March 7, 2014
Connecticut voters back assisted-suicide bill almost 2-1
(NBC Connecticut) – Connecticut voters support allowing doctors to legally prescribe lethal drugs to help terminally ill patients end their own lives, a Quinnipiac University poll released today finds. “Public support for allowing assisted dying in Connecticut is a very personal issue, crossing partisan, gender and age lines,” Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said in a statement.
‘Do it yourself’ surrogate pregnancy ends in legal chaos with three-year-old boy effectively having two mothers
(Daily Mail) – A judge has warned of the dangers of informal surrogacy agreements after a woman found she had no parental rights to the baby she had asked her friend to conceive with her husband. The ‘do it yourself’-style surrogate pregnancy ended in the High Court after the boy, now three, was effectively left with two mothers. Unable to have children of her own, a woman asked a close friend to be artificially inseminated at home with her husband’s sperm.
March 6, 2014
Widow wins frozen sperm legal fight
(BBC) – Beth Warren’s husband had sperm frozen before starting cancer treatment and signed paperwork saying his wife could use the sperm after his death. He died from a brain tumour two years ago, but regulations meant his sperm were due to be destroyed in April 2015. Mrs Warren, 28, said this defied common sense and the High Court has now backed her case.
March 3, 2014
UK drafts rules for three-parent IVF babies
(Medical News Today) – The UK government have drafted and published, for public consultation, how the creation of three-person babies using new IVF techniques – called mitochondrial replacement – will be regulated. The new techniques are intended to prevent mothers passing on serious inherited diseases caused by flaws in mitochondrial DNA to their children.
February 28, 2014
UK moves to legalize controversial IVF technique
(Nature News) – The United Kingdom today inched closer to legalizing a controversial method of reproduction, known as mitochondrial replacement, or ‘three-parent IVF’. The Department of Health announced a public consultation of draft legislation that would allow the procedures, which are intended to prevent children from inheriting diseases caused by faulty mitochondria. The consultation, which runs until 21 May, is an early step toward amending the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which would allow the mitochondrial replacement procedures.
February 27, 2014
FDA weighs evidence on producing ’3-parent’ embryos
(Fox News) – U.S. medical advisers are considering whether there is scientific justification for allowing human studies of a controversial procedure known as “three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF),” a technique supporters say could prevent horrific genetic defects but that critics believe could lead to designer babies. During two days of public hearings starting on Tuesday, scientists were scheduled to present their research to outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Doctors oppose freebie exemption
(The Telegraph, India) – A proposal by the Medical Council of India, the country’s apex medical regulatory agency, to exempt associations of doctors from a code of conduct binding on individual doctors has evoked sharp reactions of disapproval from within medical circles. At least three members of the MCI’s own ethics subcommittee are among doctors who have decried its executive committee’s proposal last week to amend rules to effectively exempt doctors’ associations from the code of conduct binding on individual doctors since 2002.
February 26, 2014
New pain pill’s approval: ‘Genuinely frightening’
(CNN) – A potent little painkiller is causing a big stir. A coalition of more than 40 health care, consumer and addiction treatment groups is urging the Food and Drug Administration to revoke approval of the prescription drug Zohydro. The hydrocodone-based drug is the latest in a long line of painkillers called opioid analgesics. The FDA approved the medication last fall to treat chronic pain, and it is set to become available to patients in March.
Science in court: Disease detectives
(Nature) – The method, which marries classic evolutionary-biology practices with modern sequencing technology, is increasingly being used in criminal and civil investigations, and for biodefence. A paper published this month, for example, describes how the technique allowed scientists to trace the likely origin of an anthrax-laced batch of heroin that has been killing users across Europe since 2009. But the intersection of this science with the legal system makes many uneasy, says Anne-Mieke Vandamme, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Leuven in Belgium, who has worked on 19 criminal cases since 2002, mostly for the defence. Unlike DNA evidence, which is routinely used in legal settings around the world, the results of phylogenetic forensics are rarely definitive. “You can never prove guilt,” she says.
Oklahoma House approves embryonic stem cell ban
(San Francisco Gate) – Conducting certain types of embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma would be a felony punishable by at least a year in prison under a bill that the Oklahoma House overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday. The House voted 73-14 for the Protection of Human Life Act of 2013, despite concerns it sends the wrong message to the nation’s research community. The bill, which now heads to the Senate, prohibits “nontherapeutic research” that destroys a fertilized human egg, although the measure specifically exempts embryo transfers connected to in vitro fertilization.
Protecting the nanotechnology workforce
(Free ebooks) – Nanotechnology—the manipulation of matter on a near-atomic scale to produce new materials and devices—has the ability to transform many industries, from medicine to manufacturing, and the products they produce. By 2020, the National Science Foundation estimates, nanotechnology will have a $3 trillion impact on the global economy and employ 6 million workers in the manufacture of nanomaterial-based products, of which 2 million may be manufactured in the United States [NSF 2011]. Nanomaterials may present new challenges to understanding, predicting, and managing potential health risks to workers.
