Apple’s Corporate Responsibility for Distracted Driving – Room for Debate

It’s Impossible to Outsource Our Decision-Making


You almost certainly already rely on technology to help you be a moral, responsible human being. From old-fashioned tech like alarm clocks and calendars to newfangled diet trackers or mindfulness apps, our devices nudge us to show up to work on time, eat healthy, and do the right thing. But it’s nearly impossible to create a technological angel on your right shoulder without also building in a workaround that is vulnerable to the devil on your left. Put another way: Any alarm clock user who denies that he has heard the siren song of the snooze button is lying.

There must always be an opt-out mechanism and fallible, foolish humans will always use it to thwart original intent of safety measures.

Technology can help us make good decisions, but outsourcing good decision-making to technology, tech companies or the government isn’t just a bad idea — it’s impossible.

People already know that distracted driving is dangerous. They tell pollsters so all the time. Because of this clear customer demand, smartphone makers offer safety conscious drivers a variety of ways to minimize distraction, from handsfree headsets and voice command to mute buttons and airplane mode.

But automatically disabling certain apps in a fast-moving vehicle — as the grieving family of 5-year-old distracted driving victim Moriah Modisette is suing to force Apple to do — won’t work. One of the great glories of the smartphone era is the ability to work, chat and read while on mass transit or riding shotgun, so there’s no way to build an accelerometer-based shut-down unless you also add an opt-out. And if there’s an opt-out, then fallible, foolish humans will always use it to thwart the original intent.

What’s more, legally mandated technological fixes tend to be even less effective than their market-driven counterparts: Think of the “Are You 18?” queries that pop up on sites peddling liquor, cigarettes or other adult products. (Has anyone in the history of the internet ever clicked “No”?) Judges and regulators consistently overvalue their ability to prevent catastrophe and undervalue the costs they impose on innocent users. The most wide-reaching effect of any kind of mandatory distracted driving safety provision will simply be to force every user of every smartphone, on every bus, train and plane to click “I am not the driver” every day unto eternity, without actually dissuading the kind of jerks who are determined to FaceTime while driving down the interstate.

Technology Can Save Us From Drivers Using Social Media


While the untimely death of an innocent 5-year-old is tragic, it’s clear that Apple shouldn’t be legally responsible for the irresponsible driver who killed her. Almost any distraction can lead to an accident. If a driver slammed his car into someone because he took his hands off the steering wheel to unwrap a taco, surely we wouldn’t hold Taco Bell responsible, or outlaw the eating of tacos while driving.

That being said, companies do have a social responsibility to be mindful of hazards that arise from misuse of their products and take sensible precautions. In the case of Apple, it would be absolutely reasonable for it to use a non-intrusive mechanism to detect with near perfect accuracy when a user is driving to prevent hazardous distractions.

The challenge that arises here is whether the technology can achieve near-perfect accuracy in driver detection. From a technical standpoint, its straightforward to sense the rate that a phone is moving. For example Apple provides a set of software protocols called CoreMotion that lets programmers glean insights about the phone’s movement and even has an “automotive” property to predict whether the user is in a vehicle. However, detecting whether the user or owner of the phone is the driver or a passenger is trickier with just this approach. In the case of FaceTime and other apps involving a camera, there is an opportunity to use the camera, along with deep-learning algorithms, to literally look at the user and environment and discern whether the user in view is driving. There has been a wealth of research on detecting driver fatigue and other attributes, some of which has been discussed at the IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium. I would expect such a solution to be readily adopted by users if the accuracy is high enough, as mispredictions can create frustration and discourage use.

The state of deep learning technology is at a place where companies like Apple should explore its use for safety purposes. While a staunch libertarian would be opposed to the infringement on freedom, I simply can’t think of a situation where someone should be FaceTiming and driving, ever.

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Boy, 13, regains consciousness after parents sign papers to donate his organs

A 13-year-old boy who was said to be suffering severe brain injury defied odds when he regained consciousness after his parents had signed papers to donate his organs.

