Apples are loaded with quercetin and catechin, powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage – which means a lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, especially if you eat the fruit’s skin. Research shows that apple peel contains five times more polyphenols than the flesh. Apples and their skins pack a lot of fiber too (almost double that of other common fruits such as peaches, grapes and grapefruit), which can help fight the battle of the bulge.

Blueberries

Anti-aging superstars, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve vision and brain function. Studies show that eating blueberries reduce deficiencies in motor coordination and memory that accompany aging. These little berries also reduce inflammation, which is inextricably linked with virtually all chronic diseases Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and heart. Other studies show that blueberries have much greater power against cancer than other fruits.

Cabbage

In the plant world, Queen brassicas, and cabbage is the most impressive of all. Brassica vegetables (like broccoli, bok choy) contain compounds called indoles, which have been shown to reduce cancer risk dramatically. Cabbage also stimulates the immune system, kills bacteria and viruses, and is a good blood purifier.” If you go for the red variety, you also get a healthy dose of anthocyanins (the pigment molecules are the same as blueberries), another potent antioxidant in the fight against cancer.

Fish and fish oil

Eating fish helps reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, diabetes and arthritis. The varieties of fat can also help relieve depression. The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat at least two fish meals per week, especially salmon, herring and sardines, because those varieties provide the most omega-3 heart healthy. Avoid varieties that contain mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and albacore tuna, says Roberta Anding, MS, RD, national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. (Chunks of light tuna is okay.)

Garlic

Research shows that garlic lowers cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat), helping prevent clogged arteries. “Two to three cloves a day cut the odds of subsequent heart attacks in half for heart disease patients,” says Bauman. Garlic also leads the National Cancer Institute of possible cancer-preventive food. Whole cooked garlic helps to detoxify the body of heavy metals like mercury (in fish) and cadmium. Garlic also acts as an antibacterial and antiviral, increasing resistance to stress-induced colds and infections. Cannot stand garlic breath? Chewing a sprig of parsley or a coffee bean to reduce the odor and taste.

Mushrooms

Used for centuries in Eastern medicine, mushrooms have powerful effects on the immune system – especially the shiitake maitake, reishi and varieties. “Mushrooms such as maitake help prevent and treat cancer, viral diseases, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure,” says Bauman. In fact, mushrooms are used as adjuvant treatment of cancer throughout Asia for its ability to counteract the toxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy while reducing tumors. Moreover, Japanese researchers have found that regularly eating shiitake mushrooms lowers levels of blood cholesterol by up to 45 percent.

Almonds

Almonds are loaded with fiber and monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce cholesterol. According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, including almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. And even though almonds are relatively high in fat and calories, studies show that eating almonds can actually help you lose weight (the protein, fiber and monounsaturated fat to satiety, preventing overeating).

Eggs

The best source of protein on the planet, the egg always outranks milk, meat, whey and soy protein in the quality they provide. Besides containing all nine essential amino acids, eggs are loaded with nutrients. Eat the yolks too. People avoid the yolks because they fear the cholesterol, but egg yolks contain choline, which helps protect the heart and brain function and prevents cholesterol and fat accumulation in the liver.

Flaxseed

Loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation, flaxseed has been used for centuries for medicinal and health reasons. Gandhi himself proclaimed, “Wherever flaxseed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health.” Bauman adds, “The seed itself has terrific nutritional value, very usable protein, tremendous fatty acids, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc.” They are a great source of fiber as well.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates have up to three times the antioxidants of red wine and green tea – and the juice has been shown to reduce plaque that clogs arteries, which in turn prevents heart disease and stroke. Research shows that long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may help slow aging and protect against cancer.

Red Wine

A small amount of any type of alcohol each day has a good heart to increase HDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of blood clots. “Red wine also contains powerful antioxidants, resveratrol and saponins, which may provide additional cardiovascular benefits,” says Anding. Resist an additional dose, however: More than one drink per day has been linked to high blood pressure.

Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, bitter is better – at least in terms of health. The benefits of chocolate flavonoids and antioxidants from (the same chemicals that fight the disease are found in blueberries, apples, strawberries and red wine). Warning: Only real cocoa contains flavonoids, so look for chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa (60 percent or more.) The dark chocolate also has less calories than other varieties, and when eaten in moderation, reduce unhealthy LDL cholesterol and prevents the formation of plaque in the arteries.

Parkinson’s Disease – Background and Risk Factors

PARKINSON’S DISEASE

There are a number of neurological problems that affects the morbidity and mortality of masses. Depending upon the area of brain involved, deficits may be motor or sensory. Parkinson’s syndrome is a disorder of movement caused by deficient neurotransmitter release from brain. It is a neurodegenerative disease that can occur at any age, but is mostly a disease of elderly.

Etiological background of Parkinson’s:

Our brain circuitry is very complex and normal functioning is dependent on a number of hormones and neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters modulate the degree and level of functioning of the body. In Parkinson Disease the brain cells produce lesser levels of dopamine due to depletion of dopamine producing cells in Substantia Niagra, which is a part of brain. Parkinson disease is a disease of elderly with mean age of onset at 60 years.

Due to depletion of dopamine, people have difficulty in maintaining normal functioning of limbs. The cause of Parkinson’s is mostly idiopathic, i.e. no cause can be attributed to the causation of disease. However, some cases are believed to have genetic component as well.

Risk factors:

There are some risk factors that are associated with causation of Parkinson’s disease, these risk factors are:

1. Advancing age: Advancing age has been associated with a number of neuropsychiatric illnesses and mostly attributed to pathological effects of aging at genetic level that affects the functioning of basal ganglia cells and leads to depletion of dopamine.

