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EpiPens Have Gotten So Expensive That People Are Using Syringes Instead

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For people with life-threatening allergies, having an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) on hand can be life-saving. The handy devices make administering a vital dose of adrenaline to someone whose throat is closing up a completely idiot-proof task—which is exactly what you want in an emergency. Unfortunately, as Stat reports, the brand-name devices have gotten very expensive, leading some to turn to the cheaper, trickier alternative of manual syringes.

Since 2004, the spring-loaded syringe pen's cost has risen more than 450 percent, Stat calculates. The list price for a set of two is now $600; an official from one district in Illinois told Stat that the area spent $2400 a year on pens, to have just eight on hand for two fire stations. While there are a few alternative products, none are prescribed as often as the EpiPen.

To save money, EMTs are manually administering epinephrine, the synthetic version of adrenaline, using syringes. While anyone can use an EpiPen, it takes training to properly inject someone with a syringe. The pre-loaded EpiPens provide the correct dose every time and can be administered in seconds, while loading up a syringe with the proper amount of epinephrine and injecting it correctly takes a little more care.

EpiPens aren’t the only medical products whose prices are rising astronomically. In February, Bloomberg reported that out of a survey of about 3000 brand-name prescription drugs, 60 had more than doubled in price over the past two years, and 20 drugs had quadrupled in price. One gel for eczema and skin infections saw a 1860 percent price increase.

[h/t Stat]

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Live Smarter
Why You Might Not Want to Order Tea or Coffee On Your Next Flight
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A cup of tea or coffee at 40,000 feet may sound like a great way to give yourself an extra energy boost during a tiring trip, but it might be healthier to nap away your fatigue—or at least wait until hitting ground to indulge in a caffeine fix. Because, in addition to being tepid and watery, plane brew could be teeming with germs and other harmful life forms, according to Business Insider.

Multiple studies and investigations have taken a closer look at airplane tap water, and the results aren’t pretty—or appetizing. In 2002, The Wall Street Journal conducted a study that looked at water samples taken from 14 different flights from 10 different airlines. Reporters discovered “a long list of microscopic life you don’t want to drink, from Salmonella and Staphylococcus to tiny insect eggs," they wrote.

And they added, "Worse, contamination was the rule, not the exception: Almost all of the bacteria levels were tens, sometimes hundreds, of times above U.S. government limits."

A 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that water supplies on 15 percent of 327 national and international commercial aircrafts were contaminated to varying degrees [PDF]. This all led up to the 2011 Aircraft Drinking Water Rule, an EPA initiative to make airlines clean up. But in 2013, an NBC investigation found that at least one out of every 10 commercial U.S. airplanes still had issues with water contamination.

Find out how airplane water gets so gross, and why turning water into coffee or tea isn’t enough to kill residual germs by watching Business Insider’s video below.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Scientists May Have Found the Real Cause of Dyslexia—And a Way to Treat It
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Dyslexia is often described as trying to read letters as they jump around the page. Because of its connections to reading difficulties and trouble in school, the condition is often blamed on the brain. But according to a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the so-called learning disability may actually start in the eyes.

As The Guardian reports, a team of French scientists say they've discovered a key physiological difference between the eyes of those with dyslexia and those without it. Our eyes have tiny light-receptor cells called rods and cones. The center of a region called the fovea is dominated by cones, which are also responsible for color perception.

Just as most of us have a dominant hand, most have a dominant eye too, which has more neural connections to the brain. The study of 60 people, divided evenly between those with dyslexia and those without, found that in the eyes of non-dyslexic people, the arrangement of the cones is asymmetrical: The dominant eye has a round, cone-free hole, while the other eye has an unevenly shaped hole. However, in people with dyslexia, both eyes have the same round hole. So when they're looking at something in front of them, such as a page in a book, their eyes perceive exact mirror images, which end up fighting for visual domination in the brain. This could explain why it's sometimes impossible for a dyslexic person to distinguish a "b" from a "d" or an "E" from a "3".

These results challenge previous research that connects dyslexia to cognitive abilities. In a study published earlier this year, people with the condition were found to have a harder time remembering musical notes, faces, and spoken words. In light of the new findings, it's unclear whether this is at the root of dyslexia or if growing up with vision-related reading difficulties affects brain plasticity.

If dyslexia does come down to some misarranged light-receptors in the eye, diagnosing the disorder could be as simple as giving an eye exam. The explanation could also make it easy to treat without invasive surgery. In the study, the authors describe using an LED lamp that blinks faster than the human eye can perceive to "cancel out" one of the mirror images perceived by dyslexic readers, leaving only one true image. The volunteers who read with it called it a "magic lamp." The researchers hope to further experiment with it to see see if it's a viable treatment option for the millions of people living with dyslexia.

[h/t The Guardian]

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