Trenton McKinley, of Mobile, Ala., was hospitalized two months ago after a small utility trailer he was in flipped over.

“I hit the concrete and the trailer landed on top of my head. After that, I don’t remember anything,” Trenton told Fox 10.

Trenton suffered seven skull fractures from the accident. His parents recalled doctors saying their son “would never be normal again.”

“All I saw was a stretcher with his feet hanging out. He was dead a total of 15 minutes,” Trenton’s mother, Jennifer Reindl, told Fox 10. “When he came back, they said he would never be normal again. They told me the oxidation problems would be so bad to his brain, that he would be a vegetable if he even made it.”

Trenton was barely breathing in the days following the crash, Fox 10 reported. His mother ultimately decided to sign papers to donate Trenton’s organs that would benefit five children who needed transplants.

“Five kids needed organs that matched him,” Reindl said. “It was unfair to keep bringing him back, because it was just damaging his organs even more.”

A day before doctors were going to take Trenton off of life support, the 13-year-old began showing signs of brain activity and movement. Trenton began breathing on his own and woke up speaking full sentences in late March, his mother wrote on a Facebook fundraising page.

Trenton still has a long road to recovery and suffers nerve pain and daily seizures. He has had three brain surgeries and will have another procedure to reconnect the missing piece of his skull.

Trenton said he believes he went to heaven before he came back to life.

“I was in an open field walking straight,” Trenton recalled. “There’s no other explanation but God. There’s no other way. Even doctors said it.”

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

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Restaurant calorie count requirement begins across U.S.

If calories count, then calorie counters will get a big boost Monday as one of Obamacare’s big social changes kicks in: a requirement that chain restaurants, supermarkets and movie theaters begin posting information for all of their offerings.

Although some fast-food chains began posting calorie counts a decade ago to comply with a patchwork of local laws, there has never been a national requirement until now.

The 2010 health care law’s mandate, which had been delayed repeatedly, is finally going into effect.

Analysts say the most visible changes will occur at supermarkets that offer prepared foods at bakery sections, salad bars and hot buffets, yet have been slow to adopt calorie labeling.

The Cheesecake Factory is one of the more prominent chains that will usher in changes on Monday. Nutritional information will be added to online take-out menus, and hosts at each restaurant will have a hard copy available at the front desk.

The company said it is in the middle of a printing cycle, so table menus won’t have the calorie information until early summer.

The Food and Drug Administration says that’s OK because it wants to help restaurants and grocery stores come into compliance over the coming year instead of issuing fines or warning letters.

“Nobody is going to be hammered for not having everything in place,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told The Washington Times.

Americans typically get a third of their calories outside the home, so federal regulators have been working for nearly a decade to help consumers understand what is in each breakfast muffin, afternoon hamburger or evening dessert and make healthier choices.

Roughly 230,000 restaurants will fall under the menu labeling law nationwide, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Big chains such as Starbucks and McDonald’s already are in compliance — you’ll find a 410-calorie Caffe Mocha or a 550-calorie Big Mac on those menus — but lobbyists for pizza chains and other businesses have dragged out the fight. They said the rules would be too costly and difficult to calculate for, say, a pizza with five different toppings.

The Trump administration delayed the rules for another year when it came on board but kept the mandates moving forward.

Dr. Gottlieb said the rules inject transparency and competition into a free market, so they shouldn’t be seen as the long arm of the government reaching in where it shouldn’t be.

“There is a place for providing a basic level of information and having a uniform playing field for the disclosure of that information,” he said. “You’re comparing apples to apples — literally. I think that’s a pro-market notion.”

The calorie rule applies to chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations. Movie theater chains and vending machine operators also must comply.

Advocates who pushed for federal standards for years said implementation is a long time coming.

“The desires of consumers were enough to overcome the opposition of the industry to regulation,” said Margo Wootan, vice president for nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Consumers want to know what’s in their food, and we’ve long thought they have a right to know.”

What is not clear is whether the numbers will make a difference in what consumers choose.

