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McGill science group takes aim at pharmacies for selling ‘quack’ flu remedy – Montreal

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A McGill University science communication group is taking aim at a commonly available homeopathic flu remedy and questioning why pharmacies continue to sell what it calls “quack remedies.”

A survey of 150 Montreal pharmacies conducted last month by the McGill Office for Science and Society found that two-thirds of them stocked Oscillococcinum despite the fact that the product “does not work (and) cannot work according to our scientific knowledge,” reads a publication on the office’s website.

READ MORE: Montreal emergency rooms crowded as flu cases spike in time for holiday season

The product, which claims to shorten the duration of flu symptoms, was retailing for $37.99 for a box of 30 doses at a Montreal Jean Coutu pharmacy on Wednesday.

Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic pill that is made by taking the heart and liver of a duck and diluting it until there is no trace left of the organs, according to Jonathan Jarry, a science communicator who helped conduct the study.

Jarry, who has a master’s degree in molecular biology, said he decided to target Oscillococcinum in particular because he considers it the most “egregious” of homeopathic products on the market.

“Nothing in homeopathy really makes any sense or is scientific, but this one because of its high dilution factor is particularly ridiculous,” he said.

Homeopathy, which dates back to 1796, is based on the principle that “like cures like,” or the idea that a disease can be cured by ingesting a low dose of something that produces similar symptoms in a healthy person.

READ MORE: Quebec kicks off flu vaccination campaign amid worries over influenza A

Unlike other herbal or alternative medications, proponents of homeopathy believe that a product becomes more potent the more it is diluted — a principle Jarry says “violates basic laws of physics, biology and chemistry.”

Jarry pointed to overseas studies, including a review of the scientific data on homeopathy published in 2015 by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, which concluded that “there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.”

WATCH: Tips for tackling cold and flu symptoms






But Boiron Canada, the makers of Oscillococcinum, says doctors, pharmacists and patients have been recommending and using the product for decades because it works.

The company provided links to two clinical trials, conducted in 1989 and 1998, which found that patients who were given the product recovered more quickly than those who ingested a placebo.

“We fully support (pharmacies’) decision to respect every Canadian’s fundamental right to choose which products best suit their individual health needs, and we will continue to provide reliable options for consideration through our homeopathic medicines,” the company said in a statement.

READ MORE: Canada having ‘substantial’ flu season so far, off to faster start than last year’s

Jarry says homeopathic products are expensive and could lead people who purchase them to falsely delay seeking needed medical treatment.

He questions why they are being sold by Quebec pharmacists, whose code of ethics requires them to protect the public by steering them towards effective treatment.

A spokeswoman for the Quebec Order of Pharmacists acknowledged that homeopathic products have no “proven scientific value” but said it would be difficult to ban them because they’re regulated by Health Canada as a type of natural health product.

Julie Villeneuve said some pharmacists choose to stock homeopathic products in order to start a dialogue with their clients, but they could face sanctions for promoting them.

“Regardless of the school of thought to which he adheres, the code of ethics is clear: The pharmacist must practice pharmacy according to scientific data,” Villeneuve wrote in a statement.

“Thus, considering the lack of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy, a pharmacist who encourages a patient to use such products by predicting benefits would be placed in a situation of disciplinary offence.”

WATCH: Foods and supplements that may help you fight the flu





Some 8,500 homeopathic products are approved by Health Canada, which reviews them to ensure they are safe and “are supported by either scientific evidence or other references,” according to the department’s website.

In 2015, Health Canada changed its labelling requirements for homeopathic cough, cold and flu products aimed at children 12 and under, stating that makers could no longer make specific health claims unless they’re supported by scientific evidence.

READ MORE: Canada’s flu season started early this year, and might be hitting kids hard

Loblaws, the parent company of the Pharmaprix chain, said it prefers to allow patients to make their own choices, given that the products are popular and approved for sale.

“Given that these products aren’t prescribed and present no danger to health, the pharmacists-owners of our network have no reason to ban them, especially since an important proportion of their clientele appreciates and requests them,” senior communications director Johanne Heroux said in a statement.

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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