Two pharmacists will face second-degree murder charges in imminent trials in connection with the sale of contaminated pain medicines that caused the deadliest meningitis outbreak in U.S. history in 2012.
Hundreds of people in nearly two dozen states were diagnosed with fungal meningitis and certain other infections in 2012, after they received contaminated medication. Nine states reported 64 deaths.
The two pharmacists who are being blamed for deadly outbreak are: Barry J. Cadden, who co-owned the Framingham, Mass.-based New England Compounding Center, which has since been closed; and Glenn Chin, who worked there.
After a preliminary investigation, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reported that it had “identified serious deficiencies and significant violations of pharmacy law and regulations that clearly placed the public’s health at risk.”
In the trial of 50-year-old Cadden, jury selection is expected to start this Wednesday. The trial of Chin is slated to start immediately after Cadden’s trial ends.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charges. In convicted, they could be slapped with a maximum sentence of life in prison.General: HealthCompanies: FDA
Minors will no longer be able to purchase certain cough syrup over the counter as a new law prohibits the sale of medicines containing dextromethorphan to those under 18, authorities have confirmed.
Dextromethorphan, is a key ingredient in cough syrups, is also used in a number of over-the-counter drugs. But, many young people misuse it to get a high. Many adults either drink cough syrup or mix it with other substances to get a high.
Senate Bill 938 (SB 938) is a measure designed to prohibit producers, distributors and retailers from selling dextromethorphan-containing medicines to minors, as well as requiring anybody who under 25 to provide identification upon checkout.
Doug Broxson, who is going to take office as a state Senator this week, sponsored the measure after hearing from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration about issues with the ingredient, especially as it related to deaths of several minors.
Speaking about the measure, Broxson said, “What we were concentrated on were some of the deaths and the byproducts … We were just trying to respond to a growing concern where our youths were misusing this product, and these kids are pretty creative on doing these things.”
Multiple states, including California, Texas and Florida, have witnessed notable spikes in prevalence and related issues with youth abusing medicines containing dextromethorphan, which prompted the legislation.General: HealthRegion: California
The first baby to born in 2017 in Cook County is a girl who took birth to Cubs’ die-hard fans 12 minutes into the New Year, according to a press release from AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center.
Hospital officials said Wrigley took birth at 12:12 a.m. Sunday at AMITA Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, which is located in the northwest suburban area of the Cook County.
At the time of her birth, Wrigley weighed in at just 5 pounds and 12 ounces. Her parents, viz. Ellen and Aaron Dalbey of Roselle, are Cubs’ fans.
Another baby, named Savannah Zwolen, took birth less than twenty minutes later at Oak Lawn-based Christ Medical Center. She came to this world at 12:31 a.m. on Sunday.
According to a press release issued by the southwest suburban hospital, Savannah weighed merely 4 pounds and 2 ounces as she was born premature. Currently, she is in the NICU as she needs to remain under doctors’ strict supervision for the next some days.
Savannah’s parents Tomas and Paulina Zwolen and a two-year-old brother live in Chicago near the popular Midway Airport.General: Health
The U.S. space agency National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) has released its incredibly cool concept for Martian houses for astronauts who would one day set foot on the Red Planet.
One of the biggest problems being faced by scientists working NASA’s Mars manned mission is to ensure safe dwelling for pioneer astronauts to sleep, live and work in. Now, the scientists have a conceptual ‘ice home’ design for the same.
As per the Ice Home concept, NASA would create inflatable domes covered in ice for pioneer astronauts. The inflatable cool domes would provide them with protection from high temperatures and high-energy radiation.
NASA’s senior systems engineer Kevin Vipavetz said, “After a day dedicated to identifying needs, goals, and constraints we rapidly assessed many crazy, out of the box ideas and finally converged on the current Ice Home design, which provides a sound engineering solution.”
The main aim of the Ice Home concept is to protect astronauts from harmful radiation that can penetrate through Mars’ atmosphere. These harmful rays can damage astronauts’ cells, leading to serious health risks, including acute radiation sickness and cancer.
The Mars Ice Home concept has a number of advantages. For instance, it is lightweight and can be transported and deployed with simple robotics, before the arrival of astronauts.General: Science NewsCompanies: NASA
In an interesting experiment launched on Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted a tweet to the users of the microblogging platform, seeking product feedback from them.