For one thing, analysts say, many consumers don’t notice the counts, which use the same font as prices.

A 2009 study of low-income, minority populations after New York City mandated calorie counts didn’t detect any change in the amount of calories purchased. In 2011, researchers examined seven studies that looked at calorie postings and found that only two of them reported a statistically significant drop in calories purchased.

Sara Bleich, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said there is evidence that labeling rules prompt restaurants to slash calories from their dishes, largely because of a small but “very vocal” pool of consumers taken aback by high calorie counts might ask, “Why do you have a 900-calorie appetizer?”

“I think there’s a lot of consumer shock. It’s those well-educated, vocal consumers,” she said.

Harvard researchers looked at local labeling requirements and found that restaurants reduced the number of calories in newly introduced menu items in 2013 by about 60 calories, or 12 percent, compared with 2012.

Dr. Gottlieb said in a recent blog post that if Americans consumed 64 fewer calories per day, on average, then they would help the nation meet the government’s goal of reducing youth obesity by 2020.

“Over time,” he said, “this can drive population-wide changes.”

The FDA says it has worked to make the rules “maximally beneficial” to consumers and “minimally burdensome” to companies. Calorie counts don’t have to be included on marketing materials, and companies can provide a calorie range on “build your own” foods such as pizzas.

Domino’s, which pushed hard against a one-size-fits-all approach to labeling, said it provides calorie counts on its website because it gets the vast majority of its sales online or over the phone.

For the 10 percent of customers who walk into stores, the company said, it can provide a spreadsheet or menu upon request.

Domino’s hopes this method will satisfy the FDA because changing all of its menu boards would be costly. Many customers know what they want and don’t look at the boards, anyway, spokesman Tim McIntyre said.

Dr. Gottlieb said the agency will review compliance on a case-by-case basis but added that it is unlikely any stores will have to tear up their menu boards if other forms of disclosure are available.

“We’re going to be flexible,” he said.

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U.S. drug agency suspends Louisiana distributor over opioid sales

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said on Friday it had suspended a Louisiana pharmaceutical distributor from selling controlled substances for allegedly selling unusually large quantities of opioids to pharmacies without reporting the sales.

The DEA said it suspended Morris & Dickson Co, a privately owned drug wholesaler based in Shreveport, on Wednesday after an investigation showed “it failed to properly identify large suspicious orders for controlled substances sold to independent pharmacies with questionable need for the drugs.”

“Opioid distributors have a legal obligation not to facilitate the illicit diversion of drugs,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement by the DEA, which is part of the U.S. Justice Department.

“That obligation has never been more important than it is right now as we face the deadliest drug crisis in American history,” Sessions said.

Morris & Dickson filed in federal court on Thursday for an injunction against the suspension, and U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote in Shreveport has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday on its request for a temporary restraining order, according to court records.

The probe, which focused on purchases of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, showed that in some cases, pharmacies were allowed to buy as much as six times the quantity of narcotics they would normally order, the DEA statement said.

Family-owned Morris & Dickson was founded in 1841 and is the largest independently owned and privately held drug wholesale distributor in the United States, according to its court filing.

The U.S. government is trying to crack down on opioid abuse through a number of measures, including a proposal last month to tighten rules governing the amount of prescription opioid painkillers that drugmakers can manufacture in a given year.

Sessions has created an opioid task force and deployed prosecutors to hard-hit areas of the country with a mandate to bring more cases against traffickers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42,000 people died nationwide from opioid overdoses in 2016, the last year with publicly available data.

Reporting by Eric Walsh, additional reporting by Nate Raymond in New York, editing by G Crosse

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Fitbit’s New Female Health Tracking Features Explained

When Fitbit announced its newest smartwatch, the Versa, in March it also revealed that it was adding Female Health Tracking to its app some time in May, and integrating it into the Versa and Ionic. Since this is a first for fitness trackers, as far as we know, we wanted to find out more.

At its most basic, the feature allows women to input information about their periods and symptoms and the feature will then predict when stages of the menstrual cycle will occur and send push notifications as reminders nearer the time.

