Pharmaceutical Companies Increasingly Offer Discounts for Patients’ Medical Data

POLITICO NO LINES

Politico reports that pharmaceutical companies “are increasingly offering price discounts and subsidies to patients in exchange for their medical data.” While the data can help companies track how a drug is performing and help them better market it to consumers, patient advocates are concerned that consumers might not understand how much of their privacy they are giving up.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Even After Overdoses, More Than 90% of Patients Continued to Refill Opioid Prescriptions

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The Los Angeles Times reports in “Science Now” that “even after overdosing on opioid medications, more than nine out of 10 patients continued to get prescriptions for the powerful” pain medicines, a study published online Dec. 29 in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicated. Consequently, some patients “went on to suffer another overdose,” the study of 2,848 opioid overdose patients found.

The CBS News website reports that “seventy percent received prescriptions from the same” healthcare professional “who prescribed opioids before their first overdose.” The study “only included patients on private insurance and did not take into account those on Medicare and Medicaid who might also be vulnerable to opioid overdoses, said” lead author Marc LaRochelle, MD. The research “was primarily of patients prescribed the powerful drugs for musculoskeletal pain – such as lower back or knee pain, for example – not cancer patients.”

According to the Boston Globe, an accompanying editorial observed that the majority of healthcare professionals “receive little training, have few resources, and receive minimal support to address either chronic pain or addiction.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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One in Five West Virginia Adults Have Tried E-Cigarettes

electronic-cigarette

The Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail reports that the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health’s 2014 Adult Tobacco Survey found that nearly one if five West Virginia adults have tried e-cigarettes with more than 60 percent of those individuals being current smokers and more than a third between the ages of 18 and 24. The Gazette-Mail points out that the FDA “attempted to ban e-cigarettes in 2009, determining them to be ‘drugs or drug-delivery devices,’ but a federal appeals court ruled that the agency did not have that authority.” However, the paper says the FDA is now trying to regulate them as tobacco products. Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health said that “the West Virginia Division of Tobacco Prevention does not classify these products as a safe alternative to smoking, nor does it consider them an approved tobacco cessation or tobacco harm reduction tool.”

West Virginia health advocates concerned about “vaping” chemicals. The Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail reports that “electronic cigarettes are sometimes billed as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, but there is still a lot that medical professionals don’t know about ‘vaping.’” The paper points out that study by the Center for Environmental Health found that 97 e-cigarettes and vaping products had high levels of formaldehyde and acetalehyde. Meanwhile, Chantal Fields, area director of the American Lung Association of West Virginia, points out that vape “e-juice” also has high concentrations of nicotine and “can poison a child who drinks it and burn the skin it comes in contact with.” The report notes that the FDA doesn’t currently regulate e-cigarettes. “There is little or no regulation of this product because it’s not a traditional tobacco product – it doesn’t fit the current FDA definition of the cigarette, therefore it’s not regulated federally,” Fields said. “Any regulation is left up to states.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Extra Steps You Need To Take During A Divorce If You Have Children

Extra Steps You Need To Take During A Divorce If You Have Children

Getting a divorce can be a complicated matter even if you don’t have children. If you do, you will have to take a few extra steps to make sure that you are looking out for their best interest. This may mean changing your strategy in relation to settling the divorce or making other concessions with your former spouse that you wouldn’t otherwise consider.

Talk With a Divorce Attorney

The first step is to talk with a divorce attorney regarding your rights as a parent. It is in the best interest of you and your children to get legal help during a divorce. Things like your physical or emotional health, your children’s school, and past domestic violence can make difference. Since sole custody isn’t as common, talking to an attorney can help make sure you get to spend as much time as possible with your children.

Work Out a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan will help you and your former spouse divide child custody in an even and appropriate manner. For instance, you may decide that one parent will have the child during the week while the other will have the child on weekends and holidays. You may also decide how and when you and your spouse will communicate regarding the child and his or her needs.

Talk With Your Children About the Changes to Come

While you don’t want to get into the details of the divorce with your kids, you want to reassure them that they are loved and wanted. You also want them to feel comfortable with the idea that they will spend time with both of their parents even if that has to take place in separate locations.

