Museums Train Docents to Deal with Evolution Skeptics

first_imgBeing a museum docent wasn’t supposed to be this hard.  Many have always led peaceful groups of compliant tourists through the halls of science, telling their near-memorized lines without incident: Sixty million years ago, the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteor, but their descendants are still with us today.  Anyone know who those might be?  Yes Johnny?  Birds!  That’s correct. Very good!  Now, according to the New York Times, growing numbers of museum visitors are challenging the evolutionary explanations and asking questions that indicate they’re not buying the story.  This has led to a new “cottage industry,” according to Eugenie Scott of the NCSE, of training guides for guides, teaching them how to deal with such situations.    The training emphasizes non-confrontational yet firm emphasis on the difference between science and faith: to be “polite but firm.”  Docents are warned against challenging visitors’ religious beliefs directly.  Instead, they are told to say things like, “The landscape tells a story based on geological events, based on science,” or “this is a science museum, and we deal with matters of science.”  They are warned against antagonizing Bible-believing Christians who argue that the world is only a few thousand years old; after all, they paid the admission fee and have just as much right to visit the museum as anyone else.  Dr. Scott in her sessions teaches docents not to avoid the word “evolution” or be defensive, but simultaneously not to slam the door in the face of believers.  “Your job is to help them, to explain your point of view, but respect theirs.”  The manuals encourage them to practice with memorized responses.    Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network found one such docent guide online on the front page of the Paleontological Research Institution, entitled “Evolution and Creationism: A Guide for Museum Docents.”  It explains how to respond to a complaints about natural selection or other evolutionary mechanisms:The question of whether evolution occurs is separate and different from the question of how evolution occurs.  The evidence is overwhelming that evolution has occurred – that it is a satisfactory explanation for the observations we make about the history, order, and diversity of life….    Questions or debates about evolutionary mechanism have nothing to do with our confidence in whether evolution occurred.   (Italics in original, bold added.)Later in the document, one of the answers seems more firm than polite.  The question is, Is it true there is lots of evidence against evolution? No.  Essentially all available data and observations from the natural world support the hypothesis of evolution.  No serious biologist or geologist today doubts whether evolution occurred; debate continues, however, among scientists about the mechanisms by which evolution occurred.The response to the question on intelligent design is also instructive.  Doesn’t the complexity/design of nature imply an intelligent designer?Science deals only with material causes of material phenomena.  Nothing we can observe in nature requires a supernatural designer; we therefore defer to material processes to explain what we see in nature.The document denounces the idea that evolution is a religion.  At the bottom, it refers to the National Center for Science Education, indicating that the NCSE probably provided content or advice for the publication.    The guide warns against arguing with convinced creationists, saying “you can’t win.”  The docent can try to deflect the question, agree to disagree, claim ignorance, or state that the museum is not the place to discuss “philosophy, religion or politics” but only “science” or “state-of-the-art scientific knowledge.”  If all else fails, the docent can say, “Please excuse me.  I have to go to the restroom.”    The Times says that the American Museum of Natural History is about to open “the most in-depth exhibition ever” of Darwin and his work.  Already, curators and staff are gearing up to deal with visitors who will challenge the presentations.This is a golden opportunity for informed visitors.  The Darwin Party has published all their Talking Points, and all that is needed is to formulate good follow-up questions aimed at them.  The Talking Points are so vapid and uninformed, this should be easy.  For instance, look at the way they treat this question: How do you know evolution happened a long time ago?By examining fossils and comparing them to organisms alive today.  In the Museum exhibits, for example, a short film about Cornell professor Amy McCune shows how she uses fossil fish to study how evolution happened in what is now the Connecticut River Valley around 200 million years ago.  She collects fossils from different layers and compares them to fish alive today and tries to conclude how evolution may have produced the patterns of similarity and difference she observes.This is a non-answer.  One has to assume evolution and long ages to believe it.  At most, it only demonstrates microevolution, which is not the issue.  The same fossils, layers and comparisons with live fish could be used by a knowledgeable creationist to argue against evolution and long ages and, instead, for a worldwide flood that sent many species into extinction.  The Darwinist answer confirms that evolutionary “science” is merely a storytelling enterprise by ideologues intent on force-fitting fragmentary observations into a preconceived belief system.  The blindness of evolutionists to their own circular reasoning is astounding.  The question was, How do you know evolution happened a long time ago?  The answer was, “Because evolution happened a long time ago.  See these 200-million-year-old fish?”  Surely the Darwinists could do better if better answers were available.    The talking points provide nothing new (see 09/02/2005 commentary).  Most of them revolve around “science” vs “faith.”  The published guide perpetuates the myth that evolution is a fact of science (even if the mechanism is hotly debated), and anything that doubts naturalistic explanations is ipso facto “religious.”  