A Look Back at Women’s Health in 2013

Looking back on the year 2013, I have gathered a few of this year’s major headlines affecting women’s health. You may recall some of these from our previous blog posts.

April 8th–FDA approves morning-sickness drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves a new medication, Diclegis, as a treatment for nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy. In 1983 the manufacturer of a similar medication called Bendectin voluntarily removed it from the market due to soaring legal defense costs. For the past thirty years since Bendectin’s removal pregnant women have had no medication available specifically to treat morning sickness. Now the FDA has given Diclegis Pregnancy Category A status (it’s safest pregnancy rating) indicating that the drug has been tested in pregnant women and shown no harm to their unborn infants. Read more.

May 14th–Angelina Jolie Announces double-mastectomy

Angelina Jolie public announces in the New York Times that she underwent a double-mastectomy to reduce her breast-cancer risk. Ms. Jolie revealed that she carries a defective BRCA gene which seriously increases her chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. While the decision for or against surgery is complex, we applaud her efforts to raise women’s awareness about genetic cancer risk and BRCA gene testing. Read more.

June 13th–Supreme Court decision affects BRCA Gene testing

The U.S. Supreme Court announces its decision that human genes cannot be owned and patented. The decision voided Myriad Genetics Inc.’s patent on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer—BRCA 1 and 2. Now that Myriad no longer “owns” the BRCA genes, other companies can begin to develop their own versions of this important test. As competition results in lower costs, the test should become more available to women and more often covered by insurance companies. Read more.

October 1st–Obama-care website opens

The Healthcare.gov website officially opens for enrollment in ObamaCare. The roll-out of ObamaCare’s next phase got off to a rocky start and created much uncertainly. Just about everyone will begin to feel the effects of these changes in the coming year, whether they want to keep their private insurance or attempt to purchase the government plan. As healthcare providers, we remain very concerned that the Affordable Care Act contains no solution for the immediate funding crisis facing Medicare and Medicaid.

November 7th–Women’s Cancer surgeons suggest new strategy against ovarian cancer

The Society of Gynecologic Oncology, women’s cancer specialists, issues a Clinical Practice Statement indicating that salpingectomy (removing the fallopian tubes) “… may be appropriate and feasible as a strategy for ovarian cancer risk reduction.” The SGO’s statement creates an important consideration for women and their physicians, especially if they are considering a hysterectomy, tubal ligation, or other pelvic surgery. Read more.

We hope that you have enjoyed our newsletter, blog, and social media posts over the past year. (Our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages are now one year old). We have enjoyed the opportunity to keep you informed about issues that affect your health. Along with all the physicians and staff at Sparks and Favor, I wish you a safe and healthy 2014.

Jimmy M. Sparks, MD