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Want Help Explaining A Medical Procedure? Ask A 9-Year-Old

e8e98_f3.large-copy_custom-3a3cc8ec40ed5ff2bdee4972406437ac1f23b919-s1100-c15 Want Help Explaining A Medical Procedure? Ask A 9-Year-Old

Getting ready for a hip replacement? You’ll fare better if you lose the extra weight and get exercise first.

British Medical Journal


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British Medical Journal

Getting ready for a hip replacement? You’ll fare better if you lose the extra weight and get exercise first.

British Medical Journal

The average American reads at an 8th-grade level, but the patient information that doctors and hospitals provide often presumes that people have much more advanced reading skills.

So some researchers decided to see what happens when 9-year-olds write the patient guides.

Dr. Catrin Wigley at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and colleagues analyzed six National Health Service patient information leaflets from across England for total hip replacement and found that the average readability level was age 17, even though the average Brit reads at a 4th-grade level. You’d have to have the reading comprehension of a high school senior to understand from these brochures what a hip replacement is, why you need it and what complications might occur.

The researchers recruited 57 nearby elementary school children ages 8 to 10 to help revise the content.

e8e98_f3.large-copy_custom-3a3cc8ec40ed5ff2bdee4972406437ac1f23b919-s1100-c15 Want Help Explaining A Medical Procedure? Ask A 9-Year-Old

Hey docs, be sure to ask the patient how it went.

British Medical Journal


hide caption

toggle caption

British Medical Journal

Hey docs, be sure to ask the patient how it went.

British Medical Journal

After a lesson about hip replacement, the children were asked to write their own leaflet and draw an image to illustrate it. They were given four headings: indications for surgery, complications of surgery, before the procedure, and the procedure.

What the children came up with was clear, concise and without sugarcoating.

“Your hip is old and rotten,” says Mohammed.

“It is past its sell-by date,” adds Jaime.

What is not allowed before surgery? Coca Cola, fries, and chocolate, according to Lilly.

Of course, no one is suggesting we actually let children write the guides, but maybe we can learn something from their approach.

The authors write: “What better way to write a new leaflet than by engaging with 9-year-old children, so that we can begin to appreciate the disparity in the language we use to convey information through formal patient information leaflets.”

e8e98_f3.large-copy_custom-3a3cc8ec40ed5ff2bdee4972406437ac1f23b919-s1100-c15 Want Help Explaining A Medical Procedure? Ask A 9-Year-Old

It’s a novel experiment, but can’t really work in practice, according to Cynthia Baur, director of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy at the University of Maryland’s Public School of Health.

“While children may be able to say things simply, they don’t have the context and experience to recognize aspects of topics that might need more in-depth information or explanation, and they can’t anticipate adult concerns,” Baur says.

But it may shed fresh light on a problem that has been percolating for decades.

Low health literacy leads to poor outcomes for patients and millions of dollars in unnecessary health costs. Countless commissions and organizations have developed plans for improvement. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a 73-page action plan to improve health literacy and called for making it a public health priority.

The proliferation of computer-generated patient leaflets was supposed to help. Yet measurement tools with great names like Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) and Gunning Fog (GFI) show that these patient education materials are often too complex for the average person.

“I definitely think patient materials have improved, but they are still far from where they need to be,” says Baur, who edited the HHS action plan and created the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health literacy site prior to her appointment at Maryland. “These tools, along with audience testing, of the materials will make health materials much better much faster.”

So can we learn something from the experiment? Maybe simplicity. “Let’s take our cue from the children and begin speaking honestly and to the point with our patients in a language they understand,” Wigley and her colleagues write in their analysis.

What works, says Bauer, is involving the intended recipients. “Health care organizations that truly care about excellent patient experiences and well-being will find ways to involve patients, caregivers and others in the routine development of all types of health communication, even forms and facility signs,” she says.

Brainstorm Health: Medical Devices, Net Neutrality and Health Research, Alphabet Anti-Aging Startup

Good morning. When I was in China last week, I missed this key news item on digital health—which I’m guessing some of you may have passed over as well, given the seeming prosaicness of the topic.

Last Friday the FDA released its draft guidance on “Clinical and Patient Decision Support Software.” So why, you ask, is this document so significant? Because, as CNBC’s Chrissy Farr reports, the lack of certainty about what the FDA will regulate and what it won’t with regard to digital health applications has been keeping some developers—from giants like Apple and Google to a bevy of garage-based startups—in limbo. And it’s hard to do pretty much anything else when you’re limboing.

The FDA has actually been ruminating over this challenge at least since the turn of the millennium. That’s because the questions that need to be answered are far meatier than they might at first seem, as researchers Roberto Rodrigues, Petra Wilson, and Stephen Schanz explained in a comprehensive 2001 paper:

When does the amount of automated “clinical thinking” done by the software application constitute the “practice of medicine” with all its associated ethical and legal aspects?

To what extent does the application software allow clinicians to examine the underlying logic and to independently evaluate how the software arrived at particular conclusions?

How are the consequences of eventual errors to be dealt with?

Yes, big thinkers were asking those questions 16 years ago and have yet to resolve them. Now throw in a semantic one, which likewise has critical relevance to government regulators: When is the software or algorithm powering a medical device a medical device itself?

For wonky types—and I include myself in that category—the FDA’s litany of examples that constitute devices (and not) is fascinating.

Software that flags potential drug interactions and known drug allergy contraindications (based on FDA-approved drug labeling)? Not a device, according to the draft guidance document.

“Software that analyzes sound waves captured when users recite certain sentences to diagnose bronchitis or sinus infection”? Device.

For all the FDA’s Solomonic judgments, though, there are—and will be more—questions from product developers about inventions that fall between the cracks. One pressing question concerns the latest generation of fitness trackers, particularly as their technology is developed to enable sophisticated diagnoses.

In the draft guidelines, for instance, the FDA says “software that analyzes multiple physiological signals (e.g., sweat, heart rate, eye movement, breathing—from FDA-regulated devices) to monitor whether a person is having a heart attack or narcolepsy episode” is….a device subject to regulation.

So does that mean that a Fitbit (or Apple Watch) that can potentially warn of a dangerous heart arrhythmia—and maybe even help you avoid a stroke, as I wrote about here—is a medical device under the purview of the FDA?

