Ruling on assisted dying drug Nembutal sets important precedent

The Conversation, 28 February 2017
Author: Simon Chapman
“Just before Christmas 2016, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) handed down a historic judgement in a case brought by the veteran advocate for assisted dying, Dr Rodney Syme. This followed a decision, which was then referred to its immediate action committee by the Medical Board of Australia, to prevent Syme from “engaging in the provision of any form of medical care, or any professional conduct in his capacity as a medical practitioner that has the primary purpose of ending a person’s life”.”
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Doctors vs corporates: who’s winning?

MJA Insight, 27 February 2017
Author: Edwin Kruys
“When trying to inform government policy, the medical profession is often up against lobbyists representing large corporate commercial interests. This usually does not improve patient care. It is also difficult for patients to distinguish between groups that advocate for the public good versus those that are after increased profits, power or influence.”
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Guidelines to Limit Added Sugar Intake: Junk Science or Junk Food?

Ann Intern Med. 2017; 166(4): 305-306.
Authors: Dean Schillinger, Cristin Kearns
“When it comes to added sugars, there are clear conflicts between public health interests and the interests of the food and beverage (F&B) industry. Studies are more likely to conclude there is no relationship between sugar consumption and health outcomes when investigators receive financial support from F&B companies. Industry documents show that the F&B industry has manipulated research on sugars for public relations purposes. Erickson and colleagues report a systematic review of the scientific basis of guidelines on sugar intake, providing another occasion for concern about these conflicts.”
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The Scientific Basis of Guideline Recommendations on Sugar Intake: A Systematic Review

Ann Intern Med. 2017;166(4):257-267.
Authors: Jennifer Erickson, Behnam Sadeghirad, Lyubov Lytvyn, Joanne Slavin, Bradley C. Johnston
“Guidelines on dietary sugar do not meet criteria for trustworthy recommendations and are based on low-quality evidence. Public health officials (when promulgating these recommendations) and their public audience (when considering dietary behavior) should be aware of these limitations.”
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Health professional associations and industry funding

The Lancet, 389 (10069), p597-598, 11 February 2017
Authors: Anthony Costello, Francesco Branca, Nigel Rollins, Nigel Rollins, Marcus Stahlhofer, Laurence Grummer-Strawn
“The UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) announced in October, 2016, its decision to continue to accept funding from manufacturers of breast milk substitutes (BMS). This decision raises serious concerns about the college’s impartiality and sets a harmful precedent for other health professional organisations. In order to protect the credibility and the authority of professional organisations that contribute to the formulation of public policy, they need to adopt codes of conduct and practices that protect their independence from vested interests.”
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Making headway against low value services

MJA Insight, 13 February 2017
Author: Nicole Mackee
“The push to address the use of low value, or potentially harmful, medical services is continuing to gain pace in Australia, say experts, after the Lancet published an article describing the overuse of medical services worldwide. Professor Adam Elshaug, professor of Health Policy at the University of Sydney, codirector of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and a coleader of a Lancet series, Right Care, said Australia’s clinical community had pulled together to drive initiatives aimed at tackling inappropriate care.”
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Sen. Grassley Launches Inquiry Into Orphan Drug Law’s Effect On Prices

NPR, 10 February 2017
Author: Sarah Jane Tribble
“Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has opened an inquiry into potential abuses of the Orphan Drug Act that may have contributed to high prices on commonly used drugs.”
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The Use of Public Health Evidence in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt

JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(2):155-156.
Author: Daniel Grossman
“Enacted in 2013, Texas’s House Bill 2 (HB 2) was one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The law had 4 provisions: (1) physicians providing abortion had to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, (2) medication abortion had to be provided according to the protocol described in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved labeling of mifepristone, (3) most abortions at 20 weeks postfertilization or later were banned, and (4) facilities providing abortion had to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. The first 3 provisions went into effect by November 2013; the fourth provision, meeting the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, was enforced only briefly in October 2014 before the US Supreme Court issued a stay.”
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Increased Service Use Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Associated With Mental Health Parity Law

Health Aff 2017 vol. 36 no. 2 337-345
Authors: Elizabeth A. Stuart, Emma E. McGinty, Luther Kalb, Haiden A. Huskamp et al
“Health care services for children with autism spectrum disorder are often expensive and frequently not covered under private health insurance. The 2008 Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was viewed as a possible means of improving access by eliminating differences between behavioral health and medical/surgical benefits. We examined whether the legislation was associated with increased use of and spending on mental health care and functional services for children with autism spectrum disorder compared to the period prior to implementation of the law.”
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