Jurimetrics Call for Papers – Special Issue: Intersection of Law, Science, and Policy to Protect the Public’s Health

Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology (ASU/ABA) is seeking submissions for a special symposium issue edited by James Hodge on the Intersection of Law, Science, and Policy to Protect the Public’s Health, to be published in Spring 2013.  Potential manuscripts may include:

  1. Examinations of how and why law, policy, and science either advance (or fail to advance) the public’s health;
  2. Assessments of the role of science in furthering legal and policy objectives to protect communal health;
  3. Strategies to advance public health initiatives through law or policy despite a lack of strong, scientific support or evidence;
  4. Strategies to make better use of existing legal or policy tools to achieve public health objectives.

Unlike some symposia, this issue is not focused solely on a specific public health topic.  Rather, manuscripts may explore one or more core public health law topics like obesity prevention, chronic and infectious disease control, emergency preparedness, public health system reform, or tobacco prevention, among others, at the national or global level.

Original articles may range in length from 3,500 – 5,000 words (not including footnotes).  Contributors may include scholars or practitioners in law, public health, science, or policy.  Co-authored, cross-disciplinary manuscripts are also encouraged.

Contact James Hodge (james dot hodge dot 1 at asu dot edu) for more information, but initial brief abstracts are due to him by Friday, Sept. 28 (manuscripts will be due Nov. 15).  He’s also seeking peer reviewers.

Elderly drivers and fatal accidents: Is the doctor responsible?

[posted on behalf of Art Caplan]

Should a physician be held responsible if an elderly patient causes a car accident while driving?

A Los Angeles jury recently decided that Dr. Arthur Daigneault was not responsible for the wrongful death of 90-year-old William Powers, whose longtime partner, a dementia patient, drove into the path of an oncoming car, according to a report by The Los Angeles Times. The driver Lorraine Sullivan, 85, survived, but Powers died of his injuries weeks after the crash.

The Orange County, Calif. jury cleared Daigneault, but the case raises the question of whether the physician should have reported his patient — who had suffered memory loss since 2007 and was prescribed an Alzheimer’s drug in 2009 — to local health authorities or urged the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoke her license.

Read the rest over at NBC News Vitals.

The Body Snatchers: Human Recycling in The Global Age

By Michele Goodwin

For all the attention by legal scholars, doctors, and politicians to the global organ shortage—and particularly the crisis in the United States, relatively little is said about tissue demand and that supply industry.  Well known are the horrific stories involving black markets specializing in organs like kidneys and livers.  The troubling stories of Indian women, Pakistani men, and Brazilian boys pillaged for parts and left suffering with grotesque scars, owing debts, and in medical need are chronicled by a growing chorus of scholars (see here, here, and here).  Even those of us who support incentives to encourage organ donation strongly oppose human rights abuses paraded as free markets.  What scholars continually overlook, however, are the surreptitious, global tissue trades that effect more people and have the potential to cause greater harm, such as diseased tissues, bones, and other body parts entering the stream of US commerce and transplantation.

Several years ago, I presaged some of these problems and wrote about these issues; one of the articles can be found here.  More recently, an international consortium of journalist have come on board with an eye-opening special report, revealing black markets in Europe for human tissues and bones.  Their story begins in the Ukraine, where earlier this year security guards discovered body parts and skin stuffed into coolers, and envelopes filled with cash–transported on a “grimy white minibus.”  Authorities stumbled onto this body part heist thinking that a mass-murder had been uncovered. To their surprise, the bus and its contents were headed off to Germany before shipment of the parcels to Korea, the US and other countries.

On its own, tissue transplantation makes as much sense as organ transplantation, because they help to improve patients’ quality of life and in some instances may be vital to saving lives, such as heart valve transplants.  The problem is that the dark-side of this industry operates nefariously.  Sometimes this includes pillaging parts from cadavers dead from communicable diseases such as HIV and hepatitis or acquiring tissues through illegal means, or mislabeling parts—claiming that body parts are from Germany, when in fact they are from developing countries.  Often companies that trade on stock exchanges are linked to the darker side.  For example, investigators discovered that a US business, RTI, located in Florida is linked to the Ukraine discovery.  As Dr. Martin Zizi remarked to reporters, “once a [body part] is in the European Union, it can be shipped to the U.S. with few questions asked…They assume you’ve done the quality check, [but] we are more careful with fruit and vegetables than with body parts.”

