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Hundreds of Undocumented Immigrants Sent Home by Hospitals in U.S. Hundreds of Undocumented Immigrants Sent Home by Hospitals in U.S.

April 24, 2013 - Hundreds of immigrants that were in the U.S. illegally have been transported back to their home countries by hospitals in the U.S. This little known or heard off system of removal is not run by the government, but by individual hospitals who seek to lower their costs.

A report recently published compiled by a number of immigrant advocacy groups attempted to determine the number of people that have been sent home. The report concluded that 600 immigrants had been removed over a period of five years, though it was likely many more had been sent home.

Through interviews with the immigrants themselves, family members, advocates and attorneys it has become known that the process is formally called “Medical Repatriation.” The process gives hospitals the opportunity to put patients onto an international chartered flight, often times while the patients are in a state of unconsciousness. Hospitals normally pay for the airline cost.

However, immigrant advocate groups are becoming concerned that hospitals might soon start expanding the repatriation process once the complete implementation of the healthcare reform is done, which would make deep cuts to payments that hospitals are given for taking care of those who are uninsured.

Many executives in the health care industry said they have become caught between a political battle involving immigration and the requirement they must accept every patient. Hospitals by law must care for everyone who needs to be treated for an emergency, regardless if they are able to pay or their legal status as immigrants.

However, once the patient has been stabilized, the funding from the government ceases as does the requirement to continue treatment. Many workers who are undocumented cannot qualify for Medicaid, the insurance program run by the governments for the elderly and poor.

Because of that, hospitals try to move the patients into nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities or back to their homeland.

Civil rights advocates say this practice violates International and U.S. laws and targets unfairly one of the most defenseless populations in the country.

AIDS: 1.8 million children orphaned in Nigeria AIDS: 1.8 million children orphaned in Nigeria

April 21, 2013 - Medical experts estimate that over 1.8 million children in Nigeria have been orphaned because of AIDS since 1986 when the first case was identified of the pandemic in the country.

The Ministry of Health in the country spoke of the problems the children are facing during a five-day workshop to help give health care providers new ideas on how to deal with the situation.

As far as a burden from HIV/AIDS, Nigeria remains one of the top five countries globally. The workshop was set up to the improve the skills and knowledge of its participants in testing and counseling about HIV/AIDS.

Participants heard at the workshop that more than 3.9 million people in Nigeria are currently infected with the virus. Attendees heard that the scourge continued even though there is a concerted effort to stop and reverse the spread.

One important part of this recent workshop was to target the prevention of transmission from mother the child through better testing and counseling efforts, in order to reach a zero tolerance for infections of the virus.

Officials said between 3% and 10% of all HIV infections in the country were mother to child transmissions. In developed countries, MTCT interventions have been introduced and the rates of the MTCT have dropped to 2%.

Key to keeping the transmissions between mother and child low is to have a prenatal care that includes HIV testing for all pregnant women. The organizers of the workshop want the services of counseling and HIV testing to be offered to every pregnant woman in Nigeria that seeks them.

Authorities accuse Glaxo of Paying to delay Generic Medicines Authorities accuse Glaxo of Paying to delay Generic Medicines

April 19, 2013 - GlaxoSmithKline the UK pharmaceutical giant was accused of paying their rivals to slow production of generic versions of the company’s most profitable antidepressant medication.

The Office of Fair Trading in Britain has launched the investigation into the alleged payoffs by GSK to keep the sales of its drug Seroxat high.

The alleged pay for delay payments took place from 2001 to 2004 to protect the sales and price of Seroxat. Glaxo did admit it made agreements with some of its rivals, but said delays in the production of generic medicines were not caused by the agreements.

The OFT said it was very important to investigate the claims since generic drugs cause more price competition and drive down prices, which helps the consumer and the government.

GSK said the allegations made against them were false and said two other similar investigations concluded in the company being found to not have committed any wrongdoing.

Three companies are alleged to have entered into the agreement with GSK when generic drugs were first starting after the patent ran out for Seroxat in 2004. The drug, prior to the patent running, became the one of the world’s biggest selling medications, overtaking even the popular Prozac.

Nevertheless, when the patent expired in 2004, generic alternatives flooded the market causing prices to go down and hit the profits of GSK very hard.

Competitors such as Pfizer would not make a comment on the allegations. Authorities said the investigation would focus on what agreements were made between Glaxo and three of its generic rivals during the run up to the patent expiring for Seroxat.

