Drink Up America, Home Of The Free…And The Obese

Last month, a New York judge struck down New York City’s ban on sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. Soon after, former vice presidential candidate and reality television star Sarah Palin thrilled a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference by pausing her speech to sip from a Big Gulp. Then, freshly-minted Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz proposed a largely ceremonial “Big Gulp Amendment,” which would keep the federal government from limiting soda size, while Mississippi’s governor signed into law a bill that prohibits local governments from regulating sugary drinks. New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has taken heat for pushing for the soda size ban, though history may treat him more kindly than have conservatives. Science may, as well.

VA’s Attack On Hepatitis C: Drugs And Groups

On most Thursdays, a small group of patients assembles at the VA hospital in West Haven because they share a common disease  — hepatitis C – and a common treatment — a protocol of new antiviral drugs. West Haven has been one of several veterans’ hospitals nationwide leading efforts to better treat – and hopefully cure — hepatitis C, a virus that is four times more common among veterans than in the general population. Nationally about 4,000 veterans have taken the new antiviral drugs since they went on the market in 2011 costing an estimated $100 million in prescriptions. “People have kind of gulped when they see this [the cost],” said David Ross, the director of the national VA’s HIV, Hepatitis and Public Health Pathogens Program. “But these drugs make a difference.’’

Most of the patients in West Haven are still completing the full year of triple-drug therapy, but early results are promising, VA staff says.