Category Archives: Healthcare

Threats to the Medical Pharmaceutical Regulatory Complex? Seven Doctors have Died under Suspicious Circumstances

By Prof. James F. Tracy

Global Research, July 26, 2015

Over the past several weeks no less than seven established doctors have either been killed or died under unusual circumstances

(e.g. here and here).

What do these physicians have in common and what remedies are they researching or advocating? Do any of their proposed treatments pose a threat to the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical cartel? If so, would government agencies and/or private contractors be commissioned to harass and perhaps even assassinate such individuals?

The answer may lie in an understanding of nagalese, a protein made by cancer cells and viruses. Nagalese is a primary cause of immunodeficiency given its ability to block the body’s production of GcMAF, otherwise known as “Vitamin D binding microphage activating factor,” a naturally-produced immune regulating compound that aids in fighting what are traditionally considered terminal diseases. Some researchers suggest that nagalese is one of many toxic components found in the immunizations commonly administered to children, including the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cALgIHETMDU

Some independently-minded medical practitioners are beginning to acknowledge not only the nagalese-vaccination link, but also that GcMAF possesses great potential for the treatment of cancer and a variety of other illnesses, including autism, inflammation, and viral and bacterial disease.

The most prominent of the seven doctors who’ve been murdered or died under suspicious circumstances is James Jeffrey Bradstreet. As the contents of his blog drbradstreet.org suggest, Dr. Bradstreet has conducted extensive research into the causes of autism. His body was found on June 19 floating in a North Carolina river with a gunshot wound to his chest. Perhaps uncoincidentally, Bradstreet was a strong advocate of GcMAF and had treated over 2,000 autistic children with the substance; 85% exhibited marked improvement under his care.

Dr. Bradstreet’s private practice in Buford, Georgia centered on “treating children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, PPD, and related neurological and developmental disorders.” Bradstreet has also provided expert testimony in federal court for families of the vaccine-injured and was founder and president of the International Child Development Resource Center, which once employed autism expert Dr. Andrew Wakefield as its research director.

Of course, GcMAF is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for any disease. Just three days before Bradstreet’s body was recovered, FDA agents had obtained a court order targeting Bradstreet’s Buford Georgia medical clinic. The document granted the government the right to seize

All Globulin component Macrophage Activating Factor (GcMAF) GC Globulin, and/or any other products or component substances thereof that constitute misbranded drugs under the Federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetic Act.

Even in death Bradsteet and his GcMAF-related work continue to pose a threat to the medical-pharmaceutical-regulatory complex, as evidenced in their flak-generating public relations arms, “Quackwatch” and “Science Based Medicine,” each of which have published vicious broadsides on the deceased physician.

Big pharma, which for decades has exerted vigorous control over the regulatory process while presiding over literally millions of deaths via its products, will stop at nothing to hamper medical scientific progress and protect its bottom line. Perhaps this zealous quest for profits and control now even includes outright murder of alternative practitioners.

CONTINUE READING…

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Merchants of Meth: How Big Pharma Keeps the Cooks in Business

With big profits on the line, the drug industry is pulling out campaign-style dirty tricks to keep selling the meds that cooks turn into crank.

—By Jonah Engle| July/August 2013 Issue

meth lab cleanup

State troopers clean up a meth lab found on school board property about a block from a London, Kentucky elementary school. Photos by Stacy Kranitz. See more of her photos from Laurel County, Kentucky.

 

The first time she saw her mother passed out on the living room floor, Amanda thought she was dead. There were muddy tracks on the carpet and the room looked like it had been ransacked. Mary wouldn’t wake up. When she finally came to, she insisted nothing was wrong. But as the weeks passed, her 15-year-old daughter’s sense of foreboding grew. Amanda’s parents stopped sleeping and eating. Her once heavy mother turned gaunt and her father, Barry, stopped going to work. She was embarrassed to go into town with him; he was covered in open sores. A musty stink gripped their increasingly chaotic trailer. The driveway filled up with cars as strangers came to the house and partied all night.

Her parents’ repeated assurances failed to assuage Amanda’s mounting worry. She would later tell her mother it felt "like I saw an airplane coming in toward our house in slow motion and it was crashing." Finally, she went sleuthing online. The empty packages of cold medicine, the canisters of Coleman fuel, the smell, her parents’ strange behavior all pointed to one thing. They were meth cooks. Amanda (last name withheld to protect her privacy) told her grandparents, who lived next door. Eventually, they called police.

Within minutes, agents burst into the trailer. They slammed Barry up against the wall, put a gun to his head, and hauled him and Mary off in handcuffs. It would be two and a half years before Amanda and her 10-year-old sister, Chrissie, would see their father again.

The year was 2005, and what happened to Amanda’s family was the result of a revolution in methamphetamine production that was just beginning to make its way into Kentucky. Meth users called it the "shake- and-bake" or "one-pot" method, and its key feature was to greatly simplify the way meth is synthesized from pseudoephedrine, a decongestant found in cold and allergy medicines like Claritin D and Sudafed.

Cops are waging two battles: one against meth cooks, the other against wealthy, politically connected drug manufacturers.

Shake and bake did two things. It took a toxic and volatile process that had once been the province of people with Breaking Bad-style knowledge of chemistry and put it in the bedrooms and kitchens of meth users in rural America. It also produced the most potent methamphetamine anywhere.

If anyone wondered what would happen if heroin or cocaine addicts suddenly discovered how to make their own supply with a handful of cheap ingredients readily available over the counter, methamphetamine’s recent history provides an answer. Since 2007, the number of clandestine meth sites discovered by police has increased 63 percent nationwide. In Kentucky, the number of labs has more than tripled. The Bluegrass State regularly joins its neighbors Missouri, Tennessee, and Indiana as the top four states for annual meth lab discoveries.

As law enforcement agencies scramble to clean up and dispose of toxic labs, prosecute cooks, and find foster homes for their children, they are waging two battles: one against destitute, strung-out addicts, the other against some of the world’s wealthiest and most politically connected drug manufacturers. In the past several years, lawmakers in 25 states have sought to make pseudoephedrine—the one irreplaceable ingredient in a shake-and-bake lab—a prescription drug. In all but two—Oregon and Mississippi—they have failed as the industry, which sells an estimated $605 million worth of pseudoephedrine-based drugs a year, has deployed all-star lobbying teams and campaign-trail tactics such as robocalls and advertising blitzes.

Perhaps nowhere has the battle been harder fought than in Kentucky, where Big Pharma’s trade group has broken lobbying spending records in 2010 and 2012, beating back cops, doctors, teachers, drug experts, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. "It frustrates me to see how an industry and corporate dollars affect commonsense legislation," says Jackie Steele, a commonwealth’s attorney whose district in southeastern Kentucky has been overwhelmed by meth labs in recent years.

Map of the US

See more stats on the price of Big Pharma’s pseudophedrine addiction.

Before it migrated east to struggling Midwestern farm towns and the hollers of Appalachia, methamphetamine was a West Coast drug, produced by cooks working for Mexican drug-trafficking organizations and distributed by biker gangs. Oregon was particularly hard hit, with meth labs growing ninefold from 1995 to 2001. Even then, before shake and bake, police had their hands full decontaminating toxic labs that were often set up in private homes. Social workers warned of an epidemic of child abuse and neglect as hundreds of kids were being removed from meth houses.

In despair, the Oregon Narcotics Enforcement Association turned to Rob Bovett. As the lawyer for the drug task force of Lincoln County—a strip of the state’s central coast known for its fishing industry, paper mills, and beaches—he was all too aware of the scourge of meth labs. Having worked for the Oregon Legislature and lobbied on behalf of the State Sheriffs’ Association, he also knew his way around Capitol procedure.

Bovett knew that law enforcement couldn’t arrest its way out of the meth lab problem. They needed to choke off the cooks’ supply lines.

