Bioethics.com

Subscribe to Bioethics.com feed
Your global information source on bioethics news, issues, & events
Updated: 1 hour 42 min ago

Belgian Doctors Face Trial in Country’s First Euthanasia Case

January 14, 2020

(The New York Times) – Three Belgian doctors go on trial for murder on Tuesday for helping a woman end her life, in the country’s first criminal case concerning euthanasia. The doctors, whose names have not been made public, are accused of unlawfully poisoning 38-year-old Tine Nys on April 27, 2010. Prosecutors say Nys did not fulfill the conditions under Belgian law to be euthanised. They are the first doctors to go on trial for euthanasia in Belgium since the country legalized the practice in 2002.

Families Sending Relatives with Dementia to Thailand for Care

January 14, 2020

(The Guardian) – British families are sending elderly relatives with dementia overseas to Thailand in a small but growing trend. Researchers visiting private care homes in Chiang Mai have found eight homes where guests from the UK are living thousands of miles away from their families, because suitable care in their home country was impossible to find or afford.

23andMe Sold the Rights to a Drug It Developed from Its Genetic Database

January 13, 2020

(The Verge) – The genetics testing company 23andMe licensed the rights to a drug it developed in-house to a Spanish pharmaceutical company, Bloomberg reported. This is the first time that the company has directly sold a product it created using the genetic information collected from users. 23andMe has already shared genetic data with pharmaceutical companies. GlaxoSmithKline has the exclusive rights to use its data for drug development, and purchased a $300 million stake in the company in 2018. But those drug companies use the company’s data to create their own drugs. In this case, 23andMe identified a drug candidate and conducted animal studies on that drug internally before selling it. The Spanish company, Almirall, will take the product through human trials.

Medically Assisted Deaths Prove a Growing Boon to Organ Donation in Ontario

January 13, 2020

(Ottawa Citizen) – Ontarians who opt for medically assisted deaths (MAiD) are increasingly saving or improving other people’s lives by also including organ and tissue donation as part of their final wishes. In the first 11 months of 2019, MAiD patients in the province accounted for 18 organ and 95 tissue donors, a 14 per cent increase over 2018 and a 109 per cent increase over 2017. (Figures for December 2019 are not yet available.) According to Trillium Gift of Life Network, which oversees organ and tissue donation in Ontario, the 113 MAiD-related donations in 2019 accounted for five per cent of overall donations in Ontario, a share that has also been increasing.

Artificial Intelligence Makes Bad Medicine Even Worse

January 13, 2020

(Wired) – In other words, AI systems like the one from Google promise to combine humans and machines in order to facilitate cancer diagnosis, but they also have the potential to worsen pre-existing problems such as overtesting, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment. It’s not even clear whether the improvements in false-positive and false-negative rates reported this month would apply in real-world settings. The Google study found that AI performed better than radiologists who were not specifically trained in examining mammograms. Would it come out on top against a team of more specialized experts?

Nearly 2 Million Adults Are Estimated to Have Shown Symptoms of PTSD During Hong Kong Protests, Study Finds

January 10, 2020

(CNN) – Almost 2 million people in Hong Kong — about a third its adult population — are estimated to have experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during months of social unrest in the city, according to research published Friday in The Lancet medical journal. Researchers from the University of Hong Kong surveyed 18,000 people between 2009 and 2019 in what they said was the world’s largest and longest study of the population-wide impact of social unrest on mental health.

Hungary to Provide Free Fertility Treatment to Boost Population

January 10, 2020

(BBC) – Hungary will provide free in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment to couples at state-run clinics, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced. He said fertility was of “strategic importance”. Last month his government took over Hungary’s fertility clinics. Mr Orban, a right-wing nationalist, has long advocated a “procreation over immigration” approach to deal with demographic decline. The country’s population has been falling steadily for four decades.

Hospital Bankruptcies Leave Sick and Injured Nowhere to Go

January 10, 2020

(Bloomberg) – A quiet crisis is unfolding for U.S. hospitals, with bankruptcies and closures threatening to leave some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens without care. As a gauge of distress in the health-care sector has soared, at least 30 hospitals entered bankruptcy in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. They range from Hahnemann University Hospital in downtown Philadelphia to De Queen Medical Center in rural Sevier County, Arkansas and Americore Health LLC, a company built on preserving rural hospitals. There’s more distress to come. 

Teen Girls Don’t Need Routine Pelvic Exams. Why Are Doctors Doing So Many?

January 10, 2020

(NPR) – An estimated 1.4 million adolescent girls and young women in the U.S. might have received an unnecessary pelvic exam between 2011 and 2017, according to a new study. And an estimated 1.6 million might have received an unnecessary Pap test. The authors of the study, which was published this week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, say the overuse of these procedures — which can cause false-positives and anxiety — led to an estimated $123 million annually in needless expenses in 2014 alone.

