Ariel Winter Confesses She’s Lost Weight & Feels ‘Better’ After Finding The Right Combo Of ‘Medicine’

Ariel Winter’s recent weight loss was actually a side effect from switching medication, which the ‘Modern Family’ star detailed in a lengthy Q&A. But Ariel actually wants to gain a ‘few pounds of muscle.’

Hollywood Life


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Laughter may be best medicine — for brain surgery

Neuroscientists have discovered a focal pathway in the brain that when electrically stimulated causes immediate laughter, followed by a sense of calm and happiness, even during awake brain surgery. The effects of stimulation were observed in an epilepsy patient undergoing diagnostic monitoring for seizure diagnosis. These effects were then harnessed to help her complete a separate awake brain surgery two days later, and then confirmed in two other patients.
Child Development News — ScienceDaily


Tainted drugs: When medicine makes patients sicker

Since the start of 2013, pharmaceutical companies based in the U.S. or abroad have recalled about 8,000 medicines, a Kaiser Health News investigation shows.
ABC News: Health

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Can a video game-based ‘digital medicine’ help children with autism and co-occurring ADHD?

Researchers evaluated a digital medicine tool designed as an investigational treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and co-occurring attention/deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Child Development News — ScienceDaily


Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine Announces Senior Leadership Team

PASADENA, Calif. — The Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine reached a significant milestone today as it announced the newest members of its senior leadership team, composed of a world-class, multidisciplinary and diverse group of leaders who will oversee the planning, design and implementation of all areas of the school.

“I am thrilled to welcome these distinguished individuals to the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine leadership team,” said Mark Schuster, MD, PhD, founding dean and chief executive officer of the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine. “Their progressive and thoughtful leadership, combined with their innovative ideas and vision for the future of medical education, will play a vital role in establishing a world-class, 21st-century academic medical institution. We aim to train students to be outstanding physicians who also will join with others in transforming health care delivery across the nation and beyond.”

Dr. Schuster, an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, was previously William Berenberg Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and chief of general pediatrics and vice-chair for health policy in the department of medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The new leaders, consisting of seven deans, three department chairs and a senior vice president, represent decades of academic and health care experience and will play an integral role in driving the strategic direction of the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine. They are:

José M. Barral, MD, PhD, appointed chair of the department of foundational science. Dr. Barral comes from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, where he served as tenured professor in the department of neuroscience, cell biology and anatomy in the school of medicine; senior associate dean for academic affairs in the graduate school of biomedical sciences; and director of the MD-PhD combined degree program. Dr. Barral is a Pew Scholar in the biomedical sciences and has garnered numerous awards including the University of Texas System Regents Outstanding Teaching Award.

Paul Chung, MD, MS, appointed chair of the department of health systems science. Dr. Chung comes from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital, where he was a professor of pediatrics and chief of general pediatrics. He also served as a professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Dr. Chung, who also is an adjunct senior scientist at RAND, has received grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other public and private agencies. He is president-elect of the Academic Pediatric Association.

Maureen T. Connelly, MD, MPH, appointed senior associate dean for academic and community affairs. Dr. Connelly comes from Harvard Medical School, where she served as dean for faculty affairs. She is a founding member and former leader of the New England Network on Faculty Affairs and recently served as the chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Faculty Affairs. Dr. Connelly’s academic appointment was in the department of population medicine at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, a managed care organization committed to population health strategies and an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, where her research focused on women’s health and patient decision-making. 

Walter D. Conwell, MD, MBA, appointed associate dean for equity, inclusion and diversity. Dr. Conwell comes from CPMG (the Colorado Permanente Medical Group), where he held the positions of physician director of diversity, equity and inclusion and medical director of sleep medicine and outpatient sleep diagnostics. Prior to joining CPMG, Dr. Conwell completed an administrative fellowship in diversity and inclusion at the University of Colorado Denver during which he focused on pipeline program development and assessment. Dr. Conwell previously served as the program coordinator for the Summer Medical Education Program Chicago Consortium which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges.

Anne Eacker, MD, appointed senior associate dean for student affairs. Dr. Eacker comes from the University of Washington School of Medicine, where she was associate dean for student affairs and a practicing general internist. She has served as medical director of the general internal medicine center in the department of medicine at the University of Washington, and as an associate professor for the division of general internal medicine in the department of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Eacker is a recipient of the 2018 American College of Physicians Washington State Chapter Outstanding Clinician-Educator Award.

Walter Harris, MBA, PMP, appointed senior vice president for administration and finance. Mr. Harris comes from the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., where he served as senior associate dean for administration and operations and associate vice president for operations and chief operating officer. He previously served as deputy commissioner for operations and chief operations officer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Abbas Hyderi, MD, MPH, appointed senior associate dean for medical education. Dr. Hyderi comes from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine (UIC), where he was associate dean for undergraduate medical education. He was the co-chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges Core Entrustable Professional Activities Pilot’s Entrustment Concept Group. He was chair of UIC’s curriculum transformation task force and co-chair of UIC Provost’s interprofessional education task force. He founded the Essentials of Clinical Practice and Professionalism 2 course and is a recipient of UIC’s College of Medicine Alumni Council Emerging Innovator of the Year Award and Illinois Academy of Family Physicians Teacher of the Year Award.

