Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Opioids and pain management: revised CDC guidelines

 Concerned over the opioid addiction epidemic in the U.S., and the increasing number of overdose related deaths, the CDC issued the 2016 CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline, which led to reduced opioid prescriptions by doctors. Sometimes this led to the undertreatment of pain, which in turn may have led to patients accessing opioids on the black market, where they are less safe. It may also have led to suicides of patients with unbearable pain.

The CDC has now issued some updated guidelines that appear aimed at balancing concerns with over-prescription against concerns with under-treatment.

Here are the updated guidelines:

CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain — United States, 2022

"This guideline provides recommendations for clinicians providing pain care, including those prescribing opioids, for outpatients aged ≥18 years. It updates the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016 (MMWR Recomm Rep 2016;65[No. RR-1]:1–49) and includes recommendations for managing acute (duration of <1 month), subacute (duration of 1–3 months), and chronic (duration of >3 months) pain.


"CDC recommends that persons with pain receive appropriate pain treatment, with careful consideration of the benefits and risks of all treatment options in the context of the patient’s circumstances. Recommendations should not be applied as inflexible standards of care across patient populations. This clinical practice guideline is intended to improve communication between clinicians and patients about the benefits and risks of pain treatments, including opioid therapy; improve the effectiveness and safety of pain treatment; mitigate pain; improve function and quality of life for patients with pain; and reduce risks associated with opioid pain therapy, including opioid use disorder, overdose, and death.

A central tenet of this clinical practice guideline is that acute, subacute, and chronic pain needs to be appropriately and effectively treated regardless of whether opioids are part of a treatment regimen. 


"To avoid unintended consequences for patients, this clinical practice guideline should not be misapplied, or policies derived from it, beyond its intended use (67). Examples of misapplication or inappropriate policies include being inflexible on opioid dosage and duration, discontinuing or dismissing patients from a practice, rapidly and noncollaboratively tapering patients who might be stable on a higher dosage, and applying recommendations to populations that are not a focus of the clinical practice guideline (e.g., patients with cancer-related pain, patients with sickle cell disease, or patients during end-of-life care)


Earlier post:

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Motorcycles as donorcycles

 Here's an article from JAMA Internal Medicine, noting that motorcycle rallies produce an increase in organ transplants.

Organ Donation and Transplants During Major US Motorcycle Rallies  by David C. Cron, MD, MS; Christopher M. Worsham, MD; Joel T. Adler, MD, MPH; Charles F. Bray, BS; Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD,  JAMA Intern Med. Published online November 28, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.5431

"Key Points

Question  Is the incidence of organ donation and transplants higher during major US motorcycle rallies?

Findings  In this cross-sectional study of 10 798 organ donors and 35 329 recipients of these organs from a national transplant registry from 2005 to 2021, there were 21% more organ donors and 26% more transplant recipients per day during motorcycle rallies in regions near those rallies compared with the 4 weeks before and after the rallies.

Meaning  While safety measures to minimize morbidity and mortality during motorcycle rallies should be prioritized, this study showed the downstream association of these events with organ donation and transplants."


Helmet laws by State (only the States in orange require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet):

I wonder what would happen if some State passed a helmet law saying that adults are free to ride without a helmet, but doing so automatically registers the rider as a willing deceased donor. (Such a law might decrease deceased donation by convincing more riders to wear helmets.)

HT: Alex Chan

Monday, November 28, 2022

The market for large dinosaur fossils

Should fossils be regarded as national treasures, or as natural resources, or perhaps works of art? 

The NY Times has the story:

As Dinosaur Fossils Fetch Millions, There’s Many a Bone to Pick. Fossils are a multimillion-dollar business, bringing legal disputes, nondisclosure agreements and trademarks to the world of paleontology.  By Julia Jacobs and Zachary Small

"Fossil hunting has become a multimillion-dollar business, much to the chagrin of academic paleontologists who worry that specimens of scientific interest are being sold off to the highest bidders.


"Things were simpler at the beginning of his career, Larson said, when universities, museums and a smaller group of private collectors were the only ones who cared about buying pieces of natural history.

"It was not until 1997, with the sale of Sue, that dinosaurs started to be viewed as potential centerpieces of auctions.


