Trending News Today: ALS Patient Chooses Doctor Assisted Suicide in California

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

There are new signs of deals brewing in the biotech sector. Although a stronger biotech market is good news for shareholders, the increase in biotech stocks may end up costing larger drug manufacturers, reported The Wall Street Journal. Some of the expected buyers, who stated earlier this year that they were on the hunt for deals, include Merck, Amgen, and Gilead Sciences. Medivation, who signed confidentiality agreements with several possible acquirers earlier this summer, is among the potential sellers. Additionally, the biotech giant Biogen has drawn preliminary interest from at least 2 potential suitors, according to a WSJ report earlier this month.

Merck launched its first televised ad campaign regarding the human papillomavirus (HPV) on major network and cable channels. According to The Washington Post, the commercials have sparked a fierce debate over whether the pharma giant is trying to shame parents into getting their children vaccinated. Although these ads do not mention Merck’s HPV vaccine, Gardasil, it targets parents’ emotions, and their need to protect their children. One commercial involves a woman admitting she has cervical cancer from HPV, saying, “who knew that there was something that could have helped protect me from HPV when I was 11 or 12, way before I would even be exposed to it? Did you know — Mom, Dad?” Conflicting opinions surround the commercials whether it is a form of bullying Merck is using to guilt-trip parents in order to increase company profits, according to the report. To view one of the commercials, click here.

A little over a month after the California doctor-assisted suicide law was passed, 41-year-old Betsy Davis, who was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, chose to end her life, reported The Washington Post. Davis was one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state’s new law for the terminally ill. Before taking her disease into her own hands, Davis held an unusual 2-day party with 30 of her friends and family to say goodbye. The doctor-assisted suicide laws have been passed in 4 states, Oregon being the first, with some opponents of the law that have lobbied against it. Opponents have said that hastening death was morally wrong, and it puts terminally ill patients at risk for coerced death by loved ones, and could become a way out for people who are uninsured or fearful of high medical bills, according to The Washington Post.