Hmmm. If so, that might slow down the innovation train a bit. But then, I’m guessing that this latest FDA draft may get a few substantive revisions before all is said and done. That’s what drafts are for, after all. Watch this space for more.


DIGITAL HEALTH

Net neutrality’s effect on health care. Nature out with an editorial warning about the potential harms of net neutrality repeal (which went through Thursday morning)—including the possibility of a throttling effect on medical research, information-sharing across nations, and health care services themselves. “The changes could affect traffic that routes through the United States, which includes plenty from South America, Central America and the Caribbean. So, in theory, terabytes of data sent from telescope arrays in Chile to physicists in Europe could be stuck in the digital slow lane as ISPs prioritize advertising-heavy social-media messages,” writes Nature. “Or universities and students, especially those in poorer countries, could face prohibitive access and download fees.” Repeal proponents have argued that providing digital fast lanes could help, for instance, people who want telemedicine services; but critics say that only bigger health care companies would benefit from the preferential treatment. (Nature)

We’re learning more about Alphabet’s under-the-radar anti-aging startup. A top executive at Calico, Google parent Alphabet’s secretive anti-aging startup, finally provided some more details on the science being pursued at the company during a conference Wednesday, Axios reports. The early stage research involves mice and yeast and centers on how diet affects aging and health and how cell aging leads to cell breakdowns. Calico’s ambitious goal is to harness greater knowledge about the relationship between aging and disease to tackle everything from Alzheimer’s to cancer. (Fortune)

Medical Marijuana’s Main Ingredient Isn’t Dangerous or Addictive, World Health Organization Report Says

A top global health agency has declared the main ingredient in medical cannabis nonaddictive and nontoxic, according to a new report.

“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” wrote the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency that focuses on public health. Researchers spent months looking into cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that’s often used for medical purposes. It often comes in the form of oils, drops or capsules.

16ce5_1214legalcannabis Medical Marijuana's Main Ingredient Isn't Dangerous or Addictive, World Health Organization Report Says An employee prepares legal cannabis plant cuttings in the greenhouse of Swiss cannabis producer KannaSwiss, in Kölliken. The World Health Organization has declared that the main ingredient in medical cannabis is nonaddictive and nontoxic. GETTY/Fabrice Coffrini

The organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) found “no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” They also found that, according to several clinical trials, CBD could be good for treating epilepsy and “a number of other medical conditions.”

Although the report came out in November, it drew international attention only on Wednesday, after the WHO published concrete recommendations from the ECDD’s November meeting. In addition to recommending a stricter scheduling for a type of opioid, the committee recommended a new approach to cannabis, responding to increased interest among its member states in researching and legalizing it.

In emails to Newsweek, spokespeople for the WHO clarified that the report very clearly “does not say that WHO recommends the use of cannabidiol.” What the WHO recommends “is that cannabidiol should not be scheduled for international control on the basis of current evidence, and that a fuller review will be carried out next year, when other cannabinoids are discussed.”

The committee said that CBD did not need to be controlled (or government-regulated) on an international level, and that this should be left up to individual nations. “Saying it should not be scheduled for international control means that it should not be prohibited, at the international level, to produce and supply it for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research, given that WHO has not so far seen evidence of potential for abuse or harm from cannabidiol,” a spokesperson wrote. “As to what is legal or illegal, that comes under national law, so it is up to countries to decide.”

The committee will start the expanded review of CBD in May 2018, when it will make more specific recommendations and conclusions.

The legality of CBD has been a source of confusion for years. Even though it’s the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration emphasized in 2016 that it is still illegal and still a Schedule I substance, along with drugs like heroin and LSD. The DEA does not recognize a distinction between CBD and any other kinds of marijuana.

Even though the DEA once eased trials for CBD in late 2015, it released a statement in July saying that CBD was still very much illegal. “Because ‘Charlotte’s Web’/CBD oil is not an FDA-approved drug…it is a schedule I controlled substance under the [Controlled Substances Act],” the DEA said.

Because marijuana is a Schedule I drug, the DEA rarely approves research on it. And even though many states have legalized it for medical and recreational use, it remains illegal on the federal level.

Proponents in the U.S. have long argued that states and researchers should at least be allowed to look into CBD’s benefits and either prove or disprove them. 

Even some Republicans, who are typically more hesitant about marijuana legalization, are beginning to agree. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill to that effect. “We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils, not because researchers are unwilling to do the work but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation,” Hatch said.

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Medical Marijuana’s Main Ingredient Isn’t Dangerous or Addictive, World Health Organization Report Says

A top global health agency has declared the main ingredient in medical cannabis nonaddictive and nontoxic, according to a new report.

“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” wrote the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency that focuses on public health. Researchers spent months looking into cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that’s often used for medical purposes. It often comes in the form of oils, drops or capsules.

16ce5_1214legalcannabis Medical Marijuana's Main Ingredient Isn't Dangerous or Addictive, World Health Organization Report Says An employee prepares legal cannabis plant cuttings in the greenhouse of Swiss cannabis producer KannaSwiss, in Kölliken. The World Health Organization has declared that the main ingredient in medical cannabis is nonaddictive and nontoxic. GETTY/Fabrice Coffrini

The organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) found “no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” They also found that, according to several clinical trials, CBD could be good for treating epilepsy and “a number of other medical conditions.”

Although the report came out in November, it drew international attention only on Wednesday, after the WHO published concrete recommendations from the ECDD’s November meeting. In addition to recommending a stricter scheduling for a type of opioid, the committee recommended a new approach to cannabis, responding to increased interest among its member states in researching and legalizing it.

In emails to Newsweek, spokespeople for the WHO clarified that the report very clearly “does not say that WHO recommends the use of cannabidiol.” What the WHO recommends “is that cannabidiol should not be scheduled for international control on the basis of current evidence, and that a fuller review will be carried out next year, when other cannabinoids are discussed.”

The committee said that CBD did not need to be controlled (or government-regulated) on an international level, and that this should be left up to individual nations. “Saying it should not be scheduled for international control means that it should not be prohibited, at the international level, to produce and supply it for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research, given that WHO has not so far seen evidence of potential for abuse or harm from cannabidiol,” a spokesperson wrote. “As to what is legal or illegal, that comes under national law, so it is up to countries to decide.”

The committee will start the expanded review of CBD in May 2018, when it will make more specific recommendations and conclusions.

