Feds go after opioid-addiction relief products

via Feds go after opioid-addiction relief products, clarionledger.com

PDF: Opioid

The opioid epidemic has been called the worst drug crisis in American history. It’s been blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold misery for millions who find themselves addicted to something that was originally supposed to help ease their pain.

In 2015 (the latest year for which statistics are available), public health officials estimate that 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses, adding to more than 300,000 deaths since 2000. According to the Center for Mississippi Health Policy, 1,229 people died in Mississippi from unintentional drug overdoses from 2007-2011. In many of those cases nationally (more than half of the Mississippi cases), the drug was a prescription painkiller, prescribed for patients with chronic pain. Others died from overdoses of opioid-based heroin or other illegal drugs, sometimes mixed with other prescription opioids such as Fentanyl and sold on a lucrative black market.

Since there is huge demand for any product that could potentially alleviate the tragic dependency on these substances, there is no shortage of companies selling products they claim will help. But in some cases, federal regulators say, they’ve gone too far. This week, the Federal Trade Commission put the brakes on claims made by a Texas-based company that marketed products called “Withdrawal Ease” and “Recovery Ease.”

“Opioid addiction is a scourge that has affected millions of Americans,” said acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen, in a news release. “People who struggle with this problem need real help, not phony claims and false promises like the ones peddled by these defendants.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, Catlin Enterprises and its owners violated the FTC Act by making claims that Withdrawal Ease could alleviate the symptoms of opiate withdrawal or could increase the likelihood the user could overcome dependency. The agency challenged the claims on the basis they weren’t supported by scientific evidence of effectiveness. They also disputed Recovery Ease’s claim it could “significantly alleviate” long-term opiate withdrawal symptoms.

The FTC obtained a court order barring Catlin Enterprises and its owner from “making claims about opiate withdrawal, opiate dependency, or other health conditions, including through their product names, unless they possess competent and reliable science to back up those claims.” The agency also levied a $6.6 million fine, but noted the fine would be suspended “based on their inability to pay.”

This is the second recent case in which the FTC challenged claims a product could alleviate withdrawal symptoms. In a case settled last year, the agency  levied a $235,000 fine against Sunrise Nutraceuticals after the company claimed its Elimidrol product could help ease the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

As with any type of medical product claim, consumers should be skeptical of any claim the product can produce such dramatic results, especially when the stakes are so high. If you’re considering purchasing one of these products or recommending it for a friend or loved one, the first call you should make is to your physician or health care provider. And the Mississippi Department of Mental Health has a great pamphlet at http://bit.ly/2pwvG1A, providing information and resources to parents whose kids may be at risk from prescription drug addiction


Study: Teens losing sleep to mobile devices

Source: Study: Teens losing sleep to mobile devices

You may recall we recently reported that, while parents tended to worry about their children’s use of mobile devices, they were essentially blind to their own excessive usage of the devices. We parents often just don’t seem to have a very good handle on the issue of how our kids are using their phones and other devices.

The point has recently been made once again, as a new study in a British journal has illuminated a secret many teens are keeping. It seems the day’s texting, web surfing and gameplay are continuing well into the night for many, disrupting in the process much-needed sleep. Of course, it’s not entirely a new phenomenon: bookish teens have for decades covertly sneaked a copy of their favorite book under the covers and read with a flashlight while their parents blissfully slumbered down the hall, oblivious.

What’s new, of course, is that the little devices we carry with us constantly are powerful and even addictive. And such habits, while they may seem harmless, might actually have profound negative effects because they’re occurring at the very time teens need good sleep — and a lot of it.

In her Journal of Youth Studies article, Cardiff University Researcher Sally Power studied about 900 young people between 12 and 15. Subjects were asked whether they got up during the night to check their mobile devices. As many as one in five reported getting up regularly to check their email, text or social media accounts, and kids who admitted to nighttime usage were three times more likely to report feeling sleepy or excessively tired the next day.

