(Kaiser Health News) – Most of the state prison systems in the 31 states that expanded Medicaid have either not created large-scale enrollment programs or operate spotty programs that leave large numbers of exiting inmates — many of whom are chronically ill — without insurance. Local jails processing millions of prisoners a year, many severely mentally ill, are doing an even poorer job of getting health coverage for ex-inmates, by many accounts. Jail enrollment is especially challenging because the average stay is less than a month and prisoners are often released unexpectedly.
(Reuters) – South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) on Tuesday overturned a ruling by a lower court granting a terminally ill patient the right to die, the Justice Ministry said, thereby upholding South Africa’s laws forbidding assisted suicide. In a groundbreaking ruling in 2015, South Africa’s High Court had granted a terminally ill man, Robin Stransham-Ford, the right to die with dignity by way of euthanasia. Stransham-Ford, who was suffering from cancer, died just hours before the High Court ruling was delivered.
(Scientific American) – Egypt has uncovered a network accused of illicit international trafficking in human organs, arresting 45 people and recovering millions of dollars in a dawn raid on Tuesday, the health ministry said. Among those held were doctors, nurses, middlemen and organ-buyers, involved in what the ministry described as the largest organ-trafficking network exposed in Egypt to date.
(Scientific American) – On Tuesday morning, the CRISPR patent dispute reaches a much-awaited milestone: the case’s first and only oral arguments, slated to last less than an hour for a patent potentially worth billions of dollars. The hearing is open to the public, and it’s sure to attract the attendance of dozens of lawyers, company executives (Novartis has confirmed it’ll be represented), publicists, reporters, and even some genome-editing groupies.
(Reuters) – Hundreds of Californians who were forcibly sterilized based on eugenics laws in the last century might still be alive and deserve an apology and financial reparations, a new study concludes. In a Sacramento government office, historian and lead author Alexandra Minna Stern stumbled across a filing cabinet containing about 20,000 recommendations for eugenics-motivated sterilizations dating from 1919 through 1952.
(Science) – Medical martyrdom is rarer these days, in part due to increased regulation of human subject research after World War II, and fewer researchers dying for their work can only be a good thing. Nonetheless, autoexperimentation continues. The access to the subject is matchless, and the allure of big data and personalized medicine seems to be some nudging self-experimenters toward new types of studies. However, the regulatory environment remains somewhat vague, leaving it up to researchers to weigh practicality against ethical considerations. But if care and diligence accompany the appetite for adventure, scientists can responsibly conduct self-experimentation studies that help advance science—and potentially offer some fun and personal benefit to boot.
(TIME) – Doctors are health professionals, yet they have far higher rates of depression than the average person. According to a new analysis, that elevated risk is present even before they become doctors, back when they’re in medical school. In the new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers analyzed nearly 200 studies of 129,000 medical students in 47 countries. They found that 27% of medical students had depression or symptoms of it, and 11% reported suicidal thoughts during medical school.
(MIT Technology Review) – FDNA, Face2Gene’s parent company, began six years ago after the Israeli cofounders sold their previous facial recognition company, Face.com, to Facebook. That technology is able to differentiate specific individuals by being “trained” on multiple images of that person. Face2Gene’s technology, in contrast, identifies a pattern that is common to a group of people that have the same syndrome; establishing that common denominator allows the software to create a composite image associated with a condition.
(The Guardian) – The voluntary euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has launched a “militant” campaign to push for unrestricted adult access to a peaceful death. Nitschke announced the launch of Exit Action on Sunday morning, describing the new organisation as a subgroup of Exit International, which campaigns, runs workshops and distributes information on voluntary euthanasia. Exit Action said it would take “a militant pro-euthanasia position” to coordinate direct action strategies and force legislative change.
(The Guardian) – Later this week some of the world’s leading scientists will gather at University College London to debate a simple but highly controversial notion: that it is time to scrap the 14-day limit on embryo research. Thanks to recent scientific breakthroughs, researchers have reached a point where they can begin to think of experimenting on embryos up to 28 days in age. The benefits for medical science would be considerable. As a result, many are pressing for the 14-day rule – which has been enshrined in British law for more than 25 years – to be replaced with one allowing research to be carried out on embryos that have lived for double that period.
(The Guardian) – Scientists will make a controversial call this week to extend the current 14-day limit for carrying out experiments on human embryos to 28 days. The move follows recent breakthroughs that have allowed researchers to double the time embryos can be kept alive in the laboratory. By extending the current research period, major insights into congenital conditions, heart disease and some cancers could be gained, they will argue at a conference in London on Wednesday.
(Australian Broadcasting Co) – A financial abortion (also known as a paper abortion or a statutory abort) would essentially enable men to cut all financial and emotional ties with a child in the early stages of pregnancy. This means he would opt out of all rights, privileges and responsibilities of parenthood in a binding and not reversible decision, similar to sperm donors. But sperm donors’ actions are only motivated by the possibility of creating a child without becoming a parent.
(WebMD) – Seven percent of doctors say it’s acceptable to hide a clinical mistake that harms a patient, while another 14% leave the door open, saying “it depends,” according to a new survey. True, a clear majority of surveyed doctors — 78% — say it’s never OK to cover up or avoid revealing such an error, according to the 2016 Ethics Report from Medscape, WebMD’s sister site for health care professionals. However, the percentage who answered that way is down from 91% in 2014 and almost 95% in 2010.
(Chicago Tribune) – Progress on organ transplants has been alarmingly slow in Japan, which stands out among developed countries in terms of its low number of organ donors. Indeed, some patients have no choice but to go overseas for treatment because Japan still fails to provide enough organs. This shortage comes amid a growing international consensus that patients should obtain donor organs inside their own country.
After Battling Women’s Rights Groups for Years, India Is Finally Rolling Out Injectable Contraceptives
(Quartz) – Among these, female sterilisation remains the more popular choice, accounting for over 75% of contraceptive use in India. The procedure is offered for free by government-run camps, but negligence and even gross human rights violations have often led to deadly results. That could explain why the government is now increasing the number of free-of-cost methods on offer under its long-running family planning program to include injectable contraceptives featuring the drug depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, or DPMA. Currently, the program offers female and male sterilisation, IUDs, condoms, and pills for free.
(Kaiser Health News) – As rates of prescription painkiller abuse remain stubbornly high, a number of states are attempting to cut off the supply at its source by making it harder for doctors to prescribe the addictive pills to Medicaid patients. Recommendations on how to make these restrictions and requirements were detailed in a “best practices” guide from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But the move is prompting worry from some physicians who say it could have the unintended consequence of keeping appropriate medical treatment from people with chronic pain.
(New York Times) – Eugenics for music, it turns out. Teacher Wang proceeded to describe a program by which a group of 8-year-olds, selected purely on the basis of physical characteristics rather than interest, would build the best band in the world that would travel overseas and wow audiences with the flower of Chinese youth. Freaky enough, without a one-way ticket to Mars.