The legality of CBD has been a source of confusion for years. Even though it’s the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration emphasized in 2016 that it is still illegal and still a Schedule I substance, along with drugs like heroin and LSD. The DEA does not recognize a distinction between CBD and any other kinds of marijuana.

Even though the DEA once eased trials for CBD in late 2015, it released a statement in July saying that CBD was still very much illegal. “Because ‘Charlotte’s Web’/CBD oil is not an FDA-approved drug…it is a schedule I controlled substance under the [Controlled Substances Act],” the DEA said.

Because marijuana is a Schedule I drug, the DEA rarely approves research on it. And even though many states have legalized it for medical and recreational use, it remains illegal on the federal level.

Proponents in the U.S. have long argued that states and researchers should at least be allowed to look into CBD’s benefits and either prove or disprove them. 

Even some Republicans, who are typically more hesitant about marijuana legalization, are beginning to agree. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill to that effect. “We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils, not because researchers are unwilling to do the work but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation,” Hatch said.

p:last-of-type::after, .node-type-slideshow .article-body > p:last-of-type::after{content:none}]]>

Brainstorm Health: Chinese Biotech, FDA and Medical Devices, The ‘Man Flu’

Good morning. I spent a week in China for two Fortune conferences—our inaugural Brainstorm Tech International and the annual Fortune Global Forum—which we hosted back-to-back in the beautiful city of Guangzhou, in southern China. My head is still swimming from the experience and, I admit, my own reflections still feel somewhat muddy to me. But one takeaway concerns China’s approach to its homegrown biotech sector.

The approach is a bit like a science experiment, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, though, let me take you to Medprin.

Nestled in a gleaming office complex in Science City, in the New High-Tech Industrial Park, in the Guangzhou Development District, 20 minutes or so from downtown Guangzhou, is one of the pearls of China’s biotech oyster bed: Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co., Ltd. Medprin, cofounded by Yuyu Yuan (who serves as CEO) and Tao Xu in 2008, manufactures biological cells by way of 3D printing.

The company, one might say, prints life.

“We print live cells, layer by layer, and then fold them onto a 3D structure,” explains Tao, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tsinghua University, who is also Medprin’s chief technology officer.

Medprin’s founders, who hold a number of U.S. patents in the area of cell printing, have pulled off some remarkable feats, it appears—including printing a facsimile of cardiac stem cells directly onto the damaged heart of a rat. (According to Tao, the imprinted cells in the experiment proliferated and transferred healthy, functioning cardiac cells to the rodent.)

But while the company says it has conceived of at least “2,000 applications” for its technology, including 3D printing cells for repairing battle wounds in humans—the founders concede they “still have a long way to go” on this front. So right now, they focus on other applications, such as building precise three-dimensional models, drawn from CT scans, of actual patient organs and tissues that surgeons can use for pre-operative practice and training in the case of difficult surgeries. (I saw one of these models—a brain with a cancerous lesion snaked precariously around a cranial nerve—being printed, cell layer by cell layer.) The company also prints tumor chips from actual patient specimens removed during surgery, which can then be used to test different drug therapies, Tao says. Because the tumor chips can be printed, essentially, in unlimited supply, the possibility for fine-tuning a drug therapy is endless.

For now, the company mostly makes money, it seems, by printing biomaterials for implanting biomedical devices—an area, Tao says, “that has a very huge market and very great potential, especially in China.” Medprin manufactures several forms of what it calls “biomimetic-synthetic” material which look and act like real human tissue, with microstructures that resemble human extracellular matrix. The materials are now being used in repairing jaws, faces, skulls, blood vessels, even damaged brain tissue.

It’s cool stuff. Really cool stuff. And I can imagine this company dominating whatever the market is for 3D-printed cells for some time.

Which brings up China’s approach to its growing clusters of biotech startups mentioned up top—or, as I called it, the “science experiment.”

China’s government takes innovators and inventors such as Yuyu Yuan and Tao Yu and places them in the equivalent of a giant Petri dish (economic development districts). It then throws in plenty of growth factors (direct government funding, networking support, connections to customers, heavy promotion to outside investors, and relaxed regulations) and incubates them for years. That’s how companies like Medprin scale up so quickly in a market that, until they came along, didn’t really exist.

It’s impossible to know whether the strategy will work over the long-term. There’s a danger, certainly, when governments try to pick winners—and any kind of state control is likely to inhibit two key ingredients common to business creation and scientific research: human creativity and freedom of choice.

But for now, Americans in this industry should take note of the competition brewing on the other side of the planet. China’s biotech sector is growing—and growing fast.

Brainstorm Health: Chinese Biotech, FDA and Medical Devices, The ‘Man Flu’

Good morning. I spent a week in China for two Fortune conferences—our inaugural Brainstorm Tech International and the annual Fortune Global Forum—which we hosted back-to-back in the beautiful city of Guangzhou, in southern China. My head is still swimming from the experience and, I admit, my own reflections still feel somewhat muddy to me. But one takeaway concerns China’s approach to its homegrown biotech sector.

The approach is a bit like a science experiment, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, though, let me take you to Medprin.

Nestled in a gleaming office complex in Science City, in the New High-Tech Industrial Park, in the Guangzhou Development District, 20 minutes or so from downtown Guangzhou, is one of the pearls of China’s biotech oyster bed: Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co., Ltd. Medprin, cofounded by Yuyu Yuan (who serves as CEO) and Tao Xu in 2008, manufactures biological cells by way of 3D printing.

The company, one might say, prints life.

“We print live cells, layer by layer, and then fold them onto a 3D structure,” explains Tao, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tsinghua University, who is also Medprin’s chief technology officer.

Medprin’s founders, who hold a number of U.S. patents in the area of cell printing, have pulled off some remarkable feats, it appears—including printing a facsimile of cardiac stem cells directly onto the damaged heart of a rat. (According to Tao, the imprinted cells in the experiment proliferated and transferred healthy, functioning cardiac cells to the rodent.)

