Health Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Health Media Articles in Major Media
Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
At a microscopic level [Aker University Hospital] is pristine. There is no sign of a dangerous and contagious staph infection that killed tens of thousands of patients in the most sophisticated hospitals of Europe, North America and Asia last year, soaring virtually unchecked. The reason: Norwegians stopped taking so many drugs. Twenty-five years ago, Norwegians were also losing their lives to this bacteria. But Norway's public health system fought back with an aggressive program that made it the most infection-free country in the world. A key part of that program was cutting back severely on the use of antibiotics. Now a spate of new studies from around the world prove that Norway's model can be replicated with extraordinary success, and public health experts are saying these deaths -- 19,000 in the U.S. each year alone, more than from AIDS -- are unnecessary. The World Health Organization says antibiotic resistance is one of the leading public health threats on the planet. A six-month investigation by The Associated Press found overuse and misuse of medicines has led to mutations in once curable diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, making them harder and in some cases impossible to treat. Now, in Norway's simple solution, there's a glimmer of hope.'
Note: For many key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
A leading health expert says the swine flu scare was a "false pandemic" led by drugs companies that stood to make billions from vaccines. Wolfgang Wodarg, head of health at the Council of Europe, claims major [drug] firms organised a "campaign of panic" to put pressure on the World Health Organisation to declare a pandemic. He believes it is "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century" — and has called for an inquiry. Dr Wodarg said: "It's just a normal kind of flu. It does not cause a tenth of deaths caused by the classic seasonal flu. The great campaign of panic we have seen provided a golden opportunity for representatives from labs who knew they would hit the jackpot in the case of a pandemic being declared. We want to clarify everything that brought about this massive operation of disinformation. We want to know who made decisions, on the basis of what evidence, and precisely how the influence of the pharmaceutical industry came to bear on the decision-making." He added: "A group of people in the WHO is associated very closely with the pharmaceutical industry."
Note: For powerfully revealing reports of the corruption regarding swine flu and previous health scares, click here.
Men who have sex at least twice a week can almost halve their risk of heart disease, according to new research. It shows men who indulge in regular lovemaking are up to 45 per cent less likely to develop life-threatening heart conditions than men who have sex once a month or less. The study, of over 1,000 men, shows sex appears to have a protective effect on the male heart but did not examine whether women benefit too. Now the American researchers who carried out the investigation are calling for doctors to screen men for sexual activity when assessing their risk of heart disease. Although sex has long been regarded as good for physical and mental health, there has been little scientific evidence to show the full benefits that frequent intercourse can have on major illnesses such as heart disease. An earlier study at the National Cancer Institute in the US showed men who ejaculated through sex or masturbation at least five times a week were much less likely to get prostate cancer.
Note: For a treasure trove of key reports on important health issues, click here.
Antidepressants ... may be no better than dummy pills for people with mild or moderate depression, according to a study that suggests 70 percent of patients wouldn’t benefit from the drugs. In a review of six trials of antidepressants involving more than 700 patients published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers led by Jay Fournier at the University of Pennsylvania found the drugs helped only those patients with the most severe depression. Doctors, policy makers and sufferers should be made aware that there’s little evidence to show the treatments will benefit patients with less severe symptoms, the authors said. “This important feature of the evidence base is not reflected in the implicit messages present in the marketing of these medications to clinicians and the public,” they said. The researchers combined data from six trials. The drugs had a “nonexistent to negligible” effect on patients with mild, moderate and severe symptoms, compared with those who took a placebo, according to a commonly used scale used to measure the disorder. The pills had a large effect on patients with very severe symptoms, the study found.
Note: For a treasure trove of important reports on corruption regarding major health issues, click here.
The massive U.S. Senate healthcare reform measure passed ... with support from the multibillion drug industry, but makers of cheaper generic rivals are feeling left out in the cold. Generic drugmakers face several obstacles in the bill backed by Democrats that they worry will dampen a potential increase in use even as more people gain access to health insurance and prescription medicines. The hurdles include extensive protections against generic versions of pricey biotech medicines, an incentive for Medicare recipients to use more brand-name drugs, and a possible end to payments from brandname makers to delay the launch of copy-cat medicines. "The bill passed by the Senate unfortunately amounts to a treasure trove to brand drug companies," said Generic Pharmaceutical Association President Kathleen Jaeger. Bill Marth, chief executive of Teva's North American operations, said Democrats missed a chance to further boost [generics] use: "It's frustrating," he said. "Maybe some people have just lost sight of what the bill is supposed to do."