Bovett first approached the Legislature about regulating pseudoephedrine in 2000. "The legislative response was to stick me in a room with a dozen pharmaceutical lobbyists to work it out," he recalls. He suggested putting the drugs behind the counter (without requiring a prescription) to discourage mass buying, but the lobbyists refused. They did eventually agree to a limit on the amount of pseudoephedrine any one person could buy, but the number of meth labs remained high, so in 2003 Bovett tried once again to get pseudoephedrine moved behind the counter. "We got our asses kicked," he admits.

Then, in Oklahoma, state trooper Nikky Joe Green came upon a meth lab in the trunk of a car. The cook overpowered Green and shot him with his own gun. The murder, recorded on the patrol car’s camera, galvanized the state’s Legislature into placing pseudoephedrine behind the counter and limiting sales in 2004.

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The pharmaceutical industry fought the bill, saying it was unlikely to curb meth labs. But Oklahoma saw an immediate drop in the number of labs its officers busted, and Oregon followed suit later that year.

But the meth cooks soon came up with a work-around: They organized groups of people to make the rounds of pharmacies, each buying the maximum amount allowed—a practice known as smurfing. How to stop these sales? Bovett remembered that until 1976, pseudoephedrine had been a prescription drug. He asked lawmakers to return it to that status.

Pharma companies and big retailers "flooded our Capitol building with lobbyists from out of state," he says. On the eve of the House vote, with the count too close to call, four legislators went out and bought 22 boxes of Sudafed and Tylenol Cold. They brought their loot back to the Legislature, where Bovett walked lawmakers through the process of turning the medicine into meth with a handful of household products. Without exceeding the legal sales limit, they had all the ingredients needed to make about 180 hits. The bill passed overwhelmingly.

Industry’s motto has been "stop meth, not meds." One lawmaker likens it to the NRA’s "plea to people who own weapons that they are coming for your guns."

Since the bill became law in 2006, the number of meth labs found in Oregon has fallen 96 percent. Children are no longer being pulled from homes with meth labs, and police officers have been freed up to pursue leads instead of cleaning up labs and chasing smurfers. In 2008, Oregon experienced the largest drop in violent-crime rates in the country. By 2009, property crime rates fell to their lowest in 43 years. That year, overall crime in Oregon reached a 40-year low. The state’s Criminal Justice Commission credited the pseudoephedrine prescription bill, along with declining meth use, as key factors.

For Big Pharma, however, Oregon’s measure was a major defeat—and the industry was not about to let it happen again. "They’ve learned from their mistakes in Oregon, they’ve learned from their mistakes in Mississippi," says Marshall Fisher, who runs the Bureau of Narcotics in Mississippi. "They know if another state falls, and has the results that we’ve had, the chances of national legislation are that much closer. Every year they can fight this off is another year of those profits."

On a sunny winter afternoon, narcotics detective Chris Lyon turns off a country lane outside the town of Monticello in southeastern Kentucky, the part of the state hardest hit by the meth lab boom. In a case that shocked the state in 2009, a 20-month-old boy in a dilapidated trailer nearby drank a cup of Liquid Fire drain cleaner that was being used to make meth. The solution burned Kayden Branham from inside for 54 minutes until he died.

This afternoon, Lyon is following up on a call from a sheriff’s deputy about several meth labs in the woods. His Ford F-150 clambers up a steep muddy slope turned vivid ochre by the night’s rain. In the back are a gas mask, oxygen tanks, safety gloves, and hazmat suits, plus a bucket of white powder called Ampho-Mag that’s used to neutralize toxic meth waste. Cleaning up labs is hazardous work: In the last two years, more than 180 officers have been injured in the process. The witches’ brew that turns pseudoephedrine into meth includes ammonium nitrate (from fertilizer or heat packs), starter fluid, lithium (from batteries), drain cleaner, and camping fuel. It can explode or catch fire, and it produces copious amounts of toxic gases and hazardous waste even when all goes well.

Halfway up Edwards Mountain, Lyon pulls over in a clearing along the forested trail. Scattered over 50 yards are a half-dozen soda bottles, some containing a grayish, granular residue, others sprouting the plastic tubes cooks use to vent gas. Lyon snaps on black safety gloves, pulls a gas mask over his face, and carefully places each bottle in its own plastic bucket. Further up the mountain he finds more outdoor labs and repeats the procedure.

Police cleaning up a meth lab

Cops in Laurel County, Kentucky, work a meth lab—or, as they put it, a "glorified garbage pickup."

Lyon will drive his haul back to the Monticello Police Department, where a trailer is jam-packed with buckets he’s filled in the past few days. "No suspects, no way of making an arrest—it’s pretty much a glorified garbage pickup," he says with an air of dejection. "We have all kinds of information of people selling drugs," but there’s no time for investigations. "About the time that we get started on something, the phone rings and it’s another meth lab to go clean up."

It’s a problem Lieutenant Eddie Hawkins, methamphetamine coordinator for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, was all too familiar with before his state passed its prescription bill in 2010. Since then the number of meth labs found in the state has fallen 74 percent. "We still have a meth problem," Hawkins says, "but it has given us more time to concentrate on the traffickers that are bringing meth into the state instead of working meth labs every night." Now, he says, they go after international criminal networks rather than locking up small-time cooks.

The spread of meth labs has tracked the hollowing out of rural economies. Labs are concentrated in struggling towns where people do hard, physical work for low wages, notes Nick Reding, whose book Methland charts the drug’s rise in the Midwest: "Meth makes people feel good. Even as it helps people work hard, whether that means driving a truck or vacuuming the floor, meth contributes to a feeling that all will be okay." But the highly addictive drug can also wreak havoc on users, ravaging everything from teeth and skin to hearts and lungs. And the mushrooming of shake-and-bake labs has left its own trail of devastation: hospitals swamped with injured meth cooks, wrecked and toxic homes, police departments consumed with cleaning up messes rather than fighting crime.

Meth-related cleanup and law enforcement cost the state of Kentucky about $30 million in 2009, the latest year for which the state police have produced an estimate. That doesn’t include the cost of crimes addicts commit to support their habit, of putting out meth fires, of decontaminating meth homes, of responding to domestic-abuse calls or placing neglected, abused, or injured kids in foster care. Dr. Glen Franklin, who oversees the burn unit at the University of Louisville Hospital, says his unit alone sees 15 to 20 meth lab burn patients each year, up from two or three a decade ago. They are some of his most difficult cases, often involving both thermal and chemical burns to the face and upper body from a bottle that burst into flames. Many, he notes, have also been abusing OxyContin or other prescription opiates, "so it makes their pain control that much more difficult." According to a study coauthored by Franklin in 2005, it costs an average of nearly $230,000 to treat a meth lab victim—three times more than other burn patients—and that cost is most often borne by taxpayers. Meth use as a whole, according to a 2009 RAND Corporation study, costs the nation anywhere between $16 billion and $48 billion each year.

With silver hair, glasses, and a gentle manner, Linda Belcher looks like the retired grade school teacher she is. Though her district, just south of Louisville, has a meth lab problem, she didn’t know much about the issue until Joe Williams, the head of narcotics enforcement at the Kentucky State Police, invited her and a few other lawmakers to state police headquarters. After a dinner of barbecue, coleslaw, and pork and beans, the guests descended to the basement to be briefed about key public safety issues. One was meth labs, whose effects and increasing numbers were depicted in a series of huge charts. One of Williams’ officers laid out the startling facts. Meth labs were up for the second year in a row in Kentucky, and they were spreading eastward across the state. They were turning up in cars, motel rooms, and apartment buildings, putting unsuspecting neighbors at risk. Police had pulled hundreds of children from meth lab locations. Prisons were filling up with cooks, and officers were being tied up in cleanup operations.

Belcher had been aware of methamphetamine, but she’d had no idea how bad things were getting. She set about learning more. "I went to a meeting and there was a young lady there who had been on meth," Belcher recalls. "During the time she was on it, she didn’t care about anything—not her daughter, not her parents. All she wanted was to get money and get meth. That convinced me."

A man and a woman kissing

Theresa Hall kisses her boyfriend goodbye. For being caught with meth paraphernalia and violating house arrest, she faces a year in jail.

