The development will create more than 700 jobs in construction and related industries
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is in the midst of a $2.6 billion expansion of its campus.
Mayor Michael Nutter, elected officials and representatives of the city’s business community joined Dr. Steven Altschuler, CEO of CHOP to celebrate the development of CHOP’s Ambulatory Care Center.
The ambulatory care center, which is currently under excavation on Civic Boulevard, will consist of a 500,000 square foot development that will provide children who need to see multiple specialists with enhanced care. The development will create more than 700 jobs comprised of direct and indirect construction jobs.
“Our ongoing expansion will create a significant number of construction and health care sector-related jobs, additional economic and community benefit to the city and most importantly, improved access to state-of-the-art, high quality medical care for children and their families,” Altschuler said during a press conference held at CHOP’s Colket Translational Research Building.
“We’re grown rapidly because the demand for patient services has continually exceeded our capacity to provide care in the most clinically-appropriate and cost-effective way possible.”
A part of CHOP’s expansion includes the newly opened Ruth and Tristram Colket Jr. Translational Research Building, which overlooks the expansion site. The $500 million facility houses pediatric research labs for cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, blindness and hemophilia.
CHOP’s new developments will extend beyond its traditional campus. CHOP plans to break ground on a new $30 million primary care facility on October 6 at 48th and Market Streets in West Philadelphia.
Mayor Nutter hailed CHOP for its commitment to the Philadelphia region.
“It means something to all of us to truly be able to say we have the best children’s hospital in the United States of America right here in the city of Philadelphia,” said Nutter.
“Two billion dollars over the course of the next four, five years is just spectacular. It will put people to work, bring better health care to this city but it also is a indication again that this is a smart city and they’re making a smart choice by investing in Philadelphia.”
During the event, Livingston White, a contractor and West Philadelphia resident discussed working on CHOP’s expansion projects since 2000.
“I feel very fortunate and thankful to have maintained employment during a time with so much economic pressure on society and unemployment at an all-time high,” White said.
With 13,000 employees, CHOP is Philadelphia’s fifth largest employer and Pennsylvania’s 21st largest employer. According to Atlschuler, CHOP added 7,000 new jobs since 2002 and has contributed $14 million per year in wage-tax revenue.
Last year, 30,000 patients were admitted to CHOP and CHOP’s network facilities received 1.6 million outpatient visits.
I have become increasingly concerned about the health of our young people. As we continue to see higher rates of typical adult health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and the like in children, it is appalling to know how much of this is the result of the grossly neglect attitude that we as adults have in respect to what we have allowed to be commonplace in their diets.
It’s no secret that for years, low-income communities of color have suffered as grocery stores and fresh, affordable food disappeared from their neighborhoods. But few of us stop and take note of what this is doing to our children.
Have you ever gone late to work, so you can have breakfast with your child at school to see what they serve? How about remembering the last time you took your children to the supermarket to teach them how to shop for food? When was the last time you looked around a typical corner store, paying attention to what many of our children are eating every day?
I recently came across a study that looked at the role of corner stores in our children’s lives. Needless to say, it was a sobering insight into just how poorly we have failed our children in providing guidance and protection as they learn the food habits and behaviors that will surely lead to them being unhealthy and unproductive adults.
The study by Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education revealed that for a “little more than a dollar” city kids can walk into a typical corner store and fill up with unhealthy calories of low-nutrition junk, and for many, it has become a way of life and gateway to obesity. It found that the average Philadelphia student purchases more than 350 calories on each visit to the corner store — and 29 percent of them shop at corner stores twice a day, five days a week, consuming almost a pound’s worth of additional calories each week.
In fact, according to The Food Trust, in communities that lack supermarkets, entire families depend on corner stores for food purchases. The choices at these stores are often limited to packaged food and carry very little, if any, fresh produce. Corner stores are also frequent destinations for children, many of whom stop daily on the way to and from school for snacks.
In another national survey, fat comprised an averageof 35 percent of total caloric intake in youths ages 2 to 19 years,and almost two-thirds of these youths did not eat recommendedamounts of fruits and vegetables.
