Robert Markowitz and Bill Stafford / NASA Robonaut Lab

The U.S. and world economies were revolutionized by globalization and later by the digital revolution. What's coming next? This hour, we sit down with someone who has an idea of what's to come. Alec Ross served as Senior Advisor for Innovation to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He tells us how emerging fields like robotics and genomics are changing the way we live and work.

The Placebo Effect

Apr 6, 2016

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better for a long time. They've been working since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight, after all hope for a medical cure had been lost.  

Doctors have long dismissed the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments that sometimes fail where placebo works well, including in surgical procedures like arthroscopy, a popular procedure that relieves the pain of arthritic knees. 

Charles Williams / Creative Commons

With an opioid crisis still underway across the country, pain and how it’s treated is under scrutiny. The Centers for Disease Control in March came out with national standards for prescribing opioid painkillers, notably that clinicians should consider other options first.

Pfizer and Allergan won't be merging after all, the companies announced Wednesday.

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Irish competitor Allergan were planning to combine into the largest pharmaceutical giant in the world.

U.S. companies will find it much harder to reduce their taxes by merging with foreign firms under new rules introduced by the Obama administration, and that's already throwing the fate of one big deal in doubt.

Shares of Allergan were down sharply Tuesday, as investors questioned whether its $150 billion merger with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will still take place.

It's one of the most basic things in education: seeing the board. Research has shown, over and over again, that if you can't see, you're going to have an awfully hard time in school. And yet too often this simple issue gets overlooked.

The World Health Organization says there is now scientific consensus that the Zika virus is connected with microcephaly — a condition in which babies are born with very small heads and brain damage.

Scientists have been working for months to confirm a link between Zika and microcephaly, ever since Brazil reported a startling increase in cases last fall.

When a Connecticut woman who was HIV-positive died earlier this month, her family decided to donate her organs to others who needed them.

Doctors in Maryland announced Wednesday that they performed two landmark, successful surgeries with her kidney and liver — transplanting the organs to HIV-positive patients.

Jill Hoy

Jon Imber was at the peak of his career as an accomplished artist and teacher when he was diagnosed with ALS in the fall of 2012. "Imber's Left Hand," a documentary about Jon's life as ALS claimed the use of his dominant right hand, will air on April 5 at the Hartford Jewish Film Festival. 

5u5 / Creative Commons

Gardeners are always looking for perennial flowers that will thrive in shade and provide color. I've got just the plant: coral bells, or heuchera.

takacsi75 / Creative Commomns

A major group representing Connecticut doctors said it may support a bill limiting first-time opioid prescriptions if the final legislation allows prescribers some discretion. 

Gordon Swanson/Hemera / Thinkstock

A bill that would allow children with certain medical conditions to be prescribed marijuana passed a key legislative committee Monday. 

Connecticut lawmakers are moving closer toward allowing qualified patients under 18-years-old to use medical marijuana to treat their debilitating illnesses.

The General Assembly’s Public Health Committee overwhelmingly approved the proposed legislation on Monday. It now awaits further action in the House of Representatives.

frankieleon / Creative Commons

Doctors in Connecticut may soon be limited to writing a seven-day prescription for opioid-based medication. It's part of an effort to curb drug overdose deaths in the state.

Doctors have long disputed the accusation that the payments they receive from pharmaceutical companies have any relationship to how they prescribe drugs.

There's been little evidence to settle the matter, until now.

A ProPublica analysis has found that doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed prescribe drugs differently on average than their colleagues who don't. And the more money they receive, the more brand-name medications they tend to prescribe.

Alex Ostasiewicz/AmeriCares

Staying healthy can involve more than just visiting the doctor. Sometimes it means lifestyle changes, and those can be difficult to implement. 


A 13-year-old girl who became the face of the movement in Connecticut to provide medical marijuana to sick children died suddenly on Sunday. 

photobunny / Creative Commons

Walgreens announced plans to install take-back kiosks for prescription drugs at pharmacies around the country and in Connecticut, but the state's Department of Consumer Protection said those kiosks aren't likely to appear here anytime soon. 

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Laura McKenna went looking for information on a medical condition that would help her care for her child. Unfortunately, she couldn't access most of the articles she located without paying as much as thirty-eight dollars for an eight-page report. She never read it.

Carla used to get dialysis a couple of times a week at the public hospital in Indianapolis, Eskenazi Hospital. She would sit in a chair for hours as a machine took blood out of her arm, cleaned it and pumped it back into her body.

Then one day in 2014, she was turned away.

Even though her lungs were full of fluid, the doctors said her condition wasn't urgent enough to treat that day, she says. "I explained to the doctors that I couldn't breathe," she recalls, "and they told me it wasn't true, that I had to wait three more days."

Charles Williams / Creative Commons

This hour -- from Maine to New Hampshire; Vermont to Massachusetts -- we learn how some of our New England neighbors are working to stem opioid addiction and overdose. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

According to the CDC, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012. That's enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills at home. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Take a look inside your cupboard or medicine cabinet and you're likely to find pills from prior visits to the doctor. 

French and American emergency responders shared experiences at a conference in Boston Thursday.

Emergency planners in Boston organized the conference because they wanted to learn more about how Paris responded to the terrorist attacks there last fall, specifically how the city managed responding to attacks at multiple sites.

Gov. Dannel Malloy/flickr creative commons

This week’s opening in New Haven of Alexion Pharmaceutical's new global headquarters marks the completion of the first phase of the city’s revitalization effort.