2. Gender: It is unclear who male are at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, but many studies have established that genetics and environmental factors influence the genes leading to disease process.

3. Family History: Positive family history as evident by genetic factors is an established cause of disease.

4. Head injuries: Some head injuries make a person vulnerable to developing Parkinson’s disease.

5. Medications: As expected, medications that are given for the treatment of depression, anxiety and other psychiatric issues renders a person at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s. However, the correct association or correlation has not yet been established.

Features of Parkinson’s disease:

Some features of this devastating neurological disorder are:

Movement disorders:

a. Tremors of hand

b. Rigidity of limbs

c. Coordination of balance and movement

d. Stiffed limbs

e. Slowness of movement

Dementia:

a. Loss of affect

b. Loss of facial expressions

c. Loss of memory

Mood Disorders or disturbances:

a. Anxiety

b. Depression

c. Apathy

Psychiatry for Physicians – Dementia – Other Types

Other categories of dementia worth mentioning are dementia due to Pick’s disease, dementia due to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, dementia due to Huntington’s disease, dementia due to Parkinson’s disease, dementia due to HIV disease, substance induced dementia, and dementia syndrome of depression.

Dementia due to Pick’s disease is a variety of frontotemporal dementia. In it there is progressive reduction of speech, loss of insight and stereotyped, perseverative behaviors, together with relatively late onset of memory and visuospatial disturbance. SPECT and PET are the two most useful imaging technique for diagnosis it.

The infectious agent for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the Piron. Clinical deterioration is very rapid in this dementia. Progressive decline with death within one year is common for this problem. Intellectual devastation, myoclonic jerks, muscle rigidity, and ataxia are some features of this illness. EEG, functional imaging and biopsy are some useful techniques for this illness.

Dementia in Huntington’s disease occurs due to some idiopathic, inherited, autosomal dominant neurodegeneration. It starts after 40 years of age and deteriorates to the extreme in around 17 years course. Irritability, apathy, depression, mania, defective cognition, memory retrieval deficit etc are common features. Absence of aphasia helps to differentiate it from DAT. CT or MRI can be useful for the diagnosis of this dementia.

Prevalence of dementia among Parkinson’s Disease patients is about 25%. It is noted especially among late onset patients. Presentation of dementia in PD is complicated that mainly represents degeneration of subcortical ascending system with neuronal loses in multiple neurotransmitter related systems.

HIV type 1 causes dementia. It causes atrophy and demyelination of subcortical white matter. Three subtypes are seen among HIV type 1 seropositive patients. They are subcortical, cortical and non affected variety according to the neuropsychiatric impact. Substance induced dementia is mainly seen in persons with alcohol abuse.

Depression can cause dementia syndrome that is called pseudodementia. But dementia and depression can occur due to the same underlying pathology. Other causes of dementia include mainly the structural damage to the brain in different situations. But causes like brain tumor, vitamin B 12 deficiency are also there in the enlisted causes.

Yunnan Red Dragon Pearl Black Tea

Origin and History

A supremely unique and pleasant Dragon Pearl Black tea first produced over 1500 years ago in the province of Yunan, thus making it one of the oldest varieties of tea. Yunnan also has the distinction of producing more tea than any other part of China and this excellent brew brings to you the flavors that can only be achieved by the ancient Chinese tea making techniques that offer a complexity of aromas that would satiate your senses with just a few pearls for a kettle. These are called “red, ” but in China, they like to call their black tea red and hence the name “Red Dragon Pearl Black Tea.”

Shape and texture

This beautiful tea is hand-rolled into pearls after being harvested in spring. Each pearl is made of hand-picked black and gold leaves are wrapped tightly and manually processed into their gem-like form. Once steeped each pearl expands out into a nice pile of full long leaves and can take you to another world in just a sip. The look is that of a small rag ball that is used by weavers to make rugs, but there ends the similarity. What this tea gives is a definite scent of chocolate and dried leaves. The care taken in making this tea is borne by the fact that the workers can produce only 1 kg tea per hour.

Benefits

The Beneficial health effects of tea have been consistently demonstrated in both animal and human studies. The most widely recognized properties of tea are their antioxidant activities, arising from their ability to scavenge reactive oxygen.

Some of the other benefits are:-

• Cataract, which mainly develops as a result of protein precipitation in the lens of the eye, may be reduced by increased tea consumption.

• Black Tea contains fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel and improves dental health.

• Among women 65-76 y of age, tea consumption was associated with greater bone mineral density measurements.

• In diet-induced obese mice, consumption of tea for 10 weeks prevented obesity and fatty liver.

• Ingestion of tea extract by healthy young men with each meal resulted in a significant increase in 24-hour energy expenditure and a significant decrease in the 24-hour respiratory quotient.

• Several epidemiological studies have shown beneficial effects of black tea in cancer, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases.

• The health benefits associated with black tea consumption have also been corroborated in animal studies of cancer chemoprevention, hypercholesterolemia, atherosclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other aging related disorders.

Brewing

The best way of brewing the tea is achieved by the following:

o Heat water to roughly 95°C/200°F.

o Use 2 pearls per cup/small teapot.

o Brew for 5 minutes.

After this, the brew should become a bright yellowish-green color liquor bringing a robust visual feeling.

Taste

The Yunnan Red Dragon Pearl Black tea yields a spicy and smooth aroma with pleasing jasmine overtones with the expected malty and chocolate tones of Yunnan released more slowly and gently owing to the pearl form. It has a smooth texture and the sweet, gentle taste of malt and chocolate and has minimal astringency. With its perfect level of depth and briskness, this tea would make you want to enjoy more than one cup.