Belcher asked Williams and other law enforcement officials what they thought should be done. They told her about what had happened in Oregon. It could work in Kentucky, they said. In February 2010, Belcher filed a bill to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine.

Soon her phone started ringing off the hook. The callers were angry. If her bill passed, they said, they would have to go to the doctor each time they were congested. It wasn’t true—more than 100 cold and allergy drugs made without pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed PE, would have remained over the counter. And for those who didn’t like those alternatives, doctors could renew prescriptions by phone.

Members of the House Health and Welfare Committee, the key panel Belcher’s bill had to clear, were also getting calls. Tom Burch, the committee’s chairman, says the prescription measure garnered more calls and letters than any he’s dealt with in his nearly 40 years at the Capitol, except for abortion bills. "I had enough constituent input on it to know that the bill was not going to go anywhere."

Yet the legislation had gotten hardly any media coverage. How had Kentuckians become so outraged?

In April of that year, Donnita Crittenden was processing monthly lobbying reports at the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission when a figure stopped her in her tracks. A group called the Consumer Healthcare Products Association reported having spent more than $303,000 in three weeks. No organization had spent nearly that much on lobbying in the entire previous year.

Curious, Crittenden called CHPA. It was, she learned, a Washington-based industry association representing the makers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements—multinational behemoths like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. CHPA had registered to lobby in Kentucky just weeks before, right after Belcher filed her bill. But it had already retained M. Patrick Jennings, a well-connected lobbyist who’d earned his stripes working for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and GOP Rep. Ed Whitfield.

The bulk of CHPA’s record spending, though, was not for lobbyists. It was for a tool more commonly used in hard-fought political campaigns: robocalls, thousands of them, with scripts crafted and delivered by out-of-state PR experts to target legislators on the key committees that would decide the bill’s fate.

CHPA’s Kentucky filings don’t show which firm made the robocalls, but the association’s 2010 and 2011 tax returns show more than $1 million worth of payments to Winning Connections, a robocall company that typically represents Democratic politicians and liberal causes such as the Sierra Club’s campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline. On its website, the company boasts of its role in West Virginia, where it helped defeat a pseudoephedrine bill that had "strong backing among special interests groups and many in the State Capitol" via focused calls in key legislative districts. CHPA’s former VP for legal and government affairs, Andrew C. Fish, is quoted as saying that Winning Connections helped "capture the voice of consumers, which made the critical difference in persuading legislators to change course on an important issue to our member companies." Nowhere does Winning Connections’ site mention the intent of the bill or the word "methamphetamine." CHPA spokeswoman Elizabeth Funderburk says the association used the calls, which allowed people to be patched through directly to their legislators, to provide a platform for real consumers to get their voices heard.

Belcher’s bill never came up for a vote. Over the ensuing months, the number of meth labs found in Kentucky would grow by 45 percent, surpassing 1,000.

Belcher had learned a lesson. When she reintroduced the prescription bill in 2011, it had support from a string of groups with serious pull at the Capitol—the teachers’ union, the Kentucky Medical Association, four statewide law enforcement organizations, and Kentucky’s most senior congressman, Hal Rogers. Belcher also had bipartisan leadership support in the Legislature, and the Republican chairman of the judiciary committee, Tom Jensen—whose district included the county with the second-highest number of meth labs—introduced a companion bill in the state Senate.

But the pharmaceutical industry came prepared, too. Its team of lobbyists included some of the best-connected political operatives in Kentucky, from former state GOP chairman John T. McCarthy III to Andrew "Skipper" Martin, the chief of staff to former Democratic Gov. Paul Patton. In addition to a new round of robocalls, CHPA now deployed an ad blitz, spending some $93,000 to blanket the state with 60-second radio spots on at least 178 stations. The bill made it out of committee, but with the outcome doubtful, Jensen never brought it up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Soda cans and an ice pack laying on the ground

Meth cooks often set up shop in the woods.

John Schaaf, the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission’s counsel, describes CHPA’s strategy as a game changer. "They have completely turned the traditional approach to lobbying around," he says. "For the most part, businesses and organizations that lobby, if they have important issues going on, they’ll add lobbyists to their list. They’ll employ more people to go out there and talk to legislators. CHPA employs very few lobbyists and they spend 99 percent of their lobbying expenditures on this sort of grassroots outreach on phone banking and advertising. As far as I know, nothing’s ever produced the number of calls or the visibility of this particular effort."

In other words: Rather than relying on political professionals to deliver their message, CHPA got voters to do it—and politicians listened, in Kentucky and beyond. There has been no major federal legislation to address meth labs since 2005, when pseudoephedrine was put behind the counter and sales limits were imposed (see "The Need for Speed," page 37). Lawmakers in 24 states have tried to pass prescription bills since 2009. In 23 of them, they failed.

The single exception was Mississippi, where a prescription measure supported by Republican Gov. Haley Barbour passed in 2010. The head of the state Bureau of Narcotics, Marshall Fisher, says one key to the bill’s passage was making sure it was not referred to the Legislature’s health committee, where members tend to develop close relationships with pharma lobbyists. Fisher has testified about prescription bills before health committees in several other states. "It seems like every time we’ve done that, the deck is stacked against us," he says. "You can’t fight that." Following the bill’s passage, the number of meth labs busted in Mississippi fell more than 70 percent. The state narcotics bureau, which tracks the number of drug-endangered children, reported the number of such cases fell 81 percent in the first year the law was in effect.

Next Page: Everywhere else, industry has prevailed.

We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists

By Dr. Keith Ablow

Published January 08, 2013

FoxNews.com

A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.

Psychologist Jean Twenge, the lead author of the analysis, is also the author of a study showing that the tendency toward narcissism in students is up 30 percent in the last thirty-odd years.
This data is not unexpected.  I have been writing a great deal over the past few years about the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.

On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” They can delete unflattering comments. They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem. They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves (dozens of albums full, by the way), “speak” in pithy short posts and publicly connect to movie stars and professional athletes and musicians they “like.”

We must beware of the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories.

Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.

Using computer games, our sons and daughters can pretend they are Olympians, Formula 1 drivers, rock stars or sharpshooters.  And while they can turn off their Wii and Xbox machines and remember they are really in dens and playrooms on side streets and in triple deckers around America, that is after their hearts have raced and heads have swelled with false pride for “being” something they are not.

On MTV and other networks, young people can see lives just like theirs portrayed on reality TV shows fueled by such incredible self-involvement and self-love that any of the “real-life” characters should really be in psychotherapy to have any chance at anything like a normal life.

These are the psychological drugs of the 21st Century and they are getting our sons and daughters very sick, indeed.

As if to keep up with the unreality of media and technology, in a dizzying paroxysm of self-aggrandizing hype, town sports leagues across the country hand out ribbons and trophies to losing teams, schools inflate grades, energy drinks in giant, colorful cans take over the soft drink market, and psychiatrists hand out Adderall like candy.  

All the while, these adolescents, teens and young adults are watching a Congress that can’t control its manic, euphoric, narcissistic spending, a president that can’t see his way through to applauding genuine and extraordinary achievements in business, a society that blames mass killings on guns, not the psychotic people who wield them, and—here no surprise—a stock market that keeps rising and falling like a roller coaster as bubbles inflate and then, inevitably, burst.

That’s really the unavoidable end, by the way. False pride can never be sustained. The bubble of narcissism is always at risk of bursting.  That’s why young people are higher on drugs than ever, drunker than ever, smoking more, tattooed more, pierced more and having more and more and more sex, earlier and earlier and earlier, raising babies before they can do it well, because it makes them feel special, for a while.  They’re doing anything to distract themselves from the fact that they feel empty inside and unworthy.

Distractions, however, are temporary, and the truth is eternal. Watch for an epidemic of depression and suicidality, not to mention homicidality, as the real self-loathing and hatred of others that lies beneath all this narcissism rises to the surface.  I see it happening and, no doubt, many of you do, too.   