But while the company says it has conceived of at least “2,000 applications” for its technology, including 3D printing cells for repairing battle wounds in humans—the founders concede they “still have a long way to go” on this front. So right now, they focus on other applications, such as building precise three-dimensional models, drawn from CT scans, of actual patient organs and tissues that surgeons can use for pre-operative practice and training in the case of difficult surgeries. (I saw one of these models—a brain with a cancerous lesion snaked precariously around a cranial nerve—being printed, cell layer by cell layer.) The company also prints tumor chips from actual patient specimens removed during surgery, which can then be used to test different drug therapies, Tao says. Because the tumor chips can be printed, essentially, in unlimited supply, the possibility for fine-tuning a drug therapy is endless.

For now, the company mostly makes money, it seems, by printing biomaterials for implanting biomedical devices—an area, Tao says, “that has a very huge market and very great potential, especially in China.” Medprin manufactures several forms of what it calls “biomimetic-synthetic” material which look and act like real human tissue, with microstructures that resemble human extracellular matrix. The materials are now being used in repairing jaws, faces, skulls, blood vessels, even damaged brain tissue.

It’s cool stuff. Really cool stuff. And I can imagine this company dominating whatever the market is for 3D-printed cells for some time.

Which brings up China’s approach to its growing clusters of biotech startups mentioned up top—or, as I called it, the “science experiment.”

China’s government takes innovators and inventors such as Yuyu Yuan and Tao Yu and places them in the equivalent of a giant Petri dish (economic development districts). It then throws in plenty of growth factors (direct government funding, networking support, connections to customers, heavy promotion to outside investors, and relaxed regulations) and incubates them for years. That’s how companies like Medprin scale up so quickly in a market that, until they came along, didn’t really exist.

It’s impossible to know whether the strategy will work over the long-term. There’s a danger, certainly, when governments try to pick winners—and any kind of state control is likely to inhibit two key ingredients common to business creation and scientific research: human creativity and freedom of choice.

But for now, Americans in this industry should take note of the competition brewing on the other side of the planet. China’s biotech sector is growing—and growing fast.

Brainstorm Health: Chinese Biotech, FDA and Medical Devices, The ‘Man Flu’

Good morning. I spent a week in China for two Fortune conferences—our inaugural Brainstorm Tech International and the annual Fortune Global Forum—which we hosted back-to-back in the beautiful city of Guangzhou, in southern China. My head is still swimming from the experience and, I admit, my own reflections still feel somewhat muddy to me. But one takeaway concerns China’s approach to its homegrown biotech sector.

The approach is a bit like a science experiment, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, though, let me take you to Medprin.

Nestled in a gleaming office complex in Science City, in the New High-Tech Industrial Park, in the Guangzhou Development District, 20 minutes or so from downtown Guangzhou, is one of the pearls of China’s biotech oyster bed: Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co., Ltd. Medprin, cofounded by Yuyu Yuan (who serves as CEO) and Tao Xu in 2008, manufactures biological cells by way of 3D printing.

The company, one might say, prints life.

“We print live cells, layer by layer, and then fold them onto a 3D structure,” explains Tao, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tsinghua University, who is also Medprin’s chief technology officer.

Medprin’s founders, who hold a number of U.S. patents in the area of cell printing, have pulled off some remarkable feats, it appears—including printing a facsimile of cardiac stem cells directly onto the damaged heart of a rat. (According to Tao, the imprinted cells in the experiment proliferated and transferred healthy, functioning cardiac cells to the rodent.)

But while the company says it has conceived of at least “2,000 applications” for its technology, including 3D printing cells for repairing battle wounds in humans—the founders concede they “still have a long way to go” on this front. So right now, they focus on other applications, such as building precise three-dimensional models, drawn from CT scans, of actual patient organs and tissues that surgeons can use for pre-operative practice and training in the case of difficult surgeries. (I saw one of these models—a brain with a cancerous lesion snaked precariously around a cranial nerve—being printed, cell layer by cell layer.) The company also prints tumor chips from actual patient specimens removed during surgery, which can then be used to test different drug therapies, Tao says. Because the tumor chips can be printed, essentially, in unlimited supply, the possibility for fine-tuning a drug therapy is endless.

For now, the company mostly makes money, it seems, by printing biomaterials for implanting biomedical devices—an area, Tao says, “that has a very huge market and very great potential, especially in China.” Medprin manufactures several forms of what it calls “biomimetic-synthetic” material which look and act like real human tissue, with microstructures that resemble human extracellular matrix. The materials are now being used in repairing jaws, faces, skulls, blood vessels, even damaged brain tissue.

It’s cool stuff. Really cool stuff. And I can imagine this company dominating whatever the market is for 3D-printed cells for some time.

Which brings up China’s approach to its growing clusters of biotech startups mentioned up top—or, as I called it, the “science experiment.”

China’s government takes innovators and inventors such as Yuyu Yuan and Tao Yu and places them in the equivalent of a giant Petri dish (economic development districts). It then throws in plenty of growth factors (direct government funding, networking support, connections to customers, heavy promotion to outside investors, and relaxed regulations) and incubates them for years. That’s how companies like Medprin scale up so quickly in a market that, until they came along, didn’t really exist.

It’s impossible to know whether the strategy will work over the long-term. There’s a danger, certainly, when governments try to pick winners—and any kind of state control is likely to inhibit two key ingredients common to business creation and scientific research: human creativity and freedom of choice.

But for now, Americans in this industry should take note of the competition brewing on the other side of the planet. China’s biotech sector is growing—and growing fast.

JACK GUTTENTAG: Beware of Internet-based medical scams – Sarasota Herald

Medical scams executed on the internet aim to convince respondents that a medical condition is best treated by a non-prescription remedy that only the scamster can provide. In other words, you should ignore your physician, ignore whatever you may have read about your problem in mainstream sources, and buy a cure from a non-credentialed source about whom you know nothing.

On the face of it, this seems like a hard sell, but they have mastered the medium and do it very well. While I have no information on their finances, a week does not go by without my receiving an email about a newly discovered remedy for a long-standing disability. A continuing flow of new remedies for old ailments is a sure-fire indication that their marketing model works enough of the time to make these ventures profitable.

You may have already guessed my secret. Yes, they sold me on one a year or so ago that I found irresistible, and undoubtedly that placed me on a master list of prospects — which is why I receive a continuing stream of purported remedies. While I only succumbed once, I have listened to many of the pitches in an effort to understand the sources of their appeal. I found that all or most of these sales pitches have the same major features:

A widely-distributed, but hard-to-cure ailment

Because the ailment defines the size of the target market, it will always be widespread. High blood pressure is a good example. It afflicts a sizeable portion of the population over 60, and the drugs prescribed for it all have adverse side effects.

