Medicine

Australia should tax and regulate cannabis, not prohibit it

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The decision to ban cannabis was an accident of history. There was no careful root and branch review of the evidence. Alex Wodak ABC Instead, Australia was represented at a League of Nations meeting in Geneva in 1925 where delegates from several countries decried the dangers of cannabis. As Robert Kendell outlines in his book Cannabis Condemned: “A claim by the Egyptian delegation that [cannabis] was as dangerous as opium, and should therefore be subject to the same international controls, ... Read More »

France’s autism problem – and its roots in psychoanalysis

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France has a problem with autism. The country’s highest administrative court estimates that there are 700,000 autistic people in France. Richard Bates The Conversation However, only 75,000 are diagnosed. Autistic children have historically been diagnosed later in France than in neighbouring countries. They have often been excluded from mainstream education and lacked access to support services and extracurricular activities. Many French autists are confined to day hospitals and live-in institutions, isolated from the community and frequently unable to communicate through ... Read More »

Legal highs: arguments for and against legalising cannabis in Australia

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Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants Australia to legalise cannabis for personal use, regulated by a federal agency. Nicole Lee Jarryd Bartle The Conversation This proposal is for legalisation of recreational use for relaxation and pleasure, not to treat a medical condition (which is already legal in Australia for some conditions). According to the proposal, the government agency would licence, monitor and regulate production and sale, and regularly review the regulations. The agency would be the sole wholesaler, buying from ... Read More »

WA health minister launches plan to ease access to medicinal cannabis

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Sick West Australians who have been prescribed medicinal cannabis by a doctor will be able to get access within 48 hours under a plan agreed to by Health Minister Roger Cook. Phoebe Wearne The West Australian At the Council of Australian Governments health council meeting in Sydney yesterday, Mr Cook and his State and Territory counterparts gave the nod to having a single approval process for all… The deal means patients will no longer have to apply to both State ... Read More »

Medical cannabis is legal. That does not mean it works

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These days, when Deb Lynch reads that medical cannabis is legal, she just laughs and laughs. “We used to get annoyed about that,” she says. Liam Mannix The Canberra Times “Not any more.” Ms Lynch expected legalisation would mean she could access the drug to treat her autoimmune disease. But, like many, she has been knocked back and told there is no evidence it would help her. For medical cannabis, some experts believe the hype has surged way past the ... Read More »

Antipsychotics used to manage autism and intellectual disability behaviour can have serious side effects – new study

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Antipsychotic medication is typically licensed in the UK for people with serious mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia. Sinead Brophy The Conversation But in recent years, some antipsychotic drugs have been prescribed more and more “off label”. That is, for a condition for which they do not have approval from the medicines regulatory agency to treat. Off label prescribing can be done under certain circumstances, such as when the prescriber believes it is in a patient’s best interests. For example, ... Read More »

Europe struggles to face down Big Pharma

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Knocking down drug prices requires more than bargaining as a group. Belgium and the Netherlands teamed up three years ago to negotiate cheaper drugs in the hopes of forming a new front against Big Pharma’s high prices. Carmen Paun Politico It was an attractive idea: Banding together, EU health ministries would wield bargaining power against pharma companies based on their bigger patient pool. Luxembourg, Austria and Ireland agreed with the logic and signed on, stung into action as drug prices reached eye-popping highs. Hepatitis ... Read More »

What if we have got it wrong on Alzheimer’s?

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Science is about getting it wrong, until you get it right. What if we’re refusing to admit we’re wrong about a horrifying disease? Liam Mannix The Sydney Morning Herald “The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don’t work, you must throw them away,” wrote astronomer Carl Sagan. But when your career and everything you’ve ever worked for is on the line, admitting you might be wrong is very hard to do. Despite decades and billions of dollars ... Read More »

Stem Cell Transplant for Multiple Sclerosis May Revolutionize Care for One Million Americans

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Updated | People with multiple sclerosis may be able to “reset” their immune system and potentially reverse their symptoms with an infusion of blood-based stem cells. Kate Sheridan Newsweek The finding is based on a randomized clinical trial with 110 patients who’d been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. According to the data, stem cell transplant may be an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). The study built on work by Dr. Richard Burt, a stem cell specialist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, ... Read More »

Sensory aspects of speech linked to language issues in autism

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Children with autism pay just as much attention to speech that doesn’t match lip movements as to speech in which sight and sound are coordinated, according to a new study1. Hannah Furfaro Spectrum Typical children prefer speech in which the sensory cues are in sync. Some people with autism have trouble learning to speak and understand words. Some people with the condition have minimal verbal skills or don’t speak at all. The new work suggests that these problems may be partially rooted ... Read More »

Thamkrabok Monastery has a reputation for its cold-turkey detox

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When the morning mist clears from Thamkrabok Monastery, it reveals granite cliffs looming over a sprawling complex of temples and mammoth Buddha statues. By Arthur Nazaryan GlobalPost Sometimes around noon, you can find a group of foreigners sitting on a wooden porch overlooking a pond, talking with monks (some of them also foreign) about destiny, self-reliance and karma. One could mistake this place for a spiritual retreat, but in fact, hardly anyone comes here as a tourist. Most of the people ... Read More »

Autism genes abound in DNA regions involved in learning

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The same processes that enable the brain to store new memories may also control many autism genes, a new study suggests1. BY JESSICA WRIGHT   Spectrum Candidate genes for autism are more than three times as prevalent in the genetic regions that become active after mice learn a new task as would be expected by chance, the researchers found. This connection between learning, memory and autism could explain why many children with autism have intellectual disability. “We are trying to understand the ... Read More »

Mitsutoki Shigeta: ‘Baby factory’ dad wins paternity rights

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A Bangkok court has awarded paternity rights to a Japanese man over 13 babies he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers. BBC The ruling allows Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, to pursue custody of the children. The son of a wealthy entrepreneur, he caused controversy in 2014 when he was revealed to have fathered 16 babies via surrogates in Thailand. His so-called “baby factory” case and others led to Thailand banning commercial surrogacy for foreigners. Mr Shigeta, who was not present at the ... Read More »

Is marijuana the world’s most effective treatment for autism?

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It’s morning in Nahariya, a tiny Israeli town near the Lebanese border, and 4-year-old Benjamin is repeatedly smashing his head against the wall. BY DEBRA KAMIN Newsweek He spins wildly in circles, screeching at full volume. As his mother tries frantically to calm him, he pulls down his pants and defecates on the floor. When they leave their apartment, Benjamin wrestles free of her hand and nearly runs into oncoming traffic. Sharon attempts a trip to the supermarket but leaves before ... Read More »

Netherlands passes bill introducing opt-out organ donation

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Vote ‘real breakthrough’, says Dutch Kidney Foundation Senators in the Netherlands have approved a new law making all Dutch adults organ donors after death, unless they opt out. Harriet Agerholm The Independent The bill narrowly passed in the upper house of the Dutch parliament, more than a year after MPs passed the legislation. Pia Dijkstra, who drafted the bill, said under the new system every person over 18 who is not yet registered as a donor will receive a letter asking if they want to donate their organs after… ... Read More »

Can your brain testify against you?

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Defined set of guidelines required for neuroscientific techniques to be used correctly and effectively in law EurekAlert! Neuroscientific techniques continue to advance, but their applications in law raise concerns of a threat to individual rights. Previous applications of neuroscientific evidence include using brain scans to detect deception in an individual, and neurological responses to determine whether someone has intimate knowledge of a crime. However, just because we can use this technology, does it mean we should? A review published in ... Read More »