Health & Spirit

Makena Buck

Scott LaFee on

Take a couple of aspirin before you read this. Generic is OK.

For years, compound pharmacies -- places where drugs can be mixed to meet specific patient needs -- have made a drug that helps prevent preterm births. The generic cost of the therapy averaged $206 per pregnancy, according to the health news service STAT.

Then the FDA granted KV Pharmaceuticals permission to create the drug under "orphan drug" status, which ensures that it will be produced and sold in prepackaged versions under FDA supervision. In return, KV Pharmaceuticals was granted a 7-year exclusive right to market the drug, called Makena.

And how much does KV charge per Makena treatment: $10,917.

Chemically speaking, both Makena and the compounded generic version are essentially the same. The FDA has allowed pharmacies to continue compounding the generic drug, so at least women still have a choice.

This Is Your Brain On Beer

Researchers have determined the part of your brain that tells you when you crave a beer.

Why, you ask? Why not? This is the kind of thing people can talk about over, well, a beer.

Researchers at Indiana University used neuroimaging to compare reactions of beer drinkers tasting their favorite brew versus Gatorade. PET and FMRI scans found that beer flavor induced activity in both frontal lobes and the right ventral striatum much more than the sports drink.

The frontal lobes are involved in executive cognitive functioning, such as making important choices.

"Yes, barkeep. I think I'll have another."

The right ventral striatum is linked to motivated behavior and reward.

"On second thought, barkeep, make that two."

Body of Knowledge

Over the course of an hour, the average human sheds 600,000 particles of skin. In a year, that adds up to about 1.5 pounds -- roughly the weight of an iPad.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of cleaning rain gutters burns 340 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.5 Big Macs.

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for pumpkin pie is 15.75 pounds in 8 minutes, held by Geoffrey Esper, who appropriately squashed the competition.

Stories for the Waiting Room

In 2015, a woman at a New Year's Eve party in Australia accidentally inhaled an earring. It happened when the woman, who had asthma, reached for her inhaler in her purse, unaware that a loose earring had become lodged in the mouthpiece.

The earring was sucked into in her right bronchus, one of the main airways leading from the windpipe into the lungs. Doctors safely removed it and the woman recovered.


Hoopfully, she learned a lesson.

Doc Talk

Erythematous: red

Phobia of the Week

Ereuthrophobia: fear of blushing

Best Medicine

A man went to see his doctor because he was suffering from a miserable cold. His doctor prescribed some pills, but they didn't help. On his next visit, the doctor gave him a shot, but that didn't do any good either. On the man's third visit, the doctor told the man to go home and take a hot bath. As soon as he was finished bathing, the doctor said, the man was to throw open all the windows and stand in the draft.

"But doc," protested the patient, "if I do that, I'll get pneumonia."

"I know," replied the physician. "I can cure pneumonia."


"After you find out all the things that can go wrong, your life becomes less about living and more about waiting."

--American novelist Chuck Palahniuk in "Choke" (2001)

Medical History

This week in 1984, Baby Fae became the first newborn recipient of a cross-species heart transplant. Dr. Leonard L. Bailey, a heart surgeon at Loma Linda University Medical Center, transplanted a walnut-sized young baboon heart into the young girl, who had been born prematurely 12 days earlier with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a lethal underdevelopment of the left side of the heart. A handful of previous adult animal heart transplants had provided recipients fewer than four days of life at best, but Bailey believed the infant's underdeveloped immune system might be less likely to reject alien tissue. Baby Fae lived 20 days before complications caused her death.

Medical myths

Some folks say you shouldn't wake a sleepwalker, that it may cause harm, like cause a heart attack. Somnambulance -- or walking or talking while sleeping -- occurs in stage 3 sleep; that's deep sleep. There's no physical harm in waking a sleepwalker, but it might be hard to do. They may become startled, disoriented or agitated, which may pose more of risk to you. No one likes being woken from a deep sleep, even if they were doing it vertically while moving.

Curtain Calls

Russian physicist Georg Wilhelm Richmann (1711-1753) became the first recorded person to be killed while performing electrical experiments when he was struck and killed by a globe of ball lightning that hit him in the head, killing him instantly.


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