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Fizzy Tinkles and Floozy Yaps: What Words Make Us Laugh?

Posted by Rebecca James on Nov 30, 2018 3:24:06 PM
 
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Merck Backs Out of Vaccine Commitment to Africa

Posted by Rebecca James on Nov 9, 2018 1:31:30 PM

 

Merck's decision may leave more than 2 million children in West Africa unvaccinated and vulnerable to rotavirus in 2020.

At the same time Merck cut the vaccine supplies to West African countries, they began delivering RotaTeq to China.  Each vaccine will likely cost more than $40 per dose.  When asked if there was a connection between the launch in China and Merck not fulfilling their West African commitment, a Merck spokesperson wrote:

When faced with supply constraints, such as this, we evaluate all options to determine how we can fulfill the agreement we made with UNICEF and GAVI-eligible countries to the best of our ability, while at the same time meet the binding contract demands we have with other countries. The product we have allocated to China is what has been approved for use in that country to fulfill the terms of a binding agreement we signed with a local vaccine company in 2012. As I'm sure you can appreciate, the details of that contract is proprietary to Merck; as such, we cannot confirm the number of doses nor discuss price.

"Kids should not be denied vaccines just because they belong to a poor country."-Dr. Mathuram Santosham at Johns Hopkins University

Where does that leave the kids in West Africa? UNICEF, which delivers vaccines to poor countries worldwide, says it's trying to help the West African countries switch to another vaccine.  The World Health Organization prequalified two new rotavirus vaccines manufactured in India earlier this year:  Rotasil and Rotavac.  Both vaccines are available to Gavi at a cost of less than $2 per dose.

Unfortunately, the switch will not be quick-or easy.  Prequalification of a vaccine is the beginning of a long process, including a regulatory actions that must occur.   The process is daunting, with more than a few moving parts that require time and money.  New vaccines may be tested in small pilot programs, health care workers have to be retrained on vaccine administration, clinics need the ability to store and transport the new vaccine.  That will require possibly up to five years for the vaccine to be widely available in West Africa, says Frederick Cassels, at the nonprofit PATH, which helped develop Rotasil and Rotavac.  Even just a delay of a few years would put millions of babies at risk for rotavirus, says Johns Hopkins University's Santosham. "We all as a community should come together and make sure these kids get this vaccine."

According to Merck, their third quarter 2018 worldwide sales were $10.8 billion.  Good for Merck-really.  More profits mean more research, and more lives saved overall.  Most reasonable people realize that companies need to make a profit to stay in business, and that includes pharmaceutical companies.  But the pharmaceutical industry is not like other industries that sell tires or pizza.  Due to the nature of the business, pharmaceutical industry profits are made off of illness and disease--this requires a level of sensitivity and responsibility to the community that the local pizza joint does not need to make.

What level of responsibility do pharmaceutical companies owe to the people?  Has Merck denied their responsibility to the community and turned their back on the poor children of Africa?  Can a company be both profitable and ethical, or are those incompatible values?  These are questions that need consideration, since we live in a world with expanding need, and shrinking resources. 

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HIV Controlled by Antibody Therapy

Posted by Rebecca James on Oct 1, 2018 1:00:00 PM
Today, an estimated 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, and improvements in antiretroviral therapy have turned HIV into a manageable condition.  Thanks to better treatments, people with HIV are now living longer—and with a better quality of life—than ever before.  Yet even the most effective drugs only suppress the virus, which hides in the body, ready to rise to dangerous levels should a patient stop their medication regime. To continue suppression of HIV, patients must adhere to strict daily medication schedules, which can be burdensome and expensive.  
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Latest Research Offers Alternative to Addictive Opioids

Posted by Rebecca James on Sep 26, 2018 3:00:00 PM

 

The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a growing national crisis affecting public health and creating an enormous burden on the healthcare system.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total economic impact of prescription opioid misuse in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

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How Does Talking to Babies Make Them Smarter?

Posted by Rebecca James on Sep 14, 2018 1:08:19 PM
Young children who are regularly engaged in conversation by adults may have stronger connections between two developing brain regions critical for language , according to a study of healthy young children that confirms a hypothesis registered with the Open Science Framework. This finding, published in   JNeurosci , suggests that talking with children from an early age could promote their language skills.
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Topics: education, children, parenting, social issues

The Link Between Vegetables and Colon Cancer

Posted by Rebecca James on Sep 5, 2018 11:39:49 AM
 
Could a diet rich in green vegetables help prevent colon cancer?
 
Chemicals produced by vegetables such as kale, cabbage and broccoli could help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent colon cancer, a recent study from the Francis Crick Institute shows.    The study, published in   Immunity , shows that mice fed on a diet rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C) were protected from gut inflammation and colon cancer. 
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Topics: health, diet

New TB Study Has Hopeful Results

Posted by Rebecca James on Aug 28, 2018 5:02:34 PM
Tuberculosis (TB), an infectious disease targeting the lungs, is the second biggest killer, globally.  In 2015,  1.8 million people died from the disease, with 10.4 million falling ill, despite the development of vaccines and effective drug treatment.  At one point, the United Nations predicted that TB would be eliminated worldwide by 2025, but treatment options remain surprisingly sparse.  The only vaccine for TB was developed nearly a century ago, and offers limited protection.  Even worse,  patients are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.
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Topics: disease, research

Can an Asthma Drug Reverse Dementia?

Posted by Rebecca James on Aug 24, 2018 1:47:28 PM

Dementia is a term describing a variety of diseases that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or become impaired. The death of neurons causes changes in memory, behavior, physical capabilities and personality. In many of these diseases, such as Alzheimers, the associated changes often prove to be fatal.

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Louisiana Hepatitis C Cost Proposal

Posted by Rebecca James on Aug 22, 2018 4:52:09 PM
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Topics: legal, legislation

Researchers Generate Immune Cells to Create Cancer Vaccines

Posted by Rebecca James on Aug 15, 2018 1:00:00 PM

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015.  Cancer arises from the transformation of normal cells into tumor cells in a multistage process that generally progresses from a pre-cancerous lesion to a malignant tumor.  With so many patients and families affected by cancer, research in this area is a constant source of interest.

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