Recently in Medicine and Health Category

A two-fer - first from US News and World Report:

Health Officials Warn of Measles Exposure
HEALTH OFFICIALS IN Los Angeles County are warning about possible exposure to measles amid a spike in cases elsewhere in the country in recent months.

In late December, one person who was sick with the highly contagious viral infection visited several stores and restaurants in Malibu, Pasadena and Santa Monica while contagious, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Officials said there is no remaining risk in those areas, but people who may have been near the infected person should watch for any symptoms of the illness, which is spread through cough or sneeze and causes fever, red eyes and a rash. Most people who haven't been immunized will get measles if they are exposed to the virus, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said.

And this blast of truth from Scientific American:

Opting Out of Vaccines Should Opt You Out of American Society
The ongoing measles outbreaks across the United States and Europe prove definitively that our personal choices affect everybody around us. Although you have a right to your own body, your choice to willfully be sick ends where another’s right to be healthy begins. For that reason, people who “opt out” of vaccines should be opted out of American society.

This is America, the Land of the Free. That freedom, however, doesn’t mean “I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.” When we choose to live in a society, there are certain obligations—both moral and legal—to which we are bound. You cannot inflict harm or infringe on the rights and liberties of those around you.

So true - some little snowflakes out there need to be hit with the cluebat. And this great comparison:

Finally, your moral and legal obligations to the safety of others can even curtail combinations of your rights. Even though consuming alcohol and driving are both legal activities, they are not legal when performed together. Nearly 11,000 people die every year because people choose to exercise their “rights” inappropriately.

The exact same reasoning applies to vaccination. There is no moral difference between a drunk driver and a willfully unvaccinated person. Both are selfishly, recklessly and knowingly putting the lives of everyone they encounter at risk. Their behavior endangers the health, safety and livelihood of the innocent bystanders who happen to have the misfortune of being in their path.

And your argument is?

Nice people - anti-vaxxers

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I guess that seals the deal - anti-vaccination equals mental illness. From CNN:

Her son died. And then anti-vaxers attacked her
Not long ago, a 4-year-old boy died of the flu. His mother, under doctor's orders, watched his two little brothers like a hawk, terrified they might get sick and die, too.

Grieving and frightened, just days after her son's death she checked her Facebook page hoping to read messages of comfort from family and friends.

Instead, she found dozens of hateful comments: You're a terrible mother. You killed your child. You deserved what happened to your son. This is all fake - your child doesn't exist.

And the people behind this outpouring of goodwill:

Interviews with mothers who've lost children and with those who spy on anti-vaccination groups, reveal a tactic employed by anti-vaxers: When a child dies, members of the group sometimes encourage each other to go on that parent's Facebook page. The anti-vaxers then post messages telling the parents they're lying and their child never existed, or that the parent murdered them, or that vaccines killed the child, or some combination of all of those.

Nothing is considered too cruel. Just days after their children died, mothers say anti-vaxers on social media called them whores, the c-word and baby killers.

The mother in the Midwest, who wants to remain anonymous, isn't alone.

Jill Promoli, who lives outside Toronto, lost her son to flu. She believes the anti-vaxers are trying to silence the very people who can make the strongest argument for vaccinations: those whose children died of vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Mentally ill. Nothing else explains the pathology of character.

Report from Harvard University - from Yahoo / The Telegraph:

Harvard University uncovers DNA switch that controls genes for whole-body regeneration
Humans may one day have the ability to regrow limbs after scientists at Harvard University uncovered the DNA switch that controls genes for whole-body regeneration.

Some animals can achieve extraordinary feats of repair, such as salamanders which grow back legs, or geckos which can shed their tails to escape predators and then form new ones in just two months.

Planarian worms, jellyfish, and sea anemones go even further, actually regenerating their entire bodies after being cut in half.

Now scientists have discovered that that in worms, a section of non-coding or ‘junk’ DNA controls the activation of a ‘master control gene’ called early growth response (EGR) which acts like a power switch, turning regeneration on or off.

Here is the link to the original paper from Science:

Hofstenia miamia, commonly called the three-banded panther worm, is a small flatworm that can be found along the shores of the Caribbean and other warm waters. It is known for its impressive regenerative capabilities, including the ability to regenerate any body part within a few days of amputation. Previous reports identified some of the molecular signals used to coordinate regeneration (1), although the specific genes and gene networks that regulate this response were unknown. On page 1191 of this issue, Gehrke et al. (2) developed an impressive collection of genomic resources for the species, including extensive DNA, RNA, and chromatin accessibility data to promote H. miamia as a new model system for studying regeneration. Using these data, they identify early growth response (Egr), which encodes a candidate pioneer transcription factor responsible for regulating the molecular regenerating response to wounding.

Really big if it turns out to work in people.

A great choice - head of the FDA

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From Next Big Future:

Aging Expert Heading FDA Could be Good for Antiaging Projects
In April, aging research expert Norman E. (Ned) Sharpless, MD will become the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Sharpless is a 2003 Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging scholar. Ned served on AFAR’s National Scientific Advisory Council from 2005-2011 and chaired the Selection Committee of the Glenn/AFAR Postdoctoral Program for Transnational Research on Aging program in 2015 and 2016. For over 30 years, AFAR has supported the science of healthier aging.

Great call (from my perspective of 68 orbits around our sun).

And this is my surprised face - NOT!

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Two articles that caught my eye. First, from The New York Times:

Your Environment Is Cleaner. Your Immune System Has Never Been So Unprepared
Should your children pick their noses? Should your children eat dirt? Maybe: Your body needs to know what immune challenges lurk in the immediate environment.

Should you use antibacterial soap or hand sanitizers? No. Are we taking too many antibiotics? Yes.

“I tell people, when they drop food on the floor, please pick it up and eat it,” said Dr. Meg Lemon, a dermatologist in Denver who treats people with allergies and autoimmune disorders.

