ABI publications this week</b>

"Hippocratic oath a casualty of war"
By Michael Cook, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 August 2004

Why didn't the doctors at Abu Ghraib prison protect their patients? It is becoming clear that it was not just trailer trash who were corrupted by their power over Iraqi detainees in the prison...   

IN BRIEF: click here to read whole article and make comments

Lancet denounces doctors’ complicity in Abu Ghraib abuse </b>

A photo of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison Military doctors and medics in Iraq should "protest loudly and refuse cooperation with authorities" if they are aware of "torture and inhumane and degrading practices against detainees", says one of the world's leading medical journals, The Lancet, in a stinging editorial.

In its current issue, Dr Steven H. Miles, of the University of Minnesota, highlights the complicity of medical staff in the scandalous events which took place in the Coalition prison. These included "failure to maintain medical records, conduct routine medical examinations and to provide… click here to read whole article and make comments

Cures from therapeutic cloning “distant at best”, says Nature </b>

The feverish excitement surrounding therapies from stem cells from cloned human embryos needs "a dose of reality", says a Nature news feature. The recent announcement that a British team will soon begin therapeutic cloning has raised hopes of individualised cures for degenerative diseases. "In reality, say those in the field, such a prospect remains distant at best," Nature comments.

Researchers in human embryonic stem cells distinguish between short- term and long-term benefits. The short-term benefits are insights into diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's. But because of the enormous obstacles that must be overcome, cures are a long-term benefit. For… click here to read whole article and make comments

New study doubles number of US deaths caused by hospital error </b>

As many as 195,000 people a year die in hospital because of easily prevented mistakes, says a US health research company, HealthGrades Inc. A 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine had found that the figure was 98,000, but Dr Samantha Collier, of HealthGrade, says that this underestimated the number of deaths. Her figures include failures to rescue dying patients and the death of low-risk patients from infections, neither of which were included in the previous study. "If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual list of leading causes of death included… click here to read whole article and make comments

Big pharma eager to begin clinical trials in India </b>

International drug companies will begin conducting drug R&D in India next year. Up until now, Big Pharma had shied away from doing drug design and preclinical testing there. But in accordance with an agreement with the World Trade Organization, from next year India will honour overseas drug patents. This gives drug companies the protection they need to do drug research and conduct clinical trials without too much fear of being robbed by drug pirates. The change in intellectual property law will also build up India's expertise in conducting clinical trials, which has not developed because its patent laws did… click here to read whole article and make comments

Chicago IVF clinic claims that PGD does not harm embryo </b>

pre-implantation genetic diagnosis A leading centre for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, the Reproductive Institute of Chicago, has concluded that extracting a cell from an eight-cell embryo to test it for genetic disorders, does not cause birth defects. In research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the clinic said that PGD babies are no more likely to suffer birth defects than babies born after natural pregnancies. The news supports a recent decision by the UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, to allow PGD to create tissue matched "saviour siblings".

About 1,000 babies… click here to read whole article and make comments

Fears of animal liberation radicals growing in US </b>

The new president of the world's largest animal rights group has vowed to take his group into a new era of animal protection advocacy, while shunning violence. In an interview with the Washington Post, 38-year-old Wayne Pacelle says that he will be "more aggressive" in pursuing the goals of the Humane Society of the United States. He starts from a good base, as its previous president build the HSUS up into an organisation with 8 million members and US$80 million in revenue last year.

Although Mr Pacelle is an outspoken opponent of violence, some American observers fear the hair-raising activism… click here to read whole article and make comments

Curb potential conflicts of interest, US science boss told </b>

The US Office of Government Ethics (OGE) wants the National Institutes of Health to revise its revised ethical standards so that its scientists will not be involved in conflicts of interest. The head of the NIH, Dr Elias Zerhouni, recently submitted a draft of new regulations in response to reports that many officials and scientists had received millions of dollars in consulting fees and stock options from drug and biotech companies. Under the NIH's guidelines these were perfectly legal, but they left the scientists open to allegations of undue influence and conflicts of interest.

The OGE has questioned whether intramural… click here to read whole article and make comments

Australian call for a more liberal uniform abortion law </b>

A prominent Melbourne obstetrician and an Oxford bioethicist have called for a uniform Australian abortion law to allow termination at any stage in a pregnancy without danger of prosecution. Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Lachlan de Crespigny and Dr Julian Savulescu argue that abortion as late as 34 weeks appears to be an accepted part of medical practice. With prenatal screening virtually universal, most Australian women seek an abortion if a problem exists which might lead to a serious handicap.

What prompted their article was a widely-publicised incident which took place in 2000 at Royal Women's Hospital… click here to read whole article and make comments

ODD SPOT: </b> letting off steam

Bioethical controversies often generate heated language -- often more heated than enlightened. This extract from a press release issued by the Libertarian Alliance, which describes itself as "Britain's most radical free market and civil liberties policy institute" is a particularly splendid instance of fustian diathermancy (hot air):

Human embryos and tissue are the property of human beings, not resources to be controlled by arrogant moralisers and the alleged "great and the good" in state socialist bureaucracies... The opponents of cloning, an unholy alliance of religious fundamentalist lunatics and the green slime of environmentalists and anti-scientific and anti-capitalist primitivists, are… click here to read whole article and make comments

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