ACLU files lawsuit alleging attacks on journalists covering George Floyd protests

first_imgTwitter/@JaredGoyette(WASHINGTON) — BY: CATHERINE THORBECKEThe American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit on behalf of journalists that it says were attacked by law enforcement while covering the protests over the killing of George Floyd.The suit was filed on behalf of journalist Jared Goyette who was shot in the face with a rubber bullet on May 27 while covering the demonstrations in Minneapolis. The ALCU is seeking class action status.“Actions like this make protesters, people trying to advocate for change, more vulnerable because journalists provide a witness and police are aware of that,” Goyette said in a statement. “Without journalists there, police or other people in power can feel a sense of impunity that no one will see what’s happening anyway.”“Everyone needs to know people are watching,” he added.Goyette repeatedly told police that he was a member of the press there to cover the demonstrations, according to the ACLU of Minnesota. When I was hit by a police projectile, an incident that is now part of an @ACLUMN class-action lawsuit against the MPD, I was trying to document what was happing to this man, and the efforts of people like @JaymalGreen to keep him alive. Never got a chance to finish. pic.twitter.com/Bbh71X4VC5— Jared Goyette (@JaredGoyette) June 3, 2020“The power of the people is rooted in the ability of the free press to investigate and report news, especially at a time like this when police have brutally murdered one of our community members,” Teresa Nelson, the ACLU-MN legal director, said in a statement.“Police are using violence and threats to undermine that power, and we cannot let that happen,” Nelson added. “Public transparency is absolutely necessary for police accountability.”The suit was filed overnight on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota against the city of Minneapolis and some of its police and department of public safety officials. It seeks an order declaring the actions unconstitutional and prohibiting law enforcement from attacking journalists again as well as damages for injuries.“We will review the allegations and take them seriously,” Minneapolis city attorney Erik Nilsson said in response to the lawsuit. “We continue to support the First Amendment rights of everyone in Minneapolis.”The Minnesota State Patrol told ABC News in a statement that it “recognizes the importance of the media in covering the civil unrest that is occurring in our communities.”“When conducting law enforcement operations to restore order and keep people safe, it can be difficult for officers to distinguish journalists from those who are violating a curfew order or not complying with commands to leave an area,” the agency said. “During the past week, the State Patrol has worked hard to ensure journalists who have been arrested have been released promptly upon identification.”The statement added that they are reviewing incidents involving their troopers in an effort to prevent similar incidents in the future, but are unable to discuss specifics of pending litigation.As protests over the killing of Floyd roil the nation, a number of journalists covering the news say they have been indiscriminately arrested, tear gassed or shot with rubber bullets by local law enforcement.OUR LATEST DATA:*233+ total press freedom incidents*41+ arrests/detainments153 assaults (125 by police, 27 by others)39 equipment/newsroom damageAssault category breakdown:53 physical attacks (33 by police)35 tear gassings21 pepper sprayings55 rubber bullet/projectiles— U.S. Press Freedom Tracker (@uspresstracker) June 3, 2020The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, an advocacy and research group that records reported attacks on journalists, says it is investigating hundreds of instances of attacks on members of the press covering the Floyd protests. The group says the majority of those aggressions have been from police.Brian Hauss, a staff attorney with the ACLU, said it is the “first of many lawsuits the ACLU intends to file across the country.”“We are facing a full-scale assault on the First Amendment freedom of the press,” Hauss said in a statement. “We will not let these official abuses go unanswered.” Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Despite comfortable point leads, Round of 8 not locked in

