Health Desk

The battle over drug prices escalated Monday when health insurance giant Anthem Inc. sued Express Scripts, a manager of drug benefits, to get a bigger share of savings on prescription medicines.

It was 11 on a Tuesday night nearly six years ago when Jean-Clair Desir's mother fell ill with cholera in the Boucan-Carre district of Haiti's central highlands.

"She started vomiting with diarrhea," Desir recalls. "I made oral rehydration for her, nothing worked. She died at 3 in the morning." She never made it to a hospital or clinic and so probably wasn't counted as a cholera victim.

After burying his mother, Desir, a third-year student at Haiti's University of Agronomy Sciences, nearly died of cholera himself.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, just look around your workplace. You probably see lots of them - standing desks. But as NPR's Patti Neighmond reports, a new study finds that health benefits of these desks are not really proven.

The world has a seriously busy day today. March 21 isn't just the date of President Obama's historic trip to Cuba, Apple's highly anticipated iPhone event and Matthew Broderick's 54th birthday.

It's also the busiest spot on the United Nations' calendar of international observances — on this one day, it marks five different "Days." Here's a rundown:

When Allison Fite was 16, she couldn't stop falling asleep in class. Doctors told her it was from a severe sinus infection, but it never really went away. For the next decade she struggled with infection after infection, taking antibiotics and decongestants. "Having these sinus problems and not being able to breathe was debilitating," she says.

Fite, now 27, couldn't figure out why this kept happening. Neither could any of her doctors. They told her she had allergies, but "then the tests would come back and they'd be like, 'Huh. You don't have allergies,' " she says.

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Early on the morning of Dec. 19, his 23rd birthday, Zachary Briley went missing from his independent living residence after an altercation with neighbors.

Zachary was biracial, with brown eyes and a warm smile. He took anti-seizure medication, had an IQ of 69, and had the daily living skills of a 12-year-old.

Donna Davis thought she had hit the jackpot with the two bags of mushrooms she collected in the woods of Northern California's Salt Point State Park. Instead, she ended up in the hospital, facing the possibility of a liver transplant, after mistakenly eating a poisonous mushroom known as the death cap.

The happiest country in the world is Denmark, according to a new report from the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. And the least happy is Burundi. Maybe someone forgot to tell the Burundians.

"I wouldn't say we are sad," says Burundi-born Elavie Ndura, 56, the presidential fellow for diversity and inclusion, and professor of education at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

By the time I read about Marina Menegazzo and María José Coni, their bodies had already been found. They'd been missing for nearly a week and were discovered on Feb. 28, wrapped in plastic bags and dumped near a beach in Ecuador. One had her skull bashed in; the other had stab wounds and had bled to death. The two Argentine tourists, 22 and 23, had been vacationing in Ecuador. Their murder wasn't reported much in English language media.

Katie Roiphe's preoccupation with death goes back to her childhood, when she contracted virulent pneumonia at the age of 12. She was sick for a year and thought she was going to die.

Her terror of death was reignited many years later when her father died. It was then that Riophe found herself turning to great minds to see how they confronted mortality.

Making Sense Of Alzheimer's At School

Mar 19, 2016

Greg Kintzele is a amiable, blonde seventh-grader from Denver who was always close with his grandmother. They would hike together in the mountains in Colorado where they live, and play a lot of games, too. Especially Scrabble.

"She'd always come up with all these words and I'd be like, 'Is that a word?' and then she'd be like, 'Oh yes it is. You can check it in the dictionary," Greg says.

And usually she was right.

Then he noticed his grandmother starting to change. Her mood became sharper and she couldn't seem to remember the grandson she'd known for a decade.

Here's how I knew I liked Patti Trabosh.

It goes back to the very first time I called her out of the blue to ask whether I might profile her family for a story on opioid addiction. The very first words out of her mouth were, "I'm pissed off!"

Trabosh went on to explain why she was angry. First, it was the struggle to find a bed in a drug treatment program for her 22-year-old son Nikko Adam. He had become addicted to prescription painkillers and then heroin when he was still in high school. He'd been in rehab twice before, and relapsed both times.

Medicare beneficiaries may get dinged with higher prescription drug bills this year because more than half of covered drugs in standalone plans require them to pay a percentage of the cost rather than a flat fee, an analysis from consulting group Avalere Health says.

You never know who you're going to meet at a party. In the case of one young man and woman, a Halloween celebration in New York City led not just to a love affair — it became part of the fabric of modern Cuba.

California's insurance exchange is threatening to cut hospitals from its networks for poor performance or high costs, a novel proposal that is drawing heavy fire from medical providers and insurers.

The goal is to boost the overall quality of patient care and make coverage more affordable, said Peter Lee, executive director of the Covered California exchange.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

2 Breakfasts May Be Better Than None For School Kids

Mar 17, 2016

When it comes to school breakfasts, two is better than none, says a new report released Thursday in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

The Delhi subway system is far superior to the one in Washington D.C. This is something I've always said to people in New Delhi, where I now live. The temporary shutdown of the subway system in D.C. has finally validated my claims.

Syrian kids who passed through Milan's Central Station last year did something very Italian: create artwork. While they waited for trains to take them to northern Europe, Save the Children offered them a chance to draw. They could depict whatever they wanted, says psychologist Vittoria Ardino, president of the Italian Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress, who analyzed 500 of these images.

I've been itching to get a standing desk. After all, America's sitting itself into an early grave. Sitting is the new smoking. Clearly, a standing desk would stop me from sitting, and standing is just so much better for you than sitting, right?

Contrary to popular belief, science does not say so.

"Let me be blunt," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in his opening statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "This was a failure of government at all levels. Local, state and federal officials — we all failed the families of Flint."

How Did St. Patrick Get To Be The Patron Saint Of Nigeria?

Mar 17, 2016

As Americans prepare to observe St. Patrick's Day with pub crawls, parades, corned beef, and green clothing, beer and bagels, let's not forget about that country for which Patrick is a patron saint.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2016 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

At 85 years old, Alpha Edwards did not expect to be out of savings or to have $3,000 of credit card debt.

"I don't do anything that costs money," Edwards says. "I can't."

The problem started four years ago, when Edwards moved to Miami Springs, Fla., with her little brown dog. Her husband had recently died, and Edwards wanted to be closer to her daughter.

Edwards regularly sees doctors for her chronic lung disease and her pacemaker. And not long after she moved, she needed a cardiac procedure.

Doctors have long disputed the accusation that the payments they receive from pharmaceutical companies have any relationship to how they prescribe drugs.

There's been little evidence to settle the matter, until now.

A ProPublica analysis has found that doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed prescribe drugs differently on average than their colleagues who don't. And the more money they receive, the more brand-name medications they tend to prescribe.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Psychologists disagree on whether expecting your marriage to be a deeply fulfilling relationship makes it more likely that the union will thrive, or that it will doom you to disappointment.

So, psychologists, should we just go ahead and expect the worst after the honeymoon?

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