Sounds simple, sure, but we expect Fitbit to eventually make smart use of the information provided (just as it did with its best-in-class sleep tracking) and the feature also includes practical information. According to a Fitbit survey from February 2018, 80% of people don’t know how many phases are in a menstrual cycle and over 70% couldn’t identify the average length of a cycle. Assuming they didn’t exclusively survey men, those numbers suggest that a bit of extra info might be useful.

Coach spoke to Dr Dawn Harper at the launch of the Fitbit Versa to get more information about the menstrual cycle and the Female Health feature.

What are the benefits of the Female Health Tracking feature?

When we were at school we were taught about the female menstrual cycle. We were all told it’s 28 days and you ovulate right in the middle and that’s the way it’s going to be. In the real world I have been a GP for 20 years with a special interest in women’s health and I don’t think I have ever met a woman who has had an absolutely regular 28-day cycle for the whole of her menstruating life. And also, the way we respond emotionally to our changing hormones can change at different times in our lives.

What this app does is keep all your health information in one place. On a personal level I think it’s good for the individual, but it’s also very useful on a medical level. When women see their GP, if they have any kind of symptoms that could be linked to the menstrual cycle, they can give us information there and then in a very quick and easy-to-access way.

What are the phases of the menstrual cycle?

Let’s assume – although it doesn’t happen! – a 28-day cycle. When women start their periods their oestrogen and testosterone levels are rock bottom, and they usually feel pretty lethargic and sluggish.

Then oestrogen and testosterone rise very quickly, so within a day or two of starting their periods, women’s energy levels start to improve. That kicks off the feelgood hormones, and they start to feel more positive, social and alert.

Interestingly, there’s a study that shows that at that point in the cycle, women are likely to eat something like 12% fewer calories a day. It’s a silly, quirky one, but if you’re going to start a healthy eating regime, that might be the time to start it. The flip side of that is that you get a greater buzz from the things you crave, like nicotine, so it might not be the best time to quit as you may miss and crave things more.

Going into the second week, oestrogen and testosterone continue to rise, and there’s some research to show that women’s memories are better and they’re more erudite. So if you’re planning presentations or negotiations, that’s not a bad time to do it. Another quirky one – throughout that first half of the cycle, and certainly in the second week, because of that testosterone women find it easier to achieve orgasm and usually get more intense orgasms. So that’s a good time to plan a dirty weekend away!

Then you ovulate, and as soon as women ovulate testosterone and oestrogen fall, and progesterone starts to rise. If we’re in that classic 28-day cycle, week three is a time when women are likely to start feeling more sluggish, they don’t sleep as well, they’re not as good with words and not as “on it”.

There is actually some evidence that if you exercise at this point in your cycle, you get a relatively greater fat burn than if you exercise at other points. That might be a motivator – you might not feel like it, but you’re going to get more bang for your buck if you exercise!

In the fourth week testosterone and oestrogen are falling right back down again, and women are more likely to be irritable, have headaches and not sleep so well. If they are migraine or irritable bowel syndrome sufferers they’re more likely to get a flare-up.

How do you think the information tracked in the app can help women?

I can see women using the app to plan their life a little bit better, and accommodate how their hormones affect them and be more in tune with how they respond to hormones.

The other thing I think people will use it for is as a fertility tracker. So you ovulate 14 days before day one of your next period. If your period is 28 days, day 14 after and day 14 before are one and the same day, but people often get that confused and think they ovulate 14 days after their last period. You can’t necessarily predict it, but if you’re starting to recognise your own cycle, you’ll be more in tune.

Can you use it for contraception?

I think to use something like this for that purpose depends on how motivated you are to use it. The more motivated you are and the more data you put in, the more accurate it will become as a predictor. It’s a really appropriate method of contraception if you’re a woman for whom it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you became pregnant.

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Carrera Crossfuse Electric Bike Review

Electric bikes have something to offer every kind of cyclist, but for the e-bike revolution to truly take off, it surely needs to be embraced by commuters. The Carrera Crossfuse might well be the bike that tempts a critical mass of train and bus users onto two wheels, because it offers almost everything a commuter could want for a price that’s considerably lower than other e-bikes with similar features.