A bit more:

She’s referring, with a facetious touch, to the fact our immune system can become disrupted if it doesn’t have regular interactions with the natural world.

“Our immune system needs a job,” Dr. Lemon said. “We evolved over millions of years to have our immune systems under constant assault. Now they don’t have anything to do.”

She isn’t alone. Leading physicians and immunologists are reconsidering the antiseptic, at times hysterical, ways in which we interact with our environment.

I keep clean and follow Health Department standards when preparing and storing food but I know so many people who are germ-phobic to the point of irrationality.

Next up is this from United Press International:

Exercise may cut long-term mortality in older adults, study says
Working out more can help the body and mind, which can ultimately help to extend a person's life, a new study says.

About 65 percent of people with an average age of 72 showed cognitive frailty, according to findings published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Cognitive frailty, the condition of being both mentally impaired and physically frail but without dementia symptoms, puts people at a greater risk of death than having either of the symptoms separately.

The good news is that physical activity reduces the risk of cognitive frailty by 35 percent, the research says.

Very happy I joined the YMCA - it is a major shift in my habits to go there and work out for 90 minutes but I feel so much better after I do.

Measles in the news - a three-fer

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First - glad to see someone with a pair of brass ones. From the New York City CBS affiliate:

NY Judge Rules Against Anti-Vax Parents, Says Students Can’t Return To School During Measles Outbreak
A federal judge has ruled against a group of local parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children.

More than 40 students have been banned from a private school during the Rockland County measles outbreak. On Tuesday, the judge said he would not lift that ban.

Those students and their families were in a courtroom instead of a classroom, fighting an order to stay away from fellow students due to the high risk they could contract and spread the measles.

Good - I still think that we should bring back the Pillory - perfect punishment for these willfully ignorant parents.

Second, the outbreak is growing - from The Hill:

CDC reports 228 measles cases in 12 states
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 228 cases of measles in 12 states so far this year.

The CDC has identified six outbreaks, which it defines as three or mores cases, in New York, Washington, Texas, Illinois and California.

The cases are linked to unvaccinated American travelers bringing measles back into the U.S. from other countries where large measles outbreaks are occurring, such as Israel and Ukraine, the CDC says.

Surprised that Israel is having problems - they are too intellegent for crap like anti-vaxxing. Ahhh - the ultra-orthodox

Finally, from the Los Angeles Times:

Officials warn of measles exposure at LAX
Travelers at Los Angeles International Airport may have been exposed to measles late last month, health officials said Tuesday.

A passenger who had a layover at LAX on Feb. 21 was diagnosed with measles, a highly contagious illness that spreads through coughing or sneezing. People who were in Terminal B and Delta Terminal 3 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. that day may have been exposed, health officials said.

Another reason to avoid air travel like the... plague...

From The Centers for Disease Control:

2018-2019 Influenza Season Week 9 ending March 2, 2019
Influenza activity remains elevated in the United States. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, influenza A(H3N2), and influenza B viruses continue to co-circulate. 

Much more at the site. We may be heading into Spring but the flu is still with us.

Great news - Italy

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From The Beeb:

Italy bans unvaccinated children from school
Italian children have been told not to turn up to school unless they can prove they have been properly vaccinated.

The deadline follows months of national debate over compulsory vaccination.

Parents risk being fined up to €500 (£425; $560) if they send their unvaccinated children to school. Children under six can be turned away.

I wish the school administrators in Oregon and Washington had balls like this. No need to infect your classmates just because you have willfully stupid parents.

Mumps in the news - Arizona

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More anti-vax stupidity - from AZ Central:

Mumps reports in Chandler draw attention to the other 'M' in childhood vaccine
After two confirmed cases of mumps were found in Chandler, Maricopa County health officials issued a statement reminding people of symptoms to look for from the contagious disease.

"As of right now, we only know of the two confirmed cases at Hamilton High," said Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director of disease control at the Maricopa Department of Public Health.

Sunenshine added that mumps cases in Arizona are relatively uncommon, but there are reports of other outbreaks in other parts of the country.

A nasty disease - if you get it after puberty, there is a good chance that you will become sterile. It hits the glands.

Not just measles - tetanus

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From the Centers for Disease Control:

Notes from the Field: Tetanus in an Unvaccinated Child — Oregon, 2017
Tetanus is an acute neuromuscular disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. Bacterial spores found in soil can enter the body through skin disruption, with subsequent onset of clinical illness ranging from 3 to 21 days (usually within 8 days). In 2017, a boy aged 6 years who had received no immunizations sustained a forehead laceration while playing outdoors on a farm; the wound was cleaned and sutured at home. Six days later, he had episodes of crying, jaw clenching, and involuntary upper extremity muscle spasms, followed by arching of the neck and back (opisthotonus) and generalized spasticity. Later that day, at the onset of breathing difficulty, the parents contacted emergency medical services, who air-transported him directly to a tertiary pediatric medical center. The boy subsequently received a diagnosis of tetanus and required approximately 8 weeks of inpatient care, followed by rehabilitation care, before he was able to resume normal activities.

And what happened?

The boy required 57 days of inpatient acute care, including 47 days in the intensive care unit. The inpatient charges totaled $811,929 (excluding air transportation, inpatient rehabilitation, and ambulatory follow-up costs). One month after inpatient rehabilitation, he returned to all normal activities, including running and bicycling. Despite extensive review of the risks and benefits of tetanus vaccination by physicians, the family declined the second dose of DTaP and any other recommended immunizations.

Emphasis mine - the $811K is being paid out of taxpayer dollars. The family declined any other recommended immunizations. What morons.

The almost lost their child and they still think that vaccines are wrong.

