Health Highlights: Oct. 23, 2015

Health Highlights: Oct. 23, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Woman Who Can Sniff Out Parkinson’s Spurs More Research

Scientists are investigating whether Parkinson’s disease can be detected by odor.

Their research was triggered by Joy Milne, a U.K. woman who said she noticed that there was a subtle change in the way her husband smelled about six years before he was diagnosed with the disease, CBS News reported.

“His smell changed and it seemed difficult to describe. It wasn’t all of a sudden. It was very subtle — a musky smell,” she told BBC Scotland. “I got an occasional smell.”

Milne noticed the same scent on other people with Parkinson’s patients when she went to a meeting of the charity Parkinson’s UK. She talked to scientists and they tested Milne’s sense of smell on six people with Parkinson’s and six without the disease. Her accuracy was 11 out of 12, CBS News reported.

In the early stage of Parkinson’s, patients may produce a slight, particular odor linked to the disease. If the molecules that cause the scent can be identified, it may be possible to develop a simple test, such as wiping a person’s forehead with a swab.

In order to determine if that can be done, Parkinson’s UK is funding a study that included about 200 people with and without Parkinson’s.


Nurse Sues New Jersey Officials Over Ebola Quarantine

An American nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey over fears she had Ebola is suing Gov. Chris Christie and other state officials.

Kaci Hickox treated patients in Sierra Leone during the peak of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. When she returned to the United States, she was kept in isolation for three days at University Hospital in Newark while the state determined if she was safe to release, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Tests later showed that Hickox did not have the deadly virus.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, Hickox says she was deprived of due process and unlawfully detained. Along with Christie, the suit also names recently departed Department of Health commissioner, Mary O’Dowd, an assistant commissioner, and the director of communicable disease service, WSJ reported.


Company Says it Can Produce $1 Version of Controversial $750 Pill

It may be possible to make a $1-a-pill version of a drug that recently made headlines when a company announced it would charge hundreds of dollars a pill.

Earlier this year, Turing Pharmaceuticals said it would hike the price of Daraprim (pyrimethamine) from $13 to $750 a pill. The drug is used to treat a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis.

At that price, it would cost $336,000 a year to treat someone with the infection, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association, NBC News reported.

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, a specialty drug company in San Diego, says it can produce a close, customized version of the drug for $1 a pill.

“While we respect Turing’s right to charge patients and insurance companies whatever it believes is appropriate, there may be more cost-effective compounded options for medications, such as Daraprim, for patients, physicians, insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers to consider,” Imprimis CEO Mark Baum said in a statement, NBC News reported.

“This is not the first time a sole supply generic drug — especially one that has been approved for use as long as Daraprim — has had its price increased suddenly and to a level that may make it unaffordable,” he added.

“In response to this recent case and others that we will soon identify, Imprimis is forming a new program called Imprimis Cares which is aligned to our corporate mission of making novel and customizable medicines available to physicians and patients today at accessible prices,” Baum said, NBC News reported.

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