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Daily Rounds: Meningitis Agonies; Celebrity Science; Stark Election Choice; Fat Teens Suffering

After A Meningitis Death, Family Members Ask Why? (The New York Times) — "Mrs. Reed, 56, a healthy, vigorous woman who ran or swam every day, decided to try a series of epidural steroid injections for her neck trouble. She had been laid off from her job at a nonprofit group and wanted the treatments before her health insurance ran out. It was a decision that ended her life. She died on Oct. 3, one of more than 130 people to have contracted meningitis in a national outbreak from a tainted drug used in spinal injections for back and neck pain. So far, 12 have died. The drug has been recalled, but still more people are likely to become ill in the coming weeks, because the incubation period can be longer than a month. About 13,000 people injected with the drug are anxiously waiting to see if symptoms develop. The product is a steroid called methylprednisolone, which was contaminated with one or more types of fungus. It was made by a pharmacy in Massachusetts, the New England Compounding Center, and shipped to 23 states. The company has shut down, and Massachusetts health officials said Wednesday that they had extended their investigation to Ameridose, another drug manufacturer in the state that is partly owned by Barry Cadden, who was the chief pharmacist at New England Compounding."

To Sell More Shampoo, Mix Science And Celebrity (The Wall Street Journal) — "A small hair-care company called Living Proof, based on science from MIT, has signed Jennifer Aniston as an investor and spokesperson in an attempt to make waves in the $10 billion hair-care industry. Ms. Aniston and her layered hairstyle—"the Rachel"—have been a style icon and powerful influence in the beauty industry for almost 20 years. She is set to take a starring role in marketing for the brand, including an ad campaign expected to start shooting in November. Executives expect the 43-year-old actress to have input into new products, package design and other business areas in exchange for her equity stake, which they declined to quantify but called "meaningful." Packaging a Hollywood star with a blue-chip scientific team, including Robert Langer, one of medicine's most prolific inventors, highlights how high the success bar is set for new beauty products venturing out in front of jaded consumers. In a market saturated with "scientific" claims, Living Proof at first thought its MIT credentials would be enough to create brand awareness but eventually saw they needed more firepower."

This election, a stark choice in health care (The New York Times) - "When Americans go to the polls next month, they will cast a vote not just for president but for one of two profoundly different visions for the future of the country’s health care system. With an Obama victory on Nov. 6, the president’s signature health care law — including the contentious requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty — will almost certainly come into full force, becoming the largest expansion of the safety net since President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through his Great Society programs almost half a century ago."

'Skinny' Starts A Conversation For Overweight Teens (NPR) — "Young Ever Williams hears a negative voice every day in her head, telling her just how fat and disgusting she is. Ever is the heroine of Skinny, Donna Cooner's new novel for young adults — and "Skinny" is the name she gives that awful voice. Navigating high school is difficult for most kids, but Ever has an additional challenge: She weighs 300 pounds. Her classmates taunt her cruelly, and the boy she likes ignores her... Ever reaches a crisis point at a school ceremony — she's there to receive an award, and onstage, in front of her entire class, her chair breaks under her, and she crashes to the ground. Full disclosure: I've been there. I felt for Ever when that happened, because I too have broken furniture publicly, and I know all too well the horrible feeling of shame and the nasty comments people make."

This program aired on October 11, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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