Philosophy & Ethics

Laws in two states requiring disclosure of pharmaceutical company payments to physicians do not provide the public with easy access to payment information and are of limited quality when accessed, according to a study in the March 21 issue of JAMA.

Interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and health care professionals often involve payments, including cash, gift certificates, meals, textbooks or conference fees. In contrast to many other professions, medicine allows payments from a company to an individual who decides whether and how often to use products produced by the company.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita focused the international spotlight on the vulnerability of the U.S. coastline. Fears that a "super-hurricane" could make a direct hit on a major city and cause even more staggering losses of life, land and economy triggered an outpouring of studies directed at every facet of this ferocious weather phenomenon. Now, an LSU professor takes us one step closer to predicting the future by drilling holes into the past.

Kam-biu Liu, George William Barineau III Professor in LSU's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, is the pioneer of a relatively new field of study called paleotempestology, or the study of prehistoric hurricanes.

A federal law requiring publicly traded firms to disclose whether they have adopted codes of ethics for their senior financial officers may be useful, but a Penn State researcher says its impact is often limited.

A firm's board of directors needs to be the driving force behind creating and implementing the program in most cases for it to truly be successful.

"According to my research, firms with ethics programs overseen by their boards of directors disclose more credible financial information—as perceived by financial analysts—than do firms having ethics programs not overseen by their boards, and firms not having ethics programs," said Andrew Felo, assistant professor of accounting at Penn State Great Valley graduate school in suburban Philadelphia.

Severe climate changes during the last ice-age could have been caused by random chaotic variations on Earth and not governed by external periodic influences from the Sun. This has been shown in new calculations by a researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen University.


The temperature curve through the Greenland inland ice sheet shows 26 dramatic and abrupt climate shifts during the last ice age that lasted more than 100.000 years. This curve shows the climate shifts during 40,000 years. The climate shifts appear to be periodic, but mathematical computer simulations shows that they are probably chaotic and random. Credit: Peter Ditlevsen

Doctors who fear their own death say they are more prepared than other doctors to hasten death in sick newborns for whom further medical treatment is considered futile, reveals research published ahead of print in the Fetal & Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The findings are based on an anonymous survey of 138 doctors specialising in the care of sick newborns (neonatologists) across Australia and New Zealand.

The doctors were asked questions about their ethical practice and to complete the Multidimensional Fear of Death Scale (MFODS), which measures different facets of personal fear of death.

Of the 138 doctors contacted, 78 (56%) completed the questionnaire.

The largest climate change in central North America since the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a temperature drop of nearly 15 degrees Fahrenheit, is documented within the fossilized teeth of horses and other plant-eating mammals, a new study reveals.

The overwhelming majority of previous climate-change studies on the 400,000-year transition from the Eocene to the Oligocene epochs, about 33.5 million years ago, focus on marine environments, but University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist Bruce MacFadden and his colleagues turned their attention to fossils from the Great Plains.


University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist Bruce MacFadden examines a fossil oreodont jaw from Nebraska in the Florida Museu

Debate over euthanasia continues in many countries. Opinions were divided for months in Italy over the case of Piergiorgio Welby, who died Dec. 20 when he was administered a sedative and his artificial respiration was turned off.

More recently, in Australia, cancer sufferer John Elliot traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, to put an end to his life with the aid of the organization Dignitas. As often happens with these cases, pro-euthanasia activists exploited the emotional appeal of a suffering and terminally ill patient to push for a so-called right to die.

Elliot was accompanied in his journey by Australian euthanasia advocate, Philip Nitschke, as well as a reporter from the Melbourne-based Age newspaper, the periodical reported Jan. 27.