Category: Ethics

Right-to-try

The cruel sham that will not die: Right-to-try marches on in California and beyond

State "right-to-try" bills are springing up like kudzu all over the US. Their advocates promise that they would save lives by allowing terminally ill patients access to experimental therapeutics. This is a delusion; even the most fervent supporters of right-to-try have trouble pointing to a single patient who has benefited from such a law. In reality, right-to-try laws are a cruel sham...

/ August 29, 2016

Pharmacy and homeopathy: Will the profession change, or will change be forced upon it?

Retail pharmacy is giving itself a credibility problem. While pharmacists are highly trusted health professionals, there are increasing questions about the products sold in pharmacies. Many of the non-prescription products that you can find aren’t backed by good evidence. And the number of dubious products seems to be growing. Homeopathy is an extreme example. Homeopathic “remedies” look like conventional medicine, but unlike...

/ August 11, 2016
What's the harm? Stroke victim Jim Gass went from requiring a cane and leg brace to walk to being confined to a wheelchair, thanks to dubious stem cell treatments. There's the harm.

What’s the harm? Stem cell tourism edition

Stem cells have become big business. Offshore clinics claim to use stem cells to treat anything from aging, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and even autism, all without compelling evidence that these treatments have any meaningful effect. Unfortunately, the potential for harm, both financial and to health, is high, as the case of Jim Gass demonstrates.

/ June 27, 2016

Parents Convicted in Death of Toddler

This is a very sad and tragic case, and I have great sympathy for the extended family of Ezekiel Stephan, the 19-month-old who died of meningitis four years ago. In my opinion, there are many victims in this case. The jury, apparently, agreed. Yesterday they returned a guilty verdict for Ezekiel’s parents, David and Collet Stephan, who now face sentencing for failing...

/ April 27, 2016

Academic Consortium plan: force medical residents to practice integrative medicine

“Integrative medicine” (IM) is an ideological movement within medicine driven in large part by those whose livelihoods depend on its continued existence. This includes both those with positions in academic medicine and individual practitioners who use the IM brand to attract patients. Despite IM and its antecedents (alternative, complementary, alternative and complementary, complementary and integrative) having been around for about a quarter...

/ April 14, 2016

Patient Beware: Off-label drug promotion by pharmaceutical companies

Pharmaceutical companies and their sales reps can distribute information, such as medical journal articles, about unapproved (“off-label“) uses of their drugs as long as they adhere to FDA guidelines. However, the FDA takes the position that this information must be distributed separately from information that is “promotional in nature,” i.e., for marketing purposes, a position that is now open to question. Off-label...

/ March 3, 2016
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Reporting results from clinical trials is vital for science-based medicine

Clinical trials must report on their outcomes, irrespective their results. Doctors and their patients need all the information, not just the good news stories, to make informed decisions.

/ February 28, 2016

Is it ethical to sell complementary and alternative medicine?

Complementary and alternative medicine may be legal to sell - but is it ethical to sell?

/ February 11, 2016

Docs v. Glocks: government regulation of physician speech

A few years ago, an Ocala, Florida, pediatrician, as part of a routine visit, asked a patient’s mother whether she kept firearms in the home. She refused to answer, feeling the question constituted an invasion of her right to privacy. The pediatrician then terminated the relationship and told the mother she had 30 days to find a new doctor for her child....

/ January 21, 2016

CRISPR and the Ethics of Gene Editing

If you have not heard of CRISPR yet, you should have. This is a truly transformative technology that allows for cheap and easy gene editing. It makes a powerful technology easily accessible. Powerful biological technology, like stem cells to give another example, always seem to provoke profound hope and fear. The ability to manipulate human biology comes with it the hope of...

/ December 2, 2015