Category: Ethics

Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Is the use of “Open-Label” Placebo Ethical in the Treatment of Children?

Is the use of "open-label" placebo ethical in pediatric medical care, or any care for that matter? A recent article in Pediatrics discussing this issue comes to a flawed conclusion based on a misunderstanding of placebo and of the literature on placebo without deception.

/ August 25, 2017
Food and Drug Administration building.

Sen. Ron Johnson: Holding the bill funding the FDA hostage unless the cruel sham that is right-to-try is added to it

Advocates claim that "right-to-try" laws help terminally patients by allowing them access to experimental drugs before approval, when, in fact, such laws strip legal and regulatory protections from patients using such drugs and their purpose is actually to undermine and weaken the FDA. Now advocates led by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) are making a new push to pass right-to-try by embedding it...

/ July 17, 2017
Cassandra Callender in 2015.

The sad but unexpectedly hopeful cancer saga of Cassandra Callender

I've frequently discussed the stories of teenagers with cancer who either refuse chemotherapy or whose parents refuse chemotherapy for them. The case of Cassandra Callender is the same, yet different, from many of these unfortunate and sad sagas in that she was older when diagnosed with cancer and that she realized her mistake. I can now only hope that it's not too...

/ June 19, 2017
grumpyteen

The Ethics of Involuntary Pediatric Drug Testing

Although it may seem like a good idea, testing for recreational drug use on an adolescent patient without consent is ethically questionable, challenging to interpret, and unlikely to benefit patient or family.

/ June 16, 2017
If you were to believe antivaxers, you'd think that they're doing Cersei's walk of atonement (complete with a priestess chanting, "Shame! Shame! Shame!") every day. But is this true?

Does society try to shame and shun vaccine refusers and the vaccine-averse?

Antivaxers often complain that they are judged harshly, even shunned. A recent study suggests that, to some extent, they might well be. But are judging, shaming, and shunning parents who refuse to vaccinate their children wrong? More importantly, what about the children, who didn’t choose not to be vaccinated, and how likely is such stigmatization to change behavior?

/ June 12, 2017
1024px-Scylla-and-Charbydis

Naturopathic Experiences: Remembrance of things past.

Interacting with patients who also get care from naturopaths: uncomfortable dilemmas.

/ April 14, 2017
nof1book2c

Myths integrative medicine sells us: “We never advocate alternative medicine without conventional medicine”

"Integrative medicine" (IM) effectively integrates quackery with real medicine. The main talking point by advocates of IM meant to deflect this criticism is that IM practitioners always use alternative medicine with conventional medicine and never advocate the use of alternative medicine alone. A new book by a prominent advocate of IM suggests that this talking point is at best self-delusion among academics...

/ January 8, 2017
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Can the mind really heal the body? The false narrative of placebo “healing” revisited

Placebo effects are inextricably bound to the question of whether the alternative medicine modalities that are being “integrated” into medicine actually have any useful therapeutic effects or not; i.e., whether they are merely placebos. Here, I examine an article in National Geographic that peddles the false narrative that placebo effects have real "healing" powers against diseases like Parkinson's disease.

/ December 12, 2016
Martin Shkreli testifying

R&D and the High Cost of Drugs

Until a year ago very few people had ever heard of Martin Shkreli. In 2015 the then-32-year-old CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC became the poster boy for Big Pharma eXXXcesses when Turing acquired rights to Daraprim, an antiparasitic drug used widely to treat toxoplasmosis. The acquisition itself wasn’t particularly controversial. Raising the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per...

/ October 15, 2016
Kenneth Woliner

Is there a distinct standard of care for “integrative” physicians? The Woliner case

We at SBM argue that there should be a single, science-based standard of care in medicine. Unfortunately, with the rise of "complementary and alternative medicine" (CAM) also called "integrative medicine," there is a separate standard emerging that allows CAM practitioners to get away with using unproven and disproven treatments. The case of Dr. Kenneth Woliner illustrates this problem.

/ October 13, 2016