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Some Still Won’t Sell It: Do You Know If Plan B Is Available In Your Area?

emergency contraception, plan b, morning after pill, women's health, reporting on healthNow that the latest controversial decision over federal “morning after” pill restrictions has faded from the headlines, it’s worth following up on this question: how available is emergency contraception right now in your own community?

To recap: last week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own science advisors in a decision preventing the “morning after” contraceptive pill Plan B from being sold over the counter at drugstores and to girls under 17 without a prescription. The election-season decision, largely regarded as highly political, could be reviewed by a federal judge after a legal challenge by a pro-choice group.

Of course, Plan B has been controversial ever since it was first approved by the FDA in 1999 (you can see Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Reporting on Health - Barbara Feder Ostrov's Health Journalism Blog*

Kathleen Sebelius Vetoes OTC Access To Morning After Pill For Young Teens

There’s plenty of of analysis, criticism and praise of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ controversial decision to prevent the “morning after” contraceptive pill Plan B from being sold over the counter at drugstores and to girls under 17 without a prescription. The top question: how much did election-year politics affect the decision?

President Barack Obama, father of two daughters, defended Sebelius today and said he was not involved in her decision. The New York Times quotes him:

The reason Kathleen made this decision is that she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drug store should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect.

Here’s a roundup of the national conversation so far:

NPR’s Julie Rovner reports today on the angry reactions from women’s health advocates, who note that Sebelius’ reasoning – that young girls might not use the OTC birth control correctly – sets a double standard for birth control. She quotes former assistant FDA commissioner Susan Wood: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Reporting on Health - Barbara Feder Ostrov's Health Journalism Blog*

Bad Medical Marketing: An Ad The FDA Should Pull

If ever a medical device company crossed a line with their marketing, this one has. Essure, which makes a sterilization device for women, is trying to scare men away from vasectomy in order to drive women to use their device.

“We made men watch footage of an actual vasectomy,” says the female voiceover — and then they proceed to show men’s reactions to watching a surgical procedure, with “That’s frickin’ gross, man” being the most memorable quote. The final tagline: “You can only wait so long for him to man up.” Yeah, and to be sure he doesn’t, they’ve created this ad.

The ad is slimy, harmful, obnoxious, and just plain stupid. A couple’s decision as to which sterilization procedure is best for them should be one informed by real information, not frat-boy marketing.

How dare they? The FDA should pull this ad — now.


Addendum: I just emailed the FDA at Feel free to copy my message below and send your own email:

To the FDA,

I find this ad for Essure both inflammatory and unethical. I am incensed at the impact this ad could have on couples’ informed choices about sterilization. I ask that you mandate that the company who makes Essure immediately pull this ad, both from the Web and from any media outlet where it’s playing.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Violence As A Means Of Miscarriage

In less than six months after I wrote ”Seven Reasons Why Pregnancy Becomes a Deadly Affair,” the public outrage is faint and inaudible regarding domestic violence committed against pregnant women. The subject therefore needs to be revisited again.

On a college campus less than 90 minutes away from my home, a 17-year-old woman was kicked and punched in her abdomen for no apparent reason other than that she carried life within her womb. The alleged father of her baby, Devin Nickels, a college student at Florida State University (FSU), was apparently not happy about his new prospective role. He purportedly contacted a high school buddy, Andres Luis Marrero, who now attended the University of Tampa, and asked him to beat his girlfriend until she had a miscarriage for $200.00. Marrero, instead, offered to assault the girl for free.

According to the University of Tampa’s newspaper, The Minaret, Nickels drove his girlfriend to a secluded wooded area near an apartment complex and Marrero allegedly assaulted her despite her pleas that she was pregnant. The woman was treated at a local hospital and her pregnancy was still viable. Hours later, Marrero allegedly wrote about the attack on his Facebook wall describing it as “fun.” He was subsequently arrested for armed kidnapping and aggravated assault on a pregnant woman. His father made a statement that his son was an “outstanding kid all his life” and he had no idea “where this was coming from.” Nickels was also arrested on the FSU campus.

Unfortunately these travesties continue. The Oakland Press reported the story of a 17-year-old Ypsilanti, Michigan high schooler who allegedly stabbed a classmate (with whom he’d had sex) in the back of the head 12 times because she told him she “might be pregnant.” She ultimately had surgery that resulted in an intensive care unit admission. The classmate lived because she “played dead.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

Can Medical Clowning Improve In Vitro Success?

Following from the somewhat common sense idea that women who were less stressed during in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET) had better outcomes, the journal Fertility and Sterility published a study out of Israel that claims “medical clowning” improved pregnancy rates compared to a group not exposed to a clown on the day of implantation.

From the abstract:

This experimental prospective quasi-randomized study examining the impact of a medical clowning encounter after ET after IVF found that the pregnancy rate in the intervention group was 36.4%, compared with 20.2% in the control group (adjusted odds ratio, 2.67; 95% confidence interval, 1.36–5.24). Medical clowning as an adjunct to IVF-ET may have a beneficial effect on pregnancy rates and deserves further investigation.

In the methods section, the researchers describe the study design. For the intervention group (n=110) a “professional medical clown” visited the patient immediately after the procedure for about 15 minutes and performed the same routine including “jokes, tricks, and magic” while dressed as a chef.

While the study itself only uses one routine, presumably similar effects could be experienced by a patient bringing in a personal media device and watching something they know will amuse them right after their own procedure. Hopefully, no need to bring your own clown if the office won’t provide one for you. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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