WIT: A window on tensions in clinical trials

June 12, 2008

(Warning: contains plot spoilers!) Adapted from Margaret Edson’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Wit tells the tragic story of Professor Vivian Bearing (Emma Thompson). Vivian, a ruthless scholar of 17th Century English poetry, is diagnosed with advanced stage 4 metastatic ovarian cancer. Dr Harvey Kelekian (Christopher Lloyd), Vivian’s consultant physician and leading figure in this area of medical research, explains that the most effective treatment option she has is an aggressive experimental chemotherapy at the full dose.

Professor Vivian Bearing

 
Professor Vivian Bearing (Emma Thompson)  

She cautiously consents to the therapy and embarks on a degrading regime of eight cycles, which no other patient has completed before. With a fearless determination, Vivian does everything the doctors ask of her, and as such illustrates the central ethical issue observed in this film; the conflict of interest witnessed between clinical therapy and clinical research. Throughout, this is entangled with clinical incompetence, issues of informed consent, end of life decisions and Vivian’s frustration with the hospitals insensitive mechanistic approach to their patients, having been asked repeatedly “How are you feeling today?” (00:04:10 – 00:05:25) Read the rest of this entry »

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A new service from BioethicsBytes

June 6, 2008

Over the last few months the BioethicsBytes team have been working on a new tool to help teachers of secondary school biology for 14 to 18 year olds in England and Wales.

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With ethics becoming an increasing part of the science curriculum at both GCSE and A level, we’ve carried out an audit of the bioethical content in all of the new specifications in order to be able to recommend BioethicsBytes and other resources relating to each topic. We hope you find this useful.

Click this link to visit the Bioethics in the UK Curriculum page.