“Our research shows that a small but significant number of children and young people say that they often go to school feeling tired — and these are the same young people who also have the lowest levels of well-being,” Power noted.

And there were gender differences as well: Power’s study found that, among younger subjects, more than a quarter of girls reported waking up to check their devices, while only about 15 percent of boys checked in during the night.

While the problem may seem like just a sleepy kid at breakfast, it may go deeper. The National Sleep Foundation reports teens need at least eight to 10 hours of quality sleep per night. Not getting enough sleep can cause a variety of problems, such as obesity, daytime sleepiness, lessened attention span and poor grades. Some researchers have connected the light from many devices with decreased levels of melatonin, a chemical emitted by the brain that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycles. And some types of light — such as the  bluish tints coming from device screens — are believed to be especially potent at suppressing melatonin.

Although Power stopped short at declaring the problem an “epidemic” or advocating a “prescribed” sleep period, she noted the research seems to confirm other research that found “significant and serious implications of the night-time use of social media for levels of tiredness and well-being.”

For parents interested in addressing this issue, the website Teensafe.com has some tips. Among them:

  • Consider a “Family Smartphone Contract.” Talk with your kids about your concerns over nighttime phone use and get them to sign a contract that they’ll abide by it. (This depends, of course, on trust.)
  • Control your Wi-Fi. Although it’s not a perfect solution (some phone features can work using the phone’s data plan), your home network controls might allow you to set specific time limits for general use, or even restrict sites — such as social media sites — at specified times.

It also might be a good idea to set a good example. Asking our teens to curb their phone usage has little impact if we set a double standard. Limiting our own usage at night not only can help us keep the moral high ground but also help us; we could all benefit from a better night’s sleep.

Leave that earwax alone, docs say


via Leave that earwax alone, docs say, clarionledger.com

It’s time for a little honest self-reflection here. No judgment, no condemnation. But if asked, many of us would admit that it feels pretty darn good to roll a Q-tip around our ear canal. For many of us, it’s a daily ritual. And it’s also a guilty pleasure; most of us know that we really shouldn’t be doing it, but we do it anyway.

The Q-tips package even warns, explicitly: “WARNING: DO NOT INSERT INTO EAR CANAL. ENTERING THE EAR CANAL COULD CAUSE INJURY.” Recently, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, which represents the medical practice of treating disorders of the ear, nose and throat, reissued its perennial stern warning that you could be causing yourself a lot of trouble by rolling that little cotton swab in your ears. It’s time we gave — ahem, ear — to this advice.

The history of the Q-tip is fascinating. According to the Q-tips website, back in 1923 a Polish immigrant named Leo Gerstenzang was watching his wife take toothpicks and stick little pieces of cotton on them to clean her baby’s ears. The entrepreneurial Gerstenzang suddenly seized on the idea that people might actually pay for those, if you could mass-produce them.

Soon, he had started a company producing millions of “Baby Gays,” later renamed “Q-tips” (with the “Q” standing for “quality”). The sticks were made of wood until 1958, when the Q-tips company (eventually acquired by consumer-products giant Unilever) introduced rolled-paper sticks.

Anyway, doctors say the problem with using Q-tips in the ear is not just that you can damage your eardrum if you push too hard — although you can. It turns out that earwax is actually a good thing. “There is an inclination for people to want to clean their ears because they believe earwax is an indication of uncleanliness,” noted Dr. Seth R. Schwartz, chairman of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation guideline update group that issued the advice last week. “This misinformation leads to unsafe ear health habits.”

Earwax (also known as cerumen) helps to fight infection and is produced continually by the body. It catches dirt, dust and other foreign substances. As we move our jaws and grow new skin in the ear canal, it’s gradually pushed out, where it eventually flakes off. Of course, that process is interrupted when we twirl the Q-tip inside the ear. Removing the wax dries out the ear canal, making it itch, and since there are a lot of nerve endings in there, it feels good to scratch.

