HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garwin Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law and Medicine, Visiting Professor of Law

The Southern Illinois University School of Law is seeking nominations and applications for the Garwin Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law and Medicine for the 2011-12 academic year.  Established in 1996, the Garwin Professorship is funded in part by a grant from the Garwin Family Foundation which was established in 1993 for the purposes of fostering education and academic research.  Support for the position includes a competitive salary, benefits, travel allowance, housing for one year, and a research assistant. The School of Law intends to consider the visitor to fill the Garwin Professorship on a permanent basis during the time of the visit.

With 35 faculty members and approximately 350 students, the Southern Illinois University School of Law enjoys one of the best student-faculty ratios of any law school in the country.  The School, and its Center for Health Law and Policy (established in 2004), offer an outstanding health law program with a variety of courses as well as co-curricular and extra curricular activities.  This includes a unique M.D./J.D. dual degree program offered in conjunction with the SIU School of Medicine. The School of Law also offers an LL.M. in Health Law and Policy, as well as a Masters of Legal Studies in Health Law and Policy. In conjunction with the American College of Legal Medicine, the School of Law participates in the publication of the Journal of Legal Medicine (since 1981) and Legal-Medical Perspectives (since 2000). The School also hosts each year (since 1992) the National Health Law Moot Court Competition, the only national competition focusing on health law issues. Since 1999, the School has also sponsored the annual SIH/SIU Health Policy Institute. Additionally, beginning in 2006, the School of Law has hosted each spring the John and Marsha Ryan Bioethicist in Residence.

Applicants must possess the Juris Doctor degree or its equivalent from a nationally accredited law school, be currently on the faculty of an accredited school of law or other graduate professional school, and have an outstanding national reputation as a health law/policy scholar and teacher.  Factors to be considered in assessing candidates for the Garwin Visiting Professorship include the following: scholarly and teaching record, honors received (e.g. awards, fellowships, etc.), participation and leadership in national and international organizations, letters of recommendation and other factors relevant to assessing qualifications for this position.

To apply or nominate a candidate:  Send a résumé that details your interest, qualifications and relevant experience or a letter of nomination to:

Professor W. Eugene Basanta, Chair
Garwin Professor Search Committee
Southern Illinois University School of Law
Carbondale, Illinois  62901-6804

Applications and nominations may be submitted on line at Deadline for application: October 15, 2010 or until position is filled.


August 31, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Federal Circuit Rules No Link between Autism and Vaccine

According to The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has just upheld the findings of the lower court that reject a causal connection between childhood vaccines and the onset of autism.

The ruling came in Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, which was the first of a series of test cases heard by special masters for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 2007. The claims court picked several such cases to test different theories of causation advanced in the roughly 5,000 cases alleging a link to autism filed under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

'We see no legal error in the standards applied by the special master' in determining there was no causal connection between the mercury-based preservative in the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine administered to Michelle Cedillo in 1995 and the autism and retardation symptoms she began to show afterward.The claims court upheld the special master's findings last year, and the federal circuit decision today affirmed that ruling.

As we wrote in 2007, the case of Michelle Cedillo was like many that have resulted in vaccine claims, with healthy babies changing drastically after vaccines were administered. 'Words alone cannot explain the trauma of watching your only child's health deteriorate to such a degree before your eyes,' her mother Theresa told Legal Times before the court proceeding began.

Judge Timothy Dyk, writing for a three-judge federal circuit panel, said that 'Michelle's development was indeed very abnormal,' but not right after the vaccine was administered. Much of the ruling deals with the scientific evidence offered by both sides in the lengthy proceeding before the special master. Dyk said the government's failure to seek documentation of one expert's findings was 'troubling,' but 'does not justify reversal.' 

Joined by Judges Pauline Newman and Richard Linn, Dyk concluded that the special master's report in the Cedillo case was 'rationally supported by the evidence, well-articulated, and reasonable.' In May, the federal circuit issued a similar ruling in another of the autism test cases, Hazlehurst v. HHS.

August 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Increased Rate of Hearing Loss Noted in Teenagers

The rate of hearing loss in teenagers has significantly increased. A decade ago, the rate was one in seven. The current rate is one in five. The NY Times reports on a new study published in the Journal of the Amercican Medical Association:

The new study ... analyzed data on about 1,771 youngsters aged 12 to 19 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2005-6, and compared the prevalence of hearing loss with that of youngsters who took part in the survey in 1988-94.

