From the Salmonella saintpaul outbreak which sickened more than 1,400
people in the U.S. to autism and vaccines as well as
bisphenol A in baby bottles, 2008 certainly
generated its share of medical scare stories. We have likely not heard the end
of these stories, but experts from different fields of medicine are now sharing
their predictions about what we will be seeing more -- or less of -- in
By and large, the common thread tying together all the specialties in 2009
is the growth of personalized medicine -- a relatively new field in which
doctors match therapies to prospective patients based on their genetic make-up.
This way they can tell in advance which cancer, arthritis, or heart disease patients will
respond to which therapies, eliminating trial and error. Pretty cool stuff.
The next time your doctor writes you a prescription, consider this: The
medication may not be approved for your specific condition or age group.
But you probably shouldn't call the medical board. The practice, called
"off-label" prescribing, is entirely legal and very common. More than one
in five outpatient prescriptions written in the U.S. are for off-label
"Off-label" means the medication is being used in a manner not specified in
the FDA's approved packaging label, or insert...
But that's not all; 2009 will likely bring the first new drug for gout in over 40 years, a smart
insulin pump with a mind of
its own, and the beginning of an overhaul of the failing health care
Here's what the experts are saying about health predictions for 2009.
Health Care Reform: All Eyes on Obama
Health care reform will take center stage in 2009, says health care
economist Karen Davis, PhD, president of The Commonwealth Fund, a private
foundation in New York City. "For eight years, there has been a steady
increase in the numbers of uninsured -- and the numbers of underinsured have
jumped," she says.
"I definitely think President-elect Obama will seize this opportunity to
mend our broken health care system. It is a top priority for him," she
tells WebMD. "He will move health reform forward. The question is whether
he will do it all at once or in pieces."
For starters, Davis predicts Obama will increase federal support for
Medicaid, a government program that helps people with low incomes pay for
medical care, and extend the time that people without jobs can hold on to COBRA
(Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986). COBRA currently
allows people to keep the health insurance they had through their former
employer for up to 18 months.
"It's possible the reauthorization or renewal of the State Children's
Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) could also be part of .... Obama's economic
stimulus package," Davis predicts. "Stimulating the economy by
investing in children's health is good for the productivity of work
Dieting: Goodbye Fad Diets, Hello 'Positive Eating' in 2009?
"The desire for fast, easy weight loss will always be a
lure [but] with all the economy changes there is a growing trend to value --
and that value in the food arena is the aspect of how to get more from my food
choices," says Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, LD, FADA, the director of
university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and a past president
of the American Dietetic Association.