Study: Pain can be dampened by Freezing Nerves Study: Pain can be dampened by Freezing Nerves

April 15, 2013 - A treatment that is minimally invasive using a small ice ball can effectively help treat chronic pain, say researchers from a new study that was presented in New Orleans.

Known as cryoneurolysis, the treatment uses a small probe that has a temperature of between -10 and -16 degrees Celsius. The probe stops nerves from send signals of pain by burning the nerve’s outer layer that is transmitting pain signals to the person’s brain.

The new study could prove to be beneficial to millions who suffer due to the painful condition known as neuralgia.

This condition is where patients suffer shooting and sharp pain that follows the damaged nerve’s path that became damaged because of surgery, diabetes or some form of traumatic injury.

The new treatment, said researchers, could bring huge implications for millions who suffer due to neuralgia, which often times brings unbearable pain and can be difficult to correctly treat. The new treatment offers an innovated treatment option to patients that can provide relief of the terrible pain and will allow patients to lower their dose of medication, said researchers.

The new study consisted of 20 patients who were given the new treatment for a number of symptoms of neuralgia. The pain of each patient was evaluated using a visual pain scale form. Patient’s data was collected after one week, a month and three months after treatment.

Researchers said the pain fell from an average of 8 on a 10 scale to only 2.4 in just a week of having the treatment. Following the procedure, patients became pain free for nearly two months, but for some of the patients, the pain increased to a four.

The treatment uses a probe no bigger than the top of an IV needle. Ice crystals are formed along the damaged nerves through the use of pressurized gas.

Advisory Panel for FDA to Look at Avandia Again Advisory Panel for FDA to Look at Avandia Again

April 14, 2013- In June, a health advisory panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will reconsider the safety data on Avandia the GlaxoSmithKline diabetes drug. This meeting came even though on Friday the drug maker based in Britain said it did not seek permission from the U.S. regulatory agency to make the drug available again across the U.S.

The FDA in September of 2010 placed a number of severe restrictions on Avandia’s use, because of heart attacks as well as deaths tied to the medication. The FDA said it should only be available to patients unable to control their diabetes with other medications. Glaxo said that an estimated 3,300 patients in the U.S. still use the once blockbuster pill.

A spokesperson for Glaxo said the advisory panel for the FDA would be meeting June 5 and 6 to have discussions on the medication. The Glaxo spokesperson speculated that the panel would ask Glaxo to give them an update on the pill’s safety information it asked for back in 2010.   At that time, the panel asked Glaxo to conduct a re-examination of a prior large-scale study for the drug, to be able to better assess the safety of the pill. The panel also requested from Glaxo a way to better control the availability and use of Avandia, called a Risk Mitigation and Evaluation Strategy Plan.

Glaxo said it did not ask for changes to be made on their drug label or in Avandia distribution. Moreover, the spokesperson said that Glaxo did not even request the June meeting of the advisory panel for the FDA.

The Glaxo spokesperson said Duke University medical experts had reexamined the study on Avandia and submitted findings recently to the U.S. regulator that said they found no significant difference between the cardiovascular safety of Avandia and two other forms of widely used medication known as sulfonylureas and metformin.

Sleep Sharpened by Synchronized Sounds Sleep Sharpened by Synchronized Sounds

April 12, 2013 - While sleeping our brains store our long term memories and sounds that are tuned to the rhythms of our brains might improve that process, says a promising, but small study on sleep.

During a body’s period of deep sleep, the electrical patterns in the brain follow an oscillating rhythm that is very slow, said a research team from Germany’s University of Tubingen led by Jan Born.

Some researchers specializing in sleep have induced the same rhythms in lab rats with sleep patterns that are pathological, using electrical forms of stimulation to try to help the rat sleep better.

However, in this study researchers played back the brain waves of each sleeper to them. The researchers had rhythmic sounds generated to match the brain readings of the sleepers in the study, eleven in all. Each sleeper’s own sounds were played to him or her while in a deep sleep.

Researchers were able to expose, in the study, the sleepers to light rhythmic sounds both in and out of sync with their own brain’s oscillations while in their deep sleep periods. The sounds that were in-sync appeared to strengthen the rhythms of the brain, said researchers.

They also strengthened memories, as the volunteers were able to retain word associations better that had been given to them the previous night. The sounds that were out of sync did not have an effect either good or bad.

Unlike the use of electrical stimulation the playing of the soft sounds to people sleeping has not risks, noted researchers, beyond attaching electroencephalograph connections to the sleepers’ scalps so results could be monitored for the sleep study.

Besides just improving memories, researchers believe that the brain rhythms could also improve sleep for those who are insomniacs.

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