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Daily Rounds: High-Risk Drug-Making; False Cancer Hopes; 'Nature' Endorses Obama; Centenarian Island

'High-risk' drug making is at center of meningitis inquiry (The Boston Globe) - Inside its sprawling red brick offices, New England Compounding Center engaged in the most hazardous type of pharmacy drug making. The company bought unsterilized powders and turned them into liquid steroids and other medicine supposedly pristine enough to inject into a patient. It’s called “high-risk compounding,” and doing this safely, industry specialists say, requires elaborate and expensive manufacturing processes, sensitive tests for sterility and potency, and exacting attention to detail."

Many terminal cancer patients mistakenly believe a cure is possible (NPR) - "Doctors are often called upon to deliver bad news to patients, and there isn't much that's worse than a diagnosis of an advanced-stage cancer for which there is no cure. But there's new evidence that a surprisingly large majority of patients who receive this news don't fully comprehend it, or perhaps willfully choose to ignore it. Almost three out of every four patients diagnosed with stage IV lung or colon cancer believe that chemotherapy can cure them of their disease, according to a survey of more than 1,100 cancer patients by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. And yet for cancers diagnosed at that late of a stage, chemotherapy has been definitively shown to extend lifespan by only a few months at best."

A Vote For Science (Nature) - "When Americans vote for their next president in early November, they will select not just one man to occupy the White House, but also the thousands of party members who will sweep into Washington DC. Those appointees from the president’s political party will help to set priorities in science funding, negotiate international treaties and decide whether to create new regulations — or ignore existing ones. This is important to consider when evaluating the two candidates because the challenger to President Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney, has not offered specific plans to manage the roughly US$65 billion of funding that goes to non-military research and development each year. The past positions of the candidates and the records of their own political parties make it clear that Obama and the Democrats offer important advantages for science over Romney and the Republicans."

The island where people forget to die (New York Times Magazine) - "Six months came and went. Moraitis didn’t die. Instead, he reaped his garden and, feeling emboldened, cleaned up the family vineyard as well. Easing himself into the island routine, he woke up when he felt like it, worked in the vineyards until midafternoon, made himself lunch and then took a long nap. In the evenings, he often walked to the local tavern, where he played dominoes past midnight. The years passed. His health continued to improve. He added a couple of rooms to his parents’ home so his children could visit. He built up the vineyard until it produced 400 gallons of wine a year. Today, three and a half decades later, he’s 97 years old — according to an official document he disputes; he says he’s 102 — and cancer-free. He never went through chemotherapy, took drugs or sought therapy of any sort. All he did was move home to Ikaria. I met Moraitis on Ikaria this past July during one of my visits to explore the extraordinary longevity of the island’s residents."

This program aired on October 26, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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