In his Thursday tweet, Dorsey asked his approximately four million followers to send in their suggestions about the changes or improvements that they would want Twitter to incorporate, in order to enhance its platform.
Dorsey’s Tweet has drawn responses from hundreds of Twitter users, who have highlighted their concerns with a number of issues linked to the Twitter site.
The responses of Twitter users to Dorsey’s tweet chiefly included complaints about the basic design of the microblogging service, as well as concerns about abuse on the site and the apparent lack of a mechanism which would enable users to fix errors after they publish tweets.
Acknowledging the input from the users in response to his tweet for feedback about the Twitter service, Dorsey said in a Twitter post on Friday: “We’ll consider everything we heard from you. Not going to ship all of it, but will be more transparent about why and what we learned.”Companies: TwitterTechnology: TechnologyPeople: Jack Dorsey
Children who spend merely an hour each day on social media may actually feel less satisfied with their lives, a new study published by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics suggested.
Teenagers can often be seen obsessively checking their feeds on various social media sites on their mobile devices. But, researchers found that behind their smiling selfies, teenagers mightn’t be as happy as they try to show in the photos.
The researchers looked at data on children and teens, ages 10 to 15 years old, in the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2014. The children were all participating in the U.K. Household Longitudinal Study that involved a representative sample of more than 40,000 households across the country.
They also found that girls suffer more adverse effects of spending more than an hour daily on social media than boys.
Sharing their findings, the researchers wrote, “Our results suggest that spending more time on social networks reduces the satisfaction that children feel with all aspects of their lives, except for their friendships … girls suffer more adverse effects than boys.”
This isn’t the first study to point out the adverse effects of increasing use of social media on children. In 2011, a study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics warned parents that so-called “Facebook depression” among teens could make it more difficult for them to handle their kids.General: HealthResearchRegion: United Kingdom
It will remain illegal to sell marijuana in Massachusetts for the coming several months as the state lawmakers have approved a bill to delay the voter-approved measure.
The Massachusetts House and Senate passed the controversial bill on Wednesday, without any public hearing and debate. The passage of the bill means marijuana sales will remain illegal in the state for at least six months.
It has also delayed the licensing of pot shops. However, registered medical marijuana patients can buy and use the drug.
When asked for a comment on the decision, Senate President Stan Rosenberg said, “The Legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety.”
The marijuana-legalization measure, which allows adults 21 and over to possess marijuana for recreational purposes and grow up to a dozen pot plants in their home premises, took effect on Dec. 15. The bill will not change that. It just pushed back the opening of retail marijuana stores.
The ballot initiative for legalizing recreational marijuana was approved by 53.7 per cent of state voters on November 8th election. Recreational marijuana is already legal in a number of states in the U.S., including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.General: HealthRegion: Massachusetts
On Thursday, a refreshed version of Asus' touch-friendly Chromebook Flip - the Asus Chromebook Flip 2 - showed up on the Best Buy website, hinting at an apparently forthcoming launch of the device.
The Asus Chromebook Flip 2 will be the one of the first Chromebooks to boast support for Android apps via the Google Play Store.
The new Chromebook Flip version appeared on Best Buy a few days after the same device - bearing model number C302CA - first showed up on Newegg. com. However, that listing was quickly taken down.
Going by the indications from the product listing on Best Buy, the new Asus Chromebook Flip 2 will seemingly be a convertible laptop. The device, as per a 9to5Google report, will likely be shipped by Asus on January 5, 2017.
According to the real product description stored in Google's cache, the key features of Asus Chromebook Flip 2 include a 12.5-inch full HD touchscreen; Intel Pentium 4405Y chip; Intel HD Graphics 515 integrated GPU; 4GB RAM;
32GB eMMC solid state drive (SSD); microSD card slot; high-definition webcam and microphone; backlit keyboard; Bluetooth 4.0; and two USB-C ports.
Officers from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control reportedly took a man under arrest for driving under the influence of caffeine.
Joseph Schwab was allegedly driving erratically while returning home from office in Solano County. When an agent from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control pulled him over and gave him a breathalyzer test, the result turned up as 0.00 per cent.
In spite of, Schwab was arrested and taken to jail where they decided to conduct a blood test to determine if he was under the influence of anything else. He was not found under the influence of alcohol or any banned substance, but it showed that the man had some caffeine.