February 25, 2014
Child mortality levels ‘still too high’
(BBC) – Despite progress against child mortality, every day more than 18,000 children under five still die from preventable causes, according to a report from Save the Children. Every year the lives of two million newborn children could be saved by provision of better basic healthcare, the charity says. Globally in 2012, an estimated 40 million women gave birth without the presence of midwives or qualified health workers.
Abortion-rights backers on offense after 3-year drubbing
(Bloomberg) – Abortion-rights supporters are playing a new position: offense. The volume of state-level, pro-abortion-rights legislation outstrips that of any year since the early 1990s, when states sought to codify access to the procedure, said Elizabeth Nash, states issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based reproductive health researcher. Some proposals seek to repeal restrictions fresh on the books, enacted during the past three years after Republicans took control of more legislatures and governorships. Others would ease access.
A New Edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association is Available
The Journal of the American Medical Association (Volume 311, No. 7, February 19, 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Medicare Physician Payment Reform: Will 2014 Be the Fix for SGR?” By Mark McClellan, et al.
- “Future Oversight of Recombinant DNA Research: Recommendations of an Institute of Medicine Committee” by Lawrence O. Gostin, et al.
- “Beyond ACOs and Bundled Payments: Medicare’s Shift Toward Accountability in Fee-for-Service” by Christopher Chen, and D. Clay Ackerly
- “Treating Dementia and Agitation” by Gary W. Small
- “Public Awareness, Perception, and Use of Online Physician Rating Sites” by David A. Hanauer, et al.
- “Treating Patients With Learning Disabilities” by Donna Lehr, et al.
- “Polio Eradicated in India” by M. J. Friedrich
A New Edition of Scandinavian Journal of Public Health is Available
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health (Volume 42, No. 13 supplement, February 20, 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Evidence-based evaluation of information: The centrality and limitations of systematic reviews” by Bengt Järvholm and Ingemar Bohlin
- “Organisation of evidence-based knowledge production: Evidence hierarchies and evidence typologies” by Hanne Foss Hansen
- “Evidence on public policy: Methodological issues, political issues and examples” by Orazio P Attanasio
- “Why and for what are clinical trials the gold standard?” by Sven Ove Hansson
February 24, 2014
Two year old boy to inherit 11 frozen embryos
(Harvard) – A new twist on frozen embryo litigation is now before a Dallas probate court facing what to do with 11 frozen embryos after the parents were murdered. They left no will and gave no instructions to the fertility clinic for disposition if they both died. Under the Texas intestacy statute the only heir is a two year old boy. The Master in Chancery appointed by the Probate Court has recommended that the embryos be maintained by the clinic until the two year old heir is 18, at which time he would acquire all rights to their disposition.
Should FDA permit genetic experiments on babies?
(Digital Journal) – On February 25-26, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a public meeting to discuss intentional genetic modification of children and their descendants. The subject of the meeting is “oocyte modification in assisted reproduction for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial disease.” This will be the first public meeting ever held by the FDA to consider a form of human germline modification — inheritable genetic changes made to eggs, sperm or embryos.
February 21, 2014
A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine is Available
The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 370, No. 8, February 20, 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Post-Acute Care Reform — Beyond the ACA” by D.C. Ackerly and D.C. Grabowski
- “Post-Acute Care — The Next Frontier for Controlling Medicare Spending” by R. Mechanic
- “The Hospital-Dependent Patient” by D.B. Reuben and M.E. Tinetti
- “Informed Consent, Comparative Effectiveness, and Learning Health Care” by R.R. Faden, et al.
- “Informed Consent for Pragmatic Trials — The Integrated Consent Model” by S.Y.H. Kim and F.G. Miller
A New Edition of Medical Law Review is Available
Medical Law Review (Volume 22, No. 1, Winter 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Refusal of Emergency Caesarean Section in Ireland: A Relational Approach” by Katherine Wade
- “Does Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment Cause Death or Allow the Patient to Die?” by Andrew McGee
- “Autonomy in the Medic-legal Courtroom: A Principle Fit for Purpose?” by C. Foster
- “Can I Access My Personal Genome? The Current Legal Position in the UK” by Jane Kaye, et al.
- “Existential Suffering and the Extent of the Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide in Switzerland” by Isra Black
- “Anorexia Nervosa, Best Interests, and the Patient’s Human Right to ‘A Wholesale Overwhelming of Her Autonomy’” by John Coggon
A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine is Available
The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 370, No. 7, February 13, 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Choosing Wisely — The Politics and Economics of Labeling Low-Value Services” by N.E. Morden, et al.
- “PCORI at 3 Years — Progress, Lessons, and Plans” by J.V. Selby and S.H. Lipstein
- “Open Data” by J.M. Drazen
- “Undocumented Injustice? Medical Repatriation and the Ends of Health Care” by M.J. Young and L.S. Lehmann
A New Edition of Science and Public Policy is Available
Science and Public Policy (Volume 41, No. 1, February 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Nanotechnology: Rhetoric, risk and regulation” by Graeme A. Hodge, et al.
- “The European Research Council and the European research funding landscape” by Terttu Luukkonen
- “Governing ‘dual-use’ research in Canada: A policy review” by Bryn Williams-Jones, et al.
- “The fall of research and rise of innovation: Changes in New Zealand science policy discourse” by Shirley Leitch