WBEZ | drugs http://www.wbez.org/tags/drugs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en StoryCorps Chicago: Search for Estranged Father Helps Heal Old Wounds http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-search-estranged-father-helps-heal-old-wounds-114740 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 160205 Anastasia Bill bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Anastasia Page is a twenty-five-year-old <a href="http://www.anastasiapage.com/">documentary photographer </a>in Chicago. As a kid, she met her biological father only once, when she was four years old. Five years ago she started a <a href="http://www.discoveringzalmon.com/">documentary project to help process her feelings about her father</a>. She recently came to the StoryCorps booth to talk with WBEZ&#39;s Bill Healy about a turning point in that project. Page says when her mom remarried, her step-dad wanted to adopt her. But they couldn&#39;t make it official until her biological dad signed off on the paperwork.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>StoryCorps&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-search-estranged-father-helps-heal-old-wounds-114740 StoryCorps Chicago: Search for Estranged Father Helps Heal Old Wounds http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-search-estranged-father-helps-heal-old-wounds-114741 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 160205 Anastasia Bill bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Anastasia Page is a twenty-five-year-old <a href="http://www.anastasiapage.com/">documentary photographer </a>in Chicago. As a kid, she met her biological father only once, when she was four years old. Five years ago she started a <a href="http://www.discoveringzalmon.com/">documentary project to help process her feelings about her father</a>. She recently came to the StoryCorps booth to talk with WBEZ&#39;s Bill Healy about a turning point in that project. Page says when her mom remarried, her step-dad wanted to adopt her. But they couldn&#39;t make it official until her biological dad signed off on the paperwork.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>StoryCorps&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-search-estranged-father-helps-heal-old-wounds-114741 No Comment From Grinning Martin Shkreli at House Hearing on Drug Prices http://www.wbez.org/news/no-comment-grinning-martin-shkreli-house-hearing-drug-prices-114734 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/drugs.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res465557408" previewtitle="Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, smiles beside Nancy Retzlaff, Turing's chief commercial officer, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, smiles beside Nancy Retzlaff, Turing's chief commercial officer, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/02/04/gettyimages-508357106_wide-5bdb51c7a02e95576bc7d2952a642b40ed4eb70e-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, smiles beside Nancy Retzlaff, Turing's chief commercial officer, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive who inspired wrath <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-09-22/drug-used-cost-1350-tablet-now-costs-750-can-be-justified-113032">when he raised the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent</a>, appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday for a hearing on prescription drug prices.</p></div></div></div><p>But his testimony was far from fruitful.</p><p>You may remember that Shkreli, the founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, became infamous last year. His company bought the rights to the drug Daraprim, which treats a deadly parasitic infection, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/23/442907028/turing-pharmaceuticals-retreats-from-plan-to-raise-price-of-daraprim">raised the price from $13 a pill to $750 a pill</a>. The company later backed off that increase, but Shkreli defended the decision as simply a good business decision.</p><div id="res465557843"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>Separately, he&#39;s been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/17/460092620/reports-fbi-arrests-turing-pharmaceuticals-ceo-shkreli-on-fraud-charges">arrested for fraud</a>&nbsp;over a hedge fund he managed from 2009 to 2014. In December, he&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/18/460288856/martin-shkreli-resigns-as-turing-pharmaceuticals-ceo">resigned as Turing&#39;s chief executive</a>.