Medicine and Health

Health experts warn that Zika virus will infect millions worldwide

By Kevin Martinez, 19 February 2016

The mosquito-borne virus is spreading and affecting entire countries and their societies, impacting an already severe economic situation.

US Congress holds hearing on drug prices

By Brad Dixon, 8 February 2016

While there was plenty of political grandstanding by legislators, the primary concern was to protect the profits of the pharmaceutical industry by reining in the most egregious offenders.

US Congressional memos highlight price-gouging strategies of drug companies

By Brad Dixon, 5 February 2016

The practice of hiking prices to enrich shareholders and then obfuscating the issue through PR is endemic to the pharmaceutical industry as a whole.

WHO declares Zika virus a “public health emergency”

By David Brown, 4 February 2016

The WHO held a meeting to assess the “appropriate level of international concern” and to avoid a repeat of the Ebola outbreak, when the WHO was criticized for its slow response.

Survey: One in four US adults burdened by medical debt

By Kate Randall, 8 January 2016

Medical bills are straining family budgets to the breaking point, forcing significant numbers of people to go without basic household necessities or to forgo treatment.

FDA capitulates to pharmaceutical company on drug claims

By Brad Dixon, 28 December 2015

The move marks the latest episode of the drug industry’s attempts to roll back restrictions on “off-label” marketing practices based on “free speech” claims.

Martin Shkreli arrested for securities fraud

By Tom Hall, 18 December 2015

The 32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals became infamous this year for price-gouging lifesaving medication.

US Senate holds hearing on rising generic drug prices

By Brad Dixon, 11 December 2015

The price hikes of a number of generic drugs have limited patient access, according to expert testimony at a US Senate hearing.

US Senate report details high prices of Hepatitis C drugs

By Brad Dixon, 7 December 2015

A report released by the US Senate found that the drugmaker Gilead priced its $84,000 hepatitis C drug to maximize revenue, even as it restricted patient access.

Research on antidepressant drugs distorted by pharmaceutical industry

By Brad Dixon, 20 November 2015

Authors with links to industry were 22 times less likely to report negative statements about antidepressant drugs than authors with no industry affiliation.

Drug maker Novartis pays $390 million to settle kickback claims

By Brad Dixon, 14 November 2015

The Novartis settlement is but another example of the rampant criminality and parasitism found throughout the pharmaceutical industry.

US drug makers blocking generic competition to inflate prices

By Brad Dixon, 1 October 2015

Nearly a third of 280 generic drug products widely used by older Americans have increased in price since 2006.

Life expectancy plunges for low-income Americans

By Andre Damon, 29 September 2015

The gap in life expectancy between higher and lower-income Americans has soared in recent decades, according to the results of a new study commissioned by the US Congress.

US pharmaceutical industry price-gouging and the case of Martin Shkreli

By Nick Barrickman, 24 September 2015

Shkreli’s actions represent nothing more than an unabashed and especially brazen form of everyday business practice under capitalism.

UK government to cut number of cancer drugs available on the NHS

By Ross Mitchell, 17 August 2015

The Conservatives plan to reduce the list of 65 funded cancer drugs by 37 items, which will severely impact the survival rates of thousands cancer patients.

Surge in prices boosts drug industry profits

By Brad Dixon, 14 July 2015

An investigation by Bloomberg News found that the prices of supposedly competing prescription drugs rose in lockstep.

HIV epidemic in rural Indiana exposes social crisis in US

By Zaida Green, 11 May 2015

Driving the outbreak are high levels of poverty and unemployment, conditions found in small towns throughout the United States.

Patient sheds light on crisis at England’s biggest NHS hospital trust

By Tom Pearse, 24 April 2015

The Bart’s Health National Health Service (NHS) Trust serves more than 2.5 million people across London.

A historic attack on Medicare

By Kate Randall, 17 April 2015

The new Medicare bill, which takes aim at health care for seniors, has been hatched as a conspiracy behind the backs of the American people.

US House passes sweeping new bipartisan assault on Medicare

By Kate Randall, 27 March 2015

The coming together of the Republican and Democratic parties behind the overhaul underscores the unanimity within the ruling class on the need for massive cuts in health care spending.

