Bioethics.com

Subscribe to Bioethics.com feed
Your global information source on bioethics news, issues, & events
Updated: 2 hours 21 min ago

Report: U.S. Opioid Prescribing Rates Higher Than Other Countries

July 25, 2019

(UPI) – Opioid prescription rates for American doctors may be higher than physicians in other countries, new findings show. About 79 percent of patients who felt pain during hospital visits in the United States received opioid prescriptions, according to research published Wednesday in Journal of Hospital Medicine. That’s compared to 51 percent of patients in seven other countries.

How an AI Expert Took on His Toughest Project Ever: Writing Code to Save His Son’s Life

July 25, 2019

(STAT News) – On Memorial Day weekend, Buddy became mediKanren’s first medical emergency, a test of whether its AI could help Might and his son’s doctors unlock the answers to an illness that had brought Buddy to the brink. The series of events that followed showcases AI’s power to produce dramatic results in health care. It also shows that the nature of AI’s power is not to automate care, or to replace the judgement of doctors, but to give them crucial information — and a reason to change course — when it matters most.

Scientists Doing Basic Studies of Human Brain Win Longer Reprieve from Clinical Trials Reporting Rule

July 25, 2019

(Science) – U.S. scientists who challenged a new rule that would require them to register their basic studies of the human brain and behavior in a federal database of clinical trials have won another reprieve. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, says it now understands why some of that kind of research won’t easily fit the format of ClinicalTrials.gov, and the agency has delayed the reporting requirements for another 2 years.

Juul Targeted Schools, Camps and Youth Programs, House Panel Claims

July 25, 2019

(The New York Times) – Juul Labs “deployed a sophisticated program to enter schools and convey its messaging directly to teenage children,” recruited thousands of online influencers to market its vaping devices to youths and targeted children as young as 8 in summer camp, according to an investigation by a panel of House Democrats.

Science Under Fire: Ebola Researchers Fight to Test Drugs and Vaccines in a War Zone

July 24, 2019

(Nature) – The race to develop treatments for Ebola has accelerated since the largest epidemic in history devastated West Africa between 2014 and 2016. Scientists responding to the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have enrolled more than 500 participants in an unprecedented study of experimental drugs, vaccinated nearly 170,000 people, and sequenced the genomes of more than 270 Ebola samples collected from the sick.

The Opioid Epidemic You Haven’t Heard About

July 24, 2019

(Mosaic) – Refugees in northern Nigeria reportedly use tramadol to deal with post-traumatic stress. In Gabon it has infiltrated schools under the name kobolo, leading to kids having seizures in class, while in Ghana the ‘tramadol dance’ is trending, basing its zombie-like moves on the way people behave when they’re high on the painkiller. Musicians from Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria have written songs about it. It is popular in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Among the ranks of Boko Haram and Islamic State, tramadol tablets are taken by fighters, leading them to be dubbed ‘jihadist pills’. But because it’s only about one-tenth the strength of morphine, tramadol is deemed to have a low abuse potential. It’s therefore not internationally controlled – or ‘scheduled’ – by the United Nations. Instead, each country has to set up its own rules and regulations for tramadol production, import, export, distribution and use.

Fitbit and Other Wearables May Not Accurately Track Heart Rates in People of Color

July 24, 2019

(STAT News) – An estimated 40 million people in the United States have smartwatches or fitness trackers that can monitor their heartbeats. But some people of color may be at risk of getting inaccurate readings. Nearly all of the largest manufacturers of wearable heart rate trackers rely on technology that could be less reliable for consumers who have darker skin, according to researchers, engineers, and other experts who spoke with STAT. Fitbit uses the potentially problematic technology in every heart rate tracker it offers, and it’s also in many Garmin and Samsung devices. Other popular trackers, like the Apple Watch, use it, too — but simultaneously track heart rates with another method.

Oregon Removes Assisted Suicide Wait for Certain Patients

July 24, 2019

(ABC News) – Legislation allowing certain terminally ill patients to have quicker access to life-ending medications under the state’s first-in-the-nation assisted suicide law has been signed into law, Gov. Kate Brown’s office announced Wednesday. The law allows those with 15 days left to live to bypass a 15-day waiting period required under the Death with Dignity Act, something proponents say will reduce bureaucracy and bring relief to gravely ill people.

Study: Malaria Drugs Are Failing at an ‘Alarming’ Rate in Southeast Asia

July 23, 2019

(NPR) – Malaria drugs are failing at an “alarming” rate in Southeast Asia as drug-resistant strains of the malaria parasite emerge. That’s the conclusion of researchers in two new reports — one based on a randomized trial and the other on a genetic study — that have just been released in the medical journal The Lancet. And there’s concern that this drug resistance could spread around the globe. Global health officials get nervous when new strains of drug-resistant malaria turn up in Southeast Asia, because it’s a dreaded pattern that they’ve seen before. Resistance that has hatched in this region has doomed previous malaria medications since the middle of the 20th century.

Walmart and CVS Are Among the Retailers Being Sued for Aiding the Spread of Opoids

July 23, 2019

(Vox) – Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid are among the superstores and chain drugstores named in what will be a major trial regarding corporate complicity in the opioid epidemic.  As reported by the New York Times, the lawsuit filed in federal court last Friday seeks billions of dollars in restitution from corporations that inundated the market with prescription opioids, and consists of almost 2,000 individual cases brought by cities, counties, and Native American tribes around the country where opioid addiction levied heavy death tolls. The lawsuit is expected to go to trial — the biggest civil trial in US history, per the Washington Post — in October.