Nevertheless, police charged him with DUI, triggering a wave of criticism from many. Stacey Barrett, Schwab’s attorney, also said that he was just as perplexed.
When asked for a comment on the case, Barrett said, “I’ve never seen this before; I’ve never even heard of it. I have not been provided with any evidence to support a theory of prosecution for a substance other than caffeine at this time.”
Schwab grumbled that no officer believed him that he only had caffeine in his system until, lab results showed them. He urged authorities to dismiss all charges filed against him.
No study has thus far suggested that caffeine can impair driving. In fact, caffeine is a drink of choice for many individuals, including police officers, who look for an additional boost of energy during driving.General: HealthRegion: California
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday met with leaders of the nation’s top nonprofit hospital systems to discuss plans to overhaul healthcare system for veterans.
After the meeting, a senior transition official told reporters that they discussed a range of options, including public-private partnerships and allowing veterans to more readily visit hospitals outside the existing Veterans Affairs system.
However, some veteran advocacy groups have warned that any move to expand access to health care outside the government-run hospitals may weaken the system through privatization.
As the VA system spends nearly $70 billion annually on medical care, allowing veterans to more readily visit hospitals outside the system would potentially be a windfall to private hospitals.
The list attendees include John Noseworthy, CEO of the Mayo Clinic; David Torchiana, CEO of Partners HealthCare; and Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic; and Paul Rothman, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Mr. Rothman said the meeting with Mr. Trump reflected his recognition of the decisive value of healthcare and biomedical research to the U.S.
Hopkins said in a statement, “Johns Hopkins Medicine remains committed to improving health outcomes for patients, families and communities across the country.
The President-elect and Republican leaders of U.S. Congress have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly known as Obamacare. However, it wasn’t immediately clear whether this issue was discussed during the meeting.General: HealthPeople: Donald Trump
In its Wednesday issued annual report, research firm Flurry Analytics has revealed that bigwig smartphone vendors Apple and Samsung apparently missed smartphone sales opportunities in the 2016 holiday season.
According to the report, the missed 2016 holiday smartphone sales opportunities by Apple and Samsung is evident from the fact that neither of the two companies recorded any dramatic increase or decline in their smartphone sales this holiday season.
The data shared by Flurry in its latest report shows that Apple's iPhone and iPad accounted for nearly 44 percent of all mobile activations during the critical holiday shopping period spanning from December 19 to December 25, 2016; while the smartphones and tablets manufactured by Samsung accounted for 21 percent of the mobile activations in the same period.
In comparison, during the same ‘week leading up to Christmas’ period in 2015, Apple’s mobile devices had accounted for 49.1 percent of all mobile activations; whereas Samsung’s mobile devices had accounted for 19.8 percent of the activations.
Along with revealing that the 2016 holiday season did not provide much joy for either Apple or Samsung, the latest Flurry data also shows that the activation of Apple and Samsung mobile devices during this year’s holiday shopping season was notably more than the activation of mobile devices manufactured by rivals, like LG, Huawei, Motorola, and Amazon.Technology: Technology NewsCompanies: AppleSamsung
Financial penalties effectively reduced thirty-day hospital readmission rates among Medicare beneficiaries with common conditions, according to a report published the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
As per the report, the passage of the ACA’s Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) reduced 30-day risk-standardized readmission rates among Medicare patients with conditions like pneumonia, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and heart failure.
Of 2,868 hospitals processing more than 15 million patient discharges annually, overall readmissions jumped 0.5 (95 per cent) per 10,000 discharges annually before passage of the law and declined 76.6 (95 per cent) per 10,000 discharges annually after passage of the law.
Report authors wrote, “These findings are important because they suggest that implementation of the HRRP achieved its goal of accelerating reductions in hospital readmissions, particularly for the lowest-performing institutions.”
The federal government introduced HRRP in 2012 in response to the high number of Medicare patients who were readmitted to hospitals within thirty days of their initial discharge after treatment.
However, the study wasn’t without limitations, which include the researchers’ inability to distinguish between enhancements caused by the magnitude of the financial penalties and by different levels of health enhancements in different patient populations.General: HealthResearch
As more and more states are adopting measures to legalize sale and use of recreational marijuana, health experts have warned that it is like sending a message to teenagers that the controversial drug is harmless.