Swine flu ravages India

By Arun Kumar, 25 March 2015

Almost two thousand people have died from swine flu in India in the past four months and a further 33,000 have contracted the disease.

US measles outbreak spreads to fourteen states

By Kevin Martinez, 4 February 2015

The Centers for Disease Control said Monday that 102 people have become infected with the virus in the US.

Measles outbreak in California spreads to six other states

By Kevin Martinez, 24 January 2015

The disease, declared eradicated in the US in 2000, has made a comeback.

Influenza reaches epidemic proportions in US

By E.P. Bannon, 23 January 2015

Roughly 8.5 percent of all deaths across the country for the week ending on January 10 resulted from influenza or pneumonia.

Mozambique health care workers speak on struggle to control tuberculosis

By Zaida Green, 7 January 2015

In a recent issue of the science and medicine journal PLOS ONE, health care workers in Mozambique described the challenges they face in treating tuberculosis.

Debate in Germany over euthanasia

By Sibylle Fuchs, 4 December 2014

Against a background of widespread poverty among the elderly, the debate over euthanasia is centered on eliminating care rather than providing compassionate treatment.

Canada imposes draconian travel restrictions citing Ebola crisis

By Roger Jordan, 4 November 2014

Canada’s decision reflects the callous indifference of the government to the plight of the growing numbers of people suffering as a result of the spread of Ebola in Africa.

As World Health Organization, drug companies meet

Why is there no vaccine for Ebola?

By Patrick Martin, 25 October 2014

There are several reports that after the US National Institutes of Health developed an Ebola vaccine that worked in monkeys, major drug companies refused to develop it further because it was not profitable.

Ebola crisis: Major powers line up to send troops to Africa

By Jean Shaoul, 23 October 2014

The imperialist powers are using the Ebola outbreak as a cover for re-establishing a military presence in their former African colonies.

Sharp rise of Ebola cases in western Sierra Leone

By Kate Randall, 22 October 2014

There are now 851 confirmed cases of Ebola and an estimated 20 deaths a day in two western Sierra Leone districts.

Pleas to major powers from Ebola-stricken countries, health professionals fall on deaf ears

By Patrick Martin, 20 October 2014

The major imperialist powers and the drug companies are leaving tens of thousands to die.

WHO, CDC heads warn of Ebola epidemic’s dangers

By Niles Williamson, 14 October 2014

The head of WHO described the vast social and economic inequalities highlighted by the Ebola crisis, saying, “The rich get the best care. The poor are left to die.”

Health care workers protest conditions faced in treating Ebola

By our reporter, 14 October 2014

Healthcare workers in several countries have protested the lack of training and equipment necessary for safely treating those infected with Ebola and halting the spread of the virus.

Political issues in the Ebola crisis

By Patrick Martin, 13 October 2014

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa requires immediate, massive global action to save lives and prevent the spread of the disease.

Toxic fallout from US war produces record child birth defect rates in Iraq

By Thomas Gaist, 13 October 2014

Two decades of US military bombardment have saturated Iraq with genotoxic compounds, leading to historically unprecedented rates of birth defects and child cancers.

World powers stand by as Ebola death toll passes 4,000

By Niles Williamson, 11 October 2014

The United States and other Western powers are seeking to take advantage of the crisis sparked by the deadly Ebola epidemic, not to save the victims, but to establish a stronger military presence in West Africa.

The Ebola epidemic: A social disaster in West Africa

By Niles Williamson, 9 October 2014

Responsibility for the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa lies with the imperialist powers that have subjected the continent to extreme economic exploitation.

First Ebola case diagnosed in US

By Shannon Jones, 2 October 2014

A man from Liberia visiting family in Texas is the first person in the US diagnosed with the deadly virus.

Imperialism and the Ebola catastrophe

By Patrick Martin, 26 September 2014

The epidemic now devastating West Africa is not a natural calamity, but a social one: it is a product of colonialism and imperialist oppression.

Ebola outbreak grows exponentially

By David Brown, 25 September 2014

International health agencies predict the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could affect hundreds of thousands.