This is a setup for any logical thinker, because it is another circular argument.  Ask, how can a theory without a mechanism be considered scientific?  How can one call evolution, a hypothesis (their own word) with no agreed-on mechanism, a fact without first assuming it is a fact?  How can one declare what is scientific and what is not with mere definitions?  If I discuss only scientific evidence in rebuttal, how can you assume I have a religious motivation without reading my mind?  How can I know you don’t have an equally philosophical motivation to deny design?  Surely you are not insinuating that a Christian is incapable of reasoning from evidence or caring about the truth, or that materialists are more unbiased, are you?  What if the true answer lies outside natural causes – what if it really was designed?  Wouldn’t that prevent naturalism from ever finding the right answer?  Eventually, the discussion must return to the observable evidence.  That is not where the Darwinians want the discussion to go.  When forced, the museum curator may point to all the exhibits of intelligently-designed organisms on the wall, and say, “See?  There is the evidence, right there.  Look at those peppered moths, for instance.”  Now we can get somewhere.    In the film The Triumph of Design, Phillip Johnson looks forward to the day when students will respond to the evidence for peppered moths, finch beaks and the other usual Darwinist propaganda fare, with informed follow-up questions like, “Yes, we know about that.  We know the peppered moth story was a fraud, and that it did not really prove anything about macroevolution.  We know about Darwin’s finches, and that the changes to beak size showed no long-term trend; that does not demonstrate macroevolution, either.  Where is the evidence that macroevolution occurred?”  One can sympathize with a teacher’s sudden urge to go to the restroom.    All this being said, the last thing any reasonable person wants is for a poor, well-meaning docent to end up sobbing in the restroom over an “extremely argumentative or confrontational” visitor.  Want to destroy any chance for progress against Darwinism?  Just be a mean-spirited, dogmatic, unkind, loudmouth disputer trying to make the docent or curator look foolish in front of other people.  For a Christian, who believes in loving one’s neighbor and sharing good news, nothing is uglier, and nothing will backfire faster.  The goal is to encourage discussion, to build bridges to other people – to appeal to their sense of logic and integrity.  Long-shut doors need to be opened so the fresh air and sunshine can come in.  Let the Darwinists be the ones culpable of shutting off discussion.  Let them be the dogmatists.  Let their tactics backfire against the evident congeniality and reasonableness of their opposition.  The firm but gentle pressure of an increasing number of thoughtful, informed visitors will have its healing effect over time.  Many of these docents are volunteers or poorly paid workers just trying to do their job.  (This is true, sometimes for summer hires, or leaders of cave tours who, without any formal training in geology, simply parrot scripts that glibly describe formations as x million years old.)  If such workers are merely repeating what they were told to say, it’s not fair to pin the blame for all of Dogmatic Darwinism on them as individuals.  Yet unwarranted claims should not go unchallenged, either, whether from trained curators or untrained volunteers.  What to do?    One productive approach might be to speak with the docent alone, before the tour.  Let’s call the docent Linda.  Introduce yourself with a friendly greeting (it must be genuine, not forced), and let her know your point of view.  Reassure her that you are not there to argue; instead, say that both of us know that Darwinism is a controversial subject.  Let Linda know you respect scientific evidence.  Explain that many times evidence can be interpreted in more than one way, and that you just want the scientific evidence to be able to speak for itself as much as possible, and for problems or controversies to be acknowledged.  Ask Linda’s permission to present an alternative explanation for the fossil series, rock layers or whatever.  If she agrees, this takes the pressure off her to talk about it (and possibly misrepresent it) in front of the group.  If you are given the chance, be brief and accurate.  Don’t steal the show.  Hopefully you came prepared with knowledge specific to the display.  If she doesn’t want you to speak, at least she will know that an informed visitor is present, and that awareness may temper her dogmatism.    Whatever happens, express kindness, appreciation and diplomacy at all times.  Show respect.  Compliment the things that are good about the museum.  Most people are more influenced by the way you say something than what is actually said.  Be real and transparent.  Don’t speak beyond your knowledge, but don’t settle for pat answers, bluffing or evasion, either.  The normal civil manners – waiting one’s turn, not interrupting, not attacking another’s character or motives – these should all be second nature.  If you can communicate an informed, knowledgeable position in a winsome manner, you may find others in the group – maybe even Linda – crowding around you after the tour wanting to hear more, and thanking you for speaking up.  Another unobtrusive way to influence the museum is to write polite but firm statements on response cards about dogmatic exhibits.  Here’s another: infiltrate the ranks.  Sign up to be a museum docent and ask the hard questions to the trainer in the “dealing with creationists” class.  This could neutralize Dogmatic Darwinism before it affects hundreds of visitors.  If the museum retaliates by forbidding non-Darwinists from joining the museum volunteer docent staff and requiring a statement of faith, call the ACLU.  When they decline, well, you have a story for the local newspaper, and perhaps a case for the ADF.  Readers may wish to write in with their own suggestions and experiences.(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

