Health and Fitness Fri, 29 Aug 2014 23:01:02 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-us Governor Quinn Proclaims September as ‘Recovery Month’ in Illinois

Encourages people to speak up about mental illness and substance abuse

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois--(ENEWSPF)--August 29, 2014.  Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed September as “Recovery Month” in the state of Illinois to increase awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders.  Recovery Month celebrates the continued success of many people in Illinois who have achieved recovery from alcohol and substance addiction and mental illness.

“It is critical that community leaders and organizations support the efforts of National Recovery Month.  We know that mental health and substance use disorders can be treated and there are many pathways to recovery.  Recovery Month celebrates the reality that prevention works, treatment is effective and people do recover,” Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler said. 

This year’s theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out,” encourages people to openly discuss – or speak up about – mental and substance use disorders and the reality of recovery.  It aims to foster public understanding and acceptance of the benefits of prevention, treatment and recovery from behavioral health conditions.

Last year, IDHS funded substance abuse treatment services for nearly 80,000 people and mental health services for approximately 140,000 people in Illinois.

For more information about Recovery Month, visit


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:45:52 -0500
Single Animal to Human Transmission Event Responsible for 2014 Ebola Outbreak

NIH-funded scientist uses latest genomic technology to make discovery

Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--August 29, 2014.  Scientists used advanced genomic sequencing technology to identify a single point of infection from an animal reservoir to a human in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This research has also revealed the dynamics of how the Ebola virus has been transmitted from human to human, and traces how the genetic code of the virus is changing over time to adapt to human hosts. Pardis Sabeti, M.D., Ph.D, a 2009 National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator awardee and her team carried out the research.

“Dr. Sabeti’s research shows the power of using genomic analysis to track emerging viral outbreaks,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “This ability produces valuable information that can help inform public health decisions and actions.”

The 2014 Ebola outbreak is now the largest outbreak in history, with current estimates of 2,473 infections and 1350 deaths since it began in late December 2013 according to the World Health Organization. This outbreak is also the first in West Africa and the first to affect urban areas. There are no approved drugs for Ebola virus disease, though prompt diagnosis and aggressive supportive care can improve survival. The disease is characterized by high fever, headache, body aches, intense weakness, stomach pain, and lack of appetite. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and in some cases, internal and external bleeding. 

To better understand why this outbreak is larger than previous outbreaks, Dr. Sabeti, senior associate member of the Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, led an extensive analysis of the genetic makeup of Ebola samples from patients living in affected regions. Joined by an international team of scientists, Dr. Sabeti used advanced technology to analyze the genetics of the Ebola samples extremely rapidly and with high levels of accuracy. Using this technology, the researchers pinpointed a single late 2013 introduction from an unspecified animal reservoir into humans. Their study showed that the strain responsible for the West African outbreak separated from a closely related strain found in Central Africa as early as 2004, indicating movement from Central to West Africa over the span of a decade. Studying RNA changes occurring over the span of the outbreak suggests that the first human infection of the outbreak was followed by exclusive human to human transmissions.

While analyzing the genetic makeup of the Ebola samples, Dr. Sabeti and colleagues discovered a number of mutations that arose as the outbreak spread. Some of these mutations, termed nonsynonymous mutations, alter the biological state of the virus and may allow it to continually and rapidly adapt to human immune defenses as the outbreak continues. This feature points to the need for improved methods that will allow for close monitoring of changes in the viral genome and the impact on vaccine targets. Such monitoring, called genomic surveillance, can provide important insights into the biology of how the Ebola virus spreads and evolves. It may also allow scientists to develop improved methods to detect infection, and point the way to new and improved drug and vaccines.

Dr. Sabeti’s New Innovator Award is designed to support exceptionally creative new investigators conducting innovative and high-impact research, as part of the NIH Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward program. The original focus of her research was on Lassa fever, a related but distinct hemorrhagic disease. When the Ebola outbreak began, she shifted her research focus to address this pressing challenge.