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Alan Wertheimer at HLS tonight

Short notice, but…

Alan Wertheimer will be presenting his draft paper “Why Is Consent a Requirement for Ethical Research?” tonight at the Health Law Policy and Bioethics Workshop at Harvard Law School.

These workshops take place on selected Mondays from 5-7pm, Hauser Hall, Room 105. This year’s schedule can be found here.  Open to the public – check it out if you’re in town.

Meaningful Use Woes

By Nicolas Terry

Keen observers of the Administration’s “meaningful use” subsidy program for electronic medical records (EMRs) will not have been surprised by the reaction of stakeholders to last week’s publication of the “Stage 2” regulations, here. CQ HealthBeat’s John Reichard, here, contrasts the enthusiastic support of patient advocates with the American Hospital Association’s more curmudgeonly “We are disappointed that this rule sets an unrealistic date by which hospitals must achieve the initial meaningful use requirements to avoid penalties.” In a new piece, available here, I argue that the EMR adoption picture is considerably more nuanced that this binary would suggest and that there is reason to doubt the conventional wisdom that EMRs will solve many if not all of healthcare’s quality and efficiency woes. Rather, I take the position that the current generation of EMRs may not be capable of promoting major safety or quality gains because of problems with their usability, technological limitations that impede interoperability, and concerns about their safety.

Conference Announcement: Institutional Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research Universities

On November 2 at Harvard Law School, the Petrie-Flom Center and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics will be co-sponsoring a day-long symposium organized by Dr. David Korn on institutional financial conflicts of interest in research universities. The speaker line-up is incredible, including Francis Collins, Derek Bok, and Zeke Emanuel, among other experts from academia and government.

For more information, and to register (attendance is free), check out the symposium webpage.  We hope to see you there!

 

Congratulations to Our Greenwall Scholar, Glenn Cohen!

The Greenwall Foundation has selected Bill of Health co-editor, Glenn Cohen, to receive a Faculty Scholar Award in Bioethics for 2012-2015. 

This career development award is intended to enable outstanding junior faculty members to carry out original research that will help resolve important policy and clinical dilemmas at the intersection of ethics and the life sciences.  Congrats, Glenn!

 

Research Participation as a Responsibility of Citizenship

by Suzanne M. Rivera, Ph.D.

For legitimate reasons, the human research enterprise frequently is regarded with suspicion.  Despite numerous rules in place to protect research participants’ rights and welfare, there is a perception that research is inherently exploitative and dangerous.

Consequently, most people don’t participate in research.  This is not only a fairness problem (few people undergo risk and inconvenience so many can benefit from the knowledge derived), but also a scientific problem, in that the results of studies based on a relatively homogeneous few may not be representative and applicable to the whole population. Larger numbers of participants would improve statistical significance, allowing us to answer important questions faster and more definitively.  And more heterogeneous subject populations would give us information about variations within and between groups (by age, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, etc.).

Put simply, it would be better for everyone if we had a culture that promoted research participation, whether active (like enrolling in a clinical trial) or passive (like allowing one’s data or specimens to be used for future studies), as an honorable duty.    (Of course, this presumes the research is done responsibly and in a manner consistent with ethical and scientific standards, and the law.) Read More

New Product Liability Regime for Stem Cell Products?

By Hyeongsu Park

In May 2012, Health Canada granted market authorization for Prochymal. This decision is the world’s first regulatory approval of a stem cell drug (as well as the first therapy for acute graft-vs-host disease, a serious complication of bone marrow transplantation that kills up to 80% of children affected). Like Prochymal, many stem cell products have exciting therapeutic potential, such as bone regeneration and cartilage formation. And the global stem cell product market is estimated to reach $6.6 billion by 2016. However, side-effects remain unknown, and the regulations for such products are largely non-existent. So what should happen if a patient gets hurt?

Stephen R. Munzer (UCLA School of Law) discusses this question in his latest article in the Boston University Journal of Science and Technology Law, and recommends that qualified strict liability should govern product liability for stem cell products. Read More