Policy & Ethics

From vaping to cutting-edge biotechnology, UK health regulators do a far better job than their American counterparts. This was proven yet again when the UK beat the U.S. FDA at approving a coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer, an American company.
The day before Thanksgiving, "[t]he US reported more than 2,100 deaths in a single day [and] things are projected to get worse," especially with the December holidays plus New Year's coming up. We've got a season of merry-making ahead of us – which used to include family travel, vacations, and partying – all behaviors associated with COVID-19- spread. Things were looking gloomy – until three vaccine manufacturers recently reported promising and exciting vaccine trial results, which should be ready by spring. If we can just hang on till then, we'll be OK …., that is, if we can motivate the vaccine-hesitant.
The false narrative that prescription drugs caused the opioid crisis has been relentlessly undermined by evidence to the contrary, yet it remains. It may have suffered a ding here and there, but it's still mostly intact. But if evidence really matters, Dr. Jeffrey Singer just gave it another ding. Maybe even a dent. From 2019.
Medscape is a website focused on those working in healthcare. They recently ran a survey on some ethical dilemmas facing physicians.
For decades, using rational arguments, scientists failed to convince European politicians of the importance of biotechnology, including gene editing. The reason is that Europe is convinced it is on the side of great virtue.
Almost 100 years ago, Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel about a doctor trying to elevate scientific discovery over the pursuit of wealth that often accompanies the practice of medicine. The story was about young Dr. Martin Arrowsmith, who discovers a new treatment for bubonic plague. It appears the drug works – but without rigorous controlled experiments, who can be sure?  Arrowsmith wants to play by the scientific rules and hold off universal dispensation until he can "prove" the efficacy of the treatment using controlled studies -- all the while people are dying around him.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has canceled Thanksgiving as part of a new COVID lockdown. The Grinch of Whoville couldn't have created a better policy.
Operation Warp Speed brought together a broad array of government resources to achieve a similar, seemingly impossible rapid pace of development, regulatory approval, and distribution of vaccines to prevent COVID-19. But no matter how quickly or successfully vaccine(s) are developed we have been woefully ineffective in the development of other ways to tame the pandemic, especially readily available and accurate tests and proper PPE. Will the Biden plan pick up the slack?
I've been writing about the barbaric war against pain patients since 2013. Despite the hundreds of desperate emails I've received, and the stories I've read, it has never entirely hit home. Until now. My very elderly mom is being put through the wringer, in order to get some tramadol for back pain. If this doesn't demonstrate the colossal stupidity of our drug laws, nothing does.
Herd immunity as a way to fight COVID-19 is a hot topic these days -- but for all the wrong reasons. In an opinion column published in the Baltimore Sun, Dr. Katherine Seley-Radtke, and ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom argue that it's dangerous and simply won't work.
Americans -- so desperate to end the need for masks, social distancing, and limited access to restaurants, salons, concerts, and schools -- will surely be clamoring for a vaccine as soon as it’s available. Or will they?  Recent polls suggest that only about 40% of Americans would take the vaccine. It is vital that this number be increased. But how? Let's explore this issue.
Given that more than 200,000 Americans have died (at least in part) due to COVID-19, there seems little to lose and much to gain by green-lighting human challenge trials in which volunteers are vaccinated and then deliberately infected with coronavirus. The U.S. should follow the UK's lead.