sábado, 25 de noviembre de 2017

BioEdge: ‘Uber for birth control’ creates new ethical challenges

BioEdge: ‘Uber for birth control’ creates new ethical challenges


‘Uber for birth control’ creates new ethical challenges
Contraception is another area where logistics is outpacing regulation in the United States. A new smartphone app, Nurx (pronounced new Rx) promises to prescribe and deliver all kinds of contraception plus the morning-after pill. Since there are no consultation or delivery fees, for women with health insurance their contraception will effectively be free. For those who don’t, the service costs US$15 a month.

It’s “Uber for birth control” – a logical development of telemedicine and new business methods.

The app is designed to make obtaining contraception as simple as possible. A woman selects a prescription, answers a few health and demographic questions, and a doctor will write a prescription. The medication arrives within 3 to 5 days. Nurx automatically refills the prescription, as well.

There is a political side to the app, too. As the Trump Administration works to dismantle Obamacare and do away with mandatory contraceptive coverage, Nurx is well placed to supply the Pill discretely and efficiently.

More disturbingly for opponents of teen contraception, it accepts applications from girls as young as 12 and anyone who might be ordering the Pill for the first time – without seeing a doctor face-to-face – although Nurx does offer the option of a video chat over the phone.

The impersonality of the Nurx app bothers some critics. However, Jessica Knox, the San Francisco-based full-time doctor for NURX has a response: “Look, people are going to have sex. And if we put barriers in place for them to get contraceptives, they may become afraid of even going to their own doctor to get preventative healthcare, which can lead to unintended outcomes.”

Since Nurx has to comply with state laws, it is available in only 15 states plus Washington DC at the moment, but it is pushing to roll out its coverage across the US.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Good scientists have to be curious, tenacious, creative, intuitive and analytical. And it helps if they are humble, as well. At least that is my impression after reading about the Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero (see below.)

Canavero is the latest figure in a long queue of talented scientists led astray just in the last couple of years by the glamour of celebrity. Dr Canavero would no doubt deny this, but the scientific community is very sceptical of his project to transplant living heads onto living bodies. And although he has not had a single success in this project, he is already dreaming of transplanting brains.

Celebrity and science can make a toxic mix. There is thoracic surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, another Italian, whose work on artificial tracheas was hyped as life-saving, but turned out to be fraudulent.

Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel was renowned for his controversial research. He had faked the results of his experiments and even his PhD. Michael LaCour made headlines for his surveys about changing minds about gay marriage. He never carried out the surveys.

Japanese stem cell scientist Haruko Obokata found an incredibly simple method for creating pluripotent stem cells. And in fact, it was incredible.

What makes extremely talented and creative researchers choose the path of a circus performer rather than a dedicated scholar? Everyone has a different story, but perhaps the ancient Anglo-French word vaynglorie (vainglory) expresses it best. Are there classes for post-graduate students in humility? Perhaps there ought to be.

Michael Cook
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