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A one-paragraph letter, barely a hundred words long, unwittingly became a major contributor to today's opioid crisis, researchers say.

"This has recently been a matter of a lot of angst for me," Dr. Hershel Jick, co-author of that letter, told Morning Edition host David Greene recently. "We have published nearly 400 papers on drug safety, but never before have we had one that got into such a bizarre and unhealthy situation."

Two years ago, a mental health advocate named Steve McCaffrey stood at a lectern in the Indiana statehouse, testifying in favor of an addiction treatment bill. After years of rising overdose rates, lawmakers in the health committee were taking action to combat the opioid epidemic. And they often turned to McCaffrey, who leads Mental Health America of Indiana, to advise them.

His brief testimony appeared straightforward. "We rise in support, urge your adoption," said McCaffrey. He said the legislation would move the state "toward evidence-based treatment."

I am a man of science. Okay, perhaps not of science, but certainly near it. As a science journalist, I'm science-adjacent. But I consider myself to be bound by logic and facts.

Which is why it was weird when I took my infant son in for his first vaccines and started peppering his pediatrician with questions. I inspected the boxes, telling myself that I was concerned about a recent bad batch of vaccines in Chiapas, Mexico, that made a bunch of kids sick. But really, I was looking for a label that read "not the autism kind of vaccine."

Rachel Pearson / Twitter

Dr. Rachel Pearson got her start working with poor people in Texas, many of them people of color. 

Which got her thinking about how doctors learn by making mistakes with those communities.

"We need to keep in mind what we owe to the people who have contributed the most to medical training and medical knowledge," she said. 


If you were worried you had cancer, who would you call for information? Chances are a federally-funded cancer helpline isn't the first place that pops into your mind.

But for 40 years, a helpline funded primarily by the National Cancer Institute has been answering people's questions about cancer.

KUOW Photo/Andy Hurst

Hate crimes in Seattle are on the rise.

So far this year, 80 separate incidents have been reported to police. The city is on pace for 320 hate crimes this year — an increase of 25 percent — and that's affecting the health of refugees and immigrants. 

"The climate has changed over the last several months," said Harborview pediatrician Suzinne Pak-Gorstein. "We felt almost a palpable level of increase in fear among a lot of families and communities that we serve."

Several decades ago, Evan Nodvin's life probably would have looked quite different.

Nodvin has his own apartment just outside Atlanta, in Sandy Springs, Ga., which he shares with a roommate, and a job at a local community fitness center. He also has Down syndrome.

"I give out towels, and put weights away, and make sure people are safe," the 38-year-old says.

To get to and from work, Nodvin relies on rides from people who are hired to help him. He also has a counselor to help him do daily chores like grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

The federal government explained to the Nooksack tribe Wednesday how it will take over tribal health and social services.

In a South Dakota court room, ABC News will defend a series of stories it reported five years ago in a defamation law suit. Jury selection started Wednesday.

It's a trial that could prove to be a measure of public attitudes toward the media.

Back in 2012, ABC Correspondent Jim Avila reported on a practice of a South Dakota-based company called Beef Products, Inc.

The state of Ohio has sued five major drug manufacturers for their role in the opioid epidemic. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, state Attorney General Mike DeWine alleges these five companies "helped unleash a health care crisis that has had far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences in the State of Ohio."

Named in the suit are:

  • Purdue Pharma
  • Endo Health Solutions
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon
  • Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals

When Ebola erupted in West Africa a few years ago, it was catastrophic.

But one good thing emerged from the outbreak: The development of an Ebola vaccine-- a powerful vaccine.

Dr. Mark Sklansky, a self-described germaphobe, can't stop thinking about how quickly microbes can spread.

"If I am at a computer terminal or using a phone or opening a door, I know my hands are now contaminated, and I need to be careful and I need to wash my hands," says Sklansky, a professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Bill Radke talks with Aaron Katz, who teaches health policy at the UW's School of Public Health, about his take on the American Health Care Act, what the new score from the Congressional Budget Office means for a potentially 23 million uninsured people and how Washington's failed health plan in the 90s can inform the future of health care in the country. 

A crowd of women in pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts surrounded Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday morning as he signed a bill to improve access to birth control.

My mom knew she was going to lose her hair when she went to chemotherapy, so she got it cut and made into this wig.
Courtesy of Jad Vianu

My mom’s hair has always been a source of pride for her.

