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Science Policy Around the Web – November 22, 2012

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photo credit: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc

By: Jennifer Plank

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Hope Delayed for Sharks in Atlantic -  The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas recently concluded their annual meeting in Morocco. The ICCAT was founded in 1966 and manages the catch limits of 30 marine species such as tuna, swordfish, and marlins. The group, however, does not set catch limits or manage protections for sharks. This year, conservationists attended the meeting hoping that the ICCAT would include sharks in the list of protected species. While the conservationists failed to obtain new protections for sharks, the commission did agree to open its treaty to changes including shark management. (Erik Stokstad)

New push for most in US to get at least 1 HIV test - The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently set new guidelines recommending that individuals aged 15-64 get at least 1 HIV test. The USPSTF aims for HIV screening to become a routine part of medical visits and to become as common as a doctor ordering a cholesterol test during a physical.  Additionally, if the guidelines set forth by the task force are finalized, the number of patients eligible for HIV screening without a copay will increase. Currently, only individuals at high-risk for HIV- including gay and bisexual men and injecting drug users- are eligible for HIV tests with no co-pay. (Lauran Neergaard)

Makers of diabetes drug will pay $90 million - With increasing numbers of individuals developing diabetes, many pharmaceutical companies are quickly trying to develop new drugs to manage the disease. One company, GlaxoSmithKlein, who manufactures the drug Avandia, will pay $90 million following a settlement suggesting that GSK unlawfully promoted the drug. In 2010, the Senate Finance committee found that the drug was linked to thousands of heart attacks and that GSK knew of the risks for years but did not inform the public of the risks. The $90 million settlement will be distributed among 37 states and the District of Colombia. (Trisha Henry)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

November 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

Science Policy Around the Web – November 8, 2012

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photo credit: Martino’s doodles via photopin cc

By: Jennifer Plank

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

As Dengue Fever Sweeps India, A Slow Response Stirs Experts’ Fears -  While the Indian government will not acknowledge the magnitude of the Dengue Fever epidemic in their country, the virus spread by mosquitoes is affecting hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. In New Delhi, India’s capital, hospitals are overcrowded with patients affected with the disease. Interestingly, experts estimate that millions of people have been sickened with Dengue in 2012 while officials for the Indian government estimate that only approximately 30,000 individuals have been affected thus far in 2012. This underestimation results in insufficient policies to reduce spreading of the disease and delays in developing vaccines to prevent Dengue infection. (Gardiner Harris)

Warmer Still: Extreme Climate Predictions Appear Most Accurate - While most scientists agree that the temperature on earth is increasing, the extent of the increase has remained a point of contention. A new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research suggests that the more extreme predictions may actually be true resulting in temperature increase of 8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Such a temperature increase will cause higher seas, disappearing coastlines, droughts, and floods (Brian Vastag). To try to circumvent these catastrophic events, some initiatives are underway in an attempt to reduce global climate change. Some states, such as California and Michigan are beginning to take measures to reduce global climate change.  Additionally, a village on the coast of British Columbia dumped 100 tons of iron sulfate into the ocean in what some are calling a “rogue climate change experiment” to cause a bloom of plankton to capture greenhouse gases.

NIH’s New Translational Chief on How to Solve Pharma’s Woes – Last December, Congress approved the $575 million National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) which has been criticized due to fear that funding for NCATS will reduce the funds available for basic biomedical research. Dr. Christopher Austin, a developmental neurogeneticist with experience in the private sector, became the director of NCATS in September. Recently, Dr. Austin sat down with ScienceInsider to provide insight to the mission of NCATS and respond to recent criticism. (Jocelyn Kaiser)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

November 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – May 25, 2012

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photo credit: a.drian via photo pin cc

By: Rebecca Cerio

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Dangers of Disclosure The PLoS Medicine Editors suggest that disclosing conflicts of interest does nothing to address the problem of biased advice…and may make it worse.  The original article can be read in its entirety in PLoS Medicine.  (by Ruth Williams via The Scientist)

Large-Scale Analysis Finds Majority of Clinical Trials Don’t Provide Meaningful Evidence – The main problem with gaining “meaningfulness”?  The lack of standardization between trials.  This is a huge, costly problem that will require a lot of restructuring of the research climate and culture to fix.  (Duke University Medical Center via Medical Daily)