"Many scientists are aghast at the growing commercial market, and increasingly anxious that scientifically important specimens will disappear into private mansions. Paleontologists are also concerned that the market could encourage illegal digging, and that American landowners — who, by law, generally own the fossils found on their land — would favor commercial fossil hunters over academic researchers.

“Ranchers who used to let you go and collect specimens are now wondering why they should let you have it for free,” said Jingmai O’Connor, a Field Museum paleontologist, “when a commercial collector would dig up the bones and split the profit.”

"Fossil diggers and dealers in the commercial sphere counter that if not for them, these specimens on private land would be left to erode further, never to be found.

"The United States is an outlier legally. Other dinosaur-rich nations, including Mongolia and Canada, have laws making fossils the property of the government. Thomas Carr, a paleontologist at Carthage College in Wisconsin, said he believed that the lack of protections for “natural heritage” puts scientists in the United States at a disadvantage."

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Kreps II: Microeconomic Foundations II: Imperfect Competition, Information, and Strategic Interaction (coming soon)

 Princeton University Press announces:

Microeconomic Foundations II: Imperfect Competition, Information, and Strategic Interaction by David M. Kreps

"A cutting-edge introduction to key topics in modern economic theory for first-year graduate students in economics and related fields

"Volume II of Microeconomic Foundations introduces models and methods at the center of modern microeconomic theory. In this textbook, David Kreps, a leading economic theorist, emphasizes foundational material, concentrating on seminal work that provides perspective on how and why the theory developed. Because noncooperative game theory is the chief tool of modeling and analyzing microeconomic phenomena, the book stresses the applications of game theory to economics. And throughout, it underscores why theory is most useful when it supports rather than supplants economic intuition.

  • Introduces first-year graduate students to the models and methods at the core of microeconomic theory today
  • Covers an extensive range of topics, including the agency theory, market signaling, relational contracting, bilateral bargaining, auctions, matching markets, and mechanism design
  • Stresses the use—and misuse—of theory in studying economic phenomena and shows why theory should support, not replace, economic intuition
  • Includes extensive appendices reviewing the essential concepts of noncooperative game theory, with guidance about how it should and shouldn’t be used
  • Features free online supplements, including chapter outlines and overviews, solutions to all the problems in the book, and more

By email, Kreps writes: "An e-book version will be released on January 3, 2023.  Physical books will only be released in late May (I gather, a bit later in England)"

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Pay Transparency in New York City as the new law begins to take effect

 Here's a report from Glassdoor Economic Research:

A First Glimpse into the Impact of Pay Transparency in New York City by Daniel Zhao

"On November 1, New York City’s pay transparency law went into effect, requiring job listings to include salary ranges. While the move represents an opportunity for job seekers to get greater pay transparency, high-profile errors as the new law went into effect have raised concerns about the efficacy of the law. With similar laws going into effect on January 1, 2023 in California and Washington State, we examined Glassdoor data to give an early view into how employers are grappling with pay transparency in New York City.

"Key Findings

"Pay ranges are being published on the majority of active job listings. 60 percent of job listings in New York City have employer-provided salaries as of November 12, and there are hints of a spillover effect to neighboring states.

"Ranges have widened significantly, but remain relatively narrow. The median width of salary ranges has widened from $10,000 in October to as wide as $20,000 so far in November. Less than 3 percent of daily active job listings in November have a salary range wider than $100,000.

"Professional services like Financial Services, Information Technology and Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology are the slowest to add pay ranges to their pay ranges. This may mean enforcing pay transparency will matter more in these higher-salary industries than in lower-wage industries."

Friday, November 25, 2022

Turkey production

 This seemed like a post that I should delay until after Thanksgiving, from the extension division of Penn State:

Modern Turkey Industry. The modern turkey industry has developed a hybrid white turkey that is larger and faster growing than purebred or wild turkeys.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Lobbying for sports gambling, with cigars and whisky

 Do addictions go together?  The NY Times has the story of how legalized (online, sports) gambling lobbyists wooed state legislators with whisky and cigars (and campaign contributions, which I guess can be addictive too...). Maybe Thanksgiving football can draw in more of the gathering if there's betting involved? (Not to mention whisky...)

Gambling has long been a repugnant transaction because the consequences of gambling addiction can be destructive for individuals and families. And betting on sports has been repugnant because of the danger that athletes will be drawn into fixing matches (even in once genteel sports like tennis).  Lobbying is a competitive sport too:

Cigars, Booze, Money: How a Lobbying Blitz Made Sports Betting Ubiquitous By Eric Lipton and Kenneth P. Vogel

"Less than five years ago, betting on sports in the United States was prohibited under federal law except in Nevada casinos and a smattering of venues in other states. Sports leagues argued that the ban safeguarded the integrity of American sports, while consumer watchdogs warned that legal gambling could turn fans into addicts. In countries like Britain, sports gambling free-for-alls had left trails of addiction.

"But in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal prohibition was unconstitutional.

"DraftKings and FanDuel, giants in the fast-growing field of fantasy sports, had already mobilized an army of former regulators and politicians to press for sports betting in state capitals. Soon, in a crucial reversal, sports leagues overcame their antipathy toward gambling, which they came to see as a way to keep increasingly distracted audiences tuned in. Casino companies also hopped on board.


"The results of the lobbying campaign have been stunning: 31 states and Washington, D.C., permit sports gambling either online or in person, and five more have passed laws that will allow such betting in the future.


"In May 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports gambling, ruling it infringed on states’ rights."


Here's a map:


The NYT has these related stories:

Key Findings From The Times’ Investigation of Sports Betting. By David Enrich

"Four years ago, it was illegal to gamble on sports in most of the United States. Today, anyone who turns on the television or visits a sports website or shows up at a stadium is likely to be inundated with ads to bet, bet, bet."

How Colleges and Sports-Betting Companies ‘Caesarized’ Campus Life. by  Anna Betts, Andrew Little, Elizabeth Sander, Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly and Walt Bogdanich

"Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to let states legalize such betting, gambling companies have been racing to convert traditional casino customers, fantasy sports aficionados and players of online games into a new generation of digital gamblers. Major universities, with their tens of thousands of alumni and a captive audience of easy-to-reach students, have emerged as an especially enticing target.

"So far, at least eight universities have become partners with online sports-betting companies, or sportsbooks, many in the last year, with more expected."

"Mr. Portnoy rarely if ever mentions the bankruptcy. Yet he and his company, Barstool Sports, are urging their tens of millions of followers to dive into the fast-growing and lightly regulated world of online sports betting."
And here's a story about gambling addiction from The Times of London, which points to online, in-game gambling as a particularly addiction-prone activity (especially during the current World Cup):

"The NHS is “picking up the tab” of the online betting industry, with a surge in suicidal gambling addicts turning up to A&E, doctors have warned."
"“People start gambling as soon as they wake up in the morning; they’re gambling in the shower, gambling while they’re driving to work.
"Gaskell suggested that doctors' surgeries should routinely ask new patients whether they gambled--in the same way they asked how much alcohol people drank in a week.
"Figures from the Gambling Commission show the majority of online betters place bets in play...Customers are able to wager lare sums of money multiple times in a matter of seconds on unfolding events.
"There are 400 suicides a year in England lnked to gambling."

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Improving the transition to (surgical) residency

The transition from medical school to residency is presently troubled by congestion involving (too) many applications and interviews.  It's a subject of considerable discussion in the medical community, sometimes hampered between the parts of the process that proceed the Match, and the Match itself (which is the clearinghouse run by the NRMP that, after all applications and interviews have been processed, solicits rank order lists and turns them into a matching of doctors to residency programs)..  Here's a paper that focuses sensibly on the runup to the Match, even though its title follows the (unfortunately common) practice of calling the whole process the Match.

Designing the “match of the future”: challenges and proposed solutions in the interview and match phase of the UME–GME transition by Sophia K. McKinley, Maria S. Altieri, Olabisi Sheppard, Kimberly Hendershot, Keneeshia Williams, Brigitte K. Smith on behalf of the ASE Graduate Surgical Education Committee, Global Surgical Education - Journal of the Association for Surgical Education : 17 November

Table 1 Challenges and proposed solutions in the surgical resident selection process (click to embiggen)

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Lab grown meat: taking slaughter out of the food chain

 Come a day, we'll be able to eat chicken meat that wasn't grown in a chicken...

The Guardian has the story:

US declares lab-grown meat safe to eat in ‘groundbreaking’ move. The government’s approval will open the market for a food praised for being more efficient and environmentally friendly. by Oliver Milman 

"The US government has cleared the way for Americans to be able to eat lab-grown meat, after authorities deemed a meat product derived from animal cells to be safe for human consumption.

