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April 30, 2010

How many deaths prove a drug is significantly unsafe?

So a clinical trial designed to study safety shows that a treatment produces significantly more death and survivable complications is presented to a group of people with several hundred patients. In the group with no treatment there was a 25% complication rate and with the group getting treatment there was a 75% complication rate. However, the mortality between the two groups was higher in the treatment group, more people died, but those numbers were not statistically significantly different. Because the complications were more frequent, but considered manageable, and the mortality did not reach statistical significance more people are going to be treated. A lot more people with a much larger clinical trial. (MedCity News)

Healthy genome used to predict disease risk in later life

For the first time, doctors have used the genetic profile of an apparently healthy middle-aged man to predict his risk of developing dozens of diseases in later life. (The Guardian)

Activists Discuss the Future of Abortion Rights

Earlier this month, NEWSWEEK published an article on what’s been called the “graying” of the abortion-rights movement: the idea that older women are promoting the cause while younger women are uninvolved. It’s a concern that’s been raised before and that left younger pro-choice activists asking, “What about us?” What resulted was a spirited and informative debate online, where abortion rights activists of all ages discussed what role younger women play in the movement and what the future of that movement looks like. (Newsweek)

Pamela Fink Says She Was Fired After Testing Positive For The Breast Cancer Gene

A Connecticut woman claims she was fired despite years of glowing reports by her employer after she told them she had tested positive for the breast cancer gene and would undergo a double mastecomy as a preventative measure. (ABC News)

April 29, 2010

Spokane father won’t force deaf daughter to wear required cochlear implants

A deaf Washington man faces a contempt charge in Kootenai County 1st District Court for refusing to force his deaf daughter to wear cochlear implants in a case that has attracted national attention. (The News Tribune)

What Cuba Can Teach Us About Health Care

Just a morning’s boat ride from the tip of Florida is a place where medical costs are low and doctors plentiful. It’s Cuba, and Stanford University physician Paul Drain says it’s time for the United States to pay attention to our neighbor’s shoestring success. (Wired)

Hospital to open drop-off for abandoned babies

A Vancouver hospital plans to offer a safe haven for troubled mothers who want to abandon their newborn babies anonymously. According to St. Paul’s Hospital staff, a so-called angel’s cradle will be set up in a private area accessible from just outside the entrance of the downtown hospital’s emergency room on Burrard Street, as well as from inside the emergency room itself. (CBC News)

Iraqi doctors use acupuncture during drug shortage

Reporting on Thursday on a small study of 200 cases at a Baghdad hospital, the doctors said their results suggested the ancient Chinese technique could also be a useful addition to standard medical practice in fully equipped hospitals. (Reuters)

April 28, 2010

China Lifts Ban on Visitors Who Are H.I.V. Positive

Days before travelers worldwide are to begin arriving for Shanghai’s world exposition, China has lifted a two-decade ban on travel to the country by people who carry the virus that causes AIDS or who have other sexually transmitted diseases. (New York Times)

Semi-Natural Biotech Hack Makes Bones Heal 3 Times Faster

Mice healed three times faster than normal after their broken bones were flooded by proteins naturally used to regrow new tissues. The discovery raises the possibility of a stem cell–free route to regeneration. (Wired)

13 additional stem cell lines eligible for federal funding, NIH says

The National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday that 13 additional lines of human embryonic stem cells are eligible for federal funding, including the most widely used line.

The NIH’s approval of the lines should alleviate mounting concerns among some supporters of stem cell research that the Obama administration was hindering the work. (Washington Post)

Misusing Science Risks Women’s Health

Two weeks ago the Nebraska legislature passed two new extreme anti-abortion laws: The first bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the assertion that the fetus can feel pain. The second bill requires abortion providers to screen for any characteristic thought to be “associated” with poorer health outcomes after abortion. Both laws represent extraordinary new attacks on abortion rights and the science of women’s health. (Science Progress)

April 27, 2010

$35,000 for One of My Eggs?

