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Bioethics news.

Unvaccinated teens are fact-checking their parents — and trying to get shots on their own
Ethan Lindenberger, frustrated by years of arguments about his mother’s anti-vaccination stance, staged a quiet defection on Reddit. The Norwalk, Ohio, teenager needed advice, he said, on how to inoculate himself against both infectious disease and his family’s dogma. At 18, he was old enough, Lindenberger explained. He wanted to get vaccinated. But he didn’t know how. “Because...
Drug company used rap video to push for higher doses, sales
Employees at a drug company accused of bribing doctors rapped and danced around a person dressed as a bottle of the highly addictive fentanyl spray in a video meant to motivate sales reps into getting patients on higher doses.
Stanford will investigate its role in the Chinese CRISPR baby debacle
Officials at Stanford University have opened an investigation into what several high-profile faculty members knew about a Chinese effort to create gene-edited babies led by a onetime researcher at the California school, He Jiankui. The investigation, according to people familiar with it, aims to understand what liabilities or risks Stanford may have in connection with the controversial medical experiment, which...
U.S. Senator Sanders asks why drug, once free, now costs $375k
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to Catalyst Pharmaceuticals on Monday asking it to justify its decision to charge $375,000 annually for a medication that for years has been available to patients for free.
How Silicon Valley Puts the ‘Con’ in Consent
If no one reads the terms and conditions, how can they continue to be the legal backbone of the internet? The average person would have to spend 76 working days reading all of the digital privacy policies they agree to in the span of a year. Reading Amazon’s terms and conditions alone out...
Major DNA testing company is sharing genetic data with the FBI
A decision by FamilyTreeDNA, a prominent consumer DNA-testing company, to share data with federal law enforcement means investigators have access to genetic information linked to hundreds of millions of people. An early pioneer of the rapidly growing market for consumer genetic testing, FamilyTreeDNA confirmed late Thursday that...
Chinese Bioethicists Respond to the Case of He Jiankui
A preliminary investigation by Guangdong Province in China of He Jiankui, the scientist who created the world’s first gene-edited babies, found that “He had intentionally dodged supervision, raised funds and organized researchers on his own to carry out the human embryo gene-editing intended for reproduction, which is explicitly banned by relevant regulations.”
Why You Should Be Careful About 23andMe’s Health Test
Last month, the DNA-testing company 23andMe secured Food and Drug Administration approval for a new screening for gene-based health risks. Along with celiac disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, breast cancer and several other medical conditions, the company can now screen clients for two mutations that have been linked to colorectal cancer. But “F.D.A.-approved” does...
Purdue Pharma sought secret plan to become ‘end-to-end pain provider,’ lawsuit alleges
Pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma LP secretly pursued a plan, dubbed “Project Tango,” to become “an end-to-end pain provider” by selling both opioids and drugs to treat opioid addiction, all while owners on the board — members of one of America’s richest families — reaped more than $4 billion in opioid profits, according to 
Opioid Lawsuits Are Headed to Trial. Here’s Why the Stakes Are Getting Uglier.
Uncontested: The devastation from prescription opioids has been deadly and inordinately expensive. Contested: Who should foot the bill? Just over a year ago, opioid lawsuits against makers and distributors of the painkillers were proliferating so rapidly that a judicial panel bundled all the federal cases under the stewardship of a single...
China’s Latest Cloned-Monkey Experiment Is an Ethical Mess
Chinese researchers have cloned five gene-edited monkeys with a host of genetic disease symptoms, according to two scientific papers published today. The researchers say they want to use the gene-edited macaques for biomedical research; basically, they hope that engineering sick primates will reduce the total number of macaques used in research around the world. But their experiment is a minefield...
Memorial Sloan Kettering Curbs Executives’ Ties to Industry After Conflict-of-Interest Scandals
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the world’s leading research institutions, announced on Friday that it would bar its top executives from serving on corporate boards of drug and health care companies that, in some cases, had paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Elizabeth Warren Apologizes to Cherokee Nation for DNA Test
Senator Elizabeth Warren has tried to put a nagging controversy behind her by apologizing privately to a leader of the Cherokee Nation for her decision to take a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry last year, a move that had angered some tribal leaders and ignited a significant political backlash.
Shortage of Anxiety Drug Leaves Patients Scrambling
A sudden shortage of one of the safest anti-anxiety drugs on the market has spread alarm among people who rely on the medication, buspirone, to get through the day without debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Physicians are also expressing concern, because there is no information about when the supply will resume, making it difficult to manage patients.
When Is the Surgeon Too Old to Operate?
In the fall of 2015, Dr. Herbert Dardik, chief of vascular surgery at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey, nodded off in the operating room. Note that Dr. Dardik, then 80, was not performing the operation. He’d undergone a minor medical procedure himself a few days earlier, so he’d told his patient that another...