From The New York Times:

Measles Outbreak: 1 Student Got 21 Others Sick
Public officials and health experts had given several warnings: Do not allow a student in school if they had not been vaccinated against measles.

Still, during New York City’s largest measles outbreak in a decade, a school in Brooklyn ignored that advice, resulting in one student infecting at least 21 other people with the virus.

The outbreak, at Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov in Williamsburg, is reigniting concerns that too many people in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities are unvaccinated, as well as worries that measles would continue to spread after travelers arrived last fall from parts of Israel and Europe, where the virus was spreading.

City officials said they have struggled to increase vaccination rates in certain communities because of popularity of the widely debunked anti-vaccination movement, with parents declining vaccines for their children in fear that they increase the risk of autism.

And the outbreak has been going on since last fall:

The outbreak in New York began in the fall. Within months, the state had recorded nearly 200 cases. Dr. Barbot said that in New York City 133 cases have been recorded for people ages 6 months to 59 years, and that several people, including children, have been hospitalized. There have been no known fatalities.

Child abuse plain and simple.

Measles - a two-fer

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First - the Washington State outbreak. From NBC News:

Clark County keeps 800 students out of school due to measles outbreak
In the Washington county that is home to one of the nation’s largest measles outbreaks, the effects go far beyond the 71 confirmed cases.

The Seattle Times reports over 800 students considered exposed to the highly contagious disease in Clark County have been ordered to stay away from classrooms for up to three weeks, disrupting their education.

Since January, field trips, after-school activities and an assembly honoring Martin Luther King Jr. have been canceled or postponed. Some students are doing homework off prepared handouts; others are using school-issued laptops to keep up.

All because some ninny responded to lies on the internet. It fit the narrative. Anti-Vax is child abuse.

Second - Costa Rica. From the UK Independent:

Measles returned to Costa Rica after five years by French family who had not had vaccinations
An unvaccinated French boy is suspected of having reintroduced measles to Costa Rica after the Central American country had been free of the disease for five years.

It is unclear why the five-year-old French tourist had never received a measles jab, but the arrival of the highly contagious, potentially deadly disease in a country that has been measles-free since 2014 is likely to increase anxiety about the effects of the worldwide anti-vaccine movement.

The reintroduction of measles to Costa Rica comes a month after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that “vaccine hesitancy” is in the top 10 of the worst health threats facing humanity in 2019.

We need to bring back the Pillory - very effective. Didn't vaccinate your kid? Spend a week in the pillory (taken out to eat and sleep of course - we are not barbarians after all) being laughed at by your smarter townsfolk.

From Politico:

State lawmakers pushing for laxer vaccine rules despite measles outbreaks
Measles is spreading from New York to Texas to Washington state in the worst outbreak in years, but some state lawmakers want to take the vaccination debate in the opposite direction: Loosening rules covering whether kids get inoculated.

In Oregon, state lawmakers will consider a so-called transparency bill favored by the "vaccine hesitant." New York is simultaneously considering eliminating and expanding exemptions that allow parents to opt out. One bill in Texas would prohibit the state from even tracking exemptions.

"vaccine hesitant" - Christ on a Corn Dog. Let us make that "willfully stupid"

The push to loosen the rules is occurring even as the U.S. has experienced more than 160 measles cases in 10 states since Jan. 1, including 74 in Washington state and Oregon linked to the outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, according to the states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Child abuse plain and simple.

Just wonderful - measles

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From the Chicago, IL FOX affiliate:

Unvaccinated traveler may have exposed thousands of people to measles at Chicago airport
Travelers passing through Chicago’s Midway International Airport last week may have been exposed to measles.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says an unvaccinated Illinois resident passed through Midway on Feb. 22. Department officials announced Thursday people in the airport between 9 p.m. and midnight may have been exposed.

The infected person sought treatment at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva. Those in the emergency department Feb. 24 and Feb 25 also may have been exposed.

Public health officials say measles is spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes and can also spread through contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person.

Those infected by measles may not develop symptoms for weeks.

Emphasis mine - we need to make the vaccination mandatory. There is no scientific reason not to.

No surprise there - urban mental health

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No brainer article at The London Times:

Growing up near green spaces is linked to better mental health
Children who grow up in greener surroundings have a greatly reduced risk of developing mental illnesses later in life, research suggests.

A study that tracked almost a million people found that those who were raised among the lowest levels of green space were as much as 55 per cent more likely to develop disorders such as substance abuse, stress-related illnesses and schizophrenia.

Also interesting:

The link to good mental health was just as strong for those who lived in green areas of cities as for those who grew up deep in the countryside.

I grew up in a very urban part of Pittsburgh, PA but spent a lot of time in nearby parks and we vacationed in Colorado every other year. For me, being in the country (or farmland) is very grounding and peaceful. I was up in Mt. Vernon earlier today and instead of taking the freeway back home, I took a country road that I like - it was gorgeous and not that much slower as the limit is 55 and most people were driving at 60MPH.

Interesting too that the homeless flock to cities. In Maple Falls, we may get one or two "crispy" people trying to put down roots each year but they never last more than a month or so.

Ho Li Crap - measles

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Major outbreak in Madagascar - from USA Today:

900 people died of measles in Madagascar outbreak. Could that happen in the U.S.?
As public health officials monitor a measles outbreak in Washington state, the World Health Organization says a separate measles epidemic in Madagascar has killed more than 900 people.

Since the outbreak began in September, the country in East Africa has seen more than 68,000 cases of the highly infectious disease, according to WHO. The organization says 553 people have died and an additional 373 are suspected to have died because of the measles. Babies are most at risk.

Could something like that happen in the U.S.? WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the high death toll and number of infections has been blamed on a low immunization rate, less than 60 percent, for measles across the island. In the U.S., more than 90 percent of Americans do get recommended immunizations, according to CDC data. So, an outbreak of that size in America would be rare, but health officials are concerned that measles cases could increase with a growing anti-vaccination trend.

Not vaccinating your children is the worst kind of child abuse possible.

Just wonderful - measles

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The idiot parents who fall for the anti-vax propaganda. From the Independent:

Measles returned to Costa Rica after five years by French family who had not had vaccinations
An unvaccinated French boy is suspected of having reintroduced measles to Costa Rica after the Central American country had been free of the disease for five years.

It is unclear why the five-year-old French tourist had never received a measles jab, but the arrival of the highly contagious, potentially deadly disease in a country that has been measles-free since 2014 is likely to increase anxiety about the effects of the worldwide anti-vaccine movement.

The reintroduction of measles to Costa Rica comes a month after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that “vaccine hesitancy” is in the top 10 of the worst health threats facing humanity in 2019.

Costa Rica’s health ministry said the French five-year-old had arrived in the country with his parents on 18 February.

The Costa Rica Star reported that the boy and his mother had not been vaccinated. The parents were said to have consulted a private doctor in Costa Rica about their son’s “rash”, and confirmed that other children who had attended the boy’s school in France had come down with measles.

And some numbers:

The WHO has said that despite the availability of a safe and cost-effective vaccine, there were 110,000 measles deaths globally in 2017, mostly among children under the age of five.

Every single one of those deaths was unnecessary. The pitiful ignorance of some people and the craven sociopathy of those people who promote antivaxxing is beyond belief.

And it is back in favor again - Vitamin D

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About a month ago, research offered that Vitamin D was not a substitute for getting sunlight. Now, a study is showing that it has other benefits. From Baltimore, MD station WBAL:

Vitamin D may have even more benefits than previously known
Vitamin D, often called "the sunshine vitamin," is considered essential to good health.

Researchers focusing on the consequences of vitamin D deficiency have found it is connected with an alarming number of health issues, such as osteoporosis, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases.


"A new study, just came out this year, showed vitamin D, adequate levels of vitamin D, can reduce your risk of diabetes. They found that vitamin D supplementation basically made insulin work better, and if insulin works better, blood sugar goes down and your risk of diabetes goes (down)," Doyle said.

Interesting to see what comes of this.

Faster please - medicine

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From Yahoo / Agence France Presse:

'Killer' cells raise hope of universal flu vaccine
Scientists said Monday they had discovered immune cells that can fight all known flu viruses in what was hailed as an "extraordinary breakthrough" that could lead to a universal, one-shot vaccine against the killer disease.

Influenza epidemics, largely seasonal, kill hundreds of thousands of people each year, according to the World Health Organization.

Due to its mutating strains, vaccine formulas must be regularly updated and only offer limited protection currently.

Researchers in Australia said that "killer T cells" -- found in over half the world's population -- had shown in testing to be effective in fighting all common flu varieties.

This means the cells could potentially be used to develop an all-encompassing flu shot that did not need to be changed annually, and even be effective in people who don't naturally possess them.

Here is the home page for the organization in question: The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

Here is their own press release: ‘Killer’ immune cells provide solution to elusive universal flu vaccine

And here is the paper at Nature: Human CD8+ T cell cross-reactivity across influenza A, B and C viruses

Flu is a killer - lost a good friend to it last winter..

Pot - a two-fer

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Everyone seems to think that marijuana is the best thing since sliced bread - here are two alternate views.

First - from Malcom Gladwell writing at The New Yorker:

Is Marijuana as Safe as We Think?
A few years ago, the National Academy of Medicine convened a panel of sixteen leading medical experts to analyze the scientific literature on cannabis. The report they prepared, which came out in January of 2017, runs to four hundred and sixty-eight pages. It contains no bombshells or surprises, which perhaps explains why it went largely unnoticed. It simply stated, over and over again, that a drug North Americans have become enthusiastic about remains a mystery.

For example, smoking pot is widely supposed to diminish the nausea associated with chemotherapy. But, the panel pointed out, “there are no good-quality randomized trials investigating this option.” We have evidence for marijuana as a treatment for pain, but “very little is known about the efficacy, dose, routes of administration, or side effects of commonly used and commercially available cannabis products in the United States.” The caveats continue. Is it good for epilepsy? “Insufficient evidence.” Tourette’s syndrome? Limited evidence. A.L.S., Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s? Insufficient evidence. Irritable-bowel syndrome? Insufficient evidence. Dementia and glaucoma? Probably not. Anxiety? Maybe. Depression? Probably not.

Then come Chapters 5 through 13, the heart of the report, which concern marijuana’s potential risks. The haze of uncertainty continues. Does the use of cannabis increase the likelihood of fatal car accidents? Yes. By how much? Unclear. Does it affect motivation and cognition? Hard to say, but probably. Does it affect employment prospects? Probably. Will it impair academic achievement? Limited evidence. This goes on for pages.

Second - from Alex Berenson writing at Imprimis:

Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence
Seventy miles northwest of New York City is a hospital that looks like a prison, its drab brick buildings wrapped in layers of fencing and barbed wire. This grim facility is called the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute. It’s one of three places the state of New York sends the criminally mentally ill—defendants judged not guilty by reason of insanity.

Until recently, my wife Jackie ­— Dr. Jacqueline Berenson — was a senior psychiatrist there. Many of Mid-Hudson’s 300 patients are killers and arsonists. At least one is a cannibal. Most have been diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia that provoked them to violence against family members or strangers.

A couple of years ago, Jackie was telling me about a patient. In passing, she said something like, Of course he’d been smoking pot his whole life.

Of course? I said.

Yes, they all smoke.

So marijuana causes schizophrenia?

I was surprised, to say the least. I tended to be a libertarian on drugs. Years before, I’d covered the pharmaceutical industry for The New York Times. I was aware of the claims about marijuana as medicine, and I’d watched the slow spread of legalized cannabis without much interest.