The percentage with at least slight hearing loss increased by 30 percent, to 19.5 percent from 14.9 percent in the earlier study. For most the hearing loss is slight enough they may not even notice.

The number with greater hearing loss — called mild hearing loss — has also increased, from 1 in 30 teenagers a decade ago to 1 in 20 teens in 2005-6, the study found. With mild hearing loss, one might not be able to hear a person whispering in one’s ear.

Researchers could not explain why hearing loss had become more prevalent, and did not find a significant association with exposure to loud noise. But youngsters often say they are not being exposed to loud noise because they are simply unaware they are listening to music at dangerously high levels, said the paper’s lead author, Dr. Josef Shargorodsky, of the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

August 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Consumer Information on the Egg Recall has information posted on the egg recall for consumers:

Federal and state officials are investigating a nationwide increase of Salmonella Enteritidis infections associated with shell eggs. 

· Outbreak: Since May 2010, there has been a four-fold increase in the number of cases of Salmonella  Enteritidis  infections.

· Source: Preliminary investigations by federal and state officials suggest that shell eggs are the likely source of many of these infections.

· Recall: On August 13, 2010, Wright County Egg conducted a nationwide voluntary recall of shell eggs. On August 19, the recall was expanded. For an up-to-date list of brands recalled, including egg carton codes, see the Affected Brands and Descriptions chart.

More information:

· Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Salmonella from Eggs

·  Salmonella Enteritidis Outbreak in Shell Eggs

· Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Associated with Shell Eggs


August 20, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Obesity Rates Increase: One in Three U.S. Citizens is Now Obese

The NY Times reports the disturbing news that the number of obese people in the U.S. has increased by an additional 2.4 milllion people in the past two years. Now, 72 million people in the U.S. are obese. This constitutes 26.7 percent of the population. The report speculates that this number is an underestimate as the rates "are based on a phone survey in which 400,000 participants were asked their weight and height instead of having it measured by someone else, and people have a notorious tendency to describe themselves as taller and lighter than they really are."

'Over the past several decades, obesity has increased faster than anyone could have imagined it would,' said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued a report on the prevalence of obesity. Obesity rates have doubled in adults and tripled in children in recent decades, Dr. Frieden said. 'If the numbers keep going up,' he added, 'more people will get sick and die from the complications of obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.'

The report estimates the medical costs of obesity to be as high as $147 billion a year, and notes that 'past efforts and investments to prevent and control obesity have not been adequate.'

Researchers blame the usual suspects: too little exercise and too much of the wrong kind of food, which means not enough fruits and vegetables and too many high-calorie meals full of sugar and fat, like French fries, soda and other sweet drinks. Children do not get enough exercise during the school day; Dr. Frieden noted that even in gym classes, students are active for only about a third of the time.

August 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Should Fast Food Providers Serve Statins With High Fat Meals?

According to a paper published in the American Journal of Cardiology, for the same cost as the packet of catsup you get with your burger, a statin could be provided to you that would offset the increase in heart attack risk from eating a cheeseburger and a milkshake.  In a statement, the senior author of the paper, Dr Darrel Francis from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London explained:

Statins don't cut out all of the unhealthy effects of burgers and fries. It's better to avoid fatty food altogether. But we've worked out that in terms of your likelihood of having a heart attack, taking a statin can reduce your risk to more or less the same degree as a fast food meal increases it.

Statins reduce the amount of unhealthy "LDL" cholesterol in the blood. A wealth of trial data has proven them to be highly effective at lowering a person's heart attack risk. One statin, simvastatin, is already available in low doses (10mg) over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription in the UK. There is no statin available over the counter in the U.S.

Dr. Francis added that  

[i]t’s ironic that people are free to take as many unhealthy condiments in fast food outlets as they like, but statins, which are beneficial to heart health, have to be prescribed. 

It makes sense to make risk-reducing supplements available just as easily as the unhealthy condiments that are provided free of charge. It would cost less than 5 pence per customer - not much different to a sachet of ketchup. When people engage in risky behaviors like driving or smoking, they’re encouraged to take measures that minimize their risk, like wearing a seatbelt or choosing cigarettes with filters. Taking a statin is a rational way of lowering some of the risks of eating a fatty meal.'

Hat tip to Pharmalot for pointing out that five pence is worth pennies.

August 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)