Fatal Christmas Tree; A Whole Lot of Fraud; Chatbots Relieve Seniors’ Loneliness

Derick Alison
Derick Alison
4 Min Read

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In observance of the holiday season, Morning Break will not be published December 25-26 and will resume Wednesday December 27.

A woman in Belgium died and two others were injured by a falling Christmas tree in a market square. (Reuters)

A Florida man was sentenced to over 4 years in prison for illegal distribution of $16 million of adulterated HIV medication, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

DOJ also said that United Memorial Medical Center in Houston will pay a $2 million fine plus contingent payments for alleged false claims related to outlier excessive costs and double billing for COVID testing.

Continuing a busy week at DOJ, a Florida nurse practitioner was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in a $192 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Finally, DOJ announced that Ultragenyx agreed to pay $6 million to settle allegations the company paid kickbacks to induce claims for its X-linked hypophosphatemia drug burosumab (Crysvita).

The Federal Trade Commission announced that the Rite Aid drugstore chain agreed to a 5-year ban on using facial recognition to combat shoplifting, settling allegations that the technology incorrectly tagged consumers, especially women and minorities.

A federal judge says that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) spread misinformation about transgender surgeries in children. (AP)

Health data breaches in 2023 set records. (STAT)

As patients lose their primary care doctors, more are losing trust in the healthcare system. (NPR)

Early administration of tecovirimat (Tpoxx) reduced the time to mpox clearance by about 6 days in a preclinical model of human infection. (PLOS Biology)

AI-driven chatbots can help senior citizens deal with loneliness. (AP)

The New York State Department of Health is investigating allegations that Bellevue Hospital allowed unlicensed technicians to participate in some bariatric surgeries. (New York Times)

Two CDC studies showed dramatically lower vaccination rates for COVID and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) versus influenza in nursing homes and among older individuals in the general population.

Another CDC study showed no consistent association between COVID-19 oral therapy such as nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid) and SARS-CoV-2 rebound.

More and more teenage girls are using hormonal implants for their contraceptive needs. (New York Times)

The World Health Organization has prequalified a second vaccine to prevent malaria in children.

Flashes, shimmers, and blind spots: An inside view of migraine aura. (Washington Post)

A nationwide shortage of drugs for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has driven up prices and forced many people to choose between scrimping on necessities or going without the medication. (USA Today)

Some pharmacies in Mexico are selling methamphetamine labeled as the common ADHD medication Adderall. (Los Angeles Times)

A Georgia teenager has died following a long bout of lung disease that required a double lung transplant. (WJBF)

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    Charles Bankhead is senior editor for oncology and also covers urology, dermatology, and ophthalmology. He joined MedPage Today in 2007. Follow

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