Extract I. Introduction Lethal medication provisions are in a precarious state. Over the past decade, pharmaceutical companies have attempted to stamp out the use of their drugs in executions, creating several economic and regulatory hurdles for access to these medications. As a result, patients seeking physician-assisted suicide (PAS) as well as death penalty states aiming to execute their capital offenders have been forced to turn to unregulated and dangerous alternatives for these drugs. This note attempts to unpack the quality, safety, and access issues emerging from these recent changes and to explore the implications for the future of these practices.
In order to fully grasp the exact mechanisms at work, this note will first offer a brief pharmacological description of the lethal medications and detail many technical aspects of their use. The next section provides a historical account of the past decade, illustrating the emergent quality, safety, and access issues. This note then evaluates the competing notions of ‘botched’ executions and ‘complications’ in PAS while analysing the standards set forward to measure safety and efficacy for each. Finally, this note closes by exploring the future of each practice in light of our discussion.
Riley S. Navigating the new era of assisted suicide and execution drugs. Journal of Law and the Biosciences. Volume 4, Issue 2, 1 August 2017, Pages 424–434, https://doi.org/10.1093/jlb/lsx028
Abstract Aims: To highlight the potential difficulties in the management of staff with a conscientious objection to abortion, in light of expanding role of nurses.
Background: Recent years have seen changes in the provision of abortion services. Medical procedures are now gaining popularity and some areas are seeing the integration of outpatient clinics into ward settings. This may involve nurses being required to provide care to women undergoing termination of pregnancy, which may not have previously been within their remit. This has implications for staff with a conscientious objection.
Methods: A review of the academic literature.
Results: The advent of medical abortion has led to changes in the way in which abortion services are provided which in turn has re-ignited the debate of the competing rights of nurses with a conscientious objection and those of the patient accessing abortion services.
Conclusions: This extended role of nurses creates challenges for staff working in clinical areas offering termination of pregnancy and these are further compounded when staff have expressed a conscientious objection to abortion.
Implications for Nursing Management: Managers face new challenges in achieving the fine balance between the rights of staff with a conscientious objection to abortion and women accessing abortion services.
Abstract Antibiotic resistance menaces the population as a dire public health threat and costly social problem. Recent proposals to combat antibiotic resistance focus to a large degree on supply side approaches. Suggestions include tinkering with patent rights so that pharmaceutical companies have greater incentives to discover novel antibiotics as well as to resist overselling their newer drugs already on market. This Article argues that a primarily supply side emphasis unfortunately detracts attention from physicians’ important demand side influences. Physicians have a vital and unavoidably necessary role to play in ensuring socially optimal access to antibiotics. Dismayingly, physicians’ management of the antibiotic supply has been poor and their defense of population health tepid at best. Acting as a prudent steward of the antibiotic supply often seems to be at odds with a physician’s commonly understood fiduciary duties, ethical obligations, and professional norms, all of which traditionally emphasize the individual health paradigm as opposed to population health responsibilities. Meanwhile, physicians face limited incentives for antibiotic conservation from other sources, such as malpractice liability, regulatory standards, and reimbursement systems. While multifaceted efforts are needed to combat antibiotic resistance effectively, physician gatekeeping behavior should become a priority area of focus. This Article considers how health law and policy tools could favorably change the incentives physicians face for antibiotic conservation. A clear lesson from the managed care reform battles of the recent past is that interventions, to have the best chance of success, need to respect physician interest in clinical autonomy and individualized medicine even if, somewhat paradoxically, vigorously promoting population health perspectives. Also, physicians’ legal and ethical obligations need to be reconceptualized in the antibiotic context in order to better support gatekeeping in defense of population health. The principal recommendation is for increased use of financial incentives to reward physicians for compliance with recommended guidelines on antibiotic prescribing. Although not a panacea, greater experimentation with financial incentives can provide a much needed jump-start to physician interest in antibiotic conservation and likely best address physicians’ legitimate clinical autonomy concerns.
Extract Conclusion Medical ethics and the practice of medicine as an act of conscience have become integral to this scientifically unsettled debate. Before medication is prescribed or dispensed, a prudent practitioner weighs carefully the risks of the medication with the potential benefits. 70 Laws that require a medical professional to perform an act against his or her best judgment violate the code of ethics of that profession to do no harm in the professional’s highest and best medical judgment. It ought to be alarming that a patient’s expectations may become the standard for professional action. Ought medical professionals prescribe and dispense what the patient wants even if it harms him or her, just because the patient’s autonomy allows a patient to live a risky life? 71 Family planning deserves a principled approach carried out with integrity that protects the parties, and that approach should be reflected in legal policy and lawmaking.
Should doctors and pharmacists be able to refuse to give out emergency contraceptives based on conscientious objections? Sexual freedom that was protected by the Supreme Court’s emancipation of sexuality from reproduction has allowed emergency contraceptives to be used for any purpose an individual desires, rather than for the best and most responsible medical purposes. Therefore, when a medical professional has concerns that an emergency contraceptive may harm the health of his or her patients or customers or their offspring, a conscientious objection provided by law seems more appropriate than a legal requirement to dispense despite objections, at least until a medical and legal consensus can be reached.
Extract We are entering an era where medicine is becoming more like engineering. The distinction between “treatment” and “enhancement” blurs as we are ever better at tinkering with the body. . .
Medical scientists will be able to modify and control an ever-expanding range of human bodily functions, from drugs that slow down aging to drugs that alter basic aspects of mood, anxiety, and cognition. Someday soon, the conflict between a physician’s idea of how people ought to live and how those people want to live will occur in fields far removed from reproductive technology. . .
Abstract Conclusion . . . The pharmaceutical industry will continue to create drugs to which some pharmacists object on religious grounds. Employers must anticipate that some pharmacists will object not only to birth control, but also to Ritalin, 226 Viagra for unmarried men, or drugs to treat AIDS; some pharmacists may even object on religious grounds to serving particular customers. The religious discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act allow most employers to dispense with the majority of possible religious accommodations for pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions on religious grounds. Those provisions are meaningless, however, if employers are reluctant to assert Title VII’s protections against accommodations imposing an undue hardship on the pharmacy’s business operations. As pharmacies negotiate the tensions between consumers demanding prompt access to prescription drugs, a tight labor market for pharmacists, pressure from certain religious groups to discourage the use of birth control, vocal national groups advocating expanded access to contraception, and their own economic bottom line, Title VII can serve either as an answer or as an excuse. Employers may use Title VII as a pretense to justify unnecessary accommodations for objecting pharmacists; pharmacies may attempt to use federal law to shield themselves from customer and activist criticism by asserting that they have no choice but to accommodate. On the other hand, pharmacies can utilize Title VII as a tool to define the outer limits of their pharmacist accommodation policies. A clear understanding of the parameters of Title VII’s religious accommodation requirements will help guide and monitor the behavior and legal justifications presented by employers, employees, and customers when pharmacists refuse to dispense certain drugs on religious grounds.
Abstract It is likely that mifepristone or levonorgestrel in the future will find extended use for contraceptive purposes. It is therefore essential to characterize the modes of action of these compounds. To assess the effect on the human Fallopian tube, 24 women with regular menstrual cycles and proven fertility, admitted to the hospital for voluntary sterilization by laparoscopic technique, were randomly allocated to a control or one of two treatment groups. Treatments were given with either a single dose of 200 mg mifepristone or 0.75 mg levonorgestrel in two doses 12 h apart, on day LH2. Surgery was performed on day LH4 to LH6. Steroid receptor expression was analysed by immunohistochemistry, Western blot and RT-PCR. In the controls, there was a higher concentration of progesterone receptors in the stromal cells in the isthmic region than in those in the ampullar region. Treatment with mifepristone increased the progesterone receptor concentration in epithelial and stromal cells and increased the estrogen receptor concentration in epithelial cells. No effect on steroid receptor concentration was found following levonorgestrel. The contraceptive effect of post-ovulatory mifepristone has previously been considered to be dependent on an effect on the endometrium. However an effect on the Fallopian tube could contribute to alter the peri-implantation milieu influencing fertilization and embryo development.
Extract . . . methotrexate is contraindicated during pregnancy. If Wiebe and the University of British Columbia Ethics Committee have information on the safety of this drug during pregnancy perhaps they could share it with readers.
Abstract The legal right to assert a conscientious objection is reviewed, using as an example the dispensing of abortifacient drugs by pharmacists. The three areas of law that most significantly concern the right to assert a conscientious refusal are employment law, conscience clauses, and religious discrimination law. Each of these is reviewed, with descriptions of recent cases. It is concluded that employment law protects refusals that are consistent with public policy, but does not permit an employee’s personal policy to determine how a business will be run; that conscience clauses appear to provide protection for pharmacists who object to dispensing abortifacients, but that the precise meanings of critical words and phrases in some clauses need to be defined; and that even though laws of religious discrimination require that employers accommodate religious beliefs, they may not protect a pharmacist who objects to dispensing abortifacients if the accommodation becomes unreasonably burdensome.