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Pharma Companies Fight Behind-the-Scenes Wars over Generic Drugs

June 16, 2017

(STAT News) – Pharmaceutical research has led to tremendous advances in medicine. Because of the extraordinarily high cost of bringing new drugs to the market, our intellectual property system is designed to ensure that drug companies recoup their investment and earn a profit. After a period of time, though, generic competitors are supposed to be able to enter the market and bring down prices through competition. But they are often blocked by the makers of brand-name drugs who try to hold off competition and wring out as much profit as possible.

The Platinum Patients

June 15, 2017

(The Atlantic) – Each year, 1 in every 20 Americans racks up just as much in medical bills as another 19 combined. This critical five percent of the U.S. population is key to solving the nation’s health care spending crisis.

What’s Behind New Zealand’s Shocking Youth Suicide Rate?

June 15, 2017

(BBC) – Think of New Zealand and what likely comes to mind is beautiful nature – fjords, mountains and magnificent landscapes, vast, empty and endless. But for years already, the country has been struggling with another form of isolation – depression and suicide. A new report by Unicef contains a shocking statistic – New Zealand has by far the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world.  A shock but no surprise – it’s not the first time the country tops that table.

Cardiac Stem Cells from Heart Disease Patients Potentially Harmful

June 15, 2017

(UPI) – A new study by Tel Aviv University has found that cardiac stem cell therapy from cardiovascular disease patients may be harmful to patients. “We found that, contrary to popular belief, tissue stem cells derived from sick hearts do not contribute to heart healing after injury,” Jonathan Leor, professor at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center, said in a press release. “Furthermore, we found that these cells are affected by the inflammatory environment and develop inflammatory properties. The affected stem cells may even exacerbate damage to the already diseased heart muscle.”

The Focus on Opioids Overshadows Another Worsening Drug Plague

June 15, 2017

(The Economist) – Drug-related deaths outnumber those from car crashes, suicides or firearms. Opioids account for over two-thirds of the total. The alarm over painkillers and heroin is justified, but it has overshadowed another worsening drug problem: methamphetamine. Bryan Lockerby, who heads Montana’s Division of Criminal Investigation, says he has never seen the state more awash with meth. Infants are being born hooked on it, and the parents of nearly a third of children in Montana’s foster-care system are methamphetamine users. Between 2009 and 2015, drug-related arrests in the state increased by 62%.

New Research Provides Insight into Elder Abuse Incidence, Risks

June 15, 2017

(UPI) – A recent study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago examined the impact of elder abuse in America including its prevalence, risks and outcomes, with researchers reporting the issue is complex and affects more older adults than many think. Researchers utilized data from the Chinese community in Chicago for the study, which was published in the June edition of The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.

Evidence Suggests Visiting Doctors in Their Offices to Talk about Safer Opioid Prescribing Approaches Can Help Cut Down on Painkiller Prescriptions

June 15, 2017

(Associated Press) – Even doctors can be addicted to opioids, in a way: It’s hard to stop prescribing them. Melissa Jones is on a mission to break doctors of their habit, and in the process try to turn the tide of the painkiller epidemic that has engulfed 2 million Americans. It was in doctors’ offices where the epidemic began, and it’s in doctors’ offices where it must be fought. So Jones is using some of the same tactics pharmaceutical sales forces used to push their potent pills into communities – this time, to get them out.

Brain Augmentation: How Scientists Are Working to Create Cyborg Humans with Super Intelligence

June 15, 2017

(Newsweek) – For most people, the idea of brain augmentation remains in the realms of science fiction. However, for scientists across the globe, it is fast becoming reality—with the possibility of humans with “super-intelligence” edging ever closer. In laboratory experiments on rats, researchers have already been able to transfer memories from one brain to another. Future projects include the development of telepathic communication and the creation of “cyborgs,” where humans have advanced abilities thanks to technological interventions.

Hospitals Are Dramatically Overpaying for Their Technology

June 15, 2017

(Harvard Business Review) – One big reason why is that hospitals purchase technologies without requiring that they communicate with each other. The optimal air flow is based on a straightforward calculation using the height of the patient. Height data, however, resides in the electronic medical record, which typically does not communicate with the ventilator. As a result, physicians must retrieve this information from the medical record, perform the calculation (sometimes on paper), and enter the order. A respiratory therapist then takes the order and types it into the ventilator, often relying on memory.

Controversial Trial of Premature Infants Faces Fresh Scrutiny Following Release of Documents

June 14, 2017

(STAT News) – A controversial trial to test oxygen levels delivered to premature infants is facing fresh scrutiny following the disclosure of documents showing that researchers continued the experiment despite learning their oxygen monitors were malfunctioning. On Wednesday, a watchdog group released a letter calling for a deeper investigation of the federally funded SUPPORT trial, which began in 2005 at two dozen hospitals across the U.S. and involved more than 1,300 infants.

