Donie’s Irish daily news BLOG

Wednesday 7th Aug 2013 

Ireland’s anti-cholesterol drug prices to fall by 20% in the next few month’s


Further prices drops forecast for a range of generic drugs over the coming year

New retail price control measures next month will promote greater use of generic drugs.

The price of one of the most heavily used medicines in Ireland will fall by 20 per cent next month under new measures to promote the greater use of generic drugs.

Although atorvastatin, an anti-cholesterol drug used by tens of thousands of Irish patients, will still be almost four times dearer than in Northern Ireland or Britain, the move is significant because it heralds similar price falls for a range of medicines in the coming year.

The original branded version of the drug was sold under the brand name Lipitor.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) yesterday published its first list of interchangeable medicines, covering 96 different versions of atorvastatin, thereby triggering the price reduction agreed last year with drugs manufacturers. Similar lists covering 19 other compounds are to be published over the next year, and will lead to corresponding price cuts for those substances.

Reference price: Prices should fall further in November, when the HSE publishes a reference price for atorvastatin, representing the maximum amount it will pay for any of the versions of the product on the list. As well as cutting the cost of the State’s drugs bill, the measure will encourage generic drugs manufacturers to reduce their prices to the level of the reference price. The savings made will depend on the reference price set for each drug.

An alternative; The IMB said the publication of the list meant a pharmacist “may” offer patients an alternative from the list. It said patients should talk to their pharmacist or doctor if they have any questions.

After November, consumers will have to decide whether tochoose the less expensive medicine and save money. For those on a medical card or using the drug payment scheme, the HSE will pay the full reference price. If consumers wish to stick with the medicine on their prescription, even if this is a higher price, those on a medical card will have to pay the difference between the reference price and the retail price.

The Irish Pharmacy Union said the move would lead to lower medicine prices as well as saving the State money. It warned Minister for Health James Reilly to take a “careful and measured approach” to the introduction of reference pricing.

Pharmacists say medicine shortages could result if this price is set too low.

Women in charge as Irish people shop for more bargains


We are spreading our grocery shopping across a range of stores, picking cheaper brands and cooking more from scratch.

These are among the findings of a new survey on the shopping habits of the Irish consumer, which revealed that women take responsibility for the food and groceries in nearly three quarters of homes.

The research, conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes, showed that nine out of 10 shoppers believe that they are shopping more wisely.

Fergal O’Leary, of the National Consumer Agency which published the results, said: “It reveals that women continue to be mainly responsible when it comes to shopping for goods and groceries, and while shoppers remain focused on price and are definitely thriftier, they are not prepared to compromise on quality.

“Consumers are now spreading their shopping across a number of stores, and this is particularly evident among the younger demographic.

“There have been further significant shifts towards supermarket own-brand labels.”

The research showed that almost three quarters of women surveyed (72pc) are mainly responsible for food and grocery shopping, with a further 13pc saying they were jointly responsible.

More than half the men surveyed (57pc) said they had no responsibility for grocery shopping, while 23pc said they share the responsibility.

Price was vital, with two thirds of shoppers indicating they have visited a particular shop due to the prices or offers available there.


People between 35 and 49 are most likely to do this, with over-65s least likely to have chosen a store because of price.

A total of 67pc of the respondents said they have started to shop in cheaper stores.

Meanwhile there was also a move towards home cooking, with 73pc saying they are cooking more from scratch and 54pc using less processed and ready-to-eat products.

This was particularly evident among the younger age groups, with 82pc of under-35s saying they are cooking more from scratch.

While shoppers are making their budget go further, they are not prepared to compromise on quality. There is a growing perception that the quality of supermarket own brand products is improving.

Angry mum gene now discovered


U.S. scientists have NOW identified a gene variant that makes some mothers get excessively angry with their children.

A new study has found that that difficult economic conditions may lead to mothers being excessively harsh with their children, including shouting at them or slapping them.

It found that mothers with a particular gene variation are more prone to losing their temper with their children too easily during an economic downturn.

The study revealed women who carry a variant of the protein are predisposed to hitting or shouting at children during a difficult economic climate.

