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Updated: 4 hours 28 min ago

The Doctor Is In. Co-Pay? $40,000

June 7, 2017

(New York Times) – Money has always made a big difference in the medical world: fancier rooms at hospitals, better food and access to the latest treatments and technology. Concierge practices, where patients pay several thousand dollars a year so they can quickly reach their primary care doctor, with guaranteed same-day appointments, have been around for decades. But these aren’t the concierge doctors you’ve heard about — and that’s intentional.

US Officials Are Starting to Treat Opioid Companies Like Big Tobacco–And Suing Them

June 7, 2017

(Vox) – This year, multiple lawsuits have been launched against opioid manufacturers and distributors. With the opioid crisis now having resulted in more than 300,000 deadly opioid overdoses since 1999 (greater than the population of Cincinnati), there’s a push to hold accountable the people and companies behind the products that spawned the epidemic. The latest high-profile lawsuit came from Ohio, which sued five opioid manufacturers and their subsidiaries. The state’s Republican attorney general, Mike DeWine, said that these companies knowingly misled patients and physicians about the drugs’ risks.

Baby Brain Scans Can Predict Who Is Likely to Develop Autism

June 7, 2017

(New Scientist) – A machine-learning algorithm has analysed brain scans of 6-month-old children and predicted with near-certainty whether they will show signs of autism when they reach the age of 2. The finding means we may soon be able to intervene before symptoms appear, although whether that would be desirable is a controversial issue. “We have been trying to identify autism as early as possible, most importantly before the actual behavioural symptoms of autism appear,” says team member Robert Emerson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Massachusetts Judge Allows Right-to-Die Lawsuit to Move Forward

June 7, 2017

(Reuters) – A Massachusetts judge ruled that two doctors may move forward with a lawsuit seeking an order that the state’s murder and manslaughter laws do not apply to physicians who offer lethal medications to terminally ill patients. Superior Court Judge Mary Ames in Boston in a ruling last week declined to dismiss the lawsuit by the doctors, one of whom is suffering from cancer, who argued a cloud of uncertainty was preventing physicians from providing such medications.

Death Row Doctoring: The Dicey Medical Ethics of Prison Executions

June 7, 2017

(Medscape) – A lethal cocktail of medicines would be injected into those tubes, and Coleman would die. That was the plan. But a spate of executions in the run up to her execution had been botched. Instead of dying quick deaths, men injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs had writhed, seized, and foamed at the mouth. I was sent to witness Coleman’s death in case it was a long and drawn-out affair.

Stem Cell-Based Spinal Cord Therapy Expanded to More Patients

June 7, 2017

(The San Diego Union-Tribune) – An experimental therapy to repair spinal cord injury with stem cell-derived tissue is progressing smoothly, according to a leader of that trial who spoke at a conference on stem cell therapy. The Phase 1 safety trial is proceeding with no complications, said Dr. Joseph Ciacci, a University of California San Diego neurosurgeon. The trial is being conducted at the university’s Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center. The conference was held last week at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in La Jolla

What Might CRISPR and Gene Editing Mean for Breast Cancer?

June 7, 2017

(US News & World Report) – In addition to concerns about unintended side effects or genetic alterations that could cause unexpected problems, there are also many bioethical questions being raised about the use of gene editing technology, particularly when it comes to editing genes in an embryo before implantation. Some researchers say that just because we can alter the genetic code doesn’t mean we should. According to a report from the Bioethics Observatory at the Institute of Life Sciences, a program of the Catholic University of Valencia in Spain, some researchers are concerned that in the effort to combat cancer, mistakes made during the gene editing process could actually accelerate the development of other cancers.

Opinion: Prevention Can Cure Some Rare Genetic Diseases

June 7, 2017

(Wired) – The tepid enthusiasm for using preimplantation genetic diagnosis to screen for genetic diseases is unfortunate, and it is time for a more open dialogue. From a bioethical perspective, screening for morbid monogenic diseases is widely accepted, and easily differentiated from screening for non-disease-related traits. Further, selecting away deadly genes would be more palatable than high-risk, emerging alternatives such as gene-editing embryos.

Dozens of Recent Clinical Trials May Contain Wrong or Falsified Data, Claims Study

June 7, 2017

(The Guardian) – Dozens of recent clinical trials contain suspicious statistical patterns that could indicate incorrect or falsified data, according to a review of thousands of papers published in leading medical journals. The study, which used statistical tools to identify anomalies hidden in the data, has prompted investigations into some of the trials identified as suspect and raises new concerns about the reliability of some papers published in medical journals.