I was recently surprised at being solicited for a cure to tinnitus, ringing in the ears, which is much less common than high blood pressure. However, the alleged cure not only stops noises in the ear, it also claims to restore memory and prevent Alzheimers, which broadens the potential market substantially.

Spokesperson

The spokesperson is highly articulate, reeks of sincerity, and plays a key role in engaging the listener. If not a true believer, she is an accomplished actress, describing her transition from desperate sufferer to cured client to missionary spreading the gospel of the cure. The only time the spokesperson is not center stage is when she steps aside briefly to present testimonials from others who have been cured.

The villains

An important part of the pitch is that powerful forces are at work to prevent the consumer from accessing the benign and low-cost cure that is being offered. Big Pharma is perfect for this role because it is the source of the existing high-priced but ineffective drugs that the new cure would replace. Sometimes Big Government is also a villain, either in cahoots with Big Pharma or for some other odious reason.

The role of villains is to provide potential buyers with a second reason to buy. Not only do they get a cure for their ailment but their purchase delivers a comeuppance to the villains. Buyer and seller share a community of interest in defying the villains.

Unsung heroes

Usually there is a hero responsible for the development of the cure. Often it is a maverick physician who was smart enough to find the cure, and brave enough to face the hostility of Big Pharma and perhaps Big Government or other physicians.

Heroes provide potential buyers with a third reason to buy. In addition to the cure and the rebuke to villains, they also get to reward the hero.

Exotic origins of remedy

The most imaginative part of the internet-based medical scam is the origin of the remedy being sold. It might be something used for centuries in religious ceremonies of an isolated tribe only recently discovered in the Amazon. It may have been concocted by a maverick physician, who tested it on his own patients. Information about it might have appeared in an obscure technical journal published in Finland or Bulgaria. Or it may be a common household item that only recently has been found to have special therapeutic powers by a prestigious research organization. The exotic origin explains why the customer hasn’t heard about the “cure” before, and also enhances its appeal as something special.

The remedy is only available here

Whatever the origin of the cure, the consumer must be persuaded that right now it is available only from the scamster. This is tricky because the components of the cure cannot be drugs, which would subject them to Government surveillance. This means that the ingredients must be freely available to anyone, which raises the awkward question of why a buyer can’t buy it elsewhere at a lower price?

The scamster’s answer is that although the ingredients may be available in the local supermarket, a version with special qualities is needed for the cure. If the required ingredient turns out to be cinnamon, for example, which was the case for a recent pitch I heard, the cinnamon had to come from Sri Lanka. If the cure is a combination of well-known and readily available ingredients, then either the quality of the ingredients must be extraordinarily high, which only the scamster’s version can meet, or the ingredients must be combined in exactly the right proportions, or both.

Concluding comment

My look at medical scams was partly motivated by a search for better ways to market mortgages. In this market, however, the potential for use of villains, heroes, or committed spokespersons is quite limited.

The writer is professor of finance emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Comments and questions can be left at http://www.mtgprofessor.com.

 

 

 

Is Donald Trump’s mental health becoming dangerous? Medical …

President Donald Trump’s temperament has always been a big part of his political brand. Depending on who you ask, he is either refreshingly frank or shockingly unpresidential. But increasingly, critics of the president have gone from criticizing his rhetoric to worrying about his mental fitness for office. His critics now include mental health professionals after several news stories, as well as the president’s own tweets, revealed Trump continues to believe in several thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories.

At no other time in U.S. history has a group of mental health professionals been so collectively concerned about a sitting president. This is not because he is an unusual person — his presentation is almost typical for a forensic psychiatrist like myself whose patients are mostly violence offenders — but it is highly unusual to find such a person in the office of presidency. For the U.S., it may be unprecedented; for many parts of the world where this has happened before, the outcome has been uniformly devastating.

A group of us put our concerns into a book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” That book became an instant New York Times bestseller. Within days, it was out of stock at the big outlets and sold out in bookstores around the country. One of the nation’s largest publishers could not keep up with the demand for weeks. Clearly, our concerns were resonating with the public.

0c776_171207-dangerous-case-book-njs-527p_0f9c0d32737a7112dcb51602e0178566.focal-320x417 Is Donald Trump's mental health becoming dangerous? Medical ...
 Diagnosing Donald. Thomas Dunne Books

One way or another, the consequences of Trump’s presidency are affecting pretty much all of us. Much of this has to do with his effects on our own mental health.

For one, Americans are exhausted. The 24/7 news cycle may be part of the reason why, but there’s potentially another explanation. Pathology is confusing to the healthy. There is a reason why staying in close quarters with a person suffering from mental illness usually induces what is called a “shared psychosis.” Vulnerable or weakened individuals are more likely to succumb, and when their own mental health is compromised, they may develop an irresistible attraction to pathology, destruction, and even death (of self or others). The resulting harm is how we tell illness from health.

Politics has nothing to do with medicine, which is why a liberal health professional would not ignore a kidney stone in a patient just because he is Republican. Similarly, health professionals would not call liver cancer something else because it is afflicting the president. When signs of illness become apparent, it is natural for the physician to recommend an exam. But when the ailment goes so far as to affect an individuals ability to perform his duty, and in some cases risks harm to the public as a result, then the health professional has a duty to sound the alarm.

Human beings are an enviably adaptable species. However, when mechanisms go awry and reach a state of disorder, the capacity for variety and diversity diminishes and behavior becomes very predictable. This diminishing of flexibility is as consistent in the failing heart as it is in the cancer cell or the disordered human mind.

It is in this context that we should view Trump’s latest exploits. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is not just a matter of criminal indictments; as Trump feels increasingly walled in, his mental stability is likely to suffer and hence also public safety. Mental impairment and criminal-mindedness are not mutually exclusive; not only can they happen at the same time, when combined, these two characteristics become particularly dangerous. Trump has shown marked signs of impairment and psychological disability under ordinary circumstances, hardly able to cope with basic criticism or unflattering news. Presumably, additional stressors will make his condition worse. So far the signs have been almost too predictable.