Jackie would have been within her rights to say, I know what I’m talking about, unlike you. Instead she offered something neutral like, I think that’s what the big studies say. You should read them.

Much more at both sites - usedd to smoke a bit when I was in my 20's but stopped as it was not "enhancing" anything - it was an energy drain and I did not like the psychological effects. Marijuana seems to have been re-incarnated as some kind of "magic medicine" good for all that ails a person. Not true and more research needs to be done.

Los Angeles and Typhus

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Getting worse - from the Los Angeles Times:

Long before City Hall rats, L.A. has struggled with the rise of typhus
Los Angeles officials this month called for an investigation into a vermin infestation at City Hall, after at least one city employee was diagnosed with typhus, a disease spread by rodents.

The rat problem has focused attention on typhus over the last several weeks. But cases of the disease have actually been increasing in California for more than a decade.

Thirteen people in the state were diagnosed with typhus in 2008, compared with 167 last year. More than 95% of the people falling sick in California are in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to state health data.

Wonder how long it will be before Yersinia pestis rears its ugly head. It can be treated with common antibiotics but a very prompt diagnosis is required to get mortality down below 40%. Highly contageous too - wonderful stuff. Symptoms are very flu-like at the beginning and since the flu is a virus, antibiotics do not have any effect - people will not be inclined to take them for flu symptoms. By the time the buboes show up, it is too late. Not good at all.

Not a big fan of dense populations - just one reason.

Now this could be interesting

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From New Atlas:

New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood
A team of Canadian scientists has developed a fascinating new experimental drug that is purported to result in rapid improvements to both mood and memory following extensive animal testing. It's hoped the drug will move to human trials within the next two years.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a key neurotransmitter, and when altered it can play a role in the development of everything from psychiatric conditions to cognitive degeneration. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, are a class of drugs well known to function by modulating the brain's GABA systems.

This new research describes the development of several new molecules that are structurally based on benzodiazepines, but with small tweaks to enhance their ability to specifically target certain brain areas. The goal was to create a new therapeutic agent that can effectively combat age-related mood and memory alterations caused by disruptions in the GABA systems.

"Currently there are no medications to treat cognitive symptoms such as memory loss that occur in depression, other mental illnesses and aging," says Etienne Sibille, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and lead scientist on the new research.

If this pans out, they should just put it in the water systems like we do with Chlorine and Fluorine. Overall improvement to society.

Yikes - Ebola

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From Miami, FL station WPLG:

Nearly 100 children dead from Ebola in Congo as crisis worsens
Nearly 100 children have died since the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo started last year -- and the crisis is gathering pace, with the number of new cases doubling last month, according to charity Save the Children.

A total of 97 children have died from the viral illness since the outbreak began in August, 65 of whom were younger than 5 years old, the group said.

And the number of new cases spiked in January, from around 20 a week to more than 40, according to the charity. In the last three weeks of January alone, there were 120 new cases overall.

Faster on that vaccine please. This disease really scares me.

The Measles outbreak - WA State

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A bunch of headlines that are links to the original article:

Measles update: 51 cases of measles confirmed, 13 suspected in Clark County

Clark County, WA Dept. of Public Health

Measles Cases Mount In Pacific Northwest Outbreak

Washington lawmakers weigh vaccine bill amid outbreak
The bill, HB 1638, would remove parents' ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption to opt their school-age children out of the MMR vaccines.

And finally (some of the article excerpted) from The Washington Post:

Washington measles outbreak draws crowd to hearing on vaccine law
Anti-vaccine activists packed a public hearing Friday to oppose a bill that would make it harder for families to opt out of vaccination requirements for measles, mumps and rubella amid the state’s worst measles outbreak in more than two decades.

An estimated 700 people, most of them opposed to stricter requirements, lined up before dawn in the cold, toting strollers and hand-lettered signs, to sit in the hearing, which was so crowded that staff opened up additional rooms to accommodate the crowd. Many gathered outside afterward for a rally.

Anti-vaccine activists, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent vaccine conspiracy theorist, claimed that health officials are covering up vaccine dangers. Some said their children had been injured or sickened by immunizations. One falsely said the majority of people diagnosed with measles have been vaccinated.

When the Washington state health secretary, John Wiesman, debunked those claims, some members of the audience murmured in disapproval.

Those 700 people should be convicted of child abuse. They are delusional in their willful stupidity.

This is not good - Ebola

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From The Lancet:

Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: time to sound a global alert?
The epidemic of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second largest in history after the 2014 west African epidemic. A storm of detrimental factors complicates this event: armed conflict, political instability, and mass displacement. WHO, the DRC Government, and non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners have shown remarkable leadership but are badly stretched. The outbreak remains far from controlled, risking a long-term epidemic with regional, perhaps global, impacts.

The Lancet is paywalled but England's The Daily Star has more:

The current outbreak – first declared just six months ago – is already the world’s second-biggest having killed nearly 1,000 since it began.

And now there are fresh fears the epidemic is set to intensify amid warnings the spread is taking the disease closer to Goma city and has already arrived in the city of Butemba, which is home to millions of people.

The United Nations has scrambled emergency medical teams in Goma to deal with a possibly devastating outbreak in the city, with 2,000 emergency workers stationed there ready to deal with patients.

This disease really scares me - a person can be highly contagious without showing symptoms. Once this hits a large city with a crowded transit system, game over.

Something to know - Death-Cap Mushrooms

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I always use store-bought mushrooms when I cook but this is downright scary - from The Atlantic:

Death-Cap Mushrooms Are Spreading Across North America
Between a sidewalk and a cinder-block wall grew seven mushrooms, each half the size of a doorknob. Their silver-green caps were barely coming up, only a few proud of the ground. Most lay slightly underground, bulging up like land mines. Magnolia bushes provided cover. An abandoned syringe lay on the ground nearby, along with a light assortment of suburban litter.