first_imgThe top eight playoff drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings sit comfortably above the cutline entering Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway. However, the four remaining contenders still have a solid chance to save their season — and they may have history on their side.RELATED: Expert picks for Kansas | Winners of playoff elimination racesDespite no change to the top eight after the 2018 Round of 12 elimination race, playoff history tends to lean towards a more variable outlook.Since the adoption of the current NASCAR Playoffs format during the 2014 season, five drivers who were in position to advance to the Round of 8 saw their title hopes dashed in the Round of 12 elimination race. Two of the five, Kyle Larson in 2017 and Kyle Busch in 2014, entered with more than a 25-point cushion but had back-of-the pack finishes that derailed their chase for the Cup.Although winning the race is the ultimate goal, it is not necessarily a must for the fringe contenders racing to salvage their title hopes. Only one outside-sitting driver under the current format has won the Round of 12 elimination race to advance to the next round: Brad Keselowski in 2014. Keselowski went on to finish the season in fifth place that year, despite tallying a series-high six wins and 17 top five finishes in 36 races.For a pair of the outside four, recent playoff success at Kansas may lead to a more positive and familiar outlook in the high-stakes race. In last season’s Hollywood Casino 400, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman both secured top-10 finishes. Bowman crossed the line in ninth place, while Elliott dominated the final 44 laps to take home the checkered flag, locking down his coveted spot the Round of 8.As for the final two, they may have to put together one of the best Kansas performances of their careers. Clint Bowyer, currently sitting 24 points out of contention, has just one top five finish in his last 12 races at Kansas, while William Byron (27 points below the cutline) has an average finish of 30.3 in three career starts at the track.With Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney being the only drivers securely locked into the Round of 8 after each notching their first win of the season, the playoff tension is building for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM Radio).Source: Racing Insightslast_img read more

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The Marcus King Band Announces 2019 New Year’s Run

first_imgOn Monday, The Marcus King Band announced a four-night New Year’s run, which will see the band offer up performances across three Georgia venues to close out 2019. The news comes on the heels of King announcing the coming release of his Dan Auerbach-produced debut solo album, El Dorado, due out on January 17th, 2020 via Fantasy Records.Marcus King and his band—comprised of Jack Ryan (drums), Stephen Campbell (bass), Justin Johnson (trumpet/trombone/background vocals/tambourine), and Dean Mitchell (saxophones/pedal steel)—will kick off their New Year’s run with a performance at Macon’s Macon City Auditorium on December 28th. The band will then head to Augusta’s Miller Theater – Brian J. Marks Hall on December 29th. The MKB will ring in 2020 with two performances at Athens’ Georgia Theatre on December 30th and 31st.Tickets for The Marcus King Band’s four-night Georgia New Year’s run go on sale this Friday, October 18th at 10 a.m. (EST) (12/28, 12/29, 12/30, 12/31).For a full list of The Marcus King Band’s upcoming tour dates, ticketing, and more information, head to the band’s website.last_img read more

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When Not To Quit: Man Revived After 96 Minutes Thanks to New Technology

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreLast January, a Minnesota man’s heart stopped beating for an amazing 96 minutes. Emergency room doctors thought he was dead. But first responders who gave CPR on the scene decided not to give up, in part because of technology that allowed them to see their efforts were working.It’s called capnography, and it measures how much carbon dioxide is being expelled with each breath. (LISTEN to the story, or read it at NPR News)Photo by jdurham, morguefileAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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Congress Takes Quick Action to Keep Plastic Microbeads Out of U.S. Water

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreA bill to clean up the environment and keep toxins out of the food chain has sailed through the U.S. Congress with virtually no debate.The Microbead-Free Waters Act requires health and beauty companies to stop using the tiny, plastic abrasives in products by 2017.WANT MORE GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT? GET OUR NEW APP —>  Download FREE for Android and iOSMicrobeads, made from ground plastic pellets like those above, are used in products ranging from facial scrubs to toothpaste. They don’t break down in water treatment plants and about 11 billion of them end up in American waterways every day.They’re not toxic, but toxic chemicals sticking to the microbeads are eaten by marine life. The contamination is then passed up the food chain — even to humans who eat seafood.RELATED:  Watch 196 Countries Approve Historic Climate Agreement in ParisThe beads are also a part of the growing problem of plastic pollution floating in the world’s oceans.Congress passed the bill just before it recessed for Christmas. The Senate didn’t even change any of the language from the original House version of the bill. Even the cosmetic industry supported it in the end. Thirteen companies had already agreed last year to stop using them.CHECK OUT:  Teenage Girl Turns Plastic Trash Into Million-Dollar BiofuelIllinois and California have passed state bans and several cities and counties were planning their own laws against microbeads, leading the industry to favor a single, national regulation rather than dozens of confusing local and state laws.(READ more at the New York Times) — Photo: gentlemanrook, CC AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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Rangers: We are not investigating

