Hot Topics: Health Care

Blog Posts (1823)

May 3, 2015

“Reasonable Profits” For Pharmaceutical Manufacturers?

<p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:200%"><span style="line-height: 200%; font-size: 11.1999998092651px;">With the recent success of the blockbuster drug Sovaldi© (Gilead Sciences, Inc.), the manufacturer’s <a href="https://www.google.com/#q=gilead+sciences+stock+price">stock price</a> has quintupled in the last four years. </span><span style="line-height: 200%; font-size: 11.1999998092651px;">This supports the views of some that pharmaceutical prices in America should be subject to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/us/obama-proposes-that-medicare-be-given-the-right-to-negotiate-the-cost-of-drugs.html">greater government scrutiny</a> and controls like other industrialized countries.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:200%"><span style="line-height: 200%; font-size: 11.1999998092651px;">High profits within the pharmaceutical industry are nothing new. “Historically [before the recent recession], the drug industry in America has been the </span><a style="line-height: 200%; font-size: 11.1999998092651px;" href="http://www.cluteinstitute.com/ojs/index.php/JBER/article/view/2640">top performing</a><span style="line-height: 200%; font-size: 11.1999998092651px;"> [sector] in terms of return on revenues (average 18.6%) and return on assets (average 17.7%) compared to 4.9% and 3.9% respectively for median companies in the Fortune 500 industries.” </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:200%"><span style="line-height: 200%; font-size: 11.1999998092651px;">The <a href="http://www.pnhp.org/sites/default/files/docs/2011/Biosocieties_2011_Myths_of_High_Drug_Research_Costs.pdf">extremely high costs</a> of drug research and development (R&amp;D) are often cited as the principal rationale for allowing an above average return and minimizing government price controls. </span><span style="line-height: 200%; font-size: 11.1999998092651px;">However, studies have shown that “[as t]o the question of whether pharmaceutical drugs costs are justified by R&amp;D, the answer is no. Pharmaceutical firms do indeed invest money in R&amp;D, as do other production and service firms, but this investment <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1536-7150.2011.00820.x/abstract">does not account for</a> their large ongoing profit, which ranges from 2.5 to 37 times the non-pharmaceutical industry average over time.”</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height:200%"><span style="line-height: 200%; font-size: 11.1999998092651px;"><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="color: #000099; text-decoration: underline;" href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong><span style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"> </span></span></p>
May 2, 2015

Savannah Law Review Symposium: The Walking Dead

The Savannah Law Review is looking for papers for their September The Walking Dead, on September 18-19, 2015 symposium,

The symposium will survey academic topics about how death, and fear of death, affects the law of the living.  The Walking Dead Colloquium will provide a forum to discuss the “shadowy” legal interpolation of the dead on the living and explore both its positive and negative ramifications in an effort to strike a pluralistic balance between the law of past, present, and future.  Thematic examples include:

  • Legal recognition of the dead’s wishes affecting real property and intellectual property
  • Regulation of pandemics from yellow fever to Ebola
  • Constitutional analysis relying upon views of the dead—the Framers—versus a “living” Constitution
  • The death penalty
  • Desecration laws
  • The Right to Die Movement
  • Posthumous evidentiary privileges
  • Wrongful death and rights of survivorship
  • Regulation of corpses, organ donation, and burials
  • Stigma harms to real property inhabited by ghosts
  • Post-apocalyptic justice.

Abstracts no longer than 500 words are due by August 1, 2015.

May 2, 2015

Savannah Law Review Symposium: The Walking Dead

The Savannah Law Review is looking for papers for their September The Walking Dead, on September 18-19, 2015 symposium,

The symposium will survey academic topics about how death, and fear of death, affects the law of the living.  The Walking Dead Colloquium will provide a forum to discuss the “shadowy” legal interpolation of the dead on the living and explore both its positive and negative ramifications in an effort to strike a pluralistic balance between the law of past, present, and future.  Thematic examples include:

  • Legal recognition of the dead’s wishes affecting real property and intellectual property
  • Regulation of pandemics from yellow fever to Ebola
  • Constitutional analysis relying upon views of the dead—the Framers—versus a “living” Constitution
  • The death penalty
  • Desecration laws
  • The Right to Die Movement
  • Posthumous evidentiary privileges
  • Wrongful death and rights of survivorship
  • Regulation of corpses, organ donation, and burials
  • Stigma harms to real property inhabited by ghosts
  • Post-apocalyptic justice.

Abstracts no longer than 500 words are due by August 1, 2015.