Promising New Cancer Drugs Won’t Go Far Unless Everyone Gets Genetic Testing

June 7, 2017

(MIT Technology Review) – The drug being developed by Connecticut-based Loxo could be the next such targeted medicine in line for possible FDA approval. But to prescribe such drugs, doctors will have to know the genetic makeup of a tumor—and so far in the U.S. only 12 percent of late stage metastatic cancer patients are getting tests that screen broadly for genetic mutations, according to Cambridge, Massachusetts-based genetic testing company Foundation Medicine.

A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine Is Now Available

June 7, 2017

The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 376, no. 22, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “The Other Victims of the Opioid Epidemic” by S.A. Glod
  • “Abuse-Deterrent Opioid Formulations — Putting the Potential Benefits into Perspective” by W.C. Becker and D.A. Fiellin
  • “Delegalizing Advance Directives — Facilitating Advance Care Planning” by J.A. Rolnick, D.A. Asch, and S.D. Halpern
  • “The Changing Face of Clinical Trials: Health Policy Trials” by J.P. Newhouse and S.-L.T. Normand


A New Issue of Health Economics, Policy and Law Is Now Available

June 7, 2017

Health Economics, Policy and Law (vol. 12 no. 2, 2017) is now availableonline by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Health Plan Choice in the Netherlands: Restrictive Health Plans Preferred by Young and Healthy Individuals” by Romy E. Bes et al.
  • “What Level of Domestic Government Health Expenditure Should We Aspire to for Universal Health Coverage?” by Di Mcintyre, Filip Meheus, and John-Arne Rottingen
  • “The Determinants of Defensive Medicine Practices in Belgium” by Tom Vandersteegen et al.
  • “Raising More Domestic Money for Health: Prospects for Low- and Middle-Income Countries” by Riku Elovainio, David B. Evans
  • “Identifying Health System Value Dimensions: More Than Health Gain? by Joan Costa-Font, Azusa Sato, and Joan Rovira Forns
  • “Framing the Tax and Health Nexus: A Neglected Aspect of Public Health Concern” by David Mccoy, Simukai Chigudu, and Taavi Tillmann
  • “Global Public Goods for Health: Weaknesses and Opportunities in the Global Health System” by Suerie Moon, John-Arne Rottingen, and Julio Frenk


A New Edition of Journal of Law and the Biosciences Is Now Available

June 7, 2017

Journal of Law and the Biosciences (vol. 4, no. 1, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Promoting Healthcare Innovation on the Demand Side” by Rebecca S. Eisenburg and W. Nicholson Price, II
  • “Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques and Mexico’s Rule of Law: On the Legality of the First Maternal Spindle Transfer Case” by César Palacios-González and María de Jesús Medina-Arellano
  • “Reflecting the ‘Human Nature’ of IVF Embryos: Disappearing Women in Ethics, Law, and Fertility Practice” by Jenni Millbank
  • “Clinical Genomics, Big Data, and Electronic Medical Records: Reconciling Patient Rights With Research When Privacy and Science Collide” by Jennifer Kulynych and Henry T. Greely
  • “Substitute Consent to Data Sharing: A Way Forward for International Dementia Research?” by Adrian Thorogood, Constance Deschênes St-Pierre, and Bartha Maria Knoppers
  • “Barred from Better Medicine? Reexamining Regulatory Barriers to the Inclusion of Prisoners in Research” by Elaine Huang, Jacqueline Cauley, and Jennifer K. Wagner


A New Article fromPhilosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine Is Now Available

June 7, 2017

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine has new articles available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “A four-part working bibliography of neuroethics: Part 4 – Ethical issues in clinical and social applications of neuroscience” by Kira Becker, John R. Shook, Martina Darragh, and James Giordano


Faculty Position Opening – Tenure Track Faculty Member: Global Bioethics

June 6, 2017

Institution: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health & Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University

Title: Assistant or Associate Professor (tenure-track)

Program: Department of International Health and Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University

Field: Global Health Ethics

Rationale: The field of global health ethics is rapidly expanding to address critical ethical issues in both global health research and global health practice and policy. Increased attention is focused, for example, on ethical issues in health systems research, implementation science, learning healthcare systems, and research on genetics and genomics as well as in global health and social justice, health, ethics, and human rights, equitable health insurance schemes, and ethics issues in specific areas of global public health work such as food distribution, disease prevention, m-health, or reduction of injuries. As the field of global health ethics continues to broaden its scope and disciplinary range, the Department of International Health and the Berman Institute are partnering to create a tenure-track faculty position focusing on the ethical aspects of research, policy, and/or practice in global and international health.

Qualifications: Applicants must hold a PhD, JD, MD, or equivalent. Applicants should: (1) have a solid background in bioethics; (2) have strong background in and commitments to global health; (3) exhibit potential for a distinguished record of scholarship in global bioethics; (4) show promise for excellence in teaching and advising of doctoral and masters students; (5) show promise for ability to secure external funding; (6) show track record or strong potential for collaborative and interdisciplinary work. Scholars from varied disciplines are eligible to apply; applicants with strong training in empirical (quantitative and/or qualitative) research are encouraged to apply. The successful candidate will be mentored to develop an increasingly independent portfolio of scholarship and funding in global bioethics.

The successful candidate will join thriving communities of scholars both within the Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and within the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is the #1 ranked school of public health, according to U.S. News and World Report, and is the largest school of public health in the country; the Department of International Health is the oldest such department in the country and seeks to understand health problems and develop means of disease reduction and health protection in underserved populations around the world. The Department has over 150 full-time faculty working in over 90 countries and runs masters and doctoral programs through each of its four programs. The Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics is one of the premier bioethics programs in the world as well as one of largest. It aims to identify and address key ethical issues in science, clinical care, and public health, locally and globally. The Berman Institute includes an interdisciplinary body of 40 faculty with appointments in the JHU schools of public health, medicine, nursing, arts and sciences and advanced international studies; the Berman Institute runs a Masters in Bioethics program and participates in doctoral training in bioethics and public health.

The Johns Hopkins University is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability, marital status, veteran status, or any other occupationally irrelevant criteria. The University promotes affirmative action for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.

Applicants should send a statement of interest, curriculum vitae and names of three references to:

Applications submitted by September 15, 2017 will be assured of the most careful consideration. Recruitment will continue until the position is filled.

Links of interest for this position: ;


When Insurers Require Patients to Stop Treatment

June 6, 2017

(CNN) – From 35,000 to 50,000 people in the U.S. are estimated to be dependent on medications to treat primary immunodeficiency diseases — about 300 rare conditions in which the immune system doesn’t function properly, or at all. The medication, known as immunoglobulin replacement therapy, replaces antibodies that the body doesn’t make. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars each year. In recent years, patients with these diseases have faced increasing difficulty getting their insurers to approve treatments, according to clinicians and patient advocates.

Death Toll in Yemen Cholera Outbreak Hits Nearly 700: WHO

June 6, 2017

(Reuters) – A cholera epidemic in Yemen has killed at least 681 people and the outbreak has yet to peak, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures showing an increase in the death toll of nearly 50 percent since its last update on May 27.

Six Decades of Struggle over the Pill

June 6, 2017

(Nature) – Sixty years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a treatment for menstrual disturbance. Data showed that it prevented pregnancy too, but that use was taboo. Three years passed before doctors could prescribe it as a contraceptive. And another decade went by until many women could get it before marriage. By then, the drug was considered a miracle and was already famous enough to be known simply as the pill.

New Science Data-Sharing Rules Are Two Scoops of Disappointment

June 6, 2017

(STAT News) – In an editorial this week, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) — which counts among its members the editors of such hard-hitting publications as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the BMJ — said that, starting in July 2018, members must require a data-sharing statement in all submitted manuscripts. But the committee stops short of requiring such sharing, saying only that editors “may” take into account authors’ plans for data sharing when they’re deciding whether to publish a paper.

Drug Deaths on the Rise in Europe for the Third Year: Report

June 6, 2017

(Reuters) – Drug overdose deaths in Europe rose six percent to 8,441 in 2015, rising for the third consecutive year, driven by increasing use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, Europe’s Lisbon-based drug monitoring agency said on Tuesday. The growing use of opioids has grabbed attention in recent years as deaths from such drugs, both illicit and prescription, in the United States have reached what many experts call epidemic levels.