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Bioethics news.

DNA testing company will now let users opt out of helping the FBI
At-home DNA testing site FamilyTreeDNA — which was widely criticized for working with the FBI without telling its customers — will now offer users the option to prevent law enforcement from accessing their data.
Tobacco and E-Cigarette Lobbyists Circle as F.D.A. Chief Exits
Dr. Scott Gottlieb became commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in 2017 with an ambitious plan to reduce cigarette smoking, a habit that kills nearly half a million Americans each year, by shifting smokers to less harmful alternatives like e-cigarettes. But he was quickly embroiled in an unexpected crisis: the explosion of vaping among millions...
Alzheimer’s Screenings Often Left Out Of Seniors’ Wellness Exams
Primary care doctors are really good at checking seniors’ cholesterol levels and blood pressure but often fail to use tests that could detect dementia. Fewer than half of primary care doctors surveyed say they routinely test patients 65 and older for problems with memory and thinking, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer’s Association.
U.S. Cities Skeptical Of FDA Warnings Against Medicine Imports From Canadian Firm
The Food and Drug Administration suggests consumers who get prescription drugs mailed to them via CanaRx are at risk of getting mislabeled or counterfeit drugs. But consumer watchdog groups say the FDA has supplied no evidence that’s happened.
Invisibilia: For Some Teens With Debilitating Pain, The Treatment Is More Pain
Invisibilia, the show about the invisible forces that shape human behavior, is back with Season 5. The first episode of the new season looks at pain in our culture through a medical mystery — and a bizarre treatment program that offers a counter-intuitive treatment approach.
Health-care providers say CDC’s opioid guidelines are harming pain patients
More than 300 health-care experts told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday that the agency’s landmark guidelines for the use of opioids against chronic pain are harming patients who suffer from long-term pain and benefit from the prescription narcotics. The health-care providers, including three former U.S. drug czars, said the CDC recommendation of a daily numerical...
An unvaccinated child contracted tetanus. It took two months and more than $800K to save him.
For more than 30 years in Oregon, cases of tetanus in children were almost mythical — studied in textbooks but never seen in person — thanks to the effectiveness of pediatric vaccination programs. That streak ended in 2017 when an unvaccinated 6-year-old boy arrived at a hospital in the state, experiencing jaw spasms and struggling to breathe, according...
Teen who defied anti-vax mom says she got false information from one source: Facebook
An 18-year-old from Ohio who famously inoculated himself against his mother’s wishes in December says he attributes his mother’s anti-vaccine ideology to a single source: Facebook. Ethan Lindenberger, a high school senior, testified Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and underscored the importance of “credible” information. In contrast, he said, the false...
Doctors Welcome New Depression Drug, Cautiously
Doctors welcomed federal approval this week of a new, fast-acting nasal spray for depression. But also they expressed concerns about its cost and long-term effects, as well as the logistics of administering it in accordance with safety requirements. The new drug, esketamine, made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, won approval from the Food and Drug Administration...
The Side Effects of Million-Dollar Drugs
It’s only a matter of time until the first million-dollar drug arrives in a deeply dysfunctional health-care system. With the new drugs come painful questions: Who is stuck with the bill, do they have the cash to pay it and how can they avoid the obligation?
Get paid for your data? California governor wants tech companies to show you the money
During his State of the State address last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a brief, if bold, promise. “California’s consumers should be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data,” said Newsom, who went on to add that his team was working up a proposal for what he called a...
Former sales exec says opioid maker Insys bribed doctors to prescribe drugs
BOSTON — The former head of sales for an opioid manufacturer took the stand in federal court here Friday to describe how he followed directions to recruit and bribe doctors for years to increase sales of the company’s highly addictive drug. The testimony of Alec Burlakoff, the former vice president of sales for Insys...
