Ethics in the News: Painkiller Addiction, Psychology’s Replication Crisis, California’s Assisted Suicide Law, Biologists Publishing Directly to Internet, & More – March 18, 2016

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When Gene Tests for Breast Cancer Reveal Grim Data but No Guidance
Women with breast cancer are facing a frustrating reality: The genetic data is there, but in many cases, doctors do not know what to do with it.

First uterus transplant in US removed after sudden complication
The 26-year-old woman who received the transplant at the Cleveland Clinic is recovering from the operation after appearing in a news conference days earlier

​’Siri, I want to commit suicide’ and other statements likely to yield unhelpful responses from your phone
Apple’s Siri can be an amusing conversationalist for those times when you want to talk to someone but there’s no one around. She’s insanely knowledgeable about everything from American history to weather patterns and can crack you up with her well-timed zingers. But what about in times of crisis?

Getting painkillers seems easy. Getting help to fight painkiller addiction is hard.
Addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin has grown so deadly that the Obama administration wants to spend more than $1 billion over the next two years fighting it. Yet in the midst of the worst epidemic of unintentional drug overdose in U.S. history, it can be harder to get drugs to treat an addiction than it is to get the drugs that feed it.

Psychology’s Replication Crisis Can’t Be Wished Away
It has a real and heartbreaking cost.

California’s assisted suicide law offers new option for terminal patients
Under the law, patients can get fatal prescriptions only if they are mentally competent and have six months or less to live.

Zika Crisis

Zika is the latest battle in a long war between humans and mosquitoes
Ever since a U.S. Army physician named Walter Reed helped prove more than a century ago that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes, humans have waged a fitful war on the tiny disease carriers.

Women Who Brought Zika Fears Home With Them
The Zika virus is not yet known to be circulating in the continental United States. But already, fear of the infection has come home for many pregnant women and their families who journeyed abroad before the risks were known.

Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Should All Research Papers Be Free?
Drawing comparisons to Edward Snowden, a graduate student from Kazakhstan named Alexandra Elbakyan is believed to be hiding out in Russia after illegally leaking millions of documents. While she didn’t reveal state secrets, she took a stand for the public’s right to know by providing free online access to just about every scientific paper ever published, on topics ranging from acoustics to zymology.

Handful of Biologists Went Rogue and Published Directly to Internet
On Feb. 29, Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University became the third Nobel Prize laureate biologist in a month to do something long considered taboo among biomedical researchers: She posted a report of her recent discoveries to a publicly accessible website, bioRxiv, before submitting it to a scholarly journal to review for “official’’ publication.

Technology companies are racing to track patients’ behavior in real time
More than two dozen companies are racing to develop digital technology to keep tabs on patients in real time: monitoring their vital signs, getting them to take their pills, even releasing medication into their body as needed.


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