Nigerian government shutters cough syrup manufacturers in an effort to stem an epidemic of codeine addiction

A few years back, I had a cough that was so bad that I ended up dislocating a rib from hacking away. My doctor prescribed me a cough syrup laced, heavily, with codeine. The stuff worked, easing my pain and letting me sleep. There were only two side effects from it: I felt too groovy to work for hours at a time and found it pretty hard to poop.

According to The BBC, a lot of people see the side effects of codeine laced cough syrup as a feature, rather than a problem. Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac) was recently forced to shutter three of the country's largest pharmaceutical companies after it was discovered that the cough syrup they were producing was being sold on the black market, in massive quantities, to a growing number of codeine addicts in the African nation.

The forced closure of the companies comes as the result of a BBC investigation into the use of cough syrup containing codeine by many Nigerian youths as an easy conduit to a quick high. The crappiest part of it all is that the drug companies knew that this was the case. In an under cover interview with an executive from the Emzor pharmaceutical company, an executive was caught bragging about how he could sell one million bottles of the elixir in a week on the black market.

Codeine's a dandy painkiller, when used as prescribed by a physician. But it comes with a number of serious issues that crop up when used for long periods of time. Read the rest

Someone stole a semi full of cancer drugs from a Tennessee truck-stop

Last Thursday, a trucker driving a semi carrying $965,000 worth of Octagam -- an immunotherapy drug taken by cancer patients -- pulled into Pilot Truck Stop at 9211 Lewisburg Highway, Tennessee, tailed by a red Volvo semi. Read the rest

Results of following US dietary and exercise guidelines for a year

A year ago Daniel J. Green -- NBC News' self-described "overweight health editor" -- said he "had stage 1 hypertension, prediabetes and elevated cholesterol numbers. I also weighed 244½ pounds and had a body-fat percentage of 26.9%, placing me firmly in the obese category."

He followed federal guidelines for diet and exercise for a year, and says he now feels better, "physically, psychologically and emotionally" than he did before he began.

From his article:

By making a series of small, manageable changes, I completely altered the way I eat and my overall relationship with food. I inspired my wife to get more active and helped a number of friends and family members make similar changes in their lives. I learned how to make changes that made me healthier without negatively impacting my overall quality of life.

In many ways, I still struggle with certain aspects of my new lifestyle and will admit to having gained a few pounds since my project “ended” a few months ago — though we all know that true lifestyle change never ends. In other words, it still is — and always will be — a work in progress. But I’ve learned how to live a healthy lifestyle, how to forgive myself for slip-ups and how to inspire myself to get back on track.

Image: NBC News/ACE/Jennifer Mesk Photography Read the rest

MDMA can help treat PTSD, yet another study shows

The active ingredient in Ecstasy, MDMA, is safe and can help to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, a new clinical psychotherapy trial shows. Read the rest

Harold Bornstein, Trump's ex-doctor, says candidate dictated letter claiming 'healthiest individual ever'

"He dictated that whole letter. I didn't write that letter," Bornstein told CNN on Tuesday. "I just made it up as I went along." Read the rest

The difference between homeopathy and naturopathy

Naturopathy uses plants and tinctures as medicines. A lot of of naturopathy is hokum, but some of the treatments actually work. A simple example is an orange. If you eat enough oranges, you can ward off scurvy. That's because oranges contain ascorbic acid. Homeopathy, on the other hand, uses tiny amounts of compounds derived from plants, animals, and non living substances, but it is very different from naturopathy, because it never works. Popular Science explains the difference between homeopathy, naturopathy, and pharmaceuticals.

Water doesn’t have memory. Even if some of the remedies used as active ingredients in homeopathic drugs did cure headaches and joint pain, diluting them down thousands of times would only handicap their ability to help you. The NIH notes that “there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition” and that “several key concepts of homeopathy are inconsistent with fundamental concepts of chemistry and physics.” The European Academies’ Scientific Advisory Council similarly concludes that “there are no known diseases for which there is robust, reproducible evidence that homeopathy is effective beyond the placebo effect” and that “the claims for homeopathy are implausible and inconsistent with established scientific concepts.”

