Federal Right-to-Try Legislation — Threatening the FDA’s Public Health Mission

NEJM, 10 January 2018
Authors: Steven Joffe, Holly Fernandez Lynch
“Though popular with the public and supported by politicians from both parties, the legislation has been widely criticized by policy experts. In isolation, its impact would probably be limited, since the bill was substantially hollowed out to secure the necessary votes. Nonetheless, the motivation behind the proposed legislation threatens to weaken the FDA’s ability to pursue its public health mission.”
Find article here.

A libertarian case for mandatory vaccination

Journal of Medical Ethics 2018;44:37-43.
Author: J Brennan
“This paper argues that mandatory, government-enforced vaccination can be justified even within a libertarian political framework. If so, this implies that the case for mandatory vaccination is very strong indeed as it can be justified even within a framework that, at first glance, loads the philosophical dice against that conclusion. I argue that people who refuse vaccinations violate the ‘clean hands principle’, a (in this case, enforceable) moral principle that prohibits people from participating in the collective imposition of unjust harm or risk of harm.”
Find article here.

A Federal Ban on Making Lethal Viruses Is Lifted

NYT, 19 December 2017
Author: Donald G McNeil Jr
“Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal. Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks.”
Find article here.

Latest Report on Health Effects of Climate Change

JAMA. 2017; 318(23): 2287
Author: M J Friedrich
“The report notes that the delayed response to climate change over the last 25 years has put human lives in jeopardy. It also emphasizes that health professionals have a responsibility to communicate the health threats from climate change to the public and to policy makers and that progress in mitigating these threats is essential to human well-being.”
Find article here.

Drug Company Under Fire After Revealing Dengue Vaccine May Harm Some

NYT, 17 December 2017
Authors: Denise Grady, Katie Thomas
“The Philippines government has begun investigations into the rollout of the immunization program by French drugmaker Sanofi, which has come under fire for discounting early warnings that its vaccine could put some people at heightened risk of a severe form of the disease.”
Find article here.

An open letter to the Australian Parliament regarding the health of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island

MJA Insight, 27 November 2017
Author: David Watters et al.
“We are senior Australian clinicians who write in our individual capacity to express our concerns about the ongoing health and well-being of the former detainees still based on Manus Island and now in alternative accommodation. They, like all human beings, have a universal right – enshrined in the United Nations charter – to health and well-being. Their political and citizenship status should not affect this right. All politicians regardless of their political party should respect the human right to health and themselves be strong advocates of “health for all” without discrimination.”
Find letter here.

F.D.A. Speeds Review of Gene Therapies, Vowing to Target Rogue Clinics

NYT, 17 November 2017
Authors: Sheila Kaplan, Denise Grady
“The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued new guidelines to speed the introduction of treatments involving human cells and tissues, including gene therapy. But the agency also said it would crack down on rogue clinics offering dangerous or unproven versions of those treatments.”
Find article here.

Emergency Legal Authority and the Opioid Crisis

NEJM Perspective, 15 November 2017
Authors: Lainie Rutkow, Jon S. Vernick
“Recently, six states have taken the unusual step of using their legal authority to declare their opioid-overdose situation an emergency. When a government issues an emergency declaration, it can temporarily act to mitigate the emergency using powers and resources that might not otherwise be available to it. Typically, emergency declarations pertain to natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks. The severity of the opioid-overdose crisis has led to some of the first emergency declarations for a noncommunicable health condition, though their impact remains unclear.”
Find article here.