</p><p>Shkreli appeared before the House committee on Thursday to discuss drug pricing. The hearing also featured testimony from Dr. Janet Woodcock and Keith Flanagan of the FDA, Howard Schiller of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (which also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/12/09/458976680/senate-questions-egregious-price-hikes-for-specialty-medicines">has been criticized over its price hikes</a>), Nancy Retzlaff of Turing and Mark Merritt of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.</p><p>In Turing&#39;s defense, Retzlaff said that two-thirds of patients receive Daraprim at a steep discount through government programs, and that the company funds an assistance program for uninsured, low-income patients.</p><p>Shkreli was much more tight-lipped. His lawyer had advised him to plead the Fifth. And Shkreli followed that advice to the letter.</p><p>After Shkreli declined to give an opening statement, here&#39;s how the first exchange went:</p><blockquote><div><p>Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the committee:&nbsp;&quot;What do you say to that single pregnant woman who might have AIDS, no income, she needs Daraprim in order to survive. What do you say to her when she has to make that choice? What do you say to her?&quot;</p><p>Shkreli:&nbsp;&quot;On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question.&quot;</p><p>...</p><p>Chaffetz:&nbsp;&quot;Do you think you&#39;ve done anything wrong?&quot;</p><p>Shkreli:&nbsp;&quot;On the advice of counsel,&quot; (pausing for a moment) &quot;I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question.&quot;</p></div></blockquote><p>Shkreli confirmed the pronunciation of his name, but otherwise refused to answer all questions directed his way &mdash; even one about his exclusive hip-hop album. (Shkreli bought&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/09/459059359/sole-copy-of-latest-wu-tang-album-was-sold-to-pharma-bro">the sole copy</a>&nbsp;of the Wu-Tang Clan album&nbsp;Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.Months after he bought it,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-martin-shkreli-wu-tang-clan-album/">he said</a>&nbsp;he still hadn&#39;t listened to the album, but&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vice.com/video/drinking-wine-and-playing-chess-at-martin-shkrelis-midtown-apartment">he did play it for a Vice reporter</a>.)</p><p>Shkreli isn&#39;t usually so reticent. He has been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2015/12/03/what-martin-shkreli-says-now-i-shouldve-raised-prices-higher/#298d30321964">outspoken</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2015/12/03/what-martin-shkreli-says-now-i-shouldve-raised-prices-higher/#298d30321964">unapologetic</a>&nbsp;in his conversations with reporters &mdash; and his&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8gjB1PSXv_oAUSAQ16S0fA">live video streams</a>&nbsp;from his apartment.</p><p>In fact, his new lawyer has said he agreed to represent Shkreli on one condition: The 32-year-old had to stop granting interviews with the press.</p><p>A visibly frustrated Rep. Trey Gowdy pointed out that Shkreli could answer a wide range of questions without incriminating himself.</p><p>&quot;I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours,&quot; the former pharmaceutical executive said with a tight smile.</p><p>&quot;Well, Mr. Chairman, I am vexed,&quot; Gowdy said, pointing to Shkreli&#39;s readiness to talk to the press, but not to Congress.</p><p>Rep. Elijah Cummings, for his part, didn&#39;t even attempt to question Shkreli, and instead pleaded with him &mdash; arguing that Shkreli could use his position, and his influence over his former company, as a force for good. Cummings said Shkreli could use his influence to advocate for patients&#39; rights and could &quot;make a difference in so many people&#39;s lives.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I know you&#39;re smiling,&quot; Cummings said, &quot;But I&#39;m very serious, sir. The way I see it, you can go down in history as the poster boy for greedy drug company executives, or you could change the system.</p><p>&quot;Yeah,&nbsp;you.&quot;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="437" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BPPerZLjp4M" width="777"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/04/465548279/no-comment-from-grinning-martin-shkreli-at-house-hearing-on-drug-prices?ft=nprml&amp;f=465548279"><em>&mdash;via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/no-comment-grinning-martin-shkreli-house-hearing-drug-prices-114734 StoryCorps Chicago: Brothers Adopted by Different Parents Reconnect Later in Life http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-brothers-adopted-different-parents-reconnect-later-life-114573 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bros.