“Dr. Sabeti’s New Innovator Award provided flexibility to quickly adjust her research when the 2014 Ebola outbreak began,” said James M. Anderson M.D., Ph.D. director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives at NIH. “This exemplifies how the High-Risk, High- Reward program allows researchers to tackle the most challenging and urgent scientific questions.”

The NIH Common Fund supports a series of exceptionally high impact research programs that are broadly relevant to health and disease. Common Fund programs are designed to overcome major research barriers and pursue emerging opportunities for the benefit of the biomedical research community at large. The research products of the Common Fund programs are expected to catalyze disease-specific research supported by the NIH Institutes and Centers. To learn more about the NIH Common Fund, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:11:08 -0500
Watch: Study Says States With Medical Marijuana Have 25 Percent Fewer Overdose Deaths

Does medical marijuana have an unintended consequence? A study from Johns Hopkins reports states with medical marijuana laws have 25 percent fewer deaths due to overdose.


]]> (Staff) Health and Fitness Thu, 28 Aug 2014 19:44:02 -0500
NIH to Launch Human Safety Study of Ebola Vaccine Candidate

Trial is First in Series of Accelerated Safety Studies of Ebola Vaccines

Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--August 28, 2014.  Initial human testing of an investigational vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease will begin next week by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The early-stage trial will begin initial human testing of a vaccine co-developed by NIAID and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in healthy adults. Testing will take place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

The study is the first of several Phase 1 clinical trials that will examine the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine and an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics Corp. The others are to launch in the fall. These trials are conducted in healthy adults who are not infected with Ebola virus to determine if the vaccine is safe and induces an adequate immune response.

In parallel, NIH has partnered with a British-based international consortium that includes the Wellcome Trust and Britain’s Medical Research Council and Department for International Development to test the NIAID/GSK vaccine candidate among healthy volunteers in the United Kingdom and in the West African countries of Gambia (after approval from the relevant authorities) and Mali.

Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has initiated discussions with Ministry of Health officials in Nigeria about the prospects for conducting a Phase 1 safety study of the vaccine among healthy adults in that country.

The pace of human safety testing for experimental Ebola vaccines has been expedited in response to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1,400 suspected and confirmed deaths from Ebola infection have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone since the outbreak was first reported in March 2014. 

“There is an urgent need for a protective Ebola vaccine, and it is important to establish that a vaccine is safe and spurs the immune system to react in a way necessary to protect against infection,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “The NIH is playing a key role in accelerating the development and testing of investigational Ebola vaccines.”

“Today we know the best way to prevent the spread of Ebola infection is through public health measures, including good infection control practices, isolation, contact tracing, quarantine, and provision of personal protective equipment,” added Dr. Fauci. “However, a vaccine will ultimately be an important tool in the prevention effort. The launch of Phase 1 Ebola vaccine studies is the first step in a long process.”

“Tried and true public health interventions, strong supportive medical care and the rapid testing of Ebola vaccines and antiviral treatments can help to reduce suffering now and in the future,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.

The investigational vaccine now entering Phase 1 trials was designed by Nancy J. Sullivan, Ph.D., chief of the Biodefense Research Section in NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC). She worked in collaboration with researchers at the VRC, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and Okairos, a Swiss-Italian biotechnology company acquired by GSK in 2013.

Phase 1 clinical trials are the first step in what is typically a multi-stage clinical trials process). During Phase 1 studies, researchers test an investigational vaccine in a small group of people to evaluate its safety and the immune response it provokes. Phase 2 clinical trials of investigational vaccines are designed to further assess safety and immune response in larger numbers of volunteers. Under certain circumstances, the vaccine’s ability to prevent infection or disease (called efficacy) can be determined in a Phase 2 trial. Phase 3 clinical trials are directed predominantly at determining efficacy.

The NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine candidate is based on a type of chimpanzee cold virus, called chimp adenovirus type 3 (ChAd3). The adenovirus is used as a carrier, or vector, to deliver segments of genetic material derived from two Ebola virus species: Zaire Ebola and Sudan Ebola. Hence, this vaccine is referred to as a bivalent vaccine. The Zaire species of the virus is responsible for the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The vaccine candidate delivers one part of Ebola’s genetic material to human cells, but the adenovirus vector does not replicate. Rather, the Ebola gene that it carries allows the cells of the vaccine recipient to express a single Ebola protein, and that protein prompts an immune response in the individual. It is important to know that the Ebola genetic material contained in the investigational vaccine cannot cause a vaccinated individual to become infected with Ebola.

“The experimental NIAID/GSK vaccine performed extremely well in protecting nonhuman primates from Ebola infection,” Dr. Fauci noted.

The candidate vaccine builds upon three earlier NIAID-developed investigational Ebola vaccines that began Phase 1 clinical trial testing in 2003.

“The knowledge gained from each of those trials has contributed to the development of the candidate vaccine we are now studying, as well as our improved understanding of human immune responses to investigational Ebola vaccines,” said John R. Mascola, M.D., director of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center.

The Phase 1 clinical trial, called VRC 207, will be led by principal investigator Julie E. Ledgerwood, D.O., chief of the VRC’s clinical trials program, and will be conducted among 20 healthy adults ages 18 to 50 years. Participants will be divided into two groups of 10 participants each. One group will receive an intramuscular injection of the NIAID/GSK experimental vaccine. The second group will receive a single injection of the same vaccine but at a higher dose.

A number of safety features are built into the study’s design, including daily and weekly reviews of patient data by clinical staff and the study protocol team. Additionally, the trial features a staged enrollment plan that requires interim safety reviews after three participants have been vaccinated and have undergone three days of follow up before enrolling additional study participants into the group. Participants in both groups will be seen and evaluated by clinical staff nine times over a 48-week period.

Additional Phase 1 Tests of the NIAID/GSK Vaccine

As part of the VRC 207 trial, NIAID will also test a version of the NIAID/GSK vaccine that contains genetic material from only the Zaire Ebola species. Hence, this vaccine is referred to as a monovalent vaccine. This portion of the Phase 1 safety study, which will also involve 20 healthy adults, is expected to begin in October at the NIH Clinical Center and potentially another U.S. location. Dr. Ledgerwood will also lead that effort. The VRC 207 clinical trial is being conducted based on expedited review and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In parallel, NIH has partnered with an international consortium that includes the British-based Wellcome Trust, as well as Britain’s Medical Research Council and Department for International Development to test the same NIAID/GSK monovalent vaccine candidate. The vaccine candidate will be tested among 60 healthy volunteers at the University of Oxford in England and among 40 healthy volunteers in Mali by the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Vaccine Development and its Center for Vaccine Development in Mali (a joint enterprise of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Ministry of Health of Mali). Additionally, the vaccine candidate is expected to be tested among 40 healthy volunteers in Gambia after approval from the relevant authorities.

The Oxford trial is expected to launch in mid-September pending ethical and regulatory approval.

“Today’s announcement shows how private and public partners can pull together to quickly respond to this critical public health emergency. Developing a new vaccine is complex with no guarantees of success, and we are still in the early days for our Ebola vaccine candidate. But we are encouraged by progress so far and will do the best we can, along with WHO and our partners, to speed up development and explore ways in which the vaccine could contribute to this or future Ebola outbreaks,” said Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chairman of Global R&D and Vaccines at GSK.

Initial safety and immunogenicity data from the Phase 1 trials of the NIAID/GSK investigational Ebola vaccine are expected in late 2014.

