Filed under: Health care

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Doctors not necessary for vaccines, poll shows

Americans don’t seem to care whether a physician administers a vaccination in the doctor’s office.

An unofficial online poll of participants in a Tribune Web chat Thursday showed more than 80 percent prefer to get their vaccination from a pharmacist or another health professional.  Just 15 percent said they preferred getting their vaccinations from a physician. Get the full story »

GAO: Half of health insurance appeals successful

Don’t take no for a final answer when a health insurer rejects a claim and leaves behind an unpaid medical bill. As many as 50 percent of some appeals prompt insurers to reverse their decisions, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. Get the full story »

Boston pediatrics prof named new JAMA editor

Dr. Howard Bauchner

A noted Boston professor of pediatrics and public health will be the next editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, one of the nation’s best known medical journals.

Dr. Howard Bauchner will become JAMA’s top editor July 1, replacing Dr.  Catherine DeAngelis, who had announced plans to leave the job after 11 years and return to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, JAMA’s publisher, the Chicago-based American Medical Association said Thursday morning.

Bauchner, a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, becomes the 16th editor in JAMA’s 127-year history. The journal is well known to consumers and medical professionals, given that its studies often make headlines, be they articles touting medical breakthroughs or editorials criticizing the health-care system. Get the full story »

Popular IPO values HCA at $30-$31 a share

The initial public offering of HCA, the biggest U.S. for-profit hospital chain, is well oversubscribed and could price above the proposed range Wednesday, sources familiar with the situation said.

Although analysts warn of long-term risks related to HCA’s big debt and uncertainties surrounding U.S. health care reform, investor interest in the shares dwarfs the deal’s size, the sources said. Get the full story »

Johnson & Johnson recalls insulin cartridges

Johnson & Johnson, which has been beset by a seemingly endless stream of product recalls, has recalled five lots of potentially leaky insulin pump cartridges that could lead to serious health problems and death.

It also has been warned by the Food and Drug Administration over manufacturing concerns for heart devices made at its Cordis unit’s San German, Puerto Rico facility. Get the full story »

Hospira taps Allergan president as new CEO

F. Michael (Mike) Ball.

Hospira Inc. has named F. Michael Ball, president of Botox maker Allergan Inc., as its next top executive, succeeding the only CEO the Lake Forest-based maker of generic injectable drugs has had since it was spun off from Abbott Laboratories.

Ball, 55, will Hospira become chief executive March 28, replacing Christopher Begley, who will retire after nearly seven years in the top job, the company announced late Monday. Hospira was spun off as a public company from North Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories in 2004. Get the full story »

FDA to toughen warnings on migraine drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will strengthen warnings on the anti-migraine and anti-seizure treatment Topamax and its generic equivalents after new data suggested a higher risk for cleft palates in babies born to women taking the drug.

The move represents a setback for health-care products giant Johnson & Johnson, which owns Topamax maker Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical LLC. The subsidiary last May pleaded guilty to promoting the drug for off-label uses and had to pay an $81.5 million fine. Get the full story »

Pfizer arthritis drug does well in second trial

Pfizer Inc. said Friday that its experimental rheumatoid arthritis drug met the main goals of a late-stage clinical trial, a welcome boost for the world’s largest drugmaker as it seeks new products to offset those  losing patent protection.

The drug, tofacitinib, is one of the most important in Pfizer’s pipeline. The company said the safety profile of the drug was consistent with that seen in the clinical program, and no new safety signals were seen. Get the full story »

Researchers make key memory cells in lab dish

U.S. researchers have coaxed stem cells into becoming a type of brain cell that dies off early in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The new technology would provide a ready supply of cells for use in testing new drugs or even transplants to help restore lost memory, the team reported on Friday in the journal Stem Cell.

While most Alzheimer’s research is done in genetically modified mice, the new technique would allow researchers to study a key aspect of the disease in human cells. “These are cells that are critically important for memory functions,” said Dr. Jack Kessler of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, who worked on the study. Get the full story »

U.S. judge refuses to halt new health care law

A U.S. judge Thursday put on hold his ruling that President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul was unconstitutional, allowing the White House to continue implementing the landmark legislation for now.

But U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson failed to dispel widespread uncertainty about the fate of the highly-politicized health care reform law. He gave the Obama administration seven days to ask an appeals court to quickly review his Jan. 31 ruling and said the law could be declared void if it failed to meet the deadline. Get the full story »

Loyola Univ. Health System expands to Burr Ridge

Loyola University Health System next week makes its biggest foray into the south and west suburbs when it opens a 105,000 square-foot outpatient health center in Burr Ridge. Get the full story »

Illinois employers get $41M for health coverage

A new federal report shows employers in Illinois received nearly $41 million last year to help them maintain health care coverage for early retirees. The federal funding comes from a program created by the Affordable Care Act, the national health care law. In Illinois, 337 employers have been accepted into the early retiree program. Get the full story »

FDA cracks down on untested cold medicines

By Julie Deardorff | The Food and Drug Administration plans to remove some unapproved prescription cough, cold and allergy medicines now sitting on store shelves, the agency announced Wednesday.

Walgreens compounds Tamiflu amid shortage

With seasonal influenza widespread in more than 40 states, Walgreen Co. said it has begun “compounding” Tamiflu to keep with the antiviral drug in adequate supply.

In rare instances, pharmacists will “compound” or mix ingredients in order to fill a prescription. In this case, pharmacists take the Tamiflu capsules, break them down and mix them with a cherry syrup, said Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn. A spike in demand for the liquid form, largely prescribed to children, has triggered a shortage. Get the full story »

Advocate confirms talks with Sherman Hospital

Sherman Hospital in northwest suburban Elgin, which last month rejected an overture to merge with Centegra Health System, has had recent talks to partner with Advocate Health Care, the Chicago area’s largest provider of medical care. Get the full story »