first_imgBy Ken [email protected] Melvin and his supporters have ratcheted up the pressure since then.Last week, members of the chief’s civilian advisory board rallied in front of the Port Arthur Police Station, calling for Billiot’s resignation, insisting the words were particularly insensitive to African Americans and lamenting that Billiot has not apologized.On Tuesday, Melvin said he spoke with Texas Rangers investigators over the phone last week and in his office this week. He said after the criminal investigation of the purported remarks ends, there would be an administrative review.Meanwhile, Sgt. Stephanie Davis, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday in response to a Feb. 1 emailed inquiry from the Port Arthur News, “An investigation is not being conducted at this time.”Asked about that statement Tuesday, Melvin called it “bad information” and confirmed his two earlier conversations with investigators.Davis was informed by email about Melvin confirming an investigation and asked to clear up the confusion. At 7:51 p.m. Tuesday she responded simply, “The Rangers are aware of the allegations, but there is not an investigation into this matter at this time.” The initial dispute arose over a suggestion that Port Arthur Sgt. Chris Billiot told the Police Association’s executive board in a Jan. 18 meeting that,  “Chief is bleeding and we should step on his neck and cut his head off.”An association spokesman said later no direct threat was made or intended toward the chief.But days later, Patrick met with two city lawyers and the city manager to request that the Texas Rangers investigate those words attributed to Billiot, suggesting they posed a physical threat to the chief and his family.The Port Arthur News learned about the perceived threat and Melvin’s response when City Council member Willie “Bae” Lewis brought to the newspaper a copy of the written communication from Melvin to city officials detailing the complaint and his request.center_img Next UpMaybe it’s a matter of perception.Or maybe it’s a matter of timing.But a spokeswoman for the Texas Rangers insisted late Tuesday there is no current investigation of a continuing imbroglio involving Port Arthur Police Chief Patrick Melvin and the city’s Police Association — even as the police chief insists there is one.last_img read more

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A short walk links engineering and medicine