Obama uses Ebola crisis to “surge” 3,000 troops into West Africa

By Bill Van Auken, 17 September 2014

The response to the Ebola epidemic underscores the reliance of US imperialism on its residual military superiority in the second “scramble for Africa”, which pits it against China.

Victorian-era diseases return to Britain

By Julie Hyland, 17 September 2014

Figures from England and Wales indicate that there was a 19 percent increase in the number of people hospitalised for malnutrition in the last year.

International emergency declared in Ebola outbreak

By John Rowe, 11 August 2014

The Ebola virus has already claimed the lives of nearly a thousand people in West Africa, amid a breakdown of health care systems in the impoverished region.

German drug company covered-up deadly side effects of anticoagulant Pradaxa

By Douglas Lyons, 1 August 2014

The drug used for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation has a grave side effect: internal and irreversible bleeding.

Ebola outbreak kills hundreds in West Africa

By David Brown, 29 July 2014

Liberia has closed most of its borders in response to an Ebola outbreak that has killed one doctor and infected two others.

US Centers for Disease Control anthrax investigations reveal widespread safety issues

By Gabriel Black, 29 July 2014

In the wake of a massive budget cut in 2013, an investigation probing the anthrax scare at several CDC labs found a culture of “insufficient” safety.

Ebola outbreak spreads in West Africa

By John Rowe, 9 July 2014

International agencies say that the deadly Ebola virus is spreading out of control in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Chronic kidney disease spreads in rural Sri Lanka

By W. A. Sunil, 5 March 2014

The disease has reached epidemic levels because of inadequate health facilities and government neglect.

OECD report: US life expectancy below international average

By Kate Randall, 23 November 2013

Of the 34 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US ranks 26th in life expectancy, below Greece, Portugal, South Korea and Slovenia.

Irish doctors vote for strike action

By Jordan Shilton, 10 September 2013

Facing intolerable working conditions as a result of an 8 percent health budget cut, Irish junior doctors have voted in favour of strikes.

More US doctors opting out of Medicare

By Kate Randall, 7 August 2013

The ranks of doctors accepting Medicare are steadily decreasing under the impact of the Obama health care legislation.

Denmark’s social democratic-led government targets health service for cuts

By Ellis Wynne, 31 July 2013

The attack on health provision follows the lockout of 70,000 teachers.

Pharmaceutical companies sign contracts for vaccine sales to poorer countries to maximise profits

By Joan Smith, 24 June 2013

Pharmaceutical conglomerates Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have won contracts to supply some of the world’s poorest countries with cancer vaccines.

One million schoolchildren in England to be vaccinated as measles threat grows

By Harvey Thompson, 1 May 2013

An epidemic outbreak of measles in Swansea, Wales has seen almost 950 cases to date.

Health study: Austerity is costing lives in Europe

By Dietmar Henning, 6 April 2013

Large sections of the European population are paying with their health, or even their lives, for EU-dictated austerity measures.

Two cases of a “functional cure” for HIV/AIDS

By Shane Feratu, 30 March 2013

Researchers have been able to neutralize the HIV virus from causing harm in two separate studies.

UN hides its role in Haiti cholera outbreak

By John Marion, 2 March 2013

The United Nations has refused reparations to Haitian victims and survivors of cholera, which was brought to the island by its forces.

Johnson & Johnson knowingly sold faulty hip implants

By Naomi Spencer, 25 January 2013

Although the company was aware that 40 percent of metal hip replacements would fail in five years, it sold the devices anyway.

Behind the newly proposed US food regulations

By Naomi Spencer, 9 January 2013

While the proposals have been hailed as “landmark” improvements to US food oversight, they will provide FDA inspectors with no meaningful enforcement powers.

UK: Hospitals across Greater Manchester under threat of closure

By Tony Robson, 4 January 2013

The downsizing of local hospitals is in line with plans to dismantle much of the NHS.

Mental health charity warns of “nightmare scenario” for North East England

By Mark Blackwood, 22 December 2012

A report reveals that when compared to the London area, the UK’s poorest region in the North East has almost three times the rate of self-harm/attempted suicide hospital admissions.

