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In 1971, the United Nations passed a resolution prohibiting its member nations from advertising psychotropic drugs to the general public. More than 40 years later, this resolution has done little to halt pharmaceutical companies from marketing stimulants as treatments for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. The means by which, and the ethical dilemmas involved when, pharmaceutical companies… Read more
BIOETHICS FORUM ESSAY
Fake news proliferates on the internet, and it sometimes has consequential effects. It may have played a role in the recent election of Donald Trump to the White House, and the Brexit referendum. Democratic governance requires a well-informed populace: fake news seems to threaten the very foundations of democracy. How should we respond to its… Read more
Three years ago, a small pharmaceutical company with a big agenda created a fake feminist group so that they could get a bad drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The story of how this happened is a case study in how industry affects medical discourse, the subject of a PharmedOut conference that will… Read more
After years of fluctuating and troubled efforts, the nations of the world in December of 2015 came to the remarkable agreement to work together to reduce global warming. On June 2, President Trump announced that our country will withdraw from that agreement. Like many others I was appalled by that decision, which was reckless, thoughtless,… Read more
“Death with dignity” for the past 40 years has meant, for many people, avoiding unwanted medical technology and dying in a hospital. A “natural” death at home or in a hospice facility has been the goal. During the last 20 years, physician-assisted suicide has been legalized for terminally ill patients in several states of the… Read more
Reading “After DNR: Surrogates who persist in requesting cardiopulmonary resuscitation” in the Hastings Center Report, I was reminded of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s chastisement of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s opposition to Jeff Sessions’ nomination as Attorney General. McConnell called for Warren’s censure by the Senate because she quoted a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King… Read more
Populism has been influencing public discourse and election outcomes in several countries recently. The degree to which populism has a sway on elections varies with the electoral system in each country but the impact is likely to be substantial regardless of electoral outcomes. Reflecting on this phenomenon, Mildred Solomon and Bruce Jennings published an essay… Read more
There is a broad and deep moral conviction that health care should be distributed according to genuine need and not left to the cold mercy of pure market forces or the logic of actuarial fairness. Unfortunately, the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed last week in the House of Representatives, and other legislation threaten to undermine that moral commitment.
On May 4, 2017, just over one month after abandoning a previous version of the bill, the U.S. House of Representatives voted by a 217-213 margin (with one abstention) to adopt the American Health Care Act (AHCA). During the coming weeks and months, most of the political commentary will focus on the strategies that were… Read more
Is it reasonable to hope that concerns about “cultural harms” can be integrated into oversight mechanisms for technologies like gene editing? That question was raised anew for me by the recent National Academy of Sciences report on human genome editing and at a recent conference at Harvard on the international governance of genome editing technologies…. Read more
After much anticipation, on April 22, HBO debuted The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a film based on Rebecca Skloot’s bestselling book, starring Oprah Winfrey. Lacks’s cells provided the foundation for the now infamous HeLa cell line, the first set of human cells able to reproduce outside the body. So-called immortal cell lines like HeLa… Read more
Clinical research with prisoners is ethically vital and challenging. Studies investigating novel psychological, behavioral, and pharmacological interventions are imperative for the health and experiences of the people they focus on. Yet clinical research on prisoners also raises considerable ethical concerns—most notably, whether prisoners participating in research are subjected to coercion or exploitation. An article in… Read more