"The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will allow* a California company called Upside Foods to take living cells from chickens and then grow them in a controlled laboratory environment to produce a meat product that doesn’t involve the actual slaughter of any animals.


From the FDA

*FDA Completes First Pre-Market Consultation for Human Food Made Using Animal Cell Culture Technology. Before Entering the U.S. Market, the Food Must Meet Other Federal

"The voluntary pre-market consultation is not an approval process. Instead, it means that after our careful evaluation of the data and information shared by the firm, we have no further questions at this time about the firm’s safety conclusion."

Monday, November 21, 2022

Surrogacy guidelines: necessity, not convenience

 As surrogacy becomes increasingly well established in the U.S., it is regulated not only by state laws, but  also via voluntary standards put forward by trade organizations as conditions of membership.

One is  the SOCIETY FOR ETHICS IN EGG DONATION AND SURROGACY (SEEDS), which calls itself "a nonprofit organization founded by a group of egg donation and surrogacy agencies, whose purpose is to define and promote ethical behavior by all parties involved in third party reproduction." 

They have a set of guidelines published this year which member organizations are supposed to subscribe to.  One of those guidelines seems to say that surrogacy agencies should only work with intended parents who can't have children on their own. That is, they want to facilitate surrogacies that they regard as necessary rather than those that might be merely convenient.


"24.Agency Screening of Intended Parents

"a. An Agency shall not provide service to Intended Parents unless they demonstrate a need for surrogacy associated with a disease, condition or status characterized by:

"i. the failure to establish a pregnancy or to carry a pregnancy to live birth after regular, unprotected sexual intercourse;

"ii. a person’s inability to reproduce either as a single individual or with their partner without medical intervention; or

"iii. a licensed physician’s or mental health professional’s findings based on a patient’s medical, psychological, sexual, and reproductive history, age, physical findings and/or diagnostic testing. 


The legal blog Above the Law has a post about this:

Should 'Social Surrogacy' Be Permitted? by Ellen Trachman

It says in part:

"What does the law say? States like Louisiana and Illinois specifically require documented medical need of intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement to comply with the state surrogacy law. Louisiana requires that a doctor “who has medically treated the intended mother … submits a signed affidavit certifying that in utero embryo transfer with a gestational carrier is medically necessary to assist in reproduction.”

"Utah previously required “medical evidence … show[ing] that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk.” But that provision was struck down by the State Supreme Court after determining it was unconstitutional as applied to a same-sex male couple and could not be read a in gender-neutral way. (The SEEDS standard is, by contrast, gender neutral.)

"Other states with surrogacy-specific statutes — like California, Washington, Colorado, New Jersey, and New York — are silent on medical need and, therefore, implicitly permit social surrogacy arrangements. And then those states with no surrogacy law, much of the country, permit social surrogacy by default.

"The SEEDS standard, of course, only applies to member agencies and does not prevent nonmember agencies from supporting social surrogacy arrangements or for those arrangements to occur independent of agencies."


Stephanie Wang and I anticipated to some extent that this could be an issue in our paper

Roth, Alvin E. and Stephanie W. Wang, “Popular Repugnance Contrasts with Legal Bans on Controversial Markets,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS),  August 18, 2020 117 (33) 19792-19798.

We surveyed populations in the U.S. and several other countries on transactions that were legal in some of them and illegal in others. We presented vignettes, and asked if they should be legal.  Because we wanted to give surrogacy a good chance of being perceived as repugnant, we made clear in the surrogacy vignette that there was no medical necessity, it was sought for convenience:

"James and Erica are a married couple in [home country]. They want to have a child, but Erica does not want to become pregnant due to the demands of her career as a model. Maria is a married mother in the Philippines. Maria’s husband is out of work, and Maria has decided to become a surrogate mother to earn additional income. James and Erica hire Maria to carry and give birth to a child from James and Erica’s sperm and egg. James and Erica pay Maria a year’s average income in the Philippines, and everyone signs a contract making it clear that James and Erica are the child’s biological parents and will have custody after the child is born."

You can see in the paper (or in this 2020 blog post) that (even) under these circumstances, clear majorities favored making this kind of voluntary surrogacy legal, not only in the U.S. and Philippines where surrogacy is legal, but also in Spain and Germany where surrogacy is illegal.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Vacuum-tube valley

 Silicon valley didn't transition directly from fruit orchards to silicon chips.  Vacuum tubes took center stage for a while.