Paul Kroeger, a wizard of a man with a long, copious, well-combed beard, knelt and dug under one of the sickly colored caps. With a short, curved knife, he pried up the mushroom and pulled it out whole. It was a mushroom known as the death cap, Amanita phalloides. If ingested, severe illness can start as soon as six hours later, but tends to take longer, 36 hours or more. Severe liver damage is usually apparent after 72 hours. Fatality can occur after a week or longer. “Long and slow is a frightening aspect of this type of poisoning,” Kroeger said.

I know some people who forage - sending them the link to this article. The interview happened in Vancouver, BC.

And this:

The Amanita phalloides species accounts for more than 90 percent of mushroom-related poisonings and fatalities worldwide.

Yikes! It first appeared in B.C. in 1997 - a lot more at the article.

Happy birthday - Henry Heimlich

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Born this day in 1920 - from his Infogalactic entry:

Henry Judah Heimlich (born February 3, 1920) is A Jewish American thoracic surgeon widely credited as the inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, a technique of abdominal thrusts for stopping choking, described inEmergency Medicine in 1974. Other medical inventions include the Micro Trach portable oxygen system for ambulatory patients and the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve, or "flutter valve," which drains blood and air out of the chest cavity.

Saved a lot of lives. His son Peter runs a very strange website trying to tear his father's work down. Wonder what happened to him as a kid...

Vaccination - Oregon and Washington

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Goes to show what happens when a critical decision-making process is transferred from knowledgeable people to willfully ignorant people - from CNN:

Some states allow parents to get out of vaccinations. Then this happens
Two states experiencing a measles outbreak, Washington and Oregon, allow parents to opt out of vaccines simply because they want to.

And while they hate to say "I told you so," pediatricians, well, told them so.

"I've been saying now for the last couple of years [that] it's only a matter of time before we see a horrific measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest," said Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

And the measles outbreak?

On Friday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency after 35 confirmed cases of measles and 11 suspected cases in his state. Since then, there's been another confirmed case in Washington, and one case in Oregon.

In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics took a stance that personal and religious exemptions should end.

"It's really a no-brainer," said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the academy's Committee on Infectious Diseases.

Pure child abuse plain and simple.

Measles - Roald Dahl

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Roald Dahl was the author of many wonderful children's books. He lived quite an interesting life and passed away in 1990. The Infogalactic entry is a fascinating read.

What is not commonly known is that his daughter Olivia caught measles and died in 1962. He wrote this in 1988:

Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.

“I feel all sleepy,” she said.

In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.

The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.

On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.

It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk. In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.

Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year. Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.


Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.

So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?

They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.

So what on earth are you worrying about? It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.

The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.

Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was ‘James and the Giant Peach’. That was when she was still alive. The second was ‘The BFG’, dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.

I think about those idiots in Portland and Southern Washington who "choose" to not vaccinate their children and are now paying the price. This is pure child abuse.

State of Emergency - Measles

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Bad news indeed - stupid parents are at fault for this. From Yahoo/Agence France-Presse:

State of emergency declared in US measles outbreak
A state of emergency was declared on Friday in the western US state of Washington following a measles outbreak that has affected more than two dozen people, the majority of them children.

The disease was declared eliminated in the US in 2000 but has since made a comeback that is tied to imported cases and the rise of the anti-vaccine movement.

"Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children," Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement. "The existence of more than 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties."

The outbreak began near Portland, Oregon, at the start of the year and quickly spread to nearby Clark County and King County, both in Washington.

What really gets me is that the guy who started the anti-vax movement is still around spewing the same bullshit and it is having a major effect. From The Independent:

Andrew Wakefield: How a disgraced UK doctor has remade himself in anti-vaxxer Trump’s America
It has been 20 years since the gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield co-authored a now notorious and debunked medical paper that claimed to have found a link between autism and the use of a common children’s vaccine.

The paper, later retracted by The Lancet, helped lead to a drop-off in vaccination rates and an increase in outbreak diseases such as measles, not only in Britain and Europe, but in the US. The doctor was subsequently found guilty by the British General Medical Council (GMC) of three-dozen charges, including dishonesty and abuse of children, and struck off the medical register.

Of course, The Independent being a faithful member of the liberal media had to get their digs in on President Trump. Some more:

Last year, the 61-year-old was directly linked to an outbreak of measles among the Somali American community in Minnesota – the largest in the state for many years – after he visited and shared his views with them.

And a bit more:

The overwhelming majority of experts in the field say Wakefield is wrong and point to as many as 17 studies showing no link between autism and the MMR vaccine, which was first introduced in the UK in 1988. Those same experts claim his campaign to try and prove a link continues to have hugely damaging consequences.

“Despite the fact that his findings were found to be fraudulent, that the paper was later retracted and that Wakefield was struck-off the medical register for dishonesty, the damage was done,” Seth Berkley, the chief executive of Gavi, a private-public organisation previously known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, wrote recently.

Disgusting - preying on gullible people.

Just wonderful - measles outbreak

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From The Bellingham Herald:

22 confirmed cases of measles in Clark County
VANCOUVER, WASH. -- Health officials now say they have 22 confirmed measles cases in Clark County since the start of the year.

And of course:

Clark County Public Health said Monday is also investigating three suspected cases of the infection. Officials say 19 of those infected were not immunized, while the three others are not verified to have had the vaccine.

The anti-vax movement is one of the most horrible things ever perpetrated. The poor children. The guy who started it all - Andrew Wakefield - had his license to practice medicine revoked over this.

Dietary Fiber - more good news

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Dietary Fiber is very good for you. I have been really watching my carbohydrate intake - keeping it to a minimum with the exception of the occasional past binge. Dietary Fiber counterbalances carbs so it is a good thing to have in your diet.