Following approval of recreational pot by voters in Washington and Colorado, a survey found fewer teens considering marijuana as risky to their health.
Study author Magdalena Cerda, an epidemiologist at UC Davis' Violence Prevention Research Program, said legalization of marijuana would make it less stigmatized, prompting teens to try it.
Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at New Hyde Park, N. Y.-based Zucker Hillside Hospital, said, "If parental perception of harm is decreased, children will follow the example of their parents. Combine that with a legalized market where you can readily buy it and it will be easier to obtain, and children will be more likely to use it."
Studies have also shown that teens who try marijuana at an earlier age are more prone to become lifelong chronic users of the drug. Experts have warned that chemicals found in marijuana can alter the development of teens' brains.
Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, becoming the first two states to do so. Six states, viz. Alaska, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada, have since followed suit.General: HealthRegion: New York
In a development first reported in The Information, online retail giant Amazon has been issued a warrant by police authorities in Bentonville, Arkansas, for handing over data – audio or records – from one of its Echo devices to help with a murder case.
The move by the police in Bentonville indicates that the officials apparently want to know whether some information can be gathered from an Echo device to prosecute a suspected murderer, James Andrew Bates.
The warrant issued to Amazon seeks the handing over of audio or records from an Echo device owned by Bates, who was charged with first-degree murder in November 2015.
Bates was charged with first-degree murder for the death of Victor Collins, who the authorities have found strangled and drowned in Bates’ hot tub. Bates is set to go to trial for Collins’ murder in 2017.
According to The Information’s report, Bates has a number of Internet-connected devices – including an Amazon Echo, a Honeywell alarm system, and a Nest thermostat – in his home. However, the Echo – which has been confiscated by the police as a material evidence – could possibly be the key witness in the case because, as per police records, the Echo could have controlled the streaming music which – with the help of Echo’s virtual assistant Alexa – was being wirelessly transmitted on the night of the murder.Technology: Technology NewsCompanies: Amazon
Female physicians are better than their male counterparts at treating patients in hospitals and keeping them healthy for a long term, according to a new research.
Harvard researchers analyzed a random sample of Medicare patients hospitalized and treated by general internists from Jan. 2011 through Dec. 2014. A scrutiny of over 1.5 million hospitalizations, the researchers discovered that those treated by male doctors had higher mortality rate.
The researchers found that 11.49 per cent of those who were treated by male doctors died within a month of getting treatment, while the mortality rate for those who were treated by female doctors was found to be significantly lower, at 10.82 per cent.
Lead author Dr. Yusuke Tsugawa, a research associate at Harvard University’s school of public health, said, “Understanding characteristics that are somehow associated with higher quality of care, and lower cost, is important in this era.”
Patients normally consider gender before choosing a doctor for getting treatment. But the first-of-its-kind study suggests that female doctors are more effective for patients of all identities.
The researchers reported their intriguing suggestion in a recent edition of the JAMA Internal Medicine.General: HealthResearch
Public health officials are trying to determine whether a veterinarian who fell sick while treating cats at a New York animal shelter really contracted H7N2, a rare strain of bird flu.
The NYC-based Health & Mental Hygiene Department said that H7N2 was detected in nearly four dozen cats at an animal shelter in Manhattan. Lab tests conducted by University of Wisconsin researchers have confirmed that the infection was caused by the H7N2 virus.
It the veterinarian is also confirmed to have contracted the H7N2 virus, it would means that the virus has jumped from birds into cats; and it would also be the first case of cat-to-human transmission of the devastating virus.
The rare strain of bird flu could also be directly linked to an outbreak among cats housed at various animal shelters throughout the New York City. It cats prove to be a vector for the devastating disease it would be a cause for greater concern.
Dr. Mary Bassett, the NYC’s Health Commissioner, said in a statement, “Our investigation confirms that the risk to human health from H7N2 is low, but we are urging New Yorkers who have adopted cats from a shelter or rescue group within the past three weeks to be alert for symptoms in their pets.”
In the same statement, Dr. Bassett also assured that health officials were contacting individuals who might have been exposed to the virus.
H7N2 is characterized by seasonal flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, congestion, lip smacking, persistent cough and fatigue.General: HealthResearchRegion: New York
According to a Gamespot report, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company have announced the next global event for Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. The forthcoming event will be the second major event for the Nintendo 3DS game.
