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The Physicians Committee

Just the Facts

That’s One Busy Patient
First- and second-year students at Wake Forest University School of Medicine are now using Laerdal SimMan, a full-patient simulator, to practice giving injections, inserting urinary catheters or breathing tubes, and learn about sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and how different medications affect brain cell receptors. SimMan can vomit, make heart, lung, and bowel sounds, and be programmed to have various medical problems, including brain injury, stroke, and hypoglycemia.

Federally Funded Monkey Study Gets Second Look
Accusations of animal negligence against a neuroscience researcher at a University of Connecticut lab have been corroborated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. For the past 15 years, UConn Health Center faculty member Dr. David Waitzman has been drilling holes into the heads of monkeys, implanting steel springs in their eyes, inflicting brain damage, and measuring the effect of the brain damage on the monkeys’ eye movements. An inspection of Dr. Waitzman’s lab resulted in five citations for noncompliance that contributed to the death of a rhesus monkey named Cornelius. The lab has been cited by the USDA before for not effectively seeking out alternatives to potentially painful or distressful procedures.

Want Viruses with Your Cholesterol?
contaminated meatThe Food and Drug Administration recently approved a mixture of six bacteria-killing viruses, called bacteriophages, to be sprayed on meat and poultry to combat fecal bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria can cause a serious infection in pregnant women, infants, and adults with compromised immune systems. The new virus spray, manufactured by a Baltimore company called Intralytix, is to be used on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products right before they are packaged. The use of the viruses will not be disclosed on package labels.

Meat Makes Mommy Sick
Morning sickness, common in the first trimester of pregnancy, may be nature’s way of keeping women from eating too many unhealthy foods that could be harmful to the developing baby. Scientists at the University of Liverpool recently found that morning sickness may be associated with high intakes of meat, oils, sugar, and alcohol. Researchers believe that a pregnant woman’s body may have evolved to reject meat because before the days of refrigeration and expiration dates, meat may have contained potentially dangerous bacteria and other disease-causing agents. Cereals are the least likely foods to cause vomiting or nausea.

Drug Company Sued Over Estrogen Replacement
More than 4,500 lawsuits have been filed nationwide against drug company Wyeth over its hormone-replacement therapy Prempro. The Women’s Health Initiative found that women who took the estrogen-progestin combination for premenopausal symptoms had a higher risk of breast cancer, as well as stroke, coronary heart disease, and potentially fatal blood clots. The “Prem” in Prempro is short for “Premarin,” Wyeth’s estrogen pill, derived from PREgnant MARes’ urINe. Wyeth previously paid out more than $21 billion in settlements over the diet drug combination fen-phen.

Many Americans Too Obese for X-Rays
X-rayAmericans are becoming too big to fit into medical scanners, including standard X-ray machines and CT, PET, and MRI scans. And sometimes their fat is too dense for X-rays, sound waves, or ultrasound beams to penetrate. In the August issue of the journal Radiology, radiologists reported that the number of scans that are unreadable because of body fat has doubled in the last 15 years.

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