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Friday, Jul 25th

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Traditional Chinese Medicine Plant Found to Relieve Chronic Pain

new pain compound

A plant used in traditional Chinese medicine has been found to have potent pain-reliving properties, researchers have found.

The flowering plant Corydalis, a member of the poppy family, has been used for centuries for pain relief in Chinese medicine.

However, researchers have now found it contains a compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), which has the potential to lead to new drug therapies for people experiencing chronic pain.

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A half million U.S. surgeries on knee cartilage may be unnecessary

knee surgeryFinnish researchers found repairing meniscal cartilage in the knee is no more effective than a placebo and about 500,000 U.S. surgeries may be unnecessary.

Adjunct Professor Teppo Jarvinen of the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital and Raine Sihvonen of Hatanpaa Hospital in Tampere said the most common diagnosis of the knee that requires treatment is a tear in the meniscus -- the shock-absorbing cartilage of the knee. Most of the treated meniscal tears are degenerative -- caused by aging, not trauma.

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"Let the Crime Spree Begin": How Fraud Flourishes in Medicare's Drug Plan

Medicare prescription drug fraudToday, credit card companies routinely scan their records for fraud, flagging or blocking suspicious charges as they happen. Yet Medicare’s massive drug program has a process so convoluted and poorly managed that fraud flourishes, giving rise to elaborate schemes that quickly siphon away millions of dollars.

Frustrated investigators for law enforcement, insurers and pharmacy chains say they don’t see evidence that Medicare officials are doing much to stop it.

“It’s kind of a black hole,” said Alanna Lavelle, director of investigations for WellPoint Inc., which provides drug coverage to about 1.4 million people in the program, known as Part D.

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Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Found At Fracking Sites Linked To Cancer, Infertility: Study

fracking linked to cancerHormone-disrupting chemicals linked to cancer, infertility and a slew of other health problems have been found in water samples collected at and near hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," sites in Colorado, according to a new study published in the journal Endocrinology this week.

Researchers say they found elevated levels of these chemicals -- known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) -- in surface water and groundwater samples collected in the state's Garfield County, a fracking hotspot with more than 10,000 natural gas wells.

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States spend 2% of tobacco settlement money on cessation

tobacco settlementFifteen years after the $246 billion tobacco legal settlements were reached most states are not spending much on tobacco cessation, U.S. researchers say.

Tobacco use is the top cause of preventable U.S. death, killing more than 400,000 Americans and costing the nation $96 billion in healthcare bills each year and most states involved in the settlements promised a significant portion of the money would be spent on programs to prevent children and teens from smoking and help smokers quit.

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Report: Louisiana policies help fuel HIV epidemic

Louisiana policies help fuel HIVTela Love, a 36-year-old transgender woman who used to work the streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter as a prostitute, has been HIV-positive for nearly 10 years. When she started exchanging sex for food and drugs, she said, local police arrested her after finding condoms in her bag. She was subsequently incarcerated at Orleans Parish Prison, where another inmate forced her to have unprotected sex with him. She later heard he was HIV-positive, she told Al Jazeera.

Love’s experiences with police harassment and sexual violence in prison partly explain why Louisiana’s death rate from AIDS is nearly double the national average and the New Orleans metropolitan area has the second-highest rate of new HIV infections in the United States, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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FDA to crack down on antibiotics in meat

fdaThe Food and Drug Administration will issue two major proposals Wednesday in an effort to cut back on antibiotics used on farms that can spur drug-resistant superbugs, making a final push to limit drugs fed to animals before they’re turned into steaks and pork chops.

The move — just the latest by the agency to tighten regulation of the American food supply — puts drug companies on notice and starts the clock on the Obama administration’s three-year strategy to rein in the use of antibiotics. It comes on the heels of a recent effort to ban trans fats and a handful of other sweeping new food safety regulations.

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