(Vox) – There’s a school of thought that refusing vaccines on behalf of your children amounts to child abuse, and that parents should be punished for their decision. We know vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and effective at preventing the spread of disease. And yet failing to immunize children can put them (and vulnerable people around them) at tremendous risk of illness or even death when outbreaks get rolling. Now it seems Australia and a number of countries in Europe are fed up enough with vaccine-refusing parents that they’re experimenting with punitive measures.
(Nature) – Across the Middle East, deaths resulting from violence grew by 850% between 1990 and 2015, according to a series of reports published on 3 August in the International Journal of Public Health. The increase accelerated after 2010, corresponding with the beginning of the Arab Spring movement and wars in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, the authors found, the incidence of many chronic diseases has also risen dramatically; the death rate from diabetes, for instance, grew 216% over the study period. Taken together, the analyses describe a disturbing deterioration in health across a broadly defined Middle Eastern region, which includes 22 countries — including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates — that are home to more than 580 million people.
(STAT News) – Martin Skhreli was found guilty on Friday of three counts of fraud after a five-week trial in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y. He faces a prison sentence that could stretch years. “This was a witch hunt of epic proportions,” Shkreli said outside court after the verdict, the Washington Post reported. “They may have found some broomsticks.” The big question now: Can the pharma industry finally slam the door on Shkreli, after complaining for nearly two years that his price-hiking antics tainted the reputation of the entire field?
(Science) – Knoepfler, though housed in the Shriners Hospitals for Children here, isn’t a physician. And his University of California (UC), Davis, lab doesn’t study arthritis or eye disease, nor does he have any experience developing a stem cell therapy. He mostly uses stem cells to study cancer-causing gene mutations. But thanks to The Niche, a blog he has run since 2010, Knoepfler has become an unlikely authority—and a dogged voice of caution—on the clinical use of stem cells.
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – A team of investigators from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine (UNCSM) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) have just released details from a promising study that could potentially offer new stem cell treatment options to patients afflicted with lung conditions such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis (CF). Due to the success of this new research, the investigators have been in discussions with the FDA and are preparing an application for an initial clinical trial in patients with IPF.
(Reuters) – Chile’s Congress approved late on Wednesday night a bill that legalizes abortion in certain cases, though it will still need to win the approval of the nation’s courts to go into effect. After a complex and fractious process, the nation’s Chamber of Deputies voted 70 to 45 to allow abortion when a woman’s life is in danger, when a fetus in unviable, or when a pregnancy results from rape.
(ABC News) – Euthanasia has become “common practice” in the Netherlands, accounting for 4.5 percent of deaths, according to researchers who say requests are increasing from people who aren’t terminally ill. In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world that made it legal for doctors to help people die. Both euthanasia, where doctors actively kill patients, and assisted suicide, where physicians prescribe patients a lethal dose of drugs, are allowed. People must be “suffering unbearably” with no hope of relief — but their condition does not have to be fatal.
Studies in Christian Ethics (vol. 30, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Ethics, Human Oocytes and the Teleology of the Body: An Appreciation of Gilbert Meilaender’s Work” by Paul Lauritzen
- “Gilbert Meilaender and the Tragedy of Biological Individualism” by David H. Smith
- “Finitude, Freedom and Biomedicine: An Engagement with Gilbert Meilaender’s Bioethics” by Gerald McKenny
- “The Pain in the Gift and the Gift in the Pain” by Jennifer A. Herdt
- “Political Life under God: Some Questions for Gilbert Meilaender” by William Werpehowski
- Friendly Rejoinders” by Gilbert Meilaender
Bioethics Update (vol. 3, no. 1, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- ” In Defense of the Vulnerable in Medicine and the Life Sciences” by John M. Hass
- ” A Proposal for a Shared Care Plan at the End of Life: The Natural Death Protocol” by Vittoradolfo Tambone and Laura Leondina Campanozzi
- ” Bioethical Perspective of Ontologically-Based Personalism” by Francesca Giglio
Human Reproduction (vol. 32, no. 5, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Safety and Efficacy of Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation for Fertility Preservation in Women with Early Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review” by Rachael J. Rodgers et al.
- “Family Building Using Embryo Adoption: Relationships and Contact Arrangements Between Provider and Recipient Families—A Mixed-Methods Study” by Lucy Frith, Eric Blyth, and Steve Lui
Medicine, Science and the Law (vol. 57, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Use of Human Samples Obtained During Medicolegal Autopsies in Research: An Introduction to Current Conditions and Initiatives in Japan” by Takako Tsujimura-Ito, Yusuke Inoue, Kaori Muto, and Ken-ichi Yoshida
Bioethics (vol. 31, no. 4, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Methodological Reflections on the Contribution of Qualitative Research to the Evaluation of Clinical Ethics Support Services” by Sebastian Wäscher et al.