But, Schwartz continues, when we push the Q-tip into the ear, it pushes the earwax deeper, creating a buildup around the eardrum. “Patients often think that they are preventing earwax from building up by cleaning out their ears with cotton swabs, paper clips, ear candles, or any number of unimaginable things that people put in their ears,” he said. “The problem is that this effort to eliminate earwax is only creating further issues because the earwax is just getting pushed down and impacted further into the ear canal. Anything that fits in the ear could cause serious harm to the ear drum and canal with the potential for temporary or even permanent damage.”

It could also lead to pain, feeling of fullness in the ear, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), hearing loss, discharge, odor, cough and interference with hearing aids. The best way to handle earwax, doctors say, is just to leave it alone unless you have a buildup. And as your mom probably told you, don’t stick anything in your ear except your elbow. (Half of you just tried that, didn’t you?)

So, let’s recap: according to the experts, earwax is good; sticking a Q-tip deep inside the ear, bad. Still, upon hearing this news, many people will doubtless shrug their shoulders and continue their daily Q-tip sessions. But just so you know, there are some really cool ways to use Q-tips that don’t involve rolling them in your ears. Of course, many people use them to remove and apply makeup, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

The site http://www.qtips.com/campaigns/qtipshacks/ (#QtipsHacks) offers hundreds of interesting ways to use them. For example, you can:

  • Use them to clean your computer’s keyboard, remote control or other electronics.
  • Cut off the tips and use them for art projects, such as little lambs. Or mini Christmas trees for a holiday display.
  • Use them to precisely apply paint.
  • Use them to unstick a zipper, by applying a little shampoo to the zipper.

Gerstenzang might have been surprised that his little invention would have survived, practically unchanged, for nearly a century, proving that sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best.

For some more interesting facts about (and uses for) Q-tips, visit http://bit.ly/2j4rRk7.

Know the law before joining gym



via Know the law before joining gym, clarionledger.com

With the beginning of the new year, the airwaves are full of messages reminding us to get in shape. Fitness equipment manufacturers have bought millions of dollars’ worth of advertising. Ads for diets, nutrition plans and fat-loss remedies are everywhere. And health clubs are getting themselves ready for the perennial influx of customers the first few weeks of the year, looking to make good on those New Year’s resolutions.

Forget Black Friday; businesses catering to our desire to be thinner, fitter and lighter look forward to the first couple of months of the year. And it’s a fast-growing industry; the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association reports that the number of gyms nationwide has skyrocketed in the past decade to more than 36,000 clubs as of January 2016.

For most people, a resolution to get healthier is a difficult goal to accomplish. Last year, Bodybuilding.com reported that nearly three-quarters of us abandoned our health and fitness resolutions. Reasons vary, but for most people, it’s just too hard to do what it takes to make their goals a reality, and many people don’t know how to handle the inevitable setbacks that occur with any such program.

Still, trying to take control of your diet and exercise is a laudable goal; it would be hard to find any single activity that experts say does more to improve your physical and mental health, as well as your changes of long-term survival.  And, if you’re looking to join a gym, you’ll find lots of options with many fitness counselors ready to help.

But making a decision to join a gym may have consequences beyond the possibility of failing to lose those pounds or inches, warned Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood last week. Consumers may find themselves facing misrepresentation and even outright fraud. Hood took the opportunity to remind Mississippians that state law gives us several protections in a law called the Health Spa Act, which also provides monetary penalties for violators and even possible imprisonment.

“Health clubs nationwide will be doing big business in the next few weeks as consumers look to make good on their New Year’s resolutions,” Hood said. “It’s important that we all stay financially fit, too, so I hope that consumers do their research to find the right gym at the right price for them. Consumers also have the assurance that state law provides them some protections when they enter into health club contracts.”