Sackler Scion’s Email Reveals Push for High-Dose OxyContin, New Lawsuit Disclosures Claim
A member of the Sackler family that owns OxyContin’s maker directed the company to put a premium on selling high dosages of its potentially addicting painkillers, according to new disclosures in a lawsuit. Richard Sackler, a son of a founder of Purdue Pharma and its onetime president, told company officials in 2008 to “measure our performance...
These Patients Had Sickle-Cell Disease. Experimental Therapies Might Have Cured Them.
Scientists have long known what causes sickle-cell disease and its devastating effects: a single mutation in one errant gene. But for decades, there has been only modest progress against an inherited condition that mainly afflicts people of African descent. With advances in gene therapy, that is quickly changing — so much...
Japan’s approval of stem-cell treatment for spinal-cord injury concerns scientists
Japan has approved a stem-cell treatment for spinal-cord injuries. The event marks the first such therapy for this kind of injury to receive government approval for sale to patients. “This is an unprecedented revolution of science and medicine, which will open a new era of healthcare,” says oncologist Masanori Fukushima, head of the Translational Research Informatics Center, a Japanese government...
FDA identifies contamination source in blood pressure medicines used by millions
Federal regulators say they’ve identified the source of the cancer-causing impurities that have tainted millions of bottles of commonly used generic blood pressure and heart failure medications recalled by drugmakers over the last seven months. The carcinogens are a chemical byproduct of the process used to synthesize the active ingredient in the drugs, which include 
How to Stop Rogue Gene-Editing of Human Embryos?
Some U.S. researchers knew of a Chinese scientist’s intentions to implant edited embryos but were unable to stop him. Now scientific institutions are trying to devise global safeguards.
Scientists Are Teaching the Body to Accept New Organs
Patients receiving new kidneys and livers must take damaging anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. Now researchers hope to train the immune system instead of just tamping it down.
Deadly Ebola Virus Is Found in Liberian Bat, Researchers Say
Long a suspected source of the virus, bats had not been confirmed as carriers of the lethal disease in West Africa before. The discovery could help scientists learn more about how the virus infects humans.
China’s Latest Cloned-Monkey Experiment Is an Ethical Mess
Chinese researchers have cloned five gene-edited monkeys with a host of genetic disease symptoms, according to two scientific papers published today. The researchers say they want to use the gene-edited macaques for biomedical research; basically, they hope that engineering sick primates will reduce the total number of macaques used in research around the world. But their experiment is a minefield...
Activist who met with congressmen about ‘DNA’ posted about black ‘violence gene’
An alt-right activist who met with two Republican congressmen to discuss “DNA” and “genetics” posted on Facebook that he believes Muslims are “genetically different in their propensity for violence or rape” and linked to stories about how African-Americans “possessed a ‘violence’ gene.” Chuck Johnson met with Reps. Andy Harris of Maryland and Phil Roe of Tennessee on Thursday....
Vaginal mesh has caused health problems in many women, even as some surgeons vouch for its safety and efficacy
Vaginal mesh, used to repair and improve weakened pelvic tissues, is implanted in the vaginal wall. It was initially — in 1998 — thought to be a safe and easy solution for women suffering from stress urinary incontinence. But over time, complications were reported, including chronic inflammation, and mesh that shrinks and becomes encased in scar tissue causing...
JAMA opinion piece slams our addiction to ‘unnecessary’ MRIs, CT scans
When the Food and Drug Administration approved magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners in 1984, the machines seemed incredible. They offered an inside view of the human body, making it easier to diagnose disease, injuries and physical abnormalities. Today, they’re part of a multibillion-dollar industry: In 2016, 118 out of every 1,000 Americans got an MRI. The use...
Study Links Drug Maker Gifts for Doctors to More Overdose Deaths
A new study offers some of the strongest evidence yet of the connection between the marketing of opioids to doctors and the nation’s addiction epidemic. It found that counties where opioid manufacturers offered a large number of gifts and payments to doctors had more overdose deaths involving the drugs than counties where direct-to-physician marketing was less...
Hospitals Stopped Readmitting So Many Medicare Patients. Did That Cost Lives?
Are Medicare patients getting better care, or are they being kept out of hospitals to avoid readmission penalties? Are people getting hurt in the process? There’s no consensus on the answers, as research has produced conflicting results. But the questions intensified recently as two new studies helped stoke skepticism.
The Insulin Wars: How insurance companies farm out their dirty work to doctors and patients.
Congress and the Food and Drug Administration need to tame the Wild West of drug pricing. When there’s an E. coli outbreak that causes illness and death, we rightly expect our regulatory bodies to step in. The outbreak of insulin greed is no different.
F.D.A. Panel Splits on Whether to Approve New Diabetes Drug
An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration split evenly on Thursday over whether the agency should approve the first oral medication to treat Type 1 diabetes. The committee voted 8-8, leaving it up to the agency to decide by the end of March whether the drug, sotagliflozin, should reach the market.