Ethics in the News

Newsweek was quick to publish a story regarding the legal/ethical/religious dilemma surrounding Daniel Hauser, the 13-year old Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient who has been abducted by his mother to avoid court-mandated treatment.

Newsweek was quick to publish a story regarding the legal/ethical/religious dilemma surrounding Daniel Hauser, the 13-year-old Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient who has been abducted by his mother to avoid court-mandated treatment. The only thing I have been able to think about while reviewing this case is that the job of a pediatric oncologist must be the toughest in the world… on so, so many levels.

In other ethics-related news, the current expense of healthcare provides ammunition to require public disclosure by pharmaceutical and device companies of payments to doctors (disclosure up to this point has been voluntary), as well as putting the kibosh on gifts—even those as small as a dinner. It will be interesting to see how many states follow Vermont’s lead. The amount of money the pharmaceutical industry spends on marketing is truly staggering, and I wonder if a public discussion regarding television commercials targeting patients is next on the horizon.

Speaking of which, paying patients to be spokespersons for drug companies apparently has produced a very public backfire. Check out the Wall Street Journal’s report last week regarding Andy Behrman’s crusade to inform patients about adverse effects associated with Abilify. He has also posted a video on YouTube. Aripiprazole is approved for use in pediatric patients with bipolar I disorder and adolescents with schizophrenia.

When you marry an asthma inhaler with Bluetooth technology, what do you get? According to some in the device industry, a “connected patient.” Read about it and see what you think.

Also on the device front, the FDA has posted a Class 1 recall of Respironics’ SmartMonitor 2 for potential failure to alarm. The monitor is used for the continuous monitoring of infant respiration and heart rate, and parents should be alerted since it can be used in the home.