Among the stipulations of the law: Health clubs must provide you with a written copy of your membership contract. The law even specifies the minimum type size for required contract language. Among other provisions:

  • You may cancel the contract within five days of purchasing it.
  • The club must show a comprehensive list of membership plans to prospective members and may not sell plans that aren’t included on the list.
  • The club can’t provide misleading information, representations, notices or advertisements. More specifically, it can’t misrepresent the qualifications of staff members, the availability or quality of equipment, or results obtained through exercising or weight control programs.
  • The club can’t obligate you to any contract longer than 36 months.

Before signing on the dotted line, it’s a good idea to check out the business thoroughly online and ask for recommendations from friends and co-workers. Best Health Magazine recently published a great list of things to consider at http://bit.ly/2hSbnI8.

Feds: Blood pressure app unreliable



via Blood pressure app unreliable, clarionledger.com

PDF: the_clarion-ledger_state_20161219_a003_1the_clarion-ledger_state_20161219_a005_3

Remember the old “medical tricorders” which became a fixture in the various “Star Trek” shows? Dr. McCoy and his fellow starship physicians were constantly waving these small devices over their patients, doing everything from scanning blood for toxins to mending broken bones. While some of us may have believed these devices actually existed, they were no more than Hollywood props, the technology behind them still in the realm of science fiction.

Many futurists believe the notion of the medical tricorder is not only possible, but in some ways, exists now. Already, wearable devices can track your heart rate, respiration and estimate your calorie count. And in the next few years, medical science promises even more wonders. A lot of those developments will be coming through today’s smartphones and their descendants.

But one thing that’s apparently not within the ability of a mobile device — at least yet — is accurately recording your blood pressure without using traditional methods. Such claims have landed at least one company in hot water with federal regulators.

The Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with a company called Aura Labs Inc., doing business as AuraLife and AuraWare, after charging it with deceiving customers into thinking their “Instant Blood Pressure” or “IBP” app could provide blood pressure readings that were as accurate as a traditional blood pressure cuff. In a $595,000 settlement with the FTC, Aura Labs settled allegations the company’s owner provided positive customer reviews for the product without disclosing his conflict of interest.

 “For someone with high blood pressure who relies on accurate readings, this deception can actually be hazardous,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While the commission encourages the development of new technologies, health-related claims should not go beyond the scientific evidence available to support them.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, Aura sold the IBP app through Google Play and Apple’s App Store for between $3.99 and $4.99, garnering more than $600,000 in 2014 and 2015. Marketing messages included claims the app “could be used to replace around-the-arm cuffs and would be just as accurate as the traditional device,” the FTC charged. Users were instructed to place their index finger on the phone’s camera lens and hold the base of the phone over their heart.

But — at least according to the FTC — that wasn’t enough to get a good measurement. The agency reported that the readings from this activity were “significantly less accurate” than readings obtained the traditional way. “Although defendants represent that the Instant Blood Pressure App measures blood pressure as accurately as a traditional blood pressure cuff and serves as a replacement for a traditional cuff,” the FTC charged, “in fact, studies demonstrate clinically and statistically significant deviations between the app’s measurements and those from a traditional blood pressure cuff.”

Of course, a visit to the Apple or Android app stores will reveal thousands of apps that make similar promises. Shutting down one is not likely to stop the sale of apps with questionable medical value. Many medical experts have become increasingly concerned about the proliferation of these apps, which — even though they may include disclaimers that the app is “for entertainment purposes only” — could give people false information about their health with possible disastrous consequences. If you’re considering buying one of these apps, most experts advise you to be careful, and not rely on them for something as important as your health.

But there is good news on the horizon; if the meteoric rise of technology over the past few decades is any indication, science fiction will eventually become science fact. In the not-too-distant future, a descendant of the smartphone you live with every day will really help you live longer, healthier lives, eclipsing the wildest dreams of “Star Trek.” Dr. McCoy will be jealous.

Owners’ smoking puts pets in peril



via Owners’ smoking puts pets in peril, clarionledger.com

PDF: pets-and-smoking

After decades of research, it would be difficult to argue with the notion that cigarette smoking can damage your health. Physicians and health advocates have warned smoking can cause a variety of long- and short-term health consequences, many of which are deadly. Constant efforts over the past five decades have helped reduce cigarette smoking dramatically; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates cigarette usage among adults has declined from around 43 percent in 1965 to less than 17 percent in 2014.