Work Out Child Support Arrangements

Child support is more than just sending a check every month to help the other parent raise the child. Support could mean providing rides to youth sporting events, buying equipment for school or other activities and generally pitching in whenever and wherever you can. Ideally, you will support the child in roughly the same manner you did before the divorce.

Make Sure That You Separate Personal Feelings From Parenting Issues

You never want to talk to your child about the other parent in any way that could sour their view of that parent. This means that you don’t hurl insults, show negative social media posts or do anything else that puts your child in the middle of your dispute with your former spouse.

For couples with children, divorce can be a complex and emotionally draining event. However, working with an attorney and working together with your spouse can help preserve relationships and make the transition as smooth as possible.

Informational credit to Blumenauer Hackworth.

This article is courtesy of Anita Ginsburg, a freelance writer from Denver who often writes about home, family, law and business. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing.

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Company’s Silence on Medical Device Spread Deadly Infection

Logo-Olympus

In a nearly 2,400-word analysis, the Los Angeles Times examined how “even as patients died and others were put at risk,” Olympus Corp. “continued to sell” its flawed duodenoscopes “and failed to warn US hospitals that the scopes were tied to dangerous infections, according to interviews with dozens of hospital officials, doctors, regulators and former Olympus employees.”

Meanwhile, a second Los Angeles Times highlighted how in 2001, “long before the recent superbug outbreaks, Olympus Corp. drew national attention for” its “faulty” bronchoscopes “after reports of contamination and patient infections.” According to the Times, “The episode – and the company’s response to it – mirrors its current troubles with gastrointestinal scopes.”

Duodenoscope concerns echo Olympus’ previous troubles with bronchoscopes.

Years before the recent “superbug outbreaks” linked to duodenoscopes made by Olympus Corp., the company “drew national attention” for another device tied to patient infections, the Los Angeles Times reports. In 2001, the Japanese firm “recalled thousands of bronchoscopes from U.S. hospitals after reports of contamination and patient infections.” According to the Times, that episode parallels the company’s current problems with duodenoscopes. Meanwhile, concerns about bronchoscopes have persisted. In September, the FDA issued an alert “citing more than 100 reports since 2010 concerning bronchoscope-related infections or tainted devices.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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6 Obstacles You May Not Expect With Divorce, And How To Overcome Them

6 Obstacles You May Not Expect With Divorce, And How To Overcome Them

A divorce is often an unpleasant and difficult experience. Custody and alimony are common causes of tension in divorce proceedings, but there can be many other difficulties. If you are considering getting a divorce, here are some unexpected obstacles that you need to be aware of.

Prenuptial Agreements

A person may be cautious about getting a divorce because of their previous prenup. However, a divorce court judge can throw out a prenup if it is considered unfair or illegal. Prenup conditions such as an agreement that a spouse will not pay child support are not likely to be held up in a court.

Alimony

Some people are scared to divorce because they do not want to pay alimony, but a spouse does not get alimony just because he or she was not working during the marriage. If a spouse has the ability to get a well-paying job, you may not be required to pay alimony.

Retirement Funds

Keep in mind that your spouse may be entitled to a portion of your military retirement funds, even if they are a civilian. The civilian spouse can get part of your retirement pay if you have been married for at least 10 years and were in the military for at least 10 years during the marriage period. It’s important to speak with military divorce lawyers at The Peck Law Firm for more information.

Your Will

Just getting divorced does not immediately invalidate a will leaving anything to your spouse. Try to redo your will as soon as you begin going through the divorce process.

Property Taxes

Make sure that you are able to pay the property taxes of any real estate that you are trying to get in the divorce. The upkeep and taxes for a house may be too expensive for you to pay on your own, especially since taxes will be different for a single person.

Pets

Pets are considered personal property, so courts typically only give the pet to one partner instead of working out a shared custody arrangement. However, lawyers can mediate a contract between pet owners to allow visitation and payments for the pet’s needs.

As long as you are properly informed, you can prepare for the unpleasant obstacles of getting a divorce. Local legal codes can contain surprising laws, so it is essential to have a lawyer who is knowledgeable on divorce in your area. Going through a divorce can often be a tedious and lengthy process, but ending an unhappy marriage is worth the difficulty.