We had better get a plan together to combat this greatest epidemic as it takes shape.  Because it will dwarf the toll of any epidemic we have ever known. And it will be the hardest to defeat. Because, by the time we see the scope and destructiveness of this enemy clearly, we will also realize, as the saying goes, that it is us.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at info@keithablow.com

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/08/are-raising-generation-deluded-narcissists/#ixzz2HsxgMyG5

 

Here is a little history to back up the above article….

Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany during the years of the Weimar republic. Hitler and the Nazis were able to rise to power as a result of their control over the German society. One of the main aspects of society that Hitler and the Nazi Party focused its efforts towards was that of the youth. Hitler was able to gain control of the impressionable youth by making changes in the educational system and by the formation of the Hitler Youth. Edward Behrendt, once a member of the Hitler Youth stated “If you can capture the minds of young children and persuade them to become dedicated to your cause, your theory of the truth and your theory of what is right and wrong, then you can hold the whole country captive and you have complete control” (Behrendt 1). Hitler knew that as soon as he was able to control the youth, he would also control the country. The control of the youth played a huge role in the Nazification of German Society.

CONTINUE READING…

OPEN Letter to Ohio Legislators and Washington DC

 

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by Tonya Davis on Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 9:33pm ·

Lawmakers… Please don’t let me die knowing that this plant could have saved me and you denied the same access as 18 states and DC as well as the 4 federal patients. You can stand up for me and many folks like me..

(I just want to say thank you for reposting my Open Letter Note.)

Come on Obama Administration… I need access to the whole plant of cannabis. I do not buy …. sell or grow… I should have the right to grow it like tomatoes for my medicine. I should be able to use its oils and juice its leaf or eat is raw. or smoke a joint whichever I need at the time.End marijuana Prohibition TODAY!!! and also SAVE Americans at the same time. This plant is the only thing that could save my life. Facebooker’s will you share this everywhere please.

This is an open letter to my Ohio legislators.

I have nowhere else to turn. I hope you hear my cries for help and I hope you stand up for me. Representative Bobby Hagan will be  Re introducing the Ohio medical compassion act which I hope you will consider cosponsoring  in January 2013.

It would merely allow Ohio’s doctors and patients to decide whether or not medical cannabis could benefit them or not. It would allow the department of health to keep an eye on the program and make sure there were no abuses. Anyone that is in the program would be in a database so that you can keep track of this act of compassion.

We also believe that it would save Ohio taxpayers millions of dollars by not arresting, incarcerating  and prosecuting folks for making a choice using cannabis as medicine. we also believe that the Obama administration would not bother our program because there would not be storefronts or dispensaries selling the product.

Over 73% of Ohioans support the compassionate use of marijuana..I am not sure you are aware but our sister state of Michigan has a medical cannabis program. We believe that we should have the same rights as those folks  just across our border.

Also Colorado and Washington just legalized marijuana for personal use.

My name is Tonya Davis and I’m your constituent. I am a mother, grandmother, sister, daughter. I could be your neighbor, friend, coworker. You have seen me at the Ohio Statehouse over the last decade in a suit rolling around in my wheelchair trying to bring your attention to alternative medication that is actually safer than aspirin. Yes I’m talking about medical cannabis and this has been my choice of medicine. For a long time you said to me to "bring in a doctor that supports this issue" I have!  you have said "bring in the science that supports cannabis as medicine" I have.. You have said " get a Republican on board" WE HAVE… we have jumped through the hoops that you have asked us to jump through.

We have a certified petition for the Ohio alternative treatment amendment that was certified by the SOS and the AG October of last year. We currently have house Bill 214  that is being ignored in the health committee because our speaker of the house refuses to give it a hearing. Now I’m asking you to save my life.

My whole life I have begged for help no one ever hears me. I will be heard this time because  this is my life I’m fighting for and I’m going to die on my terms.

Our government knows that cannabis is a medicine and that it is a neuro protective and antioxidant. they have  patents on it.  I am literally fighting for my life and my independence as well as tryin to keep my cognitive thinking okay.  By allowing me the same access as the 18 states plus Washington DC as well as the four patients that are currently allowed on federal level …it is not harming anyone.

I deserve that same access even though I am in the state of Ohio. I should not have to go die like a wounded animal in the woods. (going to a state that does have medical cannabis laws) where  I have no family and a support system.

I am not a drug addict, suffer from mental illness or have any type of criminal record.

I do have my Ohio doctors support , I have my pharmacist support… I have my out-of-state written recommendation from my cannabinoid specialist .  I have lived in same place for the decade ive fought for this issue. Here is a video clip of me and my cannabinoid specialist 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP5QOvkv77Y&feature=share

My neurologist came into my hospital room and told me a year ago that there was nothing that they can do for me anymore except keep me comfortable and treat symptoms. I have massive calcium deposits on my brain. I have pseudo-hypo parathyroidism which has completely disabled me and caused major medical problems such as crippling arthritis ,diseased esophagus, hiatal hernia ….inflamed bowel disease with adhesions wrapped around it…. severe hypocalcaemia…. very high phosphorous..  my blood pressure is all over the map … my heart rate is through the roof. All of this can be proven and backed up. Will you do the right thing and support compassion not corruption?

My future is bleak but I have an opportunity to change things and to protect what brain that is not damaged yet.  and most importantly die on my terms.

I CHALLENGE YOU TO SEND THIS TO ALL YOUR COLLEAGUES IN WASHINGTON.

ADDITIONALLY, MS. DAVIS WROTE THE FOLLOWING…..

If anything happens to me I blame my government for not allowing me the same access as my sister state Michigan or the other 17 states and DC …. I want my President to open his heart and allow me to fight for what life I have left with dignity and feel like I belong in this world as well. No ones ever heard me. As a child being abused and molested raped …I tried to tell anyone that would listen I was not heard or protected from age 5 to 12 when someone believed me I was removed to an orphanage. This is just the beginning of how my life spirals I am asking you remove sick people out of this drug war. I can not understand for the life of me how you can do anything you want to smoke a lot of pot do not get caught and you can be president of the United States. But If you do get caught with one joint it can ruin your life. Can we use common sense for drug policy when it comes to cannabis? why can the sister state Michigan get compassion and we don’t? I could go on about my life and I will but not right now. So as you can see there is a way you can save me. If our doctors are smarter now which I believe they are. They are licensed in the state of Ohio… We trust them to write prescriptions / with our lives in their hands anyway why can’t we trust them on determining whether or not their patient can benefit from the use of cannabis as a medicine? DEA will still have their work because people will still break the law. let our law-enforcement get real bad guys those committing domestic violence, violent crimes, home invasions harder drug addictions anything where there is a victim. There has to be a middle ground. I am tired of feeling like I’m a criminal and I don’t deserve to have to live in fear. It is the worst feeling ever. Let me know what you think on the subject. President Obama you are the one president that could change my life forever. What harm does it cause to allow someone like me to use cannabis as a medicine? I should be allowed to use that plant in any form. You could be America’s hero you could be my hero. Please read my open letter to share with your friends I would like you to care enough to stand with me. You all know this drug war is a lie? Have a lot to say tonight. I also want to say I am watching my friends die off one by one and I’m ready when father God calls me home… I don’t have to die right away I believe that with all my heart. Okay I’m done for a while… I may continue my talk if my community is watching ,thank you for being tolerant of me. You guys gave me my voice. Some day you will hear my whole story my life didn’t change until my mid-30s. It’s been a vicious cycle of domestic violence rape home invasion theft..even kidnapping my life has been a nightmare. No one has ever heard me I always fell before things changed. my life is make life movie. I would call it "If Only Heard" I have a strong testimony and willing to share it as well.. God has been a big part of my survival. seems like I had to experience all this to understand so id be a strong servant. my life is in Gods hand as well as our government…

US Supreme Court to Hear Myriad Genetics’ Gene Patentability Case

Dec 4, 2012
By: Patricia Van Arnum

 

Myriad Genetics, a molecular diagnostic company, reports that the US Supreme Court has granted certiorari agreeing to hear the case of The Association for Molecular Pathology, et al., v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., et al.(Docket No. 12-398). The Supreme Court will review an earlier decision by a federal appeals court, which declared that Myriad’s composition of matter claims covering isolated DNA of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are patent-eligible under Section 101 of the United States Patent Act.

