Tag Archives: allergies

Watchdog: Seller of EpiPen heavily lobbied Wisconsin GOP

Citizen Action of Wisconsin says Mylan, the seller of EpiPen, “contributed thousands of dollars to GOP state legislators in Wisconsin and spent tens of thousands on lobbying to influence the Legislature to help it increase its market in Wisconsin. The legislation is helping Mylan build the monopoly it needs to overcharge for the medication.”

Since 2014, Mylan’s corporate PAC made thousands of dollars in contributions in Wisconsin exclusively to Republican state legislators, focusing on those who serve on the Senate Health Committee, according to CAW based on data compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Mylan also spent $42,000 between 2013 and 2014 and $24,500 between 2015 and 2016 lobbying in Wisconsin on issues “… affecting the manufacture, distribution, or sale of prescription drugs and medical devices,” as well as on what became 2013 Wisconsin Act 239 and 2015 Wisconsin Act 35 and broadly on “anything relating to generic pharmaceuticals.”

These two measures expanded the scope of users of EpiPens to “recreational and educational camp, college, university, day care facility, youth sports league, amusement park, restaurant, place of employment, and sports arena,” as well as “public, private, or tribal schools.”

Together this expansion is projected to cost the state $77,500 per year for the state to administer.

CAW said “in return for its political donations and lobbying, Mylan has successfully induced state legislators into participating in its marketing scheme to wring windfall profits out of Wisconsin families seeking protection from severe allergic reactions.

The group cited a Wisconsin Public Radio radio report and said Mylan has used state legislation to expand the EpiPen market “in order to position itself to reap a cash windfall from raising prices. With no justification other than profit, Mylan has increased the price of EpiPens by 5 fold since 2007, to the current price of $633 for a two-pack.”

“It is hard to imagine much worse than a family priced out of a medication that could save their child’s life because of the greed of a drug corporation,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of CAW. “Mylan is engaging in grossly unethical business practices with the assistance of state legislators. Under current Wisconsin law, drug corporations like Mylon have the unlimited ability to charge unjustified prices for life-saving medication.

“What Mylan is doing is like selling food or water at a grossly inflated price during a natural disaster. Wisconsin families are trying to pay the inflated price because of the potential life-saving value of the drug.”

CAW said lawmakers should stop promoting the expansion of the EpiPen market and take up state Rep. Debra Kolste’s legislation on prescription drug transparency, which would force Mylan to justify the price of its medications.

1 in 3 live in ‘sneeziest and wheeziest’ cities | Milwaukee at No. 14

One-in-three Americans lives in the “sneeziest and wheeziest” cities and regions where they are exposed to both ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution that can worsen respiratory allergies and asthma, according to a new Natural Resources Defense Council report.

NRDC said some 109 million Americans are more likely to suffer itchy eyes, runny noses and sneezing, and may find it hard to breathe. And they become more ill than those exposed to only ragweed or ozone pollution.

The study, “Sneezing and Wheezing: How Climate Change Could Increase Ragweed Allergies, Air Pollution and Asthma,” is among the first to map the intersection of ragweed prevalence and high ozone smog, which can magnify respiratory allergies and asthma.

It carries a dire warning for policymakers and the nation’s leaders: As climate change warms our planet, millions more Americans could become ill with potentially severe respiratory allergies and asthma.

That underscores the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize standards to strengthen the health standard for ozone pollution and to slash carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants, which helps create ground-level ozone and fuels climate change. The pollutants that form health-harming ozone smog are emitted from the same fossil fuel burning that produces heat-trapping carbon pollution.

“Americans deserve to breathe clean air, but today millions of us are sneezing and wheezing from allergies and asthma worsened by climate change-fueled ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution,” said Juan Declet-Barreto, the report’s primary author. “This double-whammy health threat will only intensify, and affect more people, if we don’t take steps to reduce climate change now. For our health and future, the EPA should strengthen the health standard for ozone pollution and set strong limits on power plant carbon pollution.”