The first thing that makes the Crossfuse stand out is the range – a mammoth 80km to 130km. That means it will only require plugging in two or three times a month for most commuters and can handle long day rides if you want to use the Crossfuse for touring. I got 110km out of one charge riding almost all of that distance in Tour mode, which is the second-lowest level of assistance – there are four in total, running from Eco up to Turbo. If you blast around in Turbo the entire time the range will drop considerably, but unless you live in an especially hilly area you’ll rarely need it – the Tour mode will be enough assistance to breeze through your rides.

The second thing that this sets this e-bike apart is the ride. Thanks to its torque sensor, it delivers assistance from the Bosch Active Line PLUS motor in line with how hard you are pedalling, which makes for a far more natural and smooth experience than when assistance is provided based entirely on what level you pick. There’s no jerking into life when moving away from traffic lights – it feels just like riding a bike. A bike that just happens to require less effort.

The only downside of this kind of sensor is that on a steep uphill it can be nice to slap an e-bike into a high, fixed level of assistance and coast on up, whereas with the Crossfuse you need to pedal a little harder to get a bigger boost. It’s still not exactly hard to get up a hill, especially if you pick that moment to use the Turbo mode.

An important test for any e-bike is how it handles if the battery runs dry. At 24kg, the Crossfuse is a heavy beast, so I was not optimistic on this front. However, it passed just about the biggest test I could have thrown at it. The battery ran out 50m short of the biggest hill on my commute… the day after I ran the London Marathon. That I made it up the hill without assist or having to walk is testament to its rideability. That said, I will be making every effort to avoiding repeating the experience – it’s definitely not light enough that you don’t notice the difference between riding with assist and without.

There is front suspension on the Crossfuse, which you can lock or unlock. In theory city riding should be done with it locked for extra efficiency while riding, but given the state of London’s roads and cycle lanes, I opted for the extra comfort of the suspension for all my riding. After a thin-wheeled racer, tackling potholes head-on while cruising around on the Crossfuse was a joy.

The Crossfuse also has disc brakes, which are a feature to look for on any e-bike, because stopping an e-bike’s considerable weight quickly is a concern, especially when flying downhill.

There’s an awful lot to like about the Crossfuse and I’ve not seen many e-bikes, if any, that can match its feature set for £1,600 – its excellent motor and vast range are more commonly found on £2,000-plus models. However, there are a few quibbles to address.

The first is a lack of integrated accessories. A kickstand, mudguards and lights that run off the battery are all very useful on an e-bike. The second is the display screen on the handlebars, which indicates the amount of battery left through bars only. Many e-bikes will estimate how many miles or kilometres you have left in any given mode of assistance. That means it takes a while to learn how much distance you get from each bar and you risk running out of juice if you push that last bar too far.

These downsides are relatively minor compared with the upsides of the Crossfuse. If you opt for an e-bike in the £2,000-and-up range you will get a little more, mostly in terms of a lighter frame, upgraded gears and a customised motor. But the Crossfuse is a whole lot of e-bike for its price, and commuters in particular will get all they need from it.

£1,600, buy on

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Forest bathing could be the cure, expert reveals

Sometimes when you’re feeling under the gun there’s nothing like a breath of fresh air to make you feel better. Turns out there could be a scientific explanation for that.

A new book has been released detailing how to use the practice of “Japanese Forest Bathing” to improve our mental wellbeing.

“Simply by smelling or touching pieces of pine, oak or Japanese cypress wood,” said the author, Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki, “subjects experienced a calming of prefrontal brain activity, a reduction in sympathetic nerve activity and a rise in parasympathetic nerve activity – all of which amounts to a reduction in stress.”

Professor Miyazaki has been investigating the practice, known as shinrin-yoku in Japanese, since 1992 and has had consistent positive results since then. “Results have shown that subjects experienced lower blood pressure, increases in parasympathetic nerve activity (known to increase during relaxation) and a calming of prefrontal brain activity,” Professor Miyazaki said.

