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December 22, 2010

Canada: Court to rule on cloning and reproduction law

Quebec is challenging several sections of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, claiming parts of the law go too far and infringe on provincial jurisdiction. The province says it has no problem with parts of the law that outlaw chimeras — the creation of human-animal hybrids — but maintains other sections, such as how embryos are handled and how consent can be given, should be regulated by the province. (Calgary Sun)

Working more closely with community will make research more meaningful, say Johns Hopkins faculty

A survey conducted by Johns Hopkins faculty found strong support among their peers for working more closely with the minority, inner-city community that surrounds the institution. Overall, 91 percent of faculty responders said closer ties make research more relevant to those it ultimately serves, and 87 percent said it improves the quality of research. (News-Medical)

Korea: Elderly eager to sign no-life-support pledge

The Bioethics Policy Research Center, which held the seminar “From Suffering Death to Meeting Death” at Severance Hospital on Dec. 15, said it has received about 40 calls a day asking for information on what it calls a no-life-support “pledge” since the article was published. (JoongAng Daily)

Abortion prompts Catholic diocese to split with hospital

The Roman Catholic bishop of Phoenix stripped a hospital of its Catholic affiliation Tuesday for performing an abortion last year that doctors said was needed to save the life of the mother. (Los Angeles Times)

First successful saviour sibling treatment for UK

Medical teams in Cambridge, Bristol and Nottingham coordinated treatment to create a baby who was a perfect tissue match and then to use donated cells to treat Megan’s blood disorder. (BBC News)

December 21, 2010

Study Finds Uneven Distribution of Pediatricians

The growth in the number of pediatricians and family physicians has outpaced the growth in the child population in the United States, Dr. Shipman and his colleagues found. Yet the study’s analysis shows that nearly all 50 states have an extremely uneven distribution of primary care doctors for children. (New York Times)

White House Issues Long-Delayed Science Guidelines

The Obama administration issued long-awaited, long-delayed guidelines on Friday to insulate government scientific research from political meddling and to base policy decisions on solid data. Under the guidelines, government scientists are in general free to speak to journalists and the public about their work, and agencies are prohibited from editing or suppressing reports by independent advisory committees. (New York Times)

US federal court upholds medical diagnostics patents

In a ruling that could be a boon to the medical diagnostics industry, a US federal court upheld a series of patent claims covering methods to determine the best dose of a drug to give to a patient. (Nature)

Researcher slams clinical trials process

They provide the best evidence possible of whether a drug or other medical intervention works and is safe, but clinical trials are being seriously hindered by regulations that push up costs, consume valuable time and do little to make the studies better, a prominent Canadian researcher argues in toughly worded new commentary. (National Post)

December 20, 2010

Early Alzheimer’s Detection, but When to Tell the Patient?

Marjie Popkin thought she had chemo brain, that fuzzy-headed forgetful state that she figured was a result of her treatment for ovarian cancer. She was not thinking clearly — having trouble with numbers, forgetting things she had just heard. (New York Times)

FDA moves to revoke Avastin’s approval for breast cancer

Federal regulators took the unusual step Thursday of moving to revoke approval of a drug that women with advanced breast cancer turn to in a last-ditch effort to save their lives. The decision intensifies a politically charged debate over costly cancer drugs that appear to produce modest benefits – if any. (Washington Post)

So how much does IVF cost, anyway?

Couples who turn to fertility clinics for help getting pregnant might expect to pay more than $24,000 out-of-pocket for in vitro fertilization (IVF), California researchers find. (Reuters)

COSTA RICA: Infertile Controversy over Right to Form a Family

Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world where in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is illegal. And the Vatican wants it to stay that way: Pope Benedict XVI himself recently urged the government not to pass a law that would make it legal. (IPS)

TN doctors get big bucks from drugmakers

When it comes to promoting drugs for the pharmaceutical industry — and getting paid for it — Tennessee doctors as a group rank in the top dozen nationally for the amount of drug company money they’ve pocketed over the past two years for consulting work, travel and speaking engagements. (The Tennessean)

Physicians on Facebook Risk Compromising Relationships with Patients

Reacting to their findings that most young physicians surveyed in France have a Facebook profile, U.S. medical ethics researchers said social networking may compromise physicians’ relationships with patients, according to a study on the Journal of Medical Ethics. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

December 17, 2010

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

The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 363, Issue 22, November 25, 2010) is now available on-line and by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Medicaid Expansion — The Soft Underbelly of Health Care Reform?” by B.D. Sommers and A.M. Epstein, available on-line.

December 16, 2010

New Issue of Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics is Now Available

Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Volume 38, Issue 4, Winter 2010) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Physicians Must Honor Refusal of Treatment to Restore Competency by Non-Dangerous Inmates on Death Row” by Howard Zonana, 764–773.
  • “Non-Consensual Treatment Is (Nearly Always) Morally Impermissible” by Mark J. Cherry, 789–798.
  • “Coercing Future Freedom: Consent and Capacities for Autonomous Choice” by M. Carmela Epright, 799–806.
  • “Insuring Against Infertility: Expanding State Infertility Mandates to Include Fertility Preservation Technology for Cancer Patients” by Daniel Basco, Lisa Campo-Engelstein and Sarah Rodriguez, 832–839.
  • “The Inalienable Right to Withdraw from Research” by Terrance McConnell, 840–846.
  • “How Bioethics Can Enrich Medical-Legal Collaborations” by Amy T. Campbell, Jay Sicklick, Paula Galowitz, Randye Retkin and Stewart B. Fleishman, 847–862.

Nurses for the Future

On October 5, 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report in which it recommended that the proportion of nurses in the United States who hold at least a bachelor’s degree be increased from its current level of 50% to 80% by 2020.1 The education of nurses may seem to be a less pressing matter than providing access to care for millions of uninsured Americans and making care affordable, effective, and safe for all. Yet if we don’t alter the historical patterns of nursing education, the country’s nursing resources will be crippled for the foreseeable future — with repercussions for all those patient-focused goals. (NEJM)

Irish abortion ban ‘violated woman’s rights’

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Irish abortion laws violated the rights of one of three women who sought terminations in Britain. (BBC News)

US report sets ground rules for artificial life

A presidential commission has released a report that recommends White-House level oversight of US research in synthetic biology – but it stops short of calling for new laws or changes to existing regulations that govern the nascent field, whether in university labs or do-it-yourselfers’ garages. (Nature News)

December 15, 2010

Change brain-death diagnosis to save organs

ONE clinical examination should be enough to establish whether a person has no brain activity. A second test is not only unnecessary, but also makes organ donation less likely. (New Scientist)


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

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