It does not take a mental health professional to see that a person of Trump’s impairments, in the office of the presidency, is a danger to us all. What mental health experts can offer is affirmation that these signs are real, that they may be worse than the public suspects, and that the patterns indicate the need for an urgent evaluation (simply trying to “contain” him or asking him to “get over” them will not work).

Simply put, Trump has already exceeded our usual threshold for evaluation. Just some of the signs that have raised red flags include: verbal aggressiveness, boasting about sexual assaults, inciting violence in others, an attraction to violence and powerful weapons and the taunting of hostile nations with nuclear power. Specific traits that are highly associated with violence include: impulsivity, recklessness, paranoia, a loose grip on reality and poor understanding of consequences, a lack of empathy and belligerence toward others, rage reactions and a constant need to demonstrate power. Such traits interfere with the ability to think rationally, to take in needed information or advice, to weigh consequences and to make sound, logical decisions based on reality.

Is Donald Trump’s mental health becoming dangerous? Medical experts weigh in.

President Donald Trump’s temperament has always been a big part of his political brand. Depending on who you ask, he is either refreshingly frank or shockingly unpresidential. But increasingly, critics of the president have gone from criticizing his rhetoric to worrying about his mental fitness for office. His critics now include mental health professionals after several news stories, as well as the president’s own tweets, revealed Trump continues to believe in several thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories.

At no other time in U.S. history has a group of mental health professionals been so collectively concerned about a sitting president. This is not because he is an unusual person — his presentation is almost typical for a forensic psychiatrist like myself whose patients are mostly violence offenders — but it is highly unusual to find such a person in the office of presidency. For the U.S., it may be unprecedented; for many parts of the world where this has happened before, the outcome has been uniformly devastating.

A group of us put our concerns into a book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” That book became an instant New York Times bestseller. Within days, it was out of stock at the big outlets and sold out in bookstores around the country. One of the nation’s largest publishers could not keep up with the demand for weeks. Clearly, our concerns were resonating with the public.

d12a8_171207-dangerous-case-book-njs-527p_0f9c0d32737a7112dcb51602e0178566.focal-320x417 Is Donald Trump's mental health becoming dangerous? Medical experts weigh in.
 Diagnosing Donald. Thomas Dunne Books

One way or another, the consequences of Trump’s presidency are affecting pretty much all of us. Much of this has to do with his effects on our own mental health.

For one, Americans are exhausted. The 24/7 news cycle may be part of the reason why, but there’s potentially another explanation. Pathology is confusing to the healthy. There is a reason why staying in close quarters with a person suffering from mental illness usually induces what is called a “shared psychosis.” Vulnerable or weakened individuals are more likely to succumb, and when their own mental health is compromised, they may develop an irresistible attraction to pathology, destruction, and even death (of self or others). The resulting harm is how we tell illness from health.

Politics has nothing to do with medicine, which is why a liberal health professional would not ignore a kidney stone in a patient just because he is Republican. Similarly, health professionals would not call liver cancer something else because it is afflicting the president. When signs of illness become apparent, it is natural for the physician to recommend an exam. But when the ailment goes so far as to affect an individuals ability to perform his duty, and in some cases risks harm to the public as a result, then the health professional has a duty to sound the alarm.

Human beings are an enviably adaptable species. However, when mechanisms go awry and reach a state of disorder, the capacity for variety and diversity diminishes and behavior becomes very predictable. This diminishing of flexibility is as consistent in the failing heart as it is in the cancer cell or the disordered human mind.

Apple’s director of health leaving company to form his own medical records startup

Anil Sethi with his late sister Tania, the inspiration for his new startup

Apple’s work in the health industry has been well reported thus far, but CNBC reports today that the person running Apple’s health efforts is leaving the company. Anil Sethi was originally named director of the health team last year, when Apple acquired his medical record startup Gliimpse


71f1d_spigen-teka-on-airpods Apple's director of health leaving company to form his own medical records startup

Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover

Prior to his announcement that he would be leaving Apple, Sethi had been on an extended leave of absence to care for his sister, Tania, who passed away from cancer in September. The leave of absence, Sethi told CNBC, was personally granted by Apple COO Jeff Williams.

On his decision to leave Apple, Sethi says he is fulfilling a promise he made to his sister in her final days to improve cancer care for patients. He hopes to do that with his new startup, Ciitizen. The company will focus on providing a better experience by obtaining patient records and getting them to the appropriate doctors.

He since decided not to rejoin the Apple health team and instead is starting a new company, dubbed Ciitizen, which is focused on making it easier for people like Tania to get their information — whether it’s about genomes, labs, ethical wills or advanced directives — and share it with researchers on request. He describes it as “health data as a palliative.”

While it’s been reported that Apple wants to make the iPhone a “one-stop shop” for medical records, Sethi says he will focus on “depth rather than breadth.” He explains that while Apple can help more than 1 billion people, it will do so in ways that aren’t as deep as what his startup will build.

Sethi was sure to note, however, that Apple executives are extremely committed to health care and that he hopes to meet his former colleagues “in the middle” at some point in the future.

Apple originally acquired Sethi’s startup Gliimpse back in August of 2016 for an undisclosed sum. The company explained that its goal was to let users collect their own medical records and share them securely with whomever they trust.

Sethi is expected to formally announce his new startup later today in San Francisco.


Subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

Brainstorm Health: Alzheimer’s Cases to Skyrocket, Medical ‘Virtualists’, Sage Depression Drug

Hello, readers! This is Sy.

A National Institutes of Health-funded (NIH) study presents a sobering projection: The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairment will hit 15 million by 2060, fueled by an aging population. And, by using a new kind of methodology which incorporates people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, the researchers determined that about 6 million U.S. adults have Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment.

The new method of calculation may be more precise than current tactics and could present an opportunity to assess Alzheimer’s-prevention techniques. “For the first time, scientists have attempted to account for numbers of people with biomarkers or other evidence of possible preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, but who do not have impairment or Alzheimer’s dementia. People with such signs of preclinical disease are at increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s dementia,” wrote the NIH in a press release. “The researchers say they factored those rates of transition in their multi-state model; further, the model can estimate the impact of some possible prevention efforts on the number of future cases.”

