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How Pesticide Bans Can Prevent Tens of Thousands of Suicides a Year

November 15, 2018

(Vox) – About 800,000 people die by suicide every year, according to the World Health Organization, and at least 110,000 of them die by suicide using a means that American readers might find surprising: pesticide ingestion. This is a fairly uncommon suicide method in the US. There were only 12 pesticide suicides in the US in 2016, out of nearly 45,000 suicides total. But in poorer and more agricultural societies, pesticides make up a huge share of all suicide deaths. In China, for instance, 49 percent of suicides are suicides by pesticide; in India, the share is about 38.8 percent.

Lab-Grown ‘Mini-Brains’ Produce Electrical Patterns That Resemble Those of Premature Babies

November 15, 2018

(Nature) – ‘Mini brains’ grown in a dish have spontaneously produced human-like brain waves for the first time — and the electrical patterns look similar to those seen in premature babies. The advancement could help scientists to study early brain development. Research in this area has been slow, partly because it is difficult to obtain fetal-tissue samples for analysis and nearly impossible to examine a fetus in utero. Many researchers are excited about the promise of these ‘organoids’, which, when grown as 3D cultures, can develop some of the complex structures seen in brains. But the technology also raises questions about the ethics of creating miniature organs that could develop consciousness.

Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire Prompt Public Health Emergency Declaration in California

November 15, 2018

(San Francisco Chronicle) – The Camp and Woolsey fires raging in Northern and Southern California have prompted federal officials to declare a public health emergency in the state. Alex Azar, the secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, announced the declaration Tuesday night, allowing Medicare and Medi-Cal health care service providers “greater flexibility” in assisting survivors of the wildfires.

‘Emotionally, Physically and Financially Distressing’: What Women Are Not Told Before IVF Treatment

November 15, 2018

(Scroll) – The Delhi resident and her husband, Hemant Gambhir, had taken a chance on in vitro fertilisation or IVF treatment after trying unsuccessfully for five years to have a baby. The couple underwent a battery of tests and investigations. On March 5, they went to Gunjan IVF World in Ghaziabad, where the doctors would surgically retrieve Ruchika Gambhir’s eggs and Hemant Gambhir’s sperm, which would then be fertilised in a laboratory to make embryos that would later be transferred into her uterus. But Ruchika Gambhir developed medical complications during the procedure and was shifted to a bigger hospital, where she died in the intensive care unit.

36-Year-Old Dallas Woman in Coma after Plastic Surgery in Mexico

November 15, 2018

(WFAA) – About three miles from El Paso is Rinocenter, the clinic in Jaurez, Mexico, Laura Avila went to for cosmetic surgery on her nose. Something went wrong during the procedure in late October. Family and friends said Laura lost consciousness and has not woken up.

Female Prisoners in England Left to Give Birth without Midwife, Report Reveals

November 14, 2018

(The Guardian) – Women are giving birth in prison cells without access to proper medical care, according to a startling report shared with the Guardian. Concerns for the welfare of pregnant women and their babies are raised by a detailed report into experiences in three prisons that highlights cases of women giving births in cells without a midwife present, including one where the baby was premature and born feet-first.

Childbirth in the Age of Addiction: New Mom Worries about Maintaining Sobriety

November 14, 2018

(Kaiser Health News) – As recently as 2017, postpartum women were routinely being prescribed three- to five-day supplies of opioids — even after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. A study published that year of 164,720 Pennsylvania women on Medicaid who gave birth vaginally found that 12 percent of them filled an opioid prescription after they gave birth — even though most did not have a clear medical need for a painkiller, such as vaginal tearing or an episiotomy.

Lethal Bacteria Help Power Kidney Drug to Beat 1-in-1,000 Odds

November 14, 2018

(Bloomberg) – Doctors believe they’ve found an answer for patients like Romero in a protein that is produced by lethal bacteria. The protein, which temporarily wipes out antibodies, was crafted into an experimental drug called imlifidase to give donated organs a fighting chance against the immune system’s defenses. Developer Hansa Medical AB says imlifidase could make transplants possible for about 35,000 U.S. patients who currently have poor odds, and increase matches for others.

The Cost of Surviving Cancer

November 14, 2018

(Nature) – Oncologists are now aware of the long-term health risks of chemotherapy and radiation, and today’s treatments have become safer and more precise. Nevertheless, young survivors often do not receive the targeted medical attention that they require in the decades after beating cancer, and some clinicians are concerned about missed opportunities to protect their patients.

Protesters Take Anger Over Insulin Prices to Drug Makers, Some Bearing Children’s Ashes

November 14, 2018

(STAT News) – Anger over insulin prices in the U.S. has swelled as the nation’s largest insulin makers have hiked the price of the drug. Those price increases are now the subject of a class-action lawsuit and have drawn the attention of lawmakers in Washington. But the price hikes are also fueling public outcry by patients, caregivers, and clinicians. Last month, patients and activists marched outside Lilly’s headquarters demanding “insulin for all.”

