PHARMACY

CDC, partners reinforce World Asthma Day’s message: Take control of asthma

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — The number of people diagnosed with asthma in the United States grew by 4.3 million between 2001 and 2009, according to a new Vital Signs report released earlier this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2009, nearly 1-in-12 Americans were diagnosed with asthma. In addition to increased diagnoses, asthma costs grew from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007, representing a 6% increase. The explanation for the growth in asthma rates is unknown.

"Despite the fact that outdoor air quality has improved [and that] we’ve reduced two common asthma triggers — secondhand smoke and smoking in general — asthma is increasing," stated Paul Garbe, chief of the CDC’s Air Pollution and Respiratory Health branch. "While we don’t know the cause of the increase, our top priority is getting people to manage their symptoms better."

Asthma diagnoses increased among all demographic groups between 2001 and 2009, though a higher percentage of children reported having asthma than adults (9.6%, compared with 7.7% in 2009). Diagnoses especially were high among boys (11.3%). The greatest rise in asthma rates was among black children (almost a 50% increase) from 2001 through 2009. As many as 17% of non-Hispanic black children had asthma in 2009, the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups.

Annual asthma medical expenses in the United States were $3,300 per person from 2002 to 2007. About 2-in-5 uninsured and 1-in-9 insured people with asthma could not afford their prescription medication.

"Asthma is a serious, lifelong disease that unfortunately kills thousands of people each year and adds billions to our nation’s healthcare costs," CDC director Thomas Frieden said. "We have to do a better job educating people about managing their symptoms and how to correctly use medicines to control asthma so they can live longer, more productive lives while saving healthcare costs."

This report coincided with World Asthma Day, an annual event sponsored by the Global Initiative for Asthma. This year’s theme is "You Can Control Your Asthma." Reducing asthma attacks and the human and economic costs of asthma are key priorities for the Department of Health and Human Services, and are the focus of a collaborative effort involving many parts of HHS.

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Study: Detecting diabetes among overweight children may require more than one test

BY Alaric DeArment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The blood test recommended for detecting Type 2 diabetes in overweight children may not be enough, and they may need two different tests to diagnose the disease, according to research conducted at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.

The researchers found that the hemoglobin A1C test missed more than two-thirds of diabetes cases in children at high risk for the condition, but they found that performing that test along with the oral glucose tolerance test dramatically could lower the risk of delayed diagnosis in overweight children.

The American Diabetes Test revised recommendations for diabetes screening last year, recommending the hemoglobin A1C test because it doesn’t require patients to avoid eating or drinking for a long time beforehand, while the oral glucose tolerance test previously had been considered the gold standard.

“Our research indicates that special consideration may need to be given to overweight children being tested for diabetes,” lead researcher Ghufran Babar said. “Simply following the guidelines may not be enough to ensure these children get proper care.”

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Greenstone launches authorized generic of Aromasin

BY Alaric DeArment

PEAPACK, N.J. — Greenstone has introduced an authorized generic treatment for breast cancer, the generics subsidiary of Pfizer said.

The company announced the launch of exemestane tablets, an authorized generic version of Pfizer’s Aromasin. Aromasin is used to treat early breast cancer in menopausal women who already have taken the drug tamoxifen for two to three years, as well as breast cancer in women whose disease has worsened while taking tamoxifen, which is widely available as a generic.

Authorized generics are branded drugs sold under their generic names at a reduced price.

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