A quarter of kidney donors are living: what you need to know to be a donor

The Conversation, 19 June 2017
Author: Holly Hutton
“At any one time, more than 1,400 Australians are on an organ transplant waiting list. The most common organs in demand are kidneys, followed by the liver and lung. While the number of deceased organ donors in Australia has doubled since 2009, rates of live donor transplantation – where a person donates one kidney or, rarely, a portion of their liver – are relatively static. The Australian government gives A$4.1 million to run the Supporting Living Organ Donors program. This scheme includes reimbursing employers for sick leave for those who donate an organ, as well as other initiatives that aim to remove financial barriers to organ donation.”
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Legislature passes bill to rein in drug company perks for doctors

Press Herald, 20 June 2017
Author: Joe Lawlor
“A bill that would curtail gifts, speaking and consulting fees and expensive food flowing from pharmaceutical companies to doctors has passed the Legislature and awaits the signature of Gov. Paul LePage. the goal of the bill is to ensure doctors do not have conflicting interests when prescribing drugs – especially opioids – since Maine is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Maine had 376 drug overdose deaths in 2016 – an average of about one per day – an all-time high and 40 percent higher than in 2015.”
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Florida Cuts Telemedicine Out of New Medical Marijuana Law

mHealthIntelligence, 15 June 2017
Source: mHealthIntelligence
“Florida lawmakers have passed legislation that prevents doctors from using telemedicine to issue a prescription for medical marijuana. The rule requires that Sunshine State doctors who want to issue a medical marijuana prescription must first “(conduct) a physical examination while physically present in the same room as the patient and a full assessment of the medical history of the patient.” With some 29 states and Washington D.C. allowing medical marijuana, state officials are looking to control how the drug is prescribed and distributed, including through telehealth.”
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FDA Puts Brakes on Rule Requiring New ‘Nutrition Facts’ Label

MedicineNet, 13 June 2017
Author: E.J. Mundell
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday announced that the launch of an updated “nutrition facts” panel on foods, developed during the Obama administration, will now be delayed. The deadline for which the food industry must comply with the new labeling will be pushed back for an undisclosed time. the revamped label would make information on calorie counts more prominent, make serving sizes easier to understand, and point to the amount of added sugars a food or drink contains.”
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Abortion figures prompt fresh calls for reform of Northern Irish law

The Guardian, 13 June 2017
Author: Amelia Gentleman
“More than 700 women traveled from Northern Ireland to England for an abortion in 2016, obliged to travel because the procedure remains illegal in most circumstances in the region. Figures released by the Department of Health on Tuesday will attract renewed attention to Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion legislation. Terminations are illegal in Northern Ireland unless a woman’s life is in danger or there is a serious risk to her physical or mental health.”
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Physicians recognize new psychoactive substances as health threat

AMA, 12 June 2017
Author: Sara Berg
“New psychoactive substances (NPS) are quickly emerging, transient and difficult to track. While some coordinated public health responses have been used to combat NPS outbreaks, most strategies and solutions remain disconnected, lacking necessary information and data sharing capability. With the eruption of both illicit and synthetic drugs, as well as a lack of regulation, physicians are also searching for further education to aid in treating patients. Delegates at the 2017 AMA Annual Meeting voted to support multifaceted, multiagency approaches to combat NPS.”
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Health and Public Policy to Facilitate Effective Prevention and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Involving Illicit and Prescription Drugs: An American College of Physicians Position Paper

Ann Intern Med. 2017;166(10):733-736.
Authors: Ryan Crowley, Neil Kirschner, Andrew S. Dunn, Sue S. Bornstein
“Substance use disorders involving illicit and prescription drugs are a serious public health issue. In the United States, millions of individuals need treatment for substance use disorders but few receive it. The rising number of drug overdose deaths and the changing legal status of marijuana pose new challenges. In this position paper, the American College of Physicians maintains that substance use disorder is a treatable chronic medical condition and offers recommendations on expanding treatment options, the legal status of marijuana, addressing the opioid epidemic, insurance coverage of substance use disorders treatment, education and workforce, and public health interventions.”
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Italy has introduced mandatory vaccinations and other countries should follow its lead

The Conversation, 2 June 2017
Author: Alberto Giubilini
“Parents will have to provide proof of vaccination when they enrol their children in nursery or preschool. In this respect, the Italian policy follows the example of vaccination policies in the US. But there’s one crucial difference: the Italian law doesn’t allow parents to opt out on the grounds of ‘conscientious objection’.”
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Independent expert panel to begin mental health review

NSW Health, 22 May 2017
“Five mental health experts with wide reaching clinical and lived experience will join NSW Chief Psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright to begin a review of the practice of seclusion, restraint and observations across the NSW mental health system. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies confirmed the review will consider whether existing legislation, policy, clinical governance and practice standards are consistent with national standards, international best practice and the expectations of patients and the community.”
Find media release here.

Many patients with early-stage breast cancer receive costly, inappropriate testing

EurekAlert, 24 May 2017
Author: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
“A study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center shows that asymptomatic women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer often undergo advanced imaging and other tests that provide little if any medical benefit, could have harmful effects and may increase their financial burden.”
Find article here.