This from British medical journal The Lancet by way of Eureka Alert:

The Lancet: High intake of dietary fiber and whole grains associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases
People who eat higher levels of dietary fibre and whole grains have lower rates of non-communicable diseases compared with people who eat lesser amounts, while links for low glycaemic load and low glycaemic index diets are less clear. Observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years reveal the health benefits of eating at least 25g to 29g or more of dietary fibre a day, according to a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in The Lancet.

The results suggest a 15-30% decrease in all-cause and cardiovascular related mortality when comparing people who eat the highest amount of fibre to those who eat the least. Eating fibre-rich foods also reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16-24%. Per 1,000 participants, the impact translates into 13 fewer deaths and six fewer cases of coronary heart disease.

In addition, a meta-analysis of clinical trials suggested that increasing fibre intakes was associated with lower bodyweight and cholesterol, compared with lower intakes.

I currrently eat about 10 grams/day - have to figure out a way to increase that. I do eat a lot of whole grains and beans so coming from a good start.

These outbreaks keep gettting bigger and bigger - from Vox:

The Ebola outbreak in Eastern Congo is moving toward a major city. That’s not good.
At least 680 people have been infected with the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history, with 414 deaths so far, and the first Ebola outbreak in an active war zone, DRC’s eastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

But it could get worse: Health officials this week are concerned that Ebola appears to be spreading in the direction of Goma, a major population center in DRC.

Just this week, DRC’s health ministry confirmed four cases of the deadly virus in Kayina, a town in North Kivu, where fighting among rebel and militia groups has repeatedly interrupted the painstaking work of health workers who are responding to the outbreak.

Kayina happens to be halfway between Butembo, currently one of the outbreak’s most worrisome hotspots, and Goma, where a million people live.

Victims are contagious for about two days before the symptoms manifest. All it takes is for one victim to fly to the USA on a large airplane and all hell will break loose. We do not have the ability to deal with an outbreak of this scale.

Very scary.

Rethinking Vitamin D

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Not surprised but very interesting. From Outside Magazine (which publishes solid science articles - I like them)

Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?
These are dark days for supplements. Although they are a $30-plus billion market in the United States alone, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotene, glucosamine, chondroitin, and fish oil have now flopped in study after study.

If there was one supplement that seemed sure to survive the rigorous tests, it was vitamin D. People with low levels of vitamin D in their blood have significantly higher rates of virtually every disease and disorder you can think of: cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, heart attack, stroke, depression, cognitive impairment, autoimmune conditions, and more. The vitamin is required for calcium absorption and is thus essential for bone health, but as evidence mounted that lower levels of vitamin D were associated with so many diseases, health experts began suspecting that it was involved in many other biological processes as well.

A bit more:

Yet vitamin D supplementation has failed spectacularly in clinical trials. Five years ago, researchers were already warning that it showed zero benefit, and the evidence has only grown stronger. In November, one of the largest and most rigorous trials of the vitamin ever conducted—in which 25,871 participants received high doses for five years—found no impact on cancer, heart disease, or stroke.

A bit more:

These rebels argue that what made the people with high vitamin D levels so healthy was not the vitamin itself. That was just a marker. Their vitamin D levels were high because they were getting plenty of exposure to the thing that was really responsible for their good health—that big orange ball shining down from above.

A bit more:

It was already well established that rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and overall mortality all rise the farther you get from the sunny equator, and they all rise in the darker months. Weller put two and two together and had what he calls his “eureka moment”: Could exposing skin to sunlight lower blood pressure?

Sure enough, when he exposed volunteers to the equivalent of 30 minutes of summer sunlight without sunscreen, their nitric oxide levels went up and their blood pressure went down. Because of its connection to heart disease and strokes, blood pressure is the leading cause of premature death and disease in the world, and the reduction was of a magnitude large enough to prevent millions of deaths on a global level.

And a really interesting study:

Still, Weller kept finding evidence that didn’t fit the official story. Some of the best came from Pelle Lindqvist, a senior research fellow in obstetrics and gynecology at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, home of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Lindqvist tracked the sunbathing habits of nearly 30,000 women in Sweden over 20 years. Originally, he was studying blood clots, which he found occurred less frequently in women who spent more time in the sun—and less frequently during the summer. Lindqvist looked at diabetes next. Sure enough, the sun worshippers had much lower rates. Melanoma? True, the sun worshippers had a higher incidence of it—but they were eight times less likely to die from it.

So Lindqvist decided to look at overall mortality rates, and the results were shocking. Over the 20 years of the study, sun avoiders were twice as likely to die as sun worshippers.

A bit more:

Meanwhile, that big picture just keeps getting more interesting. Vitamin D now looks like the tip of the solar iceberg. Sunlight triggers the release of a number of other important compounds in the body, not only nitric oxide but also serotonin and endorphins. It reduces the risk of prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. It improves circadian rhythms. It reduces inflammation and dampens autoimmune responses. It improves virtually every mental condition you can think of. And it’s free.

This is a fairly long article - I have been excerpting small chunks. It is well worth reading in full if you are concerned for your health and longevity. Fascinating stuff. Been taking modest Vitamin D supplements for years. Think I will stop now. Already spend a lot of time outdoors without wearing sunscreen so I am fine there.

