HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Just for Fun

How unique is your name?  Click here to find out . . . .

How Many of Me.Com is the website and it is pretty funny.  I am feeling pretty unique as one of four.  Thanks for Paul Caron for the tip.

October 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pandemic Flu Safeguards

Ezra Klein links to a recent New York Times article concerning the threat of panndemic flu and ways that individuals may protect themselves.  It isn't pretty and involves the expenditure of more than just the time it takes to wash your hands thoroughly.

October 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Abortion Laws

The Harvard Law Review has complied an international database of abortion laws.  Please click here for the listings.

October 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Health law Director Opening

Widener University School of Law (Wilmington, DE campus) is seeking an experienced teacher and scholar to direct our nationally prominent Health Law Institute. Administrative experience is also desirable, but not necessarily required. The Director will be responsible for working with other health law faculty and administrative staff to develop new initiatives that can move the Institute forward. Among the expected responsibilities will be:

* planning conferences and symposia;

* creating new externship opportunities and expanding existing relations;

* working with the development office to identify and pursue granting and other giving opportunities;

* continuing to produce a high level of important scholarship;

* demonstrating leadership skills that will inspire other faculty members to engage fully in the Institute’s mission;

* teaching primarily health law courses (with a reduced teaching load).

Although candidates with backgrounds in any area of health law will be considered, we are especially interested in candidates who specialize in the financial and transactional aspects of health law and health care. A secondary area of interest is public health law.

We are committed to increasing and improving the diversity of our faculty. Accordingly, we strongly urge members of historically excluded or disadvantaged groups to apply.

Please direct replies to Professor John Culhane at: [email protected]

October 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Test Tube Babies on PBS

Tonight, American Experience, a terrific program on PBS, will present a show on test tube babies.  It looks like it will be very informative about the early years of IVF.  Here is a brief overview from the PBS website:

This American Experience production tells the story of Dr. Landrum Shettles -- a relentless researcher with a singular obsession with creating the world's first test tube baby -- and John and Doris DelZio, a couple willing to be pioneers in this quest. This one-hour film tells of the social, political and legal challenges that dictated the course of IVF research in the United States.

Haunted by the fear that their laboratory interventions in the natural fertilization process would create malformations in the embryo, researchers faced a slew of daunting obstacles. Colleagues were reluctant to collaborate on work they deemed too controversial and government agencies refused to fund their research, believing testing IVF on humans was premature. Progress also met with fierce cultural opposition. The Catholic Church excoriated scientists for taking "the Lord's work into their own hands," and their research became the locus of debate over the limits of science.

Yet after the birth of the healthy Brown baby, privately funded research gained momentum in the U.S. In the early 1980, Drs. Howard and Georgeanna Jones opened America's first IVF clinic in Norfolk, Virginia. After more than a year of trial and error, their first success story, Elizabeth Carr, was born. Since then, millions of test tube babies have been born worldwide. The story of the first test tube babies is a precursor of the current debate over cloning and stem cell research.

I am a big fan of the health and science programs on PBS (yes, if you may recall, I did score quite high on that nerd/geek test) but in all seriousness, they are terrific shows and great for class.   Many of the programs are now available on-line and can be assigned before class.  The programs show both sides of a debate and give the debate a human face.  I have found that class discussions have been much more informed and revealing after such shows.

October 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Health Issues During Campaign 2006

With the Iraq War not going particularly well and all the corruption scandals in Congress, this hasn't been a campaign season in which health care issues have played a large role.  In fact, such issues seem quite neglected.  However, the Senate race in Missouri is an exception.  In a recent ad, Claire McCaskill, Democratic candidate for Senate, distanced herself from her opponent by proclaiming her strong support of stem cell research.  The ad, starring Michael J. Fox, a person with Parkinson's Disease, is very moving.  Click here.

October 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No Wonder the FDA is in Disarray

The Associated Press reports that former FDA head Lester Crawford plans to enter a guilty plea.  The brief story states,

Former FDA chief Lester Crawford has agreed to plead guilty to charges of failing to disclose a financial interest in PepsiCo Inc. and other firms regulated by his agency, his lawyer said Monday.

The Justice Department accused the former head of the Food and Drug Administration in court papers of falsely reporting that he had sold stock in companies when he continued holding shares in the firms governed by FDA rules.

