Posted - Oct 15 2010 : 09:28:11 AM
| Volume 10, Issue 45
October 15, 2010
FLU VACCINE CONFUSION AND OPTIONS
There is some confusion among a few of us regarding the types of flu vaccine available. According to the CDC (U. S. Centers for Disease Control), the regular flu vaccine this year will provide some protection against three viruses: an H3N2 virus (sometimes called type A), a type B, and the H1N1 virus. Not knowing that the H1N1 antigen is included in the flu vaccine this year resulted in some of us believing we got a special vaccine when we learned it contains the H1N1 antigen. This is leading more than a couple of us to innocently but incorrectly proclaim we got the "super," "super-duper," "triple deluxe," or "special" vaccine. These declarations are confusing because there really is a "special" vaccine availableâ€”its just that the "special" vaccine is not this one. Incidentally, the CDC recommends getting the vaccine this year even if you got the regular vaccine and the HINI vaccine last year. The following CDC website will answer more questions about the flu and the vaccine than you think you have:
The High Dose Vaccine
Contributing to the confusion is the availability of a new vaccine this year. Many people know about it but don't know what to call it. The new vaccine contains the same ingredients as the regular vaccine, but differs because it has four times the regular dose. It is believed that the larger dose prompts the body to produce a stronger immune response by producing more antibodies. Here are a few facts about it from the CDC:
*The high dose and the regular strength vaccine are both made by the company Sanofi Pasteur. (Other companies also make the regular dose). The brand name for the Sanofi Pasteur flu vaccine is Fluzone. The company makes the regular strength vaccine, which they call Fluzone, as well as the one with four times the amount of vaccine, which they call Fluzone High-Dose.
*It is recommended only for those of us over 65 years of age, because older people often have a lower antibody response to vaccinations.
*Although the body reacts to the vaccine with a stronger immune response, it has not been proven that the larger dose is any more effective than the regular vaccine in preventing the flu. (However, it hasn't been proven that it isn't more effective either).
*Although most individuals have minimal or no side effects from the shot, the vaccine can result in pain, redness and swelling of the injection site, headaches, muscle aches, fever, malaise and other reactions. This is also true for the lower dose vaccine.
For more information from the CDC on Fluzone High-Dose, visit:
Side Effects of the Fluzone High-Dose
The high dose vaccine results in greater side effects than the regular dose at both the injection site (such as pain and swelling), as well as systemically (such as fever, malaise and headache). The following report from CDC compares the reactions of the regular vaccine with the high dose. Please see pages 10 and 11 of the following CDC report (in pdf format):
Clinical Trials for High Dose
The PR Newswire has a fact sheet that provides some information about the trial for the Fluzone High-Dose. The trial (technically an "accelerated review" in this case) studies 3,876 people over age 65 and looks at the effectiveness and safety of Fluzone High-Dose. They find that there is a more robust antibody response to the higher dose, but they are unable to demonstrate that the robust response prevents anyone from getting the flu any better than the lower dose. The study does not find any complications from the high-dose.
The website Pharmacist states that the full study of the effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose in preventing illness won't be completed until 2013.
Before you Get the High-Dose
If you are planning to get the Fluzone High-Dose (availability might be a problem in the United States), talk to your doctor first. The website Drugs gives a thorough list of possible allergic reactions and medical conditions that need to be taken into consideration if you are thinking of receiving the high dose vaccine. It also warns that some medications, such as anticoagulants, corticosteroids (for example, prednisone), and theophylline, may interact with the vaccine. Check it out at:
Yes, There Really is a "Super" Vaccine Well, Maybe
Now that you have a handle on the jargon being bantered around, you are ready to hear about a real "super" flu vaccine. This time they are actually using the term "super!" From the Daily Mail's website Mail Online (from the U.K.), comes this report of a flu vaccine in the pipeline that will protect us from all varieties of the flu with a "once-in-a-lifetime" vaccine. Although it might require a booster every 10 years, the annual vaccination as we know it might become extinct. They predict this "super" vaccine might be available in as few as 5 years. Read all about it at:
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
- MANAGED CARE PROVIDERS TIGHTEN FORMULARIES
- U. S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES LAUNCHES WEBSITE THAT SHOWS PRICES FOR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH PLANS
- DOUGHNUT HOLE DEAL COSTS DRUGMAKERS LESS THAN 1 PERCENT OF PROFITS
- NEW INTERACTIVE WEBSITE FOR HEALTH ADVICE LAUNCHED
- DAXAS (ROFLUMILAST) AFFECTS BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS
- INDACATEROL RECEIVES RESPONSE FROM FDA AND AWAITS APPROVAL IN EUROPE
- THERAPEUTIC EFFICACY OF ATT (ALPHA-1 ANTITRYPSIN) AUGMENTATION THERAPY
- COPD AND COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT
- NO SOCIAL SECURITY INCREASE EXPECTED FOR 2011
- A NORMAL FLU SEASON UNFOLDS
- RESEARCH UPDATE INTO EMBRYONIC STEM CELL THERAPY
TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING
COMPUTER VIRUSES: HOAXES AND REALITIES
CLEANING YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES
SOURCES: News items summarized in The COPD-NEWS are taken from secondary sources believed to be reliable. However, the COPD Family of Services does not verify their accuracy.
MANAGED CARE PROVIDERS TIGHTEN FORMULARIES
The PR Newswire reports that due to the rising cost of medications for asthma and COPD, managed care organizations might be shifting some medications to higher tiers. A tier is a category or level assigned to each drug covered by the insurer. The tier to which a drug is assigned determines its co-pays, and at times in the case of higher tiers, other restrictions such as requiring prior approval or setting a limit on the maximum dosage allowed. Tier 1 is usually the cheapest, tier 2 more expensive, and tier 3 the most expensive or hardest to get. The list of what drugs are covered in an insurance plan and to which tier each drug has been assigned is called the formulary. For more information about the "tightening" of formularies, see:
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES LAUNCHES WEBSITE THAT SHOWS PRICES FOR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH PLANS
Notwithstanding concerns expressed by the health insurance industry, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed a website that provides information on 4,400 individual health plans offered by 225 insurance carriers. The site helps those in need of insurance find what is available to them based on their location and situation. The site helps the user determine monthly premiums, maximum out of pocket costs, deductibles, how many applications a specific company denied in the last 3 months, etc. It also provides links to high risk pools, local resources and government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. This new site is located at:
DOUGHNUT HOLE DEAL COSTS DRUGMAKERS LESS THAN 1 PERCENT OF PROFITS
Bloomberg reports that the 50 percent discount in brand named drugs to be provided when Medicare beneficiaries fall into the doughnut hole in 2011 will cost the industry billions of dollars. They also point out, however, that this amounts to less than 1 percent of their profits. In the case of Pfizer, the largest manufacturer, for example, they note that the Medicare discount will cost them less than half of 1 percent. For more information, go to:
COMMERCIAL FREE: We do not accept any paid advertising. Any corporations, products, medicines (prescription or over the counter) mentioned in this newsletter are for informational purposes only and not to be construed as an endorsement or condemnation of same.
NEW INTERACTIVE WEBSITE FOR HEALTH ADVICE LAUNCHED
The New York Times has an article about a new health website, Sharecare, that features a question and answer format. The answers, in some cases, are provided by marketers. The New York Times article also provides information on other similar websites. The article can be found at:
http://tinyurl.com/24xhuyjThe new website itself can be found at:
DAXAS (ROFLUMILAST) AFFECTS BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS
Yes, a weekly update that keeps Daxas (roflumilast) in the news. This time the American Diabetic Association reports that researchers find that roflumilast decreases the blood glucose level in both COPD patients and those without COPD. They warn that additional studies are needed. Roflumilast is approved in the European Union and other countries, but is pending approval in the United States.