first_imgUniversity of Vermont,by Jeffrey R Wakefield UVM Stretching between Votey Hall, home to the University of Vermont’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences(link is external), and the Larner College of Medicine’s Medical Education Center(link is external) is a jumble of chain link fences, construction equipment and hulking, partially built structures – ground zero of an ambitious construction program, about half done, being undertaken by the university and its teaching hospital, the UVM Medical Center.But even the roundabout walkway between the buildings that gives construction hazards a wide berth can be traversed in a little under four-and-a-half minutes.Both the nearness of the buildings and the impediments that prevent an even quicker passage between them are significant—foundational elements of an ongoing commitment the university is making to what may be the great intellectual enterprise of our time: using the quantitative methods of mathematics, computer science and engineering to understand biological systems and solve deeply complex biomedical problems.In a sign of this commitment, the university this fall unveiled a new undergraduate major in biomedical engineering three years in the making. It joins a Ph.D. in bioengineering launched in 2010 and previews a master’s in the discipline the university will put in place within two years.UVM’s emergent trio of biomedical engineering degree programs has top tier potential, says the university’s provost, David Rosowsky.In his previous job as dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rosowsky presided over one of the nation’s leading biomedical engineering departments.As he was eyeing UVM from afar and after he arrived in 2013, Rosowsky was impressed by the talent of the faculty in both the engineering college and the university’s highly ranked medical school—and by how many faculty in both academic units had educational backgrounds and active research programs in biomedical engineering.He was also struck by something that was missing at RPI and, to an extent, limited it: the fact that “our College of Medicine”—RPI has neither a medical school nor a clinical translational research facility like UVM Medical Center—“sits right on our campus, co-located with the rest of the university,” he says.The combination of faculty talent and interest and the nearness of the two colleges presented “an obvious opportunity to invest in an area that was very compelling to students, very compelling to federal agencies supporting research and very attractive to employers,” he says.Two years after Rosowsky arrived, as part of a strategic plan developed by the university’s president, Tom Sullivan, UVM began construction on a new $104 million STEM facility—one of the impediments that necessitates the circuitous path from Votey to the med school. Across the way, the UVM Medical Center recently broke ground on another—a new patient care facility that will bring engineering and medicine even closer.The investment in the new STEM facility doesn’t overlook biomedical engineering. A large, state-of-the-art biomedical engineering teaching and research lab will be housed in Votey Hall, much of which will be gutted and rebuilt as part of the STEM project.Consequential CollisionsThe proximity of engineering and medicine at UVM is rare in American higher education. At the vast majority of the 50 universities that have both accredited biomedical engineering programs and medical colleges, the two units are located across town from one another (think Tufts in Medford and Tufts Medical School in Boston’s Chinatown) or even across the state (Cornell in Ithaca and Weill Cornell Medicine in Manhattan, for example).The location of the schools being a “stone’s throw from one another creates unique synergy,” says Luis Garcia, dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.Rachael Oldinski, a rising faculty star in biomedical engineering in the college, is a case in point. Oldinski and a group of faculty at the College of Medicine’s Vermont Lung Center are hard at work on an ingenious invention she calls a “lung Band-Aid” —a patch of organic matter derived from seaweed that can be used to repair the hole of a collapsed lung and “potentially save a life,” she says. But if a post-doctoral student at the med school, Darcy Wagner, hadn’t wandered over to Votey to catch a seminar Oldinski was teaching and talk with her afterwards about a challenge she and her advisor, Dr. Dan Weiss, a pulmonary specialist at the Lung Center, were facing, the invention may never have been conceived.“She came to my seminar and said, ‘This is what we’re having trouble doing,’ and I said, ‘Well, I have something that will probably solve your problem,’” Oldinski says. “And then she came back to me and said, ‘You know I think your solution would actually be good for something else.’ One thing led to another and to another, and the lung Band-Aid was born. It happened only because of the people and the location,” Oldinski says.Explosive GrowthBiomedical engineering as a field is experiencing explosive growth, says Jason Bates, a biomedical engineer and professor of pulmonary medicine in the Larner College of Medicine, who helped launch the bioengineering Ph.D. as interim director of the School of Engineering, a role he played from 2010 to 2014. Bates and Jeff Frolik, professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, are co-directors of the new undergraduate program.The growth is being driven along two tracks, says Bates. “There’s the technology involved in healthcare delivery,” he says, which grows exponentially every year and includes everything from smart prosthetics to diagnostic tools like CAT scanners to the safe and standardized manufacture of new pharmaceuticals.“Then there’s the technology involved in making fundamental investigations into biology as a biomedical system,” he says. “Medicine and biology have developed to the point where you just can’t get away from the need for serious quantitative methodology in much of it. Engineers are people with hammers looking for nails. And in medicine, we’ve got a lot of nails.”All that growth means better healthcare outcomes for patients—and a burgeoning job market for biomedical engineers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 23 percent increase in the number of biomedical engineering jobs between 2014 and 2024, a “much faster than average” rate of growth according to the bureau. In 2015 the median income of biomedical engineers was of $86,220.That rosy projection rings true for alum Dan Nardi (B.S. in mathematics, 2002/M.S. in computer science, 2004), vice president for operations at Livongo, a Chicago-based chronic disease management company, and a member of the CEMS advisory board who was an early advocate of the new undergraduate degree.“Being out in Silicon Valley a lot and just picking up as much as I can on all the blogs, I certainly think there is more and more demand,” he says. Nardi also mentors healthcare startups in the Chicago area “and a lot of entrepreneurs want to have a background like this because there’s so many applications.”UVM biomedical engineering graduates would be welcomed by “a whole new wave of startups,” he says.More Than Bricks and MortarThe university’s investment in biomedical engineering extends beyond the bricks and mortar of the new biomedical lab and the STEM facility of which it is part. According to Garcia, the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences brought on a new instructor in the discipline in August and plans a tenure track “cluster hire”—two biomechanical engineering faculty recruited simultaneously, one with a concentration in electrical engineering and one in mechanical—this academic year.The university is also investing in a program that will award “substantial seed grants,” according to Rosowsky, to teams of faculty from engineering and medicine who jointly submit research proposals.The grant program is a way of further ramping up research partnerships between colleagues in UVM’s engineering and medical colleges, a group that has often worked together in the past whose tradition of collaboration led to the bioengineering Ph.D.The new undergraduate program should promote even more connection, Garcia says. Faculty from the two schools will be entwined, with engineering faculty primarily teaching the first three years, medical school faculty offering special topics courses senior year, and much interplay all four years. “You’re going to be working together teaching, and working together in developing some of the programs,” he says. “We see a clear spillover into doing more research together.”Wanted: Gender BalanceThe attractiveness of the new undergraduate program and the popularity of the major across higher ed should help the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences continue its strong enrollment growth, a strategic goal of the university and the state of Vermont. The unit has more than doubled its enrollment in the last decade. It will also help with another challenge facing UVM and universities everywhere: tipping the scale toward gender balance in the male-dominated field of engineering.“Biomedical engineering nationwide is about 40 percent female,” says Garcia. “We’re confident our program will get to that level,” which should boost overall engineering enrollment well above its current ratio of 21 percent female to male, a figure higher than the national average for engineering schools but not where the college wants to be.A larger female enrollment would, in turn, “attract other underrepresented categories,” says Frolik. “All the students would be taking the same first and second year classes, so we’ll have a much more diverse population.” Why more women are attracted to biomedical engineering is a complicated question. Bates and others guess that it’s “because of the more immediate social implications of being able to directly help people.”Oldinski says role modeling plays a large part. “Where did a lot of women start to become comfortable within engineering?” she asks. “I think biomedical engineering was one place. And as soon as you have one biomedical engineering professor, there’s your pipeline of female students.”The example of Kiki Cunningham, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Old Chatham, N.Y., who’s switching to biomedical engineering now that the major is available, suggests that those reasons may be intertwined.While in high school at Emma Willard in Troy, Cunningham got a tour of the General Electric facility in nearby Schenectady and was inspired by a young woman there, who told her about a project she was working on to make synthetic skin for burn victims. Cunningham was drawn to the person but also to the field’s ability to make a human impact. “Originally I wanted to go into internal medicine to help people,” she says. “After that presentation and after doing more research, I saw more ways I could help people being a bioengineer than an M.D.”Good to GreatUVM’s expansion of its biomedical engineering program is a clear advance for undergraduate education at the university; the only surprise is that it didn’t come earlier. “UVM has everything you’d want for the degree,” Oldinski says. “The students have the ability to get into the classroom, to go over to the hospital, to volunteer, to work with faculty in the College of Medicine and the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, the Material Science program in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Nursing and Health Science.”And the educational experience is delivered—in both engineering and medicine (as well as in the university as a whole)—via a teacher-scholar model emphasizing small classes taught by faculty with expertise in research and teaching.As the undergraduate enrollment grows and feeds the soon-to-come-online master’s program, as both programs serve as a pipeline to the doctoral program, and as all student levels swell a research program already growing due to increased collaboration between next-door-neighbor faculty in engineering and medicine, it’s hard not to get carried away by biomedical engineering’s potential at UVM. “This is a great opportunity for the university,” says Rosowsky. “It’s also a great fit for the university.”last_img read more

