John A. Robertson (1943 – 2017)

Renowned bioethics scholar, longtime University of Texas Law Professor, and frequent Bill of Health contributor John A. Robertson has recently passed away. We at the Petrie-Flom Center mourn his passing, and our Faculty Director I. Glenn Cohen writes a few words:

I saw John roughly a month ago at the Baby Markets Roundtable at UT Austin. He was, as he always was and as he still seems to me in my mind’s eye, full of electric intellectual energy, warmth, and whimsy. Every comment that I heard him make for over a decade at conferences began: “That’s so interesting…” and then he would proceed to subtly add something to whomever he responded to that was at once flattering of the idea and also five times better than what was said by original speaker. Certainly that’s how it felt when I was the person to whom he was responding.

Much will be said in coming weeks about his work—not only the centrality of Children of Choice to almost everything that has been written since on reproductive technology, but also the breadth of his work and the way in which almost every new technology soon had a wonderful take by him in print (IVF and uterus transplants most recently).

I’ll limit myself to two reflections. First, the way in which he put the field I write in (law and bioethics or law and the biosciences, depending on who you ask) on to the law school map, and with a few others (Rebecca Dresser, Alta CharoHank Greely, etc), gave it legitimacy as a real and important area of focus within law schools.

Second, and more personally, John was just about the best mentor to young scholars I have ever encountered. I met him first while I was a fellow at an ASLME event and I was blown away by the warmth and generosity of someone I considered a giant in the field (my idol if I’m honest) to a little pischer like me. Over the years I saw him do the same for countless others and I tried to do my best to palely imitate.

I can’t believe he is gone. The world seems a little darker.

Webinar, 6/28: Procedural Aspects of Compulsory Licensing under TRIPS

I am very happy to host yet another webinar with J. Wested at the University of Copenhagen. This time we will debate procedural issues in compulsory licensing with H. Grosse Ruse-Kahn (University of Cambridge) & M. Desai (Eli Lilly). Further information on our webinar series is available at here, here, and below:

Procedural Aspects of Compulsory Licensing under Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

Wednesday 28. June 2017
4-6 p.m (CEST)
Sign-up & questions: Jakob.blak.wested@jur.ku.dk

This webinar on “TRIPS and the life sciences” will approach the question of compulsory licensing by looking at the technical and procedural requirements applied by courts when evaluating a petition for a compulsory license.  

The balancing of the instrumental application of patent rights as a stimulator of innovation and the public interest in having access to these innovations form a controversial trajectory of discourse, which is as old as patent law. Compulsory licenses are one of the means that have been applied throughout the history of patent law, to condition this complex intersection of interests. The TRIPS agreement is no exception and art 31 contains the provision for member states to grant CL. In 2013, the Indian authorities granted a compulsory license to NATCO Pharmaceuticals for Bayers patented pharmaceutical product Carboxy Substituted Diphenyl Ureas, useful for the treatment of liver and kidney cancer. This decision raised several issues regarding the procedures and requirements to be met in order to grant a compulsory license. Furthermore, in January 2017 an amendment to TRIPS agreement entered into force allowing compulsory licensors to export their generic pharmaceuticals to least developed countries, further recalibrating the intersection of the monopoly power of the patent and public interest. Continue reading

Academic Immersion

Editor’s Note: The Petrie-Flom Center is now accepting applications for Student Fellowships for the 2017-2018 academic year. See our website for more information about applying! 

Last week, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Perspectives article describing the “Immersion Day” it holds for its board members. On the Immersion Day, participants don scrubs and shadow front line employees across various parts of the hospital – this might include attending ICU rounds or observing a surgery. The day gives board members the opportunity to meet and engage with staff in a meaningful way as they go about their jobs, painting a vivid picture of the issues and concerns that arise on paper in the board room. In its third year, the program is a resounding success, garnering rave reviews from the trustees. In fact, the hospital has now created an Immersion Day for state policymakers.

Having worked as a clinician before moving into policy and research, this piece resonated deeply with me. I have found my clinical experience to be essential and formative for how I view policy questions. In addition, as I approach the end of my year as a student fellow, I realized that this piece and the concept of immersion describes my experience with the Petrie-Flom Center. Continue reading

Hiring Announcement: Loyola University Chicago Beazley Institute for Health Law

Loyola University Chicago School of Law is pleased to invite applications for a full-time tenure-track position, at the rank of Assistant/Associate Professor with expertise in health law, beginning in fall 2016. We seek a scholar-teacher whose substantive interests are in the areas of administrative law, healthcare regulation, corporate health law and/or food and drug/pharmaceutical law. The full job announcement can be found at www.careers.luc.edu.

