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Medical News, August 31, 2015

Welcome to this week’s edition of the medical news summary. This edition will cover highlights in medical and health news from the 24th to the 31st of August.

On the 30th August Dr Oliver Sacks passed away aged 82 years old. It is reported that Dr Sacks died from cancer. Dr Sacks was born in London and moved to New York in 1965. He published several famous books on the subject of neuroscience such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat and The Island Of the Colourblind. He also wrote the book Awakenings which was later made into a film. Oliver Sacks was awarded several honorary degrees for his contribution to both science and literature. He was also award a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008. Dr Sacks studied medicine at Oxford University and later worked as a consulting neurologist in New York. Whilst working in New York he recognised that several patients who were in frozen states could be treated with the experimental drug L-dopa. This enabled them to regain consciousness and became the subject of his book Awakenings. His other books cover conditions such as Tourette’s syndrome, autism, phantom limb syndrome, schizophrenia, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.

Public Health England have advised that parents should give babies infant paracetamol to avoid the fever that follows a Meningitis B vaccine. Public Health England have stressed that the fever is usually short lived and the side effects of the vaccine are outweighed by the protection the vaccine gives against meningitis and septicaemia. The national immunisation campaign begins in the 1st of September and the new vaccine will protect against meningococcal group B disease that affected 535 children in 2013 alone. The vaccine which has the band name Bexsero is produced by GlaxoSmithKline. Three jabs are given in total, the first given at two months the second at four months and the final jab given at 12-13 months.

A new drug that has been deemed a “wonder” drug for reducing cholesterol is unlikely to be widely available on the NHS. The drug known as Repatha goes on sale on the 1st of September and is licensed for reducing cholesterol. The drug is an alternative to statins with less of the reported side effects. Many patients taking prescribed statins report fatigue, nausea and muscle pain. Despite this, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is expected to prevent many patients from swapping from statins to Repatha. The reason for this is because the new drug costs more than £4,000 per patient per year in comparison to only £20 for statins.

A large international study has highlighted which patients suffering with depression are most likely to be at risk of committing suicide. The study highlighted that those at the highest risk were those who displayed behavioural symptoms such as, risky driving, hand-wringing or impulsive decision making. Patients who had depression and showed these symptoms were at a 50% increased risk of attempting suicide. The findings were collected by research groups in France, USA, UK, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland. The number of suicides are increasing across the world and it remains the leading cause of death in young males.

A new blood sugar monitor is being tested on patients with diabetes. The device consistently monitors blood sugar levels and transmits the information to a smartphone. The device is hoped to help control type 1 diabetes. Currently, patients with type 1 diabetes prick their finger to test their blood sugar levels. The new detector works by shining fluorescent light on the blood vessels and the amount of light that is reflected back is then used to calculate blood sugar levels. This information is then sent to a smartphone. The NHS are believed to offer continuous monitors should be offered to patients who have hypoglycaemic attacks or a complete loss of awareness.

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