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How a Missouri Doctor Exposed the Atrocities at Willowbrook in New York

November 29, 2017

(Fox News) – In 1972, America was finally getting out of Vietnam. Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit China, and a news story stunned the nation. Inside the idyllic looking Willowbrook School on New York’s Staten Island, conditions were shocking. Willowbrook was a state-run human warehouse. More than 5,000 mentally ill and physically disabled children and adults lived in dirt and filth. Often left naked due to lack of caretakers, the helpless children and adults were locked inside building after building, sleeping on cots and given no education.

A New Algorithm Identifies Candidates for Palliative Care by Predicting When Patients Will Die

November 29, 2017

(MIT Technology Review) – End-of-life care can be stressful for patients and their loved ones, but a new algorithm could help provide better care to people during their final months. A paper published in arXiv by researchers from Stanford describes a deep neural network that can look at a patient’s records and estimate the chance of mortality in the next three to 12 months. The team found that this serves as a good way to identify patients who could benefit from palliative care. Importantly, the algorithm also creates reports to explain its predictions to doctors.

Surrogacy and IVF Cases Put the Courts under Pressure, Says Senior Judge

November 29, 2017

(Telegraph) – IVF and surrogacy cases are putting the courts under pressure, a High Court judge has said, as he urged an update to legislation. Speaking at a conference of the Association of Lawyers for Children, family court judge Mr Justice MacDonald said judges were dealing with more of the cases as family situations became more complex. He also highlighted the growth in disputes between doctors and parents of children who suffer from terminal illnesses, following the high-profile Charlie Gard case earlier this year.

Reimagining Autonomy in Reproductive Medicine

November 29, 2017

(Medical Xpress) – Do the reproductive choices of prospective parents truly align with their values and priorities? How do doctors, reproductive technologies, and the law influence those choices? And why should certain women receive medical assistance to establish a pregnancy, while others are put in jail when they miscarry? A new Hastings Center special report, Just Reproduction: Reimagining Autonomy in Reproductive Medicine, considers these and related questions. It is a supplement to the Hastings Center Report, November-December 2017.

Aussie Doctor Philip Nitschke’s ‘Suicide Machine’ Harnesses 3D Printing Technology

November 29, 2017

(News.com.au) – A HI-TECH ‘suicide machine’ is being touted by a euthanasia advocacy group. It’s called the Sarco capsule, and it has a single, simple purpose: to help you commit suicide, painlessly and efficiently. “Sarco does not use any restricted drugs, or require any special expertise such as the insertion of an intravenous needle,” says Dr. Philip Nitschke, the controversial founder and director of Exit International, whose mission is “to inform members and support them in their end of life decision-making.”

About 11 Percent of Drugs in Poor Countries Are Fake, U.N. Says

November 28, 2017

(STAT News) – About 11 percent of medicines in developing countries are counterfeit and likely responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of children from diseases like malaria and pneumonia every year, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. It’s the first attempt by the U.N. health agency to assess the problem. Experts reviewed 100 studies involving more than 48,000 medicines. Drugs for treating malaria and bacterial infections accounted for nearly 65 percent of fake medicines.

Scientist Concedes His Controversial MS Therapy, Once a Source of Great Hope, Is ‘Largely Ineffective’

November 28, 2017

(STAT News) – What many hope will be the final chapter in an unfortunate saga in multiple sclerosis research appears to have been written by the scientist who started the affair in the first place. Italian physician Paolo Zamboni has publicly acknowledged that a therapy he developed and dubbed “the liberation treatment” does not cure or mitigate the symptoms of MS. A randomized controlled trial — the gold standard of medical research — he and other Italian researchers conducted concluded the procedure is a “largely ineffective technique” that should not be recommended for MS patients.

Facebook to Expand Artificial Intelligence to Help Prevent Suicide

November 28, 2017

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc will expand its pattern recognition software to other countries after successful tests in the U.S. to detect users with suicidal intent, the world’s largest social media network said on Monday. Facebook began testing the software in the United States in March, when the company started scanning the text of Facebook posts and comments for phrases that could be signals of an impending suicide.

South Korea to Review Whether or Not to Abolish Anti-Abortion Law

November 28, 2017

(Reuters) – The South Korean president’s office said on Sunday that it will begin a review on the country’s 64-year-old law to ban abortion.  The announcement came after more than 230,000 South Koreans filed a petition calling for the abolishment of the law. South Korea criminalized abortion in 1953 when its leaders wanted to boost the population and build an army powerful enough to fend off its rival North Korea.

Viagra Will Be Available over the Counter in UK, Says Medicines Regulator

November 28, 2017

(The Guardian) – Britain is to become the first country where Viagra can be bought over the counter, the medicines regulator has announced. The drug has been been credited with revolutionising treatment for male impotence and reducing stigma surrounding the condition since its commercial launch in 1998 but has become a popular target for criminals. Announcing its decision on Tuesday, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said it hopes the move will stop men seeking to buy it from unregulated websites.

