Longer Looks: Antibiotics And Obesity; Robbing Opioid Vans; The Year’s Top Medical Findings
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
Are Antibiotics Making People Larger?
Of course, most people who are overweight have not had a fecal transplant. Most people will never need a fecal transplant. But the idea that a person can essentially contract obesity because of a change in gut microbes is at once exciting and unnerving—because exposure to microbe-altering drugs in day-to-day life has become almost inevitable. This month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration quietly released a report that said over the past year, antibiotics sold annually for use in food animals increased to 33,860,000 pounds. (James Hamblin, 12/21)
Pharmacy Delivery Vans Targeted By Thieves Seeking Painkillers
They’re the new Brink’s trucks. Delivery vans that transport prescription painkillers from warehouses to pharmacies and hospitals are the targets of an escalating number of thefts across the country, STAT has learned. Amid a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction, the delivery vans have become an appealing and vulnerable target for thieves, addicts, and drug dealers. (David Armstrong, 12/22)
The New Yorker:
The Most Notable Medical Findings Of 2015
Every week, I peruse around fifteen journals, some featuring basic science, others clinical research and patient cases, and still others a mix. As a specialist in blood diseases and cancer, I pay particular attention to those articles reporting advances, and failures, in my field. But I am also drawn to work on aspects of medicine and biology outside my discipline. These studies may overturn conventional thinking and practice, or they may be connected to a personal experience or the plight of a family member. In assembling a list of notable findings in medicine and biology in 2015, I plead guilty to prioritizing those reports that seemed most meaningful based on the above criteria. (Jerome Groopman, 12/23)
Why Giving People Easy Access To A Supermarket Doesn't Improve Their Health
In recent years, there's been a lot of attention paid to food deserts, those culinary wastelands without supermarkets. The conventional wisdom is that food deserts are a major public health problem and a potential driver of obesity: If people don't have access to fresh and healthy foods, they'll turn to fast food and other processed junk. So, the argument goes, eliminating food deserts would be a major boon. To that end, the US government has spent more than $500 million building supermarkets in food deserts since 2011. (Julia Belluz, 12/22)
What If You Could Talk To Your Doctor About Cooking?
According to recent polls, fewer than a quarter of doctors say they’ve had sufficient training to provide nutritional advice to their patients. We all know about the Hippocratic Oath, but how about that other thing Hippocrates said: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine.” For the American medical profession to live up to that, there’d have to be more than one doctor in the country widely known for prescribing broccoli. Most medical schools aren’t particularly dedicated to teaching their students about food. (Christina Farr, 12/21)
Why Medicine Costs So Much In America
America's soaring drug prices are suddenly getting lots of attention. For that, you can thank Martin Shkreli, the much-loathed CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who recently raised the price of an anti-parasitic drug by 5,500 percent. Overnight, a single tablet went from $13.50 to $750, making an essential medicine unreachable for some. Many people have wondered how Shkreli could do something like this. But to understand that story, you first have to understand how the US system of drug pricing actually works — and why it's so wildly different from other countries. (Julia Belluz, 12/18)
Inside The Decade-Long Push To Turn A Harvard Discovery Into A Blockbuster Medicine
It had been nine years since the Harvard neurobiologists first came up with an idea for an exquisitely targeted local anesthetic. They developed a new type of compound. They formed a team. And now they were days away from pitching their big idea to venture capital investors. Just two problems: They hadn’t decided what condition they should be trying to treat with the new medication they hoped would result from their research. And their venture had no name. (Rebecca Robbins, 12/21)