News from Bioethics.com

Victims Sterilized Under Japan’s Eugenics Law to Get ¥3.2 Million Each Under State Redress Plan

3 months 3 days

(The Japan Times) – Ruling and opposition party lawmakers on Thursday decided on a bill to provide ¥3.2 million ($28,700) in state redress to every surviving victim of a state sterilization program that was conducted under a now-defunct 1948 eugenics law. The bill marks progress toward offering relief to the victims of the program that only came to an end in 1996, but the level of compensation was immediately criticized as insufficient by lawyers involved in damages suits filed by victims across the country.

Jury Awards $29 Million to California Woman Who Claimed Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Caused Cancer

3 months 4 days

(ABC News) – A California jury awarded $29 million on Wednesday to a woman who sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming that asbestos in its talcum-based baby powder caused her cancer. An Alameda County jury in Oakland, California, held Johnson & Johnson responsible for Teresa Leavitt’s mesothelioma — a cancer linked to asbestos exposure — through her use of baby powder.

‘They Don’t Want His Story to End’: Efforts to Save the Sperm of the Deceased Come with Heartache and Tough Questions

3 months 4 days

(STAT News) – The Zhus’ plight has reignited a debate around what is known as postmortem sperm retrieval, or posthumous sperm procurement, a procedure that was first attempted in 1980 and is typically considered when a young man dies unexpectedly. The Zhus’ case is particularly complicated because it involves a request from parents instead of a partner or spouse, whose directives hospitals are more inclined to follow.

Will Machines Be Able to Tell When Patients Are About to Die?

3 months 4 days

(Wired) – Now we’re talking about machines. An 18-layer DNN learning from the electronic health records of almost 160,000 patients was able to predict the time until death on a test population of 40,000 patient records, with remarkable accuracy. The algorithm picked up predictive features that doctors wouldn’t, including the number of scans, particularly of the spine or the urinary system, which turned out to be as statistically powerful, in terms of probability, as the person’s age. The results were quite powerful: more than 90 percent of people predicted to die in the following three to twelve months did so, as was the case for the people predicted to live more than 12 months.

New Call to Ban Gene-Edited Babies Divides Biologists

3 months 4 days

(Science) – Their call, which is endorsed in the same issue of Nature by Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is a departure from statements issued by two global summits on genome editing in 2015 and 2018, a 2017 report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), and a 2018 report from the United Kingdom’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics. None has banned human germline editing, and most have stressed that it holds promise to help correct some heritable diseases. All have warned against using germline editing for cognitive or physical “enhancement” of people. Scientists including Nobel laureate David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena remain opposed to a moratorium.

Bill Passes to Ban Abortions Based on Gender, Disability

3 months 5 days

(ABC News) – Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature on Wednesday passed its latest measure to put more restrictions on abortion, setting up another legal fight with abortion-rights defenders. The legislation would ban abortion for women seeking to end their pregnancies because of the gender, race or disability of the fetus. The GOP-dominated Senate voted 32-4 to send the bill to the state’s anti-abortion governor, Republican Matt Bevin.

FDA Proposes New Measures to Crackdown on Youth E-Cigarette Use

3 months 5 days

(Good Morning America) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration put out a new proposal Wednesday for how it will crack down on the “epidemic-level rise in youth e-cigarette use.” But some critics say the efforts do not go far enough in preventing young people from vaping. In a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released Wednesday, the FDA outlined a comprehensive plan to crack down on youth access to flavored e-cigarettes.

Adopt a Moratorium on Heritable Genome Editing

3 months 5 days

(Nature) – We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children. By ‘global moratorium’, we do not mean a permanent ban. Rather, we call for the establishment of an international framework in which nations, while retaining the right to make their own decisions, voluntarily commit to not approve any use of clinical germline editing unless certain conditions are met.

Appeals Court Says Ohio May Withhold Planned Parenthood Funding

3 months 6 days

(Reuters) – A divided federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected Planned Parenthood’s constitutional challenge to an Ohio law depriving the organization of state funding because it performs abortions, handing a victory to anti-abortion advocates. In an 11-6 vote, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned a ruling last year by a three-judge panel of the court that the funding ban violated the due process rights of Planned Parenthood affiliates.

Fake Drugs Kill More Than 250,000 Children a Year, Doctors Warn

3 months 6 days

(The Guardian) – Doctors have called for an urgent international effort to combat a “pandemic of bad drugs” that is thought to kill hundreds of thousands of people globally every year. A surge in counterfeit and poor quality medicines means that 250,000 children a year are thought to die after receiving shoddy or outright fake drugs intended to treat malaria and pneumonia alone, the doctors warned. More are thought to die from poor or counterfeit vaccines and antibiotics used to treat or prevent acute infections and diseases such as hepatitis, yellow fever and meningitis.

23andMe Has a New Type 2 Diabetes Risk Report. Here’s What to Know

3 months 6 days

(TIME) – Consumer genetics company 23andMe is broadening its health portfolio with a new report on consumers’ genetic risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. More than 30 million Americans have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, according to the most recent federal data. The vast majority of these people — up to 95% — have Type 2 diabetes, meaning their bodies do not use insulin properly.

Heartbreak, Anxiety, Lawsuits: The Egg-Freezing Disaster a Year Later

3 months 1 week

(NBC News) – In the year since the malfunctions, there have been some changes and improvements. Extra precautions have been established at some facilities, including new inspection safeguards, backup tanks and updated monitoring systems. But the failures did not stir a move toward greater government regulation to reassure the growing number of women freezing their eggs. In reporting this four-part series on the egg-freezing industry, NBC News has found that there is no single government agency empowered to crack down on mistakes or malfunctions by fertility centers.

