AstraZeneca has come to the public's aid with a new program for preventing heart attacks. It works like this: prescribe the company's statin drug to 500 healthy people, at a cost of $638,000 per year. For that investment, you may avoid one heart attack. While some curmudgeons note that Astra's drug also increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, these critics fail to appreciate that they should shut up. Read here.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
In an old episode of the Simpsons, Bart wins an elephant, which the Simpsons obviously can't keep. To Bart and Lisa's horror, Homer is inclined to sell the elephant to an ivory dealer. Asked if he would like being killed and having his teeth made into piano keys, Homer responds: “Yes, of course I would! Who wouldn't like that – to be part of the music scene?”
I know how Homer feels, because it looks like I may miss my chance to be part of the glamorous biotech industry. A federal judge has ruled that my DNA (and yours) is not patentable. According to industry lawyers, this will bring genetic research to a screeching halt. But if you have your heart set on having the rights to your DNA owned by a corporation, never fear. The company whose patents were invalidated has vowed to appeal.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
It seems that a vaccine used to prevent rotavirus infections in children has teeny tiny amounts of pig virus in the product. The FDA has not pulled the vaccine from the market, but it has “paused” the use of the drug for the time being. Click here to read more.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Speaking of which, I was in California for spring break and learned about the California Cryobank, where you can get celebrity lookalike reproductive services. So, who wants their kid to be Brad Pitt's doppelganger?
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Make sure to get all of your paperwork done on time. The Medicines Company is learning this lesson the hard way. Paste-in the link below to read more (Blogger is not working for me at the moment.)
Friday, March 19, 2010
It seems that some clinical trials in the U.S. have been excluding gays and lesbians from participating in their research. Click here to read more.
The Medicine and Madison Avenue Project at Duke University includes a database of over 600 advertisements and historical documents dated between 1911 and 1958, relating to the creation of health-related advertising. You can browse their collection here.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Eli Lilly has acquired the rights to license an experimental underarm testosterone solution to be called Axiron, which is being reviewed by the FDA. More here.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
"In this absorbing blend of bright-eyed reportage and hands-on participation, journalist Milgrom demystifies the creepy art of bringing dead creatures back to life and dispels the myth that taxidermists merely stuff animals. The author's quest to understand the compulsion of obsessed hobbyists and exacting scientists alike to duplicate what nature has created starts in a New Jersey family workshop, where three generations—including the last chief taxidermist for the American Museum of Natural History—have mounted everything from three-toed sloths to fireflies. She visits the English sculptor who preserves dead animals for British artist Damien Hirst's displays; explores the arcane subculture of American taxidermy conventions where hundreds vie for best in show awards; and wanders the halls of the bankrupt Mr. Potter's Museum of Curiosities as collectors bid for auction lots of Victorian-era displays of squirrels drinking port and bespectacled gentlemen lobsters." This is the Publishers Weekly verdict on Melissa Milgrom's new book, Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy.
Read all about it in The Nation.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Remember the Tamagotchi? Everyone in my fifth grade class had one. We used to compete to see whose pet would live the longest and whose was the healthiest. Good times!
Well, apparently now you can turn your health into a virtual pet sort of video game.
Friday, March 12, 2010
"The thick scar on Mohammad Salim's side is a permanent reminder of the kidney stolen from his body. But deeper wounds show in his eyes. Salim, a poor labourer from the northern Indian town of Meerut, was lured to Delhi on the promise of work two years ago. Instead, his kidney was removed at gunpoint. 'This experience has haunted me 24 hours a day ever since. I'm always tense now,' he says." Read more in The Age.
Pharma has turned osteoporosis drugs into blockbusters with the claim that they prevent fractures, especially in older women. What if they caused femur fractures, as litigators have been claiming? The FDA will look into the issue again.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
"Mishna Wolff is white. But her hippie dad ''truly believed he was black'' — and raised her as if she were too. As a kid, Wolff tried to please her father and prove she was ''down'' by sporting cornrows; playing on an all-black basketball team; and taking up cappin', the sassy urban dissing that abounds on playgrounds." Read more here.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
Sunday, March 07, 2010
I just ran into a series of science fiction books by Scott Westerfield, called Uglies, Pretties, and Specials. They are aimed at “young adult” readers, and deal deliberately with issues of medical and psychological enhancement.
In the first book, our hero Tally wants nothing more than to turn sixteen, the age at which everyone is given surgery to turn them from Ugly to Pretty. It’s a rather extensive renovation--alteration not just of facial features, but of bone structure, skin color, and muscle mass, so that everyone conforms to a norm of physical perfection. After the surgery the kids settle down to a life of intense, shallow partying that Tally can’t wait to be a part of.
Her plans are messed up by meeting Shay, a girl who doesn’t want the surgery. When Shay “escapes,” Tally is forced to follow her into the wild where people live as Uglies, in horrible conditions (building wooden houses! wearing non-synthetic clothes! eating meat! ick!) There Tally and Shay find out that the surgery is on more than just people’s bodies-- their minds and personalities are altered too--and that refusing the procedure is not really an option. Many exciting narrow escapes, aerial skateboard chases, and medical ethics discussions ensue. But in the end, both girls have the surgery, more or less unwillingly.
The second book takes on the ethics of consent, as both Tally and Shay have become essentially different people following the surgery. They are happy with their new lives, and do not remember their initial wish to remain “themselves.” Enticing them away from all those great parties and restoring them to their own personalities (via an experimental procedure, of course) poses lots more ethical dilemmas, along with way too many more aerial skateboard chases.
I haven’t read the third book yet. There is a long waiting list for it at the Andover public library. I may not wait for it. Since the books are aimed at a younger audience, there is a fair amount of cool slang, which became annoying. And the repeated necessity for riveting action eventually became wearing. But I think it’s encouraging that there is a lot of teen interest in books which are essentially about the cost of conforming to a physical and mental ideal.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Friday, March 05, 2010
While I'm definitely not a PETA activist by any means, I've pondered this notion before.
I was at a Thanksgiving celebration a few years ago at a friend's aunt's home. She was definitely a "cat lady" - she had 15 cats! Because I have very bad cat allergies, she locked them all into her medium sized bedroom while we all ate at the dinner table. Needless to say, the cats rebelled and eventually opened the door and out they all came. It's a good thing I took Benadryl before I came and brought eye drops with, but I was still miserable.
I also saw a segment a few months ago on ABC's "20/20" about cat people and why they do it, which reminded me of my thought from the Thanksgiving dinner. In the summer of 2009, 47 cats were pulled from a mobile home.
I love animals as much as the next person, but seriously, how many is too many? It just seems like so much work to feed and clean up after that many animals. And then, especially with active animals (dogs, for instance), you have to walk them. Animals, by and large, need quite a bit of general living space, and if you don't have the resources for that, your pet probably won't be as healthy as it could be. This animal hoarding seems downright cruel to me.
Do you think that an animal abuse registry would be a worthwhile investment, or a waste of time and resources? Could it help mitigate other potential crimes?
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
• Two Tampa surgeons involved in a botched robotic procedure that killed a Plant High School teacher.
• A St. Petersburg doctor who was put on probation by a local hospital and received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after he broke several FDA rules while running a drug study.• A surgeon in Jacksonville who mistakenly removed brain tissue during sinus surgery, leaving the patient paralyzed, blind and brain-damaged.
Read more in the St. Petersburg Times.
Read an interview with Critser in Salon.