News Round-up for the week of June 25

Brian Taylor
June 26, 2018

This week we bring you a synopsis of timely news items that may be of interest:


New Evidence in 2016 Sonic Attacks


In the latest issue of Science, Michael Hoffer, an otolaryngologist at the University of Miami in Florida, and his colleagues describe a unique vestibular and cognitive disorder in two dozen people evacuated from the Havana embassy. Their report provides valuable insight into the possible causes of the ailments of several diplomats of the alleged sonic attack 18 months ago.

New evidence suggests similar attacks could now be occurring at the American diplomatic bases in China. A Science podcast that summarizes Hoffer’s thesis can be heard here.


The Damaging Effects of Loneliness and Social Isolation


Although there is no direct mention of hearing loss, a recent report in Business Insider summarized recent medical findings related to social isolation and loneliness. The report mentions new research suggesting social isolation can make heart failure patients three and a half times more likely to die than their well-connected peers.

The report also mentions a German study, published in May, which revealed that making an effort to connect with others can boost how people rate their own satisfaction with life. In the study, people who spent a year making a renewed effort to help others, or spent more time with friends and family, were the only participants who measurably increased how they rated their own life satisfaction. This finding suggests hearing care professionals have an opportunity to be first responders in the fight against social isolation, looking for tell-tale signs by reaching out and asking a few simple questions of patients during their appointment. The entire article, along with several links to related studies can be found here.


New Cancer Drug Halves Hearing Loss in Children


Results from the Cancer Research UK funded SIOPEL-6 clinical trial show that giving sodium thiosulphate (STS), after cisplatin use, reduces hearing loss by nearly 50% in children treated for hepatoblastoma, a childhood liver cancer.

According to a report in Medical Express, this is a major step forward in minimizing the number of children left with debilitating and long-term side effects after being treated for cancer. A synopsis of new drug can be found here.


Walgreens and Humana Announce Pilot of Senior-Focused Clinics


Walgreens Boots Alliance and Humana say they are partnering to operate “senior-focused primary care clinics” inside drugstores. The deal was announced on June 20 and involves two Walgreens stores in the Kansas City, Missouri area. The clinics, which will open this fall, will complement Walgreens pharmacy services and Humana’s Partners in Primary Care centers that opened last year in Kansas City, the companies said.

Although it is a two-store pilot now, the deal is the latest tightening of the relationship between medical care providers and health insurance companies in the U.S. There was no mention of hearing care services as part of this pilot. Readers likely recall the recent launch of a pilot program involving Walgreens and Starkey

According to a Forbes report, Walgreens is under pressure to execute a new strategy amid the threat of Amazon entering the pharmacy business and the potential deal later this year of rival drugstore chain CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna, the nation’s third-largest health insurer. 


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