Drug giant accused of improper marketing to doctors </b>

Schering-Plough 2003 annual report One of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies is being investigated by federal prosecutors in Boston for paying doctors large sums to prescribe its drugs. According to an investigative report by the New York Times, Schering-Plough sent some doctors unsolicited cheques ranging from at least US$10,000 to six-figure sums in exchange for a "consulting" agreement which involved little more than prescribing its drugs. The government is also looking into allegations that Shering-Plough "flooded the market with pseudo- trials". Doctors would receive US$1,000 to US$1,500 per patient for prescribing Intron A, the… MORE




Stem cell research compared to Nazi death camps </b>

A prominent Federal MP has compared some medical research in Australian universities with that done in Nazi death camps. Addressing a Right to Life conference in Melbourne, Chris Pyne said that the moral vacuum of concentration camps, which set no value on human life, foreshadowed 21st Century utilitarian medicine. Mr Pyne, a South Australian Liberal who is parliamentary secretary for family and community services, singled out human embryonic stem cell research for special criticism.

"The claims made for embryo stem cell research, puffed shamelessly in recent days by the press, are by and large immune to moral scrutiny," he said.… MORE





Peter Singer: latest sighting </b>

Professor Peter Singer The controversial utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer has given more ammunition to his critics by firmly endorsing infanticide in a UK newspaper. In an interview with a UK newspaper, The Independent, Singer, now a professor at Princeton University, explains why.

"All I say about severely disabled babies is that when a life is so miserable it is not worth living, then it is permissible to give it a lethal injection. These are decisions that should be taken by parents -- never the state -- in consultation with their doctors."

In any case,… MORE





Survey claims that euthanasia is common in NZ </b>

Many general practitioners are killing or hastening the deaths of their patients, according to an anonymous survey in the New Zealand Medical Journal. Thirty-nine of 693 GPs had performed "some kind of action which would conform to everyday concepts of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia". In 380 cases, action was taken without consulting the patient, rendering the action "legally dubious", according to the authors of the survey, even if the patient had been too ill to respond. But in 88 of these cases, there had been no discussion even though the patient was competent.

Like similar surveys in other countries, the… MORE





UK doctors want to screen embryos for breast and bowel cancer </b>

UK scientists are soon to apply for a licence to screen IVF embryos for breast and bowel cancer genes so that parents will not place their children at risk of suffering from these diseases in later life. "The whole idea is to select the embryo that doesn't have the gene so the woman can start their pregnancy knowing the baby is safe," said Dr Paul Serhal, of University College London Hospital.

The idea was immediately savaged by Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics. "By the time these embryos have reached the age when they are at risk of breast… MORE





“The Plastinator” gets under people’s skin


A Los Angeles museum is displaying the controversial "Body Worlds" exhibition of Dr Gunther von Hagens. More than 200 human specimens, about 25 of them whole bodies, have been flayed and then preserved with a special "plastination" technique. Then they are posed like anatomical mannequins -- a man playing chess with a brain exposed, a man striding a rearing horse, a woman and her baby in the eighth month of pregnancy and so on.

Since the grotesque exhibits began, 14 million people have viewed them in Europe and Asia. About 6,000 people have agreed to donate their bodies as… MORE





After six years, IVF blunder still smoulders </b>

A white woman who unwittingly became a surrogate mother for a black couple has settled for an undisclosed amount with a New York IVF clinic. In 1998, Central Park Medical Services transferred embryos originating with Donna and Richard Fasano into her womb, along with embryos belonging to a black couple, Deborah Perry-Rogers and Robert Rogers. Initially, when Mrs Fasano gave birth to a black boy and a white boy, she did not want to give up the black child, even though his genetic mother, Mrs Perry-Rogers, had failed to become pregnant from her own IVF treatment. After five months she… MORE




CORRECTION </b>

In the previous issue of BioEdge (Number 126, June 25), we erred in identifying the leader of a Brisbane research team working on clinical diagnostic techniques which can yield cheap and accurate results in a single day from a single cell. The leader of the team is Associate Professor Ian Findlay. Professor Jock Findlay AM is the deputy director of Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne and has no connection with this project. Our apologies to both gentlemen.   

IN BRIEF:

  • Three people have died of rabies after receiving the lungs, liver and kidneys from… MORE




  • SPECIAL ESHRE SUPPLEMENT </b>

    The annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology took place in Berlin earlier in the week. After the lurid stories which emerged from last year's event in Madrid, some specialists apparently suggested that the media should be banned. Fortunately this did not happen. Below are some of the conference highlights.


          bullet  Confront Nazi past of German fertility medicine, says historian
          bullet  Monash device could screen for all genetic diseases
          MORE





    Monash device could screen for all genetic diseases </b>

    Researchers at Monash University have used gene chip technology to develop a 100% accurate test for one of the most common mutations for cystic fibrosis. Within two or three years, it will be possible for parents to test their embryos for many of the 1000 mutations which cause CF.

    The technology was developed by Chelsea Salvado, a PhD student working with Professor Alan Trounson at the Institute of Reproduction and Development at Monash. She foresees that gene chips -- or microarray technology -- will make possible a uniform, single, quick test for genetic mutations. Doctors will be able to offer… MORE




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