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Leading bioethicist to discuss access to experimental drugs for the dying
Posted 01/09/2017 02:25PM

The College of Arts and Sciences, the Bachelor of Arts degree program in Medical and Health Humanities, and the Catherine and Daniel Flood Endowment for the Humanities at Misericordia University are sponsoring the presentation, "Do the Dying Deserve Compassion? The Ethics of Granting Access to Unapproved Drugs to the Terminally Ill,'' by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., as part of the Medical and Health Humanities Deadly Medicine Speaker Series program on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall.

The Medical and Health Humanities Deadly Medicine Speaker Series program is open, free to the public, but tickets are required due to limited seating. To reserve your tickets, please call the Misericordia University Box Office at (570) 674-6719.

Dr. Caplan is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics and founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center in New York City.

In his presentation, Dr. Caplan will discuss how patients who are facing death or serious illness sometime seek pre-approval, or "compassionate use" access to experimental interventions outside of clinical trials after they have exhausted all U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment options. The FDA often is blamed for blocking access, but that is not true, according to Dr. Caplan.

Access to experimental drugs, he says, is dependent on the willingness of the company that is developing the medical product to make it available. Many pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, though, either do not have policies governing pre-approval access, or, if they do, they are not made publicly available. As a result, dying patients and their advocates feel confused and frustrated by the system.

Dr. Caplan will discuss this ongoing dilemma during his public presentation.

At New York University, Dr. Caplan is the co-founder and dean of research of the NYU Sports and Society Program and the head of the ethics program in the Global Institute for Public Health.

Prior to joining NYU, he was the Sidney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Dr. Caplan created the Center for Bioethics and the Department of Medical Ethics while at the medical school. He also taught at the University Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he founded the Center for Biomedical Ethics, and the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, and Columbia University, New York.

Dr. Caplan received his doctorate from Columbia University. He is the author or editor of 35 books and more than 700 scholarly papers in peer reviewed journals. His most recent book is "The Ethics of Sport,'' which was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

In addition, he has served on several national and international committees, including the National Cancer Institute Biobanking Ethics Working Group; advisory committee to the United Nations on Human Cloning; advisory committee to the Department of Health and Human Services on Blood Safety and Availability; Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses; special advisory committee to the International Olympic Committee on genetics and gene therapy; special advisory panel to the National Institutes of Mental Health on human experimentation on vulnerable subjects and many more.

He is currently the ethics advisor to the Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as a member of the University of Pennsylvania's External Advisory Committee for its Orphan Disease Center and a member of the Ethics and Ebola Working Group of the World Health Organization. Dr. Caplan also serves as the chairperson of the Compassionate Use Advisory Committee, an independent group of internationally recognized medical experts, bioethicists and patient representatives that advises Janssen/J&J about requests for compassionate use of some of its investigational medicines.

During his career he has received many awards and honors. Dr. Caplan has received the McGovern Medal of the American Medical Writers Association and the Franklin Award from the City of Philadelphia. USA Today named him Person of the Year in 2001. In 2008, Discover magazine described him as being one of the 10 most influential people in science. Modern Health Care magazine named him one of the 50 most influential people in American health care. He was named one of the 10 most influential people in America in biotechnology by the National Journal, while the editors of Nature Biotechnology said he was one of the 10 most influential people in the ethics of biotechnology. Scientific American magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology.

In 2011, Dr. Caplan received the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics and in 2014 he was selected to receive the Public Service Award from the National Science Foundation/National Science Board in recognition for his substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States. Most recently, the National Organization for Rare Disorders honored him with the Rare Impact Award in 2016.

Misericordia is also presenting seven other presentations as part of the Medical and Health Humanities Deadly Medicine Speaker Series that is complementing the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's traveling exhibition, "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race,'' which runs through March 14 in the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery.

Other guest speakers include Holocaust survivor and forgiveness advocate Eva Mozes Kor, Rabbi Roger Lerner, and Thomas Hajkowski, Ph.D.

For more information about the Bachelor of Arts degree program in Medical and Health Humanities at Misericordia University, please call (570) 674-6400 or log on to www.misericordia.edu/medicalhumanities

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Students walking from the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library
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