New Database Gives Hard Numbers on Health Care Cost – Sarah Kliff’s blog post on the Washington Post website highlights the usefulness of a new database available through the Health Care Cost Institute.  “…health insurance data is crucial to understand how health care dollars get spent….  Health insurers, however, have tended to keep that data private, as it could tip competitors off to how they handle business.  That all, however, changes today. This morning a new nonprofit called the Health Care Cost Institute will roll out a database of 5 billion health insurance claims (all stripped of the individual health plan’s identity, to address privacy concerns).”  This database could provide hard evidence to hard questions about why health care costs are increasing so rapidly.  Are costs the culprit, or is it simply usage going up?  The HCCI’s own economists have already crunched some numbers from 2010 and found increased prices have driven health care costs.

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – December 6, 2011

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By:  Rebecca Cerio

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Image used with permission from CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture

International Panel Makes Recommendations for Achieving Sustainable Food Security – “The Commission emphasises that food security is a problem for everyone, with rich and poor countries facing different but equally challenging problems. Its recommendations support climate-resilient agricultural production, efficient resource use, low-waste supply chains, adequate nutrition and healthy eating choices that, together, will constitute a sustainable food system.”  A summary of the panel’s findings can be downloaded for free here, including a sobering projection of the effect of climate change on global agricultural production for the next 50 years.  (via Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)

Suicidal Behavior and Depression in Smoking Cessation Treatments – 90% of reported cases of suicidal and self-injurious behavior in the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) database from 1998 through Sept 2010 involve use of an anti-smoking drug sold under the brand Chantix.  These results have been reported previously, but should the FDA impose stricter limits on when Chantix should be prescribed?  (via PLoS One, by  Singh, et. al.)

Nicotine as a Gateway Drug – It’s long been known that the vast majority of cocaine users smoked tobacco before they began using cocaine.  Whether there was a link (biological, sociological, or otherwise) between tobacco and cocaine use, however, was unclear.  Now new mouse studies have shown that nicotine use prior to cocaine use has a significant effect on cocaine’s effects and markers of cocaine addiction.  If nicotine works the same in people, smoking cessation policies may reduce addiction to cocaine as well as tobacco.  (via NIH Research Matters)


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Written by sciencepolicyforall

December 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – November 16, 2011

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By:  Rebecca Cerio

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Alarming Pattern of Antibiotic Use Emerges - Antibiotic use is up, particularly in certain parts of the country like the Southeast.  Is this use responsible, or are we overprescribing antibiotics for illnesses that they cannot treat (like colds and the flu)?  As antibiotic overuse can lead to pathogens developing antibiotic resistance, the Extending the Cure project suggests that the driving forces behind increased antibiotic use should be investigated.  (press release via the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, by Andrea Titus)

Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard) –  “…middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion. The excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, calls “the math-science death march.” Freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out.”  (via The New York Times, by Christopher Drew)

Switching from Intravenous to Oral Medications Can Save Millions – Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital found that switching hospitalized patients from an intravenous to an equivalent oral version of just four expensive medications could save over a million dollars a year.  They suggest that widespread education and reminders to doctors to prescribe the cheaper oral form of medications to eligible patients could save billions in health care costs annually. (via Futurity.org, by Stephanie Desmond)


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Written by sciencepolicyforall

November 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – November 9, 2011

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Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Regulating Off-Label Drug Use – Off-label drug use (taking a drug for a condition that it is not specifically approved for) accounts for over 20% of prescriptions written.  This practice allows physicians flexibility when a drug can be useful in treating more than its indicated disease, but it can also encourage companies to promote off-label uses that have not been clinically tested.  (via the New England Journal of Medicine, by Randall S. Stafford, M.D., Ph.D)

Dispute Over USDA’s Proposed School Lunch Rules – The USDA has proposed new rules that will make school lunches healthier by increasing fruits and vegetables and decreasing starch and salt.  Critics say that the new proposals are too restrictive and will result in lunches kids won’t eat. (via The New York Times, by Ron Nixon)

Why Science Majors Change Their Minds -  “…middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion. The excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, calls “the math-science death march.” Freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out.”  (via The New York Times, by Christopher Drew)


Have an interesting science policy link to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Written by sciencepolicyforall

November 9, 2011 at 8:35 pm

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