Thankfully you don’t have to travel to Japan to get those results, as shinrin-yoku can be practiced anywhere, anytime. To start try switching off your phone and heading to your nearest bush land for a stroll. Professor Miyazaki recommends keeping a gentle pace for at least two hours to gain maximum benefits.

He advises focusing on being present in your surrounding environment by focusing on sounds, smells and temperatures. Also pay attention to your body as you move through the space and try to release any tension that you may be holding onto. Let the trees heal you.

While we’re on the topic, bring the forest into your home with our essential oil guide. Also how to overcome anxiety in six steps.

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Drug epidemic ensnares 25-year-old pill for nerve pain

The story line sounds familiar: a popular pain drug becomes a new way to get high as prescribing by doctors soars.

But the latest drug raising red flags is not part of the opioid family at the center of the nation’s drug epidemic. It’s a 25-year-old generic pill long seen as a low risk way to treat seizures, nerve pain and other ailments.

The drug, called gabapentin, is one of the most prescribed medications in the U.S., ranking ninth over the last year, according to prescription tracker GoodRx. Researchers attribute the recent surge to tighter restrictions on opioid painkillers, which have left doctors searching for alternatives for their patients.

Those same forces are changing the drugs that Americans abuse, according to experts.

“We’re basically squeezing people into other drugs because the prescription opioids are becoming a lot harder to get,” said Dr. Richard Dart, who tracks drug abuse through a national data network owned by the state of Colorado.

While prescriptions for opioids like Vicodin and Oxycontin have been falling since 2012, health regulators have seen increased overdoses with unexpected medications, including the over-the-counter diarrhea drug Imodium.

The Food and Drug Administration is now studying patterns of prescribing and illicit use of gabapentin and will soon share its findings, said Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

“One of the lessons from this whole opioid crisis is that we probably were too slow to act where we saw problems emerging and we waited for more definitive conclusions,” Gottlieb said. “I don’t want to be sitting here five or 10 years from now lamenting that we didn’t take more aggressive action.”

Many doctors aren’t aware of gabapentin’s potential for abuse, particularly among those with a history of misusing drugs, said Rachel Vickers Smith of the University of Louisville.

People tracked in her research describe gabapentin as a “cheap high” that is almost “always available.” They report mixing the drug with opioids, marijuana and cocaine to enhance the high, with effects ranging from “increased energy” to a “mellow” numbness.

Medical journal articles estimate that between 15 and 25 percent of opioid abusers also use gabapentin. And emerging research suggests combining gabapentin and opioids heightens the overdose risks.

Gabapentin, on the market since 1993, has long been considered nonaddictive and is not tracked as closely as riskier drugs like opioids. But calls to U.S. poison control centers show a stark rise in abuse and overdoses.

The abuse rate increased nearly 400 percent between 2006 and 2015, according to poison center data analyzed by the RADARS research group within the Denver Health and Hospital Authority, a state-owned health system. The group’s work is funded by drugmakers and government agencies, though they don’t participate in the analysis or publication of the data.

In some parts of the U.S., the rise in gabapentin abuse has led to new restrictions and surveillance.

Last year, Kentucky became the first state to classify the drug as a “scheduled substance,” placing it among other high-risk medicines subject to extra restrictions and tracking. Gabapentin was detected in a third of fatal overdose cases analyzed by Kentucky medical examiners in 2016. Now, only health professionals registered with the federal government can prescribe the drug and patients are limited to five refills.

Ohio, Minnesota, West Virginia and several other states have begun tracking gabapentin through their prescription databases. Ohio took that step after gabapentin became the most dispensed drug in the state. State surveys of drug users also indicated it was “extremely easy to get” with a street price around $1.50 per capsule.

Alyssa Peckham, a researcher at Midwestern University in Arizona, believes a more comprehensive federal response is needed, including possibly reclassifying it nationwide. Like others, Peckham says gabapentin is not dangerous on its own, but can be when combined with opioids and other drugs that suppress breathing.