Here's a California historical landmark on the NE corner of Emerson Street and Channing Avenue in Palo Alto, commemorating the Federal Telegraph Company, founded by radio/electronics pioneer Cyril Frank Elwell (August 20, 1884 – 1963), who graduated from Stanford in 1907.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Why is it so easy to get drugs, and so hard to get drug abuse treatment? Overdose deaths continue to climb.

 Here's an update on drug abuse in the U.S., from the WSJ. One quote particularly struck me, from a mom whose child died: "it’s so easy to get drugs,”  “It’s so much more available than treatment.”

How Meth Worsened the Fentanyl Crisis. ‘We Are in a Different World.’ Methamphetamine fatalities are rising, increasingly in combination with opioids  By Jon Kamp and Arian Campo-Flores.

"One in five of the total fatal overdoses last year involved an opioid and a psychostimulant, a drug class dominated by meth, preliminary federal data show. A decade earlier, about 2% of drug deaths involved such combinations.


"The rise in fatalities involving stimulants, often combined with opioids, has created a fourth wave of the decadeslong U.S. overdose-death crisis, according to Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of addiction medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Deaths from combinations of opioids and cocaine, another stimulant, are also climbing.


"Fentanyl drove U.S. overdose deaths to a record-breaking tally of more than 108,000 last year, according to the federal data.

"Now, the combination of meth and opioids—especially fentanyl—is supercharging those numbers. Meth-related deaths, though smaller in number, are increasing at a faster rate than opioid and overall drug fatalities.

"About 33,400 deaths last year involved psychostimulants such as meth, up more than 340% from roughly 7,500 five years earlier, the federal data show. In the same time span, deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl rose about 270% to around 72,000, and overall drug fatalities rose about 71%.


"it’s so easy to get drugs,” said Mr. Ryan’s mother, Alicia Vigil-Ryan. “It’s so much more available than treatment.”

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Abortion protections and restrictions in the midterm elections

 Here's a post-election report from the NYT on how abortion protections and restrictions fared in the midterm elections. (It tries to reflect not only specific referenda and constitutional amendments, but also the platforms of elected candidates...)

Where the Midterms Mattered Most for Abortion Access  By Allison McCann, Amy Schoenfeld Walker, John-Michael Murphy and Sarah Cahalan

"The first election to put abortion rights to the test after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade appears unlikely to reshape the map of abortion access — at least not overnight. Voters in much of the country reinforced the status quo, choosing candidates who are likely to either maintain existing protections or restrictions in their states, or deepen them."


Here's MSNBC's roundup, in an opinion piece that looks more at specific laws on the ballot:

The 2022 midterms abortion results should surprise literally no one. When voters get a say in their own individual reproductive rights, most want to keep them. By Emma Gray,

"On Thursday, Montana’s “Born Alive” legislative referendum officially failed.


"This meant that Montana’s voters joined Vermonters, Michiganders, Californians and even voters in deep-red Kentucky in protecting abortion rights. Vermont, Michigan and California enshrined reproductive freedom in their state Constitutions, and in Kentucky, voters struck down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have explicitly stated that there is no right to abortion in the state."

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Blood Money, by John Dooley and Emily Gallagher

 Are paid plasma donors being exploited? Here's a paper that suggests not, but rather that the payments that plasma donors receive can improve their financial well being not merely by providing additional income, but also by helping them avoid going into expensive debt.

 Dooley, John and  Emily Gallagher, Blood Money (October 11, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Abstract: "Little is known about the motivations and outcomes of sellers in remunerated markets for human materials. We exploit dramatic growth in the number of commercial blood plasma centers in the U.S. to study the individuals who sell plasma. We find sellers tend to be young and liquidity constrained with low incomes and credit scores; they also report less access to traditional bank credit. Plasma centers absorb demand for non-traditional credit. The opening of a nearby plasma center reduces payday loan inquires and transactions by 13–18% among young borrowers. Meanwhile, foot traffic increases by over 9% at both essential and non-essential goods establishments when a new plasma center opens nearby. Our findings suggest that, at least in the short-term, constrained households use the discretionary income from plasma centers to smooth consumption without appealing to high-cost debt."

