Policy & Ethics

Changing the world is hard work. Marching and protesting is easy, but learning about science and taking meaningful action -- like planting a trillion trees -- requires substantial intellectual and physical effort. No wonder so few are willing to do it.
The rest of the world has not been out snoozing in the sun. But Americans have had access only to older generations of sunscreens that prevent sunburn — but not the deeper damage that can cause skin cancer.
When there is little if any money to be made curing a disease, non-profits could come to the rescue.
Usually, when we have something to say about California, it's bad. After all, this is the state that gave us Proposition 65, a smorgasbord of insane public health policies, as well as 38 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. But now, the state has done something good. In fact, very good.
The other day, CNN hosted a 7-hour long climate change town hall for the Democratic presidential candidates. This, of course, isn't the only scientific topic of relevance to Americans. If we were running the debate, we would ask questions about the following science and health topics: Vaccines, opioids, energy policy, alternative medicine, vaping, stem cells, and genetic engineering.
While an investigation is underway into the exact nature of the problem, so far the likeliest explanation is that improper use of vaping devices has led to illness, or the death, of some users. But that sort of nuance isn't governing the thinking of the FDA or CDC officials, both of which are allowing myths and fearmongering to drive their policies and public statements.
CVS just sent out a mass email patting itself on the back because the pharmacy chain no longer sells cigarettes. That's fine and good. But here's some of the other junk they sell.
Unless he has a miraculous change of mind and heart, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will be remembered as a scourge on public health. He'll also be the Kennedy whose words and actions encouraged the spread of not only measles, mumps, and rubella but influenza and cervical cancer as well. What a legacy.
The enormous Rand Corporation just issued a 265-page report discussing how and why fentanyl is plaguing the United States. Interesting stuff, but "itsy bitsy" ACSH was all over this years ago. See for yourself.
Oklahoma now has 572 million extra dollars, thanks to a judge's ruling that Johnson & Johnson was partly responsible for the so-called opioid crisis. Other states will follow and J&J will cough up a bunch of money, regardless of whether the company did anything wrong or not. Other companies will be hit as well. Meanwhile, ponder these questions: Why would any company sell opioids from now on? And what will this mean for you?
Can we forget past misdeeds? If you have done the crime (and the time) are you forgiven? Or do you continue to carry that baggage? Forgetting is a topic journalists and hospital credential committees have been grappling with for some time.
Irrespective of whether you believe Roundup or opioids demand corporate liability, it is worth considering how corporations shift liability to others while attempting to retain their profits.