Unlicensed “health coach” claims health advice is free speech—court disagrees


This post is by Beth Mole from Ars Technica


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Unlicensed "health coach" Heather Del Castillo

Enlarge / Unlicensed “health coach” Heather Del Castillo (credit: Institute for Justice)

A federal court on Wednesday rejected claims by an unlicensed “health coach” that the unqualified health advice she provided to paying clients was protected speech under the First Amendment.

In rejecting her claim, the court affirmed that states do indeed have the right to require that anyone charging for health and medical services—in this case, dietetics and nutrition advice—be qualified and licensed. (State laws governing who can offer personalized nutrition services vary considerably, however.)

Heather Del Castillo, a “holistic health coach” based in Florida, brought the case in October of 2017 shortly after she was busted in an undercover investigation by the state health department. At the time, Del Castillo was running a health-coaching business called Constitution Nutrition, which offered a personalized, six-month health and dietary program. The program involved 13 in-home consulting sessions, 12 of

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Unlicensed “health coach” claims health advice is free speech—court disagrees


This post is by Beth Mole from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Unlicensed "health coach" Heather Del Castillo

Enlarge / Unlicensed “health coach” Heather Del Castillo (credit: Institute for Justice)

A federal court on Wednesday rejected claims by an unlicensed “health coach” that the unqualified health advice she provided to paying clients was protected speech under the First Amendment.

In rejecting her claim, the court affirmed that states do indeed have the right to require that anyone charging for health and medical services—in this case, dietetics and nutrition advice—be qualified and licensed. (State laws governing who can offer personalized nutrition services vary considerably, however.)

Heather Del Castillo, a “holistic health coach” based in Florida, brought the case in October of 2017 shortly after she was busted in an undercover investigation by the state health department. At the time, Del Castillo was running a health-coaching business called Constitution Nutrition, which offered a personalized, six-month health and dietary program. The program involved 13 in-home consulting sessions, 12 of

Continue reading “Unlicensed “health coach” claims health advice is free speech—court disagrees”

Shkreli stays in jail; Infamous ex-pharma CEO quickly loses appeal


This post is by Beth Mole from Ars Technica


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Three men stand behind microphones.

Enlarge / Martin Shkreli, former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, center, listens while his attorney Benjamin Brafman, right, speak to members of the media outside federal court in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

In a swift 3-0 vote Thursday, a panel of judges in a New York federal appeals court upheld the August 2017 conviction of Martin Shkreli. The infamous ex-pharmaceutical CEO is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for fraud stemming from what prosecutors had described as a Ponzi-like scheme.

Shkreli, 36, must continue to serve his sentence and also still forfeit more than $7.3 million in assets, the judges affirmed.

The judges’ ruling came just three weeks after hearing arguments in the appeal—rather than the normal period of months, Bloomberg notes. The ruling was also an unusually short seven pages.

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WHO declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency


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Health workers communicate information about Ebola at an Ebola screening station on the road between Butembo and Goma on July 16, 2019, in Goma, DRC.

Enlarge / Health workers communicate information about Ebola at an Ebola screening station on the road between Butembo and Goma on July 16, 2019, in Goma, DRC. (credit: Getty | John Wessels)

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the nearly year-long Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The declaration could boost funding and support for outbreak-response efforts, which have been hampered by violence and community distrust in the affected areas. Since January, officials have reported 198 attacks on health responders, which left seven dead and 58 healthcare workers and patients injured.

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today in a statement. “Extraordinary work

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DEA tracked every opioid pill sold in the US. The data is out—and it’s horrific


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Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters hold signs while protesting during the McKesson Corp. annual meeting at the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce in Irving, Texas, US, on Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

Enlarge / Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters hold signs while protesting during the McKesson Corp. annual meeting at the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce in Irving, Texas, US, on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Between 2006 and 2012, opioid drug makers and distributors flooded the country with 76 billion pills of oxycodone and hydrocodone—highly addictive opioid pain medications that sparked the epidemic of abuse and overdoses that killed nearly 100,000 people in that time period.

