Cold Truth

Wrong diagnosis of little known marijuana reaction causes agony, unneeded tests and surgery

(For Lee Newspapers) A little-known, painful reaction to heavy use of potent marijuana is popping up in emergency departments, hospitals and clinics throughout the country. Because the disorder is often misdiagnosed, frequent users of large amounts of cannabis with high levels of the euphoria-inducing component THC find themselves in continuing agony and often receiving unneeded diagnostic testing and sometimes surgery exceeding $100,000. The malady is called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome and presents endless cycles of violent vomiting and gut-wrenching abdominal pain. Although the syndrome was first reported in medical journals in 2004, many physicians, pot sellers and users still don’t know … Continue reading

EpiPen draws spotlight, but insulin price scandal hurts far more

(For Lee Newspapers) Consumers, parents, state officials and some members of Congress expressed deafening outrage over the doubling of the price of EpiPens, and within days America’s newest pharmaceutical villain – Mylan Pharmaceuticals – announced a generic version for half the price. The do-it-yourself injection units filled with epinephrine are life-saving in the infrequent episodes of allergic emergency or anaphylaxis among the estimated 3.4 million people with severe allergies. However, consider another group of patients 10 times larger: the nation’s 31 million diabetics – most of whom need injections of insulin several times day, every day, to survive. These people … Continue reading

Smart phone app keeps cattle from stressing out in the heat

Those herding cattle on the endless miles of grazing land in Montana and the rest of the West may soon be holding their horses’ reins in one hand and their smartphones in the other. Only a few of the cow herders and feedlot wranglers might be playing Pokemon, but the rest could be eyeballing a new app that can forecast conditions triggering heat stress in cattle. In some livestock, distress and discomfort from prolonged exposure to extreme heat cause diminished appetite, reduced growth or weight gain, greater susceptibility to disease and, in some cases, even death, reported Jan Suszkiw of … Continue reading

Insulin price gouging endangers lives and limbs of thousands of diabetics

(For the Lee Newspapers) The spike in prices for insulin in the United States is causing a crisis for patients, say doctors who specialize in treatment of diabetes. Tens of thousands of medical professionals are involved in an endless and intricate therapeutic ballet performed to protect the health, limbs and lives of the almost 30 million people in the U.S. suffering from diabetes. But their efforts are made more difficult by the soaring increase in the cost of insulin. They find themselves spending hours balancing the cost of the life-saving medication and their patient’s ability to pay the massive increases … Continue reading

Long-awaited, landmark chemical safety legislation is signed into law, but flaws exist

Today President Obama signed a bill into law that few ever thought would pass even though it affects the chemicals used in almost every product that consumers purchase. The law – the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act – it is the most significant piece of environmental legislation to make it to the White House in his two terms. For years, those on all sides of the chemical safety battle doubted that would ever become law. Yet, after decades of work, earlier this month, the Act passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Congress … Continue reading

FACT CHECK: Does talc cause cancer?

  You’ve probably noticed a sharp increase in the number of ads saturating late-night TV from lawyers eager to hear from you if you or a loved one had ovarian cancer and also used talcum powder. But does this fine, pure-looking white powder that comes from the softest mineral on earth cause cancer? Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest commercial user of talc in hygiene products for more than a century, says absolutely not. Yet juries in three separate cases involving women who contracted ovarian cancer disagreed with the worldwide company and awarded the families of two women a total … Continue reading

FDA action banning e-cigarette sales to minors may also protect all users from harmful chemicals

Much to the displeasure of the burgeoning, multibillion-dollar electronic cigarette industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a ruling that prevents those under 18 from buying the battery-operated smokes, as well as cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco. But a long list of additional restrictions on the manufacturers of these smoke-generating devices may ensure the safety of e-cigarette users of all ages. Statistics show that the restrictions were needed. The use of other tobacco devices soared and the vaping industry flourished, with products being sold in malls, convenience stores and vape markets in most communities nationwide. The FDA … Continue reading

Important reporting on the dangerous corporate practice of buying scientists

David Heath, one the nation’s top investigative reporters, has been chasing this important topic for months and has documented a level of corporate sleaze that most other experts have either failed to notice or refused to acknowledge. I urge you to read what he wrote today for The Atlantic. It’s called “Contesting the Science of Smoking” and he documents how the tobacco companies, a decade after a judge ordered them to acknowledge the dangers of low-tar cigarettes, continue to dispute the scientific consensus, mostly with chemical-industry scientists they’ve hired to continue the myth. Read it. It’s worth your time. … Continue reading

FDA’s approval of emergency Zika test may ease anguish for pregnant women

With surprising speed that silenced many of its most vocal critics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an “emergency use authorization” for a much-needed Zika virus test. The test, developed by Quest Diagnostics, is the first to be authorized for emergency use from a commercial laboratory provider. Up until now, the only Zika tests authorized by the FDA were available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and were analyzed only in CDC-designated laboratories. Called RNA (ribonucleic acid) Qualitative Real-Time RT-PCR, the molecular test is designed to detect and measure the Zika virus in human blood. Health officials … Continue reading

As Zika dangers become more obvious, Congress balks at releasing needed research money

If they think hard about it, most people can figure out why the Republican-led Congress throws legislative roadblocks in front of almost all demands, requests and pleas coming from the White House. But ignoring an appeal for money to thwart the Zika virus makes sense to few. In March, when President Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds to ramp up the fights against this little-known disease, the White House spokesman said the administration wasn’t worried about Republican roadblocks for the potentially life-saving funds. “This sort of falls in the category of things that shouldn’t break down along party lines,” … Continue reading