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J&J, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb CEOs Defend Drug Prices at Senate Hearing
Health

J&J, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb CEOs Defend Drug Prices at Senate Hearing

The chief executives of three major pharmaceutical companies defended the prices of their drugs in front of the Senate health committee on Thursday, drawing them further into a confrontation with lawmakers and the Biden administration over the cost of some of the most widely used prescription medications.Lawmakers, including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the panel’s chairman, noted that the companies charged more in the United States than in other wealthy countries, accusing them of profiting at the expense of American patients. The pharmaceutical executives — from Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb — conceded that patients in the United States paid too much but said that new medications arrived there faster than anywhere else in the world.Mr. Sanders, an independen...
Many Transgender Americans Face Stigma and Financial Hardship, Survey Finds
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Many Transgender Americans Face Stigma and Financial Hardship, Survey Finds

Transgender and nonbinary Americans experience stark rates of unemployment and harassment, according to the largest survey of their life experiences to date. The data reflect a longstanding pattern of discrimination at a time when states across the country have passed laws restricting their health care, bathroom access and participation in sports.The findings come from the U.S. Transgender Survey, which many researchers and policymakers have relied on since a version of it debuted in 2011. The National Center for Transgender Equality, an advocacy group, carried out the latest iteration of the survey in late 2022, garnering responses from more than 92,000 transgender and nonbinary Americans, age 16 and up, from every state in the country.The group released a preliminary analysis of response...
He Hunts Sloppy Scientists. He’s Finding Lots of Prey.
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He Hunts Sloppy Scientists. He’s Finding Lots of Prey.

Are you done hunting scientists for the day?I haven’t had time today. But if I spent a couple of hours reading papers, I’d probably write four or five comments about errors in scientific papers. It’s not hard to find these problems, and it’s not hard to find them at any institution. They’re all out there to find, if anyone wants to read the scientific literature.What motivates you to spend the time to do it?I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I’m not a crank conspiracist or anything like that. I’m a scientist myself, and I care about getting the science right.You focus in part on images that have been mislabeled, or used twice in a paper but as evidence for different things, lazily cut-and-pasted from one spot to another. Is there a simple way for you to tell that an image is wrong?You just look at th...
When a Spouse Goes to the Nursing Home
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When a Spouse Goes to the Nursing Home

Even as the signals of approaching dementia became impossible to ignore, Joseph Drolet dreaded the prospect of moving his partner into a long-term care facility.Mr. Drolet, 79, and his beloved Rebecca, 71, both retired lawyers and prosecutors in Atlanta, had been a couple for 33 years, though they retained separate homes. In 2019, she began getting lost while driving, mishandling her finances and struggling with the television remote. The diagnosis — Alzheimer’s disease — came in 2021.Over time, Mr. Drolet moved Rebecca (whose surname he asked to withhold to protect her privacy) into his home. But serving as her round-the-clock caregiver, as she needed help with every daily task, became exhausting and untenable. Rebecca began wandering their neighborhood and “getting dressed in the middle ...
U.S. Makes Initial Offers in Medicare Drug Price Negotiations
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U.S. Makes Initial Offers in Medicare Drug Price Negotiations

Why It Matters: The price offers kick off negotiations.The medicines selected for negotiations are taken by millions of older Americans to treat conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart failure. The administration identified them in August, beginning a lengthy process intended to result in an agreed-upon price that would take effect in 2026, assuming the negotiation program survives legal challenges.The initial round of price offers is a key step in the negotiation process. Each drugmaker has until early March to accept the offer or propose a counteroffer to the government. A series of negotiation sessions could follow, with the process set to conclude by August.Health policy experts said the announcement of the initial round of offers amounted to a kind of starting gun, giving the Biden...
Vertex Experimental Drug Cuts Off Pain at the Source, Company Says
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Vertex Experimental Drug Cuts Off Pain at the Source, Company Says

Vertex Pharmaceuticals of Boston announced Tuesday that it had developed an experimental drug that relieves moderate to severe pain, blocking pain signals before they can get to the brain. It works only on peripheral nerves — those outside the brain and the spinal cord — making it unlike opioids. Vertex says its new drug is expected to avoid opioids’ potential to lead to addiction.The company reported that it had completed two randomized studies, the first in 1,118 people who had abdominoplasties and the other in 1,073 people who had bunion surgery. The two procedures are commonly used in studies of people with acute pain, the temporary kind that is brought on by something like a surgical procedure and is likely to ease with time.In its clinical trials, Vertex measured the drug’s effect wi...
Philips Suspends Sales of CPAP and Other Breathing Devices After Recall
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Philips Suspends Sales of CPAP and Other Breathing Devices After Recall

Philips Respironics announced on Monday that it would halt sales of all of its breathing machines in the United States after reaching a settlement with the Food and Drug Administration over continuing problems with the devices.Millions of the company’s ventilators and CPAP machines, used to ease breathing at night, were recalled after reports that they blew bits of foam and potentially toxic gases into consumers’ airways.Under the settlement, Philips said it would have to meet a list of standards in a “multiyear” plan before it could resume business in the United States. The company said further details would be disclosed when the agreement was finalized in court. But it added that it would continue to repair existing devices and provide service for people using them.The company initially ...
Jon Franklin, Pioneering Apostle of Literary Journalism, Dies at 82
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Jon Franklin, Pioneering Apostle of Literary Journalism, Dies at 82

Jon Franklin, an apostle of narrative short-story-style journalism whose own work won the first Pulitzer Prizes awarded for feature writing and explanatory journalism, died on Sunday in Annapolis, Md. He was 82.His death, at a hospice, came less than two weeks after he fell at his home, his wife, Lynn Franklin, said. He had also been treated for esophageal cancer for two years.An author, teacher, reporter and editor, Mr. Franklin championed the nonfiction style that was celebrated as New Journalism but that was actually vintage narrative storytelling — an approach that he insisted still adhere to the old-journalism standards of accuracy and objectivity.He imparted his thinking about the subject in “Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction” (1986), which became a go-to how-to...
Nitrogen Hypoxia: What to Know About This New Method of Execution
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Nitrogen Hypoxia: What to Know About This New Method of Execution

The planned execution of a death row inmate by the state of Alabama on Thursday evening will be carried out by a procedure that has never been used for capital punishment in the United States. The inmate, Kenneth Smith, who was convicted in a 1988 stabbing murder, will be put to death by inhaling nitrogen gas, a method known as nitrogen hypoxia.Supporters of the method say it is fast and painless. But earlier this month, the United Nations Human Rights Office urged Alabama to stop the execution, saying it could amount to torture and be in violation of human rights treaties that the United States has agreed to.Alabama would be the first state to use nitrogen hypoxia, but other states are interested in employing the method.What is nitrogen hypoxia?Hypoxia is a medical term for a state of ins...
How Worcester Polytechnic Institute Weathered a Spate of Suicides
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How Worcester Polytechnic Institute Weathered a Spate of Suicides

“Were you burned out,” I asked.Her face was flat. “I still am,” she said. “Yeah. Yes, and I still am.” Worcester is famous for the snow dumps it receives in the winter. It has something to do with where the city is in relation to the Appalachian Mountains. The clouds bear down when the temperature drops, and then the snow is relentless and the weather is brutal. All winter, it’s brutal, brutal, brutal, and then somehow, slowly, it’s not anymore. That’s kind of how the end of W.P.I.’s crisis arrived. No one I spoke to could quite explain how they knew that the emergency had subsided; the most they could be sure of was that, one moment in the spring of 2022, they felt intuitively that the last death was behind them. Between the summer 2021 and winter 2022, the faculty existed in a state of s...