News from Bioethics.com

Duped Patients Crowdfund for Bogus Medical Care, Study Says

1 month 2 weeks

(Medical Xpress) – They’re the tech-age version of donor jars at the diner: crowdfunding websites that aim to link ailing people with strangers willing to help pay for medical treatment. But new research suggests duped patients sometimes crowdfund to pay for bogus stem cell treatments. A study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association focused on for-profit clinics that use direct-to-consumer advertising for costly unproven stem-cell treatments for conditions including chronic lung disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Treatments are often marketed as cures or with a promise for vastly improved health.

Ireland Abortion Poll: Facebook to Block Foreign Aids

1 month 2 weeks

(BBC) – Facebook has said it will block ads relating to Ireland’s forthcoming referendum on abortion that do not originate from advertisers inside the country. There had been worries in Ireland that foreign ads could influence the result of the vote. Facebook has not applied such a policy to British elections or referendums. A poll that could repeal the Eighth Amendment in the Republic of Ireland’s constitution will be held on 25 May.

New Ebola Outbreak in the Congo, 10 Other Cases Suspected: Health Officials

1 month 2 weeks

(ABC News) – Just under a year after the World Health Organization declared “the end” of the recent outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s government has announced a fresh outbreak with two confirmed cases of the virus.  Alongside the two new cases in the north-western town of Bikoro, which were confirmed after laboratory analysis, there are believed to be a another 10 cases, said Jean Jack Muyembe, who leads the national institute for biological research.

Transplanted Testicles Will Always Make the Donor’s Sperm

1 month 2 weeks

(The Verge) – A veteran of the US Armed Forces has a new penis and scrotum after the most extensive penis transplant yet, Johns Hopkins Hospital announced this week. Not included in the transplant? Testicles — because the testicles would continue to make the donor’s sperm in the transplant recipient’s body.  The patient, who asked Johns Hopkins not to reveal his name, suffered a devastating injury to his penis, testicles, part of his lower abdomen, and his legs in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device blew up, The New York Times reports.

Doctor Pleads Guilty in Fatal Abortion

1 month 2 weeks

(ABC News) – A New York doctor who says he’s done 40,000 abortions is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the 2016 death of a woman who was six months pregnant and bled to death. The case in Queens Criminal Court marks one of the rare legal instances of criminal prosecution of a doctor over a medical error, but Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal said that Dr. Robert Rho’s mistakes went beyond civil malpractice.

Before He Died, This Biohacker Was Planning a CRISPR Trail in Mexico

1 month 2 weeks

(MIT Technology Review) – The controversial biohacker Aaron Traywick, who was found dead in a sensory deprivation tank in Washington, DC, on April 29, appears to have been planning human tests of a CRISPR therapy for lung cancer, MIT Technology Review has learned. Traywick, who was 28, made headlines in February when he injected himself with a DIY herpes treatment in front of an audience at a self-experimentation conference. He was CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, a mysterious company aimed at making gene-based medical treatments available to everyone.

Swiss Clinic Slams Australia Over Scientist, 104, Who Wants to Die (Update)

1 month 2 weeks

(Medical Xpress) – A member of a Swiss clinic set to help Australia’s oldest scientist end his life has said it is an “atrocity” that Australia had not allowed the 104-year-old to die at home. David Goodall, who caused a stir two years ago when his university tried unsuccessfully to have him declared unfit to be on campus, does not have a terminal illness but says his quality of life has deteriorated and that he wants to die.

Iowa Governor Signs Strictest Abortion Law in US

1 month 2 weeks

(Associated Press) – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a six-week abortion ban into law on Friday, marking the strictest abortion regulation in the nation but setting the state up for a lengthy court fight.

Announcement: Stem-Cell Policy

1 month 2 weeks

(Nature) – Research using human embryos and embryonic stem cells draws intense ethical scrutiny and places demands on scientists, funders and journals to follow the relevant regulations. As a publisher of such work, Nature and the Nature journals take this responsibility very seriously. For many years, Nature journal editors handling manuscripts on human embryo and stem-cell research have assessed the ethical oversight of the work when deciding whether to publish it. We are now formalizing and amending aspects of this publication policy.

‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli Is in Prison, But Daraprim’s Price Is Still High

1 month 2 weeks

(Kaiser Health News) – Shkreli, 35, is now serving a seven-year prison term for securities fraud (unrelated to Daraprim). Turing has renamed itself Vyera Pharmaceuticals. But Daraprim, which costs pennies to make and is used to treat the parasitic infection toxoplasmosis — which is rare in the United States — still retails for more than $750 per pill, according to drug website GoodRx.com. Vyera did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The continued high price of the drug is a cautionary tale to those who hope that public shaming of a few “bad actors” can curb escalating drug prices, because the problem is rooted in the market’s underlying financial incentives.

Drug Epidemic Ensnares 25-Year-Old Pill for Nerve Pain

1 month 2 weeks

(ABC News) – The story line sounds familiar: a popular pain drug becomes a new way to get high as prescribing by doctors soars. But the latest drug raising red flags is not part of the opioid family at the center of the nation’s drug epidemic. It’s a 25-year-old generic pill long seen as a low risk way to treat seizures, nerve pain and other ailments. The drug, called gabapentin, is one of the most prescribed medications in the U.S., ranking ninth over the last year, according to prescription tracker GoodRx. Researchers attribute the recent surge to tighter restrictions on opioid painkillers, which have left doctors searching for alternatives for their patients.

Why Did the Maker of OxyContin Pay Canadian Doctors Nearly Three-and-a-Half Times More Money per Capita Than It Doled Out to U.S. Prescribers?

1 month 2 weeks

(The Toronto Star) – Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, paid Canadian doctors nearly three-and-a-half times more money than it doled out to U.S. prescribers, according to a Star analysis of the drug maker’s physician payments adjusted for the countries’ populations. Purdue Canada gave just over $2 million to Canadian health-care professionals in 2016 for services such as consulting and delivering speeches on conditions and treatments.

1st ES Cell Clinical Trial [in Japan] Aims to Aid Babies with Weak Lives

1 month 2 weeks

(Yomiuri Shimbun) – The nation’s first clinical trial to transplant embryonic stem (ES) cells into a patient began at the National Center for Child Health and Development (NCCHD) in Tokyo on April 30. ES cells, derived from early-stage embryos, are a type of pluripotent stem cells that can differentiate into all cell types. The trial will be conducted on babies with a serious liver disease, and the first transplant of ES cells will be conducted as early as this autumn.

The Ethics of Catching Criminals Using Their Family’s DNA

1 month 2 weeks

(Nature) – Last week’s arrest of a suspect in the Golden State Killer case in California has highlighted how DNA samples that have been volunteered for one purpose — in this case, genealogy — can be used for other reasons, often without the donor’s explicit consent. Several ethicists have expressed concern about US detectives using a genealogy website in this way. Coming so soon after the reuse of Facebook data in political campaigns in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s another example of how new technology and techniques lead to unexpected conundrums, and how ethical and societal debate must catch up.

Alzheimer’s? Your Paperwork May Not Be in Order

1 month 3 weeks

(New York Times) – But even the many who, like me, have done due diligence — completed the appropriate forms, selected a health care agent and expressed their wishes to whoever may have to make medical decisions for them — may not realize that the documents typically do not cover a likely scenario for one of the leading causes of death in this country: dementia. Missing in standard documents, for example, are specific instructions about providing food and drink by hand as opposed to through a tube.

Federal Appeals Court Hears CRISPR Patent Dispute

1 month 3 weeks

(The Scientist) – Here’s a double-negative brain twister with potentially huge financial ramifications and a Nobel Prize resting on the answer: For an invention to be “nonobvious”—and therefore patentable in the United States—should there be no guarantee of success when researchers embark on experiments that lead to the invention? That mind-bending question was the centerpiece of a case heard today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., over the lucrative patent portfolio surrounding the revolutionary genome editor commonly known as CRISPR. This 2-year-old intellectual property battle pits lawyers from the University of California (UC) against litigators from the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cancer Centers Sell Out Science When They Advertise Clinical Trials as Treatment

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – In a promotional video, the MD Anderson Cancer Center advertises clinical trials alongside immunotherapy and proton-beam therapy as one of its many ways of “fighting cancer.” Cancer Treatment Centers of America promotes clinical trials as part of its “commitment to bringing our patients new and innovative cancer treatment options.” You may have seen billboards or heard radio spots with similar messages. But what you are actually seeing and hearing in such advertising is a betrayal of ethics and science. There is a lot of money behind providing cancer care, and cancer treatment centers spend an estimated $173 million on advertising each year. One of the ways they compete for patients is by offering a menu of clinical trial options and suggesting that participating in such trials gives patients an edge on their care.