While that’s good news, a lot of Americans still smoke, and even though the dangers of even “secondhand” smoke are well-documented, it turns out that even “thirdhand” smoke (when the chemicals from cigarette smoke linger on clothes, hair or skin) can have adverse effects on people who live or work with smokers.

But until recently, little research has been devoted to studying how smoking can also affect our pets. But from the research that has been done, it appears that smoking can affect not only humans but the animals we love as well. This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that pets often have to pay the price for living with a smoker. Tobacco smoke and its residue have been shown to affect a variety of pets, including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters and even fish, afflicting them with cancer and other diseases.

“Smoking’s not only harmful to people; it’s harmful to pets, too,” says Dr. Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian with the FDA. “If 58 million non-smoking adults and children are exposed to tobacco smoke, imagine how many pets are exposed at the same time.”
While our beloved pets often share our living spaces, Stamper notes cats and dogs are likely to spend a lot of time on the floor, where many of the particles in tobacco smoke eventually settle. Often, these compounds are sticky and adhere to every space in the home. Pets breathe it in, and it sticks to their fur, where they can ingest it by licking and sniffing. Even smokers who are careful to smoke outside the house can bring in nicotine and other dangerous chemicals on their clothes. This “thirdhand” smoke can also be poisoning your pets.

The FDA advisory also noted a few interesting facts about pets and smoking, revealed by the available research. For example, it appears that the length of a dog’s nose can affect whether it gets sick — and from what. The nose acts as an air filter, trapping particles. In studies in which dogs were exposed to chemicals in tobacco smoke, longer-nosed breeds (such as Greyhounds and Dobermans) were found to have a doubled risk of nose cancer as compared with short-nosed breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs. But those shorter-nosed dogs had increased risk for lung cancer, as their noses were less efficient in keeping the toxic brew of chemicals from reaching the lungs.

Cats living with smokers are at risk, too. Felines (as any cat owner knows) are constantly grooming themselves. Cats in smoking households were found to have higher risks of a mouth cancer called squamous cell carcinoma around the base of the tongue, where particles collect during grooming.

And other animals can be harmed as well. Birds developed respiratory problems, and “pocket pets” like guinea pigs were found to be at risk of a variety of health problems, including emphysema. Even fish can suffer from particles that settle out from the air. In one experiment cited by the FDA, scientists put one smoked cigarette butt into water containing 2-week-old fathead minnows. Half of the fish died within four days.

And if you think pets can’t be harmed by electronic cigarettes, e-pens, hookahs or other systems touted as safe, think again. Poison control centers around the nation have noted an uptick in pet illnesses and deaths after they bit into the nicotine capsules in electronic cigarettes.

There’s a lot more in the FDA warning, but the message is clear: tobacco smoke has far-reaching health effects on all the creatures in a home, whether human or not.

If you’re interested in quitting smoking, there are a lot of great resources to help. For example, the American Lung Association has tools available at http://bit.ly/2hfqNWf, and the American Cancer Society’s resources can be accessed at http://bit.ly/1ltRoxc.

Pain relief promise unproven

From Pain relief promise unproven: column, clarionledger.com

Millions of Americans deal with joint pain, much of it caused by arthritis and related conditions. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that more than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and that number will soar to 67 million by 2030.

Joint pain is so common and so debilitating that many people will do just about anything to ease it. And while there are many ways to get some relief (even if it’s only temporary), the population of joint-pain sufferers has created a market for various types of products that promise relief.

Many products feature glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which are produced naturally in the body’s connective tissue. As to the effectiveness of these products, most reputable medical sources say more study is needed. But that hasn’t stopped promoters from coming up with hundreds of products that contain these products as dietary supplements. But, as one company found out recently, companies wishing to cash in on this lucrative market should be careful before making claims about what they can do for joint-pain sufferers.

