Articles Posted in Ethics

aduhelm-300x250Taxpayers and patients are suffering the rising negative consequences of the federal Food and Drug Administration’s dubious decision to overrule its own independent expert advisors and to approve on scant evidence Aduhelm. It is a prescription drug targeting Alzheimer’s disease, and concerns are rising about the medication’s safety and costs, not to mention whether it really works.

FDA advisors had argued against the drug, cautioning  that it carries significant potential side effects including swelling and bleeding in the brain. Those taking Aduhelm have been warned to undergo frequent, regular, and pricey brain scans as safeguards.

Still, experts have been startled by a much-discussed death of a 75-year-old Canadian woman, who was taking the drug as part of a clinical trial. She suffered seizures, was hospitalized, had brain scans, and was diagnosed with brain swelling shortly before she died.

stjude-300x157If corporatists are correct and big, wealthy enterprises legally get rights akin to what real folks have, can it also be true that institutions, like people, sometimes just lose their way?

This argument may be evidenced by the tight-fistedness — eased under adverse publicity — of a legendary children’s charitable hospital and the profit-hungry financial schemes of a major Catholic hospital chain.

Credit is due to:

oksct-300x211Patients who say they were injured by wealthy corporations must possess great fortitude as they seek justice in the civil system, as has been reaffirmed by the courts in California and Oklahoma that rejected   separate cases involving the harms of prescription painkillers.

All the parties in the two matters agreed that Big Pharma’s opioid drugs have killed a half million Americans over a decade, addicted and debilitated vast numbers of patients, and laid waste to communities across the country.

But in strict legal terms, a trial judge in Orange County, Calif., ruled that pharmaceutical giants would prevail in a lawsuit filed against them by aggrieved California counties. They claimed that, with opioids, “drug manufacturers misled both doctors and patients by downplaying the risks of addiction, overdose, death, and other health complications while overstating the benefits for long-term health conditions,” the Associated Press reported.

leadpipes-300x178Although the chattering classes may have beat the term infrastructure into a hoary cliché, regular folks may see major benefits over time to their health and well-being from the Biden Administration’s finally passed, bipartisan $1 trillion bill that invests desperately needed money into the nation’s roads, highways, bridges, and more.

The law will send a giant funding surge into improving water quality and eliminating dangerous and antiquated lead pipes. This toxic threat, as evidenced in the mess in Flint, already has resulted in a $600-million-plus settlement — mostly to be paid by the state of Michigan — for residents of the lead-polluted town.

The infrastructure measure will help officials deal with polluting, nerve-wracking, time-sucking transportation logjams, financing repairs and upgrades to public transit, rail, ports, and airports from coast to coast.

debt-300x200Soaring medical costs crush the finances of far too many patients, as the public was reminded by the release of an annual report on the high toll of cancer-care spending and a surprising congressional reverse aimed at reining in runaway prescription drug prices — or at least attempting to.

Leading organizations dealing with cancer treatment — including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries — found that patients in 2019 (the most recent year data were available) “shouldered a whopping $21.09 billion in costs,” the Washington Post reported.

Patients and their loved ones get hit with major costs in the first year of disease diagnosis, as well as the highest expenses at the ill individuals’ end of life, the report found.

referee-300x176While Republicans and a handful of Democrats in Congress may be filling campaign coffers and pleasing wealthy corporations to the nth degree during the current lawmaking session, regular folks have reason to be aghast at how companies are throwing around their money and weight to get their way.

The signs are evident as to how companies are maneuvering to:

  • keep prescription drug prices sky high

kidvax-300x195The coronavirus pandemic’s fourth, lethal Delta-variant surge keeps receding from its scary September peaks, with “fewer than half as many cases … being identified each day, and tens of thousands of fewer coronavirus patients … hospitalized.”

Still, as the New York Times also has reported, “trouble spots continue to emerge in parts of the West. Alaska leads the country in recent cases per capita, while Colorado has the fastest rate of case growth.”

The pandemic’s grim toll also is lessening but still takes an unacceptable 1,400 lives daily (versus 2,000/day in September).

canursestaffingprotest-300x149The U.S. health care system and all who rely on it may be reaching painful reckonings on how the coronavirus pandemic keeps affecting caregiving personnel, whether with highly trained nurses who are forcing hospitals to pay them more or see them leave or with poorly paid and ill-trained aides who still aren’t getting Covid-19 shots to protect themselves and their vulnerable patients.

Great doctors, of course, may be vital to patients’ positive outcomes. But ask anyone knowledgeable how hospitals succeed — or don’t — and they will point to nurses. And that’s a professional treasure that has been battered by the pandemic,  Kaiser Health News service reported in partnership with NPR and WPLN radio in Nashville, Tenn.

Broadcast news reporter Blake Farmer found in Tennessee and nationally that hospitals are struggling to maintain their nursing ranks, particularly among their most seasoned and specially trained pros. They have spent grueling months giving patients the round-the-clock, intensive care demanded in serious cases, notably for coronavirus infections.

vuse-117x300The federal Food and Drug Administration has infuriated health and anti-smoking advocates by handing Big Tobacco a major first — the agency’s seal of approval for an e-cigarette as a way for consumers to reduce or stop harmful use of burning tobacco cigarettes.

The decision allowing RJ Reynold’s Vuse product (shown, left) to stay on public markets is the latest in a series of disastrous actions by the agency, putting a smoking alternative for adults ahead of the health and safety of young people, critics said. They repeated their contention that  with bungled oversight on alternative delivery devices and the vaping fad, the FDA has opened the way for a new generation to get addicted to toxic nicotine and lethal tobacco items.

Erika Sward, national assistant vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association, told the New York Times this of the FDA ruling allowing an e-cigarette delivering high levels of nicotine:

Back-Pain-300x188As the nation rapidly grays, not only are middle-aged and older patients undergoing increasing numbers of knee, hip, ankle, and shoulder surgeries, back operations also have spiked — and a significant number of these procedures may be unwarranted and harmful.

Spinal surgery is a booming business for orthopedic surgeons and hospitals, with  Wall Street analysts forecasting, according to one report, that the “sales of spinal surgery implants, instruments, pharmaceuticals and other novel treatments for chronic and disabling back pain will … rise from $10 billion in 2020 to $14 billion -$ 16 billion by 2030.”

While rising numbers of patients, starting around age 42, complain of back pain and many eventually seek surgical relief, skepticism and concern may be deserved for the common, costly, and lucrative spinal fusion surgery, Modern Healthcare, an industry trade publication reported in its Oct. 5 edition.

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