Trending News Today: High Cost of Leukemia Drugs Can Delay Early Treatment

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A controversial technique referred to as doll therapy, which involves caring for dolls, is beginning to be used by some nursing homes and other senior facilities to help ease anxiety among patients with dementia. According to Kaiser Health News, senior care providers and experts state that the dolls are an alternative to medication and help bring in elderly individuals who are unable to participate in many activities, which causes them to become unhappy, depressed, or agitated. Caregivers have emphasized that they are not trying to make these patients believe the dolls are real infants, nor do they want to infantilize the seniors. Instead they are just trying to meet them where they are, and communicate with them in a way that makes sense to them, reported Kaiser. Although there is limited studies on doll therapy, some research has suggested that it can diminish anxiety, improve communication, and reduce the need for medications.

Findings from a new study suggest that patient care may vary depending on a physician’s political views, or at least when it comes to hot-button health issues, reported The New York Times. For the study, Yale researchers examined voter registration records, and linked more than 20,000 primary care physicians to their part affiliations. More than 200 of those physicians were then queried on how they react to different scenarios regarding health issues. The results of the study showed that political affiliations did not affect matters such as depression and alcohol abuse, and that physicians on both sides would react about the same to patients with those and similar health issues. However, Republican and Democratic physicians were found to differ significantly on more politicized matters, such as abortion, marijuana, and guns. “We don’t leave things at the door,” study co-author Matthew Goldenberg said in the report. “Both patients and practitioners should be aware that there are these biases.”

The initial high cost of lifesaving leukemia drugs under Medicare may be causing older cancer patients to delay the use of these drugs for months after their diagnosis, reported The Washington Post. A variety of cancer drugs, such as Gleevec, allow patients with rare chronic myeloid leukemia to live near-normal lifespans. Despite this, a new study found a startlingly low uptake of these treatments in the first 6 months after diagnosis. Researchers found that of nearly 400 Medicare patients diagnosed with the disease between 2007 and 2011, nearly one-third never started on the drug regimen. Furthermore, researchers found that among patients who did start the drug therapy within 6 months of diagnosis, those who received subsidies to defray the cost were much quicker to adopt the drug, compared with those who did not have financial help. Those who received subsidies started treatment at a median of 58 days after diagnosis, compared with 108 days for individuals without subsidies, according to the Post. Study authors noted that the findings add to the increasing evidence that the patient portion of cost is an important factor whether patients take a drug or not.