Headlines: June 21, 2010
by Meg Larkin
In research news today, an Italian report found that treatment with their own stem cells could restore some blinded patients’ vision. According to the Boston Globe, “Patients blinded in one or both eyes by chemical burns regained their vision after healthy stem cells were extracted from their eyes and reimplanted.” At the meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Dr, Graziella Pellegrini presented the results of her study, which was able to restore eyesight to over three quarters of participants. The same type of enduring benefit to patients that the Italian researchers were able to achieve has not yet been replicated in the United States.
In the United States, a close relationship between a device maker and a prominent surgeon is dissolving. Dr. Richard A. Berger, a surgeon, used to be a prominent spokesman for Zimmer Holdings, an artificial joint maker, until the two decided to part ways earlier this year. The relationship began to fall apart when Dr. Berger found that some of the company’s joints were failing and having to be replaced after only a few years. Zimmer Holdings blamed the failures on Dr. Berger’s surgical technique, and declined to extend Dr. Berger’s consulting arrangement.
In health reform news, advocates are urging Massachusetts to fill a gap in health care coverage for low income workers. Massachusetts enacted health reform legislation in 2006 that is widely regarded as the model for National Health Reform, but the Massachusetts State Government is still working through many of the problems inherent in near-universal coverage. While low-income workers whose employers do not provide health insurance are able to purchase affordable coverage through the State’s health insurance exchange, low-income workers whose employers provide some form of coverage are precluded from purchasing insurance through the exchange even if they cannot afford the premiums for the insurance their employer provides. The National Health Reform legislation will close this coverage gap when it takes effect in 2014, but in Massachusetts some groups are urging the State to take action sooner.
Meg Larkin is a law student at Boston University. Please feel free to email her with any questions, comments, suggestions or concerns.