Last week, the sellers of Supple, a glucosamine and chondroitin liquid supplement, agreed to a $150 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission after the agency charged they falsely advertised that their product provided “complete relief from chronic and severe joint pain caused by arthritis and fibromyalgia” and was “scientifically proven to eliminate joint pain.”

Supple, the FTC alleged, didn’t have the medical evidence to back those claims.

“Companies need solid scientific evidence to back up the health claims they make,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers should not have to take it on faith that products claiming to provide pain relief will live up to their billing.”

In federal court, the FTC alleged that Supple LLC,CEO Peter Apatow, and his ex-wife, Dr. Monita Poudyal, took in more than $150 million from sales. Marketing Supple through informercials, social media and by other methods, the company charged about $70 for a 24-day supply of the product while a 144-day supply sold for $270. In some infomercials, Poudyal acted as a medical-show host and Apatow (creator of the product) acted as the guest.

“Poudyal and Apatow described Supple,” the FTC noted in its news release, “as a powerful all-natural drink that provides complete and long-lasting relief from joint pain; treats or relieves chronic or severe pain, including pain caused by all forms of arthritis and fibromyalgia; provides pain relief comparable to drugs or surgery; repairs cartilage; rebuilds joints and entire joint structures; and restores mobility and joint function to consumers with severe mobility restrictions.”

For example, the website Consumerist.com quoted Apatow as saying, “If you just drink a can of Supple every day … it’ll help you get rid of all your pain, all your immobility, all of your suffering. You could stop taking dangerous pain drugs, you could avoid surgery.”

The FTC charges that these claims are false or not adequately substantiated. In addition, the commission alleges the defendants falsely claimed Supple is clinically proven to eliminate joint pain.

Other allegations included “expert endorsement” claims for the product made by Poudyal, while falsely representing herself as an independent, impartial medical expert and failing to disclose that she was married to Apatow during the marketing campaign. Endorsements, while effective in overcoming objections about buying a product, can be misleading if the objectivity of endorsers is compromised through conflicts of interest.

While Apatow, Poudyal and the company apparently will not have to come up with the $150 million (after telling the court they didn’t have the money), they will have to stop making any unsubstantiated claims in the future.

For more on this case, visit http://bit.ly/2e3LzGq.

Companies are cashing in on Zika fears


Associated Press

via Companies are cashing in on Zika fears, clarionledger.com

PDF: Zika fears

Just a year ago, almost nobody outside of the epidemiology community had heard of Zika virus. But this summer, everybody knows about Zika as it has spread like wildfire across the globe. As panic has spread about this stubborn mosquito-borne virus, a multitude of companies have rushed to market with claims that their product can help keep you safe from Zika.

Health experts have warned that the Zika virus can sicken people with fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes and other symptoms. At special risk, though, are women who are pregnant or might soon be pregnant, because of the risk of having a baby born with microcephaly, a condition marked by an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a number of bulletins about Zika, as the story develops. The CDC notes that the virus-carrying mosquitoes usually bite during the day, and the virus can be transmitted through sexual contact as well as mosquito bites. One Miami neighborhood has been identified as having Zika-carrying mosquitoes, and many countries have reported them as well.

It’s important not to overreact to Zika, but some people have begun panicking. That often means they will be more likely to buy any products that could possibly protect them from exposure. Such products have included wristbands, stickers, patches and other products ranging from the sensible to the ridiculous.

But this week, federal regulators have fired a warning shot across the bow of several companies that have been claiming effectiveness in fighting Zika. The Federal Trade Commission has sent letters to 10 companies that have been making Zika claims, warning them any such claims must be supported by scientific evidence. No companies were named in the FTC’s news release.

“It appears that some online marketers may be trying to take advantage of consumer concerns about the mosquito-borne virus,” the agency said in a statement. “The letters warn the recipients that Zika protection claims must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence in the form of well-controlled human clinical testing.”