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The ACA and the Practice of Health Law

By Louise Trubek, Barbara Zabawa, Paula Galowitz

Health law practice is undergoing radical restructuring in the wake of major changes in the health care system and the reorganization of the legal profession. The health care system is being transformed as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other factors promote the integration of clinics and hospitals, put greater emphasis on patient-centeredness, create incentives for value-based care, mandate public reporting on costs and outcomes, and provide subsidized coverage.  These changes in the health care system come at a time when the legal profession is also undergoing significant transformations.  In the corporate law sector, we see a major shift in the role of corporate general counsel and corresponding changes in the practice of outside corporate firms: General Counsel positions (GCs) are becoming more powerful and corporate firms are shifting from overall representation of companies to specialist niches. At the same time there is increased concern about access to justice for under-represented individuals while new programs to address unmet legal needs are emerging. Health care lawyers are caught up in this dual transformation as the nature and the setting for their practices change and they are called on to play new roles and develop new skills.

Our study of Transformations In Health Law Practice concentrates on two types of practice: the corporate law sector that serves business and the “access to justice” sector that assists individuals. Continue reading

AHLA Health Law Curriculum Manual

By Kevin Outterson

The American Health Lawyers Association is the nation’s largest group of practicing health law attorneys, with awesome CLE programs.

For the past couple years, a group at AHLA has been evaluating how health law is taught at law schools, with a view to prepare students for the practice of health law. AHLA surveyed many health law practice group chairs and other leaders. With that data, a large group of AHLA members and some full time professors evaluated health law curricula nationwide. A guidance document is now out (html or pdf):

We found some significant gaps, however, between what law schools offer and what the profession hopes to see in new health lawyers. Members of the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) want to see more substantive classes in fraud & abuse, business, tax, life sciences, and health care reimbursement. Desired skills include working in teams, processing practical transactional skills, and effectively analyzing client-focused problems.

Two take-away slides from the AHLA survey of health law practice leaders and hiring partners:

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Tips from a former medical student – Part II

By Deborah Cho

[See Part I here]

Last week, I wrote the first of a two-part series on tips that may be helpful for law students and lawyers interested in or working in health/medical law.  I continue with Tip #4 here.

4. If you need to learn about a disease, procedure, or drug that you know nothing about, your best starting point is probably Wikipedia.  Google will lead you to some incorrect answers, and diagnose-yourself websites will give you answers that are much too broad to use practically in legal practice.  Once you have familiarized yourself with the general topic on Wikipedia, you can then go back to your search engine of choice for more specific terms and weed out the wrong information.  Starting on PubMed or GoogleScholar probably isn’t the best idea either because most of what you’re reading will be highly technical and the articles you find will likely be about novel uses or instances of whatever you’re searching.  Another fantastic source is UpToDate, an evidence-based Wikipedia-like source for healthcare providers, but many people may not have access to all the information on this site.

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Ten Faculty Fellowships Awarded to Promote Public Health Law Education

Official Press Release:

Atlanta – Georgia State University College of Law and its Center for Law Health & Society have selected 10 faculty fellows to participate in the Future of Public Health Law Education: Faculty Fellowship Program. The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to foster innovations and build a learning community among those who teach public health law at professional and graduate schools. For more information, visit law.gsu.edu/phlfellowship.

The fellows, chosen from across the country, will develop interdisciplinary courses and programs in public health law at their respective universities during the fellowship year. Their projects will strengthen interdisciplinary education in public health law and promote collaborations with public health agencies and organizations in the fellows’ communities.

The fellows are:

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Tips from a former medical student – Part I

By Deborah Cho

As a student in the Disability Litigation Clinic, one of the many fantastic clinics here at Harvard Law school, I’ve come to appreciate the value of hands-on experience as an essential component of legal education.  One issue that we as students are often faced with, however, is a lack of familiarity with the particular subject matter we are assigned to work with.  Now, I know that topic-specific knowledge typically comes on the job, but I’m starting to see that many of us trying to practice law touching the medical field never really have a chance to learn the basics of the medical world and just how essential that basic knowledge really is.

