Monthly Archives: March 2016

Study raises questions about accuracy of some Theranos blood tests

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

Theranos Wellness Center can perform complex tests with a single drop of blood. A bill that would allow consumers to access lab tests without a doctor's orders is supported by Theranos, a Silicon Valley lab testing company with 40 locations across metro Phoenix. (Michael Chow/The Republic)

Theranos’s proprietary technology uses very small amounts of blood. (Michael Chow/The Republic)

This story has been updated.

A new study has found that the proprietary technology behind the embattled blood-testing startup Theranos was substantially more likely to flag results as abnormally high or low compared with other companies — a difference that raises concerns about the accuracy of those Theranos tests. Theranos also rejected samples, requiring they be redrawn, 12 times as often as the two dominant blood testing laboratories in the United States and reported consistently lower cholesterol numbers.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, drew concern from specialists in clinical testing. Although some tests were in good agreement across all three providers, such as triglycerides and red blood cell counts, others diverged — “good” HDL cholesterol and white blood cell counts, for example. Theranos was 1.6 times as likely to report abnormal results as Quest Diagnostics and Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings.

Theranos is a Silicon Valley darling, a startup once valued at about $10 billion, that sought to disrupt the big business of blood testing by offering rapid, cheap, finger stick blood tests. The company pursued a radical strategy: it posted its price list online and supported an Arizona law that allowed consumers to order any blood test without a prescription. This democratization of health information could be tremendously empowering, however, experts worried that if Theranos’ results are erroneously flagged as abnormal or are simply low as the new study suggests, it could lead consumers astray.

[A comprehensive guide to Theranos’s troubles and what it means for you]

“People know if your cholesterol is over 200, perhaps you need to do something about that. And they know that because a ‘200’ is a ‘200,’ pretty much …read more

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America’s biggest drug threat is 100% legal

By Christopher Ingraham

(iStock)

America’s communities are besieged by a highly dangerous, addictive drug. Its users can become agitated and violent, harming themselves and family members. It’s incredibly toxic and even lethal at high doses. Many people who start abusing it are unable to quit. It’s responsible for nearly 90,000 deaths each year. And in a new survey, more than three-quarters of Americans identified it as a serious problem in their community.

I’m talking, of course, about alcohol.

alcohol_threat

In a survey by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research on American attitudes toward substance use and abuse, 76 percent of respondents named alcohol as a serious problem in their communities. That’s higher than the percentage who named any other drug. More people are worried about alcohol than are worried about painkillers. Or cocaine and meth. Or heroin. And marijuana? That’s at the bottom of the list.

Part of this is a simple reflection of the relative prevalence of each drug. Many more people drink than use heroin, for instance. So compared with heroin, the typical American is more likely to experience the negative effects of alcohol in their daily lives.

But the survey results also underscore one of the central problems with drug policy as we’ve practiced it over the past 40 years. Our state and federal bureaucracies consider alcohol separately from other drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana. This split is evident even in the names of the agencies that craft drug policy. It’s why the National Institutes of Health has a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism along with a separate National Institute on Drug Abuse. It’s why the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms stands apart from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

These distinctions are …read more

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Is Sanders doing Clinton a favor?

Bernie Sanders’ campaign gained new momentum with three commanding victories this weekend in Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. While Hillary Clinton maintains a comfortable lead in the delegate count, it looks as though it’s going to be a long time before she can close this race. Sanders continues to excite, to inspire and, most importantly, to win.

…read more

Source:: CNN US News