Abortion in Queensland – is it what you think?

12 08 2009

If you criminalise abortion, what do you expect will happen?

(The Australian) TEGAN Simone Leach was 19, pregnant and “scared” when her boyfriend’s sister arrived in Cairns last Christmas Day with a consignment of contraband tablets and doctor’s instructions written in Ukrainian.

What transpired after Ms Leach allegedly terminated her pregnancy with the abortion pill RU486 and the Queensland police got involved, has unleashed a legal and political storm of the like not seen before in this country.

Ms Leach will face court next month charged with the crime of procuring her own miscarriage, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind to be brought under Queensland’s century-old abortion laws.

If convicted, she faces up to seven years’ jail.

The young man in her life, Sergie Brennan, 21, faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment for attempting to procure an abortion and three years’ jail on a further charge of supplying the means to procure an abortion. [more]

As expected there is quite a lot of anger coming from liberal left sector – with the launch of the Pro-choice Action Collective in Queensland. They have a facebook group and a website. But is this the right case to be defending? Read the rest of this entry »

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Love, share, learn

13 07 2009

As seems to always be the case, as soon as I decide to take a short blog break, people link to me.

Greg did it twice. Hat-tipping me for that cool UK Swine Flu video I spotted – and also featuring some of my flu posts on this month’s Scientia Pro Publica – a collection of awesome science blogging written for the people – this month’s theme: OMG … Science is Everywhere! You can read more about SciProPub at Grrl Scientist.

I have also been quoted (and named, with my real name!) at BNET Pharma industry blog. I do have to agree with the sentiment. It would be a lot easier to sound sane if when I try to defend Pharma against claims of unethical practices if the industry I am trying to defend would just kindly stop engaging in them…





Child Labour: Cheaper by the dozen

21 06 2009

This is a very interesting development in the ethical debate of using children in reality family TV – does it constitute a violation of child labour laws?

Jon & Kate Plus 8 has garnered the biggest ratings in it’s four-year history due to the tabloid brouhaha over the couple’s marriage. It has also attracted the notice of the Pennsylvania labor department, who are investigating whether the show complies with the state’s child labor laws.

If no violation is found, could this be a gateway to a number of child sweatshops installing extra security cameras and then claiming it’s really a groundbreaking new reality show, Kids, Inc.





Rx-ky business

16 06 2009

Well, AFM called me up on the Insight post for painting my town¹ a little too apologetic for our phriends in Pharma (possibly due to some comments I made on this post of his, and these over at The Scientist, and also just today on Flickr…) .

So I guess I should make some self-apologetics, that my point has *not* been that Pharma is cute and cuddly and can always be trusted – c’mon they are industry – the wonderful Merck saga unfolds beyond just deceptive journals – this sort of awful ‘hit list’ language to “neutralise” and worse, “discredit”, critical doctors makes me cringe (and if you’re sick of hearing about Vioxx, you can get upset at Lilly’s innapropriate off-label Zyprexa marketing instead). There is nothing I can concoct to attempt to downplay the totally unethical nature of that sort of behaviour, to me it is indefensible. There are bad elements out there. Even if we rule the Vioxx shenanigans as an exceptional exception (which is the closest I can get to a defence) just take a look at the US statistics on Pharma fines and settlements made by over the last 9 years (and that just to the government, does not include private parties, class actions etc.)

Pharmaceutical companies are corporations. And yes, they are motivated by making money. And AFM is right, some guy in marketing will try to put that goal ahead of making quality medicines. But let’s remember that’s also what these companies are about making medicines. Medicines that help people. People do not get into this industry because they want to hurt people.

And that is where I start to get annoyed by anti-Pharma movements.

Read the rest of this entry »





Who is testing cancer vaccines?

15 06 2009

ResearchBlogging.orgAs I wrap up my “Pharma is your Phriend” series, lets take a look at some more research.

This is a very interesting analysis of cancer vaccine trials using data mining from Open Access journal, Immunome Research.

The authors have taken advantage of there being quite a lot of publicly available information on clinical trials these days (yes, it is there, if you know where to look¹) to amass a whole host of information on cancer vaccine clinical trials for a type of analysis known as data mining.

There own summary of the results reads:

This application enables rapid extraction of information about institutions, diseases, clinical approaches, clinical trials dates, predominant cancer types in the trials, clinical opportunities and pharmaceutical market coverage. Presentation of results is facilitated by visualization tools that summarize the landscape of ongoing and completed cancer vaccine trials. Our summaries show the number of clinical vaccine trials per cancer type, over time, by phase, by lead sponsors, as well as trial activity relative to cancer type and survival data. We also have identified cancers that are neglected in the cancer vaccine field: bladder, liver, pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, and all of the low-incidence cancers.

Two cool things I learned from the paper were: Vaccines for cancers have been in development since the 1970s, and melanoma has been the cancer studied most for a vaccine, even though the first ones out to market have been for cervical cancer (expect melanoma vaccines in the next 1-5 years?).

But as we are looking to shift this discussion towards the pharmaceutical industry, let’s look at who runs clinical trials (Pop up: Figure 2a).

Read the rest of this entry »





The death of TV news

11 06 2009

Politics and twitter are killing intelligent news on your TV. Perhaps I should add “comedy satire news programs” to that list as well.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "The death of TV news", posted with vodpod





And that’s how you were born

18 12 2008

Late last month, Western Australia granted a woman the right to extract her dead husband’s sperm for storage. The courts will later decide in a separate if she is allowed to use it to get herself up the duff through the wonders of modern science.

Hmmm… dead guys can’t say no?

To be fair, the couple were allegedly already undergoing IVF, so perhaps it is a strong argument that the deceased would have been consenting to the procedure if he wasn’t … well … deceased.

Just before I left Brisbane, JJJ’s Hack ran a story on IVF and social normalcy. It’s weird knowing your parents had sex to have you. It’s possibly more wierd knowing they didn’t. Would it be even more weirder knowing that your parents didn’t have sex after your dad was dead in order to have you?

Should any of the back story really matter?

For those of you who don’t mind a little NSFW – take a look Hard’s only “happy” sex losers webcomic.