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Life and Limb

March 8, 2019

(Texas Observer) – In the Rio Grande Valley, nearly one in three people has the disease, triple the national rate. The Valley is among the poorest and least-insured regions in the country. It’s also overwhelmingly Hispanic, a population that has a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Perhaps the most visceral indication of the Valley’s diabetes crisis is the shocking number of people living with amputations. The rate of diabetic amputations in the Valley was about 50 percent higher than the state rate in 2015, according to data from the state health agency.

Family Medicine

March 8, 2019

(The New Yorker) – My father’s spirits sagged. He was a physician and a scientist, who had spent decades pursuing the secrets of blood: how it flows, pools, clots, conducts intracellular conversations with itself. Too frail for what had been a daily commute into Manhattan, he was still running his laboratory in absentia. He kept up a voluminous correspondence, which meant many hours speaking into his beloved treadle-activated Dictaphone. He wanted to find a new treatment for stroke, wanted to fly to South Africa and test out his compounds on cheerful, doomed baboons, wanted to win the Nobel Prize and wear his tuxedo to accept the check from the King of Sweden.

Pre-Diabetes Makes Patients Out of Healthy People, Say Critics

March 8, 2019

(The Guardian) – Labelling people as having pre-diabetes could do more harm than good, experts have said, as research reveals that even some of those involved in coining the term now reject it. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) introduced the term “pre-diabetes” at the turn of the millennium. It is used to describe someone at risk of developing diabetes but who does not have the disease or symptoms, and is based on a measure of average blood glucose concentration. Critics, however, say the threshold the ADA sets for such levels makes patients out of healthy people.

European Police Seize Illicit Medicines Worth $185 Million

March 8, 2019

(Medical Xpress) – The European Union’s police agency says law enforcement authorities seized illegally trafficked medicines last year worth more than 165 million euros ($185 million). Europol said Friday that a seven-month operation involving authorities from 16 European countries led to 435 arrests and the seizure of 1.8 tons of medicines.

Former Sales Exec Says Opioid Maker Insys Bribed Doctors to Prescribe Drugs

March 8, 2019

(NBC News) – The former head of sales for an opioid manufacturer took the stand in federal court here Friday to describe how he followed directions to recruit and bribe doctors for years to increase sales of the company’s highly addictive drug.

Pediatricians Explain the How and Why of Genetic Testing in Children

March 8, 2019

(Reuters) – If a child has developmental disabilities or delays in motor, speech or cognitive function, a pediatrician may recommend a genetic consultation and genetic testing, doctors write in a new patient resource published in JAMA Pediatrics. These tests may also be useful in caring for children with structural birth defects or chronic functional problems that affect vision, hearing, movement, seizures, mood issues, immune problems, poor growth, digestive issues, hormone problems or heart rhythm irregularities, the authors write.

Pain & Profit (Multi-part series)

March 8, 2019

(Dallas Morning News) – Texas pays Superior and other companies billions of dollars every year to arrange care for tens of thousands of kids like D’ashon: foster children, disabled children, chronically sick children. The companies promise to improve the lives of these kids, as well as adults with severe medical conditions and disabilities. But under a system set up by the state, every dollar the companies don’t spend on health care they can use instead to hire high-powered lobbyists, pay millions in executive bonuses, and buy other businesses. The state knows some companies are skimping on care to make profits but has failed to stop it. The Dallas Morning News spent a year investigating the way Texas treats fragile and ailing residents who rely on Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Does Prior Dengue Exposure Help or Hurt a Zika Infection?

March 8, 2019

(The Scientist) – The mosquito-borneZika virus that recently spread rapidly throughout the Americas shares many characteristics with another virus: dengue. Both are flaviviruses, which are enveloped, sphere-shape virions that are typically transmitted by mosquitos and ticks. Due to their structural similarities and because the latest Zika outbreak appeared in dengue-endemic regions, scientists have been investigating whether antibodies against one might be able to react to the other—and whether these interactions could either worsen or buffer against infections.

Review: In ‘The Inventor,’ You Can’t Know Elizabeth Holmes’s Secrets. And Yet You Can’t Turn Away

March 8, 2019

(STAT News) – In “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” we are treated to great expanses of curtain without learning much of the woman behind it. The film, airing on HBO later this month, comes from Alex Gibney, the documentarian behind a probing portrait of Steve Jobs and a searing look at Scientology. But where those movies balanced forensic detail with memorable human portraiture — Tom Cruise’s howling laughter in “Going Clear,” for example — “The Inventor” is a well-spun crime picture that never nails down its wide-eyed, deep-voiced star.

Deaths from Drugs and Suicide Reach a Record in the U.S.

