(STAT News) – The teachers’ experience is a stark example of what’s happening around the country to union members fighting addiction. Treatment center operators and middlemen who act as brokers for those facilities are targeting these workers because they usually have generous insurance benefits that pay for long stays in rehab. They also often need a health care provider’s clearance to return to work, handing the centers tremendous power over patients.
(STAT News) – The entire process, from basic research to Food and Drug Administration approval, averages about 10 years for drugs and 10 to 15 years for vaccines. A public health crisis doesn’t change the process or let you circumvent any of the steps involved. One way to speed up drug or vaccine development is to leverage existing products through repurposing. That means using an existing drug or vaccine for a different use than the one it was approved for. Because the drug or vaccine has already been tested for safety and is being manufactured, it can likely be rapidly disseminated.
(Reuters) – Merck & Co Ltd’s drug to prevent serious infection in patients who undergo a type of stem cell transplant was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the drugmaker said on Thursday. Merck said the drug, which is expected to be available from December, was approved both as a tablet and an injection. The list price for the tablets is $195 per day, while it is $270 a day for the injection.The recommended dosing for the drug is once everyday for 100 days after the stem cell transplant, bringing the effective list price to $19,500 for the tablets and $27,000 for the injections.
(The Guardian) – The number of people euthanised in the Netherlands this year is set to exceed 7,000 – a 67% rise from five years ago – in what has been described by the director of the country’s only specialist clinic as the end of “a taboo” on killing patients who want to die. In 2012, 4,188 people were euthanised by doctors in the country, all of whom met the criteria laid down under the 2002 law that made it legal: a voluntary and well considered request in the context of unbearable suffering from which there is no prospect of improvement, or alternative remedy. This year, 18,000 requests for help to die have been made, including 2,500 – up from 1,234 in 2015 – to the Levenseindekliniek – the only medical facility in the Netherlands that specialises in euthanasia.
(Newsweek) – If a pregnant woman is murdered, does the death count as one or two victims? When a gunman entered a Texas church and methodically shot everyone he saw, he killed 25 people, including an eight-month pregnant woman named Crystal Holcombe. But by Texas law, the final death count was 26 to account for Holcombe’s unborn child. Amid legal debate and legislative pushes to create personhood status for unborn children, a fetus is actually counted as a separate person in a majority of state criminal cases thanks to “feticide” laws” in 38 states, which create legal penalties for crimes involving pregnant women.
(Quartz) – The life-extension methods that Silicon Valley visionaries are pumping millions of dollars into will, by definition, be prohibitively expensive. Cryogenics, for example, can range in price from the $28,000 price tag of smaller firms to the $200,000 charged by cryogenics mainstay Alcor. If life extension follows the universal trend of haves and have-nots, it’s likely to widen an already growing lifespan gap, with the poor dying earlier and the rich dying later. Eventually, a minority of super-wealthy immortals could arise.
(The Guardian) – Van Dongen, who had begun to see another woman, suffered 25% burns, lost a leg, his left eye and most of the sight in his right eye and was left paralysed. He applied for euthanasia in Belgium, which was approved after three consultants examined him. It was decided his was a case of “unbearable physical and psychological suffering” and he died in January this year aged 29. In a highly unusual case, prosecutors have charged Wallace with murder despite the victim having died with medical assistance, because they say the acid attack led to his death.
(STAT News) – These micro quasi-brains are revolutionizing research on human brain development and diseases from Alzheimer’s to Zika, but the headlong rush to grow the most realistic, most highly developed brain organoids has thrown researchers into uncharted ethical waters. Like virtually all experts in the field, neuroscientist Hongjun Song of the University of Pennsylvania doesn’t “believe an organoid in a dish can think,” he said, “but it’s an issue we need to discuss.”
(Undark Magazine) – This dystopian nightmare might not be that farfetched, some academics warn, given the rise of big data, advances in machine learning, and — most worryingly — the current rise in studies that bear a troubling resemblance to the long-abandoned pseudoscience of physiognomy, which held that the shape of the human head and face revealed character traits. Modern computers are much better at scanning minute details in human physiology, modern advocates of such research say, and thus the inferences they draw are more reliable. Critics, on the other hand, dismiss this as bunkum. There is little evidence linking outward physical characteristics and anything like predictable behavior, they note.