HT: Mario Macis

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Eric Budish on the economics of cryptocurrencies (video of his Harris Lecture at Harvard)

 If you haven't heard Eric Budish talk about crypto, this is your chance:  here's the video of his Harris Lecture at Harvard: The Economics of Cryptocurrencies by Eric Budish

(It was delivered before the recent collapse of the FTX exchange.)

Monday, November 14, 2022

California referendum bans flavored tobacco

More midterm election news on controversial markets and repugnant transactions:

California bans flavored tobacco products, including vapes, by Nicholas Florko at Statnews

 "On Tuesday, Californians overwhelmingly voted to ban all flavored tobacco products in the state.

"The move makes California by far the largest state to ban such products, which are already illegal in a smattering of smaller states, including Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

"Regulators have targeted flavored products in particular because they are overwhelmingly preferred by young people. More than 84% of young people who vape reported using flavored products, according to recently released survey data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"California’s ban would also outlaw menthol cigarettes, which federal regulators have proposed banning nationwide because they argue such products are easier to start and harder to quit. Survey data also show that menthol cigarettes are overwhelmingly preferred by Black smokers."


Here's a recent (massive) report on the marketing efforts that went into making menthol flavoring popular (suggesting that we can soon expect to see menthol substitutes):

Advertising Created & Continues to Drive the Menthol Tobacco Market: Methods Used by the Industry to Target Youth, Women, & Black Americans. Jackler RK, Ramamurthi D, Willett J, Chau C, Muoneke M, Zeng A, Chang M, Chang E, Bahk JR, Ramakrishnan A. SRITA Research Paper 

Full Report: high-resolution PDF link (1.62Gb) / low-resolution PDF link (46.4Mb)
Executive Summary: 
high-resolution PDF link (6.2Mb)

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Colorado legalizes magic mushroom/psilocybin therapies

 Denver is the mile high city, and the 2022 midterm elections have now legalized therapy with magic mushrooms/psilocybin, which has medical uses in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

Colorado becomes second state with legalized ‘medicinal psychedelics’ by Olivia Goldhill in Statnews

"Colorado is the second state to legalize psychedelics, following Oregon’s 2020 passage of a similar ballot question. Like Oregon, Colorado plans to create licensed “healing centers” where people can take magic mushrooms under supervision.

“This is a truly historic moment. Colorado voters saw the benefit of regulated access to natural medicines, including psilocybin, so people with PTSD, terminal illness, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can heal,” Kevin Matthews and Veronica Lightning Horse Perez, leaders of Natural Medicine Colorado, which campaigned for the measure, wrote in a statement emailed to STAT.


"The most advanced study for psilocybin, a Phase 2b trial on the drug for treatment-resistant depression published earlier this month, found the drug was effective at inducing remission in many patients, but the results were less striking than in earlier studies."


And from Time Magazine:

Colorado Voted to Decriminalize Psilocybin and Other Psychedelics,  by Tara Law

"Colorado voters have approved the broadest psychedelic legalization in the U.S., which would decriminalize five psychedelic substances and enable adults to receive psychedelics at licensed centers.


"The ballot measure decriminalizes the possession of certain psychedelic drugs for personal use in the state and specifically legalize psilocybin, the psychedelic component of magic mushrooms, for use at licensed facilities starting in 2024. (In those ways, it’s similar to 2020 measures approved in Oregon, which decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs in 2021 and is launching a psilocybin access program in 2023.)

"However, Colorado’s Proposition 122 goes further in several ways. In addition to decriminalizing possession, it decriminalizes the growing and sharing of five psychedelics for personal use: psilocybin, psilocyn (a psychedelic also found in magic mushrooms), dimethyltryptamine (commonly known as DMT, which is found in plants and animals, including certain tree frogs), ibogaine (derived from the bark of an African shrub), and mescaline (which is primarily found in cacti; however, Prop 122 excludes peyote). It also clears a pathway for the use of all these psychedelics at “healing centers”—facilities licensed by the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies where the public can buy, consume, and take psychedelics under supervision. The regulated access program would initially be limited to psilocybin, which would launch in late 2024, but if recommended by a Natural Medicine Advisory Board appointed by the governor, it could be expanded to include DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline in 2026."

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Deceased donor organ discards on weekends, in the the Annals of Transplantation

 Hospital resources and physician incentives can be stressed on weekends, and there is historical evidence that organ discards are higher on weekends.  Here's a study suggesting that is still a thing.