A 2009 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 23.5 million people lack access to a supermarket within a mile of their homes. A recent multistate study found that low-income census tracts had half as many supermarkets as wealthy tracts. Another multistate study found that eight percent of African Americans live in a tract with a supermarket, compared to 31 percent of whites. On the other hand, for every additional supermarket in a census tract, produce consumption increases 32 percent for African Americans.
Studies have shown that a good breakfast boosts not just student nutrition, but also student achievement and health, and reduces absenteeism and visits to the school nurse. This under-nutrition can affect a child’s behavior, school performance and overall cognitive development. Even when a child misses one meal, behavior and academic performances are affected. A hungry child has difficulty learning.
For a school-age child, the act of not eating breakfast can lead to fatigue and a diminished attention span. While the body adjusts to decreased blood sugar levels, the brain struggles to perform its function with a minimal supply of nutrients. Children up to the age of ten need to eat every four to six hours to maintain a blood sugar concentration high enough to support the activity of the brain and the nervous system. Most teachers can quickly identify those children who come to school without breakfast. Their heads are on their desks at 10 a.m. — the peak learning hour. This chronic poor nutrition may cause more serious learning deficits.
The effectiveness of school-based nutrition programs and services can be enhanced by outreach efforts in the surrounding community. At the very least, school personnel should be familiar with the health and nutrition resources available through local agencies. Contact can be made with the health department, community nutrition programs, health centers, local food pantries and fitness programs. Once contacts are established, parents and schools can collaborate with other community agencies to positively influence the health and nutritional status of school-age children.
Junk food is everywhere and it is being consumed by our students in record quantities. “Junk food” is food which traditionally has no nutritional value. It deprives the body of necessary nutrients and its overconsumption over time leads to obesity, medical problems and behavioral problems. Some examples are salted snack foods, candy, gum, most sweet desserts, fried fast food and carbonated beverages.
Junk food consumption is associated with various physical ailments, including obesity, Type II diabetes, heart attacks and decreased life expectancy. Because of junk food, our children’s life expectancy could be lower than our own. Junk food is also a major cause in the 23 percent of — children who are overweight. Fast food and the increasingly available category of junk food are strongly correlated to the “300 percent increase in the rate of U.S. children who are either overweight or obese,” the study says.
While there are no studies specifically linking meals eaten away from home to academic performance, we do know that poor nutrition during the school day can result in behavioral and learning problems. Chronically undernourished children score poorly on standardized tests, are more irritable and exhibit lower energy levels.
Junk food surrounds our children in a new “toxic food environment” which is made worse by a bombardment of advertisements through media directed at children. Junk foods are altering the structure and function of the human brain while increasing and decreasing insulin levels so quickly that junk food leaves students groggy in class. A child’s brain continues to develop through until adulthood; many of the foods that students eat affect the growth of critical areas of their brain. When growth is disrupted, in can cause negative behavior reactions in the classroom. Often, doctors do not seek the root of the problem (food), but instead they mask the behavioral symptoms with drugs such as Ritalin or Prozac which have their own series of side effects, all while the brain development continues to be damaged.
There are many health benefits associated with good nutrition and physical activity. Eating smart and moving more help children and youths maintain a healthy weight, feel better and have more energy. These positive health benefits have the potential to translate into academic benefits at school. Good nutrition and physical activity nourish the brain and body, resulting in students who are present, on-time, attentive in class, on-task and possibly earning better grades. As students work hard to achieve high academic standards, it is more important than ever that we provide opportunities for them to be active and eat healthy throughout the day.
Families, schools, government and communities must share the responsibility of promoting and supporting children and youth to eat smart and move more. We must save the children.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.
Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!
The information included in this column is for educational purposes only. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Glenn Ellis is a health advocacy communications specialist. He is the author of “Which Doctor?” and is a lecturing health columnist and radio commentator and is an active media contributor nationally and internationally on health-related topics. His second book, “Information is the Best Medicine,” is due out this fall.
For more good health information, visit: www.glennellis.com.
Pamela Cromwell regards herself as a fighter, not a cancer survivor.
Cromwell was 29 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and told that she only had six months to live.
Five years later, she is battling Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, a stage of cancer where the disease has spread.
Cromwell first became aware that something was wrong when she felt a lump in her left breast while showering. When she first went in for testing, medical professionals thought she had a cyst. Six months would go by before she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer that was moving rapidly.