Zika effectiveness claims can be problematic, the FTC went on, because only certain mosquito species carry Zika, and because even if the products do repel the mosquitoes, their effectiveness can be limited by how long the repellent lasts.

The letter warns that false claims can get companies in hot water for violations of the FTC Act, and requests they get back to the agency within 48 hours with details of their claims, the evidence supporting them, and how they will address known concerns.

It’s likely that more products will be coming to market soon, so it’s a good idea to check any claims thoroughly.

Here are some tips from the CDC for preventing mosquito bites:

Use insect repellent when outside. Products containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon eucalyptus and others have proven effective in repelling mosquitoes. While other repellents may provide some protection, the CDC notes their effectiveness might not have been evaluated.

Protect your baby or child. Always keep your baby’s skin covered when outside, and cover the crib or stroller with mosquito netting.

Treat your clothing. The CDC recommends treating boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing permethrin. Some products can be bought that are pre-treated with permethrin.

Take steps to control mosquitoes. Especially after the wet summer we’ve had in many parts of Mississippi, there is a lot of standing water. Check around your property to see if there is standing water in containers (or even items such as old tires or birdbaths), and empty them. Check your home’s screens for tears and holes, and patch them.

Not taking your prescriptions as directed can be harmful, especially for seniors



via Improperly taking prescription meds can be fatal, clarionledger.com

PDF: The_Clarion-Ledger_State_20160801_A002_2

Every year, thousands of people die or suffer complications because they misuse their prescription medications, or simply fail to follow their medical provider’s recommendations for taking them. A new study announced recently in a British medical journal suggests elderly people may be at particular risk of what physicians call “prescription noncompliance.”

Prescription noncompliance is a big problem and can result in a variety of issues. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than one in five prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy, and medications are not taken as prescribed half the time. For many patients with chronic diseases (such as high blood pressure), the majority of people take less medication than prescribed or stop taking it altogether. Seniors are more likely to be affected by noncompliance for several reasons, including increased sensitivity to the effects of drugs, but also because they often have multiple prescriptions that could interact with each other, and may experience problems with concentration or memory.

Failing to adhere to your prescription schedule can lead to frightening statistics: The CDC estimates 125,000 people die in the U.S. each year because of prescription noncompliance, and up to half of people being treated with statins (medicines that control cholesterol) are up to a quarter more likely to die if the patients stop taking them.

“It is very important for people to take their medication as prescribed,” noted pharmacist Tommy Shields, owner of Service Drugs in Ridgeland. “Failure to take their medication properly will lead to unfavorable outcomes in their treatment plan. Physicians may then prescribe additional medications to help manage their health, further complicating the patient’s treatment.”

Recently, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacologypublished a study based on 503 Belgian seniors age 80 and over, which found nearly seven in 10 of them weren’t taking the proper prescriptions for their conditions. Nearly six in 10 of them were taking five or more medications, and only 17 percent were considered free from prescription-related issues. Stunningly, the study found patients were 39 percent more likely to die if they underused their medications, and 26 times more likely to need hospitalization.

“Taking too many medications or unsafe medications are known to cause adverse health outcomes; however, we have shown that not taking essential, beneficial medications is more frequent and can be more strongly associated with negative outcomes,” said lead author Maarten Wauters of Belgium’s Ghent University. “Prescribing medications to older persons should be done after careful thought, balancing the benefits and risk of every medication at regular intervals.”

The results of the study appear to be consistent with others, including some in the U.S. which indicate that failure to follow prescription instructions is a major problem. “Clinical pharmacologists can help prescribers to clearly assess misuse and underuse of medications in full knowledge of the patient, their comorbidities, and their medications,” Wauters said. “They can help to build electronic systems for constant monitoring of the quality of prescribing, using evidence-based criteria of potentially inappropriate prescribing.”

To help avoid the risks of not taking medications properly, it’s important to follow your health care professional’s instructions exactly. When you get a new prescription, be sure you understand all the instructions, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you if anything is unclear.