Yamamoto, T., A. Shah, M. Fruscione, S. Kimura, N. Elias, H. Yeh, T. Kawai, and J. F. Markmann.  Revisiting the "Weekend Effect" on Adult and Pediatric Liver and Kidney Offer Acceptance. Annals of Transplantation. 2022 Nov;27:e937825. DOI: 10.12659/aot.937825. PMID: 36329622.

"BACKGROUND: Weekends can impose resource and manpower constraints on hospitals. Studies using data from prior allocation schemas showed increased adult organ discards on weekends. We examined the impact of day of the week on adult and pediatric organ acceptance using contemporary data.

"MATERIAL AND METHODS: Retrospective analysis of UNOS-PTR match-run data of all offers for potential kidney and liver transplant from 1/1/2016 to 7/1/2021 were examined to study the rate at which initial offers were declined depending on day of the week. Risk factors for decline were also evaluated.

"RESULTS: Of the total initial adult/pediatric liver and kidney offers, the fewest offers occurred on Mondays and Sundays. The decline rate for adult/pediatric kidneys was highest on Saturdays and lowest on Tuesdays. The decline rate for adult livers was highest on Saturday and lowest on Wednesday. In contrast, the decline rate for pediatric livers was highest on Tuesdays and lowest on Wednesdays. Independent risk factors from multivariate analysis of the adult/pediatric kidney and liver decline rate were analyzed. The weekend offer remains an independent risk factor for adult kidney and liver offer declines, but for pediatric offers, these were not significant independent risk factors.

"CONCLUSIONS: Although allocation systems have changed, and the availability of kidneys and livers have increased in the USA over the past 5 years, the weekend effect remains significant for adult liver and kidney offers for declines. Interestingly, the weekend effect was not seen for pediatric liver and kidney offers.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Marijuana legalization advances in the 2022 elections

Time Magazine published this map under the headline "Why Marijuana Had a Terrible Night in the 2022 Midterm Elections"

It doesn't look so terrible to me, so much as increasingly inevitable. The grey states on the map (where marijuana remains entirely illegal) are shrinking steadily: it doesn't appear that opponents will succeed in making America grey again.

 "Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use of marijuana; 13 states outlaw it entirely. The rest of the states—including Arkansas, South Dakota and North Dakota—allow its use for medicinal purposes. It remains illegal under federal law."


It's going to become increasingly hard for States to enforce draconian laws against something that is legal in neighboring states.  That doesn't mean that legalization is always going to go smoothly--the end of Prohibition didn't end alcoholism, and the end of marijuana prohibition won't make marijuana chemically safer (in fact competition will develop strains that are chemically more potent).  But removing legal risks from what would otherwise be uncontrolled black markets, and taking them out of the hands of criminals, still seems to have momentum.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Challenge trials for future Covid vaccines are still needed, by Stanley Plotkin and Josh Morrison

 Covid is still with us, new vaccines are needed and will likely continue to be needed into the forseeable future, and the case for human challenge trials to speed selection among promising candidates is stronger than ever.  Two veteran advocates make the case:

Human Challenge Trials Hold Promise for Next-Generation COVID Vaccines— These investigations could accelerate effective development of a pan-coronavirus vaccine as well by Stanley Plotkin, MD, and Josh Morrison, JD November 7, 2022

"Two years ago, the prospect of deliberately infecting fully informed volunteers with COVID-19 to aid in vaccine research and development was controversial. We and many others argued that the risks were justifiable, and the reservations of some bioethicists did not deter nearly 40,000 people from over 160 countries from expressing interest in volunteering for these investigations, called human challenge trials. Yet in the end, while they have been extensively pursued in the U.K.*, there were no such studies in the U.S.

"We have made great strides against COVID-19 illness in the form of vaccination and treatments, but there are still thousands of deaths in the U.S. every week.


"The White House hosted a summit on the issue in July, showcasing the myriad ways researchers are going about developing new vaccines. There are hundreds of candidates in early stages around the world, but the resources devoted to COVID-19 vaccine research are a fraction of what they were 2 years ago. Human challenge trials can greatly speed the selection of the most promising in this field of candidates, providing scientific and economic benefits over uniform reliance on large field studies.