From Nature Microbiology:

Characterization of a filovirus (Měnglà virus) from Rousettus bats in China
Filoviruses, especially Ebola virus (EBOV) and Marburg virus (MARV), are notoriously pathogenic and capable of causing severe haemorrhagic fever diseases in humans with high lethality. The risk of future outbreaks is exacerbated by the discovery of other bat-borne filoviruses of wide genetic diversity globally. Here we report the characterization of a phylogenetically distinct bat filovirus, named Měnglà virus (MLAV). The coding-complete genome of MLAV shares 32–54% nucleotide sequence identity with known filoviruses. Phylogenetic analysis places this new virus between EBOV and MARV, suggesting the need for a new genus taxon. Importantly, despite the low amino acid sequence identity (22–39%) of the glycoprotein with other filoviruses, MLAV is capable of using the Niemann–Pick C1 (NPC1) as entry receptor. MLAV is also replication-competent with chimeric MLAV mini-genomes containing EBOV or MARV leader and trailer sequences, indicating that these viruses are evolutionally and functionally closely related. Finally, MLAV glycoprotein-typed pseudo-types transduced cell lines derived from humans, monkeys, dogs, hamsters and bats, implying a broad species cell tropism with a high risk of interspecies spillover transmission.

No word as to just how contagious it is - Ebola is a nasty piece of work.

Yikes - Ebola in the US?

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From FOX News:

Nebraska medical facility says it's monitoring American possibly exposed to Ebola
An American who may have been exposed to the lethal disease Ebola while in the Democratic Republic of Congo arrived in Nebraska to be monitored, the medical facility revealed Saturday.

The unidentified individual had been in the country offering medical assistance at the time exposure may have occurred, according to a news release from Nebraska Medicine.

At this point, the person has not demonstrated any symptoms of the virus, but he or she "will be monitored closely,” the facility said.

Ebola is incredibly contagious and people do not show symptoms for a while (average 8-10 days). All the other airplane passengers on the flight this person took. All the people going through the airport terminal. So many other people exposed. Ebola is the stuff of nightmares.

From the Chicago ABC affiliate:

Alcohol, coffee could be key to living longer, study finds
People who drink moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee and are overweight in their 70s live longer lives, according to researchers at UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.

The researchers started a study in 2003 to look at what makes people live past 90.

They say participants in their study who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained from either drink.

In addition, people who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than people who were normal or underweight in their 70s.

The study group's website is here: The 90+ Study

Waiting until the cheers die down. From Bloomberg:

Democrats Vow Rapid Action After Obamacare Tossed by Judge
Obamacare was struck down by a Texas federal judge in a ruling that casts uncertainty on insurance coverage for millions of U.S. residents, drawing sharp condemnation from some medical professionals and a vow for action by top Democrats.

President Donald Trump termed the ruling “a big big victory by a highly respected judge” and an alternative path to the long-time Republican goal of repeal-and-replace.

“We’ll be able to get great health care,” Trump said Saturday during an unannounced visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where a “Wreaths Across America” holiday wreath-laying event was under way. “We’ll have to sit down with the Democrats to do it, but I’m sure they want to do it also.”

We needed to do something but Obamacare was not the way to do it. Have to pass it before we can see what is in it? What was Nancy smoking so that I can avoid it. A bill that is 33,000 pages long is not an efficient way to go - for anything, let alone something as crucial as health care. All these laws do is just drive up the prices for everyone.

Pharmaceutical price fixing

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Interesting and not unexpected. I have bad skin and use a lot of products from Teva. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Probe of generic 'cartel' grows to 300 drugs
Executives at more than a dozen generic-drug companies had a form of shorthand to describe how they conducted business, insider lingo worked out over steak dinners, cocktail receptions and rounds of golf.

The "sandbox," according to investigators, was the market for generic prescription drugs, where everyone was expected to play nice.

"Fair share" described dividing up the sales pie to ensure that each company reaped continued profits. "Trashing the market" was used when a competitor ignored these unwritten rules and sold drugs for less than agreed-upon prices.

The terminology reflected more than just the clubbiness of a powerful industry, according to authorities and several lawsuits. Officials from multiple states say these practices were central to illegal price-fixing schemes of massive proportion.

The lawsuit and related cases picked up steam last month when a federal judge ruled that more than 1 million emails, cellphone texts and other documents cited as evidence could be shared among all plaintiffs.

What started as an antitrust lawsuit brought by states over just two drugs in 2016 has exploded into an investigation of alleged price-fixing involving at least 16 companies and 300 drugs, Joseph Nielsen, an assistant attorney general and antitrust investigator in Connecticut who has been a leading force in the probe, said in an interview. His comments in an interview with The Washington Post represent the first public disclosure of the dramatically expanded scale of the investigation.

The unfolding case is rattling an industry that is portrayed in Washington as the white knight of American health care.

"This is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States," Nielsen said. He cited the volume of drugs in the schemes, that they took place on American soil and the "total number of companies involved, and individuals."

And a bit more:

Among the 16 companies accused are some of the biggest names in generic manufacturing: Mylan, Teva and Dr. Reddy's. Mylan denied wrongdoing in an emailed statement. Sun, Teva and Dr. Reddy's did not respond to requests for comment. In a court filing, Teva said allegations of a price-fixing conspiracy "are entirely conclusory and devoid of any facts."

Mylan does albuterol (asthma med) which has gone from 13¢ to $4.70 per pill. They also manufacture the EpiPen which has gone from $94 to over $700 for the kit of two pens.

I have zero problem with making money. Rigging the market to gouge the customer is another thing. What is especially heinous is that these are generic drugs. The cost of Research and Development has already been borne by the inventor and been recovered by their monopoly patent rights. This is just gouging plain and simple.

Pro Publica is an excellent consumer watchdog site. They are taking a look at Healthcare in the United States and not liking what they find. There have been a lot of revelations regarding the FAANG corporations harvesting consumer data and using it to place targeted advertising and also selling this data to other companies. Looks like the medical business is just as involved. (FAANG - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google)

They have a couple of articles so I will link to them with clickable headlines - not surprised but really not happy:

More at the site - this is totally legal but it is really morally wrong and unethical.
Big tip 'o the hat to Bayou Renaissance Man for the link -  a great find.

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