The US Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case is the latest legal battle regarding the patentability of human genes and has important implications for pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical companies. In August 2012, a US federal appeals court ruled that the company’s composition of matter claims covering isolated DNA of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were patent-eligible material under federal patent law. The court, however, denied the company’s effort to patent methods of "comparing" or "analyzing" DNA sequences. The federal appeals court upheld Myriad’s right to patent the isolated genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. These genes serve as the basis for the intellectual property for the company’s BRACAnalysis test, a predictive test for assessing a woman’s risk for developing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

"Two previous decisions by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the patentability of our groundbreaking diagnostic test that has helped close to one million people learn about their hereditary cancer risk," said Peter Meldrum, president and CEO of Myriad Genetics, in a Nov. 30th, company press release. "Myriad devoted more than 17 years and $500 million to develop its BRACAnalysis test. The discovery and development of pioneering diagnostics and therapeutics require a huge investment and our US patent system is the engine that drives this innovation. This case has great importance for the hundreds of millions of patients whose lives are saved and enhanced by the life science industry’s products."

See related story:

Myriad Genetics Receives Favorable Ruling on Gene Patentability (Aug. 2012, ePT)

Why Are We Testing Newborns for Pot?

The science is alarmingly inconclusive, but the punishment for mothers is severe.

November 23, 2012  |  

Employees at US hospitals are testing more and more newborns for cannabis exposure. And, with alarming frequency, they are getting the wrong results. So say a pair of recent studies documenting the unreliability of infant drug testing.

 

 

In the most recent trial, published in the September edition of the Journal of Clinical Chemistry , investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine evaluated the rate of unconfirmed "positive" immunoassay test results in infant and non-infant urine samples over a 52-week period. Shockingly, authors found that positive tests for carboxy THC, a byproduct of THC screened for in immunoassay urine tests, were 59 times less likely to be confirmed in infant urine specimens as compared to non-infant urine samples. Overall, 47 percent of the infant positive immunoassay urine samples evaluated did not test for the presence of carboxy THC when confirmatory assay measures were later performed.
Immunoassay testing – the standard technology used in workplace drug testing – relies on the use of antibodies (proteins that will react to a particular substance or a group of very similar substances) to document whether a specific reaction occurs. Therefore, a positive result on an immunoassay test presumes that a certain quantity of a particular substance may be present in the sample, but it does not actually identify the presence of the substance itself. A more specific chemical test, known as chromatography, must be performed in order to confirm any preliminary analytical test results. Samples that test positive on the presumptive immunoassay test, but then later test negative on the confirmatory test are known as false positives.
False positive test results for cannabis’ carboxy THC metabolite are relatively uncommon in adult specimens. Among newborns’ specimens, however, false positive results for alleged cannabis exposure are disturbingly prevalent.
In April, researchers at the University of North Carolina reported in the journal Clinical Biochemistry that various chemicals present in various baby wash products, such as Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Baby Wash and CVS Baby Wash, frequently cross-react with the immunoassay test to cause false positive results for carboxy THC.

“[The] addition of Head-to-Toe Baby Wash to drug-free urine produced a dose dependent measureable response in the THC immunoassay,” the investigators concluded . “Addition of other commercially available baby soaps gave similar results, and subsequent testing identified specific chemical surfactants that reacted with the THC immunoassay. … Given these consequences, it is important for laboratories and providers to be aware of this potential source for false positive screening results and to consider confirmation before initiating interventions.”

Following the publication of the UNC study, researchers at the University of Utah screened for the presence of baby soap contaminants in infant urine. Surprisingly, they didn’t find any . Rather, they concluded that the disproportionately high rate of false positive test results discovered among their samples were the result of a cross-reaction with some other yet-to-be determined constituent. They cautioned: “Until the compounds contributing to positive urine screen results in infants are identified, we encourage the use of alternative specimens for the detection and investigation of neonatal exposure to cannabinoids. Screen-positive cannabinoid results from infant samples should not be reported without confirmation or appropriate consultation, because they cannot currently be interpreted.”
Yet despite these warnings, in many instances, hospitals fail to confirm the results of presumptive drug tests prior to reporting them to state authorities. (Because confirmatory testing is more expensive the immunoassay testing, many hospitals neglect to send such presumptive positive urine samples to outside labs for follow-up analysis.) Ironically, such confirmatory tests are required for all hospital employees who test positive for illicit substances. But presently, no such guidelines stipulate that similar precautions be taken for newborns or pregnant mothers. Explains Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women : “NAPW has had calls from numerous parents who were subjected to intrusive, threatening, and counterproductive child welfare interventions based on false or innocent positive test results for marijuana. We have learned that pregnant patients receive fewer guarantees of accuracy than do job applicants at that same hospital.” 

Regardless of whether or not the drug screen results are confirmed, the sanctions for those subjects who test positive are often swift and severe. Typically, any report of alleged infant exposure to cannabis will trigger a host of serious consequences ranging from the involvement of social services to accusations of child endangerment or neglect. In some instances, mothers whose infants test positive for carboxy THC will lose temporary child custody rights and be mandated to attend a drug treatment program. In other instances they may be civilly prosecuted. At least 18 states address the issue of pregnant women’s drug use in their civil child neglect laws; in 12 states prenatal exposure to any illegal drug is defined by statute as civil child abuse. (One state, South Carolina, authorizes the criminal prosecution of mothers who are alleged to have consumed cannabis, or any other illicit substance, during pregnancy and carry their baby to term.) 
Of further concern is the reality that the hospital staff’s decision to drug test infants or pregnant mothers appears to be largely a subjective one. There are no national standards delineating specific criteria for the drug testing of pregnant women, new mothers, or their infants. In fact, the only federal government panel ever convened to advise on the practice urged against its adoption. As a result, race and class largely influence who is tested and who isn’t. A study published in the  Journal of Women’s Health reported that "black women and their newborns were 1.5 times more likely to be tested for illicit drugs as non-black women," after controlling for obstetrical conditions and socio-demographic factors, such as single marital status or a lack of health insurance. A separate study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported similar rates of illicit drug consumption during pregnancy among both black and white women, but found that “black women were reported [to health authorities] at approximately 10 times the rate for white women.”
How many mothers have been accused of child neglect or abuse because of false positive drug test results? Nobody knows for sure. But no doubt some mothers have been penalized solely as a result of the test’s inherent fallibility – and many more are likely to face similar sanctions in the future. That’s because the practice of drug testing infants for cannabis exposure remains a relatively popular even though there exists limited, if any, evidence to justify it.
“No child-health expert would characterize recreational drug use during pregnancy as a good idea,” writes Time.com columnist Maia Szalavitz. “But it’s not at all clear that the benefits, if any, of newborn marijuana screening – particularly given how selectively the tests are administered – justify the potential harm it can cause to families.”
Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform agrees, telling Time.com that the emotional damage caused by removing an infant child from their mothers, as well as the risk of abuse inherent to foster care, far outweigh any risks to the child that may be caused by maternal marijuana use during pregnancy. 
In fact, the potential health effects of maternal marijuana use on infant birth weight and early development have been subject to scientific scrutiny for several decades. One of the earliest and most often cited studies on the topic comes from Dr. Melanie Dreher and colleagues, who assessed neonatal outcomes in Jamaica, where it is customary for many women to ingest cannabis, often in tea, during pregnancy to combat symptoms of morning sickness. Writing in the journal  Pediatrics in 1994, Dreher and colleagues reported no significant physical or psychological differences in newborns of heavy marijuana-using mothers at three days old, and found that exposed children performed better on a variety of physiological and autonomic tests than non-exposed children at 30 days. (This latter trend was suggested to have been a result of the socio-economic status of the mothers rather than a result of pre-natal pot exposure.)
Separate population studies have reported similar results. A 2002 survey of 12,060 British women reported, “[C]annabis use during pregnancy was unrelated to risk of perinatal death or need for special care.” Researchers added that “frequent or regular use” of cannabis throughout pregnancy may be associated with “small but statistically detectable decrements in birthweight.” However, the association between cannabis use and birthweight failed to be statistically significant after investigators adjusted for confounding factors such as the mothers’ age, pre-pregnancy weight, and the self-reported use of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and other illicit drugs.”