admin

Tips for Shooting with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

first_imgBlackmagic Design is shipping the new Pocket Cinema Camera. Here are a few tips for getting started with the innovative cam!Blackmagic is tearing up the pro video camera market, with new cams at incredibly low prices.  In the following video tutorial, CheesyCam got their hands on a new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and shares a few things to watch out for.A few tips and takeaways from this Pocket Cinema Camera overview:Get fast SD cards.  Slow cards will result in dropped frames or simply not work.Solid state drives provide a good recording alternative over SD cards.Video output is via micro HDMI.Due to the small profile, you may need to step up the body (with cage or platform) for a lens to clear a mount or tripod.There are no audio meters in-camera.You cannot format cards in-camera.Battery can only be charged in-camera.  You will need to purchase an external charger if you want to charge batteries multiple batteries (or out of camera).Get more details on the CheesyCam site!Have you purchased a Pocket Cinema Camera?Share your advice/thoughts in the comments below!last_img read more

admin

Pacquiao easily makes weight, Horn ‘feeling better’

first_imgManny Pacquiao, center, weighs in, Tuesday, July 1, 2017, in Brisbane, Australia. Pacquiao, is putting his WBO welterweight world title on the line Sunday, July 2, against the 29-year-old Australian Jeff Horn. (AP Photo/John Pye)BRISBANE, Australia—Manny Pacquiao didn’t even bother to remove his socks and inhale when he stepped into the weigh scale on Saturday. He knew he’ll make it in a breeze.When it was Jeff Horn’s turn, however, the Australian challenger approached it with caution and took a deep breath before boarding, not daring to look at what it registered.ADVERTISEMENT Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Other than that, the weigh-in for the “Battle of Brisbane” proceeded smoothly as all 14 boxers, including Filipinos Jerwin Ancajas and Joven Dapidran, made the cutoff weights on their first attempts.READ: Weighing game: Horn still over 7 pounds overweight for battleFact is, Pacquiao had the luxury of having a little breakfast at his suite before proceeding to the venue.“Everything’s well, it’s a good weight,” said Roach as Pacquiao missed his desired weight by half a pound.In contrast, Horn came too close to being over, said Roach, who saw Horn immediately eat a banana and gulp down fruit juice after his weight was announced.ADVERTISEMENT READ: Jeff Horn starving, still overweightHorn had to starve himself, taking only sips of water Thursday and little salad Friday night to shed 7.8 pounds and make weight.“It’s never easy to cut that many kilos, but I’m feeling a lot better now, putting fluids back in,” said Horn in the podium interview.According to trainer Glenn Rushton, he was certain that Horn will be able to hurdle the scales.READ: Pacquiao’s title on the line vs Horn in ‘Battle of Brisbane’ “He has never failed to make weight. Never,” said Rushton, who bared that Horn will slowly rehydrate and will climb the ring Sunday between 71 to 72 kilos (156 to 158) pounds.Rushton said there was no secret reducing formula, it so happened that Horn perspires profusely. So after doing his gym routines on sweat suits and having a hot bath, Horn was ready to go early Saturday.While Horn was having a crash diet on fight week, Pacquiao was having an eating binge. Wolfing down three full meals everyday so as not to appear emaciated during his face-off with Horn.READ: Relaxed and restingAs it turned out, it was Horn who looked haggard and pale, though not exactly physically drained. What ‘missteps’? Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera LATEST STORIES Pacquiao, on the other hand, appeared vibrant and fresh as he threw away the short, T-shirt, jogging pants and jacket he was wearing at the podium.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games View comments Creamline survives Adamson in PVL Open Conference opener Pacquiao checked in under at 146 pounds, while Horn, after an anxious second as the pin swayed back and forth, posted 147, the welterweight limit.READ: Pacquiao, Horn make weight for fight FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsHorn’s supporters, who dominated the crowd of a few hundred crammed at a function room of Suncorp Stadium, shouted “Hornet! Hornet! Hornet!” which is the challenger’s moniker.Not to be outdone, Pacquiao’s entourage countered “Manny! Manny! Manny!” China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games MOST READ Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucenalast_img read more