Image: By Chamille White/Shutterstock Read the rest

The FDA is finally doing something about the medical device security dumpster-fire

Medical device security very, very, very, very, very, very, very bad. Read the rest

The rise and fall of smoking in the west

From the 1920s to the 1980s, the United States was the most smoking country in the developed world. In the 1960s, consumption peaked over 10 a day, per capita. But now it's near the bottom of the chart—only Britain smokes less, among rich western countries.

Don't fret for the health of the Tobacco business, though: China's taking up the slack. Read the rest

People with implanted neurostimulators are vulnerable to wireless attacks

A group of Belgian academic security researchers from KU Leuwen have published a paper detailing their investigation into improving the security of neurostimulators: electrical brain implants used to treat chronic pain, Parkinson's, and other conditions. Read the rest

When your dental insurer sends you a "free" Internet of Shit toothbrush

Wolf Richter's dental insurer sent his family a free "smart" toothbrush that records how often and how well you brush, using a set of proprietary consumables to clean your teeth. Read the rest

Goldman Sachs report: "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?"

In Goldman Sachs's April 10 report, "The Genome Revolution," its analysts ponder the rise of biotech companies who believe they will develop "one-shot" cures for chronic illnesses; in a moment of rare public frankness, the report's authors ask, "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" Read the rest

Careful study reveals that low testosterone is almost nonexistent and that taking T has almost no health benefits

A large-scale, long-term double-blind study found that low testosterone levels were far, far lower than previously suspected, and showed that taking testosterone supplements didn't confer most of its reputed benefits -- no memory improvement and no physical vitality. Read the rest

Even insured Americans flock to Mexico for low-cost, high-quality health-care

American health care is so screwed up, so horribly distorted by the insurance companies' abusive practices, that millions of Americans (even those with insurance) fly to Mexico every year to get state-of-the-art medical care -- and a resort vacation in the bargain -- rather than face the US system, and save money by doing so. Read the rest

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes accused of fraud by SEC, pays it off

Theranos, touting fast and easy blood tests, was a billion-dollar Silicon Valley beast. Read the rest

Trumpcare added $33B to government healthcare spending, in order to cover 8.9m fewer Americans, who will pay more for less

Trump is an excellent businessman and the Republicans are really good with money: if you doubt it, just take a gander at the Urban Institute's report on the costs and effects of Trumpcare: the US government will spend $33 billion more as a result of GOP policies, and cover 8.9 million fewer Americans, and those Americans will pay higher premiums (18%, on average!) to get worse care. Read the rest

Incentives matter: after back surgery, a routine urine test resulted in a $17,800 bill the patient was expected to pay

At a followup visit a year after Elizabeth Moreno had a disk removed to successfully treat her crippling pain, her doctor asked her to leave a urine sample; a few months later, Sunset Labs LLC of Houston sent her a bill for $17,800. Read the rest

Rats exposed to cell phone radiation lived longer than control group

Using a cell phone won't harm you, according to a draft report issued on Friday by the US Department of Health and Human Services' National Toxicology Program.

From the LA Times:

"The reports don't go much further than what we had reported earlier, and I have not changed the way I use a cellphone," NTP senior scientist John Bucher said in a briefing.

Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, said that the new evidence should not alarm wireless phone users.

"The evidence for an association between cellphones and cancer is weak, and so far, we have not seen a higher cancer risk in people," Brawley said in a statement.

Interestingly, rats exposed to the radiation lived longer than control group rats.

LA Times:

The researchers also reported that rats and mice exposed to radiofrequency radiation developed more tumors in the brain, prostate, liver, pancreas, pituitary gland and adrenal gland. But they said they weren't sure whether the radiation was responsible.

Among non-cancer risks, rat pups had lower birth weights when their mothers were exposed to high levels of radiation during pregnancy and while they were nursing. However, the rats ultimately grew to normal size.

Strikingly, the rats exposed to radiation lived longer than rats in an unexposed group that served as controls.

The researchers were at a loss to explain this. Perhaps the radiation reduces inflammation, as is seen in a therapy called microwave diathermy, they said. Or it could just be chance.

Read the rest

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