“As a pediatrician, I care for the group most vulnerable to the health consequences of climate change-our children, said Dr. Samantha Ahdoot of Alexandria, Virginia. “Children today are already experiencing worsening respiratory and allergic disease due to impacts on air quality and plant pollen production. These impacts are expected to increase as carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperature continue to rise. That’s why we need to take action now to curb harmful pollution so we can have healthier air — reducing allergies and asthma, and ultimately saving lives.”

NRDC’s report finds that 35 major cities where people are exposed to both ragweed pollen and ozone smog. The most vulnerable regions are the Los Angeles Basin, the St. Louis area, the Great Lakes Region, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.

Allergies and asthma symptoms associated with ragweed pollen and ozone smog, scientific studies project, are expected to rise if carbon dioxide concentrations keep rising and climate change is unchecked.

With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the instrumental record (dating to 1880) have all occurred since 2000, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The scientific consensus is that climate change, caused by carbon pollution, is pushing temperatures upward.

This is a health problem because warmer temperatures enhance the reactions that form ozone pollution. Ozone exposures irritate the lungs and can lead to lung inflammation, diminished lung function and worsen asthma symptoms.

With more carbon pollution in the air, ragweed produces more pollen in late summer and fall. In addition, other pollen-producing plants such as birch, oak and pine trees tend to produce pollen earlier in spring and for a longer time, studies show.

An estimated 50 million Americans today have some type of nasal allergy, the NRDC report notes.

NRDC’s report identifies the following cities now faced with both ragweed pollen and ozone pollution, and the associated threats to respiratory health:

1. Richmond, VA

2. Memphis, TN

3. Oklahoma City, OK

4. Philadelphia, PA

5. Chattanooga, TN

6. Chicago, IL

7. Detroit, MI

8. New Haven, CT

9. Allentown, PA

10. Atlanta, GA

11. Pittsburgh, PA

12. Louisville, KY

13. Springfield, MA

14. Milwaukee, WI

15. Dayton, OH

16. Cleveland, OH

17. Toledo, OH

18. Little Rock, AR

19. Bridgeport, CT

20. Akron, OH.

The NRDC recommended the following actions:

> Strengthen the carbon pollution standards.

> Strengthen the unprotective ozone health standard.

> Develop better pollen data collection.

> Add more ozone monitors.

> Provide more information to the public.

Obama:Climate change harms Americans’ health

Global warming isn’t just affecting the weather, it’s harming Americans’ health, President Barack Obama said this week as he announced steps government and businesses will take to better understand and deal with the problem.

Obama said hazards of the changing climate include wildfires sending more pollution into the air, allergy seasons growing longer and rising cases of insect-borne diseases.

“We’ve got to do better in protecting our vulnerable families,” Obama said, adding that, ultimately, all families are affected.

“You can’t cordon yourself off from air,” Obama said. Speaking at Howard University Medical School, he announced commitments from Google, Microsoft and others to help the nation’s health system prepare for a warmer, more erratic climate.

Warning of the perils to the planet has gotten the president only so far; polls consistently show the public is skeptical that the steps Obama has taken to curb pollution are worth the cost to the economy. So Obama is aiming to put a spotlight on ways that climate change will have real impacts on the body, like more asthma attacks, allergic reactions, heat-related deaths and injuries from extreme weather.

Obama said spending on health – such as preventing asthma – can save more money than it costs, as well as alleviate pain and suffering.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy noted that people suffering from an increase in asthma-attack triggers lose time at work and school. Murthy, a doctor, said the problem was especially personal for him because he’s seen so many patients struggle to breathe and his own uncle died of a severe asthma attack.

Microsoft’s research arm will develop a prototype for drones that can collect large quantities of mosquitoes, then digitally analyze their genes and pathogens. The goal is to create a system that could provide early warnings about infectious diseases that could break out if climate change worsens.

Google has promised to donate 10 million hours of advanced computing time on new tools, including risk maps and early warnings for things like wildfires and oil flares using the Google Earth Engine platform, the White House said. Google’s camera cars that gather photos for its “Street View” function will start measuring methane emissions and natural gas leaks in some cities this year.

The Obama administration also announced a series of modest steps it will take to boost preparedness, such as expanding access to data to predict and minimize the health effects from climate change.