THIS STORY CONTINUES THRU THIS LINK….PLEASE CONTINUE READING

Multistate Outbreak of Fungal Infection Associated with Injection of Methylprednisolone Acetate Solution from a Single Compounding Pharmacy — United States, 2012

Early Release

October 12, 2012 / 61(Early Release);1-4

On September 18, 2012, the Tennessee Department of Health was alerted by a clinician regarding a patient with culture-confirmed Aspergillus fumigatus meningitis diagnosed 46 days after epidural steroid injection at a Tennessee ambulatory surgical center. By September 27, the initial investigation, carried out by the Tennessee Department of Health in collaboration with CDC and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, had identified an additional eight patients with clinically diagnosed, culture-negative meningitis: seven in Tennessee and one in North Carolina. All nine patients had received epidural steroid injection with preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate solution (MPA), compounded at New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. All nine patients had received one or more injections from three lots of MPA (lot numbers 05212012@68; 06292012@26; and 08102012@51). As of October 10, a multistate investigation led by CDC in collaboration with state and local health departments and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had identified 137 cases and 12 deaths associated with this outbreak in 10 states. Active case-finding efforts and extensive investigation into medications and medication lot numbers received by patients have confirmed that, as of October 10, no cases were associated with other lots of MPA, nor were any associated with other NECC products. This report describes the ongoing investigation by CDC and state and local health departments, and includes important recommendations for physicians and patients.

NECC was informed of the ongoing investigation on September 25 and provided invoice information indicating that approximately 17,500 vials of MPA (80 mg/ml) from these lots were packaged in 1ml, 2ml, and 5ml vials and distributed to 75 facilities in 23 states. These lots of MPA were used to treat both peripheral joint and back pain. On September 26, NECC voluntarily recalled the three lots of MPA, followed by an expanded voluntary recall of all lots of MPA and all lots of sterile products intended for intrathecal injection on October 3. This was followed by a voluntary recall of all remaining products on October 6.

Some patients received multiple injections with the three lots of MPA, and some vials were unused. As of October 10, state and local health departments had identified almost 14,000 persons potentially exposed to medications from at least one of these lots. Active notification of exposed persons was initiated by state health departments and CDC on September 25. Passive case finding was conducted by widely disseminated notices of the potential contamination of the three MPA lots via Epi-X (a CDC electronic public health notification system), through professional societies and listservs, and the news media. As of October 10, state health departments had reported that approximately 90% of patients exposed to medication from one of the three lots of MPA recalled on September 26 had been contacted at least once, by telephone, voicemail, home visit, or registered mail.

As of October 10, four categories of cases in patients who received an injection with MPA produced by NECC had been identified: 1) fungal meningitis or nonbacterial and nonviral meningitis of subacute onset following epidural injection on or after May 21; 2) basilar stroke following epidural injection on or after May 21, in a person from whom no cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimen was obtained; 3) spinal osteomyelitis or epidural abscess at the site of injection following epidural or sacroiliac injection on or after May 21; 4) septic arthritis or osteomyelitis of a peripheral joint (e.g., knee) diagnosed following injection of that joint on or after May 21. Clinical meningitis was defined as having one or more symptoms (e.g., headache, fever, stiff neck, or photophobia) and CSF pleocytosis (more than five white blood cells per µL, adjusting for presence of red blood cells), regardless of CSF protein and glucose levels. Clinically diagnosed septic arthritis was defined as new or worsening pain with presence of effusion or new or worsening effusion.

As of October 10, 137 patients in 10 states had been identified who met one or more of the four definitions, all of whom underwent injection with one or more of the three lots of MPA from NECC. No cases associated with other lots of MPA, or other NECC products, had been identified. Twelve (9%) of the 137 patients died. Preliminary data are available on 70 (51%) patients. Of these, 64 (91%) have meningitis (case definition 1). Of the six remaining patients, two (3%) have stroke without lumbar puncture (definition 2), and two (3%) have an epidural abscess or osteomyelitis (definition 3). Two (3%) patients met more than one case definition (definitions 1 and 3).

Median age of the 70 patients is 68 years (range: 23–91 years); 48 (69%) are female. At presentation, 57 (81%) had headache, 24 (34%) had fever, 21 (30%) had nausea, and seven (10%) had photophobia (Table). Atypical neurologic symptoms were observed in a minority of patients; subtle gait disturbances were seen in three (4%), and a history of falls was described in eight (11%). Meningeal signs, including nuchal rigidity, Kernig’s sign, or Brudzinski’s sign, were uncommon, occurring in 10 (14%) patients (Table). Stroke, either as a presenting sign, or as a complication of infection, occurred in 12 (17%) (Table).

Median CSF white blood cell count was 1,299/µL (range: 13–15,400) with a neutrophilic predominance; median CSF glucose was 42 mg/dL (range: 11–121), and median protein was 129 mg/dL (range: 45–588). As of October 10, evidence of a fungal infection had been found in 26 (37%) patients by culture, histopathology, or polymerase chain reaction. The fungal species had been identified in 14 patients; Exserohilum spp was identified in 13, and Aspergillus fumigatus was identified in one patient (Table). Further specimen evaluation is ongoing at CDC and state public health and local laboratories.

For the 61 patients with symptom onset date available, the earliest date was August 18 (Figure). For the 48 patients with both injection date and symptom onset date available for analysis, the median time from last steroid injection to onset of symptoms was 15 days (range: 1–42). A total of 25 of the 48 patients received a single steroid injection; the median time from injection to onset of symptoms for these patients was 16 days (range: 4–42).

Reported by

Marion Kainer, MD, Andrew D. Wiese, MPH, Tennessee Dept of Health. Kaitlin Benedict, MPH, Chris Braden, MD, Mary Brandt, PhD, Julie Harris, PhD, Benjamin J. Park, MD, Div of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases; Alice Guh, MD, John Jernigan, MD, Melissa Schaefer, MD, J. Todd Weber, MD, Matt Wise, PhD, Div of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases; Rachel M. Smith, MD, Duc Nguyen, MD, EIS officers, CDC. Corresponding contributor: Rachel M. Smith MD, vih9@cdc.gov, 404-639-7738.

Editorial Note

Meningitis and parameningeal infections are extremely rare complications of epidural injection, with few cases reported (1–3). Most often these infections are bacterial; rarely is a postepidural injection meningitis case caused by fungi, and when present, fungal infection is often diagnosed only after a patient fails to improve on antibiotic therapy. Diagnosis of fungal meningitis, particularly in cases caused by molds, is difficult because traditional diagnostic methods such as culture have a low yield (4–6). Molecular methods such as polymerase chain reaction have been useful for detection in some cases, but currently remain in use only as research tools.

The clinical presentation of fungal meningitis is often indolent, with few patients displaying the classic meningeal signs of bacterial meningitis. Early in this outbreak, many patients with meningitis had only a few mild symptoms, but had CSF pleocytosis. Additionally, some of these patients either presented with, or later developed, a stroke in the posterior circulation (which supplies the cerebellum, midbrain, and brainstem), a finding described in one prior case series of fungal meningitis (6). Clinicians should be aware of the atypical presentation of meningitis in this outbreak, and should consider performing lumbar puncture if patients have mild symptoms and have received a steroid injection originating from one of the three implicated lots of MPA. Early identification and treatment of patients with fungal infections might reduce the risk for serious complications, such as stroke or death. It is possible that the lower case-fatality rate reported here compared with other case series might have resulted from intensive patient notification and earlier diagnosis and therapy; further investigation is needed.