This article is courtesy of Anita Ginsburg, a freelance writer from Denver who often writes about home, family, law and business. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing.

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Feel You’ve Been Wronged? 5 Times You Should Consider Legal Help

Feel You've Been Wronged 5 Times You Should Consider Legal Aid

While there are times that you might consider representing yourself such as during appearances for minor traffic violations, there are times when you absolutely need to hire an attorney. A visit to small claims court doesn’t typically require the assistance of a lawyer, but a night in jail should cause you to visit an attorney’s office.

Jail is a Possibility
If there’s a chance you could go to jail, you should hire an attorney. Anyone who is charged with a crime like tax fraud or domestic violence, will need to consult with a lawyer before appearing in court. If you’ve been arrested, that’s a good indication that it’s in your best interest to find an attorney you trust to represent you.

The Other Party Has an Attorney
If you’re in a dispute with someone and that person has a lawyer, you’ll want a representative on your side as well. If you go up against the other party, and they are getting the advice of a lawyer, you’ll be at a disadvantage. This could be a dispute with a neighbor, business partner or employer. If they are getting advice from a lawyer, you’d be at a serious disadvantage to not consult with your own attorney about the situation.

You Might Lose Lots of Money
If you’re a business that is being sued, you’ll need to hire a business litigation attorney to be sure that your case is prepared properly. It could be a case of wrongful termination from a disgruntled employee or a breach of contract with a partner. It should be handled by an attorney who is familiar with business law and strategies.

Injuries Occurred
If someone was injured, you’ll need the advice of an attorney. Most often, this is a case involving a car accident, dog bite or a slip and fall injury. Whether you’re the one with the injury or the one being sued, you’ll want a lawyer. If that person was injured on your property, they might begin legal proceedings against you. Before that happens, you want to be prepared for your case before the evidence can disappear.

Complex Business Matters
When you’re forming a business, you’ll need to start with a good foundation. Many people think that if they are the sole proprietor of the business, they don’t need a lawyer, but it’s important to understand the legal ramifications of each corporate structure.

There are times when you might be able to represent yourself, but for serious legal matters, you’ll need to consult with and possibly hire an attorney to represent you.

This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her four-year-old husky Snowball.

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FDA Concludes Laboratory-Developed Tests Have Harmed Patients Due To Inaccuracies

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The New York Times reports that a Food and Drug Administration report issued to Congress concludes that “patients have been demonstrably harmed or may have been harmed by [laboratory-developed] tests that did not meet F.D.A. requirements.” The agency’s findings “come at a time when the use of laboratory-developed tests is booming, the Obama administration is seeking new regulatory powers and even Republicans in Congress are working on legislation to set stricter standards.” According to Dr. Jeffrey E. Shuren, the director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, “Doctors and patients rely on these tests to make well-informed health care decisions. If they get inaccurate results, they can make the wrong decisions, and people get hurt as a result.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Estate Planning: An Inheritance of Peace for Your Heirs

Estate-Planning-An-Inheritance-of-Peace-for-Your-Heirs

An estate is the total net worth of an individual (alive or dead) and is calculated as a total of a person’s assets minus the liabilities. It is the process of arranging the disposal and succession of a person’s estate during their lifetime. Estate planning is very crucial to any individual’s financial planning and needs to be treated as a priority no matter your age.

Estate Planning as a Financial Tool

Unexpected events can occur at any time in anyone’s life, and it’s essential to have a plan in case it does. Estate planning is an important financial tool that helps ensure that the assets and legacy you have built over the years is passed on harmoniously. It also offers your family security in the event of an untoward incident that causes premature death.

Some items you should consider while planning the distribution of your estate include:

  • Cash
  • Jewelry
  • Property
  • Investments
  • Insurance
  • Any other assets

Why Do You Need Estate Planning?

The distribution of a loved one’s wealth is often a source of conflict in families, and this trend has only gone upwards with time. Hence, it is imperative to have a clear succession plan in place, which is executed by legally binding instruments like wills and trusts.

