More Deaths Seen for Less Invasive Cervical Cancer Surgery
11/15/2018 7:28:18 PM

By Carla K. Johnson   New evidence about a cancer operation in women finds a higher death rate for the less invasive version, challenging standard practice and the “less is more” approach to treating cervical cancer. The unexpected findings are prompting changes at some hospitals that perform radical hysterectomies for early-stage disease. The more rigorous of the two studies was conducted at more than 30 sites in a dozen countries. It found women who had the less invasive surgery were four times more likely to see their cancer return compared to women who...

FDA Approves Return of Popular Primatene Mist Asthma Inhaler
11/15/2018 7:27:34 PM

By Linda A. Johnson   TRENTON, N.J. (AP)—A new version of the once-popular asthma inhaler Primatene Mist will soon return to U.S. stores. The Food and Drug Administration approved the over-the-counter aerosol inhaler late Wednesday. It's for temporary relief of mild, intermittent asthma symptoms in people ages 12 and up. The original Primatene Mist was discontinued seven years ago because the inhaler's ozone-depleting propellant had been banned. That version had been marketed for half a century, including in memorable TV ads. The new product developed...

Does Racism Have an Impact on Health?
11/15/2018 7:26:20 PM

By K. Barrett Bilali   Racism in the health care system continues to confound but a few researchers are taking a historic look and holistic approach to addressing racism’s effect on Black and poor communities. One researcher is using his foundation-funded fellowships to dive into the barriers to good health in the Black community, namely Overtown, Florida. While another joined an organization that looks for ways to keep historically racist practices out of today’s health care system. “Look at the health disparities in our communities,”...

FDA OKs Powerful Opioid Pill as Alternative to IV Painkiller
11/8/2018 2:11:58 PM

By Linda K. Johnson   TRENTON, N.J. (AP)—U.S. regulators on Friday approved a fast-acting, super-potent opioid tablet as an alternative to IV painkillers used in hospitals. The decision by the Food and Drug Administration came over objections from critics who fear the pill will be abused. In a lengthy statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said there will be “very tight restrictions” placed on its distribution and it is intended only for supervised settings like hospitals. The tiny pill was developed as an option for patients who pose difficulties...

Appendix Removal Is Linked to Lower Risk of Parkinson's
11/8/2018 2:11:16 PM

By Lauran Neergaard   WASHINGTON (AP)—Scientists have found a new clue that Parkinson's disease may get its start not in the brain but in the gut—maybe in the appendix. People who had their appendix removed early in life had a lower risk of getting the tremor-inducing brain disease decades later, researchers reported last week. Why? A peek at surgically removed appendix tissue shows this tiny organ, often considered useless, seems to be a storage depot for an abnormal protein—one that, if it somehow makes its way into the brain, becomes a hallmark...

‘One Mistake Away’ from Homelessness
11/8/2018 2:00:58 PM

By Lee Eric Smith   Admit it: Sometimes you go out of your way to avoid a homeless person.  So do I. I’m not proud to say it, but it’s true. If I can’t cross the street to evade them, I search my brain for my pre-programmed “no” response to their inevitable request for a dollar. “I ain’t got it, bruh,” is my go-to line, which, too often, is simply the truth. It’s not danger that I feel.  If you’re like me, the problem with having even a brief conversation with a homeless person is that you come away...

Trump Says New Proposal Will Lower Some U.S. Drug Prices
11/1/2018 10:29:59 PM

By Ricardo Alonoso-Zaldivar and Deb Reichmann   WASHINGTON (AP)—Less than two weeks before the midterm elections, President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a plan to lower prices for some prescription drugs, saying it would stop unfair practices that force Americans to pay much more than people in other countries for the same medications. “We are taking aim at the global freeloading that forces American consumers to subsidize lower prices in foreign countries through higher prices in our country,” Trump said in a speech at the Department of Health and...

Dialysis Companies Spend $111 Million to Kill Ballot Measure
11/1/2018 10:28:54 PM

By Sophia Bollag   SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Dialysis companies have contributed an extraordinary $111 million to defeat a California ballot initiative. Proposition 8 would cap profits for dialysis clinics that provide treatment for people with damaged kidneys. A $5 million donation from dialysis company Fresenius pushed the anti-Proposition 8 campaign's total past the $109 million pharmaceutical companies spent two years ago to defeat a measure limiting prescription drug costs. Proposition 8 opponents have raised more than any group on one side of a U.S....

Shedding Light on the ‘Invisible Symptoms’ of Sickle Cell Disease
10/25/2018 10:00:53 PM

What I’ve heard time and time again from people living with SCD is that they often feel isolated in their journey. Kyle, a patient living with SCD, recently summed it up nicely when he said, “Sometimes it is hard to just get out of bed. What it means to live in pain is not something that many can truly understand.” For Kyle and many others who struggle with the invisible symptoms of SCD, I want to focus this column on the mental health challenges of SCD. It’s an important aspect of the disease that doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. Only by...

Immunotherapy Scores a First Win Against Some Breast Cancers
10/25/2018 10:00:03 PM

By Marilynn Marchione   For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. But the benefit for most women was small, raising questions about whether the treatment is worth its high cost and side effects. Results were discussed Saturday at a cancer conference in Munich and published by the New England Journal of Medicine. Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have transformed treatment of many types of cancer by removing a chemical...