Politics, Science, and Other Assorted Musings

I love helping people understand issues and look at them from a different perspective. In this blog, I hope I can offer you some new insights—bridging the gap between basic science and your medicine chest—as I am still a practicing physician, as well as having had broad clinical research experience. I'm interested in developing new medicines and treatments, as well as caring for patients—and explaining these topics for you.

As medicine has evolved, so have my interests. I have also become increasingly interested in health disparities, social justice issues, and ethics. I invite you to join me as we explore a variety of territories. I hope that reading these posts will encourage you to learn, engage, and above all, work for the forces of good.

If there are topics you'd like to see me cover, please let me know—I welcome your input as to what you would like us to discuss in this column.

Coronavirus - COVID19

Please note that I will be posting Coronavirus Tidbits of news here. You can sign up for updates by clicking the box at the right and subscribe to Covid, Politics, and Science. All Covid posts will go here, and I will upload back issues as I have time. Please share w friends. Thanks!


Coronavirus Tidbits # 19 3-26-20

By Judy Stone | March 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

News: This is very exciting to me and the best news of the day. I met David Fajgenbaum at a conference to launch CURE ID, the Drug Repurposing program I’ve been excited about. Go watch this video, starting at ~3:42:14 of his remarkable story. He’s translated that drive into #COVID19 research now and his team has done remarkable work extracting data in just 6 days! Also go watch ~31:40” for a 10 minute talk from Shira Strongin (I’ve written about her and rare diseases before) on her life before and after a repurposed Hail Mary drug for her rare disease. I’ve been excited about drug repurposing for years for its potential to treat nearly untreatable infections (many of them “Neglected Tropical Diseases” (NTDs) and antibiotic resistant infections. And proud mama moment–daughter is the project lead for this. ~ ~ ~ One of today’s WTH??? While health care workers are using garbage bags for PPE, the Government has 1.5 million expired #N95 masks sitting in an Indiana warehouse and won’t share w hospitals #COVID19 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-government-mask-stockpile/2020/03/26/89d729c8-6f5b-11ea-96a0-df4c5d9284af_story.html #PPE #CBP ~ ~ ~ This is a must watch video: PSA Safe Grocery Shopping in COVID-19 Pandemic –  Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen does a terrific job showing how to handle…

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Coronavirus tidbits # 18 3-25-20

By Judy Stone | March 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

News: One doctor’s straight talk about the coronavirus strikes a chord with anxious Americans This is an excellent, very short clip. Highly recommended Emily Landon https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/20/emily-landon-coronavirus/ Perspective: The coronavirus economic downfall will affect those who can least afford it https://www.zmescience.com/science/the-coronavirus-economic-downfall-will-affect-those-who-can-least-afford-it/ Why you should stay at home: My friend Shira is a superstar with her advocacy for patients with #RareDiseases, and is the founder of Sick Chicks. She posted this selfie partying with her parents. They have a remarkable sense of humor, generosity, and resilience. Let’s keep them and all the #vulnerable folks in our lives safe.   Diagnostics: Companies, countries, buying robots to increase testing https://www.zmescience.com/science/spain-coronavirus-robots-92253552/ Drugs: Another chapter in why medical experts should be making recommendations, not politicians – Chloroquine edition FDA “has made exception to the import alert” for three of Ipca pharmaceutical facilities, allowing Ipca to supply tablets as well as raw materials for making chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulphate. The U.S. is facing possible shortages of both drugs. After Trump called the drugs a “game changer” and promised to make them more available, demand surged. However, under an import alert from the U.S. regulator since 2015, after inspectors discovered multiple violations of its manufacturing guidelines, including “systemic…

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Coronavirus Tidbits # 17 3/23-24/20  

By Judy Stone | March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

Coronavirus Tidbits # 17 3/23-24/20   News  I wrote a new post; I hope you will check it out here. Immigrant Detainees Are Sitting On A COVID-19 Time Bomb – First Infection Reported Mutating? The coronavirus is not mutating significantly according to scientists who are closely studying the novel pathogen’s genetic code. That relative stability suggests the virus is less likely to become more or less dangerous as it spreads, and represents encouraging news for researchers hoping to create a long-lasting vaccine. https://wapo.st/3aj046V https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/health/coronavirus-sars-cov-2-structure/ ~  ~ ~ At a time when we desperately need more doctors… “The status of more than 4,200 foreign doctors who were chosen to do medical residencies in American teaching hospitals — hospitals that will desperately need their help to cope with Covid-19 — is in doubt because the State Department has temporarily stopped issuing the visas (J1 visas) most of them would need to enter the country, according to a group that sponsors international medical graduates. Drugs/Treatments: New York will be the first state to test using antibody-rich plasma from recovered coronavirus patients in people who are ill. The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, could provide “passive immunity.” This is still several weeks away. For respiratory problems: The…