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) Ebola Vaccine Testing

The NIH will also collaborate with the U.S. Department of Defense in support of efforts by NewLink Genetics Corp., a biopharmaceutical company in Ames, Iowa, to conduct Phase 1 safety studies of the investigational recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus Ebola vaccine (called VSV-EBOV) developed by and licensed from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Those clinical trials are expected to begin in the fall at the Clinical Trials Center of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland.

For more information about these early-stage Ebola vaccine clinical trials, see Questions and Answers: Phase 1 Clinical Trials of NIAID/GSK Investigational Ebola Vaccine.

NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:00:00 -0500
State Department Alerts U.S. Citizens of Potential Implications for Travel Because of Ebola in Parts of West Africa

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—August 28, 2014. The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.   This Travel Alert will expire on February 27, 2015.

Due to an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued  Level 3 Travel Warnings for those three countries advising against non-essential travel and provided guidance to reduce the potential for spread of EVD.  The CDC also issued a Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria to notify travelers of the Ebola outbreak in that country.  The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD.  Measures can include screening, medical evaluation, movement restrictions up to 21 days, and infection control precautions.  Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period.  Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it.  For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.

The cost for a medical evacuation is very expensive.  We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).  Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel. 

Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries.  U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options. 

The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from the affected countries, including complete travel bans.  Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice.  Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information. 

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warning and Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for your destination countries.  For additional information, refer to the "Traveler's Checklist" on the State Department's website.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:42:22 -0500
PAINWeek Welcomes Ethan Nadelmann, JD, PhD, as Keynote Speaker at 2014 Conference

PAINWeek, the National Conference on Pain for Frontline Practitioners, today announced that Ethan Nadelmann, JD, PhD, will deliver the Keynote Address at PAINWeek 2014.

Montclair, NJ—(ENEWSPF)--August 28, 2014. PAINWeek, the National Conference on Pain for Frontline Practitioners, today announced that Ethan Nadelmann, JD, PhD, will deliver the Keynote Address at PAINWeek 2014. Dr. Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. As a longtime proponent of drug policy reform, both domestically and internationally, he has played a pivotal role in discussions and policy initiatives concerned with pharmaceutical legislation and drug sentencing, prevention of overdose fatalities, and marijuana policy. His address, entitled “The Sound and the Fury: What Ending the Drug War Looks Like,” will be delivered as part of the Welcome Proceedings on Wednesday, September 3, at 6:30 pm.

Nadelmann received his BA, JD, and PhD in political science from Harvard, as well as an MSc in international relations from the London School of Economics, and taught at Princeton University for 7 years. He has authored 2 books—Cops Across Borders and (with Peter Andreas) Policing the Globe—and his writings have appeared in most major media outlets in the US as well as top academic journals. He has played a key role as drug policy advisor to George Soros and other prominent philanthropists and to elected officials in the US and internationally.

“It’s hard to find anyone who still says they support the ‘war on drugs,’ yet the harsh legacy of that war lingers on,” said Dr. Nadelmann. “What’s needed now is a vision for a new drug control policy grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights.”

Debra Weiner, Director of Program Development for PAINWeek, commented: “We are excited to welcome Ethan Nadelmann back to PAINWeek as our Keynote Speaker. His experience and that of his organization in influencing the course of drug policy reform in ballot initiatives nationwide makes him uniquely qualified to offer new ideas that can benefit all stakeholders in the pain management arena.”

About PAINWeek

PAINWeek is the largest US pain conference for frontline practitioners with an interest in pain management. Convening at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for its 8th year on September 2-6, 2014, PAINWeek expects to welcome over 2000 physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals for a comprehensive program of course offerings, satellite events, and exhibits. Over 120 hours of continuing medical education activities will be presented. To learn more and register for PAINWeek 2014, visit


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:23:21 -0500
Governor Quinn Signs Law to Stop Discrimination Against Pregnant Women in the Workplace

Governor Signs Landmark Legislation on Women’s Equality Day to Guarantee Women the Right to be Both Mothers and Employees

 Governor Quinn Signs Law to Stop Discrimination Against Pregnant Women in the WorkplaceCHICAGO--(ENEWSPF)--August 26, 2014.  Governor Pat Quinn today announced he has signed a landmark new law that will fight the widespread but often overlooked practice of discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. The law provides job protections for pregnant women and requires that reasonable accommodations be made in the workplace so expectant mothers can continue working without fear for their health or the health of their child. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensuring full equality for women in Illinois.

