Ethics involved in life support decisions remain matter of debate

The Globe and Mail, 15 June 2017
Author: Wency Leung
“When doctors aren’t able to have end-of-life discussions with patients themselves, they often have to approach the delicate subject with the patient’s caregiver or family members. From a doctor’s perspective, these discussions typically involve presenting the evidence of what is known about the situation, what the likely outcomes may be, given that evidence, and most importantly, understanding the patient – what their values are, their expectations and ideology. To make a choice about whether to proceed with aggressive treatment, families should be informed about what those treatments are, the possible risks and benefits and what the ultimate outcomes are.”
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No evidence that $40,000 ‘miracle’ drug cures hepatitis C

Daily Mail, 9 June 2017
Author: Cheyenne Roundtree
“A medicine hailed as a ‘miracle’ drug that could eliminate hepatitis C may not actually cure the disease, a study claims. Sick patients were offered hope with a new $40,000 direct-acting antiviral drug, which boasted it could clear the virus from the blood within 12 weeks.
The staggering price of the medicine was worth it to some because the contagious liver disease can lead to cancer and death. Now researchers claim that although the drug may rid the blood of the virus there is no valid evidence that it completely rids the body of the infection.”
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Breast cancer drug that can extend lives approved for NHS use

The Guardian, 15 June 2017
Source: Press Association
“A drug that can extend the lives of women with advanced breast cancer has been approved for routine use on the NHS. A deal has been struck between NHS England and the manufacturer Roche, backed by Nice, to make the drug available to around 1,200 women a year in England. Until now, the drug has been funded only through the cancer drugs fund. In clinical trials, Kadcyla, which has a full list price of £90,000 a year per patient, was shown to extend the lives of people with terminal cancer by an average of six months. It also dramatically improves quality of life and reduces side effects.”
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Polio outbreaks in DRC set back global efforts to eradicate the disease

The Guardian, 15 June 2017
Author: Ruth Maclean
“Two separate outbreaks of polio in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have set back global efforts to eradicate the debilitating disease. The World Health Organisation last week said the virus had also come back in Syria. But the known cases could be just the tip of the iceberg: for every case of polio that is diagnosed, epidemiologists say there are 200 “silent infections” – people who have no symptoms but can pass the disease on to others.”
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In Bold Move, FDA Approves Cancer Drug For Any Advanced Tumor With Genetic Changes

Forbes, 23 May 2017
Author: Elaine Schattner
“For the first time, the FDA has approved a drug for use in cancer—of any type—that harbors certain molecular features. Merck’s Keytruda, an immune oncology drug, may be prescribed for any resistant, metastatic tumor with microsatellite instability (MSI) or other evidence for defective DNA mismatch repair. This is good news for patientsby trying this medication if they have advanced cancer of any form with pathological MSI or DNA mismatch repair defects.”
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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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Terminally ill former lecturer wins right to fight assisted dying ban

The Guardian, 12 April 2017
Author: Owen Bowcott
“A terminally ill former lecturer has won the right to challenge the legal ban on assisted dying in the hope that he can end his life at home surrounded by his family. Assisted dying is prohibited by section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 and voluntary euthanasia is considered murder under English and Welsh law. The chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said the law denied terminally ill people the choice and control they deserved at the end of their lives.”
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Millions of UK asthma sufferers ‘not receiving basic levels of care’

The Guardian, 4 January 2017
Source: Press Association
“Millions of asthma patients are not receiving basic levels of care to keep their condition in check. Two-thirds of sufferers are not being given fundamental care to manage their condition, Asthma UK said. This is about 3.6 million people across the UK. Basic care includes having an appropriate asthma review at least once a year – or more often for severe cases and children – being on the right medication and knowing how to use it, and having a written asthma action plan.”
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US must address addiction as an illness, not as a moral failing, Surgeon General says

BMJ 2016; 355: i6265
Author: Michael McCarthy
“The US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, has called for the country to address its epidemic of substance abuse and addiction as a public health problem and not as a moral issue.“It’s time to change how we view addiction,” Murthy said in a new report, “Not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency, and compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”
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We need better treatments for childhood cancer, with less side effects

The Conversation, 4 November 2016
Authors: Glenn Marshall and David Ziegler
“The Australian government today announced A$20 million for research to find targeted treatments for childhood cancer. Australians have access to the world’s best treatments, doctors and health systems, yet there is a lack of safe, effective and affordable drugs to treat the most aggressive childhood cancers, such as some brain tumours. One of main reasons for this is that children’s cancer is a rare cancer. This means it is less economically viable for pharmaceutical companies to search for its causes and develop drugs to treat them.”
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