Health Highlights: July 12, 2012

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Drug Dispensing by Doctors Boosts Costs

Drugs dispensed by doctors cost much more than those sold by pharmacies, a practice that adds hundreds of millions of dollars a year to drug costs paid by American taxpayers, insurance companies and employers.

For example, one pill of the heartburn drug Zantac costs about 35 cents when sold by a pharmacy, but can cost nearly 10 times as much ($3.25) when dispensed by a doctor. Pharmacies sell the muscle relaxant Soma for 60 cents a pill, compared with $3.33 when it is sold by a doctor, The New York Times reported.

Doctors are most likely to dispense drugs in their office when treating injured workers. The bills are sent to insurers. Doctors can make tens of thousands of dollars a year operating their own in-office pharmacies.

The high costs have led some states, such as California and Oklahoma, to clamp down on the practice, and battles over it are being fought in states such as Florida, Hawaii and Maryland, The Times reported.

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Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Receiving Treatment for Mood Disorder

In response to mounting pressure for more details about his monthlong absence, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s office released a statement from his doctor Wednesday saying that Jackson was undergoing "intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder."

However, citing federal privacy laws, the statement did not reveal any details about the 47-year-old Chicago Democrat's whereabouts or the name of the doctor, the Associated Press reported.

The statement also denied claims that Jackson was being treated for alcohol or substance abuse.

The term "mood disorder" typically refers to depression or bipolar disorder, according to several experts interviewed Wednesday by the AP.

Depression is generally treated on an outpatient basis, but inpatient treatment could be recommended if the condition was severe enough or if doctors were concerned about the safety of the patient, said Ian Gotblib, a professor of psychology at Stanford University.

"The good news is that it's clearly treatable," Gotlib told the AP. He noted that inpatient treatment would likely include counseling and prescription drugs and that it could take weeks.

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Billions Pledged for Family Planning in Developing Countries

Pledges made at an international summit Wednesday will direct more than $2.6 billion toward family planning in developing nations.

The goal of the summit in London was to secure new funding promises to provide an additional 120 million women and girls worldwide with access to birth control by 2020, Agence France-Presse reported.

The money was pledged by rich nations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The summit included more than 150 representatives from donor and developing countries, international agencies and the private sector.

"Enabling an additional 120 million women in the world's poorest countries to access and use contraception, something women in the developed world take for granted, will save millions of lives and enable girls and women to determine their own futures," said British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, AFP reported.

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Posted: July 2012


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