Pharmacies miss half of dangerous drug combinations

Sam Roe, Ray Long and Karisa King, Pharmacies miss half of dangerous drug combinations. Part 3 of “Dangerous Doses.” Chicago Tribune, 15 December 2016. “The [Chicago] Tribune reporter walked into an Evanston [Illinois] CVS pharmacy carrying two prescriptions: one for a common antibiotic, the other for a popular anti-cholesterol drug. Taken alone, these two drugs, clarithromycin and simvastatin, are relatively safe. But taken together they can cause a severe breakdown in muscle tissue and lead to kidney failure and death. When the reporter tried to fill the prescriptions, the pharmacist should have warned him of the dangers. But that’s not what happened. The two medications were packaged, labeled and sold within minutes, without a word of caution. In the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, the Tribune tested 255 pharmacies to see how often stores would dispense dangerous drug pairs without warning patients. Fifty-two percent of the pharmacies sold the medications without mentioning the potential interaction, striking evidence of an industrywide failure that places millions of consumers at risk.”

[Read more…]

Innocents: El Salvador, where pregnant women have more to fear than Zika

Rachel Nolan, Innocents. Harper’s, October 2016. “There are six countries in the world that prohibit abortion under all circumstances, without exceptions for victims of rape or incest or for cases in which the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother: El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, Malta, and Vatican City. In the United States, even the most fervent antiabortion groups maintain that women who have abortions are victims, instead directing their attacks at doctors. Earlier this year, when Donald Trump suggested that if Roe v. Wade were reversed, women who choose to terminate a pregnancy should be subject to “some form of punishment,” he was denounced across the political spectrum.

That scenario already exists in El Salvador, a country of 6.3 million, where an active medical and law-enforcement system finds and tries women who are suspected of having had abortions. Public prosecutors visit hospitals to train gynecologists and obstetricians to detect and report patients who show “symptoms of abortion.” Doctors are legally obligated to be informants for the police.”

[Read more…]

How Elizabeth Holmes’s House of Cards [Theranos] Came Tumbling Down

Nick Bilton, How Elizabeth Holmes’s House of Cards Came Tumbling Down. Vanity Fair, 6 September 2016. “In a searing investigation into the once lauded biotech start-up Theranos, Nick Bilton discovers that its precocious founder defied medical experts–even her own chief scientist–about the veracity of its now discredited blood-testing technology. She built a corporation based on secrecy in the hope that she could still pull it off. Then, it all fell apart.”

[Read more…]

Inside the Deadly World of Private Prisoner Transport

Eli Hager and Alysia Santo, Inside the Deadly World of Private Prisoner Transport. The Marshall Project, 6 July 2016. This story was produced in collaboration with The New York Times. “Every year, tens of thousands of fugitives and suspects — many of whom have not been convicted of a crime — are entrusted to a handful of small private companies that specialize in state and local extraditions. A Marshall Project review of thousands of court documents, federal records and local news articles and interviews with more than 50 current or former guards and executives reveals a pattern of prisoner abuse and neglect in an industry that operates with almost no oversight.”

[Read more…]

The Shadow Doctors: The underground race to spread medical knowledge as the Syrian regime erases it

Ben Taub, The Shadow Doctors: The underground race to spread medical knowledge as the Syrian regime erases it. The New Yorker, 27 June 2016. “In the past five years [2011-2016], the Syrian government has assassinated, bombed, and tortured to death almost seven hundred medical personnel, according to Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that documents attacks on medical care in war zones. (Non-state actors, including ISIS, have killed twenty-seven.) Recent headlines announced the death of the last pediatrician in Aleppo, the last cardiologist in Hama. A United Nations commission concluded that “government forces deliberately target medical personnel to gain military advantage,” denying treatment to wounded fighters and civilians “as a matter of policy.””

