Longer Looks: Curing Cancer; NIH Funding; The Return of Syphilis
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The New Yorker:
Half a century ago, the [National Cancer Institute] was a very different place. It was dingy and underfunded—a fraction of its current size—and home to a raw and unruly medical staff. The orthodoxy of the time was that cancer was a death sentence: the tumor could be treated with surgery or radiation, in order to buy some time, and the patient’s inevitable decline could be eased through medicine, and that was it. At the N.C.I., however, an insurgent group led by [Tom] Frei and [Emil] Freireich believed that if cancer drugs were used in extremely large doses, and in multiple combinations and repeated cycles, the cancer could be beaten. (Malcolm Gladwell, 12/6)
Could 2015 Be A Turning Point In NIH Funding?
For the National Institutes of Health and its supporters, 2015 could turn out to be a pretty good year. As Congress continues negotiations on a mammoth omnibus spending package, advocates are hopeful that their favored institution is becoming a congressional priority again—and that an extended period of uncertainty may be coming to a close. (Nora Kelly, 12/8)
The New York Times:
‘The Boy In The Bubble’ Moved A World He Couldn’t Touch
The epitaph on David Phillip Vetter’s gravestone observes correctly that “he never touched the world.” How could he have? From a few seconds after his birth until two weeks before his death at age 12, David lived life entirely in one plastic bubble or another. Touching the world would have killed him in fairly short order. Even his two weeks outside a plastic cocoon were spent in a hospital trying, futilely, to stave off the inevitable. (Clyde Haberman, 12/6)
How An Obscure Law Brought Us Nasal Flu Spray -- And New Conflicts Of Interest
We may owe the nasal flu vaccine in part to an obscure law signed 35 years ago this week. Also, the nicotine patch. The HPV vaccine. The once-a-day pill for HIV infection. And thousands more drugs, medical devices, and technological advances. (Rebecca Robbins, 12/8)
State Of Emergency
This was the third time I had seen him this month alone. It was the same story as before; he was hospitalized and provided a short supply of medication at discharge. Now, he was back in the emergency department, intoxicated, talking to himself, and disheveled. He tells us he drinks to quiet the voices, a common story. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to “smooth out the rough spots” or “quiet the voices,” is not uncommon for people without access to appropriate mental health services. (Amy Kontrick, 12/8)
The Return of Syphilis
Today, syphilis can seem like a historical relic, more likely to appear in period movies than in one’s next-door neighbor. But after more than a decade of increases in syphilis cases, the United States is looking at its highest rate in recent memory. According to a report released on November 17 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, syphilis rates rose for both genders in every region of the U.S. in 2014. The rate of reported primary and secondary syphilis (the earliest symptomatic stages of the disease) increased by 15.1 percent from 2013 to 2014, to 6.3 cases per 100,000 people. (Naomi Sharp, 12/3)