Private consultants reap rewards from UK National Health Service privatisation

By Richard Duckworth, 19 December 2012

Private consultancy firms have been central to the coalition government’s plans to carve up the National Health Service.

Massive job losses in UK’s National Health Service

By Robert Stevens, 26 November 2012

The ongoing offensive against the National Health Service (NHS) has led to 28,500 health workers losing their jobs since the Conservative Party/Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in 2010.

UK unions and Socialist Party isolate striking Mid Yorkshire NHS workers

By Mark Blackwood and Paul Mitchell, 24 November 2012

The Socialist Party is helping public sector unions Unison and Unite isolate 300 National Health Service clerical and administrative workers employed by Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust.

Germany’s long-standing thalidomide scandal

By Werner Albrecht and Konrad Kreft, 19 November 2012

It has taken the Grünenthal company 50 years to apologise for its role in subjecting thousands of people around the world to the disastrous effects of thalidomide poisoning.

Massive cuts to emergency health care in northwest London

By Richard Duckworth and Paul Stuart, 8 November 2012

Four out of nine A&E departments catering to nearly 2 million people in northwest London face closure as part of £20 billion in cuts to the NHS.

Thousands demonstrate to save children’s heart surgery in Leeds

By our reporters, 30 July 2012

Some 3,000 people gathered in Millennium Square, Leeds on July 23, to protest the proposal to end paediatric heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline fined $3 billion

By Will Morrow, 5 July 2012

Monday’s settlement is the latest in a long list of cases in which pharmaceutical giants have paid cash fines for fraudulent and criminal practices, without anyone being held accountable.

UK hedge funds and ex-bankers take over first privatised NHS hospital

By Paul Stuart, 9 April 2012

The first privatised hospital since the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948, Hinchingbrooke Cambridgeshire, began operating under Circle Healthcare Limited on February 1.

Putting profits before health: Siemens abandons cancer therapy project

By Elisabeth Steinert, 2 February 2012

The Siemens group has decided not to commission its particle therapy cancer treatment facility in Kiel.

Totally drug-resistant tuberculosis reported in Mumbai

By Debra Watson, 27 January 2012

Doctors in Mumbai, India’s largest city, reported in December that they had confirmed four cases of Totally Drug Resistant Tuberculosis.

UK: Breast implant failures threaten health of thousands

By Eileen Rose, 25 January 2012

The ongoing scandal over PIP (Poly Implant Prostheses) breast implants makes clear the human cost of the privatisation of health care in the UK, and the callous indifference of the political elite towards its consequences.

Profit drive leads to shortage of critical drugs, deaths in US

By Nicholas Russo, 11 January 2012

Since 2010, at least 15 deaths have been linked to the shortage of critical drugs in the US.

Widening health inequalities match UK poverty patterns

By Joe Mount, 16 July 2011

Detailed health profiles for each English local authority highlight large health inequalities and the underlying poverty in Britain’s major towns and cities.

New “super bug” threatens Australian hospitals

By John Mackay, 19 May 2011

Despite warnings by health professionals, no national surveillance system has been introduced for the potentially fatal Clostridium difficile bacteria.

Reports highlight threats to women’s health in poorest countries

By Barry Mason, 11 May 2011

Two recent reports highlight the lack of health care provision affecting women in semi-colonial countries.

Johnson & Johnson recalls more over-the-counter medicines

By Ed Hightower, 30 June 2010

For the past several months, a recall crisis has been developing at the Johnson & Johnson company over serious quality control problems in over-the-counter medicines, including children’s versions.

Canada: Chaotic response to swine flu pandemic highlights government indifference

By Carl Bronski, 9 November 2009

Federal and provincial health officials are backtracking on earlier commitments to help both high-risk groups and members of the general population seeking vaccination.

Media sensationalism, corporate power and the swine flu outbreak

By Alex Lantier, 4 May 2009

The handling of the swine flu outbreak underscores the difficulty, in the present political environment, of separating medical science from corporate interests and the political agendas of governments that are beholden to them.