- “What Outcomes do Dutch Healthcare Professionals Perceive as Important Before Participation in Moral Case Deliberation?” by Janine de Snoo-Trimp, Guy Widdershoven, Mia Svantesson, Riekie de Vet, and Bert Molewijk
- “Evaluating Clinical Ethics Support: A Participatory Approach” by Suzanne Metselaar, Guy Widdershoven, Rouven Porz and Bert Molewijk
- “Discovering What Matters: Interrogating Clinician Responses to Ethics Consultation” by Stuart G. Finder and Virginia L. Bartlett
- “Evaluating the Quality of the Deliberation in Moral Case Deliberations: A Coding Scheme” by Hylke Jellema, Swanny Kremer, Anne-Ruth Mackor, and Bert Molewijk
- “Moral Hard-Wiring and Moral Enhancement” by Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu
- “When is a Choice not a Choice? ‘Sham Offers’ and the Asymmetry of Adolescent Consent and Refusal” by Neil C. Manson
- “The Substance View: A Critique (Part 3)” by Rob Lovering
- “Is There a Right to the Death of the Foetus?” by Eric Mathison and Jeremy Davis
(Vox) – If you want to understand how we got here, there’s one simple explanation: It’s much easier in America to get high than it is to get help. In talking about this, Brandeis University opioid policy expert Andrew Kolodny draws a comparison to New York City’s fight against tobacco. In his telling, the city took a two-prong approach: It made tobacco less accessible — by banning smoking in public spaces and raising taxes to make cigarettes much more expensive. But it also made alternatives to tobacco more accessible — by opening a phone line that people can use to get in touch with a clinic or obtain free nicotine patches or free nicotine gum. It has seen its smoking rate steadily drop, from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.3 percent in 2015.
(NPR) – One reason for this preference is that Alkermes, the drug’s manufacturer, is doing something nearly unheard of for a pharmaceutical company: It is marketing directly to drug court judges and other officials. The strategy capitalizes on a market primed to prefer their product. Judges, prosecutors and other criminal justice officials can be suspicious of the other FDA-approved addiction medications, buprenorphine and methadone, because they are themselves opioids. Alkermes promotes its product as “nonaddictive.”
(Kaiser Health News) – Better hope that you aren’t in a rural area if you are seriously hurt and need an ambulance. The wait could be dangerous. Response times for emergency medical services are more than twice as long in rural areas than urban locations, according to a recent research letter in JAMA Surgery. Median response times were 13 minutes out in the country compared with six in both city and suburban locations, researchers found after reviewing records of nearly 1.8 million EMS runs across the U.S. in 2015.That’s not the worst of it. In rural areas, one in 10 EMS units did not reach an emergency scene for nearly half an hour after the 911 call came in, the study reported.
(Science Daily) – Professor Dominic Wilkinson at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics says it is in the interests of all children that cases like Charlie Gard’s are accompanied by fair, accurate, and balanced discussion — and he asks, how can we achieve greater balance in future cases? Difficult and ethically challenging discussions about life-prolonging treatment for a seriously ill child, usually take place privately, between parents and doctors, he explains. However, in the recent Charlie Gard case, these discussions have taken place in public, on a wide global stage.
(Medscape) – In a first, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a drug for use in patients who develop the life-threatening condition of chronic graft-vs-host disease (cGVHD) after having undergone a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). This condition develops in about 30% to 70% of patients who undergo HSCT, which is a standard treatment for various leukemias and lymphomas.
(San Diego Union-Tribune) – Doudna said she wasn’t cognizant of the ethical issues when she and collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier began exploring CRISPR. Beyond the call for society to grapple with the ramifications of germline editing, Doudna said, it’s difficult to get more specific, except to exercise general caution.In many cases, genetic defects don’t even need to be repaired if multiple embryos are being generated, she said. These embryos could simply be screened for genetic defects, and a healthy embryo would be chosen. “In my opinion, we still need to respect the recommendations in the (National Academy of Sciences) report published in February that recommended refraining from clinical use of human germline editing until and unless there’s broad societal consensus about the value,” Doudna said.
(Medical Xpress) – A delay in transferring embryos to the mother improves the success of in vitro fertilization in certain cases, according to a study by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Celmatix Inc. and several other institutions. Women undergoing IVF who have high levels of the hormone progesterone when their egg cells are retrieved benefit from having the resulting embryos frozen and transferred back to the uterus at a later date, the researchers found. The study appears in the August issue of Fertility and Sterility.
(Science) – The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has issued new, stricter rules for studies that test drugs in people for the first time. They aim to better protect participants in such first-in-human studies—often healthy volunteers who receive a financial reward. The guideline, which was issued on 25 July, will take effect in February 2018. It comes in the wake of a tragedy in a French drug study last year that led to the death of one man and serious neurological damage in four others. But some say the revision isn’t going for enough.