- No Link Between Statins and Lou Gehrig's Disease: FDA
- More Than 90% of Nursing Homes Violate U.S. Standards: Report
- FDA Approves New Test for 'Superbug'
- Light Cigarettes Still Pack a Nicotine Punch, Study Says
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
No Link Between Statins and Lou Gehrig's Disease: FDA
The widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, which include Lipitor and Crestor, don't increase the risk of the neurodegenerative disease often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease," U.S. regulators said Monday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it based its conclusion on analysis of 41 long-term studies of statins as treatment for high cholesterol.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the formal name for Lou Gehrig's disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. Patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed, according to the ALS Association.
The FDA said it began the review after receiving a higher-than-expected number of reports of ALS in patients on statins. The results showed no increased incidence of the disease in patients treated with a statin compared with a placebo, the agency said.
"While the FDA finds the lack of an increase in the incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in patients treated with statins in clinical trials reassuring, given the extensive use of this class of drugs and the serious nature of ALS, continued study of this issue is warranted," Dr. Mark Avigan, head of the FDA's division of pharmacovigilance I, said in a news release.
The agency's findings were published in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, Bloomberg News reported.
More Than 90% of Nursing Homes Violate U.S. Standards: Report
More than 90 percent of U.S. nursing homes were cited last year for violating at least one federal health and safety standard, The New York Times reported Monday.
About 17 percent of nursing homes had violations that led to "actual harm or immediate jeopardy" to residents, according to the report by the inspector general to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Citations were issued for violations including infected bedsores, drug errors, resident malnutrition, and patient abuse or neglect, the newspaper reported.
About 37,150 complaints were sent to inspectors last year about nursing home conditions, of which 39 percent were validated, the report said. Some 20 percent of the verified complaints involved patient abuse or neglect.
Two-thirds of nursing homes are owned by companies that make a profit, 27 percent are owned by nonprofit corporations, and 6 percent are owned by government entities.
Some 94 percent of for-profit homes were cited last year, as were 88 percent of nonprofit homes, and 91 percent of government-owned homes, according to the report by HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson.
Levinson said Medicaid was sometimes charged for services that "were not provided, or were so wholly deficient that they amounted to no care at all."
More than 1.5 million people live in 15,000 U.S. nursing homes. Violation rates ranged from 76 percent in Rhode Island to 100 percent in Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming and the District of Columbia, the newspaper reported.
In related news, state Medicaid organizations will spend an estimated $1.6 trillion on long-term care over the next two decades, a study by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) found.
When federal matching funds are added to the tab, total government expenditures for long-term care will burgeon to $3.7 trillion, the analysis predicted.
It would mean that Medicaid spending for long-term care would rise faster than overall health care spending, Medicare, or the Gross Domestic Product, according to an AHIP media release.
While 15 states are expected to spend $1 billion or more this year on long-term care services, that number is expected to rise to 25 states by 2027, the release said.