My eggs are ripe for the taking – I am a 22-year-old female Yale graduate. On a semi-regular basis in college, I opened the school newspaper to find advertisements soliciting my demographic to donate. Some ads were more specific than others, requiring a Jewish or an Asian donor, an SAT score of greater than 1400 math and verbal, someone “attractive” or with athletic ability, or a height of at least 5’9”. Nearly all offered high sums of money for prospective donors, ranging from $5,000 to $35,000. (Bioethics Forum)

Chinese accused of vast trade in organs

China’s hidden policy of executing prisoners of the forbidden quasi-Buddhist group Falun Gong and harvesting their organs for worldwide sale has been expanded to include Tibetans, “house church” Christians and Muslim Uighurs, human rights activists said Monday. (Washington Times)

Severely disabled, is she still a mom?

Abbie Dorn lies in a hospital bed in her parents’ home on the South Carolina coast. A halo of dark curls frames her pale face. The pump for her feeding tube clicks softly in the quiet room. (Los Angeles Times)

One-child rule may be eased in China

When asked why she and her husband don’t want a second child, Shi Xiaomei smiles at her pudgy 9-year-old son and does a quick tally of the family budget. (MSNBC)

New Issue of The New England Journal of Medicine is Now Available

The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 362; Number 14; April 8, 2010) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Cost Consciousness in Patient Care – What is Medical Education’s Responsibility” by M. Cooke, 1253-1255.

New Issue of The American Journal of Bioethics is Now Available

The American Journal of Bioethics (Volume 10, Issue 4, 2010) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “To Soon to Give Up: Re-examining the Value of Advance Directives” by Benjamin H. Levi and Michael J. Green, 3-22.
  • “What If Patient with Dementia Use Decision Aids to Make an Advance Euthanasia Request?” by Chris Gastmans and Yvonne Denier, 25-26.
  • “Mind the Child: Using Interactive Technology to Improve Child Involvement in Decision Making About Life-Limiting Illness” by Raymond C. Barfield, Debra Brandon, Julie Thompson, Nichol Harris, Michael Schmidt, and Sharron Docherty; 28-30.
  • “What About Process? Limitations in Advance Directives, Care Planning, and Noncapacitated Decision Making” by Jeffrey T. Berger, 33-34.
  • “Standing By Our Principles: Meaningful Guidance, Moral Foundations, and Multi-Principle Methodology in Medical Scarcity” by Govind C. Persad, Alan Wertheimer, and Ezekiel J. Emanuel; 46-48.
  • “Balancing Relevant Criteria in Allocating Scarce Life-Saving Interventions” by Erik Nord, 56-58.

New Issue of Health Economics, Policy, and Law is Now Available

Health Economics, Policy, and Law (Volume 5, Issue 2, April 2010) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Lessons from Health Financing Reform in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union” by Joseph Kutzin, Melitta Jakab, and Cheryl Cashin; 135-147.
  • “Neo-liberal Economic Practices and Population Health: A Cross-National Analysis, 1980-2004″ by Melissa Tracy, Margaret E. Kruk, Christine Harper, and Sandro Galea; 171-199.

Announcement: Nominations for Bioethics Award

Nominations Open Now for

2010 Manuel Velasco Suárez Award for

Excellence in Bioethics

Nominations are being accepted for the Manuel Velasco Suárez Award for Excellence in Bioethics now through June 30, 2010, 5:00 p.m. EST, at  This award, presented by the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), recognizes a scholar whose proposed research in the field of bioethics promises to produce a demonstrable output and enhance the scholar’s capacity to progress in the field.  Professors, scholars, and researchers affiliated with an institution involved in the study of bioethics are invited to nominate a scholar in bioethics residing in Latin America or the Caribbean.

April 26, 2010

‘Leftover’ veins from heart surgery yield stem cells

Human veins left over from lifesaving bypass surgery could be a source of “master” cells to help treat future heart problems, say scientists. A University of Bristol team extracted stem cells from the veins, then used them to stimulate new blood vessel growth in mice, Circulation reports. (BBC News)


The Bioethics Poll
Should individuals and/or institutions be allowed to patent human genes?
Yes, with some qualifications

View results

Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

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