Rates of hospital-acquired infection rising in Canada

By John MacKay, 29 December 2008

A study, based on a survey of Canadian hospitals, has found that hospital-acquired infection rates continue to rise and that for want of funding, infection-control programs continue to fall well short of expert recommendations.

A letter on Canada, South Africa and deadly asbestos

1 November 2008

The following letter was sent to the World Socialist Web Site in response to the article, “Canadian Government defends export of asbestos to poorer nations.”

Canada: Listeriosis epidemic continues—Liberal and Tory policies culpable

By John Mackay, 14 October 2008

The number of deaths linked to the listeriosis outbreak that originated at the Maple Leaf Foods meatpacking plant in Toronto has now risen to 20.

WHO report discloses extent of global health inequality

By Barry Mason, 25 September 2008

In August the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report, “Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health.”

China’s milk crisis: another disaster unleashed by the capitalist market

Unregulated dairy industry

By John Chan, 24 September 2008

The contamination of Chinese milk products with the toxic industrial chemical melamine is rapidly becoming a major national and international scandal. Already, some 53,000 infants have become sick and at least 12,892 have been hospitalised.

Canadian Medical Association Journal attacks Harper government for listeria epidemic

By John Mackay, 20 September 2008

The Canadian Medical Association Journal, one of the world’s top medical publications, has made a scathing attack on Canada’s Conservative government, charging that “government policy errors helped bring about” the recent epidemic of listeriosis.

AIDS conference reflects failure to tackle deepening catastrophe

By Barry Mason, 12 August 2008

The latest figures for the AIDS epidemic were published by UNAIDS and WHO (World Health Organisation) last month. Two million people died of AIDS in 2007—of whom one-quarter of a million were children. A total of 33 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS, two million of them children.

Report details spread of global AIDS epidemic

By Barry Mason, 13 January 2007

Last year saw a major spread of the global AIDS epidemic. According to the report “2006 Aids Epidemic Update” published by the United Nations bodies UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 39.5 million people now live with HIV, and in 2006 alone 4.3 million became infected with the HIV virus and 2.9 million died from the effects of AIDS.

Chikungunya epidemic on the French Island of Réunion: a “natural” catastrophe

By Françoise Thull and Pierre Mabut, 15 March 2006

The epidemic that has raged on the Réunion Island since March 2005 has, according to official figures, affected 157,000 people, 20 percent of the population, with 77 deaths directly or indirectly attributed to the chikungunya virus. This very debilitating disease is transmitted by the Aedes Albopictus mosquito, which had only been present in Africa before appearing in Réunion at the start of 2005. The disease’s symptoms are bouts of high temperatures associated with pain or even paralysis of the body’s joints, forcing the patient to move in a bent position; hence the name chikungunya, which in Swahili means “he who walks bent over.”

Bird flu threat grows in Europe and Africa

By Andreas Reiss, 13 March 2006

Cases of Asiatic bird flu are spreading in Germany and other European states, but no governmental authorities—at either the national, state or local levels—seem to have developed serious plans to deal with this fully foreseeable crisis.

Nobel Prize for Medicine for gastric ulcer breakthrough

By Perla Astudillo, 6 March 2006

Last year’s Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded in December to two Australian scientists who revealed the bacterial basis for the world’s second most prevalent disease—gastritis and peptic ulcers. Ulcers were previously connected to bad diet or a stressful lifestyle—to the point that it pervaded popular culture, including in film and literature. The breakthrough paved the way for relatively straightforward treatments for a debilitating and potentially fatal disease.

Bird flu sparks emergency measures in India, Europe, Africa

By Patrick Martin, 21 February 2006

In the most rapid and far-flung extension of the area of infection since the most recent strain of avian flu was first detected nine years ago, health authorities in India, Western Europe and parts of Africa reported new outbreaks of the disease and announced emergency measures over the weekend.

