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States Are Asking for Records from Companies That Make And Distribute Prescription Opioid Painkillers

September 19, 2017

(Associated Press) – Attorneys general from most states are broadening their investigation into the opioid industry as a nationwide overdose crisis continues to claim thousands of lives. They announced Tuesday that they had served subpoenas requesting information from five companies that make powerful prescription painkiller demanded information from three distributors. Forty-one attorneys general are involved in various parts of the civil investigation.

Toolkit Helps Nurses Use Genomics in Patient Care

September 19, 2017

(UPI) – Nurses now have a way to integrate genomics into patient care — an online toolkit launched by the National Human Genome Research Institute. The online toolkit of more than 100 resources is known as the Method for Introducing a New Competency Genomics, or MINC, and was developed with the help of clinical educators and administrators to provide resources for nurses at all levels of genomics competency.

Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act: Two Decades of Data

September 19, 2017

(Medscape) – Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act (DWDA), passed through a voter-approved ballot initiative in 1997, lays out strict requirements for patients interested in requesting a prescription from their physician that would enable the patient to end to his or her life. In the 20 years since its passage, 0.2% of deaths in Oregon resulted from DWDA prescriptions but the number is increasing, researchers report in an article published online today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

ACP Affirms Opposition to Physician-Assisted Suicide

September 19, 2017

(Medscape) – Ethical arguments against the legalization of physician-assisted dying remain more compelling than those in support of the practice, the American College of Physicians (ACP) states in an updated position statement published September 18 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The statement reaffirms the ACP’s opposition to physician-assisted dying as originally issued in 2001, but support for it is not universal. “Since then, there’s been a lot of interest in the subject, and several more states have legalized physician-assisted suicide,” ACP President Jack Ende, MD, told Medscape Medical News, explaining the reason the ACP revisited the issue. “We also felt there wasn’t enough attention given to patients with terminal illness to be sure they were receiving the best possible care, with hospice care and palliative care.”

A Genetic Testing Company Is Reviewing 50,000 Saliva Samples after Messing Up Their Results

September 18, 2017

(Quartz) – Doctors are starting to use genetic testing for preventive care, but they’re still nowhere near perfect and they’re not particularly well monitored. In one recent and very striking example, the San Francisco-based company Invitae announced last month it would be re-testing 50,000 saliva samples after discovering that it had accidentally given one patient a false negative in a test for Lynch syndrome. This inherited condition is caused by one of five genetic mutations, and is tied to a significantly higher risk of developing colon cancer.

Oxford University Scientists Gave Babies Trial TB Vaccine ‘That Did Not Work in Monkeys’

September 18, 2017

(The Telegraph) – Oxford University is embroiled in an ethics row after scientists were accused of questionable conduct over a controversial trial of a new vaccine on African babies. Professor Peter Beverley, a former senior academic at the university, complained that scientists planned to test a new tuberculosis vaccine on more than a thousand infants without sharing data suggesting that monkeys given the immunisation had appeared to “die rapidly”.

Desperate Yemenis Sell Organs to Survive

September 18, 2017

(Al Jazeera) – After more than two years of war, many working-class Yemenis have turned to selling grocery items and khat – a mild, chewable narcotic – to make a meagre living. Others have opted to sell their organs to survive. In Ali’s case, he told Al Jazeera that a Yemeni-Egyptian taxi driver who moonlights as an organ broker used to wait outside the Sanaa passport office, where he stalked and questioned Ali, then preyed on his financial insecurities, persuading him to sell his kidney.

Catholic Hospitals Are Multiplying, And So Is Their Impact on Reproductive Health Care

September 18, 2017

(STAT News) – The rapid growth of Catholic-affiliated hospitals in the U.S. could significantly reduce access to inpatient sterilization procedures, according to a new study that examines the rising influence of religion on reproductive health services. The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, estimates that Catholic hospitals reduce the per-bed annual rates of inpatient abortions by 30 percent, and tubal ligations, or sterilization, by 31 percent.

Victims of 1940s STD Study Sue University

September 18, 2017

(The John Hopkins News-Letter) – A federal judge is allowing a $1 billion lawsuit against Hopkins to move forward after it was dismissed in 2016 for the University’s alleged involvement in a 1940s experiment that infected hundreds of Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases. In the 1940s, the U.S. government conducted studies in Guatemala by intentionally infecting people with diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea without their consent. Subjects included psychiatric patients, soldiers, prisoners and sex workers. Several Hopkins physicians and doctors held positions on a committee that reviewed the research proposal in Guatemala.

She Took DNA Test to Get Health Information. She Found 3 Half Siblings

September 18, 2017

(Sacramento Bee) – Without industry regulation or oversight, early sperm donors sired, usually unknowingly, tens or even hundreds of children until the federal government stepped in. Thousands of children were born, and many of them now, like, Baxter, are seeking health information or to connect with their biological family – and finding that it’s far more complicated than they ever imagined. The growing popularity of home DNA testing, however, also is bringing to light how even clinics that set standards didn’t always adhere to them, Moore said.