May 1, 2015

Making the Most of Terminal Illness (humor)

A doctor told her patient that his test results indicated that he had a rare disease and had only six months to live.

“Isn’t there anything I can do?”, pleaded the patient.

“Marry a lawyer,” the doctor advised.  “It will be the longest six months of your life.”

May 1, 2015

Granny Takes an Art Class

My Journey with Elizabeth Layton

Although it was nearly 40 years ago, I remember seeing Elizabeth Layton's drawings for the first time as if it were yesterday. I was a young reporter for The Herald newspaper in Ottawa, Kansas, when I saw two of these drawings. They made me laugh and cry at the same time. Drawings of an old woman with big green eyes that reached out to me.

Then, I learned from her art teacher at Ottawa University that Elizabeth Layton was 68 years old and taking her first art course. This, I realized, would be a good story for my newspaper, "Granny Takes Art Class." Meeting her, however, I realized that this was more than a one-time story for the Ottawa Herald. It would be my life.

When the story appeared in The Herald, I had also arranged for a dozen of her drawings to be shown at the local library. Visiting her weekly, I learned more of the story. She had been depressed half her life and undergone shock treatments. Learning to draw helped to cure her depression. It was gone six months after she began drawing by looking at herself in a mirror and drawing not only what she saw but what she felt.

I was able to arrange for one-person exhibitions of her work in about 160 museums across the country, including the Smithsonian. And I was able to get coverage of her in Life, People and Parade magazines, as well as NPR and Good Morning America.

She and I had an understanding and a mission. We knew that viewing her drawings could and has helped people – people dealing with their own aging, their own depression, their own families. And the drawings could help people better understand the social issues around them – racial injustice, homosexuality, the environment, homeless, and on and on.

Elizabeth had to draw and I had to get those drawings "out there." It was my therapy during the last 16 years of her life and the 22 years since.

By Don Lambert, Curator
May 1, 2015

More Healthcare Job Growth

The other day I posted a picture on job growth in the United States, in healthcare versus other parts of the economy. It showed that most growth was healthcare related. Well here is another picture, from the Wall Street Journal, … Continue reading

The post More Healthcare Job Growth appeared first on PeterUbel.com.

May 1, 2015

Health Law at AALS 2016 in NYC

Like this January in Washington, DC, the 2016 AALS annual meeting in NYC is shaping up to include quite a bit of programming related to health law.  From the preliminary schedule: Thursday, January 7, 2016 3:30 - 4:45:  Works-In-Progress fo...
April 30, 2015

More on Gene Editing

The recently-public discussion of gene editing has been going on for over a month now.  I have been meaning to try to catch up with some of it.  Tuesday’s post by Courtney Thiele got there first.  This post will attempt to amplify a bit on what Courtney wrote. As Courtney pointed out, the technology involves making selective genetic changes of interest, including, but clearly not... // Read More »
April 30, 2015

Rationing - The Case of NICU and the Place of Cost-effectiveness Thresholds

Julian Savulescu will be delivering the next public lecture at the Australian Centre for Health Law Research:  "Rationing - The Case of NICU and the Place of Cost-effectiveness Thresholds" on May 18.

When health professionals are considering whether or not to provide life-sustaining treatment to a critically ill newborn infant, they often consider the best interests of the child. Frequently, they will consult with the infant’s parents, and take into account parents’ interests and their views about treatment for the child. However, there is one important ethical factor that health professionals do not necessarily consider, or (at least explicitly) acknowledge. Resource limitations and the effect of treatment of others are of fundamental importance for end of life decisions, even in well-resourced countries like Australia.

In this presentation Professor Savulescu will first set out the principles that should underlie resource allocation in a public health system. He reviews arguments for and against rationing. In the second half of the presentation Professor Savulescu will use existing cost effectiveness thresholds to shed light on the question of medical futility in intensive care. He draws on the examples of short-bowel syndrome, spinal muscular atrophy, neonatal ECMO and trisomy 18. 

  • How low a probability of survival is too low
  • How long a course of intensive care is too long? 
  • When are doctors justified in withholding treatment because of future quality of life? 

Rationing is inevitable in intensive care. However, for it to be ethical it must be transparent, consistent and rational.


Professor Julian Savulescu is the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford and Director of the Institute for Science and Ethics, Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. He is also the Director of the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, one of three strategic centres in biomedical ethics in the UK funded by the Wellcome Trust, and was recently awarded their flagship Senior Investigator Award. He is the Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Professor at Monash University and an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Florey Neuroscience Institute. He is also an Adjunct Professor of the Australian Centre for Health Law Research.