Doctor Delivers End-of-Life News Via ‘Robot,’ Leaving Family Frustrated

3 months 1 week

(U.S.A. Today) – A California hospital delivered end-of-life news to a 78-year-old patient via a robotic machine this week, prompting the man’s family to go public with their frustration.  Ernest Quintana was admitted to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center emergency department in Fremont, California, on March 3, granddaughter Annalisia Wilharm told USA TODAY in a written message Saturday. The family knew he was dying of chronic lung disease.

Chinese Science Minister Warns Scientists Not to Overstep Ethical Bounds After He Jiankui’s Gene-Edited Babies Scandal

3 months 1 week

(South China Morning Post) – China’s science minister has warned scientists not to cross an ethical boundary in the wake of the scandal over rogue scientist He Jiankui’s gene-edited babies late last year. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress on Friday, Wang Zhigang condemned such practices and said the ministry had a “clear position” on ethical issues.

Life and Limb

3 months 1 week

(Texas Observer) – In the Rio Grande Valley, nearly one in three people has the disease, triple the national rate. The Valley is among the poorest and least-insured regions in the country. It’s also overwhelmingly Hispanic, a population that has a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Perhaps the most visceral indication of the Valley’s diabetes crisis is the shocking number of people living with amputations. The rate of diabetic amputations in the Valley was about 50 percent higher than the state rate in 2015, according to data from the state health agency.

Former Sales Exec Says Opioid Maker Insys Bribed Doctors to Prescribe Drugs

3 months 1 week

(NBC News) – The former head of sales for an opioid manufacturer took the stand in federal court here Friday to describe how he followed directions to recruit and bribe doctors for years to increase sales of the company’s highly addictive drug.

Pain & Profit (Multi-part series)

3 months 1 week

(Dallas Morning News) – Texas pays Superior and other companies billions of dollars every year to arrange care for tens of thousands of kids like D’ashon: foster children, disabled children, chronically sick children. The companies promise to improve the lives of these kids, as well as adults with severe medical conditions and disabilities. But under a system set up by the state, every dollar the companies don’t spend on health care they can use instead to hire high-powered lobbyists, pay millions in executive bonuses, and buy other businesses. The state knows some companies are skimping on care to make profits but has failed to stop it. The Dallas Morning News spent a year investigating the way Texas treats fragile and ailing residents who rely on Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Deaths from Drugs and Suicide Reach a Record in the U.S.

3 months 1 week

(New York Times) – The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since the collection of federal mortality data started in 1999, according to an analysis by two public health nonprofits, the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust. To reach their conclusion, the two groups parsed the latest available data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Nightmarish Tale of What Happened to a Child Who Wasn’t Vaccinated

3 months 1 week

(STAT News) – A 6-year-old boy from Oregon who had never received a single vaccine got a cut on his forehead while playing on his family’s farm in 2017. The wound was cleaned and sutured at home. Six days later, doctors were treating the child for tetanus, an enormously painful, sometimes fatal infection that is caused by bacterial spores found in the soil and that is completely preventable with vaccine. It was the state’s first pediatric tetanus case in more than 30 years.

Doctors Without Borders Fiercely Criticizes Ebola Outbreak Control Effort

3 months 1 week

(STAT News) – T he international president of Doctors Without Borders issued a scathing analysis on Thursday of the efforts to control the 7-month-old Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, saying the community hostility that is undermining the work is the fault of the response, not the people in the region. And Dr. Joanne Liu, who was in the affected area of DRC last week when two MSF-run Ebola treatment centers were destroyed by fire, said continuing the current approach — with ramped-up security — is unlikely to end the outbreak, which is already the second largest on record.

Number of Older Adults at ER for Opioid Misuse Tripled Since 2006

3 months 1 week

(UPI) – Opioid abuse has fueled a national epidemic and driving older Americans to the hospital to treat their addictions, a new study says.
Between 2006 and 2014, emergency room visits tripled for people older than age 65 seeking treatment for opioid misuse and dependence, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Innovation in Aging. That represents a 217 percent increase during that time.

Alabama Judge Allows Teen to Sue on Behalf of Aborted Fetus

3 months 1 week

(Fox News) – A teenager in Alabama is suing an abortion clinic for terminating the life of his unborn child against his wishes. On Tuesday, an Alabama county court recognized the aborted fetus, “Baby Roe,” as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, making the case one of the first of its kind, his lawyer said. Ryan Magers, 19, of Madison County, claims his girlfriend got a medicated abortion at the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville in February 2017 when she was six weeks pregnant, according to legal documents, even though he urged her not to terminate the pregnancy.

China to Tighten Rules on Gene Editing in Humans

3 months 1 week

(Nature) – China’s health ministry has issued draft regulations that will restrict the use of gene editing in humans, just three months after Chinese researcher He Jiankui announced that twin girls had been born with edited genomes. The proposal includes severe penalties for those who break the rules. If approved, scientists say the policy could have gains and drawbacks for research.

WHO Chief Unveils Reforms, with More Science, Apps and an Academy

3 months 1 week

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization unveiled a landmark reform on Wednesday that targets billions of people around the globe and puts a stress on primary care for all rather than “moonshot” projects like eradicating diseases. The reform firmly reshapes the Geneva-based U.N. health agency with the manifesto of its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian who is the first African in the job. He was elected in 2017 promising to focus on “universal health coverage” (UHC).

Clinicians Embracing New Depression Drug Esketamine with ‘Enthusiastic Caution’

3 months 1 week

(STAT News) – Patients with major depression who haven’t responded to other treatments will soon have a new option: esketamine, a rapid-acting therapy derived from the long-used anesthetic ketamine. But the drug’s approval on Tuesday sparked a string of new questions, from how much patients will have to shell out for the drug to how clinicians will be able to accommodate patients who need to be monitored for two hours after every dose.

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