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In America and abroad, the condition (and other dementia and cognitive decline conditions) are expected to balloon in the coming decades—an ironic side effect of growing life expectancy across the globe. The trouble is that there aren’t really any drugs that tackle the root of Alzheimer’s rather than just its symptoms. Companies attempting to innovate in the space, like Eli Lilly and Merck, have been hit with costly failures (although Biogen is still marching forth in its efforts). And some scientists even disagree with each other about what, exactly, it is that should be targeted in the hunt for a cure.

The dearth of treatment options ups the ante for finding effective prevention techniques, whether they be diet, exercise, “brain games,” or other activities; but the first step in assessing those options is getting the numbers right—which is the broader goal of this new methodology.

Read on for the day’s news.

New mega-deal shows how health insurers are taking over your access to medical care

The nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group, announced Wednesday that it would buy a network of 300 primary care and specialist clinics from dialysis giant DaVita for $4.9 billion, in the latest deal reshaping the business of health insurance.

The deal, which does not include DaVita’s main kidney-care business, comes days after CVS Health agreed to buy health insurer Aetna for $69 billion. Both acquisitions reflect strategies to try to own major entry points into health care, whether it is primary care doctors or pharmacists, so that insurers can better coordinate care, keep people healthy and hopefully control rising costs.

“If you think about what Aetna and United are trying to do, basically they’re trying to own the quarterback of care,” said Brian Tanquilut, an equity analyst at investment firm Jefferies. “At the end of the day, the beauty of owning these practices is you have greater control over a person’s whole health-care picture.”

Each strategy is slightly different. United’s business segment, Optum, will acquire DaVita Medical Group, which includes 300 clinics that provide primary and specialist care, as well as urgent care centers and half a dozen surgery care centers. Those clinics serve 1.7 million patients each year in California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington. The acquisition – set to close next year – will expand the company’s move into clinics and surgical care centers.

Reopening medical building could transform South Dallas’ health care desert

But Morgan’s hospital project may have the most potential to transform South Dallas. Getting better access to health care is a matter of life and death. 

All of Dallas should be pulling for her success.

What they said

“I wouldn’t call it neglect, but there’s a lot to be said and done about the area’s overall health.” – Dr. Michelle Morgan.

“She’s going to be participating, not only as the investor and developer, but also as one of the operators in the facility. I feel optimistic. With our help, they can get it done.” – Investor Frank Mihalopoulos, Corinth Properties.

What’s your view?

Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.

Reopening medical building could transform South Dallas’ health care desert

But Morgan’s hospital project may have the most potential to transform South Dallas. Getting better access to health care is a matter of life and death. 

All of Dallas should be pulling for her success.

What they said

“I wouldn’t call it neglect, but there’s a lot to be said and done about the area’s overall health.” – Dr. Michelle Morgan.

“She’s going to be participating, not only as the investor and developer, but also as one of the operators in the facility. I feel optimistic. With our help, they can get it done.” – Investor Frank Mihalopoulos, Corinth Properties.

What’s your view?

Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.

Vets who receive medical-legal aid show improvements in mental health

Veterans who receive legal help with housing, benefits, and consumer or personal matters have increased income, fewer problems finding housing, and even experience some mental health benefits, says a new study led by researchers from Yale and the Veterans Affairs (VA) New England Mental Illness, Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC) in West Haven.

The study, published Dec. 4 in the journal Health Affairs, followed for a year the status of 148 Connecticut and New York veterans who received help from legal non-profit groups embedded with medical teams at VA offices, pairings known as medical-legal partnerships. 

We found a reduction of hostility, anxiety, and paranoia as well as improvement in income and fewer days homeless among those who received help from medical-legal partnerships,” said Jack Tsai, lead author, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale and core investigator at VA New England MIRECC. “You can target one life domain, and the benefits spill over to others as well.”

Veterans in the study were clients of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center in West Haven and the New York Legal Assistance Group in New York City.  The non-profit groups worked with medical teams at local VAs to identify issues that may affect veterans’ health, such as evictions, disputes with landlords, divorces, or difficulty in obtaining benefits.

While some of mental benefits were sustained over time, other measures such as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression did not show sustained improvement, said the researchers.

Robert A. Rosenheck, professor of psychiatry at Yale and senior investigator for VA New England MIRECC, was also an author of the study. Primary funding for the study came from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.

UF Health Conducts New Study On Possible Marijuana’s Medical Effects On HIV

A new study on marijuana’s health effects on people with HIV is launching after the University of Florida received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in August. Participants are currently being selected and interviewed after UF Health released the announcement of this study in late October. Researchers have recently visited local clinics to talk to possible participants.

The study is believed to be the largest study to date on the topic and will follow approximately 400 Floridians with HIV over five years who use marijuana medically or recreationally. The study will also follow approximately 100 HIV patients who do not use marijuana.

The study was approved and received funding after two failed proposals previously. This followed the approval of Florida’s Amendment 2 in January, which granted citizens with serious illnesses, including HIV, legal access to medical marijuana.

“The main questions we will ask will be: what do patients currently use, do they think it’s helping them and how do they know it’s helping,” said Dr. Robert Cook, the study’s lead investigator and a professor of epidemiology and medicine in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the UF College of Medicine.

Researchers will track the quantity, cannabinoid content, methods of consumption and frequency of use to identify any patterns in symptom management and in how the virus is expressed in the body. Researchers will not provide participants with marijuana, but rather will monitor current use.

About 30 percent of those with HIV surveyed across the state of Florida – which has the highest rate of new infections annually in the U.S. according to the HIV Surveillance report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – use some form of marijuana. Most claim usage helps manage different symptoms like pain, anxiety, stress, sleep difficulties and nausea. About 70 percent of these users reported some degree of health benefit.

The study aims to fix current gaps in research regarding medical marijuana, as there is still a lot experts do not know about its health effects.

Cook said he hopes states will make policies based on the scientific evidence.

“In terms of potential consequences, many people do worry about addiction and about driving under the influence,” said Cook. “Stereotypically, people worry about planning and motivation, which will be measured.”

Most previous research has not suggested that users have typical addiction symptoms, according to Cook. However, up to 10 percent of people who use marijuana regularly will have symptoms consistent with an addiction, depending on how it is measured, Cook said.

Users are encouraged to monitor the enforcement of marijuana regulations, which ensure that each product is labeled and sold correctly.

“It seems to me that it is being treated differently than typical medications, which are monitored very closely,” he said.

Cook plans to work on a research paper that summarizes the study’s findings.