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>When Ken Jackson got married a little over a year ago, one of his groomsmen was Jeremy Rodgers. They&rsquo;re biological brothers, that is, they shared the same mother, but they&rsquo;re 13 years apart in age. Both men were adopted when they were young. They knew they had siblings, but not much more than that.</p><p>They came to StoryCorps to talk about meeting each other three years ago. Rodgers tells his adoption story first.</p></div><div><p dir="ltr"><em><a href="http://www.storycorps.org">StoryCorps&rsquo; </a>mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 12:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-brothers-adopted-different-parents-reconnect-later-life-114573 Personalized Cancer Vaccines Could Be Key Piece of Cancer ‘Moonshot’ http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2016-01-14/personalized-cancer-vaccines-could-be-key-piece-cancer-%E2%80%98moonshot%E2%80%99 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/0113_cancer-vaccine-624x394.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama said he wants to &ldquo;make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.&rdquo;</p><p>A key piece of that &ldquo;moonshot&rdquo; &ndash; as the president and vice president have called it &ndash; may be a treatment that&rsquo;s still very much in the experimental phase: personalized cancer vaccines.</p><p><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2016/01/13/personalized-cancer-vaccines" target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s</em></a>&nbsp;Jeremy Hobson talks with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.statnews.com/" target="_blank">STAT</a>&nbsp;senior science writer&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/sxbegle" target="_blank">Sharon Begley</a>&nbsp;about how those personalized vaccines &ndash; called neoantigen vaccines &ndash; work, and why they could become a central player in the push to cure cancer.</p><p><em><strong><a href="http://www.statnews.com/2016/01/12/personalized-cancer-vaccines/" target="_blank">Read more about personalized cancer vaccines on STAT</a></strong></em><iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="http://players.brightcove.net/245991542/344c319b-6d23-4cbc-975e-c8530534af8a_default/index.html?videoId=4699180040001" style="; width: 624px; height: 386px; padding-bottom: 10px !important; margin: 0px !important;" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 11:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2016-01-14/personalized-cancer-vaccines-could-be-key-piece-cancer-%E2%80%98moonshot%E2%80%99 New 2016 Laws in Illinois Include Directives for Police http://www.wbez.org/news/new-2016-laws-illinois-include-directives-police-114315 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/police_body_cameras_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO&nbsp;(AP) &mdash; Illinois police and sheriffs&#39; departments will have guidelines for using body cameras when new laws take effect in 2016.</p><p>Body cameras won&#39;t be mandated, but officers in departments that use them must keep them on when they&#39;re responding to calls or interacting with the public.</p><p>Law enforcement also will be prohibited from using chokeholds unless it&#39;s for self-defense.</p><p>The directives are among 237 new laws taking effect Friday, Jan. 1.</p><p>Here&#39;s a glimpse at some of them:</p><div><blockquote><ul><li>JUVENILE SENTENCING: Minors will no longer face mandatory life sentences without parole. Lifelong prison sentences can still happen for serious crimes, but judges will be allowed more discretion.</li><li>POWDERED ALCOHOL: Illinois is among 27 states to ban powdered alcohol before it&#39;s sold in stores. The makers of the product, called Palcohol, have gotten federal approval to sell it, but say on their website they&#39;re not looking for distributors in the U.S.</li><li>BOBCAT HUNTING: Hunting bobcats will be legal from Nov. 1 through Feb. 15. The aim of the new law is to control the animal&#39;s population.</li><li>911 PRANK CALLS: Intentionally calling 911 without a legitimate reason will come with a hefty price &mdash; up to $10,000 to reimburse local governments to recover associated costs.</li><li>CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS: Schools will be required to have them. Lawmakers took action after more than 180 students and staff at a rural Illinois school were taken to a hospital after a carbon monoxide leak in 2014.</li><li>PUMPKIN PIE: It will be the official state pie, because 90 percent of the pumpkins in the country are produced in Illinois.</li></ul></blockquote></div><div id="summary"><p>There will also be a requirement that people convicted of two DUI offenses have a breathalyzer in their car for five years instead of one year.</p></div><p>Mental health professionals also will be forbidden from practicing gay-conversion therapy on minors. And terminally ill patients will be allowed to try experimental drugs that haven&#39;t yet made it to market.