Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital Fellowship in Pharmaceutical Law and Health Services Research

The Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Medicine and Harvard Medical School invites applications for a new postdoctoral fellowship in pharmaceutical law and health services research.  Areas of focus include regulation, intellectual property, and comparative effectiveness, as well as the development, approval, and evidence-based use of drugs, devices, vaccines, procedures, or diagnostics.

Applications are invited from scholars with doctoral degrees (M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Pharm.D., or equivalent) or who will complete such training by July 2013.  Fellows will have an appointment at Harvard Medical School, receive close mentorship from faculty members in the Division, and engage in one or more projects intended to start their careers in law and public health research. Appropriate candidates will also be able to enroll in the Harvard School of Public Health summer Clinical Effectiveness Program with the option to pursue a Master’s degree in public health.  Deadline is March 1, 2013.  Email Aaron Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H. at akesselheim@partners.org for more information.

More religious objections to contraception coverage

I wrote last week (at TIE) that corporations might have First Amendment or RFRA religious rights to object to contraception coverage. Now we have a second federal judge agreeing, this time on behalf of Tyndale Bible Publishers (complaint here; preliminary injunction here). The short answer:

The plaintiffs have therefore shown that the contraceptive coverage mandate substantially burdens their religious exercise.

The Tyndale opinion again focuses on the rights of the owners of the company (here, a family foundation) rather than the company itself:

This Court, like others before it, declines to address the unresolved question of whether for-profit corporations can exercise religion within the meaning of the RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause. See, e.g., First Nat’l Bank v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 777–78 n.14 (1978) (recognizing that corporations have First Amendment speech rights, but declining to “address the abstract question whether corporations have the full measure of rights that individuals enjoy under the First Amendment”); Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109, 1119 (9th Cir.2009) (“We decline to decide whether a for-profit corporation can assert its own rights under the Free Exercise Clause …”); Church of Scientology of Cal. v. Cazares, 638 F.2d 1272, 1280 n.7 (5th Cir.1981) (same). Instead, the Court will assess whether Tyndale has standing to assert the free exercise rights of its owners…

Viewing the rights of Tyndale’s owners (in particular, those of the Foundation) as the basis for its RFRA claim, the Court finds that Tyndale has made a satisfactory showing of Article III standing.

The court also found “third party standing”

It bears emphasizing that if the Court accepted the defendants’ position, no Tyndale entity would have standing to challenge the contraceptive coverage mandate—not even the Foundation. This is because, in the defendants’ view, Tyndale—though directly injured by the regulation—cannot exercise religion, and the Foundation—though capable of exercising religion—is not directly injured by the regulation. The third-party standing doctrine serves to avoid such conundrums.

These cases are serious, but the threat is to mandatory contraception coverage, not the entire ACA.

Cross-posted from TIE

@koutterson

Are Human Research Participants Deserving of Research Animals’ Rights?

by Suzanne M. Rivera, Ph.D.

For years, mainstream and extremist organizations have waged campaigns against the use of animals.  While PETA successfully deploys propaganda featuring provocative models in sexually explicit positions to denounce the use of animals for food, clothing and experimentation, other groups, such as the Animal Liberation Brigade, engage in violent (some would say terroristic) actions to disrupt animal research and scare off scientists from lines of inquiry for which the use of animal models is the state of the art.

Part of the philosophy of the anti-animal research groups is a belief in moral equivalency among species.    PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk once famously said, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”  Does she propose we allow people to suffer with treatable diseases because non-animal models for testing have not yet been developed?  Apparently so.  Newkirk also has gone on the record to say, “Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.”  This view is out of step with the majority of Americans, who – according to the latest Gallup poll– support animal research.

Among those who regulate and support animal research, there is a very strong commitment to animal welfare.  The “animal welfare” perspective contrasts with the “animal rights” view.  The animal rightists want to end animal use, including research (and also eating meat, hunting, zoos, police dogs and entertainment), because they see it as inherently indefensible.  Animal welfarists, on the other hand, believe animals can be used humanely, under strict rules that seek to prevent unnecessary pain and distress in research animals.  They acknowledging that the animals’ lives are worthy of respect, but do not ascribe the moral status of personhood to them.  The US government requires scientists to assume anything that could cause pain or distress in a human also would be painful for an animal, and they are compelled to provide analgesia and anesthesia accordingly.

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