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Xtra Mile Events raises a glass with ERDINGER Alkoholfrei

first_imgMultisport events company, Xtra Mile Events, has announced that ERDINGER Alkoholfrei will be supporting five major Xtra Mile Events this season as part of the non-alcoholic beer brand’s expanded sponsorship program across the UK.ERDINGER Alkoholfrei will be present at Oulton Park Spring Duathlon (16 March 2014), Ffit Conwy Llandudno Sea Triathlon (29 June 2014), Peak District Triathlon at Chatsworth (13 July 2014), Eirias Middle Distance+ and Eirias Standard Distance+ (9 August 2014) and Oulton Park Autumn Duathlon (5 October 2014).(The confirmation of ERDINGER Alkoholfrei’s sponsorship of key events on the 2014 Xtra Mile race calendar comes hot-on-the-heels of a deal between ERDINGER and One Step Beyond Events for all its major events in 2014, including the sold out Cambridge Half Marathon and the televised Outlaw Triathlon.) Related The ERDINGER Alkoholfrei team will be handing out samples to all Xtra Mile race finishers, reinforcing the recovery message through the ‘great tasting isotonic drink’. All athletes will also have the opportunity to win merchandise via their various Xtra Mile competitions.ERDINGER will also promote Xtra Mile Events through its channels – with all sponsored events listed on the ERDINGER Alkoholfrei events calendar.Xtra Mile Race Director Simon Hill commented, ““We are hugely excited to announce that ERDINGER Alkoholfrei will be sponsoring five of our major events this year. They are a huge name in triathlon and we are privileged to have them at the finish line of these great events.”Further sponsors of Xtra Mile Events include Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative (Official Bicycle Retail Partner), Starley Bikes (Official Specialist Bike Brand), Clif Bar (Official Sports Nutrition Partner), Zone3 (Official Wetsuit Partner), Aftershokz (Official Headphone Partner), Up & Running (Official Sports Retail Partner) and Athlete Matters (Official Physio and Rehab Partner).www.xtramileevents.comwww.erdinger-alkoholfrei.co.uklast_img read more