Americans Are a Lonely Lot, and Young People Bear the Heaviest Burden

1 month 3 weeks

(NPR) – More than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.” And 2 in 5 felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and that they “are isolated from others.” The survey found that the average loneliness score in America is 44, which suggests that “most Americans are considered lonely,” according to the report released Tuesday by the health insurer.

Scientists Downsize Bold Plan to Make Human Genome from Scratch

1 month 3 weeks

(Scientific American) – A bold plan to synthesize an entire human genome has been scaled back, aiming at a more technically attainable near-term goal. Instead of synthesizing all of the human genome’s 3 billion DNA base pairs, the project will now attempt to recode the genome to produce cells immune to viral infection. Organizers of Genome Project–Write (GP-write), a global public–private partnership that includes around 200 scientists, announced the priority shift at a meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, on 1 May.

Telemedicine Opening Doors to Specialty Care for Inmates

1 month 3 weeks

(Scientific American) – Given the challenges, it’s no wonder many correctional facilities have embraced telemedicine. They use video conferencing to allow inmates to see medical specialists and psychiatrists without ever leaving the facility. A survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of prison health care in 2011 found that 30 states out of 45 that responded said they used telemedicine for at least one type of specialty or diagnostic service. The participating states reported that telemedicine was most commonly used for psychiatry (62.2 percent) and cardiology (26.6 percent), according to the research, which was published in 2016.

If You’re Worried About Prescription Opioids, You Should Be Really Scared of Synthetic Opioids

1 month 3 weeks

(Los Angeles Times) – The U.S. opioid crisis has passed a dubious milestone: Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl have surpassed deaths involving prescription opioids. This change occurred in 2016, according to data published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. And it seemed to happen pretty suddenly. Data from the National Vital Statistics System show that there were 42,249 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016. That includes 19,413 that involved synthetic opioids, 17,087 that involved prescription opioids and 15,469 that involved heroin. (In some cases, more than one type of drug was implicated in the death.)

‘Failing Patients’: Baltimore Video Highlights Crisis of Emergency Psychiatric Care

1 month 3 weeks

(NPR) – A viral video from Baltimore is drawing attention to a crisis that’s unfolding in emergency rooms across the country: Surging numbers of patients with psychiatric conditions aren’t receiving the care they need. On a cold night in January, a man walking by a downtown Baltimore hospital saw something that shocked him. He started recording the incident on his phone. Imamu Baraka’s video, which has been viewed more than 3 million times, shows security guards walking away from a bus stop next to the emergency room of University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.

Is a Fertility Treatment Test Being Misused to Select Male Embryos? Yes, Alleges One Mumbai Woman

1 month 3 weeks

(Scroll) – A complaint received by the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights early this year has raised concerns that fertility clinics might be misusing technology meant for screening genetic disorders to guarantee the birth of boys. It is illegal in India to use any technology to select the gender of a foetus. But activists suspect that medical professionals have been using Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, or PGD as it is commonly known, to selectively implant male embryos.

Miracle Cures Or Modern Quackery? Stem Cell Clinics Multiply, with Heartbreaking Results for Some Patients

1 month 3 weeks

(The Washington Post) – Hidden in that fat were stem cells with the amazing power to heal, the Stem Cell Center of Georgia had told Tyler. The clinic is one of hundreds that have popped up across the country, many offering treatments for conditions from Parkinson’s disease to autism to multiple sclerosis. Federal regulators have not approved any of their treatments, and critics call such clinics modern-day snake-oil salesmen. But on that day in 2016, Tyler trusted the clinic to extract stem cells from her fat and inject them into her eyes, where she was told they could halt or even cure the macular degeneration threatening her sight.

As Alfie Evans Dies, Calls Grow for Better Ways to Support Grieving Parents

1 month 3 weeks

(The Guardian) – A leading expert in medical ethics has called for new mediation panels to prevent the “entrenched disagreements” that surrounded the treatment of Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old boy who died yesterday, almost a week after his life support was withdrawn. Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford and a neonatal consultant, said that independent mediators could help people such as Alfie’s parents, Thomas Evans and Kate James, who repeatedly clashed with doctors over their child’s treatment for a degenerative brain disease, culminating in a protracted high court battle.

Pages

Creative Commons License