Blame the eggs … or the chickens

Why is the flu shot only 10 percent effective this year? Eggs. As in, even though it’s the same strain of the virus, the version that’s circulating is “antigenically less similar” than the version grown in eggs and used to make vaccines, according to the CDC.

177,000 Georgia kids could lose healthcare in a few weeks

PeachCare is about to run out of money. The program, which provides health insurance for about 130,000 kids across the state, relies on federal funding that expired in September — the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Because Georgia didn’t expand Medicaid, these kids’ families fall in the ‘hole’ where they earn too much to qualify for state coverage, but still can’t afford private health insurance.

Congress is still arguing how to pay for the program, which amounts to about $400 million per year for Georgia.

Help out with a naloxone survey

The good folks at the UGA College of Pharmacy are looking for 500 pharmacists to complete a survey on naloxone dispensing and opioid misuse. Give ’em a hand, would you? It takes about 10 minutes and is completely confidential. “The study results may be used to help other pharmacists, providers, and patients better understand ways to prevent opioid-related overdose and death.”

Click here for a little more info and to take the survey.

Got a cold? There’s not much you can do about that cough

The editors of the journal Chest looked at remedies for cough associated with the common cold (CACC they call it). They pored over 10 years of research to see what works for those coughs — the goal was to revise their official recommendations.

They discovered that there’s very little solid evidence that anything works that well to control CACCs — not honey, not NSAIDs, not expectorants, not antihistamines. So the recommendations they could make?

  • Use whatever works, but if it doesn’t work, stop using it.
  • Avoid NSAIDs for cough (unless you find they work), but use them for pain.
  • Kids shouldn’t use medication with codeine.
  • For kids, “honey may offer more relief for cough symptoms than no treatment,” and is about as good as dextromethorphan.

If you think that sounds like a lot of shrugging, you’re right. The problem, the editors point out, is that “The evidence supporting the management of CACC is overall of low quality.”

U.S. drug-ad spending hits new high

Think you saw a lot of pharma ads this year? You’re not mistaken — it was a record-breaking year for spending, and it ain’t over yet.

Test program would share patient info with pharmacists

HHS has agreed to allow a pilot program in which pharmacists providing MTM services would have access to certain patient-discharge information.

The program, which will be conducted by an unnamed pharmaceutical manufacturer, an unnamed trade association (no, not GPhA), an unnamed hospital, and an unnamed Medicare Advantage plan will involve using a new electronic system to share patient information in the hopes of reducing readmission.

HIV in the South

Georgia Health News: “HIV in America is increasingly a Southern problem.” Half of all new AIDS diagnoses are in the South, and Metro Atlanta has the nation’s fifth highest rate of new infections.

[T]here are many factors that lead the South to have a high HIV burden. They include the region’s high poverty and uninsured rates; problems in access to health care; the stigma attached to the disease; income inequality; and the persistently high rate of sexually transmitted infections.

Merck has recovered

It’s manufacturing is back — well, mostly — since the Russian cyberattack earlier this year. (But its Puerto Rico facilities still haven’t recovered, and neither has the island.)