HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Firedoglake brings to my attention this new initiative by the LiveStrong, Lance Armstrong Foundation.  Here is the information from their press release describing some of their goals:

The Gaps We Must Close

We must close the gaps between what we know and what we do in the cancer fight.

Nearly 47 million Americans lack health insurance. About 16 million more are underinsured.

Health care coverage and financial concerns should not dictate who lives, who dies and who suffers unnecessarily.

Ethnic populations in the U.S. carry a disproportionate burden of poor quality cancer care, and minorities are much more likely to die and suffer needlessly from the disease.

With screening, we could prevent 1/3 of all cancer deaths.

90% of colorectal cancer deaths, 30% of all breast cancer deaths in women over age 40 and virtually all cervical cancer deaths can be prevented now.

Cancer funding is decreasing and government attention is fragmented.

While 13 different government agencies fund cancer research, no one is in charge of the nation's cancer program. Hard to believe when 10 million people in our country are living with cancer.

We must be more efficient, more collaborative and more directed about how we use what we know.

We must close the gaps.

We must make cancer a national priority.


Here is more information about how to get involved.

May 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

HPV Update

Yesterday's Science Times ran an article discussing the benefits of the HPV vaccine.  It states some of the benefits as follows:

¶That infections with human papillomavirus, or HPV, are the most common sexually transmitted diseases?

¶That there is no treatment for HPV infections?

¶That cervical cancer is the most serious sexually transmitted disease caused by this virus?

¶That 70 percent of cases of cervical cancer arise because of two variants of the virus that the new vaccine protects against?

¶ That 90 percent of genital warts cases are caused by two other variants of the virus that are countered by the vaccine?

¶That most people infected with HPV do not know it, yet can transmit the virus to an unsuspecting sexual partner?

¶That 20 percent of American girls 14 to 19 are infected, and the vaccine works only if administered before women contract the viral variants it is intended to prevent?

The article also raised the equity issue, about which I had been wondering (I mean, really, why only girls?).  It states,

In the name of equality, some advocates urge that boys, too, be immunized, because they spread the infection to women. In fact, men may benefit directly from the vaccine, because the virus can also cause cancers of the penis and anus. Anal cancer is a particular concern to gay men, and a study is under way to determine whether the new vaccine will protect gay men from cancer.

Last week, the New York Times ran an article discussing different ways that states are encouraging individuals to get the vaccine.  The article discusses how successful New Hampshire has been with its program of making the vaccine voluntary, as well as giving it free to girls and young women ages 11-18.  New Hampshire has not suffered the backlash that other states, which mandated the vaccine, have seen. 

May 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Poetry of the Annual Physical

From this week's JAMA, some poetry to go with your annual physical:


John Grey
Providence, RI

Mine are never quite that poetic . . . .

May 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Artificial Reproductive Technologies

The Diane Rehm show had an interesting discussion of the use of artificial reproductive technologies today: 

Helping people who otherwise might never have had children become parents is becoming a big business in the U.S. But advances in reproductive technology - from in vitro fertilization to egg and sperm donation and surrogacy - are also raising ethical and societal issues. A look at how science is helping those who otherwise might never have had their own genetic children... and the questions it is raising for parents, partners and society.


Dr. Kathy Hudson, founder of the Pew-funded Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Robert Stillman, Medical Director of Shady Grove Fertility Center, in Washington, DC and Baltimore.

Liza Mundy, a feature writer at "The Washington Post Magazine."

The show did not discuss too much some of the prenatal genetic testing that co-exists with some of these technologies but the New York Times has recently run some interesting articles and letters to the editor (here, here and here) discussing the impact of prenatal testing on disabled individuals, and their relatives, and whether such testing and how people respond to such testing should be more heavily regulated.

May 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Getting What You Pay For?

A new report demonstrates that Americans pay the most for their health care yet receive the poorest level of care.  MSNBC discusses the report by the Commonwealth Fund (great website with lots of helpful data) and states,

Americans get the poorest health care and yet pay the most compared to five other rich countries, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Germany, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada all provide better care for less money, the Commonwealth Fund report found.

“The U.S. health care system ranks last compared with five other nations on measures of quality, access, efficiency, equity, and outcomes,” the non-profit group, which studies health care issues, said in a statement. . . . .

“The United States is not getting value for the money that is spent on health care,” Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said in a telephone interview.

The group has consistently found that the United States, the only one of the six nations that does not provide universal health care, scores more poorly than the others on many measures of health care.

Congress, President George W. Bush, many employers and insurers have all agreed in recent months to overhaul the U.S. health care system — an uncoordinated conglomeration of employer-funded care, private health insurance and government programs.

The current system leaves about 45 million people with no insurance at all, according to U.S. government estimates from 2005, and many studies have shown most of these people do not receive preventive services that not only keep them healthier, but reduce long-term costs.

Davis said the fund’s researchers looked at hard data for the report.

“It is pretty indisputable that we spend twice what other countries spend on average,” she said.

Per-capita health spending in the United States in 2004 was $6,102, twice that of Germany, which spent $3,005. Canada spent $3,165, New Zealand $2,083 and Australia $2,876, while Britain spent $2,546 per person.

May 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Medicine in War on Terror Prisons

U.S. Military Medicine in War on Terror Prisons

From the press release:

"The University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics and Human Rights Center have created a comprehensive archive of government documents describing medical operations in U.S. prisoner of war facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The archive, now launched, can be accessed from the home page of the Human Rights Library ( or directly at

The archive’s purpose is to enable scholars, journalists, policymakers and interested citizens to study and understand the medical operations in these prisons. It contains more than 60,000 pages of indexed White House and Defense Department policies, prison medical records, autopsy reports, criminal investigations, sworn witness statements and e-mails involving the Armed Forces and the FBI." 

Thanks to Ron Jones and Jim Hart for this website information.

May 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)