As the epidemic surged over the seven-year period, so did the supply. The companies increased distribution from 8.4 billion in 2006 to 12.6 billion in 2012, a jump of roughly 50%. In all, the deluge of pills was enough to supply every adult and child in the country with around 36 opioid pills per year. Just a 10-day supply can hook 1 in 5 people into being

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Measles is killing more people in the DRC than Ebola—and faster


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A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019 in Goma.

Enlarge / A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019 in Goma. (credit: Getty | PAMELA TULIZO )

As the world anxiously monitors the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo, health officials note that a measles outbreak declared last month in the country has killed more people—mostly children—and faster.

Since January 2019, officials have recorded over 100,000 measles cases in the DRC, mostly in children, and nearly 2,000 have died. The figures surpass those of the latest Ebola outbreak in the country, which has tallied not quite 2,500 cases and 1,665 deaths since August 2018. The totals were noted by World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech today, July 15, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Frankly, I am embarrassed to talk only about Ebola,” Dr. Tedros said (he goes

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Prominent anti-vaxxers lose New York court case over religious exemptions


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Anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during a public hearing on vaccine related bills in 2015.

Enlarge / Anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during a public hearing on vaccine related bills in 2015. (credit: Getty | Portland Press Herald)

A New York State Supreme Court Justice on Friday rejected a request by 55 anti-vaccine families to block a recently passed state law eliminating exemptions to school vaccination requirements on the basis of religious beliefs.

According to the families’ attorneys, Justice Michael Mackey cited other court decisions that have held that states have the power to impose such restrictions to protect public health from the spread of infectious disease. Justice Mackey added that the families were unlikely to succeed if they tried to continue with the case.

Nevertheless, the attorneys in the case—Michael Sussman and the prominent anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—vowed to keep fighting. Kennedy’s anti-vaccine nonprofit, Children’s Health Defense, released a statement saying, “While this decision is a set-back, it isn’t

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US gov’t growing a record 2-ton cannabis crop—but still won’t let others grow


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Marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse in Colorado, not for research.

Enlarge / Marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse in Colorado, not for research. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

With the recent explosion of cannabis access and CBD products, federally funded scientists are craving more research on the potential risks and benefits. But if any researchers were hoping for more varied sources of cannabis—sources that could better reflect what patients have access to, for instance—they may be left holding their breath.

Three years after saying it wanted more suppliers of cannabis for research, the US government continues to hold a monopoly on growing the crop. While more than two dozen entities have submitted applications to the Drug Enforcement Administration to become growers, the government has dragged its feet in processing the paperwork and is instead stepping up its own crop; its exclusive supplier, the University of Mississippi, is growing 2 tons this year, the largest crop in five years,

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Savage tick-clone armies are sucking cows to death; experts fear for humans


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Scary arachnid is fat.

Ravenous swarms of cloned ticks have killed a fifth cow in North Carolina by exsanguination—that is, by draining it of blood—the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned this week.

Experts fear that the bloodthirsty throngs, which were first noticed in the United States in 2017, will continue their rampage, siphoning life out of animals and eventually transmitting diseases, potentially deadly ones, to humans.

Just last month, infectious disease researchers in New York reported the first case of the tick species biting a human in the US. The finding was “unsurprising” given the tick’s ferocious nature, according to Dr. Bobbi S. Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory in Mayo Clinic. And it’s “extremely worrisome for several reasons,” she wrote in a commentary for the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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Mysterious illness that paralyzes healthy kids prompts plea from CDC


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13-year-old boy recovering in a Denver hospital from a suspected case of human enterovirus 68 during a 2014 outbreak.

Enlarge / 13-year-old boy recovering in a Denver hospital from a suspected case of human enterovirus 68 during a 2014 outbreak. (credit: Getty | Cyrus McCrimmon)

After a record number of cases in 2018 of a rare, puzzling illness that causes paralysis in otherwise healthy kids, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging doctors to hasten reporting and boost data collection before the next big wave of illness hits—which is expected in 2020.

The illness is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and is marked by the sudden onset of limb weakness (usually upper limb), paralysis, and spinal lesions seen on MRI scans. It most often occurs in children. It’s unclear what causes it and why instances are increasing—though officials suspect that a relative of poliovirus is involved. There is no specific treatment, and doctors can’t predict how affected patients will fare; some regain

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Antivaxxers turn to homeschooling to avoid protecting their kids’ health


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Stylized photograph of a boy writing at a desk.

