(Deutsche Welle) – A German court decision relating to assisted suicide could prove to be unconstitutional. The 2017 ruling had ordered the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) to decide for itself when to hand out lethal medication to suicidal individuals. However, Udo di Fabio, a former judge on Germany’s Supreme Court and an attorney representing the BfArM, published a legal opinion on Tuesday casting doubt over the constitutionality of the 2017 ruling.
(STAT News) – Walmart is helping customers get rid of leftover opioids by giving them packets that turn the addictive painkillers into a useless gel. The retail giant announced Wednesday that it will provide the packets free with opioid prescriptions filled at its 4,700 U.S. pharmacies. The small packets, made by DisposeRX, contain a powder that is poured into prescription bottles. When mixed with warm water, the powder turns the pills into a biodegradable gel that can be thrown in the trash.
(Reuters) – Nearly two-thirds of U.S. doctors feel burned out, depressed, or both – and those feelings affect how they relate to patients, according to a survey conducted by Medscape. “One in three depressed doctors said they were more easily exasperated by patients; 32 percent said they were less engaged with their patients; and 29 percent acknowledged being less friendly,” Leslie Kane, Senior Director, Medscape Business of Medicine, said in an email to Reuters Health.
(The Atlantic) – He appealed the ruling on the grounds that the judge, in considering the outcome of an algorithm whose inner workings were secretive and could not be examined, violated due process. The appeal went up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, who ruled against Loomis, noting that the sentence would have been the same had COMPAS never been consulted. Their ruling, however, urged caution and skepticism in the algorithm’s use. Caution is indeed warranted, according to Julia Dressel and Hany Farid from Dartmouth College. In a new study, they have shown that COMPAS is no better at predicting an individual’s risk of recidivism than random volunteers recruited from the internet.
(Reuters) – A pill millions of women have used for morning sickness may not actually help relieve nausea, according to a new study that some doctors say reinforces their decision to stop prescribing the drug. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug, pyridoxine-doxylamine (Diclegis, Diclectin), based on results from a clinical trial. But previously unpublished data from the trial show the drug worked no better than a placebo at reducing nausea and vomiting in pregnant women, researchers report in PLOS One.
(TIME) – They are the latest celebrity couple to raise awareness about this method of having a child, in which a third party carries the pregnancy on behalf of the parents. It’s an idea with extremely old origins — as TIME has noted previously, the Old Testament story of Abraham and Hagar conceiving a child with his wife Sarah’s blessing is essentially a story of surrogacy — but it has only become more widely known and debated in the United States in the last three decades, thanks in large part to a controversial and headline-grabbing case that got the nation talking about the subject.
(Managed Care Magazine) – As part of its efforts to enhance transparency around drug approval decisions, the FDA is exploring ways it can continue to build on its obligation to share information, says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD. The agency is especially focused on information that can improve patient care and better inform providers about the products they prescribe. One place where it is evaluating how it can release information that may better inform scientists, providers, and patients is clinical study reports (CSRs), Dr. Gottlieb wrote in a statement.
(Vancouver Sun) – About 10 British Columbians with Type 1 diabetes will be surgically implanted with packets containing lab-grown cells that are coaxed into behaving like true insulin-producing pancreatic cells in hopes of reversing their disease. The first patient to receive the implants is keen to exchange his regime of daily pinprick blood tests and insulin injections for a “handful” of pills for immune suppression.
(Medscape) – The study, which was conducted in cancer patients in their last week of life who were unable to maintain sufficient oral fluid intake, compared usual care to assisted hydration. Fluids were given either intravenously or by subcutaneous injection. For patients who received assisted hydration, the survival rate was 26% higher than for patients who did not receive assisted hydration. This extrapolated to an average of an additional day and a half of life.
(Vice News) – The question of consciousness is at the heart of what he does just as it is at the heart of much science fiction. From the replicants of Blade Runner to the digital clones of Black Mirror, we watch characters who seem to be able to think and feel and comprehend, even though they are not human. The torture experienced by simulated characters in science fiction troubles us particularly when those characters seem conscious.