The dangers of a global bird flu pandemic

By Frank Gaglioti, 4 November 2005

Health authorities around the world are warning that humanity could face the first global influenza pandemic of the twenty-first century. The spread of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza through poultry stocks in Asia and recently into Europe raises the prospect that the virus will mutate so that it can be transmitted from person to person, resulting in millions of deaths. In spite of the constant warning from scientists, governments in wealthier countries have responded in an uncoordinated and belated manner, largely leaving poorer countries to their own devices.

Lack of government preparation for flu pandemic

By Barry Mason and Chris Talbot, 20 October 2005

Cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu virus have now been confirmed in poultry in Turkey, Romania and Greece. So far, the virus that is spreading from the Far East, through Russia and into Europe is infecting birds, though more than 100 people working in proximity to infected poultry have caught the flu and at least 63 have died over the last two years. Large-scale culling of domestic birds in Vietnam, China and other countries has failed to stop the spread. A World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman said, “Never before in the history of this disease have so many countries been simultaneously affected, resulting in the loss of so many birds.”

EU states downplay risk as bird flu spreads toward Western Europe

By Dragan Stankovic, 10 September 2005

The discovery of avian influenza, or bird flu, among migratory birds and domestic poultry in Siberia during July has triggered fears that the virus will reach Western Europe. Despite warnings by many scientists that bird flu could mutate and cause a global pandemic, sharp divisions emerged among European Union (EU) member states over whether to take action to stem the spread of the virus.

Research reveals link between tiny genetic structures and cancer

By Perla Astudillo, 5 September 2005

The complex connection between genes and cancer has been further clarified in fascinating findings published in the June 9 edition of the British science journal Nature. Separate studies by three major US cancer research laboratories have positively correlated the relationship between over 200 types of miRNA (also called microRNA) and the development of cancer tumours.

Nanotechnology and the treatment of cancer

By Perla Astudillo, 20 June 2005

Recent successful medical trials of a cancer treatment involving the use of “nanotechnology” may open up important new avenues for the diagnosis and treatment of other cancers and diseases.

New malaria study reveals huge underestimation of disease

By Barry Mason, 31 March 2005

A new study using epidemiological, geographical and demographic data has demonstrated that there are over 500 million cases of malaria each year. This figure is more than double that previously estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of around 210 million. Of these cases, 70 percent occur in Africa and 25 percent in Southeast Asia. Around 2 billion people, i.e., a third of the world’s population, are at risk of contracting the disease.

New cases of bird flu underscore dangers of a global pandemic

By Dragan Stankovic, 29 March 2005

The appearance of new cases of the bird flu virus HIN5 among poultry and humans in Asia has prompted urgent warnings about the potentially catastrophic consequences of a deadly worldwide pandemic. At present, the virus is transmitted to humans via infected birds. With the virus entrenched in parts of Asia, what concerns scientists and health workers is the possibility that a mutant strain will emerge that can spread directly from human to human.

Asbestos industry—corporate murder on a global scale

“You will know them by their trail of death”—an investigation into the asbestos industry

Review of a Real Life documentary produced in the UK for ITN television.

14 September 2004

This documentary, broadcast in August, is about corporate murder, premeditated and on a massive scale. Widows Joan Baird and Pauline Bonney listen to a haunting song about the epidemic of asbestos deaths that is an international scandal. The words of “He Fades Away” bring the heartache back. Joan lost her husband, William, seven years ago to asbestos-induced mesothelioma. Pauline’s husband, John, succumbed to the same deadly form of cancer five years previously. ITN followed the quest of these two courageous women as they investigate the reasons why their loved ones had died—a journey that takes them to disused, though still contaminated, asbestos factories, and all the way to the mines in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Wherever they travel, they uncover a trail of death.

As superbug problem mounts, drug companies slash antibiotics research

By Guy Charron, 11 September 2004

Infectious disease specialists have drawn a causal link between an alarming rise in the number of Quebec hospital patients becoming infected with and dying from Clostridium difficile—a bacterium resistant to standard antibiotics—and government budget-cutting. As the World Socialist Web Site previously reported, researchers studying the C. difficile pandemic in Quebec have linked the bacteria’s spread to the unsanitary environment created by decaying infrastructure, patient overcrowding, and reduced staffing. [See “Canada: budget cuts have contributed to spread of super-bug”]