A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears. This Is Why Health Care Costs So Much.

November 28, 2017

(Pro Publica) – Surgical ear piercings are rare, according to the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit that maintains a database of commercial health insurance claims. The institute could only find a few dozen possible cases a year in its vast cache of billing data. But O’Neill’s case is a vivid example of health care waste known as overuse. Into this category fall things like unnecessary tests, higher-than-needed levels of care or surgeries that have proven ineffective.

Gene Therapy Hits a Peculiar Roadblock: A Virus Shortage

November 28, 2017

(New York Times) – Eager to speed development of revolutionary treatments, the Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it would expedite approval of experimental gene therapies. But the regulatory process may not be the biggest obstacle here. Biotech companies have exciting plans to introduce treatments that may be transformative, sometimes curing genetic diseases with a single treatment. And the firms are itching to test their products. But they are struggling to obtain a critical component of the therapy: the disabled viruses used to slip good genes into cells that lack them.

Australia Built a Hell for Refugees on Manus. The Shame Will Outlive Us All

November 27, 2017

(The Guardian) – In the camps the refugees were made to answer to numbers given to them as their new identity. Denied their names they were not even allowed their stories. Every attempt that could be made was made by the Australian government, from the petty to the disturbing, to deny journalists access to the Pacific lager. When it came to imprisoned refugees free speech became a crime: for some years any doctor, nurse or social worker in the camps who publicly reported on the many instances, now well-documented, of rape, murder, suicide and sexual abuse of refugees was liable to two years’ imprisonment.

US Abortion Rates Plummet to a Historic Low

November 27, 2017

(New York Post) – Abortion rates in the United States have fallen to a historic low, according to the latest data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC report, which was released on Wednesday, found that the abortion rate nationwide dropped two percent between 2013 and 2014 amid the use of more effective contraception, the shuttering of many abortion clinics and an overall decline in pregnancy rates.

World’s First Cloned Dog Used to Make More Cloned Dogs so Scientists Can See What Happens

November 27, 2017

(Newsweek) – Scientists have used a cloned dog to create four more dogs in an experiment to find out what happens when animals are re-cloned. The team created the dogs—Afghan hounds—with stem cells from Snuppy, the world’s first ever cloned dog, which was born in April 2005.

Rohingya Crisis: Push for Contraception, Even Sterilisation, as Bengladesh Struggles with Refugee Influx

November 27, 2017

(Australian Broadcasting Co) – Last week the Red Cross revealed the Balukhali camp’s water table was dropping so rapidly, some areas could go dry before new deep bores can be dug. Bangladesh and Myanmar have entered negotiations for the refugees’ repatriation, but few expect a speedy solution to their statelessness. Public health official Dr Pintu Bhattacharya thinks the Bangladesh Government’s family planning program should be extended to refugees. Under the scheme, local men and women are paid small stipend for undergoing voluntary sterilisation.

U.S. Judge Strikes Down Texas Measure to Limit Second-Trimester Abortions

November 27, 2017

(Reuters) – A U.S. district judge on Wednesday struck down parts of a Texas law that would ban the most common type of second-trimester abortions in the state, after plaintiffs argued the procedure was safe, legal and necessary for women’s health.  U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin issued a permanent injunction against the provisions that were in legislation known as Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) and set to take effect this year, saying they “are facially unconstitutional.”

IVF, ICSI Pregnancies Lead to Increased Risk of Congenital Heart Defects in Newborns

November 27, 2017

(News-Medical) – A new analysis of published studies found a 45% increased risk of congenital heart defects in newborns when women become pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF)/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) than through spontaneous conception. The Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology analysis included 8 studies with 25,856 children obtained from IVF techniques and 287,995 children spontaneously conceived and a total of 2289 congenital heart defects.

Controversy Arises over Doctor’s Handling of North Korean Defector

November 27, 2017

(The Korea Times) – Controversy is growing over a lawmaker’s criticism of Lee Cook-jong, the doctor who revealed hygiene and nutrition problems of a North Korean soldier who defected, after treating him. Rep. Kim Jong-dae of the minor opposition Justice Party criticized Lee for violating the Medical Law that bans doctors from disclosing personal information about patients.

FDA Warns against ‘Do It Yourself’ Gene Therapy Kits

November 27, 2017

(Boston Business Journal) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a stern warning against the use of “do it yourself” gene therapy kits, pushing back against a nascent “biohacker” movement that seeks to make experimental medicines and technologies available to the masses, often by circumventing regulators. A statement posted on the FDA’s website on Tuesday cautions that it is illegal to sell gene therapy products and kits intended for self-administration. Gene therapy involves inserting new, healthy genes into cells to cure diseases that are caused by faulty genes. The FDA has classified gene editing — cutting out and replacing parts of faulty genes — as a form of gene therapy.

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