THE SECRETIVE FAMILY MAKING BILLIONS FROM THE OPIOID CRISIS


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Story about a rich secretive family and their fortune. Sounds familiar?

That may be because the greatest part of that $14 billion fortune tallied by Forbes came from OxyContin, the narcotic painkiller regarded by many public-health experts as among the most dangerous products ever sold on a mass scale. Since 1996, when the drug was brought to market by Purdue Pharma, the American branch of the Sacklers’ pharmaceutical empire, more than two hundred thousand people in the United States have died from overdoses of OxyContin and other prescription painkillers. Thousands more have died after starting on a prescription opioid and then switching to a drug with a cheaper street price, such as heroin. Not all of these deaths are related to OxyContin—dozens of other painkillers, including generics, have flooded the market in the past thirty years. Nevertheless, Purdue Pharma was the first to achieve a dominant share of the market for long-acting opioids, accounting for more than half of prescriptions by 2001.

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Christopher Glazek — Esquire

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Do dolphins get Alzheimer’s disease?


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Having a large brain comes at a cost.

Also, as do humans, dolphins have a highly evolved brain development and a very complex social relationship. This brain similarity with humans suggests the possibility that dolphins, as humans, have developed similar molecular machineries and pathological characteristics, including similar neurodegenerative diseases.

The complete article

Maria Carolina Gallego & David BorcheltEarthSky

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America’s Dental Gap Has Left People Relying on Pliers, Chisels, and Whiskey


Of the countless ways in which poverty eats at the body, one of the most visible, and painful, is in our mouths. Teeth betray age, but also wealth, if they’re pearly and straight, or the emptiness of our pockets, if they’re missing, broken, rotted out. The American health-care system treats routine dental care as a luxury available only to those with the means to pay for it, making it vastly more difficult for millions of Americans to take care of their teeth. And the consequences can be far more profound than just negative effects on one’s appearance. In fact, they can be deadly.

Story and Image: The Nation 

 

 

We may soon have our first $1 million drug. Who will pay for it? And how?


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The question is no longer academic: On Thursday, Spark Therapeutics won unanimous support from a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel for its gene therapy drug, Luxturna. It seems likely to win FDA approval in the coming months. But the cost will be hefty: Analysts estimate that Luxturna, which has been shown to restore vision in children with an inherited form of blindness, could cost $1 million per patient.

Will private insurers be willing to pay? What about taxpayers, via Medicaid and Medicare? And, importantly: What happens if patients — or insurers — do foot a hefty bill, only to find out the drug simply did not work for them?

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Meghana Keshavan — STAT

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How to get to a world without suicide


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Trying to reach a world with no suicides. A commendable effort.

A simple belief drives Mallen: that Edward should still be alive, that his death was preventable – at several stages during the rapid onset of his depression. Moreover, Mallen and a growing number of mental health experts believe that this applies to all deaths by suicide. They argue that with a well-funded, better-coordinated strategy that would reform attitudes and approaches in almost every function of society – from schools and hospitals to police stations and the family home – it might be possible to prevent every suicide, or at least to aspire to.

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Simon Usborne — Mosaic

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On The Origin of Disgust


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A look at disgust from an evolutionary perspective.

Disgust appeared somewhere in the long history of human evolution. We don’t know when and where.  The absence of the best sources of evidence leaves the assignment of disgust origins to genetic selection in biological evolution uncertain.  Neither contamination sensitivity nor avoidance of decayed substances are present at or shortly after birth in humans, and neither is documented to be present in other primates. The fact that disgust functions to protect humans from microbial contamination is a start for an evolutionary account, but it is far from conclusive.  Both fire and antibiotics are parts of the human antimicrobial repertoire, but neither evolved biologically. So just establishing an adaptive value for a trait does not make a strong case for its biological evolution.

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Paul Rozin — Emotion Researcher

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The Contagion of Euthanasia and the Corruption of Compassion


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Is euthanasia compassionate in some cases?

Humans do not live in isolation. The more our culture sends messages that some lives are less valuable than others, the more some people will internalize messages to end their lives. A psychological contagion of suicide is unleashed by euthanasia and assisted suicide laws. Condoning suicide in one circumstance implicitly condones it across the board. The wrong of suicide is no longer absolute: death is made a reasonable—even the expected—response to pain, misfortune, and sadness.

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Arthur Goldberg & ShimonCowen — Public Discourse

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