‘Right-to-try’ laws spark debate

This issue covers the ethics of right-to-try laws in the United States, the potential of ransomware to disrupt a physician's office, and conference coverage from infectious disease and cardiology sessions.

The right-to try movement, which advocates for allowing terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs without FDA approval, makes a compelling argument. If you or your family member were dying of an incurable disease and a drug might be able to help, wouldn't you want to take the chance, however small? But the factors to consider on the other side of the issue are important as well, such as questions of patient harm and physician liability. In our story this month, Charlotte Huff reviews the status of right-to-try laws in the U.S. and talks to those on both sides of the debate to learn their perspectives.

Ransomware most often makes the news when it hits large hospital networks, but physicians' offices can be targets of cybercrime too. It's frightening to think that an anonymous hacker could take over your data, and the time, effort, and expense required to properly protect yourself and your patients may seem overwhelming. But experts say that tapping into existing resources, backing up your data, and providing extensive staff training can help keep valuable information safe. Read our story to find out more on how.

Our conference coverage includes reports from Mayo Clinic Hospital Medicine 2017 in Tucson, Ariz.; IDWeek 2017 in San Diego; and the North American Menopause Society's annual meeting in Philadelphia. Read about headaches that should raise red flags for physicians, as well as a discussion of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV. Conference coverage continues with a story on the medical uses of and ongoing research into probiotics, and an overview of managing cardiovascular risk in women.

We talk to José Lozada, MD, FACP, Governor for ACP's Puerto Rico chapter, about conditions there after the devastation of last fall's Hurricane Maria, as well as his suggestions on the best ways that physicians on the mainland can help. A feature story offers tips on talking to your patients about often conflicting headlines on diet and nutrition. The Chair of ACP's Board of Regents discusses burnout prevention, and our Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy muses on what a happy New Year would look like for health care in 2018.

Whatever your own goals and plans for 2018, we at ACP Internist wish you the best. Please let us know what you'd like to read about this year.


Jennifer Kearney-Strouse
Executive Editor, ACP Internist