Note: For a powerful analysis by Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, of the corrupt relationship between the biggest pharmaceutical companies and the federal government, click here. Drug company lobbyists who contribute millions of dollars to the elections campaigns of Congress members have a huge influence which is often detrimental to public health.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was named president of Merck & Co Inc's vaccine division. Gerberding, who led the CDC from 2002 to 2009 and stepped down when President Barack Obama took office, will head up the company's $5 billion global vaccine business that includes shots to prevent chickenpox, cervical cancer and pneumonia. She had led CDC from one crisis to another, including the investigation into the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001, the H5N1 avian influenza, the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and various outbreaks of food poisoning. She may be charged with reigniting flagging sales of Merck's Gardasil vaccine to prevent cervical cancer by protecting against human papillomavirus or HPV. After an encouraging launch Gardasil sales have been falling and were down 22 percent in the third quarter at $311 million.
Note: So the head of the CDC now is in charge of vaccines at one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Could this be considered conflict of interest? Could this possibly be payback for supporting the vaccine agenda so strongly for years? For more on the risks and dangers of vaccines, click here.
A healthcare firm is seeking to silence a Danish academic from expressing doubts about one of its products by using England’s draconian libel laws. Two years ago in a conference room in the Randolph hotel in Oxford, Henrik Thomsen ... one of Europe’s leading radiologists, revealed how patients treated at his hospital had subsequently contracted a rare and potentially fatal disease. Thomsen and other doctors at his Copenhagen University hospital were baffled as to why 20 kidney patients who had been given routine scans were afflicted by a disorder — nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) — in which the skin gradually swells, thickens and tightens. Some sufferers were confined to wheelchairs. At least one died. There was no known cure. It was confirmed that all those who had fallen ill with NSF had been given the same drug in advance of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Omniscan was used to enhance the images produced by the scan. The product was sold around the world and was manufactured by GE Healthcare, a subsidiary of General Electric, one of the world’s largest corporations. Thomsen ... now refuses to speak anywhere in England on the possible risks of Omniscan. The reason is that he faces another kind of storm: GE Healthcare is suing him in the High Court for libel. GE has already racked up costs of more than Ł380,000 pursuing the respected academic. Thomsen will have to pay the firm’s costs if he loses the case.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
A new report finds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a poor job of screening medical experts for financial conflicts when it hired them to advise the agency on vaccine safety. Most of the experts who served on advisory panels in 2007 to evaluate vaccines for flu and cervical cancer had potential conflicts that were never resolved, the report said. Some were legally barred from considering the issues but did so anyway. In the report ... Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that the centers failed nearly every time to ensure that the experts adequately filled out forms confirming they were not being paid by companies with an interest in their decisions. The report found that 64 percent of the advisers had potential conflicts of interest that were never identified or were left unresolved by the centers. Thirteen percent failed to have an appropriate conflicts form on file at the agency at all, which should have barred their participation in the meetings entirely, Mr. Levinson found. And 3 percent voted on matters that ethics officers had already barred them from considering.
[Bill Moyers:] Something's not right here. One year after the great collapse of our financial system, Wall Street is back on top while our politicians dither. As for health care reform, you're about to be forced to buy insurance from companies whose stock is soaring, and that's just dandy with the White House. It's capital. Raw money, mounds of it, buying politicians and policy as if they were futures on the hog market. Some of the big insurance companies, Well Point, Cigna, United Health, all surged to a 52 week high in their share prices this week when it was clear there'd be no public option in the health care bill going through Congress right now. What does that tell you? ROBERT KUTTNER: Their strategy was cut a deal with the insurance companies, the drug industry going in. And the deal was, we're not going to attack your customer base, we're going to subsidize a new customer base. And that script was pre-cooked so it's not surprising that this is what comes out the other side. Once the White House made this deal with the insurance companies, the public option was never going to be anything more than a fig leaf. And over the summer and the fall, it got whittled down, whittled down, whittled down to almost nothing and now it's really nothing.
CT [Computed Tomography] scans deliver far more radiation than has been believed and may contribute to 29,000 new cancers each year, along with 14,500 deaths, suggest two studies in today's Archives of Internal Medicine. One study, led by the National Cancer Institute's Amy Berrington de Gonzalez, used existing exposure data to estimate how many cancers might be caused by CT scans. Another study in the journal suggests the problem may even be worse. In that study, researchers found that people may be exposed to up to four times as much radiation as estimated by earlier studies. While previous studies relied on dummies equipped with sensors, authors of the new paper studied 1,119 patients at four San Francisco-area hospitals. Based on those higher measurements, a patient could get as much radiation from one CT scan as 74 mammograms or 442 chest X-rays. Young people are at highest risk from excess radiation, partly because they have many years ahead of them in which cancers could develop. Among 20-year-old women who get one coronary angiogram, a CT scan of the heart, one in 150 will develop cancer related to the procedure.
Note: For many important health reports from reliable sources, click here.