Seth Stambaugh, 29, said he believes the study will provide insights on a potential adjunct therapy for HIV patients.

Stambaugh was diagnosed with HIV four years ago and used marijuana to alleviate nausea and vomiting when he first began antiretroviral treatment.

While he no longer uses it due to professional and legal reasons, Stambaugh believes that early use may help reduce some side effects of ART therapy, which is being used to stop the growth of the virus and increase adherence to medications.

Stambaugh believes marijuana may help reduce anxiety and depression, which are correlated with decreased adherence to ART therapy.

“The point of medicine is to improve quality of life and I believe this study can help shed light on an alternative way to do that,” he said.

Stambaugh hopes to see a change in standardization among dosages and of active compounds among dispensaries and strains.

“Hopefully, this study can help provide insight on appropriate use and dosing to give physicians and patients some guidance on how to obtain the best outcome and quality of life possible,” Stambaugh said.

He said marijuana policies should be made based on evidence.

“I hope studies like this one will help shed light on the issue of utilizing cannabis in a true medical context while informing us of the possible drawbacks,” he said. “When the biggest pros and cons are realized, we can formulate the best ways to lower the risks and maximize benefits associated with the use of cannabis.”

Cost of medication is one of the most burdensome stressors and a significant barrier for many people living with HIV/AIDS, Stambaugh said. The study will also record how much participants are spending on marijuana.

Michelle Wilson, 42, was diagnosed with HIV six years ago and uses marijuana in her tea to help with joint stiffness and muscle soreness associated with the virus.

“I think this study is an amazing thing for the HIV community and for the legalization of marijuana since it helps with nausea and headaches, which can be caused by HIV,” Wilson said.

UF Health Conducts New Study On Possible Marijuana’s Medical Effects On HIV

A new study on marijuana’s health effects on people with HIV is launching after the University of Florida received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in August. Participants are currently being selected and interviewed after UF Health released the announcement of this study in late October. Researchers have recently visited local clinics to talk to possible participants.

The study is believed to be the largest study to date on the topic and will follow approximately 400 Floridians with HIV over five years who use marijuana medically or recreationally. The study will also follow approximately 100 HIV patients who do not use marijuana.

The study was approved and received funding after two failed proposals previously. This followed the approval of Florida’s Amendment 2 in January, which granted citizens with serious illnesses, including HIV, legal access to medical marijuana.

“The main questions we will ask will be: what do patients currently use, do they think it’s helping them and how do they know it’s helping,” said Dr. Robert Cook, the study’s lead investigator and a professor of epidemiology and medicine in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the UF College of Medicine.

Researchers will track the quantity, cannabinoid content, methods of consumption and frequency of use to identify any patterns in symptom management and in how the virus is expressed in the body. Researchers will not provide participants with marijuana, but rather will monitor current use.

About 30 percent of those with HIV surveyed across the state of Florida – which has the highest rate of new infections annually in the U.S. according to the HIV Surveillance report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – use some form of marijuana. Most claim usage helps manage different symptoms like pain, anxiety, stress, sleep difficulties and nausea. About 70 percent of these users reported some degree of health benefit.

The study aims to fix current gaps in research regarding medical marijuana, as there is still a lot experts do not know about its health effects.

Cook said he hopes states will make policies based on the scientific evidence.

“In terms of potential consequences, many people do worry about addiction and about driving under the influence,” said Cook. “Stereotypically, people worry about planning and motivation, which will be measured.”

Most previous research has not suggested that users have typical addiction symptoms, according to Cook. However, up to 10 percent of people who use marijuana regularly will have symptoms consistent with an addiction, depending on how it is measured, Cook said.

Users are encouraged to monitor the enforcement of marijuana regulations, which ensure that each product is labeled and sold correctly.

“It seems to me that it is being treated differently than typical medications, which are monitored very closely,” he said.

Cook plans to work on a research paper that summarizes the study’s findings.

Seth Stambaugh, 29, said he believes the study will provide insights on a potential adjunct therapy for HIV patients.

Stambaugh was diagnosed with HIV four years ago and used marijuana to alleviate nausea and vomiting when he first began antiretroviral treatment.

While he no longer uses it due to professional and legal reasons, Stambaugh believes that early use may help reduce some side effects of ART therapy, which is being used to stop the growth of the virus and increase adherence to medications.

Stambaugh believes marijuana may help reduce anxiety and depression, which are correlated with decreased adherence to ART therapy.

“The point of medicine is to improve quality of life and I believe this study can help shed light on an alternative way to do that,” he said.

Stambaugh hopes to see a change in standardization among dosages and of active compounds among dispensaries and strains.

“Hopefully, this study can help provide insight on appropriate use and dosing to give physicians and patients some guidance on how to obtain the best outcome and quality of life possible,” Stambaugh said.

He said marijuana policies should be made based on evidence.

“I hope studies like this one will help shed light on the issue of utilizing cannabis in a true medical context while informing us of the possible drawbacks,” he said. “When the biggest pros and cons are realized, we can formulate the best ways to lower the risks and maximize benefits associated with the use of cannabis.”

Cost of medication is one of the most burdensome stressors and a significant barrier for many people living with HIV/AIDS, Stambaugh said. The study will also record how much participants are spending on marijuana.

Michelle Wilson, 42, was diagnosed with HIV six years ago and uses marijuana in her tea to help with joint stiffness and muscle soreness associated with the virus.

“I think this study is an amazing thing for the HIV community and for the legalization of marijuana since it helps with nausea and headaches, which can be caused by HIV,” Wilson said.

Apple’s First Medical Study Signals Broader Health Ambitions

Medical researchers are increasingly turning to mobile devices such as smartphones and watches as a way to monitor patients in trials, an approach they hope improves participation and accuracy but that also has limitations.

If the tactic catches on, it could prove another selling point for products, including Apple Inc.’s watch, which thus far has failed to gain the type of widespread adoption the iPhone and iPad have enjoyed.

The…

Apple’s First Medical Study Signals Broader Health Ambitions

Medical researchers are increasingly turning to mobile devices such as smartphones and watches as a way to monitor patients in trials, an approach they hope improves participation and accuracy but that also has limitations.

If the tactic catches on, it could prove another selling point for products, including Apple Inc.’s watch, which thus far has failed to gain the type of widespread adoption the iPhone and iPad have enjoyed.

The…




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