Obama’s effort to link climate change to health comes as he works to build support for steps he’s taken to curb U.S. emissions, including strict limits on vehicles and power plants. The president is relying on those emissions cuts to make up the U.S. contribution to a global climate treaty that he and other world leaders expect to finalize in December.

Summertime woes worsen with climate change

he Natural Resources Defense Council says climate change will worsen some of the common woes of summertime.

With climate change comes more intensive heat waves and bad air alert days, more insects and poison ivy, more sneezing and wheezing, more foodborne illness and ruined visits to national parks.

“Across America, climate change already is super-charging summer, and with hotter days we’re seeing more risks to our health and happiness,” said Peter Altman, director of NRDC’s Climate Campaign. “We can ease these warm-day woes today, but it would be wrong to doom tomorrow’s families and children to even more heat waves, code red air alerts, disease-carrying ticks, poison ivy rashes, stomach illnesses and degraded national landmarks. That’s not a future they deserve. And that’s why we need to rein in the biggest source of climate pollution, the unrestricted carbon pollution from power plants.”

Heat waves: Temperatures in cities already are higher due to the urban heat island, and rising global temperatures from heat-trapping carbon pollution will make heat waves longer, hotter and more frequent. Eight of the nine warmest years since record-keeping began in 1880 have occurred since 2000. May 2014 was the hottest May ever. And temperatures could be hotter by 4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

Today, heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States. During heat waves, deaths and illness can occur from conditions caused by direct heat exposure (like heat stroke), but extreme heat can also increase hospital admissions or deaths among people with existing health conditions such as cardiovascular, respiratory, or cerebrovascular diseases. Hot nighttime temperatures are especially dangerous to those vulnerable to heat stress.

What should you do?

• Never leave children or pets in unattended parked vehicles on hot days.

• Slow down. Reduce, reschedule or eliminate strenuous activities until the coolest part of the day.

• People with health problems should stay in the coolest place, which may not be indoors. Use shade outdoors, and drink plenty of water.

• Don’t get too much sun; sunburn lowers your body’s ability to dissipate heat.

Bad air alert days: With climate change, days will be hotter and that will amp up ground-level ozone smog pollution and increase the number of “bad air days.” These days, marked by local code red or code orange alerts warning people to curtail outdoor activities are based on daily air monitoring data gathered in the EPA’s Air Quality Index.

Bad air days put many of us at risk for irritated eyes, noses and lungs — but air pollution is particularly dangerous for people with respiratory diseases like asthma. Already about 27 million Americans suffer from asthma, according to the American Lung Association. As the climate changes, unhealthy air pollution will get worse. Here’s how: Ozone smog forms when pollutants from vehicles, factories and other sources react with sunlight and heat. Increasing temperatures speed this process up, resulting in more smog. Added to the mix are ragweed and other allergens in the air—which are expected to worsen as climate change leads to more pollen production. Also, as dry areas get drier, wildfire risks go up and smoke from burning landscapes will further decrease air quality.

And so, those with asthma, allergies and other respiratory diseases will have a harder time in our hotter future.

What should you do?

• On high-smog days, take breaks and do less intense activities.

• Asthma sufferers should follow their asthma action plans and keep their quick relief medicine handy.

• Use the Air Quality Index to learn about local ozone smog conditions, and take precautions on bad air days.

Ticks and mosquitoes: Tick and mosquito bites are not only a nuisance of summertime, they transmit serious diseases. Unfortunately, climate change may create more favorable conditions for the spread of disease-carrying insects.

Warming temperatures and a changing climate are particularly likely to turn some U.S. regions into new suitable habitat for Lyme-carrying ticks. And the EPA just added Lyme disease as a new indicator of climate change.

Mosquito species that can transmit dengue fever typically live in tropical regions, but two species of mosquitoes that are capable of spreading dengue are now found in 28 states.

Scientists have projected that higher temperatures and lower precipitation leads to a higher probability of West Nile virus infections. One study estimates that by 2050, approximately 68 percent of California will face increased risk from West Nile virus due to climate change. West Nile is also projected to spread northward into other previously unaffected areas. A harbinger: in 2012, Maine recorded its first human case of West Nile Virus.

What should you do?