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Coronavirus Tidbits Updates # 16 3-22-20

By Judy Stone | March 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

Coronavirus Tidbits #16 3/22/20   News  Key message and perspective: Minimizing unnecessary contact with others can be an act of care and compassion…Your solitude can be a source of strength and self-reflection through this crisis. Your absence can be the gift of life to thousands of susceptible people and their families. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/im-a-canadian-quarantined-in-italy-my-message-self-isolate-now_n_5e76661dc5b6f5b7c54549dc                 Good to remember:  We’ll Meet Again  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5C4meGkNyc Diagnostics: ? Counterfeit COVID19 tests confiscated https://chicago.suntimes.com/coronavirus/2020/3/19/21187269/counterfeit-coronavirus-covid-19-tests-confiscated-ohare-airport Drugs: World Health Organization (WHO) announced a large global trial, called SOLIDARITY It’s a global megatrial of the four most promising coronavirus treatments: remdesivir: an experimental antiviral compound chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, anti-malaria medications a combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir; a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir plus interferon-beta, an immune system messenger that can help cripple viruses. Minimal data is being requested of the overburdened physicians: Date started and stopped (the day the patient left the hospital or died), the duration of the hospital stay, and whether the patient required oxygen or ventilation, This is similar to the database and data collection being done in “CURE ID,” a drug repurposing database of the FDA and NCATs, available to HCWs by CURE ID app or cure.ncats.io…

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Coronavirus Tidbits # 15 3-21-20

By Judy Stone | March 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

With the help of the two Michael Stones, my website, https://www.drjudystone.com/politics-science-and-other-assorted-musings/​, will be much more useful​​​. It now has Google site search. Thanks, guys! (No idea what just happened w formatting here)  News  Health officials in hard-hit areas of the U.S. have a new message on coronavirus: Don’t get tested ~ ~ ~ STAY HOME! or physically away from others “One of the things that terrifies me now is, as this is spread in the west is, there’s this sense of invulnerability among millennials.” Millennials aren’t taking the coronavirus seriously, warns WHO’s Dr. Bruce Aylward https://ti.me/3bgRJ3Y by Sara Paglia               photo Carlos Del Rio Doctors are desperate and dying now in NYC. Tell everyone to stay home and protect them and others. ALERT – Call your Congress people: The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/21/doj-coronavirus-emergency-powers-140023 Cases: Interesting Dataviz—watch the spread of Coronavirus across the country: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/21/us/coronavirus-us-cases-spread.html Symptoms: Besides loss of smell, which I reported in Forbes, now: COVID-19 may cause ocular (eye) signs and symptoms,…

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Coronavirus tidbits #14 3/20/20

By Judy Stone | March 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

Updated today’s post on loss of smell: UK ENTs now say if you develop that symptom, you should self-isolate. First US immigration agency employees test positive for coronavirus A staff member at the Elizabeth, New Jersey, facility and one other at an undisclosed location has been confirmed https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/19/coronavirus-us-immigration-detention-center Op-Ed: Asian countries that have been successful in containing the virus without locking down society, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, routinely use masks. As of March 17, the three countries together had fewer than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus — despite having close connections to China’s Hubei province, So what needs to be done here in the United States? Cover your face. Nonmedical masks should be worn by everyone going outside. Inexpensive cloth masks are available for purchase online. Alternatively, scarves, bandana-style neck gaiters, and other similar face coverings can work effectively. Masks should be placed over the mouth and nose and removed carefully, without touching the outside surface, and cloth masks should be washed frequently. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/19/opinion/guidance-against-wearing-masks-coronavirus-is-wrong-you-should-cover-your-face/?p1=Article_Feed_ContentQuery Diagnostics: New rapid test, but not yet validated by FDA http://outbreaknewstoday.com/coronavirus-testing-georgia-researchers-develop-2-hour-test-11076/ Drugs: Small study, not randomized, but combination of #hydroxychloroquine + #azithromycin was more effective at clearing #SARSCoV2 than hydroxychloroquine alone https://www.mediterranee-infection.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Hydroxychloroquine_final_DOI_IJAA.pdf Epidemiology/Infection control: What have other countries done successfully? Singapore,…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #13 3/19/20