Professor Savulescu holds degrees in medicine, neuroscience and bioethics, and is a leader in medical and practical ethics. He is editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics and founding editor of Journal of Practical Ethics, an open access journal in Practical Ethics. He has authored over 250 publications and has given over 120 invited international presentations.

April 30, 2015

Marsala v. Yale New Haven Hospital

The medical futility lawsuit for damages against Yale New Haven Hospital was scheduled for trial next month.  But the case is now stayed while the plaintiffs take up an appeal. The appeal concerns whether plaintiffs can pursue their IIED (intenti...

View More Blog Entries

Published Articles (20)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 4 - Apr 2015

Ideology and Microbiology: Ebola, Science, and Deliberative Democracy Joseph J. Fins

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 2 - Feb 2015

Collectivizing Rescue Obligations in Bioethics Jeremy R. Garrett

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 2 - Feb 2015

Rethinking the Rescue Paradigm Kayhan Parsi

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 9 - Sep 2014

Addressing Dual Agency: Getting Specific About the Expectations of Professionalism Jon C. Tilburt

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 7 - Jul 2014

The Principle of Equivalence Reconsidered: Assessing the Relevance of the Principle of Equivalence in Prison Medicine Fabrice Jotterand & Tenzin Wangmo

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 6 - Jun 2014

Patient and Citizen Participation in Health: The Need for Improved Ethical Support Laura Williamson

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 2 - Feb 2014

Ethical Review of Health Systems Research in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Conceptual Exploration Adnan A. Hyder, Abbas Rattani, Carleigh Krubiner, Abdulgafoor M. Bachani & Nhan T. Tran

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 2 - Feb 2014

Connecting Health Systems Research Ethics to a Broader Health Equity Agenda Bridget Pratt

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 9 - Sep 2013

An Ethical Analysis of Mandatory Influenza Vaccination of Health Care Personnel: Implementing Fairly and Balancing Benefits and Burdens Armand H. Matheny Antommaria

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 9 - Sep 2013

Vaccine Mandates Are Justifiable Because We Are All in This Together John D. Lantos and Mary Anne Jackson

View More Articles

News (1985)

April 20, 2015 4:28 pm

Type, frequency of e-cigarette use linked to quitting smoking

Two new studies looking at whether electronic cigarettes help smokers to quit their deadly habit have found that while some of them can, it depends on the type and how often it is used.

March 19, 2015 1:44 pm

Industry makes $7,000 for each tobacco death: health campaigners

The tobacco industry makes $7,000 for each of the more than 6 million people who die each year from smoking-related illness, the health campaign group World Lung Foundation (WLF) said.

March 13, 2015 6:23 pm

Transgender people face discrimination in healthcare

Many transgender men face discrimination in U.S. healthcare settings, according to a new study.

March 11, 2015 6:29 pm

Online offers of personalized cancer medicine may not be trustworthy

Tumor tests, genetic risk analyses and other products or services sold online as personalized cancer medicine are often not backed by evidence, according to a new U.S. study.

March 10, 2015 6:43 pm

Electric 'noise' treats Parkinson's symptoms

A wearable device that stimulates the sense of balance with electric “noise” could help Parkinson’s disease patients, according to Swedish scientists.

March 9, 2015 6:28 pm

Seeing medical records might ease hospital patients’ confusion

Letting patients see their medical records while they’re in the hospital might ease worry and confusion without extra work for doctors and nurses, a small study suggests.

February 12, 2015 4:30 pm

Disabled elderly decline sharply after ICU

Seniors admitted to the hospital intensive care unit (ICU) were more likely to die or sharply decline soon after their release depending on how well they functioned beforehand, according to a new study.

January 30, 2015 2:50 pm

Obama thinks "precision medicine" will make us healthier. Experts are skeptical.

The White House is committing $215 million to support efforts to develop personalized medicine, a priority the President touched on in his State of the Union earlier this month.

January 29, 2015 2:55 pm

Obama to Request Research Funding for Treatments Tailored to Patients’ DNA

President Obama will seek hundreds of millions of dollars for a new initiative to develop medical treatments tailored to genetic and other characteristics of individual patients, administration officials say.

January 26, 2015 2:49 pm

Golden years? Researcher explores longevity research and the companies banking on its success

Aging research, as we knew it in the 1990s and 2000’s, is being abandoned in favor of something much more ambitious. The central features of longevity research include an embrace of big data, a pivot away from studies hoping to find aging genes, a recognition that aging is best thought of a collection of diseases, not just one disease.

View More News Items