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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: May, 2012

POSTED: Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 4:03 PM
Filed Under: Michael Cohen

Last October the New York Times published a story about a 13-month-old boy who died after swallowing pills from a prescription medicine bottle. His parents had given him the bottle to play with as a rattle, believing he could not open the child-resistant cap.

The bottle contained Suboxone, a medicine used to treat people who are addicted to illegal or prescription pain medicines. The boy was put in his crib to sleep. His mother checked him a short time later and found the bottle open. The pills had fallen out and one of them was wet. She took them away from him, gave him a bottle of milk, and went to sleep. In the morning, the boy was found unconscious in his crib. The parents called 911, but the child had died by the time he reached the hospital.

Using a syringe as a toy led to another recent accident, but in this case, the child fortunately survived. A nurse gave a young hospitalized girl an empty syringe to play with during the day. The girl used the syringe to drink liquids and eat ice cream. The next morning the girl called for the nurse, saying she had pain in her chest and a cough. The girl told the nurse she had connected the syringe to her intravenous line and pushed the plunger in, pretending to give herself medicine. The syringe only contained air, but an injection of air into the bloodstream can be deadly. The child’s pain and shortness of breath were caused by the injected air, which had blocked the blood vessels leading to her lungs. Fortunately, steps were taken to treat the girl who later recovered from this accident.

POSTED: Sunday, May 13, 2012, 8:43 AM
Filed Under: Robert Field

Health care costs too much. Everyone agrees. But no one seems to know what to do about it.

If Obamacare survives Supreme Court review and takes effect in 2014, it will go a long way toward reducing the number of people without insurance. But it leaves the problem of rising costs relatively untouched. 

Obama’s plan is modeled on the Massachusetts law signed by then Governor Mitt Romney in 2006. When the state implemented that plan, it led the country in attacking the problem of uninsurance.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 12:47 PM
Filed Under: Daniel Hoffman

by Daniel R. Hoffman, Ph.D.

The perfect storm into which pharma has navigated itself means that the most constructive observations ought to point out potentially fruitful, new directions for the industry. That has been the main emphasis from this quarter in 2012, but sometimes the week brings news so astonishing that gentle encouragement must step aside. So it was with the news that Abbott Labs agreed to pay $1.6 billion in fines and admit its guilt for marketing its anti-seizure medication, Depakote, to nursing homes for unapproved uses.

The penalties levied on Abbott, depending on how they're calculated, were the second or third highest in pharma history, yet taking into account the audacity of violations and the vulnerability of affected patients, the company got off lightly. The matter was not limited to an over-ambitious sales district or a brand team that paid speakers to spin fables for physicians at dinner meetings. Instead the company organized and trained a special sales force to sell Depakote for treating aggression and agitation in elderly dementia patients confined to nursing homes. For six years, starting in 2001, Abbott also promoted Depakote as an adjunct to antipsychotic drugs for treating schizophrenia, despite the fact that their own studies failed to show any benefit from adding the second drug.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 11:08 AM
Filed Under: Michael Cohen

Does your doctor telephone prescriptions over a cell phone? We asked pharmacists if they had ever experienced a “case of bad cellular” when receiving telephone orders via cell phones. Over 40 percent responded that they did and all clearly felt that the opportunity for a medication error exists.

Here’s what we learned. Physicians made cellular calls most frequently after office hours, on weekends, while in cars, at home or at social events. Often they seemed to be in a hurry to return to their previous activity and may not have given the prescribing task their full attention. Poor transmission clarity and failed connections requiring callbacks were cited as frequent problems.

Factors such as make and model of the phone, wireless carrier, calling area transmission, handset vs. speakerphone use, and general background noise from the road, home or social events all posed threats to accurate transmission of prescription information. This is especially true if a message is left on the pharmacy voice mail. If follow-up calls were needed for clarification, the pharmacist often did not have the physician’s cell phone number. Also, since physicians often did not have access to the patient’s medical records, they could not answer questions about allergies, weight, or other medications. Likewise, the medications prescribed were less likely to be documented in the patient’s record, since it was not available. That could obviously cause problems later on, due to the missing medical information.

POSTED: Monday, May 7, 2012, 12:58 PM
The four roomies from Manayunk getting ready to run Broad Street.

Beth Wallace, a dietition at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, chronicled the journey of her and her motley group of roomates as they battled to beat each other in the Broad Street Run. In this final installment, she talks about an unexpected turn during the race. Check out all of our Broad Street Run coverage at

Let me set the stage for you ...

At 8:20, Soup and I said goodbye and good luck to Joe and J.P., and made our way into the orange corral. Soup looked at me, and said, “I like that quote that says, ‘leave your doubts at the starting line.’” I smiled and agreed, but today, I had no doubts in my mind. 

POSTED: Monday, May 7, 2012, 3:21 PM

A year ago, Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn, overweight and feeling it, would never have dreamed he would be competing in the Broad Street Run on May 6. In this final blog entry, he shares the experience of running the race. Check out all of our Broad Street Run coverage at

You go to the gym every day, with a goal in mind. Run Broad Street.

It was the fear of the unknown that motivated you and scared the hell out of you, too, as the day approached.

POSTED: Saturday, May 5, 2012, 9:30 PM

Beth Wallace, a dietitian at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is chronicling the journey of her and her motley group of roommates as they battle to beat each other in the Broad Street Run. In this fifth installment, she sets provides advice for the fans. Check out all of our Broad Street Run coverage at

If Philly is known for anything, it’s cheesesteaks, Rocky, and  serious sports fans. As the biggest race in Philadelphia is right around the corner, I would be remiss not to acknowledge one very important piece of the experience: the fans.

So I hand the podium over to Bridget; my dear friend, running companion, and captain of my cheer squad, for her tips on:

POSTED: Friday, May 4, 2012, 8:07 AM

Beth Wallace, a dietition at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is chronicling the journey of her and her motley group of roomates as they battle to beat each other in the Broad Street Run. In this fourth installment, she sets the scene for race day. Check out all of our Broad Street Run coverage at

We may be entering the orange corral as a group of three, not four, on Sunday.

Last Saturday, J.P. and a few friends planned to meet at Lloyd Hall for a final run around the loop before retiring their legs for the race day. Like an annoying little sister, I invited myself along to the join them for the 8.5 miles.  “I will drive,” I said to ensure my position in the plans. J.P. politely faked his enthusiasm for my crashing the party, and we met the group at 8 a.m. sharp.

About this blog

Check Up covers major health events in our region and offers everything from personal health advice to an expert look at health reform. Read about some of our bloggers here.

For Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section

Michael Cohen id the president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Horsham.

Daniel Hoffman is the president of Pharmaceutical Business Research Associates (PBRA) in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, a healthcare research and consulting company specializing in key account positioning and messaging.

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