Drug Companies and Doctors Battle Over the Future of Fecal Transplants
There’s a new war raging in health care, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake and thousands of lives in the balance. The battle, pitting drug companies against doctors and patient advocates, is being fought over the unlikeliest of substances: human excrement. The clash is over the future of fecal microbiota transplants, or...
One Twin Committed the Crime — but Which One? A New DNA Test Can Finger the Culprit
One night in November 1999, a 26-year-old woman was raped in a parking lot in Grand Rapids, Mich. Police officers managed to get the perpetrator’s DNA from a semen sample, but it matched no one in their databases. Detectives found no fingerprints at the scene and located no witnesses. The woman, who had been attacked from...
OF ALL THE big, world-remaking bets on the genome-editing tool known as Crispr, perhaps none is more tantalizing than its potential to edit some of humanity’s worst diseases right out of the history books. Just this week, Crispr Therapeutics announcedit had begun treating patients with an inherited blood disorder called beta thalassemia, in the Western drug industry’s first...
The Trump administration wants to censor doctors. It’s unprecedented — and unethical.
The Trump-Pence administration just made an unprecedented move to implement an unethical “gag” rule, prohibiting doctors and nurses from providing millions of patients with full information about their health-care options. This is a serious threat to the deep trust between health-care providers and our patients, and an attack on access to health care for those...
Shutdown Poses Risk to Health Care
Some consumers may face higher ACA premiums and insurers delay plans for 2020 because of staff shortages. The longest-ever U.S. government shutdown is posing new risks to the Affordable Care Act and some health services, prompting alarm from insurers, providers and congressional Democrats who say the...
WHO Reacts to Chinese Gene-Edited Twins With Plan for Global Guidelines
The World Health Organization established a new committee to set guidelines for scientists editing human DNA, just months after the controversial births of the world’s first gene-edited babies in China.
FDA takes fresh look at whether opioids are effective for chronic pain
The Food and Drug Administration will require drug companies to study whether prescription opioids are effective in quelling chronic pain — another step in the government’s efforts to rein in use of the narcotics that spawned the drug epidemic. Some studies already indicate that opioids are ineffective for pain beyond 12 weeks and many experts say long-term use can...
Anti-vaxxers face backlash as measles cases surge
The resurgence of measles across the United States is spurring a backlash against vaccine critics, from congressional hearings probing the spread of vaccine misinformation to state measures that would make it harder for parents to opt out of immunizing their children. In Washington state, where the worst measles outbreak in more than two decades has sickened nearly 
American Firm, Citing Ethics Code, Won’t Sell Genetic Sequencers in Xinjiang
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. said it will no longer be selling or servicing genetic sequencers in China’s Xinjiang region, following mounting criticism that its products were used for state surveillance of citizens there that enabled human rights abuses.
The Nightmare of Human Organ Harvesting in China
China stands accused of a gruesome trade in human organs. It’s difficult to prove, because the victims’ bodies are disposed of and the only witnesses are the doctors, police and prison guards involved. Even so, the evidence supports a damning verdict.
China’s CRISPR twins might have had their brains inadvertently enhanced
New research suggests that a controversial gene-editing experiment to make children resistant to HIV may also have enhanced their ability to learn and form memories.
The Case Against Cough Medicine
Evidence is sorely lacking for the value of any over-the-counter remedy to treat most coughs.
Measles Outbreak: Your Questions Answered
Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, but scattered outbreaks have occurred in recent years. This year there have been five — in New York, Texas, and Washington State — for a total of more than 120 cases.
Scientists Release Controversial Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In High-Security Lab
Scientists have launched a major new phase in the testing of a controversial genetically modified organism: a mosquito designed to quickly spread a genetic mutation lethal to its own species, NPR has learned.
FDA, drug companies, doctors mishandled use of powerful fentanyl painkiller
The Food and Drug Administration, drug companies and doctors mishandled distribution of a powerful fentanyl painkiller, allowing widespread prescribing to ineligible patients despite special measures designed to safeguard its use, according to a report released Tuesday.
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...