Over-Prescription of Antipsychotics Subject of New Study

atypical-antipsychoticsA study whose results were released last Friday shows that a certain class of drugs known as “atypical antipsychotics” are being over prescribed with no increased positive outcomes and with perhaps bad side effects.

These new antipsychotic medications were first developed to treat schizophrenia, and were approved by the FDA only for this function. Over time however the drugs came to be used for other conditions, such as bipolar disorder, depression, and sometimes even for autism.

A consultant for a company that does data collection on prescription drugs, IMS Health wrote the study which appeared in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. The consultant, Dr. Caleb Alexander of the University of Chicago stated that, “What we see is wide adoption for the use of these medications far beyond the evidence base to support it. We’re talking millions of prescriptions a year for antipsychotics in settings where there is uncertain evidence to support them.”

Diabetes on the Rise in the US

diabetesAccording to a government report issued last Wednesday, the number or cases of diabetes among adults in the United States more than doubled in the time period between 1996 and 2007, from 9 million to 19 million.

At least 95% of diabetes is type 2, the kind which develops over time, often related to obesity, where the cells lose their ability to react properly to insulin. The remaining 5% of diabetes patients have the type I variety, which is an auto-immune disease causing its sufferers to not have enough insulin-producing cells which are needed for the body to control blood sugar levels.

Dr. Chrisitne Resta of the department of endocrinology at the Maimonides Medical Center in New York said, “Rates of diabetes have risen in all age groups. Twenty years ago, type 2 diabetes was unheard of in children and young adults, but now it is being diagnosed even in these younger age groups. Part of this rise is increased detection — patients are being evaluated and tested sooner and more often. But part of it is a real increase in the rates.”
Dr. Resta does not find it hard to explain the cause for these disturbing statistics.

“The percentage of U.S. adults who are overweight or obese has also risen dramatically, and there is no doubt that rising rates of obesity are linked to the rising rates of diabetes,” she said.

Study Shows Surgeons are Large Factor in Breast Cancer Outcome

A new study of 994 women with the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ, has found that the variety of treatments done by surgeons can have a significant difference in the rate of recurrence of the cancer.

Andrew Dick, the author of the study and a researcher at RAND Corporation in Pittsburgh said that, “Treatment variation is a troubling but well-known phenomenon in health care.” In addition, “The reason it is surprising in this case is that the variation is quite large, and related to factors that are very important in health outcomes.”

The study showed that the outcome variation by surgeon caused between 15% and 35% of cancer occurring in the other breast within the following five years after the surgery, with an additional 13% to 30% over the next 10 years.

The variant factors included having “negative margins”, that is, cancer cells which are more than 2 millimeters away from the tissue edge which has been removed; and also getting radiation treatments subsequent to the surgery.

China Announces Plans to Construct Seven-Star Luxury Hotel

Burj-KhalifaRiding the wave of a booming economy and speculation about the economic powerhouse that China is becoming, a seven-star luxury hotel is now in the planning stages to be built in western Beijing. This latest in a series of exciting business enterprises is a joint project between China and Saudi Arabia. The world’s first seven-star hotel, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is the inspiration and model for the proposed hotel in China.

The hotel is rumored to have a price-tag of about 1.3 billion dollars, and will be located about 18 miles west of the Chinese capital’s city-center in the Mentougou district of Beijing. According to the Beijing Morning Post which announced the project, the building will take its design after the 2,717 foot Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. It has not been disclosed how tall the new hotel being planned will be, and its proposed ‘seven-stars’ is not an official distinction awarded by any internationally recognized body. There are however several ultra-luxury hotels that use this designation, hoping to attract travelers who can go the extra mile in luxury accommodations.

Pet Boa Goes Missing on Boston Train

boaMelissa Moorhouse apparently got on a train in downtown Boston last Friday heading towards Braintree with her pet boa. After traveling an undetermined distance she suddenly realized that “Penelope” was missing. Explaining her emotions when she discovered her loss as “devastated,” Melissa explained that her snake “was on my neck along with my scarf,” and that she had checked for Penelope’s presence there at every train stop, just to be safe.

When Ms. Moorehouse realized that her boa was not indeed on her neck, she checked in her bag, which she explained was a possible place for her to be. “Sometimes she will climb into my bag, but she did not and she was not stuck in the lining of my coat or anything like that. I couldn’t find her anywhere,” Melissa said.

Continuing with the story Melissa added that, “There’s a small chance that maybe she was left at Park Street and I was just feeling my scarf. But I’m very positive that I lost her in, I think they said car three, between Park Street and Andrew, because I was getting off at Andrew when I realized I didn’t have her.”
If you do happen to come upon a Boa dumerili somewhere in the vicinity of Boston that answers to the name Penelope, you can rest assured that, according to Melissa, she is perfectly harmless, and even shy, so no need to be frightened. On the other hand, meeting Melissa might be an entirely different sort of experience.