The Voluntary Nature of Decision-Making in Addiction: Static Metaphysical Views Versus Epistemologically Dynamic Views

Bioethics, 31: 349–359. 2017. doi:10.1111/bioe.12356
Authors: Racine, E. and Rousseau-Lesage, S.
“The degree of autonomy present in the choices made by individuals with an addiction, notably in the context of research, is unclear and debated. Some have argued that addiction, as it is commonly understood, prevents people from having sufficient decision-making capacity or self-control to engage in choices involving substances to which they have an addiction. Others have criticized this position for being too radical and have counter-argued in favour of the full autonomy of people with an addiction. Aligning ourselves with middle-ground positions between these two extremes, we flesh out an account of voluntary action that makes room for finer-grained analyses than the proposed all-or-nothing stances, which rely on a rather static metaphysical understanding of the nature of the voluntariness of action.”
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Yes, Drug Laws Absolutely Hurt HIV Prevention and Treatment

NewsWeek, 17 May 2017
Author: Jessica Wapner
“When it comes to HIV risk factors, IV drug use is catching up to sex. Among people who inject drugs, an estimated 13 percent have HIV. About 30 percent of new infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa are the result of sticking dirty needles into vulnerable veins. In 2014, more than half of new HIV infections in Eastern Europe and central Asia were due to drugs. In the Middle East and northern Africa, nearly one-third of infections occurred by this route. A newly published report in Lancet HIV confirms the long-suspected assertion that the war on drugs is only making matters worse. The study provides concrete evidence that drug laws are harmful to preventing and treating HIV.”
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J&J Loses $110 Million Verdict Over Talc Cancer-Link Claim

Bloomberg, 5 May 2017
Authors: Margaret Cronin Fisk, Tim Bross
“Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a St. Louis jury to pay more than $110 million to a Virginia woman who blamed her ovarian cancer on the company’s talcum products. Imerys Talc America, which provided the talc to J&J, was ordered by the jury to pay about $100,000. Imerys Talc is a unit of Paris-based Imerys SA. There are more than 3,000 lawsuits accusing the world’s largest health-care company of ignoring studies linking its baby powder and Shower to Shower talc products to ovarian cancer and failing to warn customers about the risk.”
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Pfizer to give out breast cancer drug free while awaiting NHS decision

The Guardian, 5 May 2017
Author: Haroon Siddique
“A drug described as one of the most important advances in treating breast cancer in the past 20 years is to be given to women in the UK for free while the medicines regulator decides whether it should be available on the NHS. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s provisional decision in February that palbociclib should not be routinely funded on the NHS in England was decried by patients but its final appraisal has been paused for the drug manufacturer Pfizer to present further clinical data. In the meantime, Pfizer has said it will make palbociclib available free of charge.”
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The controversy over statins has revealed something: the nocebo effect is real

The Guardian, 4 May 2017
Author: Ann Robinson
“A new study shows that media-fuelled controversy among health experts has dented public confidence in the cholesterol-lowering drugs that prevent 80,000 heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK. The benefits far outweigh the harm from rare side-effects, according to a review of the evidence in the Lancet medical journal. But 200,000 people stopped taking their statins in 2013 following six months of “disputed research and tendentious opinion” on their potential side-effects.”
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On classifying the field of medical ethics

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:30
Authors: Kristine Bærøe, Jonathan Ives, Martine de Vries, Jan Schildmann
“In 2014, the editorial board of BMC Medical Ethics came together to devise sections for the journal that would (a) give structure to the journal (b) help ensure that authors’ research is matched to the most appropriate editors and (c) help readers to find the research most relevant to them. The editorial board decided to take a practical approach to devising sections that dealt with the challenges of content management. After that, we started thinking more theoretically about how one could go about classifying the field of medical ethics. This editorial elaborates and reflects on the practical approach that we took at the journal, then considers an alternative theoretically derived approach, and reflects on the possibilities, challenges and value of classifying the field more broadly.”
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Where medical marijuana is legal, illegal use climbs

Reuters, 26 April 2017
Author: Andrew M. Seaman
“Where medical marijuana is legal, adults are more likely to use the drug illegally and are at an increased risk of cannabis use disorder, according to a new study. Researchers found that illegal use of marijuana and rates of cannabis use disorder rose to a greater extent in U.S. states that adopted laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes than in states that didn’t adopt such laws.”
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AbbVie cancer drug fails two late-stage trials

Reuters, 19 April 2017
Authors: Divya Grover, Savio D’Souza, Bill Rigby
“AbbVie Inc experimental cancer drug, veliparib, failed to meet the main goals of two late-stage studies. The trials evaluated the effect of veliparib, in combination with a chemotherapy regimen, on patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and triple-negative breast cancer. In one trial, the combination treatment failed to improve the overall survival of NSCLC patients. In another trial, the drug did not achieve the complete pathologic response.”
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Swedish stem cell “pioneers” are found guilty of research misconduct

BMJ 2017;357:j1808
Author: Owen Dyer
“Two Swedish professors, hailed as pioneers in the field of stem cell transplantation, have been found guilty of misconduct by their employer, Gothenburg University, after they falsely claimed to have obtained ethics approval for unproven operations that they carried out on three children.”
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A critique of the regulation of data science in healthcare research in the European Union

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:27
Authors: John M. M. Rumbold, Barbara K. Pierscionek
“The EU offers a suitable milieu for the comparison and harmonisation of healthcare across different languages, cultures, and jurisdictions (albeit with a supranational legal framework), which could provide improvements in healthcare standards across the bloc. There are specific ethico-legal issues with the use of data in healthcare research that mandate a different approach from other forms of research. The use of healthcare data over a long period of time is similar to the use of tissue in biobanks. There is a low risk to subjects but it is impossible to gain specific informed consent given the future possibilities for research. Large amounts of data on a subject present a finite risk of re-identification.”
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