INDACATEROL RECEIVES RESPONSE FROM FDA AND AWAITS APPROVAL IN EUROPE
Touted as being as effective as Spiriva (tiotropium) but quicker acting, the manufacturer of Indacaterol (also referred to as QAB149), Novartis, received a letter from the FDA (U. S. Food and Drug Administration) requesting more information on the dosing proposal. The original request for approval goes back to December 2008. Meanwhile, in Europe, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) issued a positive opinion. The European Commission, which is the scientific committee of the European Medicines Agency, usually follows CHMP's recommendation. To read the manufacturer's news release, see the Novartis website at:
For background information on Indacaterol see the 7th Space website at:
THERAPEUTIC EFFICACY OF ATT (ALPHA-1 ANTITRYPSIN) AUGMENTATION THERAPY
Research published this month in Respiratory Research looks at the combined analysis of 2 separate trials and has confirmed that intravenous ATT treatment significantly reduces decline in lung density. Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is an inherited trait that results in emphysema and liver disease. It is also known as inherited, genetic or congenital emphysema. The provisional abstract can be found at:
MEDICAL DECISIONS. Your physician should be consulted on all medical decisions. New procedures or drugs should not be started or stopped without such consultation. While we believe that our accumulated experience has value, and a unique perspective, you must accept it for what it is...the work of COPD patients. We vigorously encourage individuals with COPD to take an active part in the management of their disease. They do this through education and by sharing information and thoughts with their primary physician and pulmonologist. However, medical decisions are based on complex medical principles and should be left to the medical practitioner who has been trained to diagnose and advise.
COPD AND COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT
Who among us hasn't wondered at times if our memory loss is due to our COPD, aging, or perhaps even something worse? One study to consider is entitled "COPD and Cognitive Impairment: The Role of Hypoxemia and Oxygen Therapy." This study concludes that COPD puts one at major risk for cognitive impairment. The good news is that oxygen use is strongly related to a decreased risk of cognitive impairment. Oxygen saturation level rather than degree of COPD appears more important in predicting possible decline. Cognition was measured by 11 different tests that include such things as orientation, recall, short-term memory, arithmetic ability, etc. "Hypoxemia," for the uninitiated, means a lower than normal level of oxygen in your blood. The study, including a discussion of some limitations of the study, can be found on the International Journal of COPD website at:
NO SOCIAL SECURITY INCREASE EXPECTED FOR 2011
CNN Money reports that there is a high probability that there will be no increase in Social Security for the second year in a row. Social Security increases are tied to inflation, and there has not been sufficient inflation to justify an increase. The formal announcement regarding any possible increase will be made any day now, most likely today! The CNN Money article can be found at:
A NORMAL FLU SEASON UNFOLDS
Based on statistics gathered at the flu season's end in the southern hemisphere, it looks like the approaching flu season will be normal. For the New York Times article, visit:
RESEARCH UPDATE INTO EMBRYONIC STEM CELL THERAPY
The Washington Post reports that the first patient has been treated in the first study authorized by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate embryonic stem cell therapy. No, it isn't for treatment of COPD, it is for spinal cord injury. However, this study demonstrates the current status of mainstream embryonic stem cell therapy research in the United States. The article can be read at:
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TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING
This is not a morbid or depressing article, so read on! It isn't even about dying! It's about living, and doing so in a manner that allows you to look back at life with a smile. You will find five inspiring suggestions at:
COMPUTER VIRUSES: HOAXES AND REALITIES
It is nice to be warned of a new computer virus before it pays us a visit. It is even better to have a list of all of them, as well as a list of the fake warnings we receive. Snopes, the site where we go to find out if something is truthful or a hoax, has a page dedicated to viruses—”both the real and the phonies! Roll up your sleeves, however, because although they are listed, you'll have to learn about them one at a time, at:
CLEANING YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES
How should you wash your fruits and vegetables rinse them off, wash them with soap, or use a special product or vinegar solution? The answer might not be what you expect, so you just might find his New York Times article very interesting:
Okay, admittedly, some aren't funny, and some you've probably seen, but every once in a while you'll discover a gem, making it worthwhile to visit:
Use it or lose it they say, and they have lots of expensive neurological research to prove it! Put on your thinking cap, and head for your workout at:
Who doesn't like a good word game? There's no fast moving action that makes you dizzy, and you don't need highly attuned eye-mouse coordination in order to participate. You'll find some great word games at:
For comments and questions, or to contact Richard D. Martin, please send your email to: newsletter@COPD-Support.com
Proofreading provided by: Jennifer, B.C. Canada
Until next Friday,
Richard D. Martin, Editor
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