• After spending time outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas, check for ticks and remove them with tweezers. If a tick is attached for less than 24 hours, the chance of getting Lyme disease is lessened.

• To avoid insect bites, tuck in your shirt and wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when spending time outside.

• Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, buckets, plastic covers and other potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Empty and change water in bird baths, rain barrels and wading pools.

Poison ivy: Today, about 350,000 cases of poison ivy-induced contact dermatitis are reported each year. This will get worse with climate change because poison ivy grows faster and is more toxic as carbon dioxide pollution increases.

Even now, the plant can be found in forests, roadsides and even backyards in every state except California (although poison oak grows there with similar health impacts), Hawaii and Alaska.

What should you do?

• Wear long pants, long sleeves, boots, and gloves when working outside. If clothing is exposed, wash separately with hot water and detergent

• Do not burn poison ivy, as the smoke can cause severe allergic respiratory problems.

• If you come in contact, immediately and repeatedly rinse skin with dishwashing soap or detergent and water. Oatmeal baths and hydrocortisone cream can reduce itching.

Sneezing and wheezing: Climate change may already be making life miserable for the 30 to 40 million seasonal allergy sufferers nationwide, according to a number of scientific studies conducted over the past several years. Rising carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures are driving the growth of the very plants that make us sneeze and wheeze.

A 2011 study confirmed that ragweed, a major culprit in seasonal allergies, now sheds pollen up to a month longer than it did in 1995 in some parts of North America. In late summer, higher temperatures can worsen ozone smog at the same time ragweed plants produce their allergenic pollen, creating a “double-whammy” for respiratory health.

What should you do?

• Check daily pollen reports and ozone air quality conditions online, particularly on sunny, still, hot days.

• On days when pollen counts or ozone levels are high, minimize outdoor activities and keep windows closed when possible.

• Shower and wash bedding and outdoor clothing to remove pollen that settles on pillows and sheets and vacuum regularly. After outdoor work or play, use a damp cloth to remove pollen from hair and skin—or shower.

Foodborne illness: Salmonella and Campylobacter are two of the most common forms of bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Scientists have shown that hotter summer temperatures are closely associated with the number of Salmonella and Campylobacter infections. These and other diarrheal diseases are more common when temperatures are higher. Climate change also is expected to increase harmful algal blooms in some areas, which may lead to increases in illnesses from seafood consumption. Already, an estimated 10 percent of foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States result from seafood contaminated with algal toxins.

What should you do?

• Keep perishable food refrigerated — don’t leave out food for more than one hour when temperatures are above 90 Fahrenheit.

• Cook poultry, beef and eggs thoroughly. If you are served undercooked meat in a restaurant, don’t hesitate to send it back.

• Pay attention to shellfish warnings and alerts about harmful algal blooms. Cooking does not destroy algal toxins, so avoiding consumption of contaminated seafood is the only method to prevent illness from harmful algal blooms.

Dangerous swimming conditions: Climate change is expected to increase harmful algal blooms and runoff of pollution into beaches and waterways, leading to more unsafe swimming conditions. Harmful algal blooms, including “red tide” and blue-green algae, can cause respiratory symptoms and also irritate the eyes and skin.

Already, the Great Lakes states are seeing an abundance of algae growth causing beaches to be closed to swimming earlier in the year. Climate projections also show that, in the Great Lakes region, the amount of untreated sewage overflowing into waterways could increase significantly in coming decades as combined sewer systems are overwhelmed with rainwater, triggering even more beach closings.

What should you do?

• Check the safety of your local beach before swimming. Take a look at NRDC’s Testing the Waters Guide.

• Do not swim at your local beach for a day or two after heavy rainstorms, especially if your city does not monitor water quality.

Ruined visits to national landmarks and parks: Many of the United States’ iconic national parks, landmarks and heritage sites are at risk from climate change. Sea level rise, coastal erosion, increased flooding, heavy rains, and more frequent wildfires are damaging park land, archaeological resources, historic buildings, and cultural landscapes across the nation, according to research by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which recently provided case studies on 25 impacted sites.

What should you do?

• Send in a statement of support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to curb carbon pollution from power plants.

• Support efforts to build climate resiliency and prepare national parks and historic sites for the impacts of climate change.