Opioid addiction costs employers $2.6B a year for care (U.S.)

A new report shows large employers spent $2.6 billion to treat opioid addiction and overdoses in 2016, an eightfold increase since 2004. More than half went to treat employees’ children.

The analysis released Thursday, April 5, 2018 by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds such spending cost companies and workers about $26 per enrollee in 2016.

Employers have been limiting insurance coverage of opioids because of concerns about addiction. The report finds spending on opioid prescriptions falling 27 per cent from a peak in 2009.

Researchers analyzed insurance claims from employers with more than 1,000 workers. Most are self-insured, meaning they assume the financial risk.

Workers share the costs. Steve Wojcik of the National Business Group on Health says for every $5 increase, employers typically cover $4 and pass $1 to workers.

California Judge: Coffee needs cancer warnings

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that California law requires coffee companies to carry a cancer warning label.

Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said in a proposed decision Wednesday, March 28, 2018 that Starbucks and other coffee companies failed to show the threat from a chemical compound produced in the coffee roasting process was insignificant.

A non-profit group had sued coffee roasters, distributors and retailers under a state law that requires warnings on a wide range of chemicals that can cause cancer. One is acrylamide, a carcinogen present in coffee.

The coffee industry had claimed the chemical was present at harmless levels and should be exempt from the law because it results naturally from the cooking process to make the beans flavourful.

Proposed California judicial decisions can be reversed but are reversed rarely.

Health Canada warns about dangerous USB chargers as 1.5 million units recalled

Health Canada is warning it has discovered numerous unsafe USB chargers during a national assessment of products on the market and a recall has been issued affecting more than 1.5 million units.

The federal agency has released a list of more than two dozen chargers that “pose an unacceptable risk of electric shock and fire.”

Consumers are advised to stop using the products immediately and either return them or throw them away.

Health Canada recommends consumers check that electrical products have a recognized certification mark before making a purchase.

The certification symbol should be on the product itself and not just the packaging.

Food Allergy Canada posts warning about mocking scene in film ‘Peter Rabbit’

By Sheryl Ubelacker

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TORONTO _ Food Allergy Canada is warning movie-goers about a scene in “Peter Rabbit,” which has created an online backlash for appearing to mock people at risk for the potentially life-threatening condition anaphylaxis.

In the film, based on the popular children’s book by Beatrix Potter and released on the weekend, the character Tom McGregor must use an EpiPen after Peter Rabbit and his furry comrades pelt him with blackberries _ a fruit to which he has a severe allergy.

“Any time you take a serious medical condition and it become the butt of any jokes or it’s not taken seriously, it can be quite difficult and concerning for people,” Beatrice Povolo, a spokeswoman for Food Allergy Canada, said Monday.

Food allergies are a serious public health condition that affect almost 485,000 children in Canada and millions more worldwide, she said.

“And when it is portrayed in this type of fashion, it provides an impression that it’s not as serious as it is, and unfortunately it can be a life-threatening condition for some people.”

The movie’s creators and Sony Pictures, the studio behind them, issued a joint statement Sunday apologizing for being insensitive in their portrayal, saying that “food allergies are a serious issue” and the film “should not have made light” of a character being allergic to blackberries, “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way.”

On Monday, Food Allergy Canada posted a warning about the movie to its social media followers.

“Please be advised there is a reported scene in this children’s movie where a character is knowingly given his allergen, resulting in an anaphylactic reaction, requiring the use of his epinephrine auto-injector. Sony Pictures has since apologized for the scene,” the post reads.

“If you are considering seeing this film with your children, please talk to them beforehand and again following the movie. Any inappropriate depiction of food allergy highlights the need for greater awareness and education in the wider community. We will continue to work toward raising awareness and education regarding the seriousness of food allergy and to encourage respectful and informed dialogues about food allergy.”

The U.S. charity group Kids with Food Allergies has also posted a warning about the scene on its Facebook page, prompting some on Twitter to start using the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit.

The group said that allergy jokes are harmful to their community and that making light of the condition “encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously.”

Kenneth Mendez, president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, wrote an open letter to the studio asking for the opportunity to educate the company and the film’s cast on the realities of food allergies and urged the studio to “examine your portrayal of bullying in your films geared toward a young audience.”

