KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Addiction Rehab Centers For Defendants Often Nothing More Than Lucrative Work Camps

An investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that these facilities, which are meant to be an alternative to jail for those addicted to substances, can be nothing more than "slave camps." In other public health news: genetic testing, the immune system, Pompe disease, pets and cancer, vaccinations, dementia and more.

Reveal: They Thought They Were Going To Rehab. They Ended Up In Chicken Plants
Across the country, judges increasingly are sending defendants to rehab instead of prison or jail. ...But in the rush to spare people from prison, some judges are steering defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found. (Harris and Walter, 10/4)

The New York Times: Personal Genetic Testing Is Here. Do We Need It?
For years, Jody Christ, 62, struggled to control her high cholesterol. Her doctors encouraged her to exercise, change her diet and lose weight, but none of that ever seemed to lower her numbers. When her health plan, the Geisinger Health System of Pennsylvania, offered a genetic test that screens for dozens of hereditary diseases, she submitted a saliva sample and awaited the results. (O'Connor, 10/3)

NPR: Human Brain Has A Direct Link To The Immune System After All
Fresh evidence that the body's immune system interacts directly with the brain could lead to a new understanding of diseases from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer's. A study of human and monkey brains found lymphatic vessels — a key part of the body's immune system — in a membrane that surrounds the brain and nervous system, a team reported Tuesday in the online journal eLife. (Hamilton, 10/3)

Stat: Amicus's New Drug For Pompe Disease Shows Strong Results
When two of John Crowley’s children were diagnosed with the rare and debilitating Pompe disease, he founded a company that helped develop a successful treatment. Now, he’s running another biotech — and clinical trial data presented Wednesday suggest that it’s on the way to developing a more effective drug for the same disease. The new drug from Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD) appears to deliver greater improvements in muscle and lung function for people with Pompe, according to interim data from a small, mid-stage study. (Feuerstein, 10/4)

Stat: How Pets Could Help Researchers Find The Next Cancer Therapy For Humans
This field of comparative medicine — using animals to better understand and treat human disease — is not new; creatures such as mice, rats, and actual guinea pigs have long been the mainstay of medical research and studies of experimental drugs. What’s different is that veterinarians are now conducting rigorous clinical trials of new treatments with the hope they might eventually benefit humans as well as the family pet. Increasingly, they’re using dogs and cats and other companion animals in these experiments, as medical researchers recognize the limitations of traditional lab animals. (McFarling, 10/4)

The Washington Post: Failure To Vaccinate Is Likely Driver Of U.S. Measles Outbreaks, Report Says
People who don’t get vaccinated are the most likely reason for the steady increase in the rate of measles and major outbreaks in the United States, according to an analysis released Tuesday. The findings, published in JAMA, add to the body of evidence linking failure to vaccinate with the spread of the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease. Once common in the United States, measles was eliminated nationally in 2000 but has made a return in recent years largely because of people who reject vaccinating their children, experts say. (Sun, 10/3)

The Washington Post: This Ancient Primate May Be Responsible For Genital Herpes
Our ancestors have been catching herpes since before we were human. The infection is quite common today; the World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of adults under 50 are infected with the herpes virus that causes oral cold sores. One in six have genital herpes. Yet humans might have dodged herpes' below-the-belt blow if it weren't for an ancient encounter between early members of our genus and a more distant primate relative. (Guarino, 10/2)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/ Why Are Straight Black Women In Philly At High Risk Of HIV? Map Offers Clues
Here’s a lingering public health mystery: Heterosexual black women in Philadelphia are at higher risk of contracting HIV than their white counterparts. But no one can yet say exactly why — or how to fix the problem. It’s probably not behavior: Studies indicate that African American women have fewer sexual partners and are more likely to use condoms than white women from similar economic backgrounds. And they are not members of the highest-risk demographic: gay and bisexual men. (Sapatkin, 10/3)

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