admin

Hughes introduces bill awarding veterans with university credit

first_img Categories: Hughes News 22Jan Hughes introduces bill awarding veterans with university credit State Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, next week will introduce legislation to award university academic credits to veterans who have completed college-level training in their years of military service.“Michigan’s veterans have provided an irreplaceable service to our state and our country,” said Hughes, vice chair of the Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. “As citizens whose rights are protected by these brave men and women, it is the least we can do to aid their transition back into civilian life.”House Bill 4060 gives veterans the opportunity to use their college-level training gained from military service to apply for academic credits at universities across the state.“Our veterans fought for our freedoms during their service,” she said. “We owe it to them to award these academic credits they so rightly deserve.”Currently, veterans are often required take all classes under a curriculum at colleges and universities, despite possible overlap from their military training. Some colleges and universities already offer credit for military service, but this information is not made readily available to veterans when they enroll.Similar legislation was passed last year giving veterans community college credits for their training, and was designated Public Act 483 of 2014.###Hear more from Rep. Hughes on this legislation:+Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, on university credit for military servicelast_img read more

admin

Video advertising technology specialist YuMe has r

first_imgVideo advertising technology specialist YuMe has received a strategic investment of US$12 million (€9 million) from Samsung’s venture capital arm, Samsung Ventures, and Translink Capital.The company said the funding would be used to aggressively expand its footprint in the connected TV space and fuel its global expansion.YuMe’s system for connected TVs, the Embedded SDK, includes technology that CE manufacturer can use to create a monetisation platform in their devices. The Embedded SDK integrates with YuMe’s flagship technology, ACE for Publishers, and the YuMe Connected Audience Network. ACE for Publishers enables publishers to simplify video ad serving and management functions across connected device channels, according to the company, while the Connected Audience Network is YuMe’s premium in-stream video ad network.last_img read more

admin

Telecom Italia has launched a broadbanddelivered

first_imgTelecom Italia has launched a broadband-delivered subscription video-on-demand service under the Cubovision brand.The service officially launched yesterday and the Italian telco has inked content deals with providers including CBS Studios, which will make a range of programming available via a branded on-demand channel on the service.The programming deal with CBS, which was concluded on a non-exclusive basis, gives streaming service Cubovision a range of US TV series including NCIS, Dexter and 90210. Classic CBS-distributed series including Twin Peaks and Star Trek: Enterprise will also be available on the service.
“With its launch in Italy, Cubovision is focused on adding significant quality to the entertainment choices available to Italian consumers, while providing a valuable new channel, increased consumer reach, adding “value creation” to the entire offer of TV programming from Telecom Italia” said Paolo d’Andrea, head of Innovative VAS, Telecom Italia.last_img read more

admin

Ukrainian cable operator Volia has upgraded its ne

first_imgUkrainian cable operator Volia has upgraded its networks in Zaporizhia in eastern Ukraine, Kirovohrad in central Ukraine and Chernivtsi in the western part of the country, enabling it to offer DOCSIS 3.0-based high-speed internet services in the three cities. Customers in Zaporizhia, Kirovohrad and Chernivtsi will be able to subscribe to 60Mbps and 100Mbps packages as well as a new package of internet bundled with TV services.The company said it would offer free replacement modems to all customer that subscribed to internet packages of 30Mbps or above.last_img

