May
23
 

PROS AND CONS OF CLINICAL TRIALS IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD

Whether clinical drug trials should be conducted in the developing world is a thorny and intractable issue, says Slate columnist Amanda Schaffer in MIT's Technology Review. But solutions won't be found by demonising the pharmaceutical industry. Schaffer contrasts two recent reports, one in the March issue of the magazine Harper's, which suggests that drug companies are conspiring to promote toxic drugs, based on investigations into a badly-run trial for an anti-HIV drug. Overheated polemics, says Schaffer.

However, the other article, by Jennifer Kahn, in Wired (see BioEdge 194), says that India is in danger of becoming a nation of guinea pigs, because the financial incentives to participate in drug trials are too great for impoverished rural people to resist and because they tend to accept a doctor's advice without question, weakening the idea of informed consent. These are more substantial complaints, agrees Schaffer. In fact, a recent study in the journal IRB: Ethics and Human Research suggests that local ethics… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
May
23
 

AMERICAN SEX SELECTION CLINICS HELP THOUSANDS

Thousands of couples are travelling to clinics in the US where they can choose the sex of their next child. Dr Jeffrey Steinberg, the leading figure in American commercial sex selection, says that half of his clients come from countries where the controversial procedure is banned, such as Australia, Germany, Britain and Canada. In the United States we really guard and cherish reproductive choice and we are very reticent to allow the government to impinge on that," says Steinberg. Over the past three years he has treated 2,000 couples.

Most couples tell Steinberg that they have come to him to balance their family. "Usually these couples have four or five children of one sex and desperately want one of the opposite sex," he says. Americans and Canadians have a preference for girls; Indians and Chinese for boys; and Latin Americans are evenly split. He denies that his work represents a step towards "designer babies". click here to read whole article and make comments




 
May
23
 

CANADIAN IN ROW OVER SWISS SUICIDE CLINIC

A Canadian psychologist who brought a friend to an assisted suicide clinic in Zurich, where she killed herself, is being accused of serious professional misconduct. Peter Marshall declared in a letter to a newspaper that he had accompanied a disabled woman friend named Su" to a Dignitas clinic. She died in there in December 2004. Following this admission, another psychologist, Marty McKay, of Toronto, lodged a complaint with the Ontario College of Psychologists. When this was dismissed as "harassing and vexatious", she appealed to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board. A hearing was held last week.

McKay told the board that Marshall had brought his profession into "disrepute" because "his high stature and public support for killing disabled people can reasonably be expected to have an impact." She also contended that the college failed to view her complaint as raising a "a public protection issue" because "after all, a woman is dead and members of the disabled community are… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
May
23
 

PARTNERLESS 63-YEAR-OLD DAD OF TRIPLETS IS NORMAL GUY

The first man in the UK to have children without a female partner has just published a second edition of his book on raising triplets on his own. Ian Mucklejohn's children, now five years old, were born to an American surrogate mother when he was 58. He recently took the boys to the US to meet their genetic mother and the woman who brought them to term.

Now 63, he told the BBC that his experience has been very positive. I have seen the unhappiness childlessness brings and this country makes it too hard to overcome that," he says. "But it can be done." He feels that the boys will not regret not having a mother because he plays both roles adequately. "I am the anchor in their lives," he says. "That's not to say having a mother isn't a great thing, but as long as I am doing my best by them I don't think they are missing… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
May
23
 

HWANG’S EGG COUNT RISES

The number of eggs used by disgraced Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk keeps climbing. He originally claimed that he had used only 427 eggs to produce 11 human embryonic stem cell lines. This claim has been proven fraudulent. In January, investigators from Seoul National University disclosed that he had used 2,061 eggs from 129 donors. A month later, the National Bioethics Committee found that he had gathered 2,221 eggs from 119 donors. And now police prosecutors say that the number is 2,236 eggs from 136 donors. Hwang did not act alone. It also appears that Hanyang University Medical Center gave eggs to Hwang without obtaining the consent of the donors. This was a clear violation of a Korean bioethics law. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
May
23
 

NIGERIAN DIES IN QUEUE FOR HEART TRANSPLANT

The ethical dilemmas involved in allocating organs for transplants became painfully real in the UK after a Nigerian woman who had overstayed her visa died while waiting for a heart transplant. Ese Elizabeth Alabi, 29, had been given lower priority in the queues for a heart because she was not an EU national. Ms Alabi came to Britain last September already pregnant with twins. She had a return ticket, but fell ill before giving birth. By the time her visa expired, she was already too ill to return to her country. She died as her lawyers fought to have her case placed on a high priority list. Her lawyer said she was a victim of new rules discouraging health tourism.

A Department of Health spokesman described her case as an "extremely sad and difficult process". However, he said, "Organs for transplant, and hearts in particular, are extremely scarce and it is necessary to have clear rules to establish priorities in… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
May
23
 

IN BRIEF: Dignitas; animal rights, mercy killing

Animal rights law: The host of the American TV show "The Price is Right" has donated US$1 million to Georgetown University Law School to expand its curriculum in animal rights law. Bob Barker has made several large donations to law schools across the country including Harvard, Columbia, UCLA, Stanford, Northwestern and Duke. click here to read whole article and make comments



 
May
09
 

BRITAIN’S OLDEST MUM A CHILD PSYCHIATRIST

The abolition of the UK's fertility regulatory authority has been suggested after a child psychiatrist announced that she was going to become Britain's oldest mother -- at the age of 63. Dr Patricia Rashbrook received fertility treatment in Eastern Europe from the notorious Italian IVF specialist Severino Antinori. Dr Rashbrook, a widow, already has two children aged 22 and 26 ? who are said to be delighted with their mother's pregnancy ? but she decided to have another child with a donated egg after marrying a 61-year-old academic, John Farrant. The couple reported used a Russian egg donor and paid 50,000 for the pregnancy.

She dismissed critics who said that she was mad and selfish for conceiving a child who will still be in school when she is 80. We take our responsibility very seriously and regard the best interests of the child as paramount," she said.

An editorial in the London Telegraph argued that Britain's regulation… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
May
09
 

EXPLOITATIVE AND UNETHICAL” EGG TRADE BURGEONING

 With the media buzzing about the fruit of Dr Rashbrook's old age (with the help of a Russian donor), recent articles are also claiming that an international market in human eggs exists which treats women like battery hens.

The UK's Observer conducted a special investigation in the Ukraine and Cyprus and found that Eastern European women are selling their ova to British would-be mothers to escape from desperate poverty. Despite strict medical and administrative guidelines set down by the UK, it is nearly impossible for authorities to oversee what happens in other countries. In the Ukraine, the Observer claimed, women are being paid on a sliding scale of fees for their eggs and seldom receive any psychological counselling. Sometimes they accept larger injections of fertility hormones in the hope of producing more eggs -- a potentially life-threatening procedure. One woman said that she knew another who had donated nearly 20 times. The average price for eggs in Kiev appears… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
May
09
 

LIFE LOOKS BETTER TOWARDS THE END

The soundness of advanced care directives has been undermined by two recent studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine. One research team found that the people designated by patients to make decisions for them "incorrectly predict patients' end-of-life treatment preferences in one-third of cases". Even if the surrogates were appointed by the patient or had discussed treatment preferences with them, they were no more accurate.

Another report found that some patients become more tolerant of discomfort, disability and pain as their condition worsens and as time goes on. Furthermore, they cannot accurately predict how they will feel when they are actually confronted with a deterioration in their health. "These changes pose a challenge to advance care planning, which asks patients to predict their future treatment preferences," say the authors. click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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