Hawaii Retirement Home Clarifies Assisted Suicide Rules

November 14, 2018

(New York Times) – A Hawaii retirement home said Tuesday residents in its independent living wing may take advantage of the state’s new medically assisted suicide law if they wish. But Kahala Nui told residents in a memorandum this week that those in its assisted living and nursing center may not do so. Kahala Nui CEO Pat Duarte said the new measure allows health care facilities to determine whether they want to participate in provisions of the law. Kahala Nui’s health center won’t participate, he said.

Cases of Mysterious Paralyzing Condition Continue to Increase, CDC Says

November 14, 2018

(NPR) – The number of children being stricken by a mysterious paralyzing condition continues to increase, federal officials say. At least 252 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so far this year from 27 states, including 90 that have been confirmed through Nov. 9, the CDC reported Tuesday. Most of the cases have occurred among children between the ages of 2 and 8.

Solving Lymphoma’s Stem-Cell Problem

November 14, 2018

(Nature) – Up to half of allogeneic transplant recipients experience acute GvHD. This is a severe immune reaction that occurs in the first 100 days after the procedure and can rapidly become life-threatening. Then there is the long-term immune assault of chronic GvHD. Chronic GvHD affects up to around 40% of transplant recipients, and the incidence has been slowly rising in recent years. This is partly due to the increased use of peripheral-blood stem-cell donations, which bring increased survival but at the expense of a higher chance of long-term GvHD. There is also a greater willingness to attempt potentially curative but less damaging ‘mini-transplants’ for older patients, even though they are more likely to develop GvHD.

World Set to Miss Contraception Goal Leaving Millions of Women Behind

November 14, 2018

(Reuters) – An ambitious goal to boost the number of women using modern contraception by tens of millions by 2020 is falling far behind, said experts on Monday who say family planning helps prevent unsafe abortions and maternal deaths.  The number of women in poor countries using modern birth control rose by 46 million over the last six years to 317 million, according to a report released at a meeting of family planning experts held in Rwanda.

Kyoto University Performs World’s First iPS Cell Transplant for Parkinson’s

November 14, 2018

(The Japan Times) – Kyoto University said Friday it has conducted the world’s first transplant of induced pluripotent stem cells to treat Parkinson’s disease. Nerve cells created from the artificially derived stem cells, known as iPS cells, were transplanted into the brain of a patient in his 50s in October in a treatment researchers hope to develop into a method that can be covered under Japan’s health insurance system.

US Has Highest Rate of Drug Overdoses Study Says

November 13, 2018

(CNN) – The United States has more than double the rate of premature overdose deaths of at least 12 other countries, according to a new study. The research, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, says that there were an estimated 63,632 drug overdose deaths in 2016 in the US.

Smoke from California’s Fires Is Harming the State’s Most Vulnerable

November 13, 2018

(The Atlantic) – The deadliest fire in California’s history continues to burn, and San Francisco is filled with smoke and ash. On Tuesday, for the fifth day in a row, air throughout Northern California contained high amounts of fine-particulate-matter pollution, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District warned that the air was unhealthy for everyone. “The public should limit outdoor activity as much as possible,” the agency said Monday, urging residents to stay inside with their windows and doors closed. But for San Francisco’s thousands of homeless people, this warning is impossible to follow.

Could Your Race Determine Your Wait Time for a Donor Heart?

November 13, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – The wait for a heart transplant varies widely based on factors such as availability of donor hearts and blood type, but little is known about differences in wait times based on race and ethnicity. Now, preliminary research suggests African-American patients may experience longer wait times than other racial and ethnic groups. Who gets a donor heart each time one becomes available is based on objective criteria such as blood type, body size and how urgently a patient needs a transplant. Wait times, which are partially driven by the geographic availability of donor organs, are generally months long.

How Facebook and Twitter Could Be the Next Disruptive Force in Clinical Trials

November 13, 2018

(Nature) – But Amber’s experience also shows how trial participants are disrupting the usual flow of information in clinical studies. As participants become more empowered, the natural tensions between their goals and those of the researchers become more pronounced. Online discussions threaten to compromise trial integrity when participants join forces to work out who is receiving a placebo. Discussing potential side effects can also influence results, particularly when the symptoms are subjective. Drug companies have yet to report any cases of such actions causing irrevocable damage to a trial, but some researchers worry that information-sharing by participants could sink trials or weaken their findings.

As Social Media ‘Influencers,’ Patients Are Getting a Voice. And Pharma Is Ready to Pay Up

November 13, 2018

(STAT News) – An entire industry has cropped up to link drug makers with the industry’s own version of an influencer — people, usually patients, who have small but devoted followings and who might be willing to promote their products or share valuable insights about the patient community. Ciccarella, for example, is one of nearly 100,000 such influencers on the rosters of Wego Health, one of a handful of companies that essentially act a patient influencer talent agency. It’s a lucrative new frontier for drug advertising — and for patients, too, who benefit from close contact with the drug maker and, often, a fee. But it is also an increasingly regulated frontier, and one with ethical quandaries that some experts say the drug industry hasn’t fully considered.

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