FDA approved Teva Pharmaceuticals' Plan B One-Step -- a single-pill version of the two-pill dose emergency contraceptive product Plan B -- and lowered the limit for over-the-counter purchase of the drug to age 17, the company announced on Monday, the AP/Yahoo! Finance reports ( AP/Yahoo! Finance, 7/13). Individuals ages 16 and younger will be required to obtain prescriptions to purchase Plan B, which reduces the chance of pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse (Teva Pharmaceuticals release, 7/13). Teva said the one-pill version will be available at retail pharmacies in August ( AP/Yahoo! Finance, 7/13). Kelli Conlin, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, said, "Health care providers and women's advocates have been eager for a one-pill emergency contraceptive for years and are happy to see it finally come to fruition" (Teva Pharmaceuticals release, 7/13).
One of the continuing mysteries of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is why women usually develop lower viral levels than men following acute HIV-1 infection but progress faster to AIDS than men with similar viral loads. Now a research team based at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), MIT and Harvard has found that a receptor molecule involved in the first-line recognition of HIV-1 responds to the virus differently in women, leading to subsequent differences in chronic T cell activation, a known predictor of disease progression. Their paper, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Nature Medicine, is receiving early online release.
A leading UK authority on midwifery told a Sunday newspaper that more women should experience the natural pains of labour unaided by epidurals and other pain-relieving medication because not only do these procedures carry greater medical risk but they interfere with the mother's ability to bond with her baby and deny her the opportunity to experience childbirth as a rite of passage. According to an article in the Observer newspaper yesterday, Dr Denis Walsh, a senior midwife, published author on natural childbirth, and an associate professor in midwifery at Nottingham University, said that: "In the west it has never been safer to have a baby, yet it appears that women have never been more frightened of the processes.
President Obama is expected to arrive in Accra, Ghana, Friday night, the AP/Google.com reports. White House adviser Michelle Gavin said the president chose to travel to Ghana "because it's such an admirable example of strong, democratic governance, vibrant civil society" (Babington, 7/10). The following are opinion pieces reflecting on his trip and Africa policy: Obama Can 'Add Real Body' U.S. Africa Promises In a commentary piece appearing in New America Media author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson calls for President Obama to "add real body" to the big promises of former Presidents Bush and Clinton to "boost trade, business ties, aid dollars, and wage an aggressive battle against corruption and disease, and to promote democracy.
President Obama on Wednesday nominated Francis Collins, a physician and genetics researcher, to be NIH director, the Washington Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 7/9). Collins worked at the agency during the administrations of former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush and served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he helped lead the Human Genome Project to sequence all human DNA (Young, The Hill, 7/8). He is also known for a 2006 best-selling book presenting scientific evidence for a belief in God. Collins resigned as head of the institute last year but remained a consultant. Since then, he established the BioLogos Foundation to "contribute to the public voice that represents the harmony of science and faith" (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 7/9).
An ambitious new national study that aims to follow children from conception through adulthood will miss a golden opportunity to gather data on the most underrepresented population in clinical research - pregnant women, say leading ethicists at Duke University Medical Center, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities. There's still time, however, to make small but crucial cost-effective changes that could yield valuable information for women's health from The National Children's Study. "This is an ideal chance to study women during and following pregnancy, as well as the babies they will bear, " says Anne Drapkin Lyerly, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist and medical ethicist at Duke.