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Colliers completes $18.95M sale in Tucson

first_imgColliers International in Greater Phoenix recently completed the sale of a 143,650-square-foot Class A office building for $18.95 million, or $131.95 a square foot.W. P. Carey Inc. on behalf of CPA®:17 – Global, one of its managed REITs, purchased the building, which is leased to a single tenant. The seller was Summit Properties of Seattle.Neil Glassmoyer, senior vice president; Tivon Moffitt, vice president; and Peter Bauman, senior associate; all of Colliers International in Greater Phoenix, served as brokers for the buyer and seller.“The transaction is the largest office sale in Tucson based on square footage since January of 2008 and involves one of the highest quality assets in the market,” Moffitt said.“This sale shows demand for assets in the Tucson market that have investment-grade tenants,” Bauman said.Constructed in 2002, the building is located at 3350 E. Hemisphere Loop in Tucson and is situated on 16 acres at the Tucson International Business Center.“The buyer acquired this Class A office building well below replacement cost with a high-quality tenant in place,” Glassmoyer said.Gino Sabatini, W. P. Carey Managing Director and Co-Head of Global Investments, noted, “The quality of the tenant and the criticality of the asset to their operations made this an attractive investment for W. P. Carey. The building’s size along with significant improvements made by the tenant are key factors in meeting the tenant’s unique requirements and consequently enhanced the investment value of the asset for us.”last_img read more

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Reports probe Tamiflu benefits, call for clinical data transparency