[Read more…]

Madness: In Florida prisons, mentally ill inmates have been tortured, driven to suicide, and killed by guards

Eyal Press, Madness: In Florida prisons, mentally ill inmates have been tortured, driven to suicide, and killed by guards. The New Yorker, 2 May 2016. Eyal Press won the “June [2016] Sidney Award for exposing horrific abuses of mentally ill prisoners in the Transitional Care Unit of the Dade Correctional Institution (DCI) in Florida for the New Yorker. Press’ reporting showed that TCU inmates were routinely subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of prison guards. Several prisoners were scalded with steaming water from a hose. One such treatment proved fatal, burning the inmate so badly that the skin peeled off his corpse at the slightest touch. Psychiatrists and technicians who tried to report the abuses also faced retaliation from the guards. After questioning restrictive policies, one psychiatric technician was repeatedly abandoned by guards to face dangerous patients alone. ‘The result was pervasive, lethal abuse: inmates beaten, tortured and killed, sometimes directly in front of health care professionals, who then pretended they saw nothing,’ said Press in an interview for Hillman’s Backstory feature. ‘Much of what takes place in jails and prisons is veiled from scrutiny, which makes abuse and corruption more likely.'”

[Read more…]

Insult to Injury: The Demolition of Workers’ Comp

Michael Grabell, ProPublica, Howard Berkes, NPR, Lena Groeger, ProPublica, Yue Qiu, ProPublica, and Sisi Wei, ProPublica, Insult to Injury: The Demolition of Workers’ Comp. ProPublica and NPR, 4 March 2016. “Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.”

One of three winners of the 2016 IRE (Investigative Reporters & Editors) Award for Investigative Journalism. “Judges’ comments: This project masterfully details how states across the nation have dismantled their workers’ comp programs, cutting benefits and sticking taxpayers with a growing bill for injured workers. Tackling an often overlooked topic, the reporters built databases tracking legislative changes in each state over the past dozen years, obtained benefit plans from some of the country’s largest companies and combed through thousands of pages of depositions. They used heartbreaking stories and interactive tools to present complex material in an elegant way. Their work paid off in legislative changes in several states, investigations and a wider discussion about needed changes. We are awarding this project an IRE Medal for its wide impact and its fresh approach to showing how employers continue to benefit at the expense of workers.”

[Read more…]

The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare

Nathaniel Rich, The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare. The New York Times Magazine, 6 January 2016. “Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years. Then he took on an environmental suit that would upend his entire career–and expose a brazen, decades-long history of chemical pollution.”

[Read more…]

Insane. Invisible. In danger. Horrific conditions in Florida’s public mental hospitals

Leonora LaPeter Anton, Michael Braga and Anthony Cormier, Insane. Invisible. In danger. Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 29 October 2015. Florida’s state-funded mental hospitals are supposed to be safe places to house and treat people who are a danger to themselves or others. But years of neglect and $100 million in budget cuts have turned them into treacherous warehouses where violence is out of control and patients can’t get the care they need.” This is a three-part series about Florida’s state-funded mental hospitals and a documentary by John Pendygraft about “three people whose lives were forever changed by the violence inside.”

[Read more…]

How Startup Theranos Has Struggled With Its Blood-Test Technology

John Carreyrou, How Startup Theranos Has Struggled With Its Blood-Test Technology. The Wall Street Journal, 16 October 2015. “On Theranos Inc.’s website, company founder Elizabeth Holmes holds up a tiny vial to show how the startup’s “breakthrough advancements have made it possible to quickly process the full range of laboratory tests from a few drops of blood.” The company offers more than 240 tests, ranging from cholesterol to cancer. It claims its technology can work with just a finger prick. Investors have poured more than $400 million into Theranos, valuing it at $9 billion and her majority stake at more than half that. The 31-year-old Ms. Holmes’s bold talk and black turtlenecks draw comparisons to Apple Inc. cofounder Steve Jobs. But Theranos has struggled behind the scenes to turn the excitement over its technology into reality. At the end of 2014, the lab instrument developed as the linchpin of its strategy handled just a small fraction of the tests then sold to consumers, according to four former employees.”

Winner of the 2015 George Polk Award for Financial Reporting. “The award for Financial Reporting will go to John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal whose investigation of Theranos, Inc. raised serious doubts about claims by the firm and its celebrated 31-year-old founder, Elizabeth Holmes, that its new procedure for drawing and testing blood was a transformational medical breakthrough in wide use at the firm’s labs. Carreyrou’s well-researched stories, reported in the face of threats of lawsuits and efforts to pressure some sources to back off of their accounts, led to a reevaluation of Theranos’ prospects among investors and have been followed by regulatory actions against the company and widespread discussion that publications and institutions from Fortune and The New Yorker to Harvard and the White House may have been too quick to hail Holmes, a Stanford dropout whose personal wealth at the height of her startup’s rise was an estimated $4.5 billion, as a success story in the tradition of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.”

[Read more…]