“Women should not have to choose between being a mother and having a job,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law will provide important protections and accommodations for working mothers-to-be so that they can continue to provide for their family without risking their health or the health of their child. These common-sense accommodations will provide peace of mind, safety and opportunity for moms-to-be and also help strengthen our workforce across the state.”

“This bill is simply common sense,” Director of Equal Opportunity at Women Employed Melissa Josephs said. “A woman should not have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and supporting her family. Many people thought that this was already the law. Now, fortunately, they’re right.”

House Bill 8, sponsored by State Representative Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) and State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), provides pregnant women with important worker protections such as limits on heavy lifting and assistance in manual labor; access to places to sit; more frequent bathroom breaks; time off to recover from childbirth; and break space for breast-feeding.

Studies have shown that, despite existing protections, pregnant women are too often forced out of their jobs and denied reasonable job modifications that would enable them to continue working. The Governor worked tirelessly with the bill’s sponsors to pass the legislation in the Illinois General Assembly. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.

“Every woman deserves to be respected and protected, and no woman should have to hide her pregnancy for fear of losing her job because she is pregnant,” Representative Flowers said. ”No woman should have to choose between losing her baby and or losing her job because the employer failed to make reasonable accommodations. Many of these women are disproportionately low income and single parents in need of their jobs. House Bill 8 creates a broad responsibility for employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees, which is no different than any other accommodations being made for anyone else with a health issue.”

“Continuing to work during pregnancy, along with a quick return to work afterward, is very important for working mothers and their families,” Senator Hutchinson said. “The reality is that for many Illinois families, women are the primary breadwinners and they should never have to choose between the ability to continue to provide for their families and a healthy pregnancy.”

Since the last time pregnancy workforce protections were addressed at the federal level in 1978, the number of women who work during pregnancy has continued to rise at a high rate. According to a report issued in 2013 by the National Women’s Law Center, nearly two-thirds of first-time mothers continue to work while pregnant and the majority of those work into their last month of pregnancy. Unfortunately, as the number of pregnant women working has increased so have the number of pregnancy discrimination cases filed. A study by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shows that, from 1992 to 2011, charges of pregnancy discrimination filed increased 71 percent.

“This legislation is especially important for low-income workers, who typically have the most physically demanding jobs and are least likely to have access to maternity leave and sick time,” Wendy Pollack, director of the Women’s Law and Policy Project at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, said. “Women can’t afford to lose their jobs, along with their income, seniority, and their employer-provided health insurance, or put their pregnancies at risk, due to the denial of a reasonable accommodation.”

The Governor also today signed House Bill 5563, sponsored by State Representative Kelly Burke (D-Evergreen Park) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), to amend the Equal Pay Act to centralize all complaints and investigations of women workers who fail to receive equal pay for equal work because of their gender. The new law allows the Illinois Department of Labor to refer complaints of alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act to the Illinois Department of Human Rights to help avoid confusion and centralize discrimination investigations. House Bill 5563 goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Illinois’ Equal Pay Act prohibits employers with four or more employees from paying unequal wages to men and women doing the same or substantially similar work, requiring equal skill, effort, responsibility and under similar working conditions. The law protects both men and women, and any individual who files an equal pay complaint is protected under the Act from harassment or retaliation. If an employer is found guilty of pay discrimination, they will be required to make up the wage difference to the employee and may be subject to pay legal costs and civil fines of up to $2,500 per violation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois women still earn just 78 cents of every dollar earned by Illinois men based on the median weekly earnings of full-time workers. The law was enacted to help close the wage gap between men and women. Since its implementation the law has successfully recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages for women who were paid less than their male co-workers for doing the same work, which is prohibited under the Act.

