(New York Times) – “If you ask somebody on the street, ‘What are the main differences between races?,’ they’re going to say skin color,” said Sarah A. Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania. On Thursday, Dr. Tishkoff and her colleagues showed this to be a profound error. In the journal Science, the researchers published the first large-scale study of the genetics of skin color in Africans. The researchers pinpointed eight genetic variants in four narrow regions of the human genome that strongly influence pigmentation — some making skin darker, and others making it lighter.
(Washington Post) – In August, two psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, settled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three former CIA detainees. The psychologists were accused of designing, implementing and overseeing the CIA’s experimental program of torture and abuse (for which their consulting firm received tens of millions of dollars). The evidence against them was compelling: a detailed Senate report, multiple depositions, newly declassified documents and even Mitchell’s memoir . Prior to settling, Mitchell and Jessen denied any legal responsibility, and their attorneys argued their inculpability by comparing them to the low-level technicians whose employers provided lethal gas for Hitler’s extermination camps.
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 376, no. 23, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Bridging the Data-Sharing Divide — Seeing the Devil in the Details, Not the Other Camp” by L. Rosenbaum
- “Whose Data Are They Anyway? Can a Patient Perspective Advance the Data-Sharing Debate?” by C. J. Haug
British Medical Bulletin (vol. 122, no. 1, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Ethical Issues of CRISPR Technology and Gene Editing through the Lens of Solidarity” by John J. Mulvihill et al.
Qualitative Health Research (Vol. 27, No. 8, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Toward a Better Understanding of Patient Health Literacy: A Focus on the Skills Patients Need to Find Health Information” by Sara Champlin, Michael Mackert, Elizabeth M. Glowacki, and Erin E. Donovan
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (vol. 110, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “We’re Training Robots: We Need Humans” by Kamran Abbasi
- “”A Crisis in Caring’: A Place for Compassionate Care in Today’s Medicine” by Natasha Davendralingam, Meneka Kanagaratnam, and Indran Davagnanam
JAMA (vol. 317, no. 23, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Text Messaging and Protected Health Information: What Is Permitted?” by Brian C. Drolet
(STAT News) – Nearly 26 million people around the world die each year with serious suffering in part because of a huge gap in pain relief: The U.S. may be awash in opioid painkillers, but they’re rare or unavailable in dozens of poor countries, says a new report. The challenge is to improve palliative care in low-income countries while avoiding mistakes that led to the U.S. addiction crisis. The report to be published Friday in The Lancet says one key is using off-patent morphine that costs pennies a dose — not profitable for drug companies that push pricier, more powerful opioids in rich countries, but critical to easing a health emergency.
(STAT News) – The de facto leader behind the leaderless collective Four Thieves Vinegar, Laufer is now on to his next project: He’s developing a desktop lab and a recipe book meant to equip patients to cook up a range of medicines, including a homemade version of the expensive hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, on their kitchen counters. Health professionals have strenuously warned against DIY pharmaceuticals, but Laufer sees his work as a moral crusade against the patent laws and market forces that let drug companies price vital remedies out of reach for many patients.
(Kaiser Health News) -An Oregon woman with Alzheimer’s disease, whose husband claimed she was kept alive with spoon-feeding against her written wishes, has died. Nora Harris, 64, died early Wednesday at the Fern Gardens senior care center in Medford, Ore. Her husband, Bill Harris, said the death marks the end of an eight-year battle with the progressive, debilitating disease, which included an unsuccessful court fight to withdraw all food and liquid.
(San Francisco Chronicle) – Swedish prosecutors have abandoned an investigation against a disgraced Italian stem cell scientist suspected of involuntary manslaughter in connection with three patients who died after windpipe transplants. Prosecutor Jennie Nordin said it can’t be proven that Dr. Paolo Macchiarini would be guilty of either causing another’s death or causing bodily harm, so he is no longer a suspect.
(Sydney Morning Herald) – If it were a train, this debate would have set off from Euthanasia Central, stopped at Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, moved on to Medically Assisted Death and Assisted Dying, before arriving at Voluntary Assisted Dying, the form of words that our parliamentarians have settled on (and which some would further reduce to the neutral acronym VAD). Call them dying words if you will, but the language around this issue has long been a battlefield, both here and in the handful of places worldwide where some form of euthanasia has already been legalised (Switzerland came first, in 1942).