KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Device Promises Relief From ‘Suicide Headaches,’ But Is It All Hype?

The gammaCore device did show benefits in a small group of people, but experts are skeptical. In other public health news: Parkinson's drugs, the March for Science, measles in Minnesota and marijuana for epilepsy.

Stat: Patients With 'Suicide Headaches' Just Got A New Therapy Option
Cluster headaches, as the rare condition is known, are characterized by bursts of severe pain in cyclical patterns. They’re often misdiagnosed and undertreated. But on Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration cleared a new, first-of-its kind option for such patients: a handheld device, designed to be used by patients to zap their own necks with a mild electrical signal to relieve symptoms. The hitch: It’s not clear how much difference the “gammaCore” device will make for the several hundred thousand people in the United States with the condition. (Robbins, 4/18)

Chicago Tribune: New Drug Provides Long-Awaited Breakthrough For Parkinson's Psychosis
Most people recognize Parkinson's patients through tremors, slow body movements and other motor problems. Yet up to half of patients develop psychosis at some time during the disease's course, often in the later stages and sometimes as a side effect from drugs prescribed to help motor skills. Tackling the psychosis has proved difficult, in part because doctors struggled for decades to address the motor problems, [Dr. Rajesh] Pahwa said. As gains happened there, the nonmotor problems became a bigger and bigger challenge to manage, he said. (McGuire, 4/18)

Stat: Who's Going To The March For Science?
Routes are planned. Speakers are announced. But there’s still one question about this weekend’s March for Science that is begging to be answered: Who exactly is going to show up? The march has carved a wide mandate for itself as a non-partisan “celebration of science,” leaving the door open for many different groups to gather under its umbrella. Now, in recent weeks, the organizers of the Washington march and the hundreds of satellite marches across the US and overseas have been trying to anticipate who is going to turn up on April 22, including surveying social media and asking marchers to RSVP. (Sheridan, 4/19)

Minnesota Public Radio: Think Your Child Has The Measles? Call Before You Seek Care 
Dr. Jon Hallberg is having fewer conversations with vaccine skeptics at his Minneapolis practice now. He credits that to the spread of information that vaccines are safe and the debunking of any false claims otherwise. Still, as of Tuesday, there have been nine recent cases of measles in Minnesota kids — all of them unvaccinated. (Crann and Nelson, 4/18)

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