</p></p> Wed, 30 Dec 2015 09:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-2016-laws-illinois-include-directives-police-114315 Syria is at the Center of a Booming Trade of a Little Pill That's Cheap, Easy to Produce, and Completely Illegal http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-27/syria-center-booming-trade-little-pill-thats-cheap-easy-produce-and <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/drugs_feature.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/drugs_feature.jpg?itok=Bo96LgFH" style="border: 0px; vertical-align: bottom; max-width: 100%; height: 349px; color: rgb(51, 51, 60); font-family: 'Source Sans Pro', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, 'Nimbus Sans L', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 27px; width: 620px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" title="Captagon pills are displayed along with a cup of cocaine at an office of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF), Anti-Narcotics Division in Beirut on June 11, 2010.( Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images) " typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p>This isn&#39;t a movie plot; this is&nbsp;a real story about a drug that&#39;s little known in the West, but is running wild&nbsp;in the Middle East: captagon.&nbsp;</p><p>Chavela Madlena produced a<a href="http://www.journeyman.tv/69063/short-films/captagon-the-syrian-revolutions-drug-epidemic.html" target="_blank">&nbsp;documentary about captagon</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;aired on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.com/arabic" target="_blank">BBC Arabic</a>. She&nbsp;wrote about it for&nbsp;<a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/11/19/syria-isis-captagon-lebanon-assad/" target="_blank">ForeignPolicy.com</a>:</p><blockquote><p><em>&quot;Captagon is an illegal version of a drug invented by the German pharmaceutical giant&nbsp;AG Degussa in the 1960s.&nbsp;It was originally supposed to treat everything from attention deficit disorder to being a popular dieting aid.&quot; But all that changed in the mid-1980s. &quot;That&#39;s&nbsp;when the World Health Organization and the FDA concluded it was more addictive and harmful than good. It was just eventually one of those amphetamines that kind of just fell away.&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p>Now an illegal version of it is in high demand across Syria, fueled by the country&#39;s civil war.&nbsp;Madlena and her documentary team visited an illegal pill factory in Beirut.&nbsp;The people running the Beirut drug factory would only let their cameraman in.</p><p>&quot;What he described was one of those kind of garage/storage units.&quot; The workers were all men, under 30, with tattoos.&nbsp;There were boxes of precursor chemicals, like quinine, caffeine and liquid&nbsp;and powder forms of different chemicals.&nbsp;&quot;They call it captagon, but it&#39;s not actually the old form of captagon that was made by pharmacuetical companies.&nbsp;It&#39;s a combination of&nbsp;things,&quot; she says. &quot;The workers said everybody has their own special recipe, their own special flavors they put in. Just like sheesha or water pipes.&quot;</p><p>The effect of captagon is like taking speed.&nbsp;&quot;I&#39;ve seen everything from it being reported as keeping people calm to making them crazed. It&#39;s an amphetamine,&quot; says Madlena. &quot;It keeps you awake and then when you stay awake for a long period of time, you are massively susceptible to sleep deprivation psychosis and all the concommitant medical issues that come along with not sleeping and being on a powerful stimulant and psychotropic drug.&quot;</p><p>Before the Syrian war, the demand for captagon was mostly in Saudi Arabia. An&nbsp;addiction counselor in Kuwait told her why:&nbsp;Because alcohol is such a taboo and heroin is such a taboo &mdash; and they&#39;re both not really condusive to being functional.</p><p>Amphetamines are much cheaper and easier to integrate into your daily life. And there&#39;s less stigma around something that was once a prescription pill.&nbsp;Saudi housewives use it to lose weight. Saudi students use it to study.&nbsp;Truck drivers use it to stay awake. A huge market is people in the military.&nbsp;Madlena&nbsp;interviewed a former addict in Kuwait who had been a soldier.</p><p>&quot;He took captagon, which ended up for him being a gateway drug into other things. He said it was rife in his community, which is a lower&nbsp;socio-economic [class], less educated.&nbsp;Lots of guys working in the army or in law enforcement.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>Since 2011, demand for captagon has grown in Syria and there&#39;s evidence that the Paris attackers were high on captagon. If it&#39;s proved to be true, it won&#39;t&nbsp;surprise Madlena. &quot;From speaking with former Syrian fighters, this pill is rife on the battlefield there. It&#39;s also in areas where we know that former criminal syndicates had factories and supply lines, smuggling pills out before the war and and now those areas are controlled by ISIS.&nbsp;It&#39;s cheap and readily available. It doesn&#39;t surprise me.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-11-26/syria-center-booming-trade-little-pill-thats-cheap-easy-produce-and-completely" target="_blank"><em>PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 15:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-27/syria-center-booming-trade-little-pill-thats-cheap-easy-produce-and Club drug ketamine gains traction as a treatment for depression http://www.wbez.org/news/club-drug-ketamine-gains-traction-treatment-depression-113087 <p><div id="res443482399" previewtitle="Ketamine"><div data-crop-type="">A mind-altering drug called ketamine is changing the way some doctors treat depression.</div></div><p>Encouraged by research showing that ketamine can relieve even the worst depression in a matter of hours, these doctors are giving the drug to some of their toughest patients. And they&#39;re doing this even though ketamine lacks approval from the Food and Drug Administration for treating depression.</p><p>&quot;It became clear to me that the future of psychiatry was going to include ketamine or derivatives of ketamine,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://psychiatry.ucsd.edu/About/faculty/Pages/david-feifel.aspx">David Feifel</a>, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, who began administering the drug to patients in 2010.</p><p><img alt="" ap="" class="image-original_image" photo="" special="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_97010103697.jpg" style="float: left; height: 218px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="This is a vial of the drug ketamine hydrochloride, better known in the drug culture as &quot;Special K.&quot; (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho)" victoria="" />Ketamine was developed as an anesthetic and received FDA approval for this use in 1970. Decades later, it became popular as a psychedelic club drug. And in 2006, a team from the National Institute of Mental Health published a landmark&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16894061">study</a>&nbsp;showing that a single intravenous dose of ketamine produced &quot;robust and rapid antidepressant effects&quot; within a couple of hours.</p><p>Since then, thousands of depressed patients have received &quot;off-label&quot; treatment with ketamine.</p><p>One of those patients is Paul, 36, who lives in San Diego and is a patient of Dr. Feifel. We&#39;re not using his last name to protect his medical privacy.</p><p>Paul&#39;s depression began with anxiety. &quot;I was an extremely anxious child,&quot; he says. &quot;I would always make choices based on fear. My life was really directed by what was the least fearful thing that I could do.&quot;</p><p>As Paul grew up, his extreme anxiety led to major depression, which could leave him unable to get out of bed for days. &quot;I lived in pain,&quot; he says.</p><p>Paul managed to get through college and a stint in the Peace Corps. But most days were a struggle. And Paul has spent much of his adult life searching for a treatment that would give him some relief.</p><p>He tried just about every drug used for depression, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and even electroconvulsive therapy, which induces a brief seizure. But nothing worked &mdash; at least not for very long.</p><p>Paul says he was increasingly haunted by &quot;this comforting thought of pressing a cold gun against my forehead where I felt the pain the most.&quot;</p><p>Then one day, while investigating depression on the Internet, Paul discovered the research on ketamine. &quot;It was clear to me that this was real,&quot; he says.</p><p>Ordinarily, there would have been no legal way for Paul to get ketamine. He didn&#39;t qualify for most research studies because of his suicidal thoughts. And doctors usually won&#39;t prescribe a mind-altering club drug to someone with a mental illness.</p><p>But the studies of ketamine have produced results so dramatic that some doctors, including Feifel, are bypassing the usual protocols.</p><p>By the time Feifel began hearing about ketamine, he had become frustrated with existing depression drugs. Too often, he says, they just weren&#39;t helping his patients.</p><div id="res443483905" previewtitle="David Feifel, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, has treated about 100 people with ketamine."><div><p>A major&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2253608/">study</a>&nbsp;on antidepressant medication published in 2008 seemed to confirm his suspicions. It found that current antidepressants really aren&#39;t much better than a placebo.</p></div></div><p>Many psychiatrists criticized that study. But not Feifel. &quot;I was kind of like, I&#39;m not surprised,&quot; he says. &quot;These really don&#39;t seem like powerful tools.&quot;</p><p>Feifel remembers feeling &quot;professionally embarrassed&quot; that psychiatrists didn&#39;t have something better to offer their depressed patients. Something like ketamine.</p><p>He knew the drug had risks. It could be abused. It could produce hallucinations. And it didn&#39;t have the FDA&#39;s OK for treating depression.</p><p>But he also knew that doctors had a lot of experience with ketamine. It&#39;s been used for decades as an anesthetic that can rapidly stop pain without affecting vital functions like breathing. And ketamine&#39;s safety record is so good that it&#39;s often the painkiller of choice for children who arrive in the emergency room with a broken bone.</p><p><img alt="David Feifel, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, has treated about 100 people with ketamine." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/25/david-feifel-a840fba065cef2c5a1f9b02b005f823b760acd55-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="David Feifel, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, has treated about 100 people with ketamine. (Courtesy of David Feifel)" /></p><p>So in 2010, Feifel decided he wanted to offer low doses of the drug to some patients. The decision put him at odds with some prominent psychiatrists, including Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. &quot;While the science is promising, ketamine is not ready for broad use in the clinic,&quot; Insel&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2014/ketamine.shtml">wrote</a>&nbsp;in his blog a few months ago.</p><p>&quot;There are a lot of pundits who remain skeptical or feel we need to research this ad infinitum before it&#39;s ready, which doesn&#39;t make sense to me,&quot; Feifel says. It&#39;s hard to take the wait-and-see approach when you&#39;re treating patients who are desperate for help, he adds.</p><p>Paul was one of those desperate patients when he was referred to Feifel in March of 2014. The referral was from a local psychiatrist who had run out of ideas, Feifel says.</p><p>And Paul jumped at the chance to try ketamine. &quot;If there was even a 1 percent chance that this worked, it would have been worth it to me,&quot; he says. &quot;My life was hanging in the balance.&quot;</p><p>And for Paul, the benefits of ketamine became obvious soon after one of his early injections.</p><p>&quot;I remember I was in my bathroom and I literally fell to my knees crying because I had no anxiety, I had no depression,&quot; he says</p><p>For the past year, Paul has been getting ketamine every four to six weeks. He feels an altered sense of reality for an hour or two after getting the drug. The effect on depression and anxiety, though, lasts more than a month.</p><p>Ketamine doesn&#39;t always work that well, Feifel says. After treating more than 100 patients, he&#39;s beginning to understand the drug&#39;s limitations.</p><p>One is that its ability to keep depression at bay can fade pretty quickly. Feifel recalls one patient whose depression would disappear like magic after a dose of ketamine. But &quot;we could never get it to sustain beyond maybe a day,&quot; he says.</p><div id="res443485663"><div>Also, ketamine treatment is expensive because patients need to be monitored so closely. Feifel charges about $500 for each injection and $1,000 for an intravenous infusion, which takes effect more quickly. Insurers don&#39;t cover the cost because the treatment is still considered experimental.</div></div><p>Even so, ketamine clinics are popping up around the country and they have already treated thousands of patients willing and able to pay out of pocket. Some of the clinics are run by psychiatrists. Others have been started by entrepreneurial anesthesiologists and emergency room doctors, who are familiar with ketamine but may not know much about depression.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ve seen ketamine clinics open up as pure business models,&quot; Feifel says. &quot;I&#39;m a little bit concerned about that.&quot;</p><p>Feifel fears something bad will happen to a depressed patient at one of these clinics. And that could set back efforts to make the drug more widely available.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/28/443203592/club-drug-ketamine-gains-traction-as-a-treatment-for-depression?ft=nprml&amp;f=443203592" target="_blank"><em>via NPR Shots</em></a></p></p> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/club-drug-ketamine-gains-traction-treatment-depression-113087 A drug that used to cost $13.50 per tablet now costs $750. Can that be justified? http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-09-22/drug-used-cost-1350-tablet-now-costs-750-can-be-justified-113032 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/MartinShkreli Twitter photo Augst 12 2015.jpg" alt="" /><p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I guess some people think Daraprim access will decline instead of increase. I guarantee better access at lower prices to patients than ever.</p>&mdash; Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) <a href="https://twitter.com/MartinShkreli/status/646105385544339461">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote><p>Hillary Clinton calls it &lsquo;price gouging&rsquo; by the pharmaceutical industry.</p><p>But the 32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli, sees nothing wrong with what his company just did. It took a drug that treats a deadly disease &mdash; and hiked its price by 5500 percent.</p><p>&quot;Well, you know we needed to turn a profit on the drug,&rdquo; Shkreli told Bloomberg news. &ldquo;The companies before us were pretty much just giving it away.&quot;</p><p>The drug is called Daraprim, and since 1953 it&#39;s been a mainstay in the fight against the deadly parasitic disease, toxoplasmosis.&nbsp;Now&nbsp;the cost per pill has jumped from $13.50 to $750.</p><p>Shkreli though is unrepentant. &ldquo;The spotlight on me is an interesting thing. I&#39;m not thinking too hard about it, because I know we&#39;re doing the right thing.&quot;</p><p>In that interview with Bloomberg News, Shkreli defended the price hike in terms of needing to fund research and development into new treatments for toxoplasmosis.</p><p>&quot;Remember, no-one has cared about this illness for a long time, from the pharmaceutical perspective,&rdquo; Shkreli told Bloomberg. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s a terrible thing if you&rsquo;re suffering from toxoplasmosis. Now you have a powerful ally in our company that is looking to make new drugs for you.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/21/how-an-obscure-drugs-4000-price-increase-might-finally-spur-action-on-soaring-health-care-costs/" target="_blank">Carloyn Johnson of the Washington Post</a>&nbsp;says it&rsquo;s not clear how much Shkreli&#39;s company is spending in this area;&nbsp;it&rsquo;s not a publicly traded company.</p><p>Clinton, a Democratic presidential hopeful,&nbsp;calls this price gouging by the pharmaceutical industry, and has promised caps on costs. That&#39;s rattled investors, with stock prices of several&nbsp;companies tumbling.</p><p>Clinton on Tuesday presented a comprehensive plan aimed at containing high drug prices. It includes things like a cap on out-of-pocket expenses and it would also allow the government to use its bargaining power to bring down prices. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of up for debate how much, or how, these would be implemented,&rdquo; says Johnson. &ldquo;Some of the ideas have been tried in the past and not gotten enough political backing.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson says that could be changing. &ldquo;[The issue]&nbsp;does seem to finally have garnered political attention, perhaps because this case has just hit so many nerves.&rdquo;</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-09-22/drug-used-cost-1350-tablet-now-costs-750-can-be-justified" target="_blank">via PRI&#39;s The World</a></em></p></p> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 16:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-09-22/drug-used-cost-1350-tablet-now-costs-750-can-be-justified-113032 Chicago's Puerto Ricans face ID theft http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-07/chicagos-puerto-ricans-face-id-theft-112335 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Joel (1)_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/213656311&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago&#39;s Puerto Ricans face ID theft</span><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">A WBEZ investigation has found evidence that at least two men who were sent from Puerto Rico to questionable rehab centers in Chicago may have been victims of ID theft. WBEZ&#39;s Odette Yousef joins us with the details.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><strong>Guest: </strong><em>WBEZ&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">Odette Yousef</a></em>&nbsp;</span></p></p> Tue, 07 Jul 2015 11:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-07/chicagos-puerto-ricans-face-id-theft-112335