Close follow-up of these patients is needed to understand important clinical questions, such as the optimal medications, dosage, and duration of treatment. To provide guidance on these important clinical issues, CDC, in consultation with experts in the diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections, has drafted interim treatment guidelines for infections associated with this outbreak. Current recommendations for treatment of central nervous system and parameningeal infections include consultation with an infectious disease physician and initiation of empiric antifungal therapy with high dose voriconazole and liposomal amphotericin B. Treatment duration is likely to be prolonged, on the order of months, and will need to be tailored to individual patients. Routine use of adjuvant steroids or intrathecal amphotericin B in treatment and postexposure prophylaxis or screening of asymptomatic persons by lumbar puncture currently are not recommended. These recommendations are subject to change as more information becomes available.

As of October 6, all products manufactured since January 1, 2012, have been recalled by NECC and should not be used. The FDA and Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy investigation into the NECC facility is ongoing and includes microbiologic testing of unopened vials of the three lots of MPA as well as additional NECC products. If not already completed, providers should contact all patients exposed to any of the three lots of MPA recalled on September 26 to inquire about symptoms. Patients who received epidural injection with medication from any of the three lots of MPA and who have symptoms of meningitis or posterior circulation stroke should be referred for diagnostic lumbar puncture, if not contraindicated. Patients with signs or symptoms of parameningeal infection or peripheral joint infection (e.g., increasing pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site) should be referred for diagnostic evaluation, which might include aspiration of fluid collections or joint aspiration. Although available preliminary data demonstrate incubation periods ranging from 4 to 42 days, the maximum incubation period for this infection is not known; therefore, asymptomatic but exposed patients should remain vigilant for symptoms and seek medical attention should symptoms develop. More guidance for patients and clinicians, including interim treatment guidelines, is available at http://www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis.html.

Acknowledgments

Multistate Meningitis Outbreak Response Team: Doug Kernodle, MD, April C. Pettit, MD, Kathy Wilkerson, and the Fungal Infection Team, Vanderbilt Univ Medical Center. Carol A. Rauch, MD, Jonathan E. Schmitz, MD, Vanderbilt Univ School of Medicine. Megan Casey, MPH, Allegheny County Health Dept. Srihari Seshadri, MBBS, Barren River District Health Dept. Jon Rosenberg, MD, California Dept of Public Health. Stephanie R. Black, MD, Alicia Siston, PhD, Chicago Dept of Public Health. Michael O. Vernon, DrPh, Cook County Dept of Public Health. Wendy Chung MD, Dallas County Health and Human Svcs. Carina Blackmore, DVM, Tricia Foster, MPH, Florida Dept of Health. Christine Hahn, MD, Kathy Turner, PhD, Idaho Div of Public Health. Judith Conway, Kate Kelly-Shannon, Matthew Roberts, MPH, Kenneth Soyemi, MD, Illinois Dept of Public Health. Pamela Pontones, MA, Joan Duwve, MD, Indiana State Dept of Health. Kraig Humbaugh, MD, Kentucky Dept for Public Health. Clara Tyson, MSN, Los Angeles County Dept of Public Health. Amy Reilly, Meghan Gumke, Nathan Grossman, MD, Marion County Health Dept. Madeleine Biondolillo, MD, James D. Coffey, Jim Collins, MPH, Joseph Coyle, MPH, Kevin Cranston, Alfred DeMaria, MD, Jean Pontikas, Iyah Romm, Massachusetts Dept of Public Health. David Blythe, MD, Ruth Thompson, Lucy Wilson, Maryland Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene. Craig McMilllan, MD, Mendocino County Dept of Public Health. Jay Fiedler, MS, Jennie Finks, DVM, Shannon Johnson, MPH, Michigan Dept of Community Health. Kathryn Como-Sabetti, MPH, Richard Danila, PhD, Aaron DeVries, MD, Jane Harper, Ruth Lynfield, MD, Minnesota Dept of Health. Ihsan Azzam, MD, PhD, Patricia Rowley, MPH, Nevada Dept of Health and Human Svcs. Sharon Alroy-Preis, MD, New Hampshire Dept of Health and Human Svcs. Barbara Carothers, Barbara Montana, MD, Christina Tan, MD, Laura Taylor, PhD, New Jersey Dept of Health. Jean-Marie Maillard, MD, Zack Moore, MD, North Carolina Dept of Health and Human Svcs. Mary DiOrio, MD, Ohio Dept of Health. Mary Powell, MPH, Pennyrile District Health Dept. Virginia Dato, MD, Elizabeth Hunt, MPH, Erica E. Smith, MD, Lauren Torso, MPH, Pennsylvania Dept of Health. Caroline Banis, Dan Drociuk, MD, South Carolina Dept of Health and Environmental Control. Brynn E. Berger, MPH, Meredith L. Kanago, MSPH, Jea Young Min, PharmD, David Reagan, MD, PhD, Brenda Rue, Jennifer Ward, MS, Anita Kurian, DrPh, Tarrant County Public Health. Neil Pascoe, Texas Dept of State Health Svcs. Karen Haught, MD, Tulare County Dept of Public Health. Katie Kurkjian, DVM, Margaret Tipple, MD, David Trump, MD, Virginia Dept of Health. Danae Bixler, MD, Carrie A. Thomas, PhD, West Virginia Bur for Public Health. Susann E. Ahrabi-Fard, MS, Richard T. Heffernan, MPH, James J. Kazmierczak, DVM, Wisconsin Div of Public Health. Aaron Fleischauer, PhD, James Lando, MD, Jevon McFadden, MD, Doug Thoroughman, PhD, Tom Torok, MD, Career Epidemiology Field Officers, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response; Tom Chiller, MD, Angela Cleveland, MPH, Martha Iwamoto, MD, Ana Litvenseva, PhD, Shawn Lockhart, PhD, Agam Rao, MD, Monika Roy, MD, Jonathan Yoder, MPH, Div of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, Shelley Magill, MD, PhD, Div of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases; Anne Purfield, PhD, Jane Baumblatt, MD, Amanda Beaudoin, PhD, Jennifer Espiritu, MD, Stephanie Griese, MD, Michael Gronostaj, MD, Christina Mikosz, MD, Maria Said, MD, Alice Shumate, MD, EIS officers, CDC.

References
  1. Cooper AB, Sharpe MD. Bacterial meningitis and cauda equina syndrome after epidural steroid injections. Can J Anaesth 1996;43(5 pt 1):471–4.
  2. Snarr J. Risk, benefits and complications of epidural steroid injections: a case report. AANA J 2007;75:183–8.
  3. Kolbe AB, McKinney AM, Kendi AT, Misselt D. Aspergillus meningitis and discitis from low-back procedures in an immunocompetent patient. Acta Radiol 2007;48:687–9.
  4. Verweij PE, Brinkman K, Kremer HP, Kullberg BJ, Meis JF. Aspergillus meningitis: diagnosis by non-culture-based microbiological methods and management. J Clin Microbiol 1999;37:1186–9.
  5. Viscoli C, Machetti M, Gazzola P, et al. Aspergillus galactomannan antigen in the cerebrospinal fluid of bone marrow transplant recipients with probable cerebral aspergillosis. J Clin Microbiol 2002;40:1496–9.
  6. Rodrigo N, Perera KN, Ranwala R, Jayasinghe S, Warnakulasuriya A, Hapuarachchi S. Aspergillus meningitis following spinal anaesthesia for caesarean section in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Int J Obstet Anesth 2007;16:256–60.

FIGURE. Number of cases (n = 61) of fungal infection with known date of symptom onset following epidural steroid injection of methylprednisolone acetate from New England Compounding Center, by date of symptom onset — United States, 2012

The Figure above shows the number of cases of fungal infection with known date of symptom onset, following epidural steroid injection of methylprednisolone acetate from New England Compounding Center, by date of symptom onset — United States, 2012

Alternate Text: The Figure above shows the number of cases of fungal infection with known date of symptom onset, following epidural steroid injection of methylprednisolone acetate from New England Compounding Center, by date of symptom onset — United States, 2012

TABLE. Characteristics of patients (N = 70) with fungal infections following epidural steroid injection of methylprednisolone acetate from New England Compounding Center — United States, 2012

Characteristic

No.