admin

Could we prevent Alzheimers disease by treating herpes

first_imgHow does this work? Itzhaki and her colleagues already demonstrated that HSV1 infection led to the characteristic neuronal plaques and neurofibrillary tangles of Alzheimer’s disease, which supports the epidemiological findings.This was proven by the presence of viral DNA within amyloid plaques in brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease at postmortem.In addition, in cell cultures infected with HSV1, both amyloid plaques and tau tangles accumulate, but this can be inhibited by the use of antivirals.Preventing Alzheimer’s diseaseDr. Itzhaki stresses that the Taiwanese data apply only to severe infections with HSV1 or VZV, which are atypical.To strengthen their findings, detailed epidemiological data on dementia would need to be drawn from people with mild HSV1 infection (both cold sores and genital herpes). This data is difficult to find, however, with barely any records.The focus of future research will be to verify the observation that HSV1 infection is causally related to Alzheimer’s disease and to define the nature of this link.However, Itzhaki is already looking forward to the exciting prospect of being able to treat this widespread and often disabling condition with antiviral drugs directed against HSV1.Taking inspiration from the global use of human papillomavirus (HPV) immunization to protect against cervical cancer, the research team is hopeful that uncovering this virus-disease link will lead to the effective treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, by a vaccine against HSV1, for instance. Source:This news story is based on a press release by the journal, Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience, and the review itself, entitled “Corroboration of a Major Role for Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 in Alzheimer’s Disease” which was published today. By Dr. Liji Thomas, MDOct 19 2018Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)An exciting new review paper by Professor Ruth Frances Itzhaki suggests that over half of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease could be traced back to Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1) ; the virus responsible for cold sores and genital herpes.Image Credit: Lightspring / ShutterstockImportantly, the research suggests that the use of antivirals to treat severe herpes virus infection could reduce the risk of senile dementia.The review, which traces Dr. Itzhaki’s lifetime of work on the causation of Alzheimer’s disease, was recently published in the journal, Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience.If confirmed, this groundbreaking work points to an inexpensive and effective means of preventing Alzheimer’s disease, which is one of the most costly medical conditions in the world.HSV1 underlies Alzheimer’s diseaseHerpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) is notorious for its tendency to remain dormant in a patient’s neurons and immune system.The infection is reactivated under conditions of weakened immunity or stress. This results in the reappearance of cold sores. Most older adults show the presence of antibodies against HSV1.In older studies, Itzhaki had shown that cold sores are more common in patients who carry the gene variant APOE-ε4, which is also associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.She theorizes that Apolipoprotein E-ε4 (ApoE-ε4), which has been strongly linked to Alzheimer’s disease, predisposes the patient to more frequent or damaging reactivations of HSV1 in the neurons of the brain. This causes harmful changes within the neurons to accumulate, resulting in Alzheimer’s disease.Proving the linkIn most countries there simply isn’t enough population data to put the HSV1 theory to the test, since information on the reduction of dementia risk in individuals treated with antivirals, for instance, is not typically collected.Taiwanese scientists have succeeded in accumulating this type of data, however.The National Health Insurance Research Database has over 99.9% of the population on its rolls, and data mining of this vast repository is underway in multiple areas to explore contagious diseases and other conditions.As a result, 2017-18 witnessed the publication of three separate reports on the Taiwanese data relating to the occurrence of senile dementia, caused mainly by Alzheimer’s disease, as well as on the treatment of patients who have frank HSV or VZV (varicella-zoster virus, chickenpox virus) infection. Considering that over 150 publications strongly support an HSV1 role in Alzheimer’s, these Taiwan fndings greatly justify usage of antiherpes antivirals – which are safe and well-tolerated – to treat Alzheimer’s disease. They also incentivize development of an HSV1 vaccine, which would likely be the most effective treatment.” The striking results include evidence that the risk of senile dementia is much greater in those who are infected with HSV, and that anti-herpes antiviral treatment causes a dramatic decrease in the number of those subjects severely affected by HSV1 who later develop dementia.”last_img read more

admin

Common medications to treat heartburn linked to increased risks for kidney failure