Going by the report, the new Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon global event announced by Nintendo and the Pokémon Company will be a two-week event, scheduled to commence on December 27, 2016. The event will run through January 9, 2017.
The owners of Nintendo 3DS console will be able to participant in the forthcoming Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon global event if they have one of the new Pokémon titles. The event will unfold an opportunity for the participants to attempt to defeat or capture 1 million Pokémon till January 9.
However, the participants in the Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon global event will be able to defeat or capture the Pokémon, and have that number counted towards the total event figures, only if they use the Island Scan feature. The feature becomes available to gamers when they earn 100 points from scanning QR codes found within the game.
Meanwhile, as compared to the previous Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon global event, in which participants had to capture 100 million Pokémon, the lowering of the requirement to 1 million will apparently make the new event much more palatable for gamers to participant in, and potentially complete the event in a timely manner.Business: Technology NewsCompanies: NintendoPokémon
The recently issued ‘boil order’ for Lindon City residents and businesses will likely remain in effect for some more days as water samples have tested positive for E. coli, officials said.
Authorities issued the boil order for residents last Friday after discovering that the city’s water supply was contaminated E. coli bacteria, which can make people sick and in rare cases lead them to death.
Authorities recommended residents either to use bottled water or make sure that they boil water for at least one minute then let it cool before consumption.
On the city’s Facebook page, authorities wrote, “Water may be used for showering and bathing as long as it is not ingested. Please continue to use bottled water or boil your water for one minute then let it cool prior to consumption.”
Meanwhile city authorities are working with the Utah County Health Department as well as the State Division of Environmental (Water) Quality to ensure the safety of the city’s water system.
One can get infected with E. coli after consuming infected food or water. It can cause severe anemia, kidney failure, and can even lead to death. Symptoms include abdominal cramping, severe watery diarrhea, bloody stools, nausea, vomiting, fever and fatigue.General: HealthResearch
Emotional stress is associated with the Christmas holidays is one of the multiple causes of the notable spike in heart related deaths during the season, researchers have warned.
Health researchers have been noticing a spike in cardiac or heart related deaths in the United States and other countries where Christmas is celebrated from Dec. 25th to Jan. 7th. A study revealed that there was an increase of 4.2 per cent in heart related deaths such countries during the holiday season.
Some experts previously blamed harsh, cold weather for the increase in deaths. However, a team of Australian researchers found that such deaths also spiked during the holiday season in New Zealand, a country located in the Southern Hemisphere that experience summer from December through February.
The researchers concluded that multiple factors other than cold weather might be responsible for the increase in cardiac deaths during the holiday season. They warned that emotional stress associated with the holidays; changes in diet and alcohol consumption; as well as less staff at medical facilities during the holiday season might be the real culprit.
Meanwhile, Washington State Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling has confirmed a boat captain’s medical emergency disrupted the company’s weekend ferry service between Tacoma and Vashon Island. The ferry was making preparations for its departure from Point Defiance on Christmas Eve when the captain fell ill. No further information was released.General: HealthResearch
In a Sunday report, financial daily Calcalist News has revealed that California-based ephemeral messaging service Snapchat has quietly acquired Israeli augmented reality (AR) startup Cimagine Media.
The acquisition of four-year-old Cimagine marks Snapchat's first acquisition of an Israeli firm. About the financial terms of the acquisition, the Calcalist's report said that Snapchat is estimated to have paid $30-$40 million to purchase Cimagine.
With Cimagine's AR platform essentially enabling consumers to instantly visualize the products - like furniture and appliances - which they want to buy in their proposed location, the Calcalist said in its report that Snapchat apparently plans to make Cimagine its research and development center in Israel.
The report also revealed that after Snapchat's acquisition of Cimagine, the workforce of the AR startup will likely be rapidly expanded from its current 20 employees.
Moreover, the acquisition of Cimagine will also underscore a talent-grabbing move by Snapchat, especially in the wake of the fact that each of the four co-founders of Cimagine -- CEO Yoni Nevo, Ozi Egri, Amiram Avraham, and Nir Daube -- is an expert in the fields of computer vision and image processing.Companies: SnapchatTechnology: Technology NewsRegion: California
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