As a short introduction to this post, I will say that I spent several of my college years volunteering and doing research at various hospitals and clinics, went to medical school for two years, have an M.A. in Bioethics (noting this to add to my hours spent in a hospital), have interned in the health care division in state government, have interned in a health law nonprofit firm, and, as noted above, am enrolled in the Disability Litigation Clinic right now.  All that to say, please take everything I write here with a grain of salt.  I am by no means an expert on this, but have found that this information has helped me throughout my healthcare-related legal experience so far and I hope that this will spark dialogue and interest on this subject.

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Book Review published on SSRN

By Timo Minssen

Three weeks ago I blogged about my recent review of  “Pharmaceutical Innovation, Competition and Patent Law – a Trilateral Perspective” (Edward Elgar 2013). The full review, which is forthcoming in a spring issue of European Competition Law Review (Sweet Maxwell), is now available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2396804.

Open Questions in Health Law?

By Christopher Robertson

As I prepare to teach the health law survey course here at HLS in the spring, I am putting together some exercises for students to work on “open questions” in the field. For example, I am thinking about tasking a group of students to explore ways that insurers could or already do structure their contracts with patients and providers to prevent pharmaceutical companies from using coupons to undermine cost-sharing burdens. (Medicare simply does so with the anti-kickback statute.) I have another question about whether the inventor of a new medical device could use crowd-sourcing (e.g,. kickstarter) to raise funds for product development, without running afoul of the FDA proscriptions on unapproved marketing. I would love to get your ideas about open questions in other areas, including bioethics, medical malpractice, public health law, scope of practice, etc. Please post them in the comments or contact me. I’m happy to reciprocate.

Friday, 11/15: Health Law Opportunities at Harvard Law School

Health Law Opportunities at Harvard Law School

Friday, November 15, 2013 12:00 PM

Wasserstein Hall 3019
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

1Ls and 2Ls will have the opportunity to learn more about different classes and extracurricular activities available at Harvard Law School that relate to health law. Opportunities range from classes on FDA regulation, healthcare access, and food policy, to internships and research assistance. Panelists will include:

  • Robert Greenwald, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Health Law and Policy Clinic of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, WilmerHale Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School
  • Emily Broad Leib, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law, Director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic, and Associate Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School
  • I. Glenn Cohen, Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
  • Mark Barnes, Partner, Ropes & Gray LLP

This event is free. Lunch will be served.

Cosponsored by the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, and the Petrie-Flom Center.

Health Law Opportunities at Harvard Law School

Health Law Opportunities at Harvard Law School

Friday, November 15, 2013 12:00 PM

Wasserstein Hall 3019
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

1Ls and 2Ls will have the opportunity to learn more about different classes and extracurricular activities available at Harvard Law School that relate to health law. Opportunities range from classes on FDA regulation, healthcare access, and food policy, to internships and research assistance. Panelists will include:

  • Robert Greenwald, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Health Law and Policy Clinic of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, WilmerHale Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School
  • Emily Broad Leib, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law, Director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic, and Associate Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School
  • I. Glenn Cohen, Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
  • Mark Barnes, Partner, Ropes & Gray LLP

This event is free. Lunch will be served.

Cosponsored by the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and the Petrie-Flom Center.

National Health Law Transactional Competition

By Christopher Robertson

Our friends at Loyola University Chicago’s health law program just announced the Fourth Annual L. Edward Bryant, Jr. National Health Law Transactional Competition.   “Three-person teams of J.D. students will prepare a legal memorandum that summarizes their legal and business advice for a hypothetical health care client. These students will then appear in a boardroom environment before distinguished attorneys serving as the client’s ‘Executive Management Team’ to present their analysis of the client’s position and recommendations on how the client should proceed.”  More information is available on their website.

Faculty Fellowships in Public Health Law – Call for Applications

Applications are invited for 10 faculty fellowships in public health law education.

DESCRIPTION 

Georgia State University College of Law and its Center for Law, Health & Society are leading an initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a faculty fellowship program to promote public health law education. Ten faculty members from law schools or schools/programs of public health will be selected to participate in a yearlong fellowship program designed to foster innovations in educational programming (including clinical, externship, and other experiential learning) and to build a strong learning community among faculty who teach in the public health law field.

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