Cosmetic neurology” unstoppable, says US neurologist </b>

The neurologist of the future will become a "quality of life" consultant as well as a doctor, says a University of Pennsylvania doctor in the leading journal Neurology. Gazing into a crystal ball, Dr Anjan Chatterjee says that because medical technology will make it possible for people to have "better brains" and better bodies, neurology is bound to move from therapy to enhancement. People will demand drugs to make them more alert, to give them better powers of memorisation, to help them to work longer and harder or to dampen their disturbing memories.… MORE

New heart drug uses racial profiling </b>

Researchers have discovered that a heart drug is significantly more effective amongst African-Americans than amongst whites. The medication BiDil could become the first "ethnic medicine" to be licensed by the Food and Drug Administration. "There are populations of individuals who have different health vulnerabilities as well as different responses to medication," says Dr Anne Taylor, of the University of Minnesota. "By exploring those differences, we understand disease mechanisms better, but we can also target therapy."

The announcement has sparked a debate over racial profiling of drugs. Some researchers say that race is a biologically meaningless concept; others contend that genetic… MORE

China bans brain surgery for drug addiction </b>

The Chinese government has banned the use of brain surgery to rehabilitate drug addicts, a practice which has become popular despite the lack of research to back it up. The Ministry of Health appears to be determined to rein in doctors who want to commercialise the operation. According to a commentary in China Daily, "people willing to undergo surgery cannot possibly have a complete idea about the potential risks on which even experts have not reached a consensus." MORE

Euthanasia campaigner to set up secret factory for “peaceful pill” </b>

Philip Nitschke, the doctor who is Australia's best-known euthanasia activist, says that he has organised a workshop next March at a secret location where his sympathisers can make lethal potions to kill themselves. Dr Nitschke says that the workshop is urgent because new Federal legislation will provide stringent penalties for informing people about how to commit suicide. The executive director of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Steven Greenwood, described Dr Nitschke's proposal as "sensationalist rubbish". MORE

New Age guru has IVF twins at 57 </b>

Aleta St James A 57-year-old New Age mystic has become a single mother of twins after IVF treatment with donor eggs. Aleta St James, an American actress, singer, healer and motivational speaker, explained that "I'm very young and vivacious and my whole world is about manifesting, so I decided to manifest children." Her doctor, Jane Miller, of North Hudson IVF, a New Jersey fertility clinic, said that she normally discourages older women from having IVF treatment, but Ms St James was healthy enough to give birth.

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan scoffed at the highly publicised… MORE

Bioethics destined for “bankruptcy”</b>

A medical historian has published a stinging attack on the bioethicists and bioethics in the most recent issue of The Lancet. Roger Cooter, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicien at University College London, says the word was coined in 1970 and could soon disappear:

Hardly wet behind the ears, bioethics seems destined for a short lifespan. Conspiring against it is exposure of the funding of some of its US centres by pharmaceutical companies; exclusion of alternative perspectives from the social sciences; retention of narrow analytical notions of ethics in the face of popular expression and academic… MORE

ABI in the media </b>

ABI director Dr Amin Abboud delivered a widely reported paper at the World Congress of Bioethics in Sydney this week which suggested that women are often pressured into using IVF for their fertility problems when natural methods would be sufficient.

  • " (subscription), Australia - 7 Nov 2004

  • ", Australia - 7 Nov 2004

    IN BRIEF: privacy, life support, animal law, stem cell hype...

    Privacy: Despite intense media interest in the exact cause of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, French doctors have maintained a strict silence. According to France's code of medical ethics, doctors… MORE

  • Bioethics and the American election

    American voters handed George W. Bush the presidency this week in a close but convincing election result. However, they sent confusing signals about their support for controversial bioethical issues. The pundits agreed that Bush's appeal to conservative religious voters was a key factor in his victory. A national exit poll found that 22% of voters cited moral values as "the most important issue" -- more than the economy, terrorism and Iraq. If this is the case, opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage probably tipped the scales towards the president in key swing states like Florida and Ohio. But some voters… MORE

    Merck condemned over “public health catastrophe” </b>

    from New York Times The editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, has condemned pharmaceutical giant Merck and the US Food and Drug Administration for acting out of "ruthless, short-sighted, and irresponsible self- interest" in dealing with Merck's painkiller Vioxx. A researcher for the FDA has suggested that more than 27,000 deaths could be attributed to Vioxx.

    Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market in September, citing new evidence that it increased the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other serious ailments. However, an article in the current issue of The Lancet argues that Merck could… MORE

    Drug shortages chronic in US</b>

    After laboratory contamination brought about a shortage of American flu vaccine at the beginning of the winter, the US public health authority, the Centers for Disease Control, appointed an ethics panel to knot out allocation problems. Now it seems that these Solomons will have work to do after solving the current crisis. Drug shortages, the New York Times has found, are endemic in the US, even for medicines which limit damage from spinal cord injury, which help premature infants, or which fight systemic bacterial infection.

    A Times survey found that many experts complain that America's unregulated drug market often leads… MORE

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