NPR and ProPublica teamed up for a six-month long investigation on maternal mortality in the U.S. Among our key findings:

  • More American women are dying of pregnancy-related complications than any other developed country. Only in the U.S. has the rate of women who die been rising.

At a town hall meeting in Willingboro, N.J., on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was confronted by angry constituents who demanded to know how the Republican health care bill that he helped write would affect rape victims.

A young man named Joseph said he understood that the bill would allow insurance companies to deem rape a pre-existing condition and deny coverage to people who have been raped.

Two toddlers run around Sally Garcia Acosta’s house. They squeal as they take their toy cars for a spin — to the living room, through the den, and around the kitchen corner.

Garcia Acosta sits on the couch beside a small butterfly-adorned box. It holds some of her most sacred belongings: memories of her deceased daughter, Maria Rosario Perez.

“This is her little blanket that she had in her little bassinet at that they have at the hospital,” Garcia Acosta said as she smooths out a soft purple blanket.

Drug resistant tuberculosis is expected to increase globally over the next two decades.

New research predicts a steady rise in TB cases that can't be cured with conventional, first-line antibiotics in four countries.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast that these complicated — and potentially deadly — cases of TB will become far more common in Russia, India, the Philippines and South Africa by the year 2040.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are back in their home districts for a recess this week. After seeing the reception some of their colleagues got in previous town hall-style meetings following the election of Donald Trump, most House Republicans are skipping them.

But a handful are diving in headfirst.

On Monday night, a few days after voting in favor of the House bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Elise Stefanik, 32, from Northern New York, held a town hall at a public television station.

At a news conference at Harborview Medical Center, Sen. Patty Murray says 'Trumpcare is headed straight to a dead end in the Senate.' With her are Sen. Maria Cantwell (left) and Harborview chief Paul Hayes.
KUOW photo/Kate Walters

Seattle's Harborview Medical Center could lose $627 million in annual revenue by 2026 under the GOP health care bill passed by the House.

That’s according to Harborview executive director Paul Hayes who said Friday that patients were likely to suffer if the bill becomes law.

The Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon are condemning the Republican vote in the U.S. Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

US Congress
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Bill Radke talks to Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times reporter who covers health care for The Upshot, about the health care bill that passed the House and what happens next. 

Lactation consultant Camie Goldhammer helps 5-week-old Darius latch onto his mother, Carole Gibson-Smith. Goldhammer, a social worker by training, focuses on breastfeeding in communities of color, particularly in Native communities.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

The birth of Camie Goldhammer's first daughter did not go as planned. The labor had gone long, and Goldhammer, a social worker, ended up having an emergency C-section. 

And she was still in shock when a nurse gently helped her open the top of her gown to put the tiny child to her breast.  

Christine Mathews says she couldn't afford health insurance without the ACA subsidies. She was at a rally last month outside  Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s district office in Bothell.
KUOW photo/Amy Radil

Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are ramping up again. Some GOP leaders are hoping for a vote this week on their amended plan to replace Obamacare.

And that has Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler worried.


Hunger in America can often seem invisible, but recent studies have shown that it is a problem that affects millions of people, many of them children.

The Washington Soldiers Home has been ordered to take steps to protect it residents. The order by outside regulators follows a recent investigation that found “widespread deficiencies” at the nursing home for veterans.

The Washington Soldiers Home is a state-run facility that serves veterans, their spouses or widows and Gold Star parents.

Come July, the yellow fever vaccine could be tough to find.

So, if you're traveling this summer to a place with the disease, you probably want to schedule a trip to a clinic sooner rather than later, the Centers for Diseases for Control and Prevention tells NPR.

"Take heed of our warning: Plan ahead," says CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner. "It may be difficult to get this vaccine. And if you can't get it, then you should postpone your trip."

When I ask friends how they're doing, "tired" is often part of the response. A 2015 YouGov.com poll found 38 percent of Americans were poorly rested at least four days of the week. Research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from a few years earlier found that 15 percent of women and 10 percent of men said they were "very tired or exhausted" most days or every day of the week.

With the approval this month of two drugs to treat hepatitis C in children, these often overlooked victims of the opioid epidemic now have a better chance at a cure. Kids may actually have an easier time than adults getting approved for the treatment, according to some health policy specialists.

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