Governor Quinn has been committed to protecting and empowering women in Illinois since taking office. Last month, the Governor signed legislation to include a referendum asking voters if Illinois health insurance plans should be required to cover prescription birth control on the November 4 General Election ballot, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

In his 2014 State of the State address, the Governor launched the innovative Birth to Five Initiative to expand access to prenatal care, early care and learning opportunities for every child. He also proposed a minimum of two days of earned sick leave per year for 2.5 million Illinois workers, 78 percent of whom are women, who have no sick leave.

He fought for and signed a law amending the Equal Pay Act to give victims of underpayment more time to address their claims. In 2013, Governor Quinn launched the first ever Women Owned Business Symposium to support the growth of women-owned businesses across Illinois.

The Governor is also leading the charge to increase the state’s minimum wage to at least $10 per hour – six in ten minimum wage workers in Illinois are female.


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:49:39 -0500
Moms United to End the War on Drugs Representatives Organize Events and Vigils for International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31)

Each day in the United States 105 people die of accidental overdose

CALIFORNIA—(ENEWSPF)—August 26, 2014. A New PATH and Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign partners in the U.S. and abroad will participate in International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 and the week prior to it. These events honor and remember those who have lost their lives to an overdose. It is also an opportunity to educate policymakers and the public about the growing overdose crisis in the United States and abroad – and to offer concrete solutions that save lives. Each day 105 people die of accidental overdose in the United States.

Moms United to end the War on Drugs national partners are holding events and vigils to bring awareness to the crisis of accidental fatal overdoses. Through their “Ask Mom How to Save a Life” campaign they are providing overdose education, training and naloxone kits to prevent opioid overdose deaths. Moms are leading the charge to end the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths that are the result of current punitive policies.

“As a mother of two sons who have struggled with heroin addiction, one of whom almost died of an accidental overdose, I feel it is my right and responsibility to have naloxone in my medicine cabinet, because every moment counts in saving a precious life,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, Lead organizer of the Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign. She continues, “Why isn't naloxone made as available as an epi-pen or other common antidote? The answer is misguided moralistic judgment and ignorance about the true nature of addictive illness.”

A New PATH is holding a naloxone training and candle light vigil in San Diego on August 28, and a  “Performance art meets political Action Die In” in Los Angeles on August 31. In New York, St. Anne’s Corner of Harm Reduction /La Cueva will host its Annual International Overdose Prevention Awareness Day on August 28, 2014, including a prevention and response training, art competition and candle light vigil. Mommieactivist and sons radio show will devote the hour to a weigh in on the devastation of the war on drugs, including the accidental overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies at 6:30pm EST on August 31 in Washington, D.C.

“Naloxone saved my life 5 times. Today, my children have a mother! Today I help others in recovery transition to self-sufficiency and regain their lives and families,” said Maria Alexander from Los Angeles. Julia Negron from Florida states that “Half of all overdoses happen at home.  It’s heartbreaking to work with mothers who’ve lost kids and realize intervention with naloxone could have saved them.”

A New PATH and Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign representatives are stepping up efforts to educate the public about the overdose crisis and to highlight solutions to the problem. With knowledge, training and the right tools, overdose is reversible. There are solutions that can save lives, such as “Good Samaritan” immunity laws that encourage people who are witnessing an overdose to call 911 without fear of arrest, and expanding access to naloxone, a non-narcotic drug that reverses an overdose.

Denise Cullen, founder of Broken No More and member of Moms United who lost her son to an accidental overdose said, “We are losing our loved ones through addictive illness and lack of action to prevent/treat/cure this disease because of stigma and prejudice.  This can happen to anyone. Please help, please pay attention, please act!”