By Judy Stone | March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

My new post @Forbes: An Unexpected Loss Of Smell And Taste In Coronavirus Patients https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2020/03/20/theres-an-unexpected-loss-of-smell-and-taste-in-coronavirus-patients/#4a59103f5101 Epidemiology: From Stanford ER: Of the 562 patients, 127 (22.6%) were positive for other viruses. (24.5% if we use 181+336 = 517 as denominator). Of the 49 positive SARS-COV-2 results, 11 (22.4%) also had a co-infection. Of the 127 positive for other viruses, 11 (8.66%) had a SARS-COV-2 co-infection. These co-infection rate are much higher than previously reported rates. Good explainer on incubation and infectious periods by Ian Mackay, Australian virologist https://virologydownunder.com/politically-infectious-period/ Coronavirus is running so rampant in Colorado’s mountains residents, visitors should “minimize all contact with other people” https://coloradosun.com/2020/03/15/coronavirus-colorado-mountains/ Our health department reports no cases…but refuses to say how many have been tested. https://www.times-news.com/coronavirus/health-department-no-confirmed-covid–cases-in-allegany-county/article_8da0f816-69e0-11ea-8403-ef41c28159a6.html   Health care workers: In Italy 9% of all infections are among medical personnel. In Lombardy alone, 20% of providers were infected. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30627-9/fulltext For medical staff: As a MICU pharmacist taking care of COVID patients, one strategy I’ve implemented to minimize the number of times a nurse needs to enter the room (thus saving PPE) is to consolidate and bundle all medication due times. For example… 1/5 Most patients often receive medications no more than QID or every 6 hours (now…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #12 3-18-20

By Judy Stone | March 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sending out almost daily news “tidbits” to friends and colleagues. I have been asked to share more broadly, so will post here as well. I will post back issues as I have time. This will enable you to share more readily with friends or on social media, if you find the news and tips helpful. Basically, I obsess and read about this all day so you don’t have to, and send you information from sources I feel are most reliable. I am trying to figure out a way to tag individual topics. In the meantime, apparently best to Enter site: www.drjudystone.com/politics-science-and-other-assorted-musings/ and then your specific search term into the search box.* Good news: Smart move: Medicare to cover virtual doctor visits CMS is urging states to expand telehealth services for low-income people in their Medicaid programs. Problem is that many states, esp in the south, refused to expand Medicaid, so a lot of people—the working poor—still won’t be covered. Testing: Ontario’s Public Health Lab at @PublicHealthON has tested more people for Coronavirus than the *entire* US lab system. Epidemiology: Bad news: We are not talking about 2 months and back to normal….

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Will A Medicine Work For You? A Simple Test Might Tell – Pharmacogenetics

By Judy Stone | November 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

A simple test using a swab of cells from the inside of your cheek can dramatically improve your medical treatment. The test can predict whether a drug will help, if you need a different dosage, or if you are at risk of severe side effects. This testing is called pharmacogenetics or pharmacogenomics. This means studying the interactions of drugs (pharma-) and an individual’s genes (genom-). Genes control how drugs are metabolized and may be different in different people. Treatment can be personalized, or individualized for some classes of drugs. The test can help suggest dosing for some HIV medicines, psychiatric drugs, statins, opioids, cancer drugs, and anticoagulants, but not all medications. A swab of the inside of the mouth is used to obtain cheek cells. The DNA (genetic material) is then extracted from the cells. Then, the DNA is tested to examine specific enzymes that metabolize drugs, drug targets, or immune responses. Did you know that about one in ten people won’t get adequate pain relief from codeine? Many health care workers don’t realize what a poor pain reliever codeine is, unless combined with acetaminophen, nor that some people just don’t metabolize codeine into the active agent, morphine. This may lead to…

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Trade War With China Threatens To Make Problems With Generic Medicine Worse

By Judy Stone | September 29, 2019 | 2 Comments

Earlier in September, Reps. Eshoo and Adam Schiff had an op-ed in the Washington Post, “Opinion | China’s grip on pharmaceutical drugs is a national security issue.” I couldn’t have agreed more. I wrote a letter to the editor, “How a trade war could turn deadly,” published September 19. It was based on my detailed article below, which first appeared in Forbes, last spring: Do you know where your medicines are made? Have you been switched between different generic forms of your medicine, only to find that you responded differently? Ma’s pills in a ginger jar. – Judy Stone Two recent books have echoed my longstanding concern about America’s dependence on other countries for basic needs and the security of our supply chain for medicines. My concern has heightened with the news this week of a tightening trade war with China and saber rattling about Iran. Many of the key ingredients for antibiotics are produced only in China. These are called APIs, or Active pharmaceutical ingredients. Medicine and supply shortages As an infectious disease physician, I was regularly hampered by drug shortages. A global shortage of piperacillin-tazobactam, a critically important antibiotic, occurred because of an explosion at a Chinese factory which was the sole source…

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