Journal of Academic Ethics (vol. 15, no. 3, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Academic Doping: Institutional Policies Regarding Nonmedical use of Prescription Stimulants in U.S. Higher Education” by Ross Aikins, Xiaoxue Zhang, and Sean Esteban McCabe
The American Journal of Bioethics (vol. 17, no. 8, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Saving or Creating: Which Are We Doing When We Resuscitate Extremely Preterm Infants?” by Travis N. Rieder
Medical Law Review (vol. 25, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Does the Law on Compensation for Research-Related Injury in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand Meet Ethical Requirements?” by Joanna M. Manning
- “Seeking Certainty? Judicial Approaches to the (Non-)Treatment of Minimally Conscious Patients” by Richard Huxtable and Giles Birchley
- “Transparency Policies of the European Medicines Agency: Has the Paradigm Shifted?” by Daria Kim
BMC Medical Ethics has new articles available online.
- “Development of a Consensus Operational Definition of Child Assent for Research” by Alan R. Tait and Michael E. Geisser
- “Are Advance Directives Helpful for Good End of Life Decision Making: A Cross Sectional Survey of Health Professionals” by Eimantas Peicius, Aurelija Blazeviciene, and Raimondas Kaminskas
- “Comparative Effectiveness Research: What to Do when Experts Disagree about Risks” by Reidar K. Lie et al.
- “Familiar Ethical Issues Amplified: How Members of Research Ethics Committees Describe Ethical Distinctions Between Disaster and Non-Disaster Research” by Catherine M. Tansey et al.
- “Ethics Review of Studies During Public Health Emergencies – The Experience of the WHO Ethics Review Committee During the Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic” by Emilie Alirol et al.
- “Ethical Issues of Informed Consent in Malaria Research Proposals Submitted to a Research Ethics Committee in Thailand: A Retrospective Document Review” by Pornpimon Adams et al.
NanoEthics (vol. 11, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Reflection as a Deliberative and Distributed Practice: Assessing Neuro-Enhancement Technologies via Mutual Learning Exercises (MLEs)” by Hub Zwart et al.
- “Nanoethics, Science Communication, and a Fourth Model for Public Engagement” by Andy Miah
- “Creating Golems: Uses of Golem Stories in the Ethics of Technologies” by Erik Thorstensen
- “More than a Decade On: Mapping Today’s Regulatory and Policy Landscapes Following the Publication of Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and Uncertainties” by Diana M Bowman
- “Staff’s Views from One Canadian Organ Procurement Organization on Organ Donation and Organ Transplant Technologies: a Content Analysis” by Jennifer Cheung and Gregor Wolbring
(STAT News) – Octodrine did indeed show up in one of the products Cohen analyzed. But the others contained three different stimulants, with unknown or potentially risky side effects. They could speed up heart rate and raise blood pressure. And none, including octodrine, has gone through the process required by the FDA to be included as ingredients in dietary supplements. Cohen called the results “surprising and alarming.” The finding, published on Wednesday in Clinical Toxicology, is the latest example of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical ingredients turning up in products that consumers can easily order online or pick up from retail shelves. In some cases, the risk seems to be part of the appeal.
(The Atlantic) – In August, De Luca and Pelligrini got the green light to try their technique. In September, they collected a square inch of skin from Hassan’s groin—one of the few parts of his body with intact skin. They isolated stem cells, genetically modified them, and created their gene-corrected skin grafts. In October and November, they transplanted these onto Hassan, replacing around 80 percent of his old skin. It worked. In February 2016, Hassan was discharged from the hospital. In March, he was back in school. He needs no ointments. His skin is strong. It doesn’t even itch. “He hasn’t developed a single blister,” says de Luca, who shared the details of Hassan’s story with me. “He’s gaining weight. He’s playing sports. He’s got a normal social life.”