A ‘Smart Pill’ To Help Patients Remember To Take Meds Was Touted As New Era In Care. Now Researchers Are Pushing Back.
The researchers argue that the evidence used to approve the product — called Abilify MyCite — was not only weak, but failed to demonstrate the technology improves adherence, a key point if the goal is to improve health outcomes. In other public health news: neuron research, seasickness, surgery, scooter safety, broken heart syndrome, and more.
Was It Smart For The FDA To Approve A 'Smart Pill' For Schizophrenia?
In late 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first so-called smart pill, ushering in a new era of medical care. The inaugural effort involved embedding a sensor in Abilify, an old drug for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which can make it easier to track whether patients take their medicine, an especially thorny issue for people suffering from mental illness. But in a new study, several researchers claim the regulatory endorsement was misguided. (Silverman, 7/18)
The New York Times:
Why Are These Mice Hallucinating? Scientists Are In Their Heads
In a laboratory at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the mice are seeing things. And it’s not because they’ve been given drugs. With new laser technology, scientists have triggered specific hallucinations in mice by switching on a few neurons with beams of light. The researchers reported the results on Thursday in the journal Science. The technique promises to provide clues to how the billions of neurons in the brain make sense of the environment. (Zimmer, 7/18)
How Do You Test A New Seasickness Drug? Take Pill, Set Sail
Most drug trials take place in sterile hospital labs, universities or clinics. Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. decided a boat in the Pacific Ocean would be better. It wasn’t for relaxation; actually quite the opposite. Vanda wanted to try to make the participants in the trial seasick. Vanda, a small biopharmaceutical company based in Washington, has completed the second phase of clinical trials of a motion-sickness drug it hopes will compete with industry leader Dramamine. In a double-blind test, the company sent 126 participants with a prior history of motion sickness on ships off the coast of Los Angeles, with some receiving the company’s motion-sickness drug tradipitant and others getting a placebo. (Ward, 7/18)
The New York Times:
This New Liquid Is Magnetic, And Mesmerizing
Lodestone, a naturally-occurring iron oxide, was the first persistently magnetic material known to humans. The Han Chinese used it for divining boards 2,200 years ago; ancient Greeks puzzled over why iron was attracted to it; and, Arab merchants placed it in bowls of water to watch the magnet point the way to Mecca. In modern times, scientists have used magnets to read and record data on hard drives and form detailed images of bones, cells and even atoms. Throughout this history, one thing has remained constant: Our magnets have been made from solid materials. But what if scientists could make magnetic devices out of liquids? (Sheikh, 7/18)
Need Surgery? Here's How To Choose A Surgeon
So your doctor has told you some of the scariest words you can possibly hear: You need surgery. What do you do next? If you need an emergency surgery, like an appendectomy or a procedure after an accident, you usually don't have much choice in the matter. You'll likely get it done in the hospital where you went to the emergency room, unless the hospital isn't equipped to do it. If that's the case, you'll get transferred. (Gordon, 7/19)
The Washington Post:
After Death Of YouTube Star, Amazon Will Push For E-Scooter Safety Warnings In The U.K.
Wherever electric scooters have appeared around the globe, severe injuries have followed. Now the United Kingdom — where motorized scooters are banned from public roads and sidewalks — is seeking to publicize the danger associated the devices. The Department of Transport, which oversees British transportation networks, has persuaded Amazon, the global e-commerce giant, to pressure electronic scooter manufacturers to make clear in their online listings that their devices cannot be used on public roads. (Holley, 7/18)
Broken Heart Syndrome And Cancer Are Connected, Scientists Say
What could cancer have in common with broken heart? These researchers are working to find out. Broken heart syndrome is a real thing, though it's also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It's triggered by intensely stressful situations, like losing a loved one. You know how some couples die within just a few days of each other? That's an example of the syndrome. Symptoms include sudden chest pain, caused by the surge of stress hormones. (Asmelash and Ries, 7/18)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Arthritis, Psoriasis Medications: Drugs Deemed Safe Get FDA Warning
The drugs are known as biologic medicines, or biologics. Made from living organisms, such as animal cells, instead of chemicals, they have flooded the market over the past two decades — bringing with them promise and pitfalls. By tamping down overactive immune systems, the drugs can lead to substantial improvement, even remission. But in doing so, they leave patients more susceptible to sometimes-deadly infections and other serious side effects. (Fauber, 7/18)
Sharon Stone: People Were ‘Brutally Unkind’ After Stroke
Sharon Stone is back. And after famously serving as amfAR’s Global Campaign Chair for 15 years, she’s taken on a new role as advocate for brain-aging diseases that disproportionally affect women. Only one third of Alzheimers patients are men, for instance. And don’t even get Stone started on strokes. “This is why I do it: My mother had a stroke. My grandmother had a stroke. I had a massive stroke — and a nine-day brain bleed,” she told Variety at an event she hosted to raise awareness for the Women’s Brain Health Initiative in West Hollywood on Wednesday night. (Herman, 7/18)
The New York Times:
Neutrogena Recalls Light Therapy Masks, Citing Risk Of Eye Injury
Over the last several years, light-emitting therapy masks intended to treat acne have streamed into the marketplace and onto Instagram, filling feeds with pictures of people that resemble space-age hockey goalies. Neutrogena’s version of the product, which the company said would kill acne bacteria and fight “inflammation,” cost between $30 and $40, making it one of the more affordable masks on the market. But earlier this month Neutrogena issued a recall of its masks, citing a “theoretical risk of eye injury” to a subset of people who had underlying eye conditions or were taking medicine that made them sensitive to light. (Bromwich, 7/18)
The New York Times:
An Airline Told A Breastfeeding Woman To Cover Up. Social Media Weighed In.
The Dutch airline KLM has found itself in the middle of a heated debate over breastfeeding in public, after the company said it might ask women to cover themselves while breastfeeding onboard if other passengers said they were offended. The issue came to light after Shelby Angel, a woman from Sacramento, Calif., wrote about her experience on a KLM flight this summer in a post on Facebook on Sunday. (Karasz, 7/18)
Kaiser Health News:
Employers Urged To Find New Ways To Address Workers’ Mental Health
In the middle of a work project at a global corporate consulting firm, Katherine Switz was gripped with a debilitating bout of anxiety. Her body froze, her heart raced, her chest tightened, and her mind went blank, which made it nearly impossible for her to concentrate on a computer screen and do her work. The anxiety lasted three months, likely related to her bipolar disorder. During that time, she felt unable to ask for help from her employers or co-workers, afraid that her poor performance would get her fired or passed over for promotion. (Rinker, 7/19)