Researchers Build a Microscopic Robot Out of DNA

September 18, 2017

(Popular Mechanics) – For decades, scientists have been dreaming of one day creating tiny nanobots that can work at the microscopic scale, building things one molecule at a time or purifying our bloodstreams. While we might actually enjoy the work of those nanobots someday, for now they’re still in the realm of science fiction. But a group of Caltech researchers are working to change that, by building a prototype nanobot made of DNA.

Mental Health Toll of Hurricanes Likely to Linger, Experts Say

September 15, 2017

(UPI) –  Even after the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma disappears, survivors could still suffer from mental stress caused by the massive storms, experts say. “Everybody who has been in a disaster is changed permanently in some way. You never forget it,” said Dr. Carol North, a crisis psychiatrist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

This Gift Voucher Might Just Get You a Kidney

September 15, 2017

(Scientific American) – The former judge tried to think creatively, as he had on the bench—where he was known for unconventional and sometimes highly controversial sentencing. He came up with what might be called the delayed kidney swap: He gave his kidney three years ago to Kathy DeGrandis, a retired airport manager in her 50s, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. In exchange, Quinn was given a voucher that gives him priority to receive a live donor kidney, provided a match can be found when a transplant is necessary. The idea caught on. Now about 30 hospitals around the country participate in this voucher program, administered by the National Kidney Registry.

Shifting Attitudes on Pre-Planned Death Raises New Questions for Clinicians

September 15, 2017

(Medical Xpress) – Amid changing attitudes toward death and dying, some people with serious physical and/or mental illnesses are claiming a right to choose the time, place, and manner of their death. Discussions about “pre-planned death” pose new challenges for psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals to consider, according to an article in the September Journal of Psychiatric Practice.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells Offer Novel Treatment Approach for Crohn’s Disease Fistula

September 15, 2017

(Eurekalert) – A growing body of clinical evidence shows that transplantation of a patient’s own mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to achieve a cure and prevent recurrent of Crohn’s disease-related fistula can be a safe and effective addition to surgery. A comprehensive review of the latest studies of MSC transplantation for Crohn’s fistula and a comparison of MSC versus hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation is published in Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

CardioBrief: Cardiac Stem Cell Therapies May Get Boost from New FDA

September 15, 2017

(MedPage Today) – Cardiac stem cell therapy could gain FDA approval far earlier than most people expect, despite the fact that these therapies have consistently failed to produce any convincing evidence of safety and efficacy. Under the old FDA rules stem cell therapies would not have stood a chance of approval. Companies would have been required to demonstrate in a pivotal clinical trial that the therapy was both safe and effective.

This $25,000 Life-Extension Test Is Impressing Investors But Not Doctors

September 15, 2017

(Bloomberg) – Craig Venter has got a deal for you. For $25,000, he’ll sell you a complete genome sequence, a full-body MRI scan, a cardio CT scan, bone densitometry, cognitive testing and more, all in the hope of discovering a lurking tumor or brain abnormality — and nipping it in the bud. “We’re driving a medical revolution,” says Venter of his latest startup, Human Longevity Inc., or HLI. “We have sequencing that’s better than anybody else in the world. We have the most accurate data.”

End-of-Life Decisions Can Be Difficult. This Doctor Thinks ‘Nudges’ Can Help

September 15, 2017

(STAT News) – For tax payments, “nudges” have helped municipalities increase revenues and decrease collection-related costs. For energy consumption, “nudges” have helped homeowners save money and utilities preserve capacity. But in health care, the technique has been slower to catch on. First described by the pioneering economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (who is also a legal scholar), a “nudge” is a way of framing a set of choices to essentially steer people toward a particular option without shutting out other options.

Surviving a Heroin Overdose May Soon Depend on Where You Live

September 15, 2017

(Bloomberg) – The contrast between these approaches mirrors the national debate over how to deal with a drug crisis that killed 33,000 Americans in 2015, a tally expected to increase. The epidemic began years ago as doctors started to liberally prescribe opioid painkillers such as oxycodone. As addiction and abuse rose, the medical industry began to tighten access, drivng up street prices. Drug cartels saw an opportunity and flooded U.S. cities with cheap heroin, a common substitute.

Many People Thought to Be in ‘Vegetative’ Condition May Still Be Conscious

September 15, 2017

(Healthline) – Traumatic brain injuries aren’t created equal. Many patients once thought to be in unconscious vegetative states are actually minimally conscious, say experts, and they can recover over time. But wrong diagnoses are rampant, according to studies. In fact, researchers say more than 40 percent of patients with traumatic brain injuries have been wrongly labeled as vegetative. And that diagnosis hasn’t changed much in many years.

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