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FDA Approves Treatment for Severe Frostbite

By Erin Blakemore, Washington Post

Historically, no approved medication for treating severe frostbite in adults has been approved. This seriously affected adults with frostbite, as amputations were often necessary. Amputations could then lead to further adverse consequences for the individual. A 2021 study showed that 20% of amputations led to a disability, especially among patients from unhoused populations. 

With the approval of the drug Aurlumyn, this has finally changed. Aurlumyn, produced by Eicos Sciences, works as a vasodilator, meaning that it expands blood vessels. Its active ingredient, iloprost, was first used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. The vasodilation of Aurlumyn is important because the body’s blood vessels constrict in response to the cold. When someone has frostbite, heat and circulation decrease from blood vessel shrinkage, and ice crystals form in the body’s tissue. This often affects the body’s extremities, as they are most affected by severe cold. 

In trials, Aurlumyn has held up well. In a randomized clinical trial of 47 patients with frostbite, the 16 patients who received Aurlumyn did not have to get amputations. This has left many feeling optimistic. The introduction of this drug could make a huge impact, especially for those who are more at risk for frostbite, like those without warm shelter or clothing. With Aurlumyn, doctors now have a way to combat severe frostbite, hopefully reducing rates of amputation. 

by Lydia King

Major Embryo Shipping Company Halts Business in Alabama 

By Sarah Kliff, New York Times

An Alabama State Supreme Court ruling on Friday, February 16, 2024, claimed that frozen embryos are considered children; in response, multiple providers of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) services are under fire, including Cryoport. Cryport is one of the largest companies for shipping frozen embryos, considering the unforeseen legal liabilities that could accompany continued shipping.

The Supreme Court decision elicited three reproductive health clinics in the state to halt providing care. The case relied on various couples whose embryos were damaged at a reproductive health clinic in Mobile, Alabama, setting a dangerous precedent for clinics to be prosecuted under charges of wrongful death.

Other embryo shipping companies in the state have announced the planned continuation of their services, but it is a difficult legal landscape to navigate with the ruling being so recent. Embryo shipping is a common practice, depending on where patients are located, which clinics have the infrastructure for long-term vs short-term storage, and individual assessments for family planning. A major implication of Cryoport’s decision is the lack of liberty and access current patients at reproductive clinics in Alabama now have. Increasingly, legal access to reproductive health has been contested in the state, with shipments that were planned before the Supreme Court Decision currently paused. In the future, for Alabama patients receiving IVF-related care, it is a strong possibility that most will have to venture toward out-of-state clinics and companies. 

by Saanvi Nayar

Should severe menopause symptoms be a disability? One country thinks so

By Victoria Bisset, The Washington Post

Britain has the potential to spearhead legislation in women’s health. Their Equality and Human Rights Commission published guidelines that severe menopause symptoms can be a disability. Meaning that people cannot be discriminated against based on this disability, due to preceding equality legislation. Employers would be obligated to make adjustments due to menopause symptoms. The Equality and Human Rights Commission recommends providing rest areas and quiet rooms, as well as fans and cooling systems. One roadblock is the severity of menopause symptoms and the willingness of employees to disclose symptoms due to stigma. 

Menopause symptoms are caused by a large drop in estrogen. These can include hot flashes, cardiac effects, brain fog, along with irritability, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. 

Treatments such as Hormone Replacement Therapy can treat the estrogen drop. However, research correlating HRT to cancer has led women to avoid HRT. 

Communities such as the Latte Lounge have formed to provide support and resources for perimenopausal and menopausal women. In addition, physicians and researchers have emphasized evidence based medicine as essential to treat menopause symptoms. This includes awareness of the variety of symptoms and severity that women experience. 

Improving education about menopause symptoms can help reduce the stigma of women’s health. Additionally, deeming severe menopause a disability can be affirming for women going through symptoms that have greatly impacted their lives. Disability is a large umbrella for a variety of conditions, and naming severe menopause a disability gives them the same legislative protection. This can be essential for women to stay employed and receive the support they need from employers. 

 by Caroline Hansen

Items contributed by: Lydia King, Saanvi Nayar, Caroline Hansen