After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, she thought she was in remission, but she was not. The cancer returned to her right breast.
Two years ago, she decided to turn to Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Philadelphia for her oncology care.
“A lot of people think I’m in remission which I’m not,” said Cromwell, who undergoes hormonal treatments once a month at CTCA.
She has not let cancer deter her from continuing to engage in one of her favorite pastimes — kickboxing. She still commutes from Plainsville, N.J. to New York for her full-time job as a financial analyst. She doesn’t believe in putting blocks on herself.
“Because of a combination of prayer, great people in my life and my determination to be stubborn, I’m in a very good state in my life. It’s just because I finally learned my lesson, that I had to take my life back,” said Cromwell, who is 34.
“I don’t walk around thinking this could be my last year in life. I just do what I have to do.”
She wants others to understand that the face of breast cancer goes beyond the typical portrayal of 45- or 50-year-old women.
“I think that people feel more comfortable with the idea that you have cancer, so that means you should be in bed, bald and not able to move, and the fact that I don’t look like a typical cancer patient means they want to say I’m in remission and I’m not,” said Cromwell.
She shares her story at a time when African-American women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45 and are also more likely to have more aggressive types of breast cancer.
“I just feel like people need to understand that cancer is turning into a chronic disease and people are dealing with it long-term. I feel like the world is catering to the survivor. All due respect, I don’t consider myself a survivor, I am a fighter and that’s how I like to be classified,” Cromwell said.
As a younger person coping with cancer, the newly released movie titled “50/50” resonates with her, she said. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, who portray best friends whose lives are changed by a cancer diagnosis at the age of 27, and sheds some light on the physical and emotional facets of living with cancer.
“The movie was phenomenal because it was real. It was not pretty. The movie was on target,” said Cromwell, who appreciated the film’s honesty.
When Cromwell first came to CTCA, Dr. Shayma Kamzi, a medical oncologist and hematologist, had to inform her that she had metastatic disease. Prior to her first visit to CTCA, she underwent a CT scan that revealed the cancer had spread from her breast to the bones.
“Of course she was shocked, and this came as a surprise, but she rose above it and really has fought very hard,” Kazmi said.
“She has a quality of life where she’s able to work full time and really be active and feel good and normal. She’s done really, really well. Obviously lengthening someone’s life is one thing, but adding quality to that life is also very important,” said Kazmi.
Since she joined the CTCA staff two and half years ago, Kazmi has treated a number of patients who are in their 30s and 40s for various forms of cancer.
“We do see a higher percentage of these very aggressive tumors and young patients tend to have a more aggressive disease and we don’t quite know why, and that’s true all across the board,” she said.
“I see a lot of younger women with breast cancer, and I think there are a lot of issues that people don’t focus on,” she said, noting that there are concerns for younger women about sexuality and fertility.
Mariah Carey’s husband, Nick Cannon, has spoken out in the wake of his headline-grabbing troubles and revealed that his kidney, blood clots and heart woes are actually the result of a “lupus-type” autoimmune disorder.
More and more, we are all hearing about friends, family, and even celebrities who are “victims” of autoimmune disease — especially lupus.
Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease driven by inflammation in which the immune system indiscriminately attacks “self-tissues” throughout the body. It is estimated that more than 16,000 people are diagnosed with lupus each year in the United States. Approximately 1.5 million Americans, and 5 million people worldwide, currently live with lupus.
Lupus autoimmunity can cause variable symptoms from person to person. Parts of the body frequently affected by lupus include the skin, kidneys, heart and vascular system, nervous system, connective tissues, musculoskeletal system, and other organ systems.
Your immune system is the network of cells and tissues throughout your body that work together to defend you from invasion and infection. You can think of it as having two parts: the innate and the acquired immune systems.
The more primitive innate (or inborn) immune system activates white blood cells to destroy invaders. The innate system alerts the body to danger when it senses the presence of parts that are often found in many viruses or bacteria. The acquired (or adaptive) immune system develops as a person grows. It “remembers” different invaders so that it can fight them better if they come back. When the immune system is working properly, foreign invaders (antigens) provoke the body to produce proteins called antibodies and specific types of white blood cells that help in defense. The antibodies attach to the invaders so that they can be recognized and destroyed.
Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. In other words, the body actually attacks its own cells.
Normally the immune system’s white blood cells help protect the body from harmful substances, called antigens. Examples of antigens include bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, and blood or tissues from another person or species. The immune system produces antibodies that destroy these harmful substances.
What causes the immune system to no longer tell the difference between healthy body tissues and antigens is unknown. One theory is that some microorganisms (such as bacteria or viruses) or drugs may trigger some of these changes, especially in people who have genes that make them more likely to get autoimmune disorders.
These diseases tend to run in families. Women — particularly African-American, Hispanic-American and Native-American women — have a higher risk for some autoimmune diseases.
There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and some have similar symptoms. This makes it hard for your health care provider to know if you really have one of these diseases, and if so, which one. Getting diagnosed can be frustrating and stressful. In many people, the first symptoms are being tired, muscle aches and low fever.
The diseases may also have flare-ups, when they get worse, and remissions, when they all but disappear. The diseases do not usually go away, but symptoms can be treated.
An autoimmune disorder may result in:
Autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the body, including the heart, brain, nerves, muscles, skin, eyes, joints, lungs, kidneys, glands, the digestive tract and blood vessels.
The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain, and swelling. How an autoimmune disease affects you depends on what part of the body is targeted. If the disease affects the joints, as in rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, you might have joint pain, stiffness and loss of function. If it affects the thyroid, as in Graves’ disease and thyroiditis, it might cause tiredness, weight gain and muscle aches. If it attacks the skin, as it does in scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, vitiligo and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), it can cause rashes, blisters, and color changes.
Diagnosing lupus can be difficult. It may take months or even years for doctors to piece together the symptoms to diagnose this complex disease accurately. Making a correct diagnosis of lupus requires knowledge and awareness on the part of the doctor and good communication on the part of the patient. Giving the doctor a complete, accurate medical history (for example, what health problems you have had and for how long) is critical to the process of diagnosis. This information, along with a physical examination and the results of laboratory tests, helps the doctor consider other diseases that may mimic lupus, or determine if you truly have the disease. Reaching a diagnosis may take time as new symptoms appear.
Most autoimmune diseases are chronic, but many can be controlled with treatment. Symptoms of autoimmune disorders can come and go. When symptoms get worse, it is called a flare-up.
If you or someone you love is living with an autoimmune disorder, it’s important to get all the facts on the condition. Though researchers don’t know exactly what causes autoimmunity, much has been learned about the risk factors involved. Known connections: Women seem to develop autoimmune diseases more often than men, and some believe that infections may play a role in autoimmunity. After an autoimmune disease diagnosis, your main priority should be getting the care you need to manage your particular disorder, and that may mean finding medical experts who specialize in your autoimmune condition.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one. Take good care of yourself, and live the best life possible!
The information included in this column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.
Glenn Ellis is a Health advocacy communications specialist. He is the author of “Which Doctor?” and is a health columnist and radio commentator who lectures, and is an active media contributor nationally and internationally on health-related topics.
His second book, “Information is the Best Medicine,” was released in January. For more good health information, visit: www.glennellis.com.
New hospital unit helps diabetic, artery disease patients avoid amputation
Temple University Hospital is home to a new center that specializes in saving legs from being amputated.
Under the direction of Temple’s chief of vascular surgery, Dr. Eric Choi, the Limb Salvage Center assists diabetic and peripheral artery disease (PAD) patients facing amputation.
The center offers 12 different medical disciplines in one place, including podiatry, endocrinologists, cardiology, physical therapy, interventional radiology, orthotics and vascular surgery.
“We have a center now where patients can come in and we can converge on them instead of them going to see one specialist and another specialist. We are all on call to see the patients as needed. So it becomes a multidisciplinary type of approach and is much more patient-centered,” said Choi.
After suffering complications related to PAD, Philadelphia resident Anna Mosley was referred to the Limb Salvage Center for treatment of swelling problems and leg wounds that were having difficulty healing. Mosley developed leg wounds after she suffered a heart attack and was placed in a rehab center. Mosley will not have to undergo any surgery on her legs.
“We were able to find out that she did have some circulation problems. As long as we were aggressive, and with the help of her nephew who assists her everyday, we were able to get it mostly healed up,” Choi says in regard to her wounds.
“Basically we tried to tailor-make the therapy for her because everybody who has PAD or circulation problems needs surgery.”
While Mosley’s legs are getting better, she has difficulty walking.
“I’m having a little difficulty getting around,” said Mosley.
When Choi first joined Temple’s staff a year ago, he encountered patients younger than 40 who needed to have a leg amputated due to diabetic complications. Those experiences spurred him to launch a center that would cater to the needs to the community and make a difference.
Eighty percent of the patients served by the center are diabetic — a condition that can lead to leg amputation. Choi noted that many of the center’s patients have artery disease, which reduces blood flow to the feet.
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.
Choi says a simple cut on the leg or foot of a diabetic patient could evolve into a larger sore if it’s not treated. Left unchecked, the leg could become infected with gangrene, which leads to amputations.
With that in mind, Choi says wounds of diabetics must be treated right away.
“If it’s properly treated, you don’t have to worry about amputations,” Choi stressed.
“In fact, most amputations are avoidable.”
For years, Choi has been studying techniques to improve blood flow to prevent the need for amputation. Now he is preparing to enroll Temple patients who are at high risk for a leg amputation into a three-year clinical trial that involves the use of angiogenesis, a technique which entails improving blood flow to the leg using therapies designed to grow new blood vessels.
Local group collaborates with Dutch organization to fight youth STD crisis
Philadelphia FIGHT’s Youth Health Empowerment Project is using dance as a way to educate young people about HIV.
Y-HEP is the first to partner with dance4life, a Netherlands-based program aimed at empowering young people around HIV.
The organization joined Victoria’s Secret angel Doutzen Kroes at a press conference to launch dance4life-USA.
“dance4life is effective because it breaks down the inhibitions to learning, helps young people remember the importance of HIV prevention, and is fun,” Kroes said during the press conference held at City Hall.
Kroes encouraged parents to talk to their children about safe sex and condom use.
“We must break the silence and we cannot be afraid to talk to our kids about sex, using condoms, and to answer their questions,” she said.
Y-HEP will take the dance4life program to students at various school and youth organizations throughout Philadelphia where they will encourage young people to take responsibility for their health and decision-making. dance4life Philadelphia has joined 28 countries in offering the global program that provides young people with the skills to join the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“What we have found with dance4life — more than any other program designed to help reach young people transition into adolescence — is that this has been the most successful,” said Jane Shull, executive director, Philadelphia FIGHT.
AIDS Activities Coordinating Office Executive Director Jane Baker hailed the dance4life initiative and said it’s another tool in the arsenal to fight the growing rates of sexually transmitted diseases amongst Philadelphia’s youth.
In April, Philadelphia’s Department of Health launched a campaign to help combat the rise in STDs amid Philadelphia youth. During that launch, Health Commissioner Donald F. Schwarz said more than 19,000 cases of chlamydia were reported in 2010, with approximately 45 percent of those cases occurring in youths between the ages of 10 and 19 years, and 33 percent occurring in young adults ages 20 to 24 years. He also noted that 47 percent of the youth who were diagnosed with HIV at the city’s STD clinic had a prior history of gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis.
“Right now we have a public health emergency. This is a crisis. So anything you can do to bring these rates down, to make some impact on the rise of sexually transmitted diseases among young people in Philadelphia, you have to do it. This couldn’t be more timely,” said Baker.
dance4life International Founder Eveline Aendekerk says the organization’s goal is to facilitate a global youth movement of one million agents of change by 2014.
The push to expand the movement comes at a time when half of the new HIV infections are occurring in young people under 25 according to U.N. AIDS.
During the press conference, members of dance4life Philadelphia’s tour team chanted, “Take responsibility for life, let your voice be heard,” while showing off hip dance moves.
The dance4life program has four components, including a heart connection tour that encourages participation through music, drumming, dancing and education; skills4life, a workshop program where participants learn about HIV; and act4life, which encourages involvement in a volunteer project. The fourth component includes celebrate4life, a biannual celebration that is held on the Saturday before World AIDS Day. During the celebration, dance4life participants are connected via satellite where they dance together.