Michael Kanter, MD, appointed chair of the department of clinical science. Dr. Kanter comes from The Permanente Federation, a physician-led group that provides care exclusively for the more than 12.2 million members of Kaiser Permanente, where he serves as executive vice president and chief quality officer. He also serves as regional medical director of quality and clinical analysis for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. He is a recent recipient of the American Public Health Association’s prestigious 2018 Donabedian Award for Health Quality for his pioneering work in developing and spreading the Sure Net program, which helps reduce missed or delayed diagnoses and increases medication safety.

Carla Lupi, MD, appointed associate dean for assessment and evaluation. Dr. Lupi comes from the Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, where she served as associate dean for faculty and before that as assistant dean for learning and teaching. She also was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. She was a contributor to the American Association of Medical Colleges Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Faculty Development Concept Group. She has served as a member of the National Board of Medical Examiners since 2016.

Elizabeth McGlynn, PhD, appointed interim senior associate dean for research and scholarship. Dr. McGlynn is currently vice president of Kaiser Permanente Research and executive director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research.  She is an internationally known expert on methods for evaluating the appropriateness and quality of health care. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and is the former chair of the agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s National Advisory Committee and is on the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation Board of Directors.

Lindia Willies-Jacobo, MD, appointed associate dean for admissions. Dr. Willies-Jacobo comes from the University of California, San Diego, where she served as assistant dean for diversity and community partnerships, professor of pediatrics, director of the program in medical education-health equity and member of the recruitment and admissions executive committee. She is principal investigator on two Health Resources and Services Administration grants that focus on developing a diverse health care workforce and is the Western regional representative for the Association of American Medical Colleges Group Student Affairs Committee on Student Diversity Affairs.

“As we embark on this exciting effort, our inaugural leadership team’s expertise, dedication and innovation will drive our pursuit of educational excellence,” Dr. Schuster said. “I am thrilled with the team we have brought together and appreciative of their enormous talent and commitment. I look forward to partnering with our new leaders, our existing leaders and the rest of the medical school team to build a school we can be proud of.”

The Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine is based in Pasadena, California. Its mission is to provide a world-class medical education that ignites a passion for learning, a desire to serve and an unwavering commitment to improve the health and well-being of patients and communities.

About the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine
The Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine will offer more than a conventional medical education. It will provide students with the unique opportunity to be taught by the physicians of Kaiser Permanente and immersed in one of the nation’s highest-performing health care organizations. Students will gain real-world experience in an environment that embraces diversity of thought, experience, and culture, and values their wellness and total health. This approach will create physicians with the knowledge, skills, and passion to lead the transformation of health care in our nation and help diverse communities thrive. Learn more at

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to:




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Chronically Ill, Traumatically Billed: The $123,000 Medicine For MS

Shereese Hickson’s multiple sclerosis was flaring again. Spasms in her legs and other symptoms were getting worse.

She could still walk and take care of her son six years after doctors diagnosed the disease, which attacks the central nervous system. Earlier symptoms such as slurred speech and vision problems had resolved with treatment, but others lingered: she was tired and sometimes still fell.

This summer, a doctor switched her to Ocrevus, a drug approved in 2017 that delayed progression of the disease in clinical trials better than an older medicine did.

Genentech, a South San Francisco-based subsidiary of Swiss pharma giant Roche, makes Ocrevus. It is one of several drugs for multiple sclerosis delivered intravenously in a hospital or clinic. Such medicines have become increasingly expensive as a group, priced in many cases at well over $ 80,000 a year. Hospitals delivering the drugs often take a cut by upcharging the drug or adding hefty fees for the infusion clinic.

Hickson received her first two Ocrevus infusions as an outpatient two weeks apart in July and August. And then the bill came.

Patient: Shereese Hickson, 39, single mother who worked as a health aide and trained as a medical coder, living in Girard, Ohio. Because her MS has left her too disabled to work, she is now on Medicare; she also has Medicaid for backup.

Total Bill: $ 123,019 for two Ocrevus infusions taken as an outpatient. CareSource, Hickson’s Medicare managed-care plan, paid a discounted $ 28,960. Hickson got a bill for about $ 3,620, the balance calculated as her share by the hospital after the insurance reimbursement.

Medical Service: Two Ocrevus infusions, each requiring several hours at the hospital.

Service Provider: Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit, academic medical center in Ohio.

What Gives: Hickson researched Ocrevus online after her doctor prescribed the new medicine. “I’ve seen people’s testimonies about how great it is,” on YouTube, she said. “But I don’t think they really go into what it’s like receiving the bill.”