(BBC) – Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed a timeframe for repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled crackdowns from the military. Myanmar has agreed to accept 1,500 Rohingya each week, Bangladesh says, adding that it aims to return all of them to Myanmar within two years. More than 740,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh amid violence in Rakhine state in 2016 and 2017. Aid agencies have raised concerns about forcibly repatriating them.
(STAT News) – Some women use the creams in hopes of erasing dark spots, but many rub them over their entire bodies multiple times a day in hopes of whitening their brown skin. The practice pervades many cultures in Africa, Asia, the Middle East — and many immigrant communities in the U.S. — and Adawe has made it her mission to end it.
(Scientific American) – The study examined if and under what conditions it would be appropriate to apply human enhancement technologies along a continuum of use: therapeutic use to restore ability, prevention when there is a known risk or relevant family history, enhancement beyond the ability one would normally have, and enhancement greatly beyond normal. Perhaps not surprisingly, support for human enhancement depended somewhat on the type, and particularly the degree, of enhancement.
(Medical Xpress) – The huge numbers of sick people are also straining hospital staff who are confronting what could become California’s worst flu season in a decade. Hospitals across the state are sending away ambulances, flying in nurses from out of state and not letting children visit their loved ones for fear they’ll spread the flu. Others are canceling surgeries and erecting tents in their parking lots so they can triage the hordes of flu patients.
(Wired) – You have instant communication, on-demand entertainment, and dial-up transportation—why should you have to wait nine months to see what kind of baby you’re going to have? Now there’s an app for that. In a modern-day reboot of Lindsay Bluth’s “Mommy What Will I Look Like” business venture, Denver-based startup HumanCode has introduced BabyGlimpse. It’s a $259 test that uses DNA from each member of a couple to predict how their future child might look and act—from skin, hair, and eye color to preferred kinds of snacks.
(The Conversation) – The bottom line is not that eugenics has become defunct but that people want to be more personally involved in its application. This still leaves open many of the great moral questions that have dogged the field, not least what counts as “progressive” and “regressive”. It also adds new questions, not least to the amount of risk that individuals should be allowed to bear, given the overall social impact of their decisions. But make no mistake, we are still very much within the general world-view that Galton first charted a century and a half ago.
(NPR) – People diagnosed with cancer understandably reach for the very best that medical science has to offer. That motivation is increasingly driving people to ask to have the DNA of their tumors sequenced. And while that’s useful for some malignancies, the hype of precision medicine for cancer is getting far ahead of the facts. It’s easy to understand why that’s the case. When you hear stories about the use of DNA sequencing to create individualized cancer treatment, chances are they are uplifting stories. Like that of Ben Stern.
(NPR) – When people started to show up to Dr. William Cooke’s primary care office in Austin, Ind., in 2014 with HIV, Cooke knew it was probably related to the region’s opioid epidemic. But what he and the rest of the public health community didn’t know was who they were missing or how long the HIV outbreak had been going on. Now they’ve got a clearer picture — literally. In visualizations published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, dots and lines define the constellations of Indiana’s HIV outbreak. Using genetic sequencing, they show how long the outbreak had been going on, connected people who hadn’t previously been linked by traditional methods, and showed how the virus jumped from a slowly spreading infection to a virus transmitted quickly via needle sharing and other, smaller sub-epidemics.
New IVF Technique That Uses Images of Embryos to Pick the Best One Is Hailed as the ‘Most Exciting Advance in Fertility Treatment for 40 Years’
(Daily Mail) – A new IVF method that takes thousands of pictures of embryos to select the best eggs has increased the likelihood of a baby being born by 25 per cent. The developing embryos are photographed while in incubators every 10 to 20 minutes and then sent to a computer to rank the eggs using algorithms. Research including 24,000 documented treatments led by leading fertility expert Professor Simon Fishel compared IVF babies born with and without the new technique.
(Quartz) – Development experts have long focused on improving access to healthcare. For example, there are far more government-funded health services available in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state at nearly 224 million, than ever before. Yet, around 70% of healthcare in India is provided through the private sector, comprising both legally trained and illegal doctors. This can result in unnecessary expenses, inadequate or even dangerous treatments from unqualified practitioners, and the waste of public sector resources spent on underused facilities.