Parkinson's in the Media

Settlement Eases Rules for Some Medicare Patients
Tens of thousands of people with chronic conditions and disabilities may find it easier to qualify for Medicare coverage of potentially costly home health care, skilled nursing home stays and outpatient therapy under policy changes planned by the Obama administration.  In a proposed settlement of a nationwide class-action lawsuit, the administration has agreed to scrap a decades-old practice that required many beneficiaries to show a likelihood of medical or functional improvement before Medicare would pay for skilled nursing and therapy services.  Under the agreement, which amounts to a significant change in Medicare coverage rules, Medicare will pay for such services if they are needed to “maintain the patient’s current condition or prevent or slow further deterioration,” regardless of whether the patient’s condition is expected to improve.  More…

Sandoz Inc. Recalls Several Lots of Pramipexole Tablets, 0.125 and 0.25 mg
MediGuard/U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Sandoz Inc. has recalled several lots of Pramipexole Dihydrochloride Tablets, 0.125 and 0.25 mg. The following lot numbers have been recalled because samples from these lots did not pass the manufacturer's routine tests for impurities and by-products from chemical breakdown over time.  This recall for Pramipexole Dihydrochloride Tablets, 0.125 and 0.25 mg from Sandoz Inc. was issued at a warehouse and pharmacy level only.  The FDA and the manufacturer have determined that any recalled product that may have been dispensed to patients does not pose a significant health risk.  If you take Pramipexole Tablets, 0.125 and 0.25 mg and are concerned, you should speak to your doctor.  More…

Why America Can Never Give Up on Medical Research
The Week (Op-Ed)
In America we spend roughly $140 billion on medical research every year.  One-third of that is from the federal government. Over half — 54 percent — comes from industry, and nearly all the rest comes from universities, philanthropic foundations, independent research institutions, and what most statisticians labels imply as "Other."  The contributions of these voluntary, nongovernment, and nonprofit institutions is calculated, then shrugged off, as people return to talking about the worth of federal NIH funding or deride the evils of pharmaceutical companies.  More…

Automatic Budget Cuts Would Devastate Science, Say Scientists
Los Angeles Times
Draconian multibillion-dollar budget cuts set for the beginning of 2013 could significantly hinder the pursuit of science in the U.S., according to a new analysis from the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS.  Speaking out Thursday morning, representatives of the science organization joined a long list of groups warning about the potential effects of sequestration — the automatic reductions in discretionary federal funding that will take effect Jan. 2 if Congress fails to come up with a deficit reduction plan.  More…

Patient Groups Push for Generous EHB Drug Coverage
PoliticoPro
Patient advocates are stepping up a campaign for “a robust formulary” in the highly anticipated essential health benefits rule.  Fifty-seven patient groups are sending a letter Tuesday to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to urge the agency to reverse the policy laid out in its essential health benefits bulletin.  The groups argue that the prescription medication coverage “was done in such a manner that it would be completely unworkable for patients, particularly for those with serious chronic health conditions.”  More…

Doctors Open Their Notes to Patients — and Patients Like What They See
The Washington Post
But some new research lends some credence to the underlying idea: Patients who spent a year with access to their doctors’ notes say their quality of care improved.  More…

With Telemedicine as Bridge, No Hospital Is an Island
The New York Times
Technology, like these cameras and screens, is making it affordable and effective for doctors to examine patients without actually being there.  More hospitals and medical practices are adopting these techniques, finding they save money and for some patients work as well as flesh-and-blood visits.  “There has been a shift in the belief that telemedicine can only be used for rural areas to a belief that it can be used anywhere,” said Dr. Peter Yellowlees, director of the health informatics program at the University of California, Davis, and a board member of the American Telemedicine Association.  More…

New Culprit for Parkinson’s?
The Scientist
There’s a new suspect in the search for the causes of Parkinson’s disease—deformities in the nuclear membrane of neural stem cells.  Scientists observed the same defects, caused by a single gene mutation, in brain tissue samples from deceased Parkinson’s patients, suggesting that nuclear deterioration—and the mutation that drives it—could play a role in the pathology of the disease.  The study, published today (October 17) in Nature, also shows that correcting the mutation reverses this phenotype, pointing to new ways to treat this cause of neurodegeneration.  More…

NIH Researchers Provide Detailed View of Brain Protein Structure
National Institutes of Health (Press Release)
Researchers have published the first highly detailed description of how neurotensin, a neuropeptide hormone which modulates nerve cell activity in the brain, interacts with its receptor.  Their results suggest that neuropeptide hormones use a novel binding mechanism to activate a class of receptors called G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs).  “The knowledge of how the peptide binds to its receptor should help scientists design better drugs,” said Dr. Reinhard Grisshammer, a scientist at the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and an author of the study published in Nature.  More…

Stem Cells Reveal Defect in Parkinson's Cells
Technology Review
Stem cells in the brains of some Parkinson's patients are increasingly damaged as they age, an effect that eventually diminishes their ability to replicate and differentiate into mature cell types.  Researchers studied neural stem cells created from patients' own skin cells to identify the defects.  The findings offer a new focus for therapeutics that target the cellular change.  More…

Andrea Mitchell Remembers Specter
NBC News
He wanted to talk about the importance of funding the National Institutes of Health.  Knowing he did not have much longer to live, Specter wanted his legacy to be his record of expanding resources for the NIH, the government agency he felt had extended his life and saved countless others.  As a key Senate appropriator for decades, he was a fierce advocate for stem cell research, breast cancer funding and funding for Alzheimer's research.  More…