CDC Reviews Safety Procedures After Accidently Shipping the Deadly H5N1 Virus

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) stopped shipments of samples from its “high security” laboratories following accidents with Anthrax and the deadly H5N1 flu virus. The CDC reported that many employees might have been exposed to live Anthrax after workers failed to properly “inactivate the bacteria” before shipment to other labs. Most recently, CDC workers accidentally cross-contaminated the “low-pathogenic” H9N2 virus with the highly deadly H5N1, then shipped the sample to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The CDC said that it would be reviewing the safety procedures involving shipments from its high security laboratories.

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Doctors Stop Offering Costly Immunizations

The Affordable Care Act mandates that childhood immunizations be covered at no “out-of-pocket” cost. However, many people are finding it difficult to receive immunizations because doctors have stopped offering them. This is due to the high cost of vaccines and the poor reimbursement from insurers. For example, Prevnar 13, which prevents pneumococcal bacteria diseases, has increased in price at “an average of 6 percent each year” since 2010.  Currently at $136 per dose, many states require children receive up to four separate shots of Prevnar 13. Because of this, more and more doctors feel that they are left with little choice but to stop providing immunizations.

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Center for Motivation and Change Offers Alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous

The Center for Motivation and Change (“CMC”) offers an alternative to the “strict abstinence” treatment used by Alcoholics Anonymous. The center does not make patients swear off drugs and alcohol for life as they believe this causes many (young people in particular) to become discouraged.  Instead, CMC treats substance abuse with “anti-craving medications,” “motivational interviewing,” and prohibits the use of the words: “addict,” “alcoholic,” and “enabling.”

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Medical Boards Back Push for Interstate Online Treatment

After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there seems to be a shortage of doctors and an increase of insured people. This has many State Medical Boards pushing for laws that would allow doctors to treat patients online and across state lines.   The proposed plan aims to increase patients’ access to health care by making it easier for doctors already licensed in one state to obtain licensure in other states as well.  The plan intends to give doctors more opportunities to treat patients by using “videoconferencing,” or other comparable technologies.

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Violent Video Games Can Make Players Sensitive to Real-World Moral Codes

Violent video games may not cause players to become desensitized to the “real world.”  In fact, Mathew Grizzard, PhD, assistant professor at the University at Buffalo Department of Communication, found the opposite to be true. His findings reveal “heinous behavior” in the virtual world does not lead players to become less moral but might actually increase players’ sensitivity to real-world moral codes.   The study showed that players that committed heinous acts in video games had feelings of guilt that elicit pro-social behavior in the real world.

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Closely Held Corporations Are Not Required To Pay For Contraception

The Supreme Court recently held in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that the Department of Heath and Human Services (“HHS”) could not require three closely held corporations to provide health-insurance coverage for “methods of contraception that violate the sincerely held religious belief’s of the companies’ owners.”  Justice Alito’s opinion stated that such regulations violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act  (“RFRA”) of 1993 by creating a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion.  The Court’s 5-4 decision rejected HHS’s argument that owners of a corporation forfeit RFRA protections.

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Childhood Obesity May Be Underreported

The body-mass-index measure (“BMI”), a calculation based on a person’s height and weight, is commonly used to screen for obesity as an indicator of a person’s body fat. However, a recent study revealed that BMI measures are failing to identify up to 25% of children who have excess body fat. According to the Center for Disease Control, “about 18% of children ages 6 to 9 are classified as obese based on their BMI”. However, some experts think that this number is much higher because children’s height and weight do not increase proportionately with age, making BMI measurements less reliable. Although more accurate methods of measuring body fat do exist, the BMI measurement is likely the most accessible.

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New York’s Highest Court Rejects NYC Sugary Drink Ban

In June, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled against New York City’s ban on selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. The Court held that the city’s Board of Health “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority” with the regulation.  This is the third time that New York courts have decided against the “big-soda ban” and was the final blow to the regulation. Although New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that his administration would consider other ways to curb the obesity epidemic, no new proposals have been announced.

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New York’s Medical Marijuana Legislation Questioned

Recently, New York moved to legalize medical marijuana for patients suffering from various debilitating illnesses, including cancer, H.I.V./AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Although studies have shown that marijuana use can be beneficial to patients suffering from such conditions by increasing appetite, treating nausea, and alleviating painful muscle spasms, research involving medical marijuana is limited.  As a result, many medical marijuana laws, including New York’s legislation, include conditions for which the benefits of marijuana use have not been clinically established, such as Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and epilepsy. This has lead even proponents of the medical marijuana movement to question whether New York’s legislation was the product of well-founded clinical judgment.

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Cancer Treatment Database Gives Doctors Wider Data Set as They Prescribe Courses of Treatment

Nat Turner, along with his former University of Pennsylvania classmate Zach Weinberg (the pair previously founded the tech firm Invite Media that was eventually purchased by Google for $81 Million), created Flatiron Health. The company began collecting data on cancer treatments with the purpose of creating a database focused on providing doctors and cancer centers with helpful cancer treatment data.

Flatiron, now up and running for two years, charges cancer centers for access to its database and they contribute specifics about actual cancer cases, with patients’ personal information redacted. The information includes course of treatment prescribed, and the outcome.

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