That was particularly shocking because, covered by government insurance for her disability, she’d never received a bill for MS medicine before.

“I have a 9-year-old son and my income is $ 770 a month,” said Hickson. “How am I supposed to support him and then you guys are asking me for $ 3,000?”

Even in a world of soaring drug prices, multiple sclerosis medicines stand out. Over two decades ending in 2013, costs for MS medicines rose at annual rates five to seven times higher than those for prescription drugs generally, found a study by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University.

“There was no competition on price that was occurring,” said Daniel Hartung, the OHSU and Oregon State University professor who led the study. “It appeared to be the opposite. As newer drugs were brought to market, it promoted increased escalation in drug prices.”

With Ocrevus, Genentech did come up with a price that was slightly less than for rival drugs, but only after MS medicines were already extremely expensive. The drug launched last year at an annual list price of $ 65,000, about 25 percent lower than that of other MS drugs, Hartung said. MS drugs cost about $ 10,000 per year in the 1990s and about $ 30,000 a decade ago.

“We set the price of Ocrevus to reduce price as a barrier to treatment,” said Genentech spokeswoman Amanda Fallon.

It was also probably a response to bad publicity about expensive MS drugs, Hartung said. “Now companies are very aware at least of the optics of releasing drugs at higher and higher prices,” he said.

Patients starting Ocrevus get two initial infusions of 300 milligrams each and then 600 mg twice a year. Cleveland Clinic charged $ 117,089 for Hickson’s first two doses of Ocrevus — more than three times what hospitals typically pay for the drug, said John Hennessy, chief business development officer at WellRithms, a firm that analyzes medical bills for self-insured employers.

As is typical of government programs such as Medicare, the $ 28,960 reimbursement ultimately collected by the Cleveland Clinic was far less — but still substantial.

“We kind of got ourselves in a pickle here,” he said. “We’re more excited about the discount than we are about the actual price.”

Hickson’s nearly $ 3,620 bill represented the portion that Medicare patients often are expected to pay themselves.

Shereese Hickson, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012 and unable to work, supports herself and her son, Isaiah, on $ 770 a month.(Shane Wynn for KHN)

Last year, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, an independent nonprofit that evaluates medical treatments, completed a detailed study on MS medicines. It found that Ocrevus was one of three or four medicines that were most effective in reducing MS relapses and preventing MS from getting worse. But it also found that patient benefits from MS drugs “come at a high relative cost” to society.

At the same time, deciding which MS drug — there are about a dozen — would best suit patients is something of a shot in the dark: The science showing the comparative effectiveness of MS drugs is not as strong as it could be, researchers say.

“In general, there’s a real lack of head-to-head studies for many of these drugs,” said Hartung. The FDA has no required comparison standard for MS drugs, an agency spokeswoman said. Sometimes they’re rated against placebos. With everyone able to charge a high price, the companies have little incentive to see which works better and which worse.

Resolution: After Hickson questioned the charges over the phone, the billing office told her to apply to the hospital for financial assistance. Hickson had to print a form, provide proof of her disabled status, mail it and wait.

Hospital officials told her in October she qualified for assistance based on her income through a state program funded by hospital contributions and federal money. Cleveland Clinic wiped out the $ 3,620 balance.

“I’m grateful that they approved me for that, but not everybody’s situation is like that,” she said. She was worried enough about being billed again for her next Ocrevus infusion that she considered switching back to her old medicine. But her doctor wants her to give it more time to gauge its effects.

The Takeaway: Always ask about charity care or financial assistance programs. Hospitals have different policies and wide discretion about how to apply them, but often do not even tell patients such programs exist.

Because health care costs are so high, you may be eligible even if you have a decent salary. Cleveland Clinic gives free care to everybody below a certain income, said spokeswoman Heather Phillips. But it wasn’t until Hickson called that the hospital agreed to erase the charge.

While there are multiple new drugs to treat serious chronic conditions, they have often not been tested against one another. Moreover, your doctor may have no idea about their relative prices. He or she should. For newer drugs, all options may well be very expensive.

Keep in mind that drugs which must be infused often come with facility fees and infusion charges, which can leave patients with hefty copayments for outpatient treatment. Ask about oral medicines or those you can self-inject at home.

NPR produced and edited the interview with Elisabeth Rosenthal for broadcast. Marlene Harris-Taylor, from member station Ideastream in Cleveland, provided audio reporting.

Do you have an exorbitant or baffling medical bill? Join the KHN and NPR Bill-of-the-Month Club and tell us about your experience.

KHN’s coverage of women’s health care issues is supported in part by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Kaiser Health News


Medicine or vice? Socially screened funds struggle to define cannabis industry

The $ 8 trillion U.S. socially responsible investment industry is grappling with that question as more states approve the recreational use of cannabis, pushing consumption closer to “sin” stocks like…

Reuters: Wealth


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