Enlarge / A boy at school. (credit: Getty | Florian Gaertner )

Anti-vaccine advocates in New York are encouraging parents to homeschool their children rather than protect them from serious diseases, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.

The move by New York anti-vaccine groups comes just weeks after state lawmakers eliminated exemptions that allowed parents to opt their children out of standard school vaccination requirements on the basis of religious beliefs. Very few religions actually have objections to vaccinations, and the ones that do tend to have relatively few followers. But many parents who reject vaccines based on falsehoods and misinformation about their safety have claimed religious objections as a way to dodge immunization requirements.

As cases of measles in the United States have exploded in recent years—largely due to a small but loud band of anti-vaccine advocates misinforming parents—states are now cracking down on non-medical

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The New York Times suggests a probiotic can treat obesity—the data doesn’t


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The New York Times suggests a probiotic can treat obesity—the data doesn’t

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Dogukan Keskinkilic)

Adding to the steaming pile of unsubstantiated hype over probiotics, the New York Times ran an uncritical article this week suggesting that a probiotic of heat-killed bacteria can treat obesity.

Of course, the data behind the story does not suggest that. In fact, the study is so small and the data so noisy and indirect, it’s impossible to come to any conclusions about efficacy. There’s also the nit-picky complaint that the study deals with dead bacteria, while probiotics are generally defined as being live bacteria. More importantly, the study was authored by researchers with a clear financial stake in the treatment succeeding. They hold a patent on the treatment and have started a company based on it—two details the New York Times seems to have forgotten to mention.

Microbiome madness

In many ways, the study is pretty typical of those on probiotics.

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Big Dairy is trying to get teens hooked on lattes to boost milk sales


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Will coffee-flavored milk save the dairy industry?

Enlarge / Will coffee-flavored milk save the dairy industry? (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Amid decades-long souring of milk sales in the United States, big dairy groups have now turned to sponsoring coffee bars in high schools to help skim profits from the trendy—and milk-heavy—latte drinks popular with teens, according to a report by the Associated Press.

A $5,000 dairy grant to a high school in North Dakota helped buy an espresso machine that makes 150-calorie latte drinks containing 8 ounces of milk, for instance. The school went through 530 gallons of milk just for the lattes this school year, according to the food-service director for the school district.

Likewise, a Florida dairy group offers schools grants worth $6,000 to outfit their coffee bars. The campaign is called “moo-lah for schools,” which refers to lattes as “moo brew.” The group says the coffee bars are an opportunity to “serve

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879% drug price hike is one of 3,400 in 2019 so far; rate of hikes increasing


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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 11, 2018:  U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (R) announced a 'blueprint' for lowering the cost of prescription medication with President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 11, 2018: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (R) announced a ‘blueprint’ for lowering the cost of prescription medication with President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House. (credit: Getty | Chip Somodevilla)

Pharmaceutical companies raised the prices of more than 3,400 drugs in the first half of 2019, surpassing the number of drug hikes they imposed during the same period last year, according to an analysis first reported by NBC News.

The average price increase per drug was 10.5%, a rate around five times that of inflation. About 40 of the drugs saw triple-digit increases. That includes a generic version of the antidepressant Prozac, which saw a price increase of 879%.

The surge in price hikes comes amid ongoing public and political pressure to drag down the sky-rocketing price of drugs and healthcare costs

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Anti-vax teen that fought ban amid chickenpox outbreak loses in court—again


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Judges in Kentucky have handed down another legal defeat to the unvaccinated teenager who sued his local health department for banning him from school and extracurricular activities amid a chickenpox outbreak earlier this year.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday quietly sided with the health department, saying that it was acting well within its powers to protect public health. The appeals court quoted an earlier ruling by the US Supreme Court saying that “Of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

The Northern Kentucky Health Department declared the latest court decision a “resounding victory for public health in Kentucky,” in a statement.

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Hard-to-kill poop parasites that lurk in swimming pools on the rise, CDC warns


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What's going on in that swim diaper?

Enlarge / What’s going on in that swim diaper? (credit: Getty | BSIP)

Whatever you do this summer, don’t drink the pool water.

Outbreaks of the gastrointestinal parasite cryptosporidium have been spurting upward since 2009, with the number of outbreaks gushing up an average of 13% each year, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The germ spreads via the fecal-oral route and causes explosive, watery diarrhea that can last for up to three weeks. Most victims pick up the infection from recreational waters, such as swimming pools and water parks.

The main trouble is that crypto is extremely tolerant of chlorine and can happily stay afloat in well-treated pools for more than seven days. Thus, sick swimmers are the main source of infection—often young children who have yet to master toilet skills and also have more of a tendency to gulp pool water. An

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Who will wake up from a coma? Electrical jolts in the brain offer hints


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A woman in medical garb attaches electric devices to the head of a patient in bed.

Enlarge / Healthcare worker sets up an EEG on an ICU patient. (credit: Getty | BSIP)

Researchers may have found a way to detect inklings of consciousness in comatose and vegetative patients just days after they experience a brain injury—and it appears the method may help predict which patients will rouse and recover in the months afterward.

A team of researchers in New York recorded electrical activity in the brains of unresponsive patients while giving them simple spoken commands, such as “keep opening and closing your right hand” or “wiggle your toes.” Of 104 unresponsive patients tested, 16 (15%) showed some activity. Of those 16 patients, eight of them (50%) went on to be able to follow spoken commands by the time they left the hospital. A year later, seven of them (44%) were able to function independently for at least eight hours at a time.

In contrast,

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Tax-exempt hospital sues thousands of poor people while making millions


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The exterior of Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Enlarge / The exterior of Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

An “especially aggressive” nonprofit hospital system in Memphis that made $86 million after expenses in 2018 and pays virtually no taxes has spent years relentlessly suing thousands of low-income patients over medical debts, according to a new investigation by ProPublica and local reporting-network member MLK50.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare runs six hospitals around Memphis, a city in which about 25 percent of residents live below the poverty line. The hospital system, which made $2.1 billion in revenue, charges low-income patients interest on their bills and regularly garners their meager wages when they don’t pay up. The hospital system owns its own collection agency to pursue debtors.

From 2014 to 2018, Methodist filed more than 8,300 lawsuits for unpaid medical bills. Through the courts, it secured garnishment orders in 46 percent of those cases.

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Deadly, drug-resistant fungus drips off its victims to spread to others


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The director of the German National Reference Centre for Invasive Fungus Infections holding a petri dish of the yeast <em>Candida auris</em> in January 2018.

Enlarge / The director of the German National Reference Centre for Invasive Fungus Infections holding a petri dish of the yeast Candida auris in January 2018. (credit: Getty | Nicolas Armer)

Patients infected with a deadly, drug-resistant fungus are dripping with the dangerous germ, which pours into their surroundings where it lies in wait for weeks to find a new victim. That’s according to fresh data reported from the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology recently in San Francisco.

The data fills in critical unknowns about how the fungus, Candida auris, actually spreads. The germ is a relatively new threat, considered an emerging pathogen by experts—and it’s emerging quickly with an unusual ability to lurk and kill in healthcare settings.

It was first identified in 2009 in Japan. Studies since have tracked the globetrotting fungus backward and forward in time, from South Korea in 1996 to

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North Korea reveals explosive HIV outbreak—after claiming to be disease-free


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This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 18, 2016, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly built Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital in Pyongyang.

Enlarge / This undated picture released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 18, 2016, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly built Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital in Pyongyang. (credit: Getty | KCNA)

North Korea is experiencing an explosive outbreak of HIV amid limited access to diagnostic testing and treatments, according to an exclusive report by Science.

Independent researchers and government health officials tell the outlet that the isolated East Asian country confirmed its first HIV case in 1999 and has quietly watched infections balloon to over 8,300 cases in the last few years. The researchers and North Korean officials have submitted a report on the matter to the new medical preprint server medRxiv, which is scheduled to go live on Tuesday, June 25.

The case estimate stands in stark contrast to a celebration in Pyongyang last year on December 1—annual

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