To help you stick to your medication plan, the FDA has some additional recommendations:

  • Take your medication at the same time every day. It may help to tie the habit to routines like brushing your teeth or getting ready for bed. Before choosing mealtime for your routine, check if your medication should be taken on a full or empty stomach.
  • Keep a “medicine calendar” with your pill bottles and note each time you take a dose.
  • Use a pill container. Some types have sections for multiple doses at different times, such as morning, lunch, evening and night. Be sure to refill it at the same time each week.
  • Use technology. Time caps are available, and there also several mobile apps, for example Medisafe, MedCoach and Pill Reminder, which can help you manage your medication schedule.

Nutritional supplements company agrees to shape up


via Nutritional supplements company agrees to shape up, clarionledger.com

PDF: herbalife

A group of companies affiliated with the iconic Herbalife brand have reached a settlement with federal regulators over alleged deceptive practices, and will pay $200 million to compensate consumers and former associates. The action was announced Friday by the Federal Trade Commission and culminates a years-long saga in which the FTC and other agencies accused the multi-level marketing company of incentivizing representatives to recruit others, rather than encouraging product sales.

“This settlement will require Herbalife to fundamentally restructure its business so that participants are rewarded for what they sell, not how many people they recruit,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said. “Herbalife is going to have to start operating legitimately, making only truthful claims about how much money its members are likely to make, and it will have to compensate consumers for the losses they have suffered as a result of what we charge are unfair and deceptive practices.”

The settlement between the FTC and Herbalife International of America Inc., Herbalife International Inc. and Herbalife Ltd. requires the companies to “fully restructure their U.S. business operations,” in addition to paying the $200 million fine to provide “redress” to customers and, in some cases, to reimburse former associates for their losses. In addition, Herbalife is settling a $3 million case with the Illinois attorney general.

Herbalife, while denying any wrongdoing, noted that it’s ready to move on. “While the company believes that many of the allegations made by the FTC are factually incorrect,” the company said in a press release, “the company believes settlement is in its best interest because the financial cost and distraction of protracted litigation would have been significant, and after more than two years of cooperating with the FTC’s investigation, the Company simply wanted to move forward. Moreover, the company’s management can now focus all of its energies on continuing to build the business and exploring strategic business opportunities.”

In its complaint, the FTC also charged the multi-level marketing company’s compensation structure was unfair because it rewards distributors for recruiting others to join and purchase products in order to advance in the marketing program, rather than in response to actual retail demand for the product, causing “substantial economic injury” to many of its distributors.

In its announcement, the FTC alleged the company had lured in people with claims they could quit their day jobs, earn good money and even get rich by signing up to sell Herbalife products. “But the truth, as alleged in the FTC complaint, is that the overwhelming majority of distributors who pursue the business opportunity earn little or no money.”

As evidence, the agency pointed out that, in 2014, Herbalife paid more than half of its “sales leaders” an average of less than $300. And, citing the company’s own survey results, the FTC alleged that owners of Herbalife “Nutrition Clubs” spent an average of about $8,500 to open a club, and 57 percent of club owners reported making no profit or losing money.

And, for those who did succeed in making large amounts of cash, the FTC noted those representatives are “compensated for recruiting new distributors, regardless of whether those recruits can sell the products they are encouraged to buy from Herbalife.” Many distributors, the agency concluded, “abandon Herbalife in large numbers. The majority of them stop ordering products within their first year, and nearly half of the entire Herbalife distributor base quits in any given year.”

The settlement requires Herbalife to revamp its compensation system so it rewards retail sales to customers and eliminates incentives that reward distributors primarily for recruiting. In addition, the company must create a new compensation structure in which success depends on whether participants sell Herbalife products, not on whether they buy products.

“This scheme preyed on people looking to make a better life for themselves and their families,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “Herbalife created an incentive structure that made it easy for people to invest, but impossible for most people to make any money.”