Trending News Today: Restricted Access to Hepatitis C Drugs in Prison Still a Problem

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Despite the agreement among health care providers and insurers that high-risk women should be referred for genetic testing if they have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, there is a difference of opinion whether women should be advised by a counselor before having the test. According to Kaiser Health News, insurers are starting to require that individuals see a genetic counselor, or other professionals trained in cancer genetics, before testing is approved. Obstetrician-gynecologists say, however, that counseling patients about hereditary cancers of the breasts, ovaries, uterus, and other reproductive organs, is part of their regular routine and, as licensed physicians, they are considered competent to provide this type of care. Health care providers indicated they do believe genetic counselors play an important role, but only after the testing has been performed, so they can help patients who test positive for a genetic mutation to understand the results.

The struggle of providing high cost hepatitis C virus (HCV) mediations to convicts is still an issue, reported The Wall Street Journal. HCV is one of the country’s biggest killers, while new and effective drugs for this disease on the market could help by preventing the virus from spreading outside prison walls. However, the medicines are so costly, and the problem is so widespread, that to treat all inmates suffering from HCV would blow most prison budgets. The prices for new drugs range from $54,000 to $94,000 for a 12-week treatment, the Journal reported.

Newly released historical documents revealed that in the 1960s, the sugar industry paid scientists to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease by shifting the blame to saturated fats. These internal sugar industry documents, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that 5 decades of research on the role of nutrition and heart disease may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, according to The New York Times. A trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, today known as the Sugar Association, allegedly paid 3 Harvard scientists the equivalent of $50,000 in modern day dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on fat, sugar, and heart disease. The studies used in the review were chosen by the sugar group themselves, and the work that was published ended up minimizing the link between sugar and heart health. Although the newly released information dates back almost 50 years, more recent reports have shown that the food industry continues to influence nutrition science, reported the Times.