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Exploring Ethical Dilemmas: Examining Alzheimer’s and the Aduhelm Controversy with Dr. Carol Portlock

By February 21, 2022 April 28th, 2022 No Comments

Retired medical oncologist Dr. Carol Portlock explored the ethical considerations of “cutting edge” drugs and their development, focusing on the recent approval of Aduhelm, a controversial new therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease. Concerns over effectiveness, side effects, toxicity, and expense were examined. The ethics of offering patients the option of “no treatment“ for Alzheimer’s disease and some lymphomas were also be addressed.

Also, be sure to watch our September Speaking of Science that also focused on Alzheimer’s, and that Dr. Portlock referenced: Speaking of Science: “Updates in Alzheimer’s Disease Research” | New York Society for Ethical Culture

Suggested Readings

Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease: What Happens to the Brain in Alzheimer’s Disease? – NIH National Institute on Aging
-Full discussion of Alzheimer’s DiseaseCost and controversy are limiting use of new Alzheimer’s drug – NPR News
-Explores the controversy over Aduhelm41% of Aduhelm patients had brain swelling or bleeding – Advisory Board
-Summary of Aduhelm side effectsTreatments for indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma – Canadian Cancer Society
-The concept of no initial treatment in some lymphomas is discussed

Carol Portlock, M.D. served at Memorial Sloan-Kettering for 30 years doing clinical research on lymphoma, and was a member of their Ethics Committee for 19 years. She pursued the same clinical research at Yale University for the preceding decade, and completed her undergraduate medical training at Stanford, specializing in medical oncology and participating in clinical research on chemotherapy.


What does one do when there’s no clearly defined ethical road to take? Exploring Ethical Dilemmas features speakers from a variety of backgrounds — medicine, law, business, science, education, the arts, social work, etc. — who share their experience and knowledge of ethical issues in those fields. Monthly, 3rd Monday.

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