No evidence that depression is caused by chemical imbalance

After decades of study, there remains no clear evidence that serotonin levels or serotonin activity are responsible for depression, according to a major review of prior research led by UCL scientists.

The new umbrella review — an overview of existing meta-analyses and systematic reviews — published in Molecular Psychiatry, suggests that depression is not likely caused by a chemical imbalance, and calls into question what antidepressants do. Most antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which were originally said to work by correcting abnormally low serotonin levels. There is no other accepted pharmacological mechanism by which antidepressants affect the symptoms of depression.

The popularity of the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression has coincided with a huge increase in the use of antidepressants. Prescriptions for antidepressants have risen dramatically since the 1990s, with one in six adults in England and 2% of teenagers now being prescribed an antidepressant in a given year.

Many people take antidepressants because they have been led to believe their depression has a biochemical cause, but this new research suggests this belief is not grounded in evidence.

— source University College London | Jul 20, 2022

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The Agony of an Early Case of Monkeypox

On the evening before Juneteenth, Joseph Osmundson, one of my best friends and a microbiologist at N.Y.U., texted me: “We think Andy has monkeypox.” Two nights earlier, our friend Andy, as I’ll call him, had spent hours hunched over in an emergency room with excruciating rectal pain, only to be refused testing. It was his third try in five days. Andy’s anal sores were internal; for patients to qualify for testing, C.D.C. guidelines required the appearance of lesions on the skin. Osmundson needed help: “We’re trying everyone. Someone anyone who will send a mpx swab to nyc/nys public health department this weekend.”

Monkeypox has been around for more than five decades. It’s from the same genus of viruses as smallpox, and it transmits through close physical contact. The first reported case was in 1970, in a nine-month-old boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place many associate with the words “gorillas,” “jungle,” and “war,” but which I associate with “family,” “comedy,” and “melodrama.” (Kinshasa, the capital, is my mother’s home town and where a huge portion of my family lives.) Monkeypox’s name conjures tales of illness emerging from the jungled heart of darkness to infect the world, but it likely didn’t originate in monkeys. Its natural reservoir is currently unknown, perhaps some species of rodent. (The W.H.O. has said it will rename the virus.) There are currently two strains, or clades: one that is more prevalent in the Congo Basin and another that is more common in West Africa. In these endemic regions, monkeypox kills mostly kids and pregnant women. We don’t know why, but the scientific papers on this are brutal, with descriptions of pox lesions on the placenta and newborn.

In 2003, monkeypox broke out in the U.S., affecting Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kansas, and Missouri. Forty-seven patients came down with confirmed or probable cases of

— source | Ngofeen Mputubwele | Jul 23, 2022

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Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

In fact, it seems like nothing much happened, unfortunately, as you just stated. We were really disappointed in the outcome that was reached. You know, the negotiations for this particular decision have been taking place since May, but for the last 18 months the World Trade Organization has been discussing a proposal by India and South Africa to completely suspend intellectual property rights on the full range of COVID-19 medical tools. And that’s, in fact, not what was discussed at all in Geneva last week. And in fact, a bloc of rich countries in the EU, the United States, U.K. and Switzerland, amongst others, led the charge, in essence, to arrive at this watered-down decision, which, in fact, doesn’t waive any intellectual property rights and, in our opinion, you know, may ultimately cause more damage than good.

we’ve argued that it’s a weak deal because it’s not a waiver. It’s not the waiver that was proposed by South Africa and India. It only deals with vaccines, and it only deals with patents. And, in fact, the entire deal is more about a summary of what you would have to do if you decide to manufacture vaccines and export them. So it deals quite significantly with export rights and who should be opting in and who should be opting out of the deal, doesn’t deal with all the other elements of intellectual property like copyright and trade secrets or the recipes and the knowledge that we actually need to scale up manufacturing. And it doesn’t even deal with treatment and diagnostics in the middle of 2022.

