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medjournals-300x196They are a unique combination — august publications in science and medicine that  harken back for centuries yet now inform 21st century practitioners about the latest advances in their fields. And now these leading scientific journals say the present moment  forces them to abandon their prized political neutrality to oppose the science denialism of the incumbent leader of the free world.

This is an unprecedented and uncomfortable development for the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Scientific American, and Lancet Oncology (a journal for cancer specialists). They have never taken a political stand of this kind in their histories, dating to 1812 for NEJM, 1845 for Scientific American, and 1869 for Nature.

Their editors say they would much prefer to stay out of presidential endorsements  and to keep their focus on publishing important, rigorous research and peer-reviewed information about advancements in the fields of science and medicine.

oxylabel-300x180So, who doesn’t daydream a little about money? Maybe even big money. Just imagine a scenario where, if you could put up $3,000, you could keep $13,000, or if you forked over $30,000, and walked away with $130,000? So how great would it be if you paid $3 billion but could stuff $13 billion into your pockets?

What a deal! Of course, it depends on whose perspective you look at it from.

Federal prosecutors and a bankruptcy court may give a plutocratic family that deal, along with a hard-to-imagine get-out-of-jail free card, news organizations report.

crackdownushealthscams-300x200With the Covid-19 pandemic ensuring that even more dollars are flooding into health care than ever, nefarious parties — including doctors, nurses, and other licensed professionals — have targeted ordinary Americans and the federal government in big-time scams. U.S. prosecutors have punched back with a nationwide fraud crackdown.

They announced that they have charged 345 individuals for “submitting more than $6 billion in false and fraudulent claims to federal health care programs and private insurers, including more than $4.5 billion connected to telemedicine, more than $845 million connected to substance abuse treatment facilities, or ‘sober homes,’ and more than $806 million connected to other health care fraud and illegal opioid distribution schemes across the country.”

The biggest part of the federal busts targeted bunko crimes in telemedicine, the medical care option that burgeoned in popularity as patients fearful of infection with the novel coronavirus sought distanced treatment.

benzos-300x180Signs abound that the coronavirus pandemic has really stressed out Americans. Dentists say they are seeing a surge in patients needing care for jaw-clenching and teeth grinding. Doctors report treating increased numbers of patients who have shed abnormal amounts of hair due to fear and anxiety about getting sick with Covid-19, losing a job as part of the disease’s economic shocks, or losing friends or loved ones to illness.

But there also is an increasingly worrisome way to deal with the mental health challenges of the coronavirus: prescription drugs, specifically the class of medications known as benzodiazepines. “Benzos,” as they commonly are known, are widely “prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, panic disorders and other health problems,” the New York Times reported.

“They are also often given before certain medical procedures. They slow brain activity, causing sedation or calming effects. The drugs are enormously popular. In 2019, according to the agency, roughly 92 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines — such as the highly prescribed Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan — were dispensed in the United States.”

abusedrugs-300x200The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the already difficult efforts to combat substance abuse: New reports affirm how opioid abuse and drug overdoses are soaring, and vaping, while showing favorable declines for the first time in years, also may be creating a hard-core group of nicotine-addicted young people.

With powerful painkillers, the Wall Street Journal reported:

“Counties in states spanning the country, from Washington to Arizona and Florida, are reporting rising drug fatalities this year … This follows a likely record number of deadly overdoses in the U.S. last year, with more than 72,000 people killed, according to federal projections.”

cdcinoculate-300x240The “warp speed” race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine has gotten hit with a yellow flag.

It could be a good thing that the product’s makers — Oxford University and AstraZeneca — followed medical-scientific protocols and paused their Phase III clinical trial due to a participant’s unexplained illness.

Officially, the company offered spare information about the occurrence, especially because it affects the private medical information of a single individual.

bobwbook-209x300Some fictional scenarios to contemplate:

  • What would happen to a military leader who was briefed and admitted to knowing of severe threats but downplayed them, resulting over a few months to the United States seeing its Indo-Pacific and European Commands wiped out — combined losses of roughly 180,000 in U.S. forces?
  • How would the governor of Maryland be treated if he was told of a public works problem but belittled it and in less than a year the cities of Columbia, Bethesda, and Annapolis and all the people in them were destroyed?

candymexico-300x169Stepped up vaccinations, bans on junk food for kids, worries about domestic abuse and booze consumption by men — yes, these seemingly disparate things have something in common. They’re all getting heightened attention from experts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Let’s start with a grito (a whoop) for the leyes antichatarra or anti-junk food laws targeting youngsters and spreading across states in Mexico. The laws take aim at high calorie, low nutritional value foods and drinks, the Washington Post reported:

“[They would prohibit the sale of] chips, candy, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages to children under 18, putting these foods in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol. The law[s establish] fines, store closures and jail time for repeat offenders. The ban also applies to vending machines in schools.”

purduelogo-300x92For those trying to clean up the costly harms that Big Pharma inflicts on Americans, the how-to details not only matter, they can be confounding. For evidence, just ask federal court officials trying to unravel part of the finances of the opioid and overdose crisis, or the Trump Administration’s soggy efforts to deal with skyrocketing prescription drug prices and scary medication shortages.

The latest bedeviling development in the long crackdown on destructive and highly potent prescription painkillers involves Purdue Pharma, the maker of the addictive drug OxyContin, and the U.S. Justice Department.

For months now, courts in New York and Cleveland have sought to negotiate a “global settlement” of thousands of lawsuits, consolidated first in a federal court in Ohio, and claiming that states, counties, cities, Indian tribes, and others have suffered costly harm due to the opioid abuse and overdose crisis.

handout-200x300It may be surprising that the questions went unasked before. The outcomes may be less than shocking. But patients, in a new and nationally representative survey, have told hospitals to bug off  with their relentless grubbing for donations from the people they care for.

Doctors and ethicists long have been wary of the huge energy that big hospitals and major academic medical centers sink in to soliciting donations and how institutions’ policies and practices for fundraising may sully public perceptions that medicine is about money and not science or compassionate care, the New York Times reported.

And while medical philanthropy has become an important and central concern of many hospitals and academic centers, driving big and booming “advancement” operations and wrapping doctors into dollar-raising moves, researchers had not delved until now into patients’ thinking.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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