GPs to seek legal advice over smartphone appointment service

BMJ 2017; 359: j5292
Author: Gareth Iacobucci
“GPs’ representatives are to seek legal advice in a bid to challenge the rollout of a service offering “virtual” GP consultations to patients by smartphone. An emergency motion passed by England’s local medical committees has demanded that the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee seek “urgent legal advice regarding the options available and the potential for a judicial review” to challenge the introduction of the GP at Hand service, which is being piloted in west London.”
Find article here.

US approves digital pill that tracks use when swallowed

SMH, 15 November 2017
Author: Pam Belluck
“For the first time, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved a digital pill – a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine. Although voluntary, the technology has prompted questions about privacy and whether patients might feel pressure to take medication in a form their doctors can monitor.”
Find article here.

Ethical aspects of brain computer interfaces: a scoping review

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:60
Authors: Sasha Burwell, Matthew Sample, Eric Racine
“Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is a set of technologies that are of increasing interest to researchers. BCI has been proposed as assistive technology for individuals who are non-communicative or paralyzed, such as those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or spinal cord injury. The technology has also been suggested for enhancement and entertainment uses, and there are companies currently marketing BCI devices for those purposes (e.g., gaming) as well as health-related purposes (e.g., communication). The unprecedented direct connection created by BCI between human brains and computer hardware raises various ethical, social, and legal challenges that merit further examination and discussion.”
Find article here.

Ectogenesis, abortion and a right to the death of the fetus

Bioethics. 2017;31:697–702.
Author: Joona Räsänen
“Many people believe that the abortion debate will end when at some point in the future it will be possible for fetuses to develop outside the womb. Ectogenesis, as this technology is called, would make possible to reconcile pro-life and pro-choice positions. That is because it is commonly believed that there is no right to the death of the fetus if it can be detached alive and gestated in an artificial womb. Recently Eric Mathison and Jeremy Davis defended this position, by arguing against three common arguments for a right to the death of the fetus. I claim that their arguments are mistaken.”
Find article here.

Call for change to human cloning law to prevent genetic disorder

SMH, 21 September 2017
Authors: Aisha Dow, Melissa Cunningham
“A procedure to create “three-person babies” could be on its way to Australia, with a campaign launched to overhaul a law on human cloning in an attempt to prevent babies from suffering a severe genetic disorder.”
Find article here.

Direct-to-Consumer Medical Testing in the Era of Value-Based Care

JAMA. 2017; 317(24): 2485-2486.
Author: Kimberly Lovett Rockwell
“This Viewpoint documents the growing market share of direct-to-consumer (DTC) medical testing despite growing recognition that it represents low-value or harmful care and proposes policy options to increase accountability and protect patients from adverse consequences of DTC testing.”
Find article here.

Merck hack part of a massive global attack

Philly.com, 27 June 2017
Author: Chris Mondics
“A massive ransomware attack Tuesday took down computers across the globe, including the systems of the pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co., which has extensive operations in the Philadelphia area. The attack was detected at computers in Merck facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey around 8 a.m., and the company acknowledged it a few hours later. The attack on Merck was part of a larger digital assault worldwide.”
Find article here.

Preventing The Spread Of HIV With One Simple Gadget

Forbes, 28 June 2017
Author: Lee Bell
“In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS cited that Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV infection by approximately 60 percent in high risk areas such as Sub Saharan Africa. So to save millions of lives and billions of dollars in long-term HIV/AIDS healthcare costs, UNAIDS is leading a campaign that involves the circumcision of 27 million men. But how do you get million so men to willingly opt into such a personal and potentially dangerous procedure? You invent a device that makes it easy, painless and cheap.”
Find article here.

Navigating the ethical clash between access to health information and proprietary databases

MedicalXpress, 15 May 2017
Source: Baylor College of Medicine
“Sharing medical information, including genomic data, has the potential to benefit public health. However, companies that generate that information have a legal right to protect it as a trade secret. Legal and ethical conflict exists between individuals’ right to access their personal health information and the protection of these trade secrets. The data gathered from these genetic tests can provide important insights when making an individual diagnosis or pursuing clinical treatments, thereby having a direct impact on patient care. On the other hand, if companies and innovators are able to keep certain pieces of data and their processes secret, they are more easily able to recover their investment in the project and use it to finance new diagnostic tests.”
Find article here.

Toward Responsible Human Genome Editing

JAMA 2017; 317(18):1829-1830
Authors: Richard O. Hynes; Barry S. Coller; Matthew Porteus
“The speed at which the science is advancing raises important questions about human genome editing, such as how to balance potential benefits against risks of unintended harms, how to regulate the use of genome editing and incorporate societal values into policy decisions, and how to respect the diverse perspectives of individuals, nations, and cultures that will influence whether and how to use these technologies. A new report from the US National Academies of Sciences and Medicine addresses these questions and makes recommendations for the application and oversight of human genome editing in 3 major settings.”
Find article here.