Post by Roland Nadler
Next time you impulsively pull up YouTube to check out the adorable cat video du jour, you might find your fix delayed by a most unusual advertisement:
About a year ago, this blog started a series on “bioscience” fiction: series intro. That series has, thus far, comprised one post, on Robert Heinlein’s short story, Jerry Was a Man (here). There has been no second. Until now.
One night earlier this month I just couldn’t face the philosophy book I was trying to use as bedtime reading and wandered over to my science fiction bookcase for something lighter. My eye fell on Childhood’s End. My Ballantine Book’s paperback copy (which cost me 75 big cents at the time) is from the 15th printing, in 1970. I probably hadn’t read the book since then, but I’ve remembered it warmly – really interesting plot and one great line. Forty-some years later – and 60 years after it was first published – it stands up well, although not entirely as I remember it.
For those of you who missed our Brains on Trial event on October 2nd, video of the panel discussion is now available on YouTube. The panelists were Silvia Bunge, Hank Greely, Robert Sapolsky, and Anthony Wagner, and the discussion was moderated by Alan Alda. Check out their interesting discussion of various law and neuroscience issues!
Hey CLB Podcast Listeners: Our new October 2013 podcast is up! In this edition, we discuss the law enforcement purposes exception to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA); the risk of liver injury associated with acetaminophen and FDA regulation of the drug, and; concussions and the future of football. Enjoy!
U.S. v. Harkonen — a case in which Dr. Scott Harkonen, former CEO of InterMune, was convicted of wire fraud based on a press release that discussed clinical trial results for one of InterMune’s drugs – has caused concern that Dr. Harkonen’s conviction means scientists could be subject to prosecution for (mis)interpreting their research results (see here, here, and here). Dr. Harkonen and others who have voiced these concerns make compelling points—specifically, that scientific debate about the interpretation of research results is commonplace, this debate is critical for medical research, and it must not be chilled. But are they right to argue that, if the Supreme Court declines to grant Dr. Harkonen’s petition for cert or otherwise allows his conviction to stand, Dr. Harkonen’s conviction puts such scientific debate at risk? I think the answer is, probably, “no.” Read the rest of this entry »
OT 2012 in the Supreme Court featured a total of five (maybe, five-and-a-half) bioscience cases: Bowman v. Monsanto (seed patenting); Mutual Pharma v. Bartlett (generic drug tort liability); FTC v. Actavis (pay-to-delay drug settlements); Maryland v. King(DNA collection of arrestees); and AMP v. Myriad Genetics (gene patenting). You can hear CLB’s podcast wrap-up of those decisions here.
But as Autumn comes and the leaves turn and Fall–well, in places other than evergreen Stanford, California–the Supreme Court is busy working on a new list of cases to hear for OT 2013. (At least until Friday, when it runs out of money.) And so–even though it’s ridiculously early to start counting these things–we thought it would be a good feature for CLB to update you on any bioscience cases the Court is slated to hear this term. All (maybe) three of them:
On. Oct. 16, the Court will hear Kansas v. Cheever, a criminal case slated to address whether a defense that focused on the neurological effects of the defendant’s habitual methamphetamine use counted as a “mental disease or defect” that allowed the trial court to order a psychiatric evaluation, otherwise in contravention of the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self incrimination. In other words–does, as a legal matter, smokin’ dat ice make you insane in the membrane?
On Nov. 12, the Court will hear a criminal case, Burrage v. United States, on whether one can be convicted for “distributing heroin causing death,” under 21 U.S.C. § 841, if the cause of death was listed as “mixed drug intoxication.” This may seem like a run-of-the-mill criminal procedure issue on just how “proximate,” i.e., reasonably foreseeable, proximate cause needs to be. But, as noted by the government, the coroner’s report in the underlying criminal trial focused on the particular pharmacologic breakdown of heroin in the victim’s bloodstream. See Gov’t Br. at 4. If the coroner was wrong–or if the coroner’s opinion was uncertain–that may favor the petitioner-defendant. Frankly, it’s unclear how much this will play into the Court’s decision, but it’s something to watch out for.
Date uncertain: Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, on whether a state statute can condition the use of an abortifacient on-label, even if typical medical practice is to use it off-label, is still winding its way through the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Hank’s post about that case can be found here–with a correction here.
That’s it so far! We’ll keep you posted. You know, if the Supreme Court can get paid and get back to work any time soon.
Jacob S. Sherkow
Hey CLB Podcast listeners: we’ve yet another podcast up for August 2013. Here, Hank and I wrap-up the five bioscience cases from the past Supreme Court term: Bowman v. Monsanto (seed patenting); Mutual Pharma v. Bartlett (generic drug tort liability); FTC v. Actavis (pay-to-delay drug settlements); Maryland v. King (DNA collection of arrestees); and AMP v. Myriad Genetics.
Hey CLB Podcast listeners: we’ve got our new podcast up for August 2013. In this edition, we welcome our new fellow, Patti Zettler, discuss whether blood is “property” for purposes of the federal rules, rehash Haskell v. Harris, talk about getting high–legally–in New Zealand, and knock-down the research egg-donation ban in California. Enjoy!
In June, after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Maryland v. King on the constitutionality of mandatory collection of DNA from arrestees, I posted a long entry on how that case might, in ways more complicated that immediately obvious, play out in ongoing litigation about California’s statute. Sequels. Then I made a small post when the Ninth Circuit ordered supplemental briefing of its en banc case on this topic, Haskell v. Harris. Aftermath Begins. And one more on a particularly odd California trial court case affected by the decision. Farce
Today, two weeks after receiving the last of the supplemental briefs, the Ninth Circuit ordered a re-argument of the Haskell case before the en banc court on December 9. Reargument.
This should be interesting!
By the way, on July 10, 2013, the California Supreme Court sent the state court case, People v. Buza, back to the intermediate appellate court for reconsideration in light of Maryland v. King: “The above-entitled matter is transferred to the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Two, with directions to vacate its decision and to reconsider the cause in light of Maryland v. King (2013) __ U.S. __ [133 S.Ct. 1958, 186 L.Ed.2d 1]”