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 19 2019Common medications prescribed to treat heartburn, acid reflux and ulcers are linked to increased risks for kidney failure and chronic kidney disease, found a recent University at Buffalo study.Use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI), a group of drugs that reduce the production of stomach acid, increases the risk of chronic kidney disease by 20 percent and raises the risk of kidney failure by four times. Risks were highest among people at least 65 years old.The research, published in February in Pharmacotherapy, is one of the first large, long-term studies to examine the effects of PPIs on kidney function. Researchers examined the health data of more than 190,000 patients over a 15-year period.Related StoriesChronic kidney disease patients are excluded from clinical trialsSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchArtificial intelligence can help accurately predict acute kidney injury in burn patients”This study adds to a growing list of concerning side effects and adverse outcomes associated with PPIs,” says David Jacobs, PharmD, PhD, lead investigator and assistant professor of pharmacy practice in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.”Given the increasing global use of PPIs, the relationship between PPIs and renal disease could pose a substantial disease and financial burden to the health care system and public health.”PPIs are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the U.S., with an estimated 113 million prescriptions filled in 2008, costing patients nearly $14 billion, says Jacobs.Due to acid reflux and related conditions only requiring short-term treatment with PPIs, he adds, up to 70 percent of patients overuse these medications without benefit and are subjected to unnecessary adverse effects.The prevalence of PPI use in the U.S. could have a devastating effect on public health. Because these drugs are still considered safe, education and deprescribing initiatives are needed to raise awareness among health care providers, says Jacobs. Deprescribing may involve reducing dosage or stopping usage.Data for the investigation was gathered from medical insurance and prescription claims from a Western New York insurer. Researchers examined medical history from 1993-2008 of adult patients with no history of kidney disease.Kidney health was compared between patients who underwent PPI therapy and those who were unexposed. Examined PPIs included esomeprazole, lansoprazole, omeprazole, pantoprazole and rabeprazole (commonly known by brand names as Vimovo, Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix and Aciphex, respectively). Source:buffalo.edu/news/releases/2019/03/0220.htmllast_img read more

admin

Savings from lower insurance costs of growth hormone drugs not passed on

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 25 2019Increasingly aggressive insurance strategies have lowered the total costs and insurance costs of growth hormone drugs, but those savings are not being passed on to patients, according to new research to be presented Sunday at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans, La.In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved growth hormone treatment for idiopathic short stature (children who are short for no known cause). This expanded potential eligibility for treatment to the shortest 1.2 percent of the U.S. population, at a potential estimated national cost of $40 billion.”However, in subsequent years, health insurance companies imposed greater barriers to reimbursement for growth hormone treatment,” said lead researcher Adda Grimberg, M.D., of the Perelman School of Medicine and Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Penn. Insurers have instituted formularies–lists of drugs that are covered by the insurance plan–that exclude all but a few brands of growth hormone drugs, and change these lists frequently based on prices negotiated with manufacturers, forcing patients to switch brands during their course of treatment. Insurers have also adopted more stringent criteria for coverage, and many no longer cover growth hormone treatment for idiopathic short stature.Grimberg and her co-author Genevieve P. Kanter, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, examined how use of growth hormone by U.S. youth changed over time. Using a database of 18 million individuals enrolled in commercial health plans, they examined changes in use and expenditures between 2001 and 2016. They focused on the 38,857 beneficiaries up to age 18 treated with growth hormone who had six or more months of insurance coverage in any year between 2001 and 2016.The number of members with growth hormone prescriptions per 10,000 beneficiaries under age 18 rose steadily from 5.1 in 2001 to 14.6 in 2016, without a dramatic change around 2003, the year the FDA approved coverage for idiopathic short stature. Progressive restrictions on growth hormone coverage imposed by insurers and stricter formulary rules appear to have succeeded in lowering the total cost and insurer cost of treatment. However, those savings were not passed on to patients, who also were forced to switch drug brands as insurance companies changed their formularies.Related StoriesStudy finds increased financial burden for growth hormone treatment despite FDA approvalAdipose hormone levels may be independent risk factor for obesity-related asthmaCould hormone therapy for prostate cancer increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease?While total growth hormone expenditures per patient decreased by 27 percent and the estimated insurance-paid amount decreased by 28 percent, average copayments, deductibles and total patient financial burden increased by 161 percent. Between 2001 and 2007, beneficiaries switching growth hormone brands at least once in the year ranged from 1.4 percent to 3.6 percent. After 2007, the range rose to 5.1 percent to 8.8 percent, with 25.6 percent switching in 2009 and 13.9 percent switching in 2015.”These patterns are consistent with broader U.S. trends of increased patient cost-sharing and aggressive use of formularies and coverage restrictions to limit insurer costs from high specialty drug prices,” Grimberg said. “The rising patient costs of insulin have emerged as an important health care concern in recent days, prompting Congressional hearings and legislative review. Our research shows that growth hormone, another endocrine medication like insulin, is costing patients more, even as costs to insurers have declined.”Grimberg noted that the patient burden of growth hormone brand switches and insurance denials/appeals is a source of great distress for patient families seeking evaluation and treatment of short stature. “Because the different growth hormone brands are delivered in different pen devices, insurance-mandated brand switches during the years a patient is treated with growth hormone require retraining on proper administration, so the process is more complicated than simply switching from one pill to another,” she said.Source: https://www.endocrine.org/last_img read more

admin