Quebec health insurance cards are getting a makeover

Claire Loewen · CBC News

Get ready for a new look, Quebecers — on your health insurance card, that is.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the Quebec health insurance board (RAMQ) has changed the design of its health card.

The new cards are inspired by Quebec driver’s licence, RAMQ says, complete with a black-and-white I.D. photo and lighter background colours.

The card, nicknamed the “carte-soleil,” will retain its distinctive sun, although you will have to look harder to spot it.

Starting on Jan. 24, the new cards will be distributed gradually through renewals, replacements of lost, stolen or damaged cards, or the issuance of a first card.

The RAMQ card features images that only appear under ultraviolet light. (RAMQ)

Quebecers with cards bearing the old design needn’t worry — the current cards will be valid until they expire.

Some new security features on the RAMQ card include:

  • Ink that changes colour depending on angle and light.
  • Tactile engravings.
  • Images visible only under ultraviolet light.

Last July, RAMQ announced it would be using the services of Quebec’s public automobile insurance agency, the SAAQ, to produce its cards by 2018.

This way, cards will be delivered more quickly: optimizing service by avoiding duplication of equipment and sharing expertise are among the rationale.

Originally, RAMQ was producing 2.3 million cards every year, but the demand for cards is expected to drop in half by 2018 as medicare cards will become valid for eight years instead of four.

New online resources now available to address risks associated with distracted driving

 Press Release:

Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving (CCDD) today launched a new web-based information hub at www.diad.tirf.ca/ehub. It was designed as a resource with tools to help governments and interested stakeholders develop effective strategies to reduce distracted driving. The hub contains the latest research, stats and data on distracted driving, laws and penalties in Canada, and a variety of educational tools and resources. This initiative is led by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), and its Drop It And Drive® program, in partnership with The Co-operators.

Despite increasing fines and penalties for distracted driving, nearly one in four fatal crashes in 2013 involved distraction. Concern continues to grow as an increasing number of jurisdictions across the country report that distraction is a leading factor in road fatalities. “All agencies are incredibly concerned about the safety of Canadians, their workforce, and their families and friends. Everyone has the same questions about the size of the problem, what is known, what data are available, and what strategies can reduce distracted driving,” said Robyn Robertson, TIRF president and CEO. “We designed the E-Hub so organizations can spend less time looking for answers and more time working on solutions.”

The CCDD is a coalition of concerned organizations that spans several sectors including education, enforcement, academia, government, health and industry, including insurance, automotive and trucking industries, and the not-for-profit sector. “As an insurer of over a million vehicles in Canada, we have a significant responsibility to educate Canadians about the risks posed by distracted driving. Consider that a driver traveling at 100km/hr travels the length of a hockey rink within just two seconds while distracted. It’s easy to see why distracted driving is a recipe for disaster,” said Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “The work of the CCDD continues to provide actionable solutions that communities and workplaces can embrace to help resolve this growing issue, and make meaningful changes to protect drivers and pedestrians.”

In March 2017, the CCDD released a National Action Plan on Distracted Driving, and the new E-Hub was just one of the components. The E-Hub resource is housed on the newly designed Drop It And Drive® website at www.diad.tirf.ca. It contains a wealth of information that is relevant across sectors, disciplines and communities of practice. It includes summaries of more than 100 research studies and articles along with links to full studies and the organizations that produced them. Access is also provided to examples of educational resources and tools that are available, the latest data that have been published, and current laws and penalties across the country.

In addition to the fully bilingual fact sheets that were released by the CCDD in November, other elements of the Action Plan are also underway. A call to action for health practitioners was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Physical Sports Therapy. Work groups involving insurance, enforcement, the trucking industry and health professionals are being established to increase awareness in these sectors and build partnerships to reduce distracted driving. The third annual meeting of the CCDD is scheduled for Spring 2018 and will focus on technologies and their role in reducing distracted driving.

CCDD fact sheets

National Action Plan & 15-point Action Plan

About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation:
The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. TIRF is an independent, charitable road safety research institute. Since its inception in 1964, TIRF has become internationally recognized for its accomplishments in identifying the causes of road crashes and developing programs and policies to address them effectively.

About The Co-operators: 
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $48 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies, it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt and Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada. For more information, visit  www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

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