"The use of human challenge trials offers the greatest promise for testing intranasal vaccines for their ability to reduce infection and transmission. In the case of a live attenuated vaccine, something as simple as regular nasal swabbing can reveal just how much of the live virus is present in the nose over time -- and how much would spread when a patient sneezes, for example.


"There are obviously risks to COVID-19 challenge studies, and it was on these grounds that initial proposals for such research faced opposition. However, the risk of death is now lower than it was early on in the pandemic given better immune protection garnered from both vaccination and natural exposure, and various treatments options further reduce the risk.

Of course, long-COVID still looms large, but this risk can also be managed by selecting trial participants at lower risk of serious illness, as more severe COVID-19 illness is correlated with lingering post-COVID symptoms. Ultimately, if COVID-19 becomes endemic, long-COVID may well be a threat to everyone, whether or not they sign up for a challenge trial -- all the more reason we must act quickly to develop vaccines that stop transmission.

"We believe that volunteers are perfectly capable of considering these risks rationally. Those who decide to make a potential sacrifice for the good of humanity should be lauded, not dismissed as naive. (Notably, a study of the nearly 40,000-strong prospective volunteers organized by 1Day Sooner showed that their risk tolerance was the same as a control group, and they were driven primarily by altruistic motivations.)"

"Stanley Plotkin, MD, is professor emeritus in pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, a veteran vaccinologist, and a board member of 1Day Sooner, an organization that advocates on behalf of challenge trial volunteers. Josh Morrison, JD, is co-founder and president of 1Day Sooner, and a founder of Waitlist Zero and the Rikers Debate Project."



Monday, June 20, 2022

Report of a SARS-CoV-2 human challenge trial. In Britain.

* Josh Morrison writes:

there are four COVID challenge studies announced or underway in the UK, though only imperial [the study above] has published results. Besides the imperial one, there’s an Oxford reinfection study, (interestingly the talk one of our staff saw indicated they were having a difficult time getting any infections in previously infected people even when using doses 1,000 times higher than the infectious imperial dose).


There has also been an Imperial delta study that’s recruiting now —


And HVIVO has announced an omicron challenge study, though I’m not sure that will happen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Market design coffee m&ms

 Here's an inside joke, for market design coffee (and candy) fans, particularly for regulars at our market design coffees at Stanford.

Here's a clue:

D4Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
D41Perfect Competition
D43Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
D45Rationing • Licensing
D46Value Theory
D47Market Design

HT: Carmen Wang

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Mathematics and Computer Science of Market and Mechanism Design, at Berkeley MSRI, August 21-December 20, 2023 (applications open)

 Apply now to join a semester of interdisciplinary workshops on market and mechanism design, from the point of view of mathematicians, computer scientists, and economists.

Mathematicsand Computer Science of Market and Mechanism Design at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, August 21, 2023 to December 20, 2023

 Seeking applications for Research Members and Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Research Members are scholars in economics, computer science, operations research, mathematics, or related fields who have a PhD at the time of application and will be in residence for at least 30 consecutive days of the program.
  • Postdoctoral Fellows are scholars in those fields who received their PhD on or after August 31, 2018, and will be in residence for the entire program.

Apply here by December 1, 2022

 Program Summary:

In recent years, economists and computer scientists have collaborated with mathematicians, operations research experts, and practitioners to improve the design and operations of real-world marketplaces. Such work relies on robust feedback between theory and practice, inspiring new mathematics closely linked – and directly applicable – to market and mechanism design questions. This cross-disciplinary program seeks to expand the domains in which existing market design solutions can be applied; address foundational questions regarding our ways of developing and evaluating mechanisms; and build useful analytic frameworks for applying theory to practical marketplace design.

 Program Organizers:

Michal Feldman (Tel-Aviv University); Nicole Immorlica (Microsoft Research); Scott Kominers (Harvard Business School); Shengwu Li (Harvard University); Paul Milgrom (Stanford University); Alvin Roth (Stanford University); Tim Roughgarden (Columbia University); Eva Tardos (Cornell University)

 About MSRI:

Acknowledged as the premier center for collaborative mathematical research, MSRI  organizes and hosts semester-length programs that become the leading edge in that field of study. Mathematicians worldwide come to the Institute to engage in the research of classical fundamental mathematics, modern applied mathematics, statistics, computer science and other mathematical sciences.

 Questions? See attached flyer, or