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December 2014
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February 2015

January 2015

Scaring people about e-cigarettes: A public health disgrace

Have you ever wondered why groups such as the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society are against e-cigarettes? This HND piece explains this seeming paradox...and a whole lot more.

As you might expect, it's all about the dollars, and falls nicely into the old "Bootleggers and Baptists" angle on prohibition. Indeed, the smoking prohibitionists line up on the same side as Big Tobacco and Big Pharma on this issue.

Read the complete article.

Would you trust a doctor who got kickbacks to prescribe your drugs?

Another year, another drug kickback settlement. This HND piece covers the qui tam action which resulted in a $39 million settlement against Daiichi Sankyo. In this particular matter, the defendant violated both the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Act.

The drugs in question are Welchol (cholesterol-lowering); and Benicar, Azor, and Tribenzor (antihypertensives).

Yes, the company got dinged, but what about the bribed doctors? Read the complete article.

Teixobactin to the rescue

This HND piece describes something that is all too rare these days: A shining example of great science.

With the media chock full of junk science on matters ranging from climate change to this week's new food or chemical scare, the brilliant research of Kim Lewis and associates, in isolating an antibiotic that does not seem to induce resistance, is quite exciting. His group calls this potential miracle drug Teixobactin.

The key to Lewis' discovery is a device they call an ichip, which lets them culture bacteria that previously could not be grown in vitro. It is likely that other wonderful discoveries will emerge via this same method.

Read the complete article.

Faith versus reason?

Now is as good a time as any to address the false dichotomy between "faith" and "reason."

Ask any believer to defend his faith, and he will probably relate certain personal experiences that convinced him that God was working in his life. There would seem to be no way that these events could have occurred randomly. Of course, this contention can't be proven, so at some point, he just has to believe.

Ask an atheist how he knows that Timbuktu exists. He read about it in a book, he saw a picture of it. Thus, he had to believe that the book was true, or his teacher was correct, or what he calls Timbuktu, is actually Timbuktu. More than that, he has to believe that the definitions of the words in the book are true as he is taught, not to mention the significance of the letters and numbers, themselves. In addition, during any conversation, he has to believe that the words he speaks are also the words he (and others) hear. None of this can be "proven" rationally.

Even if he were to visit this town himself, ultimately, he would have to believe the signs in the town identifying it as such. At some point, he has to accept a basic item on faith.

In fact, the very paragon of rationality—Euclidean geometry—relies on several key assumptions, which can never be proven. i.e. they are taken on faith, right?

Since there is no such thing as non-antecedent reasoning, there is ultimately no difference between faith and reason.


No "Minnesota nice" for Dan Markingson

This HND piece gives a summary of the criminally botched case of psychiatric patient Dan Markingson—at the hands of the University of Minnesota. This acutely psychotic patient was wrongly placed on a clinical trial, and—despite protestations from his mother that he was suicidal—killed himself with a box cutter to the throat.

If you think that a corpse, lying nearly decapitated in a bathroom, would trigger an investigation by the U, you are quite mistaken.

What makes this story so awful is that despite all sorts of misdeeds by the researchers and the drug company involved, it is just business as usual. The good news is that an army of folks is moving against the U, and maybe the putrid mess that is our clinical trials system could change.

Read the complete article.

High tech--and common sense--to the rescue...against infection

This HND piece discusses infection control, and how high tech, common sense, and a bit of high touch can make a dent in the spread of pathogens.  We bring in some cool innovaitons from NASA, and mention a few products that incoproate this wizardry.

Read the complete article.