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UnitedHealth Cyberattack Disrupts Prescription Drug Coverage
Health

UnitedHealth Cyberattack Disrupts Prescription Drug Coverage

A cyberattack on a unit affiliated with UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, has disrupted drug prescription orders at thousands of pharmacies for nearly a week.The assault on the unit, Change Healthcare, a division of United’s Optum, was discovered last Wednesday. The attack appeared to be by a foreign country, according to two senior federal law enforcement officials, who expressed alarm at the extent of the disruption on Monday.UnitedHealth Group, the conglomerate, said in a federal filing that it had been forced to disconnect some of Change Healthcare’s vast digital network from its clients, and as of Monday, had not been able to restore all of those services.Change handles some 15 billion transactions a year, representing as many as one in three U.S. patient records and inv...
Severe Frostbite Gets a Treatment That May Prevent Amputation
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Severe Frostbite Gets a Treatment That May Prevent Amputation

The first time Dr. Peter Hackett saw a patient with frostbite, the man died from his wounds. It was in Chicago in 1971, and the man had gotten drunk and passed out in the snow, his fingers so frozen that gangrene eventually set in.Dr. Hackett later worked at Mount Everest Basecamp, on Denali, Alaska, and now in Colorado, becoming expert in treating cold-weather injury. The experience was often the same: There was not much to do about frostbite, except rewarm the patient, give aspirin, amputate in severe cases and, more often, wait and accept that six months later the patient’s body might “auto-amputate” by naturally shedding a dead finger or toe.His mentor in Anchorage used to say, “Frostbite January, Amputation July,” remembered Dr. Hackett, clinical professor at the Altitude Research Cen...
Major Embryo Shipping Company Halts Business in Alabama
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Major Embryo Shipping Company Halts Business in Alabama

Cryoport, a major embryo shipping company, said on Friday that it was “pausing” its business in Alabama as it evaluated the state’s Supreme Court decision that declared frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization to be children.“Until the company has further clarity on the decision and what it means for Cryoport, clinics and intended parents, it is pausing all activity in Alabama until further notice,” read an email received by an Alabama fertility clinic and shared with The New York Times.The email said that Cryoport would “not be able to assist” with a scheduled shipment, and instead would offer a refund.The Alabama court’s ruling has already significantly limited fertility treatment for patients in that state. Three clinics have paused care as they evaluate what the ruling mea...
Alabama Says Embryos in a Lab Are Children. What Are the Implications?
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Alabama Says Embryos in a Lab Are Children. What Are the Implications?

The Alabama Supreme Court has opened a new front in the legal debate over when human life begins. Embryos created and stored in a medical facility must be considered children under the state’s law governing harmful death, the court ruled.Friday’s ruling was cheered by anti-abortion activists nationwide, who have long argued that life begins at conception. They were thrilled that, for the first time, a court included conception outside the uterus in that definition. But the strongest and most immediate effect of the decision will be on fertility patients trying to get pregnant, not women seeking to end their pregnancies.The Alabama ruling invites states to enact strict new regulations over the fertility industry that could sharply limit the number of embryos created during a cycle of medica...
How Sleep Affects Your Mood: The Link Between Insomnia and Mental Health
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How Sleep Affects Your Mood: The Link Between Insomnia and Mental Health

It started with mild anxiety.Emily, who asked to be identified only by her first name because she was discussing her mental health, had just moved to New York City after graduate school, to start a marketing job at a big law firm.She knew it was normal to feel a little on edge. But she wasn’t prepared for what came next: chronic insomnia.Operating on only three or four hours of sleep, it didn’t take long for her anxiety to ramp up: At 25, she was “freaking nervous all the time. A wreck.”When a lawyer at her firm yelled at her one day, she experienced the first of many panic attacks. At a doctor’s suggestion, she tried taking a sleeping pill, in the hopes that it might “reset” her sleep cycle and improve her mood. It didn’t work.Americans are chronically sleep deprived: one-third of adults ...
Old and Young, Talking Again
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Old and Young, Talking Again

On Fridays at 10 a.m., Richard Bement and Zach Ahmed sign on to their weekly video chat. The program that brought them together provides online discussion prompts and suggests arts-related activities, but the two largely ignore all that.“We just started talking about things that were important to us,” said Mr. Ahmed, 19, a pre-med student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.Since the pair met more than a year ago, conversation topics have included: Pink Floyd, in a long exploration led by Mr. Bement, 76, a retired sales manager in Milford Township, Ohio; their religious faiths (the senior conversation partner is Episcopalian; the younger is Muslim); their families; changing gender norms; and poetry, including Mr. Ahmed’s own efforts.“There’s this fallacy that these two generations can’t co...
More Young People Are on Multiple Psychiatric Drugs, Study Finds
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More Young People Are on Multiple Psychiatric Drugs, Study Finds

The NewsGrowing numbers of children and adolescents are being prescribed multiple psychiatric drugs to take simultaneously, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland. The phenomenon is increasing despite warnings that psychotropic drug combinations in young people have not been tested for safety or studied for their impact on the developing brain.The study, published Friday in JAMA Open Network, looked at the prescribing patterns among patients 17 or younger enrolled in Medicaid from 2015 to 2020 in a single U.S. state that the researchers declined to name. In this group, there was a 9.5 percent increase in the prevalence of “polypharmacy,” which the study defined as taking three or more different classes of psychiatric medications, including antidepressants, mo...
US Agencies Start Inquiry Into Generic Drug Shortages
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US Agencies Start Inquiry Into Generic Drug Shortages

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday that they would examine the causes of generic drug shortages and the practices of “powerful middlemen” that are involved in the supply chain.The federal agencies’ inquiry is aimed at the group purchasing organizations and drug distributors that have been in the spotlight in recent months as drug shortages reached a 10-year peak. The agencies want to examine the companies’ influence on how the drugs are sold to hospitals and other health facilities, assessing whether the middlemen put pressure on pricing and manufacturing that led to breakdowns.During Congressional hearings in the last year, oncology experts have testified about the effects of the shortages, describing difficult decisions that for...
Brooke Ellison, Prominent Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 45
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Brooke Ellison, Prominent Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 45

Brooke Ellison, who after being paralyzed from the neck down by a childhood car accident went on to graduate from Harvard and became a professor and a devoted disability rights advocate, died on Sunday in Stony Brook, N.Y., on Long Island. She was 45.Her death, in a hospital, was caused by complications of quadriplegia, her mother, Jean Ellison, said.As an 11-year-old, Brooke had been taking karate, soccer, cello and dance lessons and singing in a church choir. But on Sept. 4, 1990, she was struck by a car while running across a road near her home in Stony Brook. Her skull, her spine and almost every major bone in her body were fractured.After waking from a 36-hour coma, she spent six weeks in the hospital and eight months in a rehabilitation center. And for the rest of her life she was de...