New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows. Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them – but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children? The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems. Part of the reason is insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do. Studies have found that children in low-income families may have a higher rate of mental health problems – perhaps two to one – compared with children in better-off families. But that still does not explain the four-to-one disparity in prescribing antipsychotics.
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A new analysis, using H1N1 deaths in the United States in the spring and projecting likely outcomes for this fall, shows that a typical -- or possibly even a milder flu season than average -- should have been expected. The finding [raises] the question: Has swine flu been oversold? The new study, done by researchers at Harvard University and the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit in the U.K., says swine flu cases in the spring indicated a flu season that might be, at worst, slightly worse than normal. "It would have been great to have that back in June," said Philip Alcabes, an associate professor in the program in urban public health at Hunter College's School of Health Sciences. "There would have been one more bit of evidence behind my assertion six months ago" that people were overreacting to H1N1. Around the time that swine flu first started making headlines, Alcabes' book, Dread: How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics From the Black Death to Avian Flu, was published, and he said the circumstances surrounding H1N1 provide an apt case study. "I think that it was, from the very beginning, created as a crisis and overstated as a real threat," he said.
This country hasn't used land mines in nearly 20 years. It no longer makes the indiscriminate killers nor provides them to allies. Why then is President Obama - off to Oslo this week to collect a Nobel Peace Prize - refusing to sign an international treaty to ban the shrapnel-spewing buried bombs? His refusal is ... shameful. The devices, which maim and kill for years after a conflict ends, caused more than 5,000 casualties last year in the world's poorest places such as Cambodia, Angola and Central America. Obama's stance puts him in line with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who both ducked a chance to put this country in line with more than 150 nations that have signed the treaty. Other notable non-signers: China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Cuba. Is this the company we want to keep? Sticking with land mines is a puzzler. The United States has a reported stockpile of 10 million devices, though it hasn't deployed any since the 1991 Gulf War. By signing the agreement, the Pentagon would hardly be giving up a mainstay weapon. It's time for Obama to go in a new direction. He should sign, not equivocate, on a treaty that Washington has avoided for over a decade. Here's a thought while typing up your Peace Prize acceptance speech, Mr. President: It's time to ban land mines.
Note: The refusal to sign the worldwide landmine ban treaty seems to be a puzzler, until you realize the US government is protecting the rights to profit of US arms corporations. For a retired Marine general's analysis of the profiteering that is the principal purpose for war, "War is a Racket,"click here.
This is the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. [It] started one night when a pesticide plant owned by the American chemical giant Union Carbide leaked a cloud of poisonous gas. Before the sun rose, almost 4,000 human beings capable of love and anguish sank to their knees and did not get up. Half a million more fell ill, many with severely damaged lungs and eyes. An additional 15,000 people have since died from the aftereffects, and 10 to 30 people are said to die every month from exposure to the hundreds of tons of toxic waste left over in the former factory. But amazingly, the site still has not been cleaned up, because Dow Chemical, which since acquired Union Carbide, refuses to accept any responsibility. In 2001, the maker of napalm married the bane of Bhopal: Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide for $11.6 billion and promptly distanced itself from the disaster. Union Carbide and Dow were allowed to get away with it because of the international legal structures that protect multinationals from liability. Union Carbide sold its Indian subsidiary and pulled out of India. Warren Anderson, the Union Carbide chief executive at the time of the gas leak, lives in luxurious exile in the Hamptons, even though there’s an international arrest warrant out for him for culpable homicide. The Indian government has yet to pursue an extradition request. Imagine if an Indian chief executive had jumped bail for causing an industrial disaster that killed tens of thousands of Americans. What are the chances he’d be sunning himself in Goa?
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Critics point to Canada and Britain as the poster children of what could happen here with a "government takeover" of health coverage. But three other wealthy nations - the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany - offer much closer parallels, as well as lessons. Health care systems in the three nations more closely resemble the U.S. system of insurance-based coverage. Holland and Switzerland rely exclusively on private insurance, and all three rely on private doctors. The three European nations deliver universal coverage and world-class quality at a fraction of what Americans spend. All of them require that everyone purchase insurance, make sure everyone can afford it and ban insurers from such practices as refusing to cover the sick that are common in the United States. European health care is universal, but contrary to popular perception, it is not all nationalized. Most of Europe spends about 10 percent of its national income on health care and covers everyone. The United States will spend 18 percent this year and leave 47 million people uninsured. Europe has more doctors, more hospital beds and more patient visits than the United States. Take Switzerland: 4.9 doctors per thousand residents compared with 2.4 in the United States. And cost? The average cost for a hospital stay is $9,398 in relatively high-cost Switzerland and $17,206 in the United States.
Note: Maybe it boils down to whether we want our health controlled more by profit motive or by government bureaucracies One thing is for sure, the average U.S. citizen is getting much less for a greater cost than those in other developed countries.
With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children. It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs. Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare. There are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps, according to an analysis of local data collected by The New York Times. In more than 750 counties, the program helps feed one in three blacks. In more than 800 counties, it helps feed one in three children. In the Mississippi River cities of St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans, half of the children or more receive food stamps. Even in Peoria, Ill. — Everytown, U.S.A. — nearly 40 percent of children receive aid. While use is greatest where poverty runs deep, the growth has been especially swift in once-prosperous places hit by the housing bust.
Note: For more from reliable sources on the impacts and realities of the Wall Street financial crisis, click here.
Drug company GlaxoSmithKline has told Canadian doctors to stop using one lot of its H1N1 vaccine until an investigation into a higher-than-expected number of severe allergic reactions is completed. The U.S. vaccine will not be identical to Arepanrix, the GSK H1N1 vaccine used in Canada. Arepanrix contains an adjuvant, a substance designed to boost the immune response, but adjuvants have never been approved for use in U.S. flu vaccines. Almost all of the 172,000 doses in question, distributed the week of Nov. 2 to six Canadian provinces, already have been administered, said Geoffrey Matthews, a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, which, with GSK and Health Canada, is investigating cases of anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include trouble breathing, chest tightness and swelling of the mouth and throat. Six cases have been reported, Matthews says. In the USA, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System said that as of Nov. 13 it had received 116 reports of serious health events related to the vaccine, including eight deaths – similar to the number in previous years after a similar number of seasonal flu vaccine doses had been shipped.
Note: For lots more on the risks of swine flu vaccines, click here.
As the pandemic H1N1 influenza surges with the onset of winter, the nations of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union appear particularly vulnerable to the deadly virus. Burdened with weak health-care systems, relatively inexperienced news media outlets and shaky governments that have little public trust, the region also seems ripe for panic and political strife over the flu. The potential for trouble is already on display in Ukraine, where 1.5 million of its 46 million people have had diagnoses of flu and respiratory illnesses since the start of the outbreak and 356 have died, according to the government. More telling than the numbers, however, has been the widespread fear the virus has caused in Ukraine, and the outsize impact it has had on the nation's political landscape. Anxious residents have overwhelmed hospitals and pharmacies, buying up supplies of medicine, gauze masks and home remedies such as lemons and garlic. Rumors have proliferated that people are dying of a new, more lethal strain of the virus. Semyon Gluzman, a psychiatrist and Soviet-era dissident in Kiev, said the fear was a rational response in a nation with a dysfunctional health-care system and a corrupt, ineffective government. "What we're seeing is a normal, psychological reaction to the complete incompetence of the state authorities," he said. "People are scared, and they don't know who to trust anymore."
Although federal health officials decline to use the word â€śpeaked,â€ť the current wave of swine flu appears to have done so in the United States. Flu activity is coming down in all regions of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, though it is still rising in Hawaii, Maine and some isolated areas. The World Health Organization said Friday that there were â€śearly signs of a peakâ€ť in much of the United States. On Wednesday, the American College Health Association, which surveys over 250 colleges with more than three million students, said new cases of flu had dropped in the week ending Nov. 13. It was the first drop since school resumed in the fall, and it was significant â€” new cases were down 27 percent from the week before. And on Friday, Quest Diagnostics, the countryâ€™s largest laboratory, said its tests of 142,000 suspected flu specimens since May showed that the flu peaked in late October. Nonetheless, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of immunization and respiratory diseases at the C.D.C., chose her words carefully, saying: â€śI wish I knew if we had hit the peak. Even if a peak has occurred, half the people who are going to get sick havenâ€™t gotten sick yet.â€ť The drop was clearly not caused by the swine flu vaccine drive, which has not gone as fast as the authorities had hoped.
Note: Just like the avian flu scare a few years ago, the swine flu hype has turned out to be largely a whimper, yet the pharmaceutical companies are happy, as again they have made billions of dollars from the massive amonts of vaccines and drugs purchased by the government with your tax dollars. For more, click here and here.
Patients who lack health insurance are more likely to die from car accidents and other traumatic injuries than people who belong to a health plan -- even though emergency rooms are required to care for all comers regardless of ability to pay. An analysis of 687,091 patients who visited trauma centers nationwide from 2002 to 2006 found that the odds of dying from injuries were almost twice as high for the uninsured than for patients with private insurance, researchers reported in Archives of Surgery. The research team from Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston used information from 1,154 U.S. hospitals that contribute to the National Trauma Data Bank. The risk of death was 80% higher for patients without any insurance, the report said. The researchers also did a separate analysis of 209,702 trauma patients ages 18 to 30 because they were less likely to have chronic health conditions that might complicate recovery. Among these younger patients, the risk of death was 89% higher for the uninsured, the study found.
Note: For many highly informative reports on important health issues, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.