Category Archives: science

Drug maker hikes price of 2-in-1 painkiller >2,000%—$36 drugs now $3,000

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Mario Tama)

Irish drug company Horizon Pharma has hiked the price of a two-in-one painkiller by more than 2,000 percent in the past five years, according to a report in Financial Times

A 60-pill bottle of the drug combo, Vimovo, cost $138 in 2013 when AstraZeneca sold it to Horizon. The bottle now costs $2,979 after Horizon raised the price on 11 occasions.

Vimovo is a combination of the common painkiller naproxen and esomeprazole. Naproxen is the active ingredient in Bayer’s over-the-counter painkiller Aleve. A side effect of naproxen is gastrointestinal issues, including stomach pain and heartburns. As such, Vimovo combines it with esomeprazole, a proton-pump inhibitor that treats heartburn. Esomeprazole is sold over the counter by AstraZeneca as Nexium.

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DNA from the poop of extinct four-meter-tall birds reveals lost ecosystem

Enlarge (credit: York Museums Trust staff)

A thousand years ago, gigantic 12-foot-tall flightless birds roamed New Zealand, snacking peacefully on plants and fungi. Then humans came along. Within two hundred years, the giant moa—along with a host of their close cousins—were dead at our species’ hands.

What did the world of the moa look like? Even though New Zealand has lots of well-preserved wilderness, studying that won’t give us an answer. When a species disappears, it takes a chunk of its ecosystem with it, so understanding the ramifications of the moa extinction can help us better understand the environment that many surviving species—some of them critically endangered—evolved in.

Some important answers lie in something the moa left behind: ancient bird poop. It tells us that

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To Survive, These Animals Must Lose Their Camouflage

On December 4, 1920, a 14-year-old boy saw something extraordinary while walking in the central Wisconsin woods.

Snowshoe hares, all of them with vibrant white fur, “were hopping about on fallen leaves that had no snow covering,” he wrote. “The month was unusually mild, with practically no snow until the middle of the period.” It was like a vision: The animals almost glowed against the sullen, early-winter soil.

The sight so stuck with him that he described it in a scientific paper 13 years later. By that time, Wallace Byron Grange had demonstrated an intelligence, a precociousness, and a flair for prose style that matched his middle name. At 22, he had been appointed Wisconsin’s first-ever game commissioner; now, at 27, he was a publishing … Read the rest

Imaging at 1,000fps with a single pixel

Enlarge / No, not those ghosts. (credit: Eli Christman)

For the longest time, imaging was probably the most boring subject imaginable. Unless you were excited about comparing various mass-produced, brand-name lenses, there wasn’t much to talk about. That changed briefly with the invention of the laser, but the actual imaging technology was still… yeah, boring.

In the last decade or so, though, things really have changed, in part because of new ways of thinking about what an image actually is. Among the many fascinating variations on traditional imaging is something called ghost imaging. The idea of ghost imaging was to use the quantum nature of light to image an object by detecting photons that had never actually encountered the object. This is a mind-blowing idea

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