(%)

Median age (yrs) (range)

68

(23–91)

Sex

Male

22

(31)

Female

48

(69)

Case definition met

Meningitis

64

(91)

Stroke without lumbar puncture

2

(3)

Epidural abscess

2

(3)

Multiple

2

(4)

Median incubation period (days*) (range)

15

(1–42)

Signs/Symptoms

Headache

57

(81)

Fever

24

(34)

Nausea

21

(30)

Photophobia

7

(10)

Meningeal signs†

10

(14)

Gait disturbance

3

(4)

Falls

8

(11)

Stroke

12

(17)

Fungi identified by culture, PCR or histopathology§

Exserohilum spp

13

(50)

Aspergillus spp

1

(6)

Abbreviation: PCR = polymerase chain reaction.

* From date of last injection before symptom onset (n = 48).

† Includes nuchal rigidity, Kernig’s sign, and Brudzinski’s sign.

§ (n = 26).

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Judge shuts down Christian health ministry in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Christians-only health care ministry must cease operations in Kentucky unless it can get regulatory approval from the state Department of Insurance, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling by Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate means Medi-Share, a Florida-based cost-sharing ministry, can no longer accept money or help pay medical bills for churchgoers in Kentucky.

The health care ministry closely resembles secular insurance, but only allows participation by people who pledge to live Christian lives that include no smoking, drinking, using drugs or engaging in sex outside of marriage.

Medi-Share had continued to operate in Kentucky a year after the state Supreme Court ruled that it is subject to the same regulations as secular health care plans. Medi-Share contends that its participants aren’t buying insurance, but are involved in a charitable endeavor to help cover medical bills of fellow Christians and potentially have their own expenses covered should the need arise.

Wingate ordered Medi-Share, which is operated by Christian Care Ministry of Melbourne, Fla., "to cease all operations in Kentucky unless and until it receives a certificate of authority or other applicable license from the Department of Insurance."

"Until that time, Medi-Share’s website must clearly state that it does not operate in Kentucky," Wingate said in the 14-page ruling. "If the commissioner of the Department of Insurance discovers proof that Medi-Share continues to operate, the commissioner is directed to move this court for an order requiring the secretary of state to place Christian Care Ministry in bad standing."

The legal battle between Medi-Share and Kentucky revolves around how tightly the state can regulate the Christian health care ministry that serves nearly 40,000 people in 49 states, including 800 in Kentucky. Medi-Share President Tony Meggs testified in August that the group has helped arrange for Christians across the country to pay some $25 million in medical bills for Kentucky participants over the past 10 years.

Meggs said the ministry has revamped its plan in an effort to alleviate Kentucky’s regulatory concerns by no longer collecting contributions from participants into a central account. Instead, Meggs said, participants make contributions into their own accounts at American Christian Credit Union. When Christians need money to pay medical bills, he said, money is transferred directly between member accounts, bypassing a central fund pool that was in existence at the time of the Supreme Court ruling.

The case has put the Department of Insurance in the unenviable position of having to fight against a Christian cost-sharing ministry in a Bible belt state. But the agency’s concern has been that some Christians might mistakenly believe they’re paying into an insurance plan that guarantees coverage if they’re hospitalized. Medi-Share offers no such guarantee.

"As a state agency, we are charged with enforcing the law and protecting consumers," said Department of Insurance spokeswoman Ronda Sloan. "This case has continued for 10 years but it always has been about those basic principles."

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Israelis develop ‘cannabis without the high’

Israelis develop ‘cannabis without the high’

Cannabis compound can help cells

May 30, 2012

Israeli scientists have cultivated a cannabis plant that doesn’t get people stoned in a development that may help those smoking marijuana for medical purposes, a newspaper said on Wednesday…

According to the Maariv daily, the new cannabis looks, smells and even tastes the same, but does not induce any of the feelings normally associated with smoking marijuana that are brought on by the substance THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

"It has the same scent, shape and taste as the original plant — it’s all the same — but the numbing sensation that users are accustomed to has disappeared," said Tzahi Klein, head of development at Tikkun Olam, the firm that developed the species.

"Many of our patients who tried the new plant come back to us and say: ‘You tricked me,’" because they assumed they had been given a placebo, he said.

According to Maariv, Tikkun Olam sought to neutralise the effect of the THC and to increase the effect of another substance called CBD, or cannabidiol, which has been shown to help diabetics and to ease various psychiatric disorders.

Not only does it leave users stone-cold sober, it also doesn’t induce the munchies, the hunger pangs that the drug’s smokers generally suffer.

Despite the innovation, it is unlikely to have any impact on Israeli law, which outlaws the use of marijuana as illegal except for medical purposes.

According to figures published earlier this year by Sheba Medical Centre and the Israel Cancer Association, medical marijuana has been approved for use by about 6,000 Israelis suffering from various illnesses.

(c) 2012 AFP

First of controversial bird flu papers published

 

CBS/AP) Controversial bird flu research is now one step closer to being public. One of the two papers on bird flu is being published, with the approval of the U.S. government.

Gov’t wants bird flu research kept under wraps, away from terrorists

Bird flu self-defense: 7 key questions answered

Four months ago, the government sought to block publication of the studies about how scientists created an easily spread form of bird flu. The revised version of one paper will appear online in the journal Nature.

This publication is the near-conclusion to an ongoing drama about whether it’s better to learn how to thwart a global flu epidemic or prevent potential bioterrorist attacks.

The second paper, which is more controversial because it involves what appears to be a more dangerous virus, is expected to be published later in the journal Science.

For some experts, the affair underscores a more basic question about whether creating potentially risky versions of bird flu is a good idea.

"Clearly, research like this can be beneficial" for dealing with the bird-flu threat, Dr. Eric Toner of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s biosecurity center, told the Associated Press.

But there’s the question of calculating risk versus benefit, he said. "If we’re taking a highly lethal virus and making it more transmissible, it’s a tough judgment… These sorts of decisions should be made in advance of the research being done, not when the papers are ready for publication."

The bird flu that has spread among poultry in Asia for several years now can be deadly, but it rarely sickens people. And people generally catch it from chickens and ducks, not from other people. Scientists have worried that as virus strains mix in nature, they could produce a deadly bird flu that transmits easily from one person to another. That could set the stage for a flu pandemic.

The new studies come from two teams of scientists, one in a U.S. lab and another in the Netherlands. They created virus strains that spread easily among ferrets, which were used as a stand-in for people. The researchers wanted to study what genetic mutations helped the virus spread. That way scientists could identify such red flags in wild viruses and act quickly to avoid potential pandemic, as well as test vaccine and drugs.

But the federal government, which funded the research, asked the scientists not to publish details of their work. Officials were worried that the full papers would give bioterrorists a blueprint for creating weapons. That led to a wide-ranging debate among scientists, many of whom argued that sharing details of such work is essential in fighting the threat of dangerous viruses.

Both teams eventually submitted revised versions of their research to a U.S. biosecurity panel. That group and, later, federal health officials agreed to support publication. For one thing, the panel said, it would be difficult for others to do harm using the data provided, and for another, scientists had good reasons for publishing the results.

Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the research being reported Wednesday, said last month that the changes to his paper "were mainly a more in-depth explanation of the significance of the findings to public health and a description of the laboratory biosafety and biosecurity."

He and colleagues essentially created a hybrid of bird and human flu viruses, and identified mutations that let it spread through the air between ferrets. None of the infected animals died. The researchers also found evidence that existing vaccines would protect people against the hybrid.

The researchers said they didn’t know whether the four mutations they identified would make a bird flu in nature more transmissible. But they said the results should help scientists find other such mutations and understand what makes bird flu spread in people.

Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, said he’s less concerned about publication of the papers than the fact that the federal government funded the research in the first place. "This is work that creates new biological threats," he said. "These viruses are dangerous and the ones that will come later (with further research) will be more dangerous."

Other doctors think the benefits outweigh the harms. "We should be aware of the fact that this influenza can mutate," Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious diseases specialist at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y, told HealthDay. "Publication makes us safer because we know what to look out for now. This can help facilitate preventive strategies and can eventually lead to more effective vaccine development and antiviral therapy."

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