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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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FDA: Avoid drugs from company tied to meningitis

NEW YORK (AP) — The government is warning doctors and hospitals not to use any product from the specialty pharmacy that made the steroid suspected in a meningitis outbreak. An official with the Food and Drug Administration said tests found contamination in a sealed vial of the steroid at the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts. Tests are under way to determine if it is the same fungus blamed in the outbreak.

Research on mice suggests new fertility treatments

NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists have turned mouse skin cells into eggs that produced baby mice — a technique that, if successfully applied to humans, could someday allow women to stop worrying about the ticking of their biological clocks and perhaps even help couples create "designer babies." For technical as well as ethical reasons, nobody expects doctors will be making eggs from women's skin cells any time soon. But some see possibilities and questions about its use.

Outbreak spotlights risks from custom-mixed drugs

Two people blinded in Washington, D.C., in 2005. Three dead in Virginia in 2006 and three more in Oregon the following year. Twenty-one dead polo horses in Florida in 2009. Earlier this year, 33 people in seven states with fungal eye infections. And now, at least five people dead and 35 sickened with fungal meningitis that has been linked to steroid shots for back pain.

Outbreak spotlights safety of custom-mixed drugs

Custom-mixed medicines like the steroid shots suspected in a meningitis outbreak have long been a source of concern, and their use is far wider than many people realize. These medicines are made in private and hospital pharmacies and are used to treat everything from cancer to menopause symptoms to vision loss.

Rare US meningitis outbreak grows; 4 dead, 22 sick

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An outbreak of a rare form of meningitis is likely to grow after sickening 26 people in five states, including four who died, health officials warned. All received steroid injections, mostly for back pain, a fairly typical treatment. The drug was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts that issued a recall last week and has shut down operations.

4 dead from rare meningitis, more cases expected

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Health officials are expecting to find more cases of a rare and deadly form of meningitis that has sickened more than two dozen people in five states. Four have died. All received steroid injections, mostly for back pain, a fairly typical treatment.

Rare meningitis cases at 26 in 5 states, 4 deaths

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An outbreak of a rare and deadly form of meningitis has now sickened 26 people in five states who received steroid injections mostly for back pain, health officials said Wednesday. Four people have died, and more cases are expected. Eighteen cases of fungal meningitis are in Tennessee where a Nashville clinic received the largest shipment of the steroid suspected in the outbreak. The drug was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts that issued a recall last week. Investigators, though, say they are still trying to confirm the source of the infections.

Benefits seen in hormone use early in menopause

A new study may reassure some women considering short-term use of hormones to relieve hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. Starting low-dose treatment early in menopause made women feel better and did not seem to raise heart risks during the four-year study. However, the research didn't address the risk of breast cancer, perhaps the biggest fear women have about hormones since a landmark study a decade ago. The new one was too small and too short for that.

Ban on gay ‘conversion’ therapy to be challenged

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gay rights advocates are making plans to get other states to join California in banning psychotherapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight, even as opponents prepared Monday to sue to overturn the first law in the nation to take aim at the practice. After months of intense lobbying, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill late Saturday that prohibits licensed mental health professionals from using so-called reparative or conversion therapies with clients under age 18. Brown called the therapies "quackery" that "have no basis in science or medicine."

California law bans gay teen ‘conversion’ therapy

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has become the first state to ban a controversial form of psychotherapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight. Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he had signed SB1172 by Democratic Senator Ted Lieu of Torrance. The law, which prohibits sexual orientation change efforts for anyone under 18, will stop children from being psychologically abused, Lieu said.

Agency: Medicare refills strong drugs despite law

MIAMI (AP) — Medicare routinely refilled pain pills and other restricted medications that are barred by federal law from renewal without a fresh prescription, government inspectors said in a report Thursday. The report based on 2009 data found three-quarters of contractors who processed prescriptions for the Medicare Part D program wrongly refilled some medications classed as Schedule II controlled substances, which include strong pain killers and other drugs considered at high risk for abuse. Those refills were worth a total of $25 million.

Bizarre tumor case may lead to custom cancer care

It's a medical nightmare: a 24-year-old man endures 350 surgeries since childhood to remove growths that keep coming back in his throat and have spread to his lungs, threatening his life. Now doctors have found a way to help him by way of a scientific coup that holds promise for millions of cancer patients. The bizarre case is the first use in a patient of a new discovery: how to keep ordinary and cancerous cells alive indefinitely in the lab.

High court to consider drunken driving case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide when law enforcement officers must get a warrant before ordering a blood test on an unwilling drunken-driving suspect. The issue has divided federal and state courts around the country and the justices on Tuesday agreed to take up a case involving a disputed blood test from Missouri.

Pot could be tax windfall, but skeptics abound

DENVER (AP) — A catchy pro-marijuana jingle for Colorado voters considering legalizing the drug goes like this: "Jobs for our people. Money for schools. Who could ask for more?" It's a bit more complicated than that in the three states — Colorado, Oregon and Washington — that could become the first to legalize marijuana this fall.

AP Exclusive: Mass. inmate lauds sex-change ruling

BOSTON (AP) — A convicted murderer in Massachusetts says a judge's decision to grant her request for sex-reassignment surgery is "the right thing to do." U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled this month that the surgery is the only adequate treatment for Michelle Kosilek's gender-identity disorder, a condition he said is a "serious medical need." The ruling marks the first time a judge has ordered prison officials to provide sex-reassignment surgery.

Kathy Bates recovering from double mastectomy

NEW YORK (AP) — Kathy Bates says she is recovering from a double mastectomy. The Oscar-winning actress tweeted on Wednesday that she was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago. But in a separate post, she said she doesn't miss her breasts as much as "Harry's Law," her NBC law drama that was canceled last May.

‘Berlin Man,’ doctor convinced HIV cure is real

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The first person reportedly cured of HIV said Wednesday he is hopeful that medical advances will allow others suffering from the virus that causes AIDS to be cured, too. Timothy Ray Brown of San Francisco is known as "The Berlin Patient" because of where he was treated. He and the doctor who treated him, Gero Hutter, made their first joint appearance in the U.S. on Wednesday when Hutter spoke at a symposium on gene therapy at Washington University in St. Louis.

Studies: Alzheimer drug may stabilize brain plaque

An experimental drug that failed to stop mental decline in Alzheimer's patients also signaled potential benefit that suggests it might help if given earlier, fuller results of two major studies show. Some patients on the drug had stable levels of brain plaque and less evidence of nerve damage compared to others who were given a dummy treatment, researchers reported Tuesday.

Study: Placebo or not, acupuncture helps with pain

CHICAGO (AP) — Acupuncture gets a thumbs-up for helping relieve pain from chronic headaches, backaches and arthritis in a review of more than two dozen studies — the latest analysis of an often-studied therapy that has as many fans as critics. Some believe its only powers are a psychological, placebo effect. But some doctors believe even if that's the explanation for acupuncture's effectiveness, there's no reason not to offer it if it makes people feel better.

7 scientists win prestigious Lasker medical awards

NEW YORK (AP) — Seven scientists have won prestigious medical awards for development of liver transplantation, discoveries about the inner workings of cells, and leadership in biomedical science. The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced the winners Monday. The prizes, worth $250,000 for each of three categories, will be presented in New York on Sept. 21.