This does explain the quick resignation. 

October 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Apologies for Light Posting

I apologize for the light posting recently.  I have been on the road.  I will be home this weekend and can hopefully get caught up quickly.

October 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Upcoming Symposium on Universal Health Care

The University of Kansas Law Review is sponsoring an interesting symposium on November 10th entitled, "The Massachusetts Plan and the Future of Universal Coverage."  It looks like a terrific conference and the guest speaker list is truly amazing!  Here is a brief overview of the conference topic as well as a list of the impressive speakers.  Did I mention that the conference is free?  I think that Kansas in November is definitely the place to be!

In April 2006, Massachusetts established historic precedent by enacting comprehensive health care reform that promises near-universal coverage for the state, including 500,000 uninsured residents. The Massachusetts plan includes a unique combination of employer and individual "pay or play" mandates, government subsidies, managed competition, and tax incentives. The provisions embrace both left-leaning ideals of health care as a right and right-leaning emphasis on individual responsibility. Existing features of Massachusetts's health care system and population may have facilitated passage of the ambitious reform package. Those preconditions present challenges for other states considering similar reform. The presenters at the symposium will consider the possible benefits, problems, and solutions for state-regulated universal health care reform. Their papers, which will be published in the Kansas Law Review, will identify and analyze issues critical to practitioners, policymakers, and the public as a whole.

The Kansas Law Review’s 2006 Symposium, The Massachusetts Plan and the Future of Universal Coverage, features leading experts on Health Care Law. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. with an introduction and welcome by Dean Gail B. Agrawal, J.D., M.P.H. There will be four panel presentations where speakers will present their findings and then open the floor for questions and discussion. Following the symposium, the Kansas Law Review will host a cocktail reception for the speakers and for interested guests.

List of Symposium Speakers

Gail Agrawal, J.D., M.P.H., Dean and Professor, University of Kansas School of Law, Introduction and Welcome

Michael H. Fox, Sc.D., Associate Professor, Health Policy & Management and Research & Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas, Health Reform: The Rhetoric and the Reality

Christie Hager, J.D., Chief Health Counsel, Office of Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Massachusetts House of Representatives and Adjunct Professor, Suffolk University Law School, Health Reform in Massachusetts: A Social Compact and a Bold Experiment

David A. Hyman, J.D., M.D., Professor and Galowich-Huizenga Faculty Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law, Universal Coverage: Camelot or Brigadoon?

Peter D. Jacobson, J.D, M.P.H., Professor of Health Law & Policy, Department of Health Management & Policy, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Let 1000 Flowers Wilt: The Futility of State-Level Health Care Reform

Melissa B. Jacoby, Professor, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill School of Law, Debtor-Creditor Perspectives on Universal Health Coverage

Timothy S. Jost, J.D., Robert L. Willett Family Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University, School of Law, Comprehensive Health Reform: The Role of Consumer Self-Insurance

Joan Krause, J.D., George Butler Research Professor of Law and Co-Director, Health Law & Policy Institute, University of Houston Law Center, Fraud in Universal Coverage: The Usual Suspects (and Then Some)

Jerry Menikoff, J.D., M.P.P., M.D., Assistant Professor of Law, Ethics & Medicine, Department of History & Philosophy of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Kansas, Who Knows Where Universal Health Care Goes? The Hunt for the Omniscient Critic

Amy B. Monahan, J.D., Associate Professor, University of Missouri - Columbia School of Law, The Latest Battleground in ERISA Preemption: Pay or Play Mandates and the Future of State-Based Universal Coverage

Marcia J. Nielsen, Ph.D., M.P.H., Interim Executive Director, Kansas Health Policy Authority, State of Kansas, Health Reform in Kansas: Context, Challenges, and Capacity

William M. Sage, J.D., M.D., Professor and James R. Dougherty Chair for Faculty Excellence, University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Can the Fact that 90 Percent of Americans Live Within 15 Miles of a Wal-Mart Help Achieve Universal Health Coverage?

Sidney D. Watson, J.D., Professor, Saint Louis University School of Law, The Road from Massachusetts to Missouri: What Would It Take for Other States to Replicate the Massachusetts Plan for Universal Coverage?

