NPR Health

A Medicaid committee in Texas is requiring those who comment at its meetings to disclose more details about their ties to pharmaceutical companies after a Center for Public Integrity and NPR investigation into the drug industry's influence on such boards.

The state is one of the latest to respond to the findings of the Medicaid, Under the Influence project. Officials in Arizona, Colorado and New York have already taken action.

The World Health Organization said Friday that security concerns in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu region were preventing aid workers from reaching certain areas — and leaving open the possibility of the Ebola virus spreading.

At least 1,500 people could be exposed to the virus, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva, according to Reuters.

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When Medicare in 2011 agreed to pay for a procedure to replace leaky heart valves by snaking a replacement through blood vessels, the goal was to offer relief to the tens of thousands of patients too frail to endure open-heart surgery, the gold standard.

To help ensure good results, federal officials limited Medicare payment only to hospitals that serve large numbers of cardiac patients.

In a move it said was to address the large cost of entering a career in medicine, New York University's School of Medicine said Thursday that it will offer full scholarships to all current and future students in its doctor of medicine program.

NYU said it was the "only top 10-ranked" medical school in the U.S. to offer such a generous package.

Health officials have determined that a type of bacteria found in food left at unsafe temperatures is the cause of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that struck 647 people who ate last month at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Ohio.

Between July 26 and July 30, customers of a Chipotle restaurant in Powell, Ohio, just north of Columbus, complained of food poisoning and diarrhea after eating tacos and burrito bowls there.

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For more on K2 and to get a better sense of exactly what this substance is, we turn to Dr. Kathryn Hawk. She's assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven. She joins us now. Welcome to the program.

Dr. Jodi Jackson has worked for years to address infant mortality in Kansas. Often, that means she is treating newborns in a high-tech neonatal intensive care unit with sophisticated equipment whirring and beeping. That is exactly the wrong place for an infant like Lili.

Lili's mother, Victoria, used heroin for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy and hated herself for it. (NPR is using her first name only, because she has used illegal drugs.)

Editor's note: Story updated with additional information about generic pricing on August 17.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first identical alternative to the EpiPen, which is widely used to save children and adults suffering from dangerous allergic reactions.

The FDA Thursday authorized Teva Pharmaceuticals USA to sell generic versions of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr for adults and children who weigh more than 33 pounds.

Aaron Reid is lying in a hospital bed at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center when doctors arrive to make sure he's ready for his experimental treatment.

"How's your night? Any issues?" asks Dr. Katherine Barnett, a pediatric oncologist, as they begin to examine Reid.

Reid, 20, of Lucedale, Miss., has been fighting leukemia since he was 9 years old. He has been through chemotherapy and radiation twice, a bone marrow transplant and two other treatments.

Updated at 8:51 a.m. ET

More than 70 people overdosed in or around a historic Connecticut park near the Yale University campus on Wednesday after receiving what authorities believe was synthetic marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl. Although there have been no deaths, at least two people suffered life-threatening symptoms, according to authorities.

Long before he began studying for a career in health care, Marlon Munoz performed one of the most sensitive roles in the field: delivering diagnoses to patients.

As an informal interpreter between English-speaking doctors and his Spanish-speaking family and friends, Munoz knew well the burden that comes with the job. He still becomes emotional when he remembers having to tell his wife, Aibi Perez, she had breast cancer.

Puerto Rico's sole provider of electricity for 1.5 million residents says power has been returned to all homes that lost electricity from Hurricane Maria last September.

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority identified a family near the mountainous, rural barrios of Real and Anón, in Ponce, a city and municipality in the island's south, as their final customers to receive returned power. PREPA tweeted their image.

Florida this week declared a state of emergency because of a slow-moving natural disaster — red tide.

Red tide is toxic algae that have persisted off Florida's Gulf Coast for nearly a year. In recent weeks, the algae bloom has worsened, killing fish, turtles and dolphins and discouraging tourism on some of the state's most beautiful beaches.

Life With Lyme Disease

Aug 14, 2018

Across the country, about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are documented every year, but there are as many as 300,000 cases annually that meet the definition of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For people who make too much money to qualify for health insurance subsidies on the individual market, there may be no Goldilocks moment when shopping for a plan. No choice is just right.

