Daily Rounds: Fewer Women Insured; Reform's Effect On Research; Tracking Human Tissue; Thalidomide Suits

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Number of women in the United States with health insurance declines ( - "A new study released by the Commonwealth Fund reveals that 20 percent of women in the United States had no healthcare coverage in 2010, up from 15 percent in 2000. Almost 19 million women are uninsured in this country, while another 17 million are considered underinsured. Underinsured means that while a person have some medical coverage it is not enough to cover medical bills without additional help."

Massachusetts' health care cost containment option could affect life sciences economy (Boston University president Robert Brown in the Boston Globe) - "A House-Senate conference committee on Beacon Hill will soon make decisions about the health care industry in Massachusetts. While the focus of the committee’s work is cost containment, the outcome of those deliberations may have larger implications that could affect our state’s ability to compete in the international life sciences economy...Our academic medical centers are simultaneously facing dramatic cuts in research funding because of the budget debate in Washington. If mandatory federal budget cuts go into effect as scheduled in January, Massachusetts is likely to lose at least $196 million in NIH research funding, and that could cost the Commonwealth over 2,500 jobs."

Litte regulation poses problems tracking tissue (NPR, part 2 of series) - "In the United States, almost 1.5 million medical products are used each year for surgeries made with tissue taken from cadavers. For tissue to be safe, the donor must be carefully screened. Was she a drug user? Did he have HIV? Those would rule out using that tissue. Then the tissue has to be taken from the body under sterile conditions, processed in a precise way to prevent contamination but not weaken the tissue, then stored at exact temperatures and thrown out when it reaches an expiration date. An investigation by reporters from NPR and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists — a network of reporters around the world — found that there's little scrutiny at key points in the tissue donation and transplant process."

Australian woman wins multi-million thalidomide payout (Reuters) - "An Australian woman has won a multi-million dollar payout from UK company Diageo Plc, the local distributor of the drug Thalidomide that caused birth defects in thousand of babies around the world in the 1960s, her lawyers said on Wednesday...The cases have been closely watched in the United States, where a complaint has been filed against GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Avantor Performance Materials and Grunenthal, with several plaintiffs claiming their birth defects resulted from their mothers' use of Thalidomide."

This program aired on July 18, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.