first_imgDec 9, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – In an update of a review on the role of neuraminidase inhibitors in seasonal flu prevention and treatment, the authors reversed a previous conclusion that oseltamivir (Tamiflu) prevents complications like pneumonia in healthy patients because they were unable to reconstruct the data in one of the key studies that found a benefit.The review was published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), along with an investigation that the journal conducted with England’s Channel 4 News on the authors’ attempts to obtain the raw data from Roche, which supported the earlier studies and is the maker of Tamiflu.The BMJ’s investigative report and an accompanying editorial say difficulties the review authors had in verifying the data cloud government stockpiling policies and point to other problems with drug company transparency in the drug approval process and medical journal publishing practices. They also wrote that an earlier Cochrane Library review, published in 2006, should have been more rigorous.Though today’s BMJ articles focus on seasonal flu and healthy patients, they may have implications for pandemic flu, because Tamiflu is the drug of choice for managing H1N1 infections, especially in those with severe illness and those at high risk for complications.Analysis includes 20 studiesThe research team, which included experts from Australia and a doctoral student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, analyzed 20 published trials on neuraminidase inhibitor use in seasonal flu that focused on prevention, treatment, and adverse reactions. However, they dropped eight trials that were included in the 2006 review, because they were never published and the researchers weren’t able to verify the results. According to the BMJ investigative report, Roche wouldn’t send the authors the raw data without a signed confidentiality agreement.They concluded that neuraminidase inhibitors have a modest effect against seasonal flu symptoms in healthy adults, but a scarcity of good data undermines the previous finding that Tamiflu is useful in preventing flu complications. The investigators wrote that independent randomized trials are needed to resolve uncertainties.During negotiations with the authors over the raw data, Roche sent them a group of observational studies. An analysis of those studies in the same issue of BMJ found that oseltamivir may reduce the risk of pneumonia in healthy patients who have flu, but the benefit is small and side effects and safety should be considered. The authors of the analysis also said interpreting the observational studies was difficult, because some patients were included in more than one study.In an editorial in the same issue of BMJ, the journal’s editor-in-chief, Dr Fiona Godlee, and Mike Clarke, director of the Cochrane Centre in Oxford, England, wrote that Roche hasn’t done anything wrong by current pharmaceutical standards, but they said the current system isn’t working and “gives a false sense of security.”They wrote that drug company studies are often shrouded in secrecy and aren’t always subject to full independent review. They call for more publicly funded trials and said governments should pass laws requiring access to raw data on licensed drugs.Data access limitedFred Hayden, MD, a virologist at the University of Virginia and coordinator of influenza activities at the Wellcome Trust, an independent medical research funding charity based in London, was the corresponding author of an analysis that included raw data from some of the Roche-supported studies that Australian researchers couldn’t obtain from Roche. That report, published in a 2003 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, has been widely use to support Tamiflu use for preventing flu-related pneumonia and hospitalizations. Hayden said that after several moves he was unable to track down the raw data and advised them to request it from Roche.Hayden told CIDRAP News that the 2003 findings are still valid and that he supports the researchers’ access to the primary data. Roche said in a response to BMJ that it would provide the raw data to researchers who have a legitimate need for it on a password-protected Web portal. “There’s no question that this is the right thing to do,” Hayden said.The new BMJ review might send a confusing message to clinicians who are in the midst of treating pandemic H1N1 patients, Hayden said. He said the review focuses on uncomplicated seasonal influenza, and he cautioned physicians not to generalize too broadly from it in their management of pandemic H1N1 cases.Studies on patients with H5N1 avian influenza infections from different countries have shown that early oseltamivir treatment can reduce mortality, and clinicians are seeing the same pattern for patients with pandemic H1N1 flu.Hayden is part of a World Health Organization (WHO) panel of antiviral experts that met in June to update WHO guidance for pandemic H1N1 management. He said the group meets again in January to review the most recent data, and he doesn’t think the BMJ review will have much of an impact on the discussions.WHO evaluating reportsCharles Penn, PhD, a scientist with the WHO’s global influenza program, told CIDRAP News that the WHO is still evaluating all of the BMJ reports to see how they might affect its antiviral guidelines. However, he said the review isn’t based on any new evidence and that its conclusions contain findings about neuraminidase inhibitor use that are already well known, such as a modest benefit in otherwise healthy patients.He pointed out that the pandemic H1N1 virus is affecting a different age range than seasonal flu, with a small number of very severe cases, including some involving viral pneumonitis. Researchers are building up a body of evidence from 6 months of clinicians’ experience in managing pandemic H1N1 patients, and the data suggest oseltamivir is having an impact on severity and hospitalizations.When queried about a response from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the BMJ review, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner referred CIDRAP News to a recent perspective article by Tim Uyeki, MD, MPH.Uyeki, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC’s Influenza Division, wrote in a Nov 18 article in the New England Journal of Medicine that evidence “supports the benefit of neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamiviror zanamivir) in reducing complications, including deaths, among hospitalized patients with 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1).”Uyeki cited three observational studies of oseltamivir in seasonal flu that showed reduced mortality in hospitalized patients.”Taken together,” Uyeki concluded, “although data are limited, findings of observational studies all point in the same direction, suggesting benefit of early neuraminidase inhibitor treatment for hospitalized influenza patients as well as for patients presenting >48 hours after illness onset.”Some conclusions already acceptedVincent Racaniello, PhD, professor of microbiology at Columbia University and author of Virology Blog, told CIDRAP News that the BMJ studies are well done and the conclusions are valid, but he said scientists have known for a long time that neuraminidase inhibitors are marginally effective. “They were approved because there are no other antivirals available,” he said. “In people with lab-confirmed influenza, they work about 70% of the time in reducing symptoms by a day. That’s been known for years and these meta-analyses confirm that.”He said the new BMJ review’s conclusion that there is no benefit from postexposure prophylaxis for influenza-like illness contradicts earlier studies, but he said some of the illnesses might not have been flu and may not have been affected by neuraminidase inhibitors. “That’s one reason why the authors of this study call for more trials,” Racaniello said. The other reason they support more study is because they’re not sure that the drugs don’t prevent complications, he added.The issue the BMJ articles raise about the release of clinical trial data is “terrific,” Racaniello said. “This is immediately relevant because, for example, many people would like to see the results of H1N1 clinical trials before deciding to take the vaccine. They aren’t widely available, yet the vaccine is in use,” he added.Racaniello predicted that the new review won’t have much affect on policies regarding the use of neuraminidase inhibitors. The drugs help, even if experts aren’t sure if they help with complicated influenza, he said. “The study emphasizes the fact that we don’t have very good drugs against influenza and we need to have more. Some are in development, but it’s not enough.”Jefferson T, Jones M, Doshi P. Neuraminidase inhibitors for preventing and treating influenza in healthy adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2009 Dec 8;339 (Early online publication) [Full text]Cohen D. Complications: tracking down the data on oseltamivir. BMJ 2009 Dec 8; web extra [Abstract]Freemantle N, Calvert M. What can we learn from observational studies of oseltamivir to treat influenza in healthy adults? BMJ 2009 Dec 8;339 [Full text]Godlee F, Clarke M. Why don’t we have all the evidence on oseltamivir? BMJ 2009 Dec 8;339 (Editorial) [Full text]See also:Uyeki T. Antiviral treatment for patients hospitalized with 2009 influenza A (H1N1). N Engl J Med 2009 Nov 18 [Full text]last_img read more

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