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March 26, 2012

60 percent of hospitals surveyed say they’ve trashed scarce drugs

Amid ongoing shortages of critical drugs, 60 percent of hospital pharmacists surveyed said they’ve been forced to trash life-saving or expensive medications because of misguided government rules, a new poll shows. (MSNBC)

Father-to-Son sperm donation: ‘Too bizarre’ for child?

After three years of trying to conceive, a married couple in the Netherlands in their early 30s learned they could not have a child because the husband produced no sperm. They did not want to use sperm donated from a stranger, partly because this would mean the child would not share genes with the husband’s side of the family. (MSNBC)

Activists: Casual antibiotic use, inadequate treatment fuel drug-resistant TB in India

India’s inadequate government-run tuberculosis treatment programs and a lack of regulation of the sale of drugs that fight the disease are responsible for the spiraling number of drug-resistant cases that are difficult to treat, health activists said Friday. (Washington Post)

Cheney’s surgery reopens debate about whether age should be bigger factor in organ transplants

Doctors say it is unlikely that former Vice President Dick Cheney got special treatment when he was given a new heart at age 71 that thousands of younger people also were in line to receive. (Washington Post)

US Supreme Court hears challenge to Obama healthcare law

The US Supreme Court has finished the first day of a landmark hearing on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform. (BBC News)

Generic Drugs Proving Resistant to Damage Suits

Debbie Schork, a deli worker at a supermarket in Indiana, had to have her hand amputated after an emergency room nurse injected her with an anti-nausea drug, causing gangrene. She sued the manufacturer named in the hospital’s records for failing to warn about the risks of injecting it. Her case was quietly thrown out of court last fall. (NY Times)

March 23, 2012

Could Human and Computer Viruses Merge, Leaving Both Realms Vulnerable?

Mark Gasson had caught a bad bug. Though he was not in pain, he was keenly aware of the infection raging in his left hand, knowing he could put others at risk by simply coming too close. (Scientific American)

FDA must act to remove antibiotics from animal feed: judge

A federal judge on Thursday ordered regulators to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed, citing concerns that overuse is endangering human health by creating antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” (Reuters)

Insurers forge ahead to prepare for health care overhaul, despite law’s uncertain future

The nation’s big insurers are spending millions to carry out President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul even though there’s a chance the wide-reaching law won’t survive Supreme Court scrutiny. (Washington Post)

Robotic Device Helps Paraplegics Stand Tall

The  new  Tek Robotic Mobilization Device is designed to help people who have lost the use of their legs to stand up and move around in an upright position with seemingly little effort. (ABC News)

To go gently into that good night: When quality of death can enhance quality of life

Andrée Hoffman lay on a gurney, the outline of her body visible under a floral comforter. Her daughter Basia Hoffman, in her 50s, was a few feet away, playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano, hours after her 90-year-old mother’s death. No one was in a hurry to go to the funeral home. (Globe and Mail)

DNA donor rights affirmed

It is a familiar scenario in genetic research: a subject’s DNA is collected for one study, deposited in a database or biobank and then analysed by other researchers for separate studies. But what happens when a later study stumbles on something that could be of significance for the donor, such as an allele for familial hypercholesterolaemia — a treatable genetic disorder that causes progressive atherosclerosis — or some other health-related variation? (Nature News)

China to phase out prisoner organ donations over next 5 years; says other organs are healthier

China will abolish the transplanting of organs from executed prisoners within five years and try to spur more citizens to donate, a top health official says. (Washington Post)

March 22, 2012

When ICU beds are scarce, doctors’ goals change

When hospitals are short on beds in the intensive care unit, doctors are more likely to switch from life-saving care to end-of-life care, a new Canadian study shows. (Reuters)

Justices ponder whether babies born through artificial insemination should get benefits

Karen Capato used the frozen sperm of her deceased husband to conceive twins, but the government denied them Social Security benefits as their father’s survivors. Her situation, more common as reproductive technology advances, had a mostly unsympathetic Supreme Court grappling Monday with the definition of “child,’ inheritance law and artificial insemination. (Washington Post)

Ten years after Belgian euthanasia law, opposition simmers

Against all odds, one 16-year-old Belgian teenager is still alive.  Tikvah Roosemont was born with about half a brain. (UPI)

Surrogacy mother launches maternity leave challenge

The woman, who has been allowed to remain anonymous by judges, was refused the leave by her employer when she became a mother. (Telegraph)

Magic cells: babies who save lives

It is mid-morning in the delivery suite at King’s College hospital in London, and midwife Terie Duffy is cooing over the contents of a stainless-steel bowl. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she says. “This is what makes my job worthwhile … the opportunity to give the chance of life.” (The Guardian)

March 21, 2012

Where Could The Next Outbreak Of Measles Be?

Even as more American children are getting immunized against measles, diphtheria and other diseases, public-health officials are increasingly worried about potential outbreaks of these illnesses in certain pockets of the country where vaccination rates are dangerously low. (Wall Street Journal)

US Supreme Court upends diagnostics patents

In a unanimous ruling the US Supreme Court has rendered invalid two patents covering a method for determining proper drug dosage. The 20 March decision sent ripples through the medical diagnostics industry, which has been closely following the case. (Nature News)

Will we ever grow replacement hands?

It might seem unbelievable, but researchers can grow organs in the laboratory. There are patients walking around with body parts which have been designed and built by doctors out of a patient’s own cells. (BBC News)


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

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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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