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Author Archive: Arthur Caplan


Could an ELF Have Saved Baselga?

by Lisa Kearns, MS, MA, and Arthur Caplan, PhD

A few months ago we called for a new conflict of interest (COI) disclosure policy. Recent events at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) underscore the urgency in addressing COI. We encourage researchers to create an “ELF,” an electronic long-form disclosure statement that lists financial relationships, as well as any political, advocacy, or religious points of view, pertinent investments, and the like — any information that could help readers assess potential author bias. ELFs would be maintained by faculty and posted online, as part of their professional bios. The ELF could be linked electronically to all journal articles, included as a URL with author bios at the end of print versions or slide presentations, submitted when trials are registered on or other databases, and required as part of NIH grant submissions and by agencies forming advisory panels.…

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This entry was posted in Conflict of Interest, Featured Posts, Science and tagged . Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


Child abuse as immigration policy: has America lost its moral compass?

by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

The President of the United States, after discussion with key aides in the White House, implemented a policy in June of 2018 allegedly aimed at discouraging illegal border crossings by asylum seekers and others from entering the United States.  Rather than maintaining the previous privileged status for migrant families, he and his aides settled on a strategy for separating children from their families to deter efforts at entering the country illegally.  After a backlash, the President tried to blame Democrats in Congress for breaking up families by insisting that if they would change current immigration law and approve the building of a hugely expensive wall along the border with Mexico, the rending of families would stop.…

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Justice, Pediatrics, Politics, Public Health, Social Justice and tagged , , . Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


“A Little ELF, Please?” The Electronic Long-Form COI Disclosure Statement (ELFCOI)

by Lisa Kearns, MS MA and Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

There is a little discussed problem in academic publishing: the scant amount of information provided by disclosures of conflict that accompany journal articles. These brief lists of organizations with which authors have financial relationships convey frustratingly little detail about the nature of the relationships. Current disclosure practices fail to provide the transparency about an author’s relationships that they are intended to.

In the belief that an upgrade to this primitive state of COI disclosure is not only necessary but long overdue, the NYU School of Medicine Division of Medical Ethics recently issued an internal Conflict of Interest Disclosure Policy.It argues that “transparency in all facets of research and scholarship” cannot be achieved by “listing only an entity that one works with; without substantive information about the nature of that work… simple disclosure seems inadequate.” The policy asks faculty and relevant staff to go beyond filling out the standard COI statements that most publications require by also creating and maintaining their own detailed statements and making them publicly available online.…

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This entry was posted in Conflict of Interest, Featured Posts. Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


Time to stop using the term ‘brain death’ in public.

by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

You probably have heard or seen media stories in which a person is described as ‘brain dead’.  What you may not realize is that these stories frequently present brain death in a completely inaccurate manner.  They suggest that brain death is not death but is somehow a severe injury from which people can recover.  This is obviously not true.  Brain death is death.  No one recovers.  But the media persist in reporting brain death as some sort of preliminary step toward death.

The latest inaccurate brain death story exemplifying the problem with using brain death in public involved police-reform activist Erica Garner. …

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This entry was posted in End of Life Care, Featured Posts and tagged . Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


Rio Olympics Later:­ For the Good of Both Public Health and Sport

by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

It is imperative that an open, transparent discussion of the risks of holding the Olympics as planned in Brazil occur as soon as possible.  Not general assurances from WHO but a frank discussion among independent experts—if Rio is going to happen the world deserves a full discussion of why and at what potential risks and liabilities.

For more information, click through The text of this letter and link have been added below.

Thanks to Anis-Instituto de Bioética for this art, and please visit their Zika documentary and pages

To sign this letter, please send an email to zikaletter@gmail.comwith your title (dr, prof, etc), department and institutions.

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Politics, Public Health, Sports Ethics. Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


Methodological Miasma not mental dystrophy plagues drug trials

by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D. and Bruce Levin, Ph.D.

The Wall Street Journal and many other media outlets chose to beat on the FDA for its recent decision to deny approval of eteplirsen, a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy being developed by Sarepta Therapeutics.

Actually it was the FDA’s scientific advisors not the FDA who concluded that there wasn’t sufficient evidence the drug was effective.

Still the WSJ sneered that “Here’s the gist of FDA’s objection: 12 patients are too few, and thus we don’t know if the drug helps boys walk longer or if the results are skewed. FDA prefers large trials that inject half of patients with a placebo.…

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This entry was posted in Clinical Trials & Studies, Featured Posts, Media and tagged , , . Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


Helming the bioethics ship of state

by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

10/2/15   The President issued an executive order extending the term of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (PCSBI) through September, 2017

This is a very interesting announcement since the last day Barack Obama will be the President of the United States is January 20, 2017.   Astute observers will note that the Commission will be advising a new President for nine months, perhaps longer. While there has been a good deal of speculation about who that next President will be, there has, sadly, been far from adequate attention paid to who the next leaders of the commission would be under a new President.…

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Politics. Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


Science anyone?

by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

Plenty of pundits are analyzing the Wednesday night GOP debate in terms of who won and who lost. They are missing the point. There was a huge loser in the back and forth among the contenders—the public health of the American people. Why?–the resurrection in the debate of the heinous canard that vaccination causes autism.

Donald Trump led the assault on the health of our children by proclaiming that “”We’ve had so many instances … a child went to have the vaccine, got very, very sick, and now is autistic.” Really? Donald produce your evidence or get your racist, misogynist, birther, comb-over tushy out of the race.

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Politics, Science and tagged , , . Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


Ashley Madison & Using Stolen Data

by Arthur L Caplan, PhD and Charles Seife, MS

This past August, the public was treated to gigabytes of data stolen from the Ashley Madison website, including detailed records on millions of people who had registered for their service. Their service, of course, is a dating site meant to facilitate extra-marital affairs. The message isn’t subtle, as anyone who’s got their upbeat jingle — “I’m looking for someone other than my wife!” — stuck in his head can attest. The Toronto-based Ashley Madison isn’t the only hookup site that’s been attacked by hackers. A few months earlier, Adult FriendFinder suffered a massive data breach, with hackers publishing details of 4 million subscribers on the Web.…

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Privacy, Research Ethics, Science and tagged , , . Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.


Is Donald Trump entertaining?

by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

Is Donald Trump entertaining? Many in the media seem to think so. Coverage of Trump is intense. The Huffington Post, trying to marginalize him and his candidacy, has decided to confine coverage of his Presidential campaign to their entertainment section. But Trump is no joke. Treating him as such is inexcusable.

Promoting racism should never get a pass. Bioethicists familiar with the ways in which racism has fueled totalitarian politics and prejudice in medicine know this all too well. When one of the leading candidates for President in a major political party spews bigotry and hate as key themes of his campaign serious attention must be paid, and serious condemnation proffered.…

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This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Media, Politics and tagged , . Posted by Arthur Caplan. Bookmark the permalink.