Still, there is little consensus about the next steps, or even the scope of the problem.

Michael Polydefkis, a neurologist at John Hopkins University who primarily treats seniors with nerve pain, says he has never seen patients deliberately misuse gabapentin.

And given recent restrictions on opioids by hospitals, insurers and government authorities, many physicians are wary of limiting any other medicines that can help treat pain. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s prescribing guidelines endorse gabapentin as a good choice for nerve pain.

But there are questions about how much is being prescribed for proven uses — and to what extent patients are benefiting. A recent review of research by the Cochrane Group confirmed gabapentin’s benefits for several forms of nerve pain, but found little evidence of its effectiveness for more common muscle and joint pain.

Historically, the vast majority of prescriptions have been for uses not OK’d by the FDA as safe or effective.

“This drug was kind of unusual in that it was prescribed as a kind of miracle pill that could be used for anything,” said Dr. Joseph Ross, a researcher at Yale University’s school of medicine.

In a recent Journal of the American Medical Association, he called for new studies of gabapentin’s real-world use.

The freewheeling prescribing dates to years of aggressive marketing by the drug’s original manufacturer, Warner-Lambert. The company pleaded guilty and agreed to pay more than $430 million in 2004 to settle charges that it promoted gabapentin for a slew of unapproved uses, including migraines, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder and Lou Gehrig’s disease. While doctors are free to prescribe drugs for any use, drugmakers can only market their products for those uses approved by the FDA.

Warner-Lambert was bought in 2000 by Pfizer, which continues to sell gabapentin under its original brand-name Neurontin. Pfizer also sells a similar drug named Lyrica, a blockbuster medication approved for fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain and several other uses. Unlike gabapentin, Lyrica is a scheduled substance under federal law, in part due to reports of euphoria and other side effects suggesting “abuse potential.”

With tighter restrictions and a lone manufacturer, Lyrica has not seen the same problems as gabapentin.

“Pfizer recognizes the importance of preventing the misuse and abuse of our medicines and will continue working with regulatory authorities and health officials to monitor the safety of these medicines,” the company said in a statement.


Matthew Perrone can be followed on Twitter: @ AP—FDAwriter


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Colorado breweries take home World Beer Cup medals in 2018

Winner winner, beer for dinner. WeldWorks won a bronze at the “beer Olympics”. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

Colorado breweries took home a whole trophy case of hardware Thursday night at what is known as the “Olympics of Beer Competitions.”

The biannual World Beer Cup Awards – presented at the Craft Brewers Conference hosted by the Boulder-based Brewers Association – celebrates the brewers who exemplify the guidelines in 101 different styles.

More than 2,500 breweries submitted beers, including 807 from outside the United States. Here are the Colorado breweries who took home awards — including seven golds:

American-style Wheat Beer
Silver: Whacked Out Wheat, Telluride Brewing Co., Telluride

American-style Wheat Beer with yeast
Silver: Beehive Honey Wheat, Bristol Brewing Co., Colorado Springs

Fruit Beer
Silver: Razz Against the Machine, Little Machine, Denver
Bronze: American Sour Ale with Guava, Loveland Aleworks, Loveland

Field Beer
Bronze: Beet Cream Ale, Cogstone Brewing Co., Colorado Springs

Session Beer
Bronze: Peacekeeper, Launch Pad Brewery, Aurora

Experimental Beer
Silver: Hickory Peach Wee Heavy, The Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project, Denver

Fresh or Wet Hop Ale
Gold: More Like Bore-O-Phyll, Call To Arms Brewing Co., Denver

Gluten-Free Beer
Gold: Gueten Beer, Sleeping Giant Brewing Co., Denver

Brett Beer
Gold: Saison Trystero, Our Mutual Friend Brewing, Denver

Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer
Bronze: Bligh’s Barleywine Ale, Dry Dock Brewing Co. – North Dock, Aurora