International Overdose Awareness Day, started by the Salvation Army in Australia in 2001, is an opportunity for people around the world to publicly mourn loved ones without guilt or shame. Many participating countries also use this day to send a strong message to current and former drug users that their lives are valued and that no one should ever die from a preventable fatal drug overdose. 

For more information on Moms United to End the War on Drugs Overdose Awareness activities: or contact A New PATH at

    Moms United to End the War on Drugs – A Campaign of A New PATH

                             2014 International Overdose Awareness Events

New York: St. Anne’s Corner of Harm Reduction /La Cueva will host its Annual International Overdose Prevention Awareness Day on August 28, 2014 at our new central office located at 886 Westchester Avenue, Bronx, New York. The day will include Overdose Prevention and Response Training with naloxone kits, an art competition, candle light vigil and awards ceremony. On September 9, 2014. SACHR will join New York City’s Department of Health & Mental Health commemoration with a training at the intersection of 139th Street and St. Ann’s Avenue, Bronx, New York. 10451. For info: 718.585.5544 x 312 or

San Diego, CA: A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) along with community partners including ACLU, GRASP, and NORML Women’s Alliance will remember and honor individuals who have lost their lives to overdose, and to the failed war on drugs on at 6pm Thursday, August 28, 2014.  The event, held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, includes naloxone training and distribution, a press conference and a Candlelight Vigil. For info: 619-670-1184 or

Los Angeles, CA: International Overdose Awareness Day of Action Aug 31, 2014 10:30am - The Los Angeles chapter of A New PATH will join with community partners including Drug Policy Alliance, Paso Por Paso, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Amity Foundation and Broken-No-More to hold a “performance art” happening to prevent accidental overdose at the Santa Monica Pier.  This action is part of the national Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign. Advocates will stage a “Die In” to bring awareness to those lost through accidental overdose. We will then hold a rally to promote greater access to Naloxone.  For info: 619-670-1184 or

Washington, D.C.: On Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014 Mommieactivist and sons radio show will devote the hour to a weigh in on the devastation of the war on drugs, including the accidental overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies at 6:30pm EST. Guest speakers are Gretchen Burns Bergman and Denise Cullen from the national Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign. Call in number: 1 347-994-1713; email or go to

Pittsburgh, PA: Moms United partners are making progress with a naloxone bill and a 911 Good Samaritan bill and are using the month of August to raise awareness about these lifesaving policies.  Info:

Dallas, Texas: Mothers Against Teen Violence is working to assure that a bill increasing access to naloxone will be filed when the Texas legislature convenes in January.

One Florida Suncoast; Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte Counties.  On August 31st we remember with love those we have lost and send hope to those still struggling. We honor the lives of those we love and say #NotOneMore. International Overdose Awareness Day VIGIL for Remembrance, Action and Hope. Sunday, August 31 at 8:00pm. Ricaltini's Bar and Grille, 1997 Kentucky Ave, in Englewood, Florida. Info:

Article in Huffington Post by Joy Strickland:


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:30:57 -0500
JAMA: Medical Cannabis States Possess Lower Rates Of Opiate-Induced Fatalities

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—August 25, 2014.

By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

The enactment of medicinal marijuana laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, according to data published online today by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A team of investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore conducted a time-series analysis of medical cannabis laws and state-level death certificate data in the United States from 1999 to 2010 — a period during which 13 states instituted laws allowing for cannabis therapy.

Researchers reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.” Specifically, overdose deaths from opioids decreased by an average of 20 percent one year after the law’s implementation, 25 percent by two years, and up to 33 percent by years five and six.

They concluded, “In an analysis of death certificate data from 1999 to 2010, we found that states with medical cannabis laws had lower mean opioid analgesic overdose mortality rates compared with states without such laws. This finding persisted when excluding intentional overdose deaths (ie, suicide), suggesting that medical cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality among individuals using opioid analgesics for medical indications. Similarly, the association between medical cannabis laws and lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality rates persisted when including all deaths related to heroin, even if no opioid analgesic was present, indicating that lower rates of opioid analgesic overdose mortality were not offset by higher rates of heroin overdose mortality. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, our results suggest a link between medical cannabis laws and lower opioid analgesic overdose mortality.”