Eye-Opening Picture of Fetal Immune System Emerges

June 14, 2017

(Nature) – For Jerry Chan, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore, understanding the fetal immune system was important for his goal of developing stem-cell treatments and gene therapies for genetic disorders in developing fetuses. Chan and his colleagues wanted to know whether there was a developmental stage at which such treatments could be given without the risk of the therapies themselves being attacked by the immune system.

Knee Surgery Rates Soaring among Teen Girls

June 14, 2017

(Reuters) – A growing number of U.S. athletes are getting operations to repair torn knee ligaments, and a new study suggests injury rates are highest and rising fastest among teen girls. Researchers focused on surgery for a common knee injury known as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, which has long been linked to intense participation in sports like basketball and soccer which require constant pivoting as well as contact sports like football.

Screening for Genetic Diseases & Chromosomal Defects with a Single Biopsy Improves Pregnancy Rates

June 14, 2017

(Eurekalert) – Couples who are undergoing pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in order to avoid transmission of inherited diseases, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy or cystic fibrosis, should also have their embryos screened for abnormal numbers of chromosomes at the same time, say Italian researchers. By doing this, only embryos that are free not only of the genetic disease, but also of chromosomal abnormalities (aneuploidy), would be transferred to a woman’s womb, giving her the best chance of achieving a successful pregnancy, and avoiding the risk of implantation failure, miscarriage, or even live births that could be affected by conditions such as Down syndrome (in which there is an extra chromosome) or Turner syndrome (in which a girl has only one x chromosome rather than the normal two).

Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Patient Euthanasia

June 14, 2017

(UPI) – Nearly three-quarters of Americans support the practice of patient euthanasia, a new survey showed Monday. According to the Gallup poll, 73 percent of those asked said they favor euthanasia if the patient wants it. More than 500 respondents answered during the first week of May to a question that read, “When a person has a disease that cannot be cured, do you think doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life by some painless means if the patient and his or her family request it?”

Brain Cell Transplants Are Being Tested Once Again for Parkinson’s

June 14, 2017

(NPR) – Researchers are working to revive a radical treatment for Parkinson’s disease. The treatment involves transplanting healthy brain cells to replace cells killed off by the disease. It’s an approach that was tried decades ago and then set aside after disappointing results. Now, groups in Europe, the U.S. and Asia are preparing to try again, using cells they believe are safer and more effective.

Supreme Court Ruling Will Speed Biosimilars to Market

June 14, 2017

(Managed Care Magazine) – In a pivotal ruling, the Supreme Court has cut the time it will take for copycat versions of biologic drugs to reach the marketplace, according to a Reuters report. The decision could yield billions of dollars in sales for drug companies. The justices, in a unanimous 9-to-0 vote, overturned a lower-court decision that had prevented Swiss pharma company Novartis from selling its copycat version of California-based Amgen’s Neupogen (filgrastim) until six months after the FDA approved it.

Condom Drops and Airborne Meds: 6 Ways Drones Could Change Health Care

June 13, 2017

(STAT News) – If bystanders were willing and able to use the devices, the shorter response time could save lives, said lead author Andreas Claesson, a registered nurse. Restrictions on drones have limited their use in medicine. But that’s starting to change, Claesson said. “We’re getting there — showing this save lives and costs,” he added. Here are five other ways drones have either changed health care or are promising to do so.

Pregnancy Problems Not Necessarily Tied to Zika Viral Load or Dengue Fever

June 13, 2017

(Science Daily) – UCLA-led researchers have found that Zika viral load and the degree of Zika symptoms during pregnancy were not necessarily associated with problems during pregnancy or fetal abnormalities at birth. They also found that the presence of antibodies to previously acquired dengue fever was not necessarily connected to abnormalities during pregnancy or at birth.

US Mental-Health Agency’s Push for Basic Research Has Slashed Support for Clinical Trials

June 13, 2017

(Nature) – Roy Perlis is done with clinical research. The psychiatrist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has led about 20 clinical trials on depression and other mood disorders over the past two decades. But he has given up seeking grants from the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) — the world’s biggest funder of mental-health research — since it began promoting a new way to investigate mental illness. The agency urges researchers to study the biological roots of disease, rather than specific disorders.

Yemen Cholera Outbreak Grows, with Children Bearing Brunt

June 13, 2017

(CNN) – A cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen continues to spread at a rapid pace. Over 124,000 cases have been recorded as of Tuesday, with 923 people — a quarter of them children — dead in the current outbreak, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a statement Tuesday. Cholera is an infection caused by ingestion of Vibrio cholerae bacteria in water or food contaminated with feces. Symptoms include sudden onset of watery diarrhea that can lead to death by severe dehydration. According to the World Health Organization, cholera is widespread in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen, with the number of cases surging since late April.

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