Daily Briefing

Around the nation: Surgeon General warns social media can be a 'profound risk' to young people


U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Tuesday issued a public advisory warning against the risks of young people using social media, arguing that social media can "have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents," in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California and the District of Columbia.

 

  • California: Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco have detected patterns in the brain that occur when a person is experiencing chronic pain, marking the first time such a discovery has been recorded. In a study of four patients published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that pain was associated with electrical fluctuations within the orbitofrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in emotion regulation, self-evaluation, and decision-making. According to Ajay Wasan, a pain medicine specialist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who wasn't involved in the study, the study "advances a whole generation of research that has shown that the functioning of the brain is really important to processing and perceiving pain." Prasad Shirvalkar, co-author of the study, said that being able to identify where brain signals for chronic pain live means healthcare providers "can try to track them non-invasively" which could help with diagnosis and personalizing therapy. (George, MedPage Today, 5/22; Runwal, New York Times, 5/22; Weintraub, USA Today, 5/22)
  • District of Columbia: U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Tuesday issued a public advisory warning against the risks of young people using social media. He argued that while social media can be beneficial to some users, "there are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents." Murthy's report noted that up to 95% of teens have reported using at least one social media platform and more than a third say they use social media "almost constantly." In addition, almost 40% of children ages 8 to 12 use social media, despite the minimum age for most sites being 13. The advisory calls on both lawmakers and technology companies to take steps to minimize the risks of social media. "This is not going to be an issue that we solve with one sector alone," Murthy said. (Pearson/Richtel, New York Times, 5/23; Reed, Axios, 5/23; Fitzgerald, STAT, 5/23)
  • District of Columbia: FDA on Monday approved Opvee, a drug similar to naloxone, which has been used for decades to counter overdoses of heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers. Opvee is a nasal spray of the drug nalmefene, which was first approved by FDA in the 1990s as an injection but later removed from the market because of low sales. In studies funded by the government, Opvee performed similarly to Narcan, the leading brand of naloxone. Opvee will be available via prescription and is approved for patients ages 12 and older. (Perrone, Associated Press, 5/22)

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