Merck Unveils Early Data on HIV Drug It Says Could Be a ‘Game Changer’

July 23, 2019

(STAT News) – At an all-day meeting for investors last month in a posh Manhattan event space, executives at Merck couldn’t have been more excited about a new HIV drug, MK-8591. They mentioned it 25 times, calling it “a game changer” and talking up its “remarkable properties.” Why? If effective, it could be used in a new drug combination that might have fewer side effects, the company says. More excitingly, it might be fashioned into an implant that could be given only once a year to prevent patients at high risk from contracting HIV, a boon to public health.

FDA Warns Top Marijuana Company for Making CBD Health Claims

July 23, 2019

(ABC News) – U.S. regulators warned a leading marijuana company for making unproven health claims about CBD, the trendy ingredient that’s turning up in lotions, foods and pet treats. The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday it warned Curaleaf Inc., of Wakefield, Massachusetts, for illegally selling unapproved products. Curaleaf’s claims could lead people to delay medical care for serious conditions like cancer, the agency said.

Senior Doctors Call for Crackdown on Home Genetic Testing Kits

July 22, 2019

(The Guardian) – Senior doctors have called for a crackdown on consumer genetic tests, following an influx of patients who have been wrongly told they are carrying dangerous mutations linked to cancer or other devastating conditions. Women have been incorrectly informed by companies that they have faulty BRCA genes, which convey a high risk of breast and ovarian cancers. One patient was scheduled for preventive breast-removal surgery after a consumer genetic test suggested she had a BRCA mutation. The surgery was called off at the last moment when an NHS laboratory revealed the result to be a false positive.

Cambodian Women Face Surrogacy Charges After Vietnam Births

July 22, 2019

(Miami Herald) – Three Cambodian women have been charged with violating surrogacy and human trafficking laws after they gave birth to babies they delivered to Chinese nationals in Vietnam, a court official said Friday. Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ei Rin said the women, aged 31 and 32, are being detained pending further investigation after being charged on Thursday.

JUUL Hires Leading Teen Addiction Researcher as Medical Director

July 19, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – Juul Labs, the nation’s leading manufacturer of e-cigarettes, has hired as its medical director a prominent University of California researcher known for his work on the dangers nicotine poses for the adolescent brain. The company said the hire will support its efforts to stem a teen vaping craze the Food and Drug Administration has labeled an epidemic. But critics see a cynical tactic taken straight from the Big Tobacco playbook.

Cambodian Women Face Surrogacy Charges After Vietnam Births

July 19, 2019

(ABC News) – Three Cambodian women have been charged with violating surrogacy and human trafficking laws after they gave birth to babies they delivered to Chinese nationals in Vietnam, a court official said Friday. Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ei Rin said the women, aged 31 and 32, are being detained pending further investigation after being charged on Thursday.

The WHO Finally Sounded Its Loudest Alarm Over Ebola in the Congo

July 18, 2019

(The Atlantic) – More than 2,500 people have become infected since the outbreak was officially declared on August 1, 2018. Almost 1,700 of those have died, while more than 700 have been cured. A few hundred cases are still being investigated, and new ones arise on an almost daily basis. These numbers make the outbreak worse than all of the Congo’s nine past encounters with Ebola put together, although they are still well below the scale of the West African epidemic of 2014 to 2016, which infected 28,000 people and killed 11,000.

What Happens When Reproductive Tech Like IVF Goes Awry?

July 18, 2019

(Wired) – Accidents happen: Freezers fail. Samples are mislabeled. Embryos get switched. These may be first-world problems. But they’re not innocent, or harmless. We have no idea precisely how often such mishaps happen. A 2008 survey of US fertility clinics found that more than one in five misdiagnosed, mislabeled, or mishandled reproductive materials. States require hospitals to report any surgery mistakenly performed on the wrong body part or patient, but no one tracks these errors in family planning services. Most embryo swaps probably go unnoticed. No one tests for genetic connection between newborns and birth parents unless a racial mismatch gives them reason to. All we know for sure is these mix-ups have happened before—and there still aren’t any rules or constraints to keep them from occurring again.

Do Elon Musk’s Brain-Decoding Implants Have Potential? Experts Say They Just Might

July 18, 2019

(STAT News) – The immediate aim of the San Francisco startup is a system enabling people who are paralyzed to use their thoughts to operate computers and smartphones. That has been done before, including by Schwartz’s group and one at Brown University, where in 2011 two tetraplegic patients who had been implanted with the “BrainGate” neural interface system were able to control robotic arms with their thoughts, including lifting a bottle of coffee and drinking it. But despite decades of research, the systems have so many drawbacks they’re still not in widespread use. That’s where Neuralink’s tech acumen might make a difference.

Skin Sensors Are the Future of Health Care

July 17, 2019

(Nature) – Thin, soft electronic systems that stick onto skin are beginning to transform health care. Millions of early versions of sensors, computers and transmitters woven into flexible films, patches, bandages or tattoos are being deployed in dozens of trials in neurology applications alone; and their numbers growing rapidly. Within a decade, many people will wear such sensors all the time. The data they collect will be fed into machine-learning algorithms to monitor vital signs, spot abnormalities and track treatments.

Pages