A Rare Outbreak of Polio Reflects the Philippines’ Poor Health Care

January 9, 2020

(The Economist) – FOR NINETEEN years the Philippines was free from polio. But in September the announcement came that two children living in provinces 900 miles apart had been paralysed by a vaccine-derived strain of the disease. The strain was also found in sewage and in a waterway. Foreign and domestic health authorities have since jumped into action. The next in a series of immunisation drives starts on January 20th on the southern island of Mindanao.

Second Baby in the US Born from Transplanted Uterus of Deceased Donor

January 9, 2020

(CNN) – Now, Jennifer is the mother of the second baby in the United States to ever have been born from the transplanted uterus of a deceased donor. Gobrecht, 33, successfully gave birth via cesarean section to Benjamin Thomas Gobrecht in November as part of an ongoing trial to study uterine transplantation as a treatment option for women facing infertility, Penn Medicine in Philadelphia announced on Thursday.

DR Congo Jail: Inmates Starve to Death in Makala Prison

January 9, 2020

(BBC) – At least 17 prisoners have died over the past week in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s biggest prison, a charity says. Aid workers say the deaths were caused by a lack of food and medicine, as well as poor hygiene. Makala Prison in the capital, Kinshasa, has received no food supplies in the last two months, state officials say.

The Sneaky Genius of Facebook’s New Preventative Health Tool

January 8, 2020

(The Atlantic) – But for Facebook, the real value of the tool isn’t in direct monetization. It’s in becoming an integral part of yet another facet of users’ lives. Historically, this appears to be Facebook’s operating strategy: Move into a largely unregulated space, leverage the platform’s unmatched ubiquity to create a highly convenient product within that space, and then turn convenience into dependence into more time spent on the platform.

Genetic Markers Not Very Good for Predicting Disease Risk

January 8, 2020

(Reuters) – Many people worry about inheriting health problems from their parents, but a new approach to analyzing genetic contributions to disease risk suggests that for most diseases, commercial DNA tests are not the best way to assess the odds. For the study, researchers analyzed data from almost 600 earlier studies that found associations between common variations in the DNA sequence, known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and more than 200 medical conditions. Usually, genetics explained no more than 5%-10% of the risk for several common ailments including certain cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

‘Against All Odds’: The Inside Story of How Scientists Across Three Continents Produced an Ebola Vaccine

January 8, 2020

(STAT News) – The reality was that, for years, scientists who studied Ebola, which belongs to a family of viruses called filoviruses, had poured their hearts into work to develop vaccines and drugs to combat these deadly scourges. And for years, they had seen promising work smash up against unscalable walls. There was no potential for drug makers to recoup development costs; and, with outbreaks only sporadic, there was little opportunity to subject experimental vaccines to rigorous tests.

WHO Says Mysterious Illness in China Likely Being Caused by New Virus

January 8, 2020

(STAT News) – The World Health Organization confirmed on Wednesday that Chinese authorities believe a new coronavirus — from the family that produced SARS and MERS — may be the cause of mysterious pneumonia cases in the city of Wuhan. The Chinese government has not yet publicly stated that a coronavirus is the cause of the illness, which has infected at least 59 people. But the Wall Street Journal reported that was the case earlier Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.

The Risks Behind the Hype of Stem-Cell Treatments

January 8, 2020

(BBC) – Some private clinics are charging UK patients thousands of pounds for unproven and unregulated treatments using the “healing powers” of stem cells, the BBC has found. And experts are warning some of these “therapies” can cause significant harm. Stem cells can become many types of cells in the body, from muscle to brain, and can repair damaged tissue. But they are approved only for treating some blood conditions, for skin grafts and the repair of damaged corneas

The Americans Dying Because They Can’t Afford Medical Care

January 7, 2020

(The Guardian) – Despite millions of Americans delaying medical treatment due to the costs, the US still spends the most on healthcare of any developed nation in the world, while covering fewer people and achieving worse overall health outcomes. A 2017 analysis found the United States ranks 24th globally in achieving health goals set by the United Nations. In 2018, $3.65tn was spent on healthcare in the United States, and these costs are projected to grow at an annual rate of 5.5%t over the next decade. High healthcare costs are causing Americans to get sicker from delaying, avoiding, or stopping medical treatment.

Analysis of Commercial DNA Tests Finds Inconsistent Coverage

January 7, 2020

(Reuters) – Once strictly the domain of research labs, tests that sequence large swaths of the human genome called the exome have become increasingly popular among medical specialists as a way to understand the genetic causes of rare disease. But a sampling of a dozen tests from each of three commercial laboratories has found they often fail to adequately analyze large segments of DNA that could be contributing to disease, researchers report this week in the journal Clinical Chemistry.

WHO: Death Toll from Measles Outbreak in Congo Hits 6,000

January 7, 2020

(ABC News) – The death toll from a measles epidemic in Congo has surpassed 6,000, the World Health Organization said Tuesday as it warned that more funds are needed to save lives during the world’s worst outbreak of the infectious disease. Measles has killed nearly three times as many people in Congo than an Ebola outbreak in the country that has garnered far more international attention, particularly after health teams came under attack from armed militias operating in the area. 

Pages