In a written statement to Reuters Health, lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber said: “Most of the discussion on medical marijuana has been about its effect on individuals in terms of reducing pain or other symptoms. The unique contribution of our study is the finding that medical marijuana laws and policies may have a broader impact on public health.”

Nationwide, overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have increased dramatically over the past decade. While fewer than 4,100 opiate-induced fatalities were reported for the year 1999, by 2010 this figure rose to over 16,600 according to an analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control.

An abstract of the JAMA study, “Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010,” appears online here.


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Mon, 25 Aug 2014 22:49:23 -0500
More Than a Quarter-million Youth Who Had Never Smoked a Cigarette Used E-cigarettes in 2013

Study finds youth who have used e-cigarettes are almost twice as likely to intend to smoke conventional cigarettes

Infographics: In 2003, more than a quarter million middle school and high school students never smoked regular cigarettes but had used e-cigarettes three times as many as 2011..

Atlanta, GA--(ENEWSPF)--August 25, 2014.  More than a quarter of a million youth who had never smoked a cigarette used electronic cigarettes in 2013, according to a CDC study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.  This number reflects a three-fold increase, from about 79,000 in 2011, to more than 263,000 in 2013.

The data, which comes from the 2011, 2012, and 2013 National Youth Tobacco surveys of middle and high school students, show that youth who had never smoked conventional cigarettes but who used e-cigarettes were almost twice as likely to intend to smoke conventional cigarettes as those who had never used e-cigarettes.  Among non-smoking youth who had ever used e-cigarettes, 43.9 percent said they intended to smoke conventional cigarettes within the next year, compared with 21.5 percent of those who had never used e-cigarettes.

“We are very concerned about nicotine use among our youth, regardless of whether it comes from conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes or other tobacco products.  Not only is nicotine highly addictive, it can harm adolescent brain development.” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

There is evidence that nicotine’s adverse effects on adolescent brain development could result in lasting deficits in cognitive function.  Nicotine is highly addictive.  About three out of every four teen smokers become adult smokers, even if they intend to quit in a few years.

“The increasing number of young people who use e-cigarettes should be a concern for parents and the public health community, especially since youth e-cigarette users were nearly twice as likely to have intentions to smoke conventional cigarettes compared with youth who had never tried e-cigarettes.” said Rebecca Bunnell, Sc.D., M.Ed., Associate Director for Science in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and the lead author of the study.

The analysis also looked at the association between tobacco advertisements and smoking intentions among middle and high school students.  Students were asked about whether they had seen tobacco ads on the internet, in magazines and newspapers, in retail stores, and in television programs and movies.  Consistent with previous studies, this study found that youth who reported exposure to tobacco ads had higher rates of intention to smoke than those who weren’t exposed to such ads.

The researchers also found the greater the number of advertising sources to which young people were exposed, the greater their rate of intention to smoke cigarettes.  Thirteen percent of students who said they had no exposures to such ads had intentions to smoke, compared to 20.4 percent among those who reported exposures from one to two ad sources and 25.6 percent among those who reported exposures from three to four of the sources.

More than 50 years since the landmark Surgeon General’s Report linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States.  Smoking kills nearly half a million Americans every year.  More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.  Smoking-related diseases cost Americans $132 billion a year in direct health care expenses, much of which comes in taxpayer-supported payments.  Each day, more than 3,200 American youth smoke their first cigarette.  The Surgeon General has concluded that unless the smoking rate is rapidly reduced, 5.6 million American children alive today – about one in every 13—will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.


]]> (Press Release) Health and Fitness Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:24:23 -0500