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Questions Remain Over Puberty-Blockers, as Review Clears Study

October 16, 2019

(BBC) – Over the past year, there have been mounting criticisms of a study into the effects of puberty-blocking drugs when used to treat young people with gender dysphoria – including concerns raised by Newsnight.  The study was carried out at the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids) at London’s Tavistock Clinic – England’s only NHS youth gender clinic – and partly led to the clinic lowering the age at which it offers children puberty blockers. The clinic started recruiting young people to the study in 2011.

E-Cigarettes Went Unchecked in 10 Years of Federal Inaction

October 15, 2019

(The New York Times) – E-cigarettes and vaping devices, with $7 billion in annual sales, have become a part of daily life for millions of Americans. Youth use has skyrocketed with the proliferation of flavors targeting teenagers, such as Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum and Zombie Blood. And nearly 1,300 people have been sickened by mysterious vaping-related lung injuries this year. Yet the agency has not vetted the vast majority of vaping devices or flavored liquids for safety. In dozens of interviews, federal officials and public health experts described a lost decade of inaction, blaming an intense lobbying effort by the e-cigarette and tobacco industries, fears of a political backlash in tobacco-friendly states, bureaucratic delays, and a late reprieve by an F.D.A. commissioner who had previously served on the board of a chain of vaping lounges.

Young Blood May Hold the Weapons for Targeting Age-Related Diseases

October 15, 2019

(Chemical & Engineering News) – In the wake of the initial fervor surrounding young blood, researchers are taking a more measured approach. Rather than trying to reverse aging, they’re identifying the molecular factors responsible for the changes seen in parabiosis experiments in hopes of targeting specific diseases associated with aging, such as age-related macular degeneration or Alzheimer’s disease. “Right now, conducting a clinical trial for aging is extremely difficult,” says Eric Verdin, CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. A targeted approach could yield practical treatments more quickly and with fewer ethical and other concerns than simply transfusing patients with young blood, researchers say.

Amazon Joins Trend of Sending Workers Away for Health Care

October 15, 2019

(The Wall Street Journal) – Employers are increasingly going the distance to control health spending, paying to send workers across the country to get medical care and bypassing local health-care providers. One of the latest is Amazon.com Inc., which will pay travel costs for workers diagnosed with cancer who choose to see doctors at City of Hope, a Los Angeles-area health system. More than 380,000 of the Seattle-based company’s employees and families across the U.S. are eligible for the travel benefit.

Federal Study Finds Nation’s Assisted Suicide Laws Rife with Dangers to People with Disabilities

October 14, 2019

(National Council on Disability) – Today, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released the findings of a federal examination of the country’s assisted suicide laws and their effect on people with disabilities, finding the laws’ safeguards are ineffective and oversight of abuses and mistakes is absent. Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia have passed assisted suicide laws that make it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients diagnosed with terminal illness and with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live, if certain procedural steps are followed.

Woman with Severe Learning Disabilities to Have Abortion, Judge Rules

October 14, 2019

(The Guardian) – A judge has given doctors the go-ahead to perform an abortion on a woman with severe learning disabilities who is 12 weeks pregnant. Mr Justice Williams heard that a GP had recently discovered that the woman, who is in her 20s but has the mental age of a toddler, was pregnant. He was told that a police investigation was under way.

Ohio Ban on Down Syndrome Abortion Blocked by U.S. Appeals Court

October 14, 2019

(Reuters) – A divided federal appeals court on Friday said Ohio cannot enforce a 2017 law banning abortions when medical tests show that a fetus has Down syndrome. Upholding a preliminary injunction, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said the law was invalid under Supreme Court precedents because it had the purpose and effect of preventing some women from obtaining pre-viability abortions.

Doctors Look to Eye-Tracking to Improve Care

October 11, 2019

(The Wall Street Journal) – For Pat Quinn, eye-tracking technology is a lifeline to the world. Mr. Quinn, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is almost completely paralyzed. To speak, write, change the television channel or turn on the lights in his Yonkers, N.Y., home, he flicks his eyes over a computer screen. The device has an infrared camera below the display; he can “click” on files, links or letters on a keyboard by looking at them. “I honestly don’t know how patients remained active without this. I use it every second I am awake,” said Mr. Quinn, 36, through a voice synthesizer. 

With a New Guide to Tapering Opioids, Federal Health Officials Seek a Balanced Approach to Prescribing

October 11, 2019

(STAT News) – Federal health officials on Thursday released a guide for clinicians who are considering tapering patients’ opioid prescriptions, highlighting the benefits of safe reductions in dosages while warning against abrupt drops for people who have been on the drugs for long periods. The recommendations come amid concerns that some chronic pain patients’ dosages have been unsafely pulled back and that providers have sometimes abandoned patients. 

