Trump, Tillis Weakness on Insulin Price Tags

During the first presidential debate of 2020, President Donald Trump touted his efforts to curb skyrocketing drug prices and declared that insulin is now “so cheap, it’s like water.” The response on social media was swift, and divided, with some people sharing pharmacy bills showing thousands of dollars they’d spent on insulin, while others boasted of newfound savings.

The next day, a self-described progressive political action committee called Change Now jumped into the fray by releasing an ad that circulated on Facebook attacking Trump and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on this issue.

In the 30-second ad, a North Carolina woman in her 30s explains she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 4.

“Donald Trump and Thom Tillis opposed legislation that would lower the price of insulin and other prescription drugs,” she says. “People with diabetes can’t afford to wait for Trump and Tillis to fight for us. … We need affordable insulin now.”

(Posts sharing the quote were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its news feed. Read more about PolitiFact’s partnership with Facebook.)

In recent years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have committed to addressing the cost of insulin. This election cycle — coinciding with a looming threat to the Affordable Care Act and millions of people losing jobs and employer-sponsored health insurance during the pandemic — the high price of prescription drugs has gained new significance.

Tillis is in one of the most heated Senate races in the country and has been repeatedly criticized by his opponent for receiving more than $400,000 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and health product industries. Across the country, many voters say lowering prescription drug costs should be the top health priority for elected officials.

So, did Trump and Tillis really oppose policies that would accomplish that goal? We decided to take a closer look.

It turns out they’ve both opposed certain pieces of legislation that could have lowered the price of insulin and other prescription drugs, but they’ve also offered alternatives. The question is how aggressive those alternatives are and how many Americans would benefit from them.

Opposing the Strongest Reforms

Change Now pointed to two congressional bills to support the ad’s claim: one opposed by Trump, and the other by Tillis.

The first bill, known as H.R. 3, passed the House in December 2019, largely due to Democratic votes. It contains three main elements: decreasing out-of-pocket costs for people on Medicare, penalizing pharmaceutical companies that raise the price of drugs faster than the rate of inflation and — the most aggressive and controversial feature — allowing the federal government, which administers Medicare, to negotiate the price of certain drugs, including insulin. It also requires manufacturers to offer those agreed-on prices to private insurers, extending the benefits to a wider swath of Americans.

Stacie Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, called it “the broadest-reaching policy that has been put forward” on drug pricing.

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Asthenia (weakness): Causes, symptoms, and treatment

The term asthenia refers to physical weakness or a lack of energy. Asthenia can affect specific body parts, or it may affect the entire body.

Asthenia is not a disease, but it is a common sign of many different acute and chronic medical conditions. Asthenia can also develop as a side-effect of certain medications.

This article outlines the causes and symptoms of asthenia. It also provides information on how doctors diagnose and treat the causes and underlying conditions that lead to asthenia.

Potential causes of asthenia include:

Underlying health conditions

According to an older article, asthenia is a common symptom of various conditions, including:

Medication side effects

Certain medications can cause side effects, such as weakness and fatigue.

Examples of these medications include:

Natural aging

Aging can also cause sarcopenia, which is the gradual loss of muscle tissue and strength. This overall loss of muscle strength can lead to asthenia or more widespread fatigue.

Depending on the cause, asthenia may cause regional weakness or full-body weakness.

Regional weakness

Regional weakness from asthenia occurs in certain body parts, such as the arms or legs. It isn’t the same as paralysis, which is the inability to move. A person with regional weakness due to asthenia may feel like they have to put in a great deal of effort to move.

The body parts experiencing regional weakness may also display additional symptoms, such as:

  • muscle spasms or cramps
  • shaking or tremors
  • delayed or slowed movement

Full-body weakness

Full-body weakness affects the entire body. A person may also experience extreme tiredness or fatigue.

Other possible signs and symptoms of full-body weakness include:

In rare cases, asthenia could be a sign of a stroke or heart attack. Both conditions can cause weakness in one or both sides of the body.

Stroke may cause other sudden and severe symptoms, such as:

  • difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • disturbed vision in one or both eyes
  • difficulty walking
  • loss of balance
  • lack of coordination
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • sudden and severe headache
  • paralysis of part of the body

A heart attack may also cause other sudden and severe symptoms. Examples include:

Anyone who experiences symptoms of a stroke or heart attack should phone the emergency services immediately. Without prompt treatment, these conditions can quickly lead to severe complications or death.

Doctors may find diagnosing asthenia challenging because there are many possible causes.

A doctor will typically ask about a person’s symptoms and take a full medical and family history. They will also assess any medications the person is currently taking to determine if they are causing the person’s symptoms.

If a person experiences localized weakness, a doctor might also carry out a detailed physical examination of the affected body part.

After conducting the initial assessment, the doctor may have a better idea of what is causing the asthenia. They may follow up with one or more diagnostic tests, including:

  • blood tests to check for hormonal imbalances or signs of infection
  • a urine test to check for signs of infection and disease
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