Longer Looks: Veterans Helping Comrades Fight Suicide; Telling A Child About HIV
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The New York Times:
In Unit Stalked By Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another
The deaths started a few months after the Marines returned from the war in Afghanistan. A corporal put on his dress uniform and shot himself in his driveway. A former sergeant shot himself in front of his girlfriend and mother. An ex-sniper who pushed others to seek help for post-traumatic stress disorder shot himself while alone in his apartment. The problem has grown over time. More men from the battalion killed themselves in 2014 — four — than in any previous year. Veterans of the unit, tightly connected by social media, sometimes learn of the deaths nearly as soon as they happen. In November, a 2/7 veteran of three combat tours posted a photo of his pistol on Snapchat with a note saying, “I miss you all.” Minutes later, he killed himself. (Dave Philipps, 9/19)
The Washington Post:
Telling JJ: She’s 10. She Has HIV. And She’s About To Learn The Truth.
The 10-year-old was wearing three puffs of a cherry blossom perfume and a kaleidoscopic dress she had pressed the night before. She looked forward to these visits to the renowned medical center in Northwest Washington, in part because she knew a treat from McDonald’s or Checkers would follow and, in part, because amid a young life rife with turmoil, she found reassurance in her hospital routine. ... What JJ did not expect on that sweltering summer morning, 3,787 days after her diagnosis, was the conversation that awaited her in exam room No. 4. (John Woodrow Cox, 9/18)
How Genome Sequencing Creates Communities Around Rare Disorders
The last two years have been a whirlwind of good news for Lilly Grossman. She graduated high school and successfully applied for college, where she'll be majoring in English. She went to her prom and was crowned homecoming queen. She edited her school newspaper. She even visited the White House and met Barack Obama. But the two most important aspects of Lilly's recent life seem far more mundane to other people. She has been sleeping. And she has been planning for a future that, for the longest time, her parents doubted she would have. (Ed Yong, 9/21)
After Obamacare, Democrats Turn To Prescription Drug Prices As Health-Care Priority
American spending on drugs has more than doubled since 2000, rising from $121.2 billion then up to $271.1 billion in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. Pharmaceutical companies have especially high profit margins — not just for the health-care sector, but for any sector. Pfizer, one of the country's biggest drug companies, ran a 42 percent profit margin in 2013. (Sarah Kliff, 9/22)
The Washington Post:
I Have A Malignant Brain Tumor. But It’s Not Really On My Mind.
I have brain cancer. I carry a malignant tumor around everywhere I go. I’m 31 years old and have had brain cancer for five years. The doctors say I might live two years or 18. They have no idea. It’s entirely possible I will die of something else before my tumor kills me. Maybe. As medical advances and oncological therapies continue to progress, more cancer patients are living longer, even somewhat normal lives. More people are discovering that their diagnoses may not lead to an eventual cure or a death sentence, but an unknown future for their lives and their diseases. (Whitney Archer, 9/17)
The Human Cost Of A Misleading Drug-Safety Study
Study 329, as it became known, helped spur a huge increase in Paxil prescriptions. In 2002 alone, over 2 million prescriptions were written for children and teens, and many more for adults. ... The study is now again in the news, as a new reanalysis of the its original data—including about 77,000 pages of formerly inaccessible patient records—shows that Paxil was neither effective nor safe. The reanalysis, published in the scientific journal BMJ, found that the study, underwritten by the drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline (or GSK), created a false picture of safety partly by misclassifying suicidal acts (such as taking 80 Tylenol) as less-alarming behavior or side effects. (David Dobbs, 9/18)
The Pitfalls Of Health-Care Companies’ Addiction To Big Data
The clinician called a prospective customer who was applying for health insurance to pose a very direct question: Why had she left the names of several medications she was taking off the application she submitted to Aetna? The clinician rattled off the names of the drugs, the dates they were prescribed, and the doctors who had prescribed them. The woman insisted the information was wrong. She recounted the story to her mom, looking for advice. The mother was shocked and embarrassed. Those prescriptions were hers, designed to treat medical conditions she’d been hiding from her daughter. The secret was out, and the women were forced into an emotional conversation about the mother’s ongoing struggles with her health. (Robertson, 9/23)