Scientists Chase Cause of Mysterious Vaping Illness as Death Toll Rises

October 11, 2019

(Nature) – Researchers and physicians alike were caught unprepared by the illness, which has now sickened about 1,300 US vapers and killed 26. Scientists are scrambling to find out why, and to save other vapers from the same fate. “Everything is rapidly evolving, says Brandon Larsen, a pulmonary pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. “I could tell you something today and next week it could be totally wrong.” A paper published by Larsen and his colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine on 2 October undercut a popular theory behind the outbreak — and underscored how far researchers still have to go to pinpoint its cause.

‘Alarming Upsurge’ in Measles Has Devastating Impact, WHO Warns

October 11, 2019

(Reuters) – Latest WHO global data show that reported cases of measles – which is one of the world’s most contagious diseases – rose by 300 percent globally in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2018. This follows consecutive increases over the past two years. 

These Women Say a Trusted Pediatrician Abused Them as Girls. Now They Plan to Sue.

October 10, 2019

(New York Times) – The state Office of Professional Medical Conduct received a steady stream of sexual abuse complaints about Mr. Copperman for nearly two decades, but did not strip him of his medical license until December 2000. By then, he was 65 years old and ready to retire. No criminal charges were ever filed. Mr. Copperman, 84, declined to comment for this story but in the past has denied any wrongdoing. His exams were thorough, he has said, and performed in accordance with standard medical practice. But Ms. Ribaudo and about 50 other former patients now hope to sue him for monetary damages under a new law in New York State, the Child Victims Act.

Former GP Spurs 20+ Retractions Over Forced Transplants from Chinese Patients

October 10, 2019

(Medscape) – Medicine’s loss was medical ethics’ gain. Now a professor of clinical ethics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, Rogers’ work to draw attention to scientific research that used organ transplants from executed prisoners in China have led to at least 20 retractions, and counting. This past June, a people’s tribunal convened by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), a nongovernmental organization for which Rogers chairs the international advisory committee, concluded that “forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale.” The Chinese government officially banned the practice in 2015, but estimates of the number of transplants in the country suggest it is still done.

Measles Outbreak Kills More than 4,000 in Congo This Year

October 9, 2019

(ABC News) – More than 4,000 people have died in Congo this year in the world’s largest measles outbreak, the United Nations children’s agency said Wednesday. The Central African nation is also battling an Ebola outbreak that has killed about half that number since August 2018.

Cybercriminals Are Targeting Healthcare Companies with Phishing Campaigns to Steal Sensitive Data

October 9, 2019

(The Next Web) – Healthcare providers are facing an unprecedented level of social engineering-driven malware threats, according to new research. The findings — disclosed by California-based enterprise security solutions provider Proofpoint US — discovered at least 77 percent of email attacks on the medical sector during the first three months of 2019 involved the use of malicious links.

U.S. Blacklists Chinese Artificial Intelligence Firms Over Abuses Against Muslim Minorities

October 9, 2019

(TIME) – The United States is blacklisting a group of Chinese tech companies that develop facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technology that the U.S. says is being used to repress China’s Muslim minority groups. A move Monday by the U.S. Commerce Department puts the companies on a so-called Entity List for acting contrary to American foreign policy interests. The blacklist effectively bars U.S. firms from selling technology to the Chinese companies without government approval.

Bronx Teenager’s Death Is the Youngest Vaping Fatality in U.S.

October 8, 2019

(The New York Times) – A 17-year-old Bronx boy whose death was disclosed by New York State officials on Tuesday is the first teenager in the United States to die of a vaping-related illness, according to federal and state data. The teenager died on Friday after being hospitalized twice in September with a vaping-related illness, becoming the state’s first fatality from the mysterious lung disease, according to state health officials.

Thousands Peacefully Protest French IVF Law, Avoiding Repeat of 2013 Violence

October 8, 2019

(Reuters) – An estimated 42,000 protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday, peacefully demonstrating against a draft law allowing lesbians and single women to conceive children with medical assistance, police said.  The bioethics law, which has cleared its first reading in parliament, would lift the current restriction limiting in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to heterosexual couples.

Hong Kong’s Undercover Medics Reveal Hidden Toll of Protests

October 8, 2019

(Associated Press) – With Hong Kong’s summer of protests now stretching into the fall and clashes becoming increasingly ferocious, medical professionals have quietly banded together to form the Hidden Clinic and other networks to secretly treat the injuries of many young demonstrators who fear arrest if they go to government hospitals. The person who messaged the network on the injured protester’s behalf later explained the youth’s wariness by saying, “Many of his friends have been detained when seeing doctors.”

Why IVF Has Divided France

October 7, 2019

(The Atlantic) – More than most countries, France is forever caught between theory and practice, Catholicism and Enlightenment science, tradition and innovation, universalism and individual rights. Perhaps nothing illustrates that tension better than the heated debate unfolding here over the biggest social issue on President Emmanuel Macron’s agenda: a bill that would lift some of France’s restrictions on access to fertility treatments. The proposed changes, some of which have already been approved and the rest of which are likely to pass, would grant single women, regardless of their sexual orientation, access to treatments such as in vitro fertilization and sperm donation, paid for by the national health system.

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