Over the coming months, Y-HEP will work to recruit students and student clubs to participate in the dance4life program, and will stage dance4life interventions in area schools.
Y-HEP is a community-based health and leadership development program for Philadelphia youth.
A movement to spread awareness about breast cancer will get underway this weekend.
The George E. Thorne Development Center is hosting the sixth annual “Praise Is the Cure Week of Hope, Health and Healing” — an event that recognizes the plight of African-American breast cancer patients, survivors and their families.
Anita T. Conner, a 13-year breast cancer survivor, expanded GETDC in 2005 to incorporate Praise is the Cure as a primary initiative.
“God spared me, so I believe he spared me to help somebody else,” said Conner, who is a prominent accountant.
“Our vision is to create a community with less victims and more breast cancer survivors — and our mission is do that by motivating, educating and encouraging African Americans to get their screenings and treatments.”
Conner’s focus on breast cancer awareness comes at a time when more African-American women are dying from the disease than any other ethnic group.
The free event kicks off on September 25 with Praise Sunday, where more than 50 houses of worship will celebrate breast cancer patients and survivors and raise awareness about breast health through pulpit presentations and the dissemination of life-saving information to their constituents. More than 20,000 pieces of breast health literature will be distributed during Praise Sunday.
A children’s festival is scheduled for September 28 at the North Philadelphia YMCA and September 29 at the Abington YMCA. A highlight of the festival includes readings of the book “My Mommy Has Breast Cancer, But She Is Ok!” by survivor Kerri M. Conner. The event is expected to reach about 300 children and their parents.
“Breast cancer affects the whole family, especially our children. As adults we often don’t know how to talk to our children about difficult situations. This gives us an opportunity to bring a very difficult situation to a children’s level and also to help educate the parents on how to talk to their children about things that are going on,” says Conner.
October 1 marks a jam-packed day for the Praise is the Cure Week. The day features a health fair with free mammograms and other screenings, wellness workshops, educational activities and a pampering party for breast cancer patients and survivors. Women and children from the shelter system are being bussed in to participate in the activities.
The breast cancer survivors pampering party serves as the highlight of the day, where survivors will be treated to full body massages, facials and manicures.
A key activity also includes the “Real Men Wear Pink…Taking Care of Others and Yourself” forum. The men’s only forum offer participants an opportunity to talk about health issues. Health columnist Glenn Ellis will serve as a key presenter during the men’s forum.
Praise is the Cure Week concludes with a breast cancer survivor procession and a benefit gospel concert featuring Hezekiah Walker and LFC and The Brockington Ensemble. The October 1 activities will be held at the Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ, 6401 Ogontz Ave.
Since its inception, Praise is the Cure has reached over 50,000 Philadelphia area residents and has raised more than $200,000 to support year round program efforts.
Honorary community members of Praise Is The Cure include National Association of Black Journalists Founder Sandra Long and Vice President of Community Affairs, Independence Blue Cross, Lorina Marshall-Blake. Honorary co-chairs state Sen. Vincent Hughes and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph are also advocates for Praise Is The Cure.
To register for the event, call (215) 635-1025.
TRENTON, N.J. — Food and Drug Administration advisers voted Friday to require makers of widely used osteoporosis drugs to clarify how long patients should take them for the greatest benefit and least risk.
The FDA itself will later decide what the new label wording should say for each of the drugs: Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, Atelvia and Reclast. The agency could require wording that recommends limiting how long each drug is taken, though it's not yet clear how long that would be.
A few patients have suffered serious complications, including jawbone destruction, unusual thighbone fractures and cancer of the esophagus, generally after several years taking the medicines, which include pills and longer-acting intravenous treatments.
The drugs stop and reverse dangerous thinning of bones in many people, preventing hip and spine fractures that cause pain and can result in hospitalization, nursing home stays and early death.
But after a while, it's unclear whether the drugs do more harm than good. So experts have been reviewing data to try to provide better advice on whether patients should stop the drugs totally, or perhaps temporarily, after several years.
At a daylong meeting Friday in Adelphi, Md., a panel of outside advisers to the FDA reviewed details of many studies of the drugs compiled by FDA staff. Panel members also heard public comment and presentations from representatives of the companies that make the medicines.