A policy with an affordable premium may come with a deductible that's too high. If the copayments for physician visits are reasonable, the plan may not include their preferred doctors.

These consumers need better options, and in early August federal officials offered a strategy to help bring down costs for them.

In the marble halls of Mumbai's Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, patients are greeted by chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling French windows.

There are autism and Alzheimer's clinics, genetic testing, clinical trials of new drugs and private rooms. Spinal injuries are treated in a special robotics rehabilitation unit, where patients are hooked up to robots to exercise their limbs.

And visitors can grab a Starbucks latte in the lobby.

Women struggling with symptoms like vaginal dryness and pain during sex, may be drawn to treatments, marketed as "vaginal rejuvenation," that claim to fix such issues.

Providers who offer the treatments, often dermatologists or plastic surgeons' offices, often claim they can not only cure discomfort, but also tighten the vagina and give it a more "youthful appearance."

Ask A High Schooler

Aug 13, 2018

High school.

What kind of memories does it dredge up for you? Good, bad or something in-between? Would you go back if you had the chance? Depending on when you were enrolled, it's probably a lot different now than what lives in your nostalgic recollections.

Teachers report that unprecedented access to social media and other forms of technology is making it hard for kids to focus, and educators are constantly asking for students' attention. And with mountains of homework and early start times, many students might not be getting enough sleep.

My back hurts when I sit down.

It's been going on for 10 years. It really doesn't matter where I am — at work, at a restaurant, even on our couch at home. My lower back screams, "Stop sitting!"

To try to reduce the pain, I bought a kneeling chair at work. Then I got a standing desk. Then I went back to a regular chair because standing became painful.

I've seen physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and pain specialists. I've mastered Pilates, increased flexibility and strengthened muscles. At one point, my abs were so strong my husband nicknamed them "the plate."

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An estimated 12.8 percent of adolescents in the U.S. experience at least one episode of major depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. According to previous studies, many of those teens' mental health is linked to depression in their parents.

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Chasing A Dream: An Ambulance Service That People Can Trust

Aug 12, 2018

When Jamil Bangura realized that he and his family had signs of Ebola, in September 2014, he did what he had been told to do.

Following instructions from the Sierra Leonean government, he didn't try to treat himself or walk to a clinic. He didn't go to a traditional healer or stay at home.

He called an ambulance.

It came — two days later.

"I kept calling, and they kept saying, 'Wait, we'll come and take you people,'" recalls Bangura, who now helps lead a chapter of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES).

Debbie Dobrosky noticed a peculiar hue in the sky on August 6 — "a very ugly yellow casting" — as she peeked outside. A large cloud of smoke had begun to cover the sun.

By the next day, the smoke was so heavy that "even inside my apartment I've had to use my inhaler twice this morning, which is not a normal thing," says Dobrosky, a Riverside County, Calif., resident who lives about 30 miles from a fast-growing fire in the Cleveland National Forest.

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It's a sunny day, and a woman walks past a young man on the street. He mutters an obscene catcall. In the video, the woman smiles and says, "Thank you!" But then, the camera pans to her fantasy. What she really wishes she could do: the video goes on to show her in her imagination, pulling out a knife and stabbing him.

It was Bea Duncan who answered the phone at 2 a.m. on a January morning. Her son Jeff had been caught using drugs in a New Hampshire sober home and was being kicked out.

Bea and her husband, Doug Duncan, drove north that night nine years ago to pick Jeff up. On the ride back home, to Natick, Mass., the parents delivered an ultimatum: Their son had to go back to rehab, or leave home.

Jeff chose the latter, Bea says. She remembers a lot of yelling, cursing and tears as they stopped the car, in the dead of night, a few miles from the house.

A key initiative of the Affordable Care Act was a program designed to help control soaring Medicare costs by encouraging doctors and hospitals to work together to coordinate patients' care. This led to the formation of what are known as accountable care organizations or ACOs.

The program was expected to save the government nearly $5 billion by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

It hasn't come anywhere close.

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