March 7, 2019

(New York Times) – The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since the collection of federal mortality data started in 1999, according to an analysis by two public health nonprofits, the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust. To reach their conclusion, the two groups parsed the latest available data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Nightmarish Tale of What Happened to a Child Who Wasn’t Vaccinated

March 7, 2019

(STAT News) – A 6-year-old boy from Oregon who had never received a single vaccine got a cut on his forehead while playing on his family’s farm in 2017. The wound was cleaned and sutured at home. Six days later, doctors were treating the child for tetanus, an enormously painful, sometimes fatal infection that is caused by bacterial spores found in the soil and that is completely preventable with vaccine. It was the state’s first pediatric tetanus case in more than 30 years.

Doctors Without Borders Fiercely Criticizes Ebola Outbreak Control Effort

March 7, 2019

(STAT News) – T he international president of Doctors Without Borders issued a scathing analysis on Thursday of the efforts to control the 7-month-old Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, saying the community hostility that is undermining the work is the fault of the response, not the people in the region. And Dr. Joanne Liu, who was in the affected area of DRC last week when two MSF-run Ebola treatment centers were destroyed by fire, said continuing the current approach — with ramped-up security — is unlikely to end the outbreak, which is already the second largest on record.

Amid the Opioid Crisis, a Different Drug Comes Roaring Back

March 7, 2019

(The Economist) – LONDON BREED, the mayor of San Francisco, recently announced a new drugs task-force, which is the kind of thing mayors do. This task force, though, was unusual because it was not aimed at opioids but at methamphetamine. In 2017 meth overdoses killed 87 people in the city, more than twice as many as heroin. Open-air dealing, uninterrupted by the police, is a common sight in the poor Tenderloin district. Use is widespread among the city’s many homeless. Because the drug induces aggression, frenzy and paranoia, passers-by often feel unsafe. Half the people now admitted for psychiatric emergencies to the city’s general hospital are suffering from the effects of meth-induced psychosis.

Number of Older Adults at ER for Opioid Misuse Tripled Since 2006

March 7, 2019

(UPI) – Opioid abuse has fueled a national epidemic and driving older Americans to the hospital to treat their addictions, a new study says.
Between 2006 and 2014, emergency room visits tripled for people older than age 65 seeking treatment for opioid misuse and dependence, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Innovation in Aging. That represents a 217 percent increase during that time.

Alabama Judge Allows Teen to Sue on Behalf of Aborted Fetus

March 7, 2019

(Fox News) – A teenager in Alabama is suing an abortion clinic for terminating the life of his unborn child against his wishes. On Tuesday, an Alabama county court recognized the aborted fetus, “Baby Roe,” as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, making the case one of the first of its kind, his lawyer said. Ryan Magers, 19, of Madison County, claims his girlfriend got a medicated abortion at the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville in February 2017 when she was six weeks pregnant, according to legal documents, even though he urged her not to terminate the pregnancy.

China to Tighten Rules on Gene Editing in Humans

March 7, 2019

(Nature) – China’s health ministry has issued draft regulations that will restrict the use of gene editing in humans, just three months after Chinese researcher He Jiankui announced that twin girls had been born with edited genomes. The proposal includes severe penalties for those who break the rules. If approved, scientists say the policy could have gains and drawbacks for research.

Lack of Diversity Hinders Genetic Studies. We Can Change That

March 7, 2019

(STAT News) – Genetic differences exist between people of different ancestries. That means genetic studies that focus on just a handful of populations give an incomplete picture. A biological insight that emerges from a study of people of European descent may not apply to someone of East Asian descent, and vice versa. In order for everyone to benefit from sequencing the human genome, genetic studies must be conducted in people of all ethnicities — as well as all genders, ages, incomes, and sexual orientations. It’s a simple concept that seems to be fiendishly difficult to apply.

Ash Wednesday Brings a ‘Welcome Honesty’ to Discussions About Mortality

March 7, 2019

(NPR) – Serna says death is usually sanitized, and we try to avoid even talking about it. As a hospital chaplain, he talks about mortality more than most people do. But today, Ash Wednesday, is one of the few days where the fact that we’re going to die is said out loud and isn’t related to illness. It’s the beginning of the Christian season of Lent, and the traditional liturgy includes the admonition “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

WHO Chief Unveils Reforms, with More Science, Apps and an Academy

March 6, 2019

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization unveiled a landmark reform on Wednesday that targets billions of people around the globe and puts a stress on primary care for all rather than “moonshot” projects like eradicating diseases. The reform firmly reshapes the Geneva-based U.N. health agency with the manifesto of its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian who is the first African in the job. He was elected in 2017 promising to focus on “universal health coverage” (UHC).

Clinicians Embracing New Depression Drug Esketamine with ‘Enthusiastic Caution’

March 6, 2019

(STAT News) – Patients with major depression who haven’t responded to other treatments will soon have a new option: esketamine, a rapid-acting therapy derived from the long-used anesthetic ketamine. But the drug’s approval on Tuesday sparked a string of new questions, from how much patients will have to shell out for the drug to how clinicians will be able to accommodate patients who need to be monitored for two hours after every dose.

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