Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

Good Monday. This week the news is again dominated by the specter of Zika. I reported earlier that the Puerto Rican chapter of ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)  is working hard to deliver donated contraceptives to women in this vulnerable population. However, IUDS are not common there due to cost, and as a result, few doctors know how to insert them. Approximately 60,000 IUDS and 80,000 packs of birth control pill packs have been donated by Bayer, Allergen and Medicines 360. The donor companies have also started training physicians to use and presumably teach the use of IUDS. However, their dispensation is held up since the CDC has yet to line up a licensed distributor in Puerto Rico.

This sounds like a problem that can be solved. IUDs are not that hard to put in. I cannot help but think that telemedicine, i.e. videoconferencing, could not help train doctors to put in IUDs. By some accounts there are about 150 Ob/Gyns in Puerto Rico, and about 138,000 women there who are vulnerable to pregnancy.

A little more Googling on my part indicated that the Puerto Rico Obstetrics and Gynecology is holding a “ Sunshine Seminar”  August 4-7 this year at the Wyndham Grande Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa. Really ? Instead of studying morcellators and bioidentical hormones, maybe conference attendees should put some gloves on and start seeing as many patients as they can. 

I am going to contact the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr. Sharee Umpierre at the University of Puerto Rico and see what she has to say about the situation. 

The New England Journal of Medicine reports an increase in abortion medication in Zika affected South American countries. 

In some good news, the FDA has given the go ahead on human clinical trials on a Zika vaccine known as GLS-5700. The safety and immune response will be studied in about 40 subjects. Thank you very much you brave souls. 

In more good news, the NIH ( National Institute of Health) have started a massive study on Zika in affected countries. 

The House has approved $1.1 B to fight Zika. This would come from $750M in savings, $107M unused Ebola funds, $100M in cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services (Medicaid and Medicare) and $534M from Obamacare in the US territories. This does not add up. And, it will not pass the Senate or the President’s Desk. 

Ten cases of Zika were confirmed in Dallas County, Texas as of Friday. So it begins. 

In other breaking research news, there is quite a bit of what we already knew or suspected: Cranberry juice may help prevent UTI (urinary tract infection). Physical inactivity increases risk of ovary cancer and healthy lifestyle reduces cancer risk. Leading oncologists push for greater use of the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine. Healthcare is more affordable since Obamacare. Age of puberty for girls is going down. Soy isoflavones reduces menopause symptoms. Women who work long hours face more chronic disease. 

Why are studies done on matters that already seem established ? One reason is that prior studies may have been done to get a rough indication of a cause or pattern. Later, better designed studies can establish something closer to proof. However, some of these things are just common sense. If we took full advantage of the knowledge we already have and actually put it into clinical use with our patients, there would be so much more health and so much less disease. Case in point: HPV vaccines usage. 


Stay tuned next week for more news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology.