(The Washington Post) – How many people could self-driving cars kill before we would no longer tolerate them? This once-hypothetical question is now taking on greater urgency, particularly among policymakers in Washington. The promise of autonomous vehicles is that they will make our roads safer and more efficient, but no technology is without its shortcomings and unintended consequences — in this instance, potentially fatal consequences.
(STAT News) – The so-called abortion pill — now dispensed only in clinics, hospitals, and doctors’ offices — should be made available by prescription in pharmacies across the US, according to a group of doctors and public health experts urging an end to tough federal restrictions on the drug. The appeal to the Food and Drug Administration came in a commentary published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Among the 10 co-authors were doctors and academics from Stanford, Princeton, and Columbia universities, as well as leaders of major reproductive-health organizations.
(The Atlantic) – The common response to precarious technology is to add even more technology to solve the problems caused by earlier technology. Are the toilets flushing too often? Revise the sensor hardware. Is online news full of falsehoods? Add machine-learning AI to separate the wheat from the chaff. Are retail product catalogs overwhelming and confusing? Add content filtering to show only the most relevant or applicable results. But why would new technology reduce rather than increase the feeling of precarity? The more technology multiplies, the more it amplifies instability. Things already don’t quite do what they claim. The fixes just make things worse.
(The Washington Post) – They are called superspreaders, the minority of people who are responsible for infecting many others during epidemics of infectious diseases. Perhaps the most famous superspreader was Typhoid Mary, presumed to have infected 51 people, three of whom died, between 1900 and 1907. Now scientists studying how Ebola spread during the 2014-2015 epidemic in West Africa say superspreaders played a bigger role than was previously known, according to findings published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(Pro Publica) – Over the last three years, pharmaceutical companies have mounted a public relations blitz to tout new cures for the hepatitis C virus and persuade insurers, including government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, to cover the costs. That isn’t an easy sell, because the price of the treatments ranges from $40,000 to $94,000 — or, because the treatments take three months, as much as $1,000 per day. To persuade payers and the public, the industry has deployed a potent new ally, a company whose marquee figures are leading economists and health care experts at the nation’s top universities.
(CNN) – When Keri Young found out her unborn child didn’t have a brain, she made an unthinkably selfless decision. She decided to carry Eva to term to donate the organs to other babies in need. Young’s wrenching story broke hearts when her husband Royce Young, a writer for ESPN, posted an emotional letter praising her brave decision. “It would just be irresponsible to take the gifts that Eva has and not share them with others,” Royce Young told CNN about his wife’s decision.
(The Washington Post) – The grip of opioid addiction is so strong that many people who undergo treatment relapse repeatedly. Now a study by Johns Hopkins University researchers offers new clues about why treatment is so difficult. The researchers discovered that 43 percent of people receiving buprenorphine, a widely used anti-addiction medication, filled at least one prescription for opioids — which they presumably consumed or diverted to others.
(NPR) – The human species is about to change dramatically. That’s the argument Yuval Noah Harari makes in his new book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Harari is a history professor at Hebrew University in Israel. He tells NPR’s Ari Shapiro that he expects we will soon engineer our bodies and minds in the same way we now design products.
(Australian Broadcasting Co.) – Around 10 Australian couples have been left in legal limbo in Cambodia — unable to bring surrogate babies home months after their birth — as they wait for the Government in Phnom Penh to draft new laws on surrogacy. The Cambodian Government has begun drafting legislation that will likely ban commercial surrogacy but may allow some form of altruistic surrogacy under strict regulations.
(Pew Research Center) – Twenty years ago today, the world’s first clone made from the cells of an adult mammal made her public debut. Dolly, a Finn Dorset sheep, was introduced to the public in 1997 after scientists at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland implanted the cell nucleus from a sheep into an egg that was subsequently fertilized to create a clone.
The Lancet has new articles available online.
- “Cholera Vaccination: Pregnant Women Excluded No More” by Pedro L. Moro and Lakshimi Sukumaran
- “Safety of a Killed Oral Cholera Vaccine (Shanchol) in Pregnant Women in Malawi: An Observational Cohort Study” by Mohammad Ali et al.
Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities (vol. 30, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “The Diagnostic Guideline for Anxiety and Challenging Behaviour for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities: Preliminary Outcomes on Internalizing Problems, Challenging Behaviours, Quality of Life and Clients’ Satisfaction” by Addy Pruijssers et al.
- “‘I Know it was Every Week, but I Can’t be Sure if it was Every Day: Domestic Violence and Women with Learning Disabilities” by Michelle McCarthy, Siobhan Hunt, and Karen Milne-Skillman
- “‘Disability Means, um, Dysfunctioning People’: A Qualitative Analysis of the Meaning and Experience of Disability among Adults with Intellectual Disabilities” by Rebecca Monteleone and Rachel Forrester-Jones
- “Perceptions and Discourses Relating to Genetic Testing: Interviews with People with Down Syndrome” by Barbara Barter et al.
JAMA (vol. 317, no. 5, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Population Health Equity: Rate and Burden, Race and Class” by David Kindig
- “Responsible e-Prescribing Needs e-Discontinuation” by Shira Fischer and Adam Rose
- “A Global Vaccine Injury Compensation System” by Sam F. Halabi and Saad B. Omer
- “Privatized Pharmaceutical Innovation vs Access to Essential Medicines: A Global Framework for Equitable Sharing of Benefits” by Gian Luca Burci and Lawrence O. Gostin
BMC Medical Ethics has a new article available online.
- “Navigating Social and Ethical Challenges of Biobanking for Human Microbiome Research” by Kim H. Chuong et al.
International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care (vol. 32, no. 6, 2016) is available online by subscription only.
- “Implication of Alternative Minimal Clinically Important Difference Threshold Estimation Methods on Technology Assessment” by Diana Brixner et al.
- “Influence of Health Technology Assessment and Its Measurement” by David Hailey et al.
(CNN) – The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them. It’s impossible to know just how many victims are out there. But through an exclusive analysis of state and federal data and interviews with experts, regulators and the families of victims, CNN has found that this little-discussed issue is more widespread than anyone would imagine. Even more disturbing: In many cases, nursing homes and the government officials who oversee them are doing little — or nothing — to stop it.
A New Psychological Trauma Institute Is Being Established at the University of Dohuk in Iraq, the First in the Entire Region
(Associated Press) – After their rape and torture by Islamic State extremists for months or years, Yazidi women face ongoing suffering from psychological trauma even if they do manage to escape. Until now, a lack of psychiatrists and other mental health specialists in northern Iraq meant that many Yazidi women – a minority singled out for especially harsh treatment by IS – got little or no help. That’s about to change with the establishment of a new psychological training center at the University of Dohuk in Iraq, the first in the entire region.
An Anorexic and Bulimic New Jersey Woman Has Died Three Months after a Judge Granted Her Request to Refuse Force-Feeding
(Associated Press) – An anorexic and bulimic New Jersey woman who petitioned a court to refuse force-feeding has died three months after a judge granted her request. Her court-appointed lawyer, Edward D’Alessandro Jr., told the Daily Record of Parsippany the 30-year-old identified as Ashley G. died Monday at Morristown Medical Center’s palliative care unit.
(Nature) – Nine years later, such research has given birth to an ‘ome of its own, the epitranscriptome. He and others have shown that a methyl group attached to adenine, one of the four bases in RNA, has crucial roles in cell differentiation, and may contribute to cancer, obesity and more. In 2015, He’s lab and two other teams uncovered the same chemical mark on adenine bases in DNA (methyl marks had previously been found only on cytosine), suggesting that the epigenome may be even richer than previously imagined. Research has taken off.
(Nature) – Berkeley filed for a patent earlier, but the USPTO granted the Broad’s patents first — and this week upheld them. There are high stakes involved in the ruling. The holder of key patents could make millions of dollars from CRISPR–Cas9’s applications in industry: already, the technique has speeded up genetic research, and scientists are using it to develop disease-resistant livestock and treatments for human diseases. But the fight for patent rights to CRISPR technology is by no means over. Here are four reasons why.