Australian police accessed phone records of asylum whistleblower

The Guardian, online 24 May 2016
Author: Paul Farrell
“Australian police investigated an immigration detention whistleblower and accessed his phone records in part because of his criticism of the country’s asylum seeker policies.
Guardian Australia can reveal that the Australian federal police (AFP) compiled hundreds of pages of investigative file notes and reports surrounding Dr Peter Young following two news reports by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian newspaper in December 2014 that disclosed the medical records of Hamid Khazaei, an asylum seeker on Manus Island who died following a skin infection on his leg. Young, who is a former medical director of mental health for Australia’s detention centres, urged workers from inside the system to be “angry and defiant” about attacks on whistleblowing.”
Find article here.

Canada (Attorney General) v E.F., 2016 ABCA 155

Decision: 17 May 2016
[2] …In Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5 (CanLII), [2015] 1 SCR 331 (Carter 2015), a unanimous Supreme Court held that, for some people, ss 241(b) and 14 unjustifiably infringe the rights to life, liberty and security of the person guaranteed by s 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Notwithstanding that decision, for the time-being the law remains unchanged. In Carter 2015, the Supreme Court suspended its declaration of invalidity for twelve months to allow Parliament time to craft an appropriate legislative response.
…[11] The appeal raises two legal issues regarding the interpretation of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter 2015: (1) does the constitutional exemption granted in Carter 2016 apply only to applicants whose medical conditions are terminal?; and (2) are those persons suffering psychiatric conditions and who otherwise comply with the criteria in Carter 2015 similarly excluded from the ambit of the constitutional exemption?
[12] The appellants also argue that the evidentiary threshold necessary to grant a judicial authorization was not met in this case. They say the medical evidence presented to the motions judge was insufficient to support the conclusion that E.F. has a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes her enduring suffering that is intolerable to her; in particular, British Columbia argues that there was insufficient psychiatric evidence that E.F’s condition is “irremediable”.
[13] Neither appellant takes issue with E.F.’s competency or her ability to consent to the termination of her life.”
Find decision here. Find BMJ article ‘Canada’s courts and government disagree on assisted dying as deadline looms‘.

Snakes and ladders: state interventions and the place of liberty in public health policy

J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2016-103502
Author: Angus J Dawson
“In this paper I outline and explore some problems in the way that the Nuffield Council of Bioethics’ report Public Health: Ethical Issues (2007) presents its ‘Intervention Ladder’. They see the metaphor of a ladder both as capturing key normative priorities and as making a real and important contribution to ethical policymaking in public health. In this paper I argue that the intervention ladder is not a useful model for thinking about policy decisions, that it is likely to produce poor decisions and that it is incompatible with the report’s stated approach to relevant public health policy values.”
Find abstract here.

Mental Illness, Natural Death, and Non-Voluntary Passive Euthanasia

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, June 2016, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 635-648
Author: Jukka Varelius
“When it is considered to be in their best interests, withholding and withdrawing life-supporting treatment from non-competent physically ill or injured patients – non-voluntary passive euthanasia, as it has been called – is generally accepted. A central reason in support of the procedures relates to the perceived manner of death they involve: in non-voluntary passive euthanasia death is seen to come about naturally. When a non-competent psychiatric patient attempts to kill herself, the mental health care providers treating her are obligated to try to stop her. …In this article, I consider whether the suicidal death of a non-competent psychiatric patient would necessarily be less natural than those of physically ill or injured patients who die as a result of non-voluntary passive euthanasia. I argue that it would not.”
Find abstract here.

Address to the Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly: WHO Director-General

Director-General of the World Health Organization, online 23 May 2016
“Member States have approved roadmaps of strategic actions for taking forward work on individual health targets. Nearly all these strategies and plans map out priority R&D innovations that will boost the prospects of reaching ambitious goals. Innovations help, but ambitious goals are feasible and affordable only if we cut out waste and inefficiency. We do so through integrated, people-centred care that spans the life course, from pre-conception through ageing, and brings prevention to the fore. The target for universal health coverage moves us in that direction. UHC is the target that underpins all others. It is the ultimate expression of fairness that leaves no one behind. It also has the best chance of meetings people’s expectations for comprehensive care that does not drive them below the poverty line.”
Find full address here. Find WHA Assembly (23-28 May) details here.

Doctors raise concerns about India’s draft bill to regulate life support withdrawal

BMJ 2016;353:i2919
Author: Ganapati Mudur
“India’s first draft bill to regulate decisions to withhold or withdraw life support and medical treatment to terminally ill patients has worried doctors who believe that the proposed rules may involve the courts in medical decisions. The bill, released by the Indian health ministry last week for public responses, would allow terminally ill people or their families to decline treatment and doctors receiving such requests to withhold or withdraw support without the threat of legal consequences.1”
Find extract here.

Preventing A Thousand Flints: Getting Reform Of Chemical Regulation Right

Health Affairs, blog 23 May 32016
Authors: Leonardo Trasande and Bruce Lanphear
“The contamination of water with lead in Flint, Michigan has rightly refocused national attention on the ongoing tragedy of childhood lead exposure in the United States. As John Oliver has rightly and wittily noted, water is but one source of exposure; another compelling tragedy is our ongoing failure to fund the control of lead-based paint hazards, which represent a large and preventable source of childhood lead exposure. …The costs of lead poisoning are likely to pale in comparison with a broader, unknown set of synthetic chemical hazards commonly found in the environment. There are over 85,000 such chemicals in widespread use, with over 600 new chemicals introduced each year. Yet the current law for managing chemical hazards, which was promulgated in 1976 as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), grandfathered-in 60,000 chemicals that were already in use and gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) little power to require proof of safety for newly manufactured chemicals.”
Find article here.

French drug agency was not wrong to allow deadly trial, review says

BMJ 2016;353:i2774
Author: Paul Benkimoun
“The French national drug agency was not wrong to authorise a drug trial that left one volunteer dead and four with severe neurological side effects, concludes the final report of an official review published on 23 May.1 However, the Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament (ANSM) should have asked for more details about the escalation of doses described in the protocol, the report said, and it criticised errors made by the company that conducted the trial.”
Find extract here.

The Port Arthur massacre and the National Firearms Agreement: 20 years on, what are the lessons?

MJA, online first 23 May 2016
Authors: Michael J Dudley, Alan Rosen, Philip A Alpers and Rebecca Peters
“The 20th anniversary of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) offers lessons for mental health and public health. Along with similar international legislation, the NFA exemplifies how firearms regulation can prevent firearm mortality and injuries….A modest but significant link exists between mental disorders and community violence. However, the vast majority of mentally ill individuals are not violent. Despite media portrayals of their dangerousness, they are more likely to be victims of violence and of suicide. …Screening mentally ill populations for violence risk is misguided. However, clinicians can play a key role in working with legal authorities to monitor and assist regulation of firearm access, especially among high risk populations.”
Find full article here.

ACCC appeals $1.7m penalty against Reckitt Benckiser for misleading Nurofen representations

ACCC, statement 23 May 2016
“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a Notice of Appeal from the Federal Court’s decision ordering Reckitt Benckiser to pay penalties of $1.7 million for contravening the Australian Consumer Law. In December 2015, following admissions by Reckitt Benckiser, the Court found that Reckitt Benckiser engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by making representations on its website and product packaging that Nurofen Specific Pain products were each formulated to specifically treat a particular type of pain, when this was not the case.”
Find ACCC statement here. Find ABC News article ‘ACCC seeks $6m fine against Nurofen maker for misleading consumers‘.