Policy & Ethics

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.
Although pain patients in the US continue to struggle mightily to get the prescription opioids they need at least they (finally) have the American Medical Association behind them. But in Canada, patient advocacy groups are also fighting the Canadian Medical Association – something that can be seen in an open letter from the Chronic Pain Association of Canada to the CMA. Here are some highlights of the letter, especially those involving contributions of ACSH.
Bad behavior has consequences, except when you are a social media platform. But the number of peer-reviewed articles subsequently retracted raises the question of whether medical journals believe that they too are "platforms," without responsibility for what they publish and disseminate.
As the possibility of a vaccine for COVID-19 draws nearer, so does the consideration of who is "first" in line to receive it. Should we protect the vulnerable, like the elderly, or reduce the spread by prioritizing "superspreaders"? More importantly, beyond this utilitarian consideration are there additional ethical concerns? Let's take a look.
The RAND Corporation recently released a study of hospital pricing for commercial insurance vs. Medicare, the de facto standard. It's no surprise that commercial insurance pays more than double Medicare. And those payments are not evenly distributed nationally, within states, or even health systems. 
Should you happen to be in the vicinity of Albuquerque don't miss the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. It is fascinating. It's also bewildering to see what people were putting in, and on, their bodies in the 1920s and 30s. The exhibits in this New Mexico museum make today's quackery look like peer-reviewed studies in JAMA. Here are some of them.
It's time for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to withdraw this page to correct its many errors and distortions.  A principal author of the 2016 CDC Guidelines on the prescription of opioids to adults with chronic pain is responsible for many of these errors. Richard Lawhern (pictured) addressed these mistakes in this open letter.
What happens when politics and science mix? Scary stuff. Dr. Henry Miller examines the considerable downside of releasing any COVID vaccine prior to the completion of Phase 3 trials. The founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology, Dr. Miller argues that precise science, not the date of an election, is critical at this time.
In July, the CDC released a preliminary report showing that opioid‐​related overdose deaths increased 6.2 percent from December 2018 to December 2019. During that same period, deaths due to fentanyl and its analogs increased 15.8 percent. Seemingly in a state of denial, weeks later H.R. 7701 was introduced in Congress, effectively doubling down on clearly failed policies. ACSH advisor Dr. Jeff Singer (pictured) takes a closer look at this issue while examining the wayward thinking permeating the House.
Are vaccines going to be adequately tested for safety and efficacy if Phase 3 clinical trials are not completed? Does convalescent plasma work to treat COVID? Is the COVID death toll inflated? We attempt to clarify these controversies.
A fact-checking site called PolitiFact weighs in on the validity of the claim that opioid deaths decreased in 2018, thus supposedly marking the first time we are getting control of the "opioid epidemic." Let's fact-check the fact-checkers. Plus, Andrew Kolodny dines on his own words.
As I watch the current debacle of our children preparing to return to school, I more and more feel it is time to take a moment to talk about the errors we have made. My original thoughts turned to responsibility and accountability, words that have occupied my professional life as a surgeon, words molding my thinking just as they molded my character.