The ‘harsh parenting’ phenomenon was found to have increased during the ‘Great Recession’ in the U.S. between 2007 and 2009, particularly among women with the particular gene variant.

Just over half the parents taking part in the study had the gene known as DRD2, that controls dopamine, which regulates a person’s behaviour and mood.

The research was based on data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFS), involving nearly 5,000 children born in 20 large American cities between 1998 and 2000.

Mothers were interviewed shortly after giving birth and when the child was about one, three, five and nine years old.

The results showed that mothers with the genetic variant were much more likely harshly patent their children where there were deteriorating local economic conditions and a decline in consumer confidence.

The research was carried at New York University, Columbia University, Princeton University and Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine, and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Drinking daily cups of cocoa & hot chocolate may boost pensioners memory

It can also keep their brains healthy and minds sharp


Drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day helps boost memory among the elderly, a study has suggested.

Research on pensioners found that drinking cocoa improved blood flow, which has been linked to healthier brains and improved cognition.

The study led by Harvard researchers examined 60 people with an average age of 73, who did not have dementia.

Participants drank two cups of hot cocoa per day for 30 days and did not eat any other chocolate.

They were given memory and thinking skills tests, as well as ultrasound tests to measure the amount of blood flow to the brain.

Of the 60 participants, 18 had impaired blood flow at the start of the study. The results of the study showed that for those participants, there were improvements in blood flow to the brain and in tests of their working memory.

After a month, they experienced an 8.3 per cent improvement in flow to working areas of the brain.

Test scores of their working memory also improved, with recall times falling from an average of 167 seconds to 116 seconds.

Dr Farzaneh Sorond, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study reported online in the journal Neurology, said: “We’re learning more about blood flow in the brain and its effect on thinking skills.

“As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

There were no such improvements for participants with regular blood flow, according to the study by the National Institute on Aging and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

MRI scans were also performed on 24 participants, to look for tiny areas of brain damage. The scans showed that people with impaired blood flow were more likely to have these areas of brain damage.

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development for the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “‘We know that poor blood flow can affect people’s brain power because they don’t have enough fuel in their brain cells to complete tasks efficiently.”

“From this small but interesting study, it seems that cocoa helps improve blood supply to the brain, therefore having a knock on effect of improving people’s cognition.”

He said it was not known whether drinking cocoa had any impact on dementia.

‘Although this could be good news for those who enjoy a relaxing hot chocolate before bed, we do need further research to better our understanding of the link between cocoa and cognition, and also whether it has any impact on dementia,” he said.

Sun’s magnetic field is about to flip on it’s eleven year cycle

But what does it mean to Earth


The sun’s enormous magnetic field is about to flip, and the effects of this massive realignment will be felt throughout the solar system, including here on Earth.

But don’t expect anything too crazy to happen. Chances are you’ve experienced a major solar magnetic flip already, probably without even realizing it.

The sun flips its magnetic field once every 11 years, at the same time it reaches solar maximum, when sun spots and solar flares are at their height.

The magnetic flip doesn’t happen all at once, explained Phil Scherrer, a researcher at Stanford University who studies the sun.

“It’s a long, slow process, and in fact it has already begun,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

The north pole of the sun, which has a greater share of sun spots, has already switched its magnetic sign, Scherrer said, and the south pole will probably switch its in the next three or four months.

Here on Earth we won’t feel any phsyical effects from this major change, but we may get to see some cool auroras because of it.

The sun’s magnetic field creates what’s called a “current sheet” that emanates from its equator and stretches millions of miles beyond Pluto. NASA officials describe the sheet as “a sprawling surface jutting outward from the sun’s equator where the sun’s slowly rotating magnetic field induces an electrical current.”

When the solar field flips, this “sheet” gets extra wavy, and as Earth moves around the sun, we dip in and out of it. The changes in the magnetic field interact with Earth’s own magnetic field, which can cause auroras.

As for why it takes the sun 11 years to flip its magnetic field, scientists aren’t totally sure yet.

“It is believed that it is just this big oscillating magnetic dynamo and this whole chain of events just takes time,” Scherrer said, “but when you make a model of it, you don’t actually manage to come up with an 11-year cycle unless you have a lot of free parameters.”

In other words, they’re still working on it.


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