Longer Looks: Catching Zika Mosquitoes, Climbing Drug Prices And Treating Sugar Like A Drug
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The New Yorker:
To Catch A Mosquito
Aedes albopictus is an early riser. Of the fifty-one mosquito species in New York, albopictus—a close cousin of Aedes aegypti, the species responsible for spreading Zika—prefers to restrict its activity to power breakfasts, in the mornings, and to teatime, in the late afternoons. (The common house mosquito is active in the evenings.) On a recent afternoon, Mario Merlino, the assistant commissioner for New York City’s Bureau of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, and Zahir Shah, the director of the city’s Medical Entomology Laboratory, jumped a small fence inside Bellevue South Park, in Kips Bay, and wandered into the shrubbery. Shah pointed to what appeared to be a black collapsible laundry hamper, hidden behind a bush. “There it is,” he said. “Our pride and joy.” (Laura Parker, 9/11)
The New York Times:
Could Ancient Remedies Hold The Answer To The Looming Antibiotics Crisis?
By revealing the elemental secrets of these plants, Quave has discovered promising candidates for a new generation of drugs that might help resolve one of the greatest threats to public health today: the fact that an increasing number of disease-causing bacteria are rapidly evolving immunity to every existing antibiotic. Without effective antibiotics, common bacterial diseases that are curable today will become impossible to treat; childbirth, routine surgeries and even the occasional nick could turn lethal. (Ferris Jabr, 9/14)
The Brain Bro
In recent years, the productivity race among Silicon Valley types has given rise to myriad companies that hawk “smart drugs” online. These pills go far beyond familiar prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, long used and abused by college kids and Wall Street workers. Instead, the companies research obscure foreign powders and fill their capsules with everything from Ayurvedic herbs to krill oil. (Olga Khazan, 9/13)
Why Drug Prices In America Are So High
"Drugs have been marketed at such extraordinarily high prices that many people will simply not be able to afford them,” wrote a top cancer doctor in a scathing editorial in the Washington Post. That was in 2004. More than a decade later, the cost of drugs in America is still soaring—the most recent uproar was sparked by the price of Mylan’s EpiPen allergy medicine, which has jumped by about 600% since 2007. Despite the furor, drug companies continue to charge exorbitant prices in America. Why? (9/12)
The Case For Treating Sugar Like A Dangerous Drug
Robert Lustig is a medical expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who has written extensively about the major health problems attributed to sugar. He's written two major papers — "Fructose: it's 'alcohol without the buzz'" and "The toxic truth about sugar" — laying out the case for treating sugar like a controlled substance, similar to alcohol and tobacco. (German Lopez, 9/12)
What It Feels Like To Die
My mother and I sat across from the hospice nurse in my parents’ Colorado home. It was 2005, and my mother had reached the end of treatments for metastatic breast cancer. A month or two earlier, she’d been able to take the dog for daily walks in the mountains and travel to Australia with my father. Now, she was weak, exhausted from the disease and chemotherapy and pain medication (Jennie Dear, 9/9)