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Homeopathic co. expands recall as FDA warns of “life-threatening” infections

Posted by on Aug 29, 2018 in Bacteria, contamination, drug manufacturing, fda, homeopathy, Infectious disease, microbes, recall, regulation, Science | 0 comments

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Source: Ars Technica

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Hospital superbugs are evolving to survive hand sanitizers

Posted by on Aug 5, 2018 in adaptation, alcohol, Antibiotics, Bacteria, hand sanitizer, hospital, Infectious disease, Microbiology, Resistance, Science, tolerance | 0 comments

Enlarge / A woman wearing a surgical mask washing her hands with a hand sanitizer. (credit: Getty | Andia)

Popular hand sanitizers may be heading the way of antibiotics, according to a study published this week in Science Translational Medicine.

Bacteria gathered from two hospitals in Australia between 1997 and 2015 appeared to gradually get better at surviving the alcohol used in hand sanitizers, researchers found. The bacteria’s boost in booze tolerance seemed in step with the hospitals’ gradually increasing use of alcohol-based sanitizers within that same time period—an increase aimed at improving sanitation and thwarting the spread of those very bacteria. Yet the germ surveillance data as well as a series of experiments the researchers conducted in mice suggest that the effort might be backfiring and that the hooch hygiene may actually be encouraging the spread of drug-resistant pathogens.

The researchers, led by infectious disease expert Paul Johnson and microbiologist Timothy Stinear of the University of Melbourne, summarized the findings, writing:

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Source: Ars Technica

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Open offices are as bad as they seem—they reduce face-to-face time by 70%

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in email, interaction, office environment, offices, open works space, Productivity, Science, social interactions, sociology, work space | 0 comments

Enlarge / Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays. (credit: Getty | Ian Nicholson)

Tearing down walls and cubicles in offices may actually build up more barriers to productivity and collaboration, according to a new study.

Employees at two Fortune 500 multinational companies saw face-to-face interaction time drop by about 70 percent, the use of email increase between 22 percent and 56 percent, and productivity slip after their traditional office spaces were converted to open floor plans—that is, ones without walls or cubicles that ostensibly create barriers to interaction. The findings, published recently in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggest that removing physical dividers may, in fact, make it harder for employers to foster collaboration and collective intelligence among their employees.

Many companies have waged a so-called “war on walls” to try to create such vibrant workspaces, the authors Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban of Harvard wrote. But, “what they often get—as captured by a steady stream of news articles professing the death of the open office—is an open expanse of proximal employees choosing to isolate themselves as best they can (e.g. by wearing large headphones) while appearing to be as busy as possible (since everyone can see them).”

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Source: Ars Technica

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Second Novichok poisoning in Britain raises alarm, questions over contamination

Posted by on Jul 5, 2018 in assassination, Britain, chemical weapon, nerve agent, Novichok, poison, poisoning, Policy, russia, Science | 0 comments

Enlarge / SALISBURY, ENGLAND – JULY 05: Police officers stand at a cordon around a supported housing project in Salisbury after a major incident was declared when a man and woman were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent. (credit: Getty | Jack Taylor)

British officials are consulting with allies over a possible response to Russia after officials confirmed on Wednesday a second case of poisonings on British soil with a nerve agent in Russia’s Novichok series.

In the new case, a couple—which multiple media outlets have identified as Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44—became ill and lost consciousness on Saturday in Amesbury, a town in Wiltshire, England. Their location was just a few miles away from where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in March with a Novichok agent. On Wednesday, Scotland Yard reported that a chemical analysis identified the same Novichok agent as the cause of the new poisonings.

Britain’s home secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday called on Moscow to explain “exactly what has gone on” and said that the country will be “consulting with our international partners and allies following these latest developments.”

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Source: Ars Technica

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Pfizer raises prices on 100 drugs—again—despite backlash from public, lawmakers

Posted by on Jul 3, 2018 in Policy, Science | 0 comments

Enlarge / Pfizer’s little, blue Viagra tablets get big price tag that have people seeing red. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Despite public and political pressure, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer keeps raising the prices of its drugs—standing apart from some of its rivals who have vowed to rein in periodic price hiking.

Around 100 of Pfizer’s drugs got higher list prices this week, the Financial Times first reported. The affected drugs include big sellers, such as Lyrica pain capsules, Chantix smoking-cessation medication, Norvasc blood-pressure pills, and the lung-cancer treatment Xalkori.

The price hikes mark a second round of increases for Pfizer this year. While many of the price changes in the individual rounds hover at or under 10 percent—many at 9.4 percent—the hikes collectively boost many drugs’ prices by double-digit percentages for the year overall. For instance, Chantix’s price jumped nearly 17 percent this year; Pfizer gave it a 9.4 percent increase in January and another seven percent boost July 1, bringing the list price of a 56-tablet bottle to $429, the Wall Street Journal noted. Likewise, Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra saw a 9.4 percent increase July 1 after a similar hike in January. Those hikes bring the list price of a month’s supply to $2,211.

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Source: Ars Technica

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