Elizabeth A. Weeks, J.D., Associate Professor, University of Kansas School of Law, Gap-Filling, Risk-Pooling, and the "Connector": Private Market Solutions to Universal Coverage

Additional Papers by:

Theodore R. Marmor, Ph.D., Professor of Public Policy & Management and Political Science, Yale School of Management, Wanting It All: The Challenges of the U.S. Health System Reform (Keynote Address, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Annual Economic Conference, June 15, 2005)

Stephen J. Ware, J.D., Professor, University of Kansas School of Law, Analytical Response to Professor Melissa B. Jacoby

For more information, click here.

October 12, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 2, 2006

Moms Voice Beats Out Beep

News of the slightly strange but helpful --- a new study demonstrates that "Children in deep sleep awoke to recordings of their mothers' voices -- calling them by name and ordering them out of their bedrooms -- even if they slept through the beeping sound a smoke alarm makes."  CNN reports,

The study of 24 children ages 6 to 12 found that 23 awoke to the recorded voice of their mother saying "(Child's first name)! (Child's first name)! Wake up! Get out of bed! Leave the room!" Fourteen of the children also awoke to the traditional tone alarm. One child didn't wake up to either.

The children who woke up to the voice did so at a median time of 20 seconds, compared with three minutes for those who woke up to the tone, according to the study by Columbus Children's Hospital researchers being released Monday in Pediatrics.

Both alarms were created using a large speaker and sounds measuring 100 decibels, about four times louder than levels used in standard home alarms, Smith said.

The next step, he said, is to determine why children responded to the voice alarm differently, whether they were responding to their names, their mothers' voices or the frequency at which the sound was delivered, which was lower than the frequency of a beeping alarm. . . .

A safety expert said the study was a start.

"We have a piece of the puzzle now and we're really happy someone has taken up this research and we hope it moves forward," said John Drengenberg, manager of consumer affairs for Underwriters Laboratories Inc., an independent organization that certifies safety for consumer products.

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 3,300 fatal fires killed 3,380 people (not including firefighters) in 2005, with 14 percent of victims younger than 10. Smoke alarms were not present in 42 percent of residential fatal fires; alarms did not operate in 21 percent.

I wonder if my next smoke alarm will be more like my telephone answering machine - allowing me to say something about getting out of the house quickly.  If so, I can say that when the battery runs down, the smoke detector will still be making some fairly annoying sounds although maybe not quite so annoying as the little beeps.

October 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Take the Test . . .

Understanding the importance of "know thyself," I am providing, just for fun, this informative test for all so that you can learn if you are a nerd, geek or dork.  Here are the definitions:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

I was mostly nerd with some dork thrown in for good measure, not too much geek, probably because I lack a love of all things science fiction - I better change my reading habits.  Thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for the link.

October 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Two Americans Receive Nobel Prize for Medicine

Congratulations to Americans Andrew Fire and Craig Mello who were awarded the Nobel Prize in  medicine for their discovery of a way "to turn off the effect of specific genes, opening a new avenue for disease treatment."  CNN reports,

"RNA interference" is already being widely used in basic science as a method to study the function of genes and it is being studied as a treatment for infections such as the AIDS and hepatitis viruses and for other conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

Fire, 47, of Stanford University, and Mello, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, published their seminal work in 1998.

RNA interference occurs naturally in plants, animals, and humans. The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which awarded the prize, said it is important for regulating the activity of genes and helps defend against viral infection.

"This year's Nobel laureates have discovered a fundamental mechanism for controlling the flow of genetic information," the institute said.

Erna Moller, a member of the Nobel committee, said their research helped shed new light on a complicated process that had confused researchers for years.

"It was like opening the blinds in the morning," she said. "Suddenly you can see everything clearly."

Genes produce their effect by sending molecules called messenger RNA to the protein-making machinery of a cell. In RNA interference, certain molecules trigger the destruction of RNA from a particular gene, so that no protein is produced. Thus the gene is effectively silenced.

For instance, a gene causing high blood cholesterol levels was recently shown to be silenced in animals through RNA interference.. . . . .

Last year's medicine prize went to Australians Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren for discovering that bacteria, not stress, causes ulcers.

October 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)