But after voting 17-6 to recommend that the product labels, or detailed package inserts, should better clarify the best duration of use, the advisers left the actual wording change up in the air.
The recommendation could vary for each drug, according to how long patients taking it have been followed in clinical studies, the rates of spine and hip fractures in those patients in each year of treatment, and the number of reports of serious complications.
Since Merck & Co. started selling Fosamax in 1999, more than 225 million prescriptions have been filled in the U.S. for these drugs. Rates of spine and other fractures in patients with thinning bones have since declined, despite the fact that our population is aging — a major risk factor for osteoporosis.
U.S. sales of osteoporosis drugs totaled about $4.2 billion last year, down from a 2007 peak of about $6 billion. The decline is because the oldest drug in the class, Fosamax, got generic competition early in 2008. That wiped out most Fosamax revenue and cut into sales of newer, competing drugs.
The number of prescriptions dispensed also has declined a bit, down to about 37 million in the U.S. last year. Many patients have switched from monthly to three-month prescriptions of the pills, or to an intravenous infusion of Boniva once a year or of Reclast every one or two years. -- (AP)
The American Lung Association has kicked off a statewide tour to raise the importance of protecting clean air.
The Red Carriage Tour for Clean Air comes when recent legislation in Congress seeks to undermine the 40-year old Clean Air Act.
The Clean Air Act is landmark legislation that led to significant environmental and public health benefits.
“For over 40 years the Clean Air Act has helped keep America’s air healthy and safe. If Congress bullies the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) into weakening the Clean Air Act, millions of children and adults will suffer asthma and heart attacks, strokes and even premature death,” Deborah Brown, CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic said during a press conference held at Thomas Jefferson University.
“The American Lung Association is leading a coalition of organizations as part of the Healthy Air campaign. Our goal is simple — to raise awareness about the serious health consequences of rolling back clean air policies. We all need to find our outrage, find our voice and make sure that Congress hears us on this issue.”
Brown says the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 premature deaths and 1.7 million instances of asthma exacerbations nationwide in 2010.
Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, attending physician, Division of Emergency Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia gave a brief overview of the health impact of air pollution.
“Polluted air harms people — particularly infants and children and toxins in the air not only accumulate in our lungs but they can get into our water, into our food supply and they can cause numerous health effects. These health effects include birth defects, asthma and other respiratory problems and heart disease,” said Osterhoudt.
“It’s our children and our communities that bear the consequences for our polluted air in illnesses, hospitalizations and even their lives.”
Osterhoudt noted that CHOP’s emergency department handles approximately 7,000 cases of acute asthma exacerbations per year.
Gertrude DeVose, a Philadelphia resident and lifelong asthma sufferer, was on hand to support the Red Carriage Healthy Air Campaign.
“Knowing my asthma triggers and protecting myself against them is something I can do, but when your trigger is air pollution and it is as big as the sky, that’s when we look to the Legislature to take control and to protect all of us,” said DeVose.
With that in mind, DeVose urged all of Pennsylvania’s congressmen to support the Clean Air Act and not to weaken any of its policies.
The Red Carriage Tour is a part of the American Lung Association’s Healthy Air Campaign. The red carriage serves as the American Lung Association’s symbol in the fight for clean air and the organization will travel with it to cities across Pennsylvania in coming months.
There’s a new head at the helm of Temple University’s Department of Surgery.
Effective July 16, Dr. Selwyn O. Rogers Jr. will begin his new post as Temple University Health System’s surgeon-in-chief, professor and chair of surgery at Temple’s School of Medicine.
Rogers currently serves as associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Trauma and Burn and Surgical Critical Care at Harvard-affiliate Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass.
In his new role, Rogers will lead the surgery department’s efforts in enhancing the patient-care experience, expanding surgical programs and ensuring quality outcomes within a patient-centered environment of care.
He’s also charged with recruiting faculty, developing improved business operations and establishing a research program that distinguishes Temple Surgery’s efforts at a national level.
“I have been called here by forces beyond me,” Rogers says of his move to Temple.
“I don’t think a hospital should be defined by the walls of the building and I am hoping with the help of many we can redefine what a hospital is. A hospital is not a place of sickness, but it should be a beacon of wellness. So one of the things a hospital should engage in is looking beyond the patching of bones and the closing of blood vessels, and addressing social determinants of disease, poverty, homelessness and helplessness,” says Rogers, who is a native of the U.S Virgin Islands.
Rogers succeeds Dr. John M. Daly, who is serving as interim chair of Surgery until Rogers starts his new post.
Rogers views Temple as an institution with a wealth of opportunity.
“There is incredible opportunity here. Being in North Philly is not a disadvantage. It’s a unique opportunity to change the dialogue of how can a hospital aggressively partner with the community that we serve, to not only help improve health but to be a model for what the rest of the country can do,” he says.
Hospitals often have campaigns centered on stopping hospital-acquired infections. With Philadelphia’s high rate of homicides, Rogers wonders why there aren’t campaigns based on saving the lives of young men.
“Why don’t we have a campaign that we don’t want another dead kid?” questions Rogers, who views violence as a health problem.
Rogers represents the appointment of Temple’s first Black chair of surgery. According to the National Medical Association, there are eight other African Americans who chair surgical departments at academic medical centers.
Dr. Donald Parks, assistant dean, Minority Affairs, Temple School of Medicine, regards Rogers’ appointment as a big deal for the institution.
“I’m ecstatic because I think it’s a very big deal for Philadelphia medicine. It’s transformative because it’s going put us on the map,” Parks said, noting that Rogers’ appointment has already generated buzz among the city’s medical community.
As a member of the search committee, Parks interviewed about 10 candidates for the position of chair of surgical department.
He noted that Rogers’ appointment is a part of the overall changes being made at the Temple School of Medicine.
Parks said Temple is located in one of five zip codes identified by the U.S. Census as having the highest rates of diabetes and obesity. With that in mind, Parks says it’s important that Temple provides its patients with superior academic physicians.
“I think that the university is committed to making Temple of the key institutions in the city,” Parks added.
As Temple’s chief of surgery, Rogers will lead a department with eight specialty divisions: abdominal organ transplantation, cardiothoracic surgery, colorectal surgery, general surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, surgical oncology, trauma/surgical care and vascular surgery.
Becoming a physician was not a part of Rogers’ initial career path. While attending Central High School in St. Croix, Rogers aspired to become a biology teacher.
Rogers started out by majoring in biology at Harvard College with the intention of returning to St. Croix to teach. However he ended up switching gears to study medicine.
This led him to pursue a career that allowed him to blend a fascination for surgery with an interest in research.
After completing his undergraduate education at Harvard, Rogers earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1991, after which he completed his general surgery residency, surgical critical-care fellowship, and a research fellowship in surgical oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in public health from Vanderbilt University, while also serving as assistant professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical School and Meharry Medical College.
In 2001, Rogers joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School, and in 2003 he assumed leadership of the Section of Trauma, Burn and Surgical Critical Care Section at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
From 2005 to 2008, he developed and directed the Center for Surgery and Public Health, a joint program of Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health. The center seeks to illuminate issues such as the causes of medical errors, the nature of racial/ethnic disparities in healthcare and the role of surgery to strengthen health systems.
Rogers has published research articles relating to health care disparities, the impact of race/ethnicity on surgical outcomes and quality improvement in surgery. In 2004, Rogers wrote an article that showed the disparity of Blacks dying disproportionately from colon cancer could be eliminated if everyone had equal access to medical care.
Throughout his career, Rogers has encountered patients who were shocked when they met him for the first time, because they weren’t expecting an African-American physician.
“I don’t fit what people expect me to be. I have had more than my share of the quizzical look,” says Rogers, who is the father of three sons.
Rogers plans to focus on diversifying Temple’s Department of Surgery.
“One of the things that I am going to work on is diversifying the department, not because it’s a good thing, but because it will lead to excellence,” says Rogers.
Rogers is the recipient of the Matson Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Dennis Thomson Leadership and Compassionate Care Award from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award from Harvard Medical School.
He is a member of various professional organizations including the American College of Surgeons, the Association for Academic Surgery, the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, the National Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and the Society of University Surgeons. He also serves on the Study Section of the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality.