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Harvard Reviews of Health News


Harvard News ReviewsA team of Harvard physicians reviews health news headlines 24/7/365, and creates commentary and provides advice on how a consumer should react to the news. For urgent breaking health news, articles are written within 6-18 hours of the news story’s first appearance. If desired, they can be delivered immediately upon completion. Over 200 new articles are written annually.

Survey: Many Skip Drugs Because of Cost

About 8% of Americans don't take their medicines as prescribed because they can't afford them, a new survey finds. Many also use other tactics to save on drugs, the survey found. About 15% have asked their doctors for a lower-cost alternative. Another 2% have bought prescription drugs from another country. The National Center for Health Statistics did the study. It was based on the 2013 National Health Interview. People under age 65 were almost twice as likely as older adults to skip their medicines for financial reasons (8.5% vs. 4.4%). More than 5% of those under 65 and less than 3% of older adults skipped doses or took less medicine to save money. About 7% of younger and 3% of older adults delayed filling prescriptions. Insurance coverage affected decisions. About 6% of adults under 65 who had private insurance skipped medicines to save money.

Study: Effect Stronger for 'Expensive' Placebo

A small new study of people with Parkinson's disease underscores the power of what's known as the "placebo effect." And it suggests that price matters. People who think they got an expensive drug may feel better than those who think they got a cheaper one – even if both drugs are fakes (placebos). The study included 12 people with moderate to severe Parkinson's disease. People were given an injectable "drug" (really saline), then another "drug" 4 hours later. They were given in random order. Before each one, people were told that it was an expensive drug ($1,500 per dose) or a cheaper one ($100 per dose). Before each dose, researchers did MRI brain scans and tests of people's movement abilities. People showed improvement in movement symptoms, such as tremor and stiffness, after both doses. On average, they had more improvement after the "expensive" drug than after the "cheap" one.

Study: High Cholesterol in Middle Age Risky

Having high cholesterol for a long time, even in your 30s and 40s, can increase your risk of heart disease later, a new study finds. Researchers used information from a long-term study. The new study focused on 1,478 adults who had not developed heart or blood vessel disease by age 55. Researchers looked at their past cholesterol test results. They divided people into groups based on how long they were exposed to high cholesterol in middle age. They defined high cholesterol as an LDL ("bad cholesterol") blood level of 130 milligrams per deciliter (mgdL) or more. This is a strict definition. The National Institutes of Health lists 130 as the low end of "borderline high" cholesterol. Researchers kept track of people for an average of 15 years after age 55. In that time, 16.5% of those who had been exposed to high LDL for 11 to 20 years had a heart attack or other heart problems.

Harvard Reviews of Health News

About 8% of Americans don't take their medicines as prescribed because they can't afford them, a new survey finds. Many also use other tactics to save on drugs, the survey found. About 15% have asked their doctors for a lower-cost alternative. Another 2% have...

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