Covering risks is a critical part of your financial plan. Insurance helps keep your family financially secure, should you not be available to provide for them. Review the coverage that you currently have and decide if it is sufficient. If not, then invest in a suitable policy, and make sure to insure property and immovable assets in your estate.

This is crucial since insurance payouts can be used to pay taxes and help protect other assets such as a family property or business from being sold.

What is involved in the Estate Planning Process?

Good estate planning must be detailed and clear, and typically involves:

  • Compiling a consolidated list of your entire estate.
  • Choosing your beneficiaries and the portion they will inherit.
  • Any particular use you’d like your wealth to be put to, like charity.
  • Minimizing the impact of taxes on your beneficiaries.
  • Proper asset protection in case of legal difficulties.

It’s important to review your estate plan from time to time, especially when life-changing events take place, like:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth of a child
  • Serious illness/injury
  • Spouse/partner’s death
  • Retirement or advancing age

How is Estate Planning Done?

Typically, you can plan your estate in two ways: writing a will or creating a trust. If you don’t, your estate will be distributed according to probate, where the court takes over and decides how and where your wealth will be used.

  • A will is a legal document which states your wish of how and to whom your wealth must be distributed after your death. It is executed by an appointed representative called an executor. The authenticity of a will can be challenged by your heirs.
  • The other way is by setting up a trust, which is better defined than a will, has fewer loopholes and is more secure. All your assets are transferred to a trust, which is managed by trustees you appoint. They manage assets during your lifetime and are responsible for distribution as per your wishes, after your death.
  • The least preferred option is the probate, where estate distribution is done by law using an elaborate process to validate the will if any, and close the estate after any claim payouts and distribution to heirs/ beneficiaries.

If you have not yet accounted for estate planning in your financial plans, then start now. It’s never too late, but the sooner, the better!

Author info: Zoe Lawford studied marketing management and currently works as an online marketing associate for Blossom Wealth Management. She has been involved in a lot of research in the areas of wealth and investment planning and likes to share her experiences on various platforms. Email her at Zoe@blossomwm.com or visit www.blossomwm.com if you’d like to learn about wealth management.

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Car Accidents: What to Do When in a Car Accident With a Drunk Driver

Car Accidents What to do When in an Accident with a Drunk Driver

Car accidents are the worst. No one wants to be involved with one. It usually means a lot of car repairs and dealing with your insurance company to get everything resolved. But what do you do when you are in a car accident that involves a drunk driver?

  1. Call the Police

This may seem obvious to most people, but the very first thing you should do is call the police and wait at the scene for them to arrive. When they arrive they will take a statement from you and the other party involved in the accident. They will also administer a breathalyzer test to the other party if they suspect they are intoxicated. If the test is positive that party will be placed under arrest.

  1. Go to the Hospital

If you were injured in the accident, get to a hospital or a clinic and get yourself checked out as soon as possible. The most important thing you can do after you are able to leave the scene of the accident is get yourself taken care of. Nothing else matters after an accident, even if it involves a drunk driver, if you are not healthy and well.

  1. Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company

You will need to file a claim with your insurance company if you don’t want to be stuck paying for all the repairs and other damages to your vehicle. If you were injured in the accident, you don’t want to be stuck paying for all the medical bills either, especially if you are not the one at fault for the accident.

  1. Get a Lawyer

According to Las Vegas drunk driver accident attorneys at Naqvi Injury Law, because you were involved in a car accident with a drunk driver, you will need a lawyer. Chances are there will be a court date to dispute any drunk driving charges. Having a lawyer in this case is also useful to sue for any damages, especially if you do not have adequate car insurance or no car insurance at all. They can also help you resolve any disputes that you may have with your insurance company or the insurance company of the opposing party. Basically, having a lawyer in your corner for a case like this is a sure way to make sure you receive the proper compensation for any damages that happened as the result of the accident.

Hopefully you never have to be involved in a car accident like this or involved with one at all. They are very traumatic and often life threatening. Should a drunk driving accident every happen to you, keep the above in mind and try to move on from it as soon as possible and get back to your life.

This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her four-year-old husky Snowball.

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