Fruited Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer
Bronze: Peach Climacteric, WeldWerks Brewing Co., Greeley

Aged Beer
Gold: Vladislav, Diebolt Brewing Co., Denver

Smoke Beer
Bronze: 18022/42, The Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field, Denver

German-Style Pilsener
Gold: Primadonna Pilsner, Rockyard American Grill & Brewing Co., Castle Rock

Dortmunder/Export or German-Style Oktoberfest
Bronze: The Weasel, C.B. & Potts / Big Horn Brewery – Fort Collins, Fort Collins

Munich-Style Dunkel or European-Style Dark Lager
Bronze: Fearless Youth, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland

Dark Lager
Gold: Night Train, Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango
Silver: Alternate Present, Fiction Beer Co., Denver

Australian-Style Pale Ale or International-Style Pale Ale
Bronze: Pete’s Stash Pale, Vail Brewing Co., Avon

German-Style Koelsch
Bronze: NBD Kolsch, Cerberus Brewing Co., Colorado Springs

Belgian-Style Witbier
Silver: White Rascal, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder

Belgian-Style Dubbel or Belgian-Style Quadrupel
Silver: BJ’s Quad, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse – Boulder, Boulder

English-Style Brown Ale
Gold: Big Ben Brown Ale, Bull & Bush Brewery, Denver

American-Style Strong Pale Ale
Bronze: Gore Creek IPA, Vail Brewing Co., Avon

Imperial Red Ale
Bronze: Wreak Havoc, Bootstrap Brewing, Niwot

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Aurora’s bike share programs LimeBike and Ofo a hit with students riding to class

Gateway High School principal Dackri Davis has been so pleased with the rollout of Aurora’s bike-sharing programs, school leaders painted a spot in the parking lot for the dockless bikes to hang out during the day before students ride them home.

Davis has seen anywhere from five to 15 students a day pedaling their way to class since the program’s October launch, and she’s noticing more as the weather improves.

“It seems to be helping with students making it to class on time,” Davis said.

Aurora Public Schools doesn’t offer bus service if a house is within 3 miles of a school. Brenden Paradies, a planner with the city of Aurora who manages the dockless bike-share program, said the program hopes to help with that extra mile or so home and back again.

“Something surprising we’re seeing is how much our teenage and youth community are really utilizing this to get to school,” Paradies said. “It’s a been a benefit that we didn’t anticipate.”

Data from Aurora’s bike-share permit program is letting the city know how to plan for its future infrastructure.

Between two dockless bike-share companies — LimeBike and Ofo — Aurora bike-share riders from October through March have taken a total of 39,516 trips and traveled 26,525 miles. The program has more than 4,000 active users.

On top of getting busy Aurora residents from Point A to Point B, the program is also moving the city forward in its future designing and planning, Paradies said.

Ofo general manager Patrick Quintana works with the city of Aurora, sharing the company’s ridership data and community feedback to better inform the City Council and city management on their transportation decisions.

“We know and understand that every market is different,” Quintana said. “Dock-based bike-share models such as Denver’s BCycle are usually in the densest, most affluent regions in the city. That’s expensive to make its way out to Aurora. It’s important to serve the areas outside of the main area of density, and that’s something these dockless models can really help with and a way to provide transportation equity.”

Paths most often frequented by Ofo riders include to and from light-rail stations, along Westerly Creek Trail, Toll Gate Creek Trail and Campground Trail through Cherry Creek Spillway Trail.

“This has been really helpful in helping us understand gaps in our transportation network,” Paradies said. “We are seeing use on our recreation trails more, which is important for us to realize so we keep investing efforts and money to make sure those are good options for people.”

As an example, Paradies said because Westerly Creek Trail seems to be a hit among Ofo riders, the city might consider adding a protected bike lane in that area.

LimeBike said their Aurora cycles have cruised most frequently along East Colfax Avenue.

Neither organization provided numbers for how many cyclists rode along their most popular paths.

Tom Tobiassen, the president and founder of the Bicycle Aurora advocacy group, said the program seems to be steering in a positive direction.

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