— source | Jun 23, 2022

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No Patents, No Monopolies in a Pandemic

Monopolies are often an obstacle between people and the lifesaving health tools they need. Patents and other exclusivities limit supply and keep prices high. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global emergency. Over 100 countries have taken an incredibly strong stance at the World Trade Organization (WTO), proposing to temporarily waive patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property (IP) on all COVID-19 medical tools. This action could dramatically boost global production and supply of lifesaving vaccines, treatments, tests and other health tools – for everyone, everywhere.

— source

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How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines

On February 11, 2020, public health and infectious disease experts gathered by the hundreds at the World Health Organization’s Geneva mothership. The official pronouncement of a pandemic was still a month out, but the agency’s international brain trust knew enough to be worried. Burdened by a sense of borrowed time, they spent two days furiously sketching an “R&D Blueprint” in preparation for a world upended by the virus then known as 2019-nCoV.

The resulting document summarized the state of coronavirus research and proposed ways to accelerate the development of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The underlying premise was that the world would unite against the virus. The global research community would maintain broad and open channels of communication, since collaboration and information-sharing minimize duplication and accelerate discovery. The group also drew up plans for global comparative trials overseen by the WHO, to assess the merits of treatments and vaccines.

One issue not mentioned in the paper: intellectual property. If the worst came to pass, the experts and researchers assumed cooperation would define the global response, with the

— source | Alexander Zaitchik | Apr 12, 2021

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Pharmaceutical pollution in the world’s rivers

The new study looked at 258 rivers across the globe, including the Thames in London and the Amazon in Brazil, to measure the presence of 61 pharmaceuticals, such as carbamazepine, metformin and caffeine. strong correlations between the socioeconomic status of a country and higher pollution of pharmaceuticals in its rivers (with lower-middle income nations the most polluted). the most polluted countries and regions of the world are the ones that have been researched the least (namely sub-saharan Africa, South America and parts of southern Asia). The study revealed that a quarter of the sites contained contaminants (such as sulfamethoxazole, propranolol, ciprofloxacin and loratadine) at potentially harmful concentrations. The study included noteworthy rivers such as the Amazon, Mississippi, Thames and the Mekong. Water samples were obtained from sites spanning from a Yanomami Village in Venezuela, where modern medicines are not used, to some of the most populated cities on the planet, such as Delhi, London, New York, Lagos, Las Vegas, and Guangzhou. The study forms part of the University of York-led Global Monitoring of Pharmaceuticals Project, which has expanded significantly over the last two years

The contaminants found at potentially harmful concentrations include:[]–

propranolol (a beta-blocker for heart problems such as high blood pressure)
sulfamethoxazole (an antibiotic for bacterial infection)
ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic for bacterial infection)
loratadine (an antihistamine for allergies)

— source University of York | Feb 14, 2022

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Covid-19 Vaccine Apartheid Is Exacerbating Global Inequalities

The highly uneven global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is exacerbating deadly inequalities between—and within—countries, threatening to undermine socio-economic gains throughout the developing world, the United Nations warned Monday.

Two years into a pandemic that has killed millions, 2.8 billion people—91% of whom reside in low-income nations—have yet to receive their first lifesaving shot, according to a new analysis released this month by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP).

Although there has been a substantial increase in the total number of Covid-19 vaccines administered over the past several months, the allocation of doses remains starkly unequal. Of the 10.7 billion jabs given out worldwide, just 1% have gone into the arms of people in low-income countries, the UNDP found.

In addition to giving the coronavirus more opportunities to circulate among unprotected populations—increasing the likelihood of new, potentially vaccine-resistant variants emerging and further prolonging the global public health emergency—vaccine inequity has harmed national economic recovery efforts, thereby widening “the poverty gap between rich

— source | Kenny Stancil | Mar 28, 2022

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Sackler family to pay $6bn for role in US opioid crisis

The wealthy Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, is set to pay $6bn (£4.5bn) for its role in America’s opioid epidemic under a new deal.

The sum is nearly $1.7bn more than a previous settlement.

Purdue, which filed for bankruptcy in 2019 amid thousands of lawsuits, made drugs like OxyContin, and is blamed for fuelling the opioid crisis.

Addiction to both legal and illegal opioid painkillers has been a serious, ongoing problem in the US.

The country saw nearly half a million deaths from overdoses between 1999 and 2019, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— source | 3 Mar 2022

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