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Blogging Ethics

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08/11/2017 - 3:30am

I am delighted to participate in this year's Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics Workshop at Harvard Law School.  The workshop provides a forum for discussion of new scholarship in these fields from the world's leading experts.


08/10/2017 - 12:33pm

"The stress and overwhelming crushing defeat of these bills that would come in every week — it had an effect on our quality of life," Chino says

08/10/2017 - 12:24pm

There’s no immediate threat, but as sequencing becomes more commonplace, researchers face security risks

08/10/2017 - 9:00am

Hidden within our genetic code is a vast treasure trove of personal information about our health, relationships, personality and family history. Given all the sensitive details that a DNA test can reveal, you would hope that the people and programs handling that information would be vigilant in safeguarding its security. But it turns out that’s not necessarily the case

08/10/2017 - 8:55am

On August 2nd, scientists achieved a milestone on the path to human genetic engineering. For the first time in the United States, scientists successfully edited the genes of a human embryo. A transpacific team of researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 to correct a mutation that leads to an often devastating heart condition

08/10/2017 - 8:22am

On August 7, 2017, The
New York Times
with ProPublica
(an independent, non-profit investigative new agency) reported
that some drug companies have struck deals with insurers to require that
prescriptions be dispensed for the more expensive brand name drug rather than
the less expensive generic alternative! Has the world turned upside down? What
has happened? Perhaps one could respond: Follow the money.

Pharmaceutical companies have apparently cut a deal with
health insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers for some drug
products so that middle men pay prices that are very competitive, at least as
competitive as the generic equivalents. In one arrangement for a particular
drug – Shire’s Adderall XR, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) – UnitedHealthcare insured patients were provided a discount
coupon which lowered the cost of the brand name considerably, but a patient’s
family still payed about $50 more a month than for the generic. Consumers
clearly are bearing the increased costs.

A spokesman for United Healthcare defended the program: “By
providing access to these drugs at lower cost, we are able to improve
affordability for our customers and members.” Of course, the statement is true,
but it is a poor justification because in this instance have no choice in the
matter. Even if patients’ physicians write for the generic equivalent, the
doctors are told that they “had to specify that patients required brand-name
versions of the drug.” This may or may not be true depending on the health
insurers’ and pharmacy benefits managers’ formulary requirements; but it may be
a moot point if the band name drug is the only one available, or unless the
patient wants to pay full price for a drug product that is not listed in the

Regardless, it appears as if the drug companies and the
health insurers and pharmacy benefits managers have conspired or colluded in
some way to maintain unique market shares when generics are a reasonable option
at consumers’ expense. It seems anti-competitive. It undercuts the foundation
for providing for generics in the first place. It doesn’t make sense because
it’s so counter-intuitive.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.  


08/10/2017 - 4:00am

I have recently highlighted (here and here and here) the growing success of legal claims when clinicians administer unwanted life-sustaining treatment.  One recent case from British Columbia goes the other way.

08/10/2017 - 4:00am

I have recently highlighted (here and here and here) the growing success of legal claims when clinicians administer unwanted life-sustaining treatment.  One recent case from British Columbia goes the other way.

Brenlee Kemp sued Vancouver Ge...

08/09/2017 - 12:36pm

Applications for the 2017-2018 Student Fellowship are due this Friday, August 11, so apply today! Full details here.  By Shailin Thomas, 2016-2017 Petrie-Flom Student Fellow The Petrie-Flom Center student fellowship was an incredible opportunity for me as a law student … Continue reading →

08/09/2017 - 11:22am

A tragedy there, and a grave concern for the rest of the world