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Childhood HPV Vaccination ‘Profoundly’ Cuts Cervical Disease in Young Women

April 10, 2019

(Reuters) – Young women who received human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines as adolescents had significantly lower rates of a condition that’s a precursor to cervical cancer, in a nationwide study in Scotland. “The magnitude of the effect is greater than expected,” study author Dr. Tim Palmer from the University of Edinburgh told Reuters Health by email.

Vaccines Blocked as Deadly Cholera Raged Across Yemen

April 10, 2019

(ABC News) – In the summer of 2017, a plane chartered by the United Nations idled on the tarmac at an airport in the Horn of Africa as officials waited for final clearance to deliver half a million doses of cholera vaccine to Yemen. Amid the country’s ruinous war, the disease was spiraling out of control, with thousands of new cases reported each day. The green light for the plane to head to northern Yemen never came.

US Charges 24 in $1.2 Billion Medicare Orthotic Brace Fraud

April 9, 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. authorities on Tuesday said they have broken up a $1.2 billion Medicare fraud in which doctors, telemarketers and owners of medical equipment companies peddled medically unnecessary orthotic braces to hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled patients. Authorities called the case one of the largest health care frauds ever prosecuted in the United States.

Lethal Plans: When Seniors Turn to Suicide in Long-Term Care

April 9, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – In a nation where suicide continues to climb, claiming more than 47,000 lives in 2017, such deaths among older adults — including the 2.2 million who live in long-term care settings — are often overlooked. A six-month investigation by Kaiser Health News and PBS NewsHour finds that older Americans are quietly killing themselves in nursing homes, assisted living centers and adult care homes.

Zapping Brain with Precise Electrical Current Boosts Working Memory in Older Adults, Study Finds

April 9, 2019

(STAT News) – Shooting electrical current into the brain for just 25 minutes reversed the decline in working memory that comes with aging, scientists reported on Monday. Although the researchers tested the effects on people for only 50 minutes, the finding offers hope for boosting a mental function that is so crucial for reasoning, everyday problem-solving, and planning that it has been called the foundation of intelligence.

Spain’s Euthanasia Debate Rekindled Before Election with Husband’s Arrest

April 9, 2019

(Reuters) – The arrest of a 69-year-old Spaniard on homicide charges after he helped his terminally ill wife end her life has reignited a divisive debate on euthanasia, raising its profile as a campaign issue three weeks before a national election. The economy has tended to dominate previous Spanish elections but social topics have taken precedence in the run-up to the ballot on April 28, with women’s rights and national identity also high on politicians’ agendas.

EU Unveils Ethics Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence

April 9, 2019

(PhysOrg) – The European Union presented ethics guidelines Monday as it seeks to promote its own artificial intelligence sector, which has fallen behind developments in China and the United States. The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, unveiled a framework aimed at boosting trust in AI by ensuring, for example, data about EU citizens are not used to harm them.

Prenatal Testing Can Ease Minds or Heighten Anxieties

April 9, 2019

(NPR) – In the past, doctors may have screened parents for a few suspect diseases common to their specific ethnicity or family history. But now a growing number of companies offer extensive panels testing for hundreds of rare diseases. “Over the last 10 to 20 years the number of genetic disorders that we are able to test for has exploded,” says Dr. Mary Norton, a prenatal geneticist at University of California, San Francisco.

Tackling the Burden and Shame of Hearing Loss

April 9, 2019

(Undark) – Hearing loss, they say, is not just a functional disability affecting a subset of aging adults. With population growth and a boom in the global elderly population, the World Health Organization (WHO) now estimates that by 2050, more than 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss. A 2018 study of 3,316 children aged nine to 11 meanwhile, found that 14 percent already had signs of hearing loss themselves. While not conclusive, the study linked the loss to the rise of portable music players.

California Allows Aid-in-Dying Drugs for Terminally Ill, But Hospitals Set Barriers

April 8, 2019

(Reuters) – Since 2016, a California law has allowed terminally ill patients to obtain and use aid-in-dying medications from their doctors. But nearly two-thirds of California hospitals have policies against prescribing the drugs and forbid affiliated doctors from helping patients get them, a survey shows.

US Measles Tally Hits 465, with Most Illnesses in Kids

April 8, 2019

(Medical Xpress) – U.S. measles cases are continuing to jump, and most of the reported illnesses are in children. Health officials say 465 measles cases have been reported this year, as of last week. That’s up from 387 the week before. The numbers are preliminary. The 2019 tally is already the most since 2014, when 667 were reported. The most before that was 963 cases in 1994.

First Opioid Settlement to Fund Ambitious Addiction Research Center

April 8, 2019

(Science) – A fledgling, small-scale approach to dealing with the state’s opioid crisis paid off big last week for Oklahoma State University (OSU) when it became the surprise beneficiary of a $270 million legal settlement with Purdue Pharma. It’s the first agreement in some 1700 pending cases around the United States against Purdue, which makes the painkiller OxyContin, and other manufacturers of prescription opioids. On 26 March, the state of Oklahoma agreed to drop its suit alleging deceptive marketing practices by Purdue in exchange for a National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at OSU’s medical complex in Tulsa.

In a Poor Kenyan Community, Cheap Antibiotics Fuel Deadly Drug-Resistant Infections

April 8, 2019

(New York Times) – Antibiotics, the miracle drugs credited with saving tens of millions of lives, have never been more accessible to the world’s poor, thanks in large part to the mass production of generics in China and India. Across much of the developing world, it costs just a few dollars to buy drugs like amoxicillin, a first-line antibiotic that can be used against a broad range of infections, from bacterial pneumonia and chlamydia to salmonella, strep throat and Lyme disease. Kibera residents are prodigious consumers of antibiotics. One study found that 90 percent of households in Kibera had used antibiotics in the previous year, compared with about 17 percent for the typical American family.

Gene Therapy Was Hailed as a Revolution. Then Came the Bill

April 8, 2019

(Bloomberg) – Dozens of revolutionary gene therapies that mend faulty strands of DNA are on their way, bringing the power to eliminate lethal childhood diseases, rare blood disorders and other severe illnesses. Beneath the excitement about these potential cures lies an important catch: No one knows how much to charge for them.

Rwandan President Pardons Hundreds Convicted of Having or Assisting in an Abortion

April 8, 2019

(TIME) – The President of Rwanda pardoned hundreds of people convicted of having or assisting in an abortion this week. President Paul Kagame pardoned 367 people “convicted for the offenses of abortion, complicity in abortion and infanticide,” the Prime Minister’s cabinet announced on Thursday. Women’s access to abortion has long been restricted in Rwanda. Abortion in cases of rape, incest, forced marriage or the health of the woman or fetus has only been legal since 2012, although a court and two doctors are needed to sign off on the procedure.

Google Disbands Artificial Intelligence Ethics Board

April 8, 2019

(Japan Today) – Google has disbanded a recently assembled artificial intelligence ethics advisory panel in the face of controversy over its membership. The end of the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) came just days after a group of Google employees launched a public campaign against having the president of conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation among its members.

Organ Donors with Hepatitis C Eligible for Donating Heart and Lungs, Says Study

April 8, 2019

(Tech Times) – Donated organs of people who have hepatitis C can be transplanted to patients in need without fear of infection, a new study found. Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital reported that they were able to prevent transmission of hepatitis C among transplant patients by treating them with antiviral drugs. These new findings will help cut the long wait for an organ transplant and save thousands of lives.

Appeals Court Upholds Kentucky Ultrasound Abortion Law

April 5, 2019

(The Hill) – A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a Kentucky law requiring doctors to show and describe a fetal ultrasound to patients before performing an abortion. In a 2-1 decision, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law does not infringe on the First Amendment rights of physicians. A lower court had issued an injunction blocking the law last year, with a federal judge citing the psychological harm it could cause a patient.

The Challenge of Going Off Psychiatric Drugs

April 5, 2019

(The New Yorker) – Laura had always assumed that depression was caused by a precisely defined chemical imbalance, which her medications were designed to recalibrate. She began reading about the history of psychiatry and realized that this theory, promoted heavily by pharmaceutical companies, is not clearly supported by evidence. Genetics plays a role in mental disorder, as do environmental influences, but the drugs do not have the specificity to target the causes of an illness. Wayne Goodman, a former chair of the F.D.A.’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee, has called the idea that pills fix chemical imbalances a “useful metaphor” that he would never use with his patients.

The Absurdly High Cost of Insulin Explained

April 5, 2019

(Vox) – When inventor Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1923, he refused to put his name on the patent. He felt it was unethical for a doctor to profit from a discovery that would save lives. Banting’s co-inventors, James Collip and Charles Best, sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1. They wanted everyone who needed their medication to be able to afford it. Today, Banting and colleagues would be spinning in their graves: Their drug, which many of the 30 million Americans with diabetes rely on, has become the poster child for pharmaceutical price gouging.

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