Hospitals nationwide are experiencing drug shortages, including critical nutrients needed to keep premature babies and other patients alive. Are drug manufacturers and the FDA both at fault?
"Some hospitals have resorted to bartering with one another to secure even a small supply of nutrients, and many are rationing.
"At least one NICU in the District is administering some trace elements only three days a week instead of seven. At Atticus’s hospital, no patients heavier than 2½ kilograms (5½ pounds), including NICU babies, are getting intravenous phosphorous. 'You could have a brand-new, full-term baby and they don’t qualify,' a staff member says. 'There are really sick babies and one-, two-, three-year-olds that don’t get anything at all because we’re rationing it for our tiniest preemies.'
"'It almost makes me cry—our patients are starving because of drug shortages. How can this happen in this country?' says ASPEN past president Jay Mirtallo, a professor of clinical pharmacy at Ohio State University. 'In the last three years, there hasn’t been one PN product that hasn’t been in short supply. I’ve traveled all over the world talking about parenteral nutrition, and our colleagues in Europe, South America, and Asia just look astounded and ask how this can be such a significant problem when they have no issue whatsoever in any of their countries.'"
PUBLISHED: May 22, 2013
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7538 words)
Investigating a rare genetic disorder that causes those who suffer from it to grow a second skeleton:
"Within a few years, she would begin to grow new bones that would stretch across her body, some fusing to her original skeleton. Bone by bone, the disease would lock her into stillness. The Mayo doctors didn’t tell Peeper’s parents that. All they did say was that Peeper would not live long.
"'Basically, my parents were told there was nothing that could be done,' Peeper told me in October. 'They should just take me home and enjoy their time with me, because I would probably not live to be a teenager.'
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2013
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6663 words)
Before returning to the U.S., the author is asked what he'll miss about living in Leipzig, Germany and discovers that the answer is complicated:
"Why do I live there, I then ask myself. The recent revelation that the TSA may record every phone call, and hopes to record social media interactions as well, suggests we’re now a nation of suspects—America has become one big terrorist watch list. Everyone is on it. As I think about expatriating, if only to object to a life inside that complex, I know, if they’re monitoring me, it won’t matter if I expatriate. It would only continue, perhaps even increase, the move confirming whatever theory had put them onto me, should that even be the case. It would be enough that I would find it objectionable, and it shouldn’t be.
"I think of the Chinese dissident who, when he learned he was being spied on by the state, said, 'I’ve been trying to get them to listen to me for years.' If they were spying on me, I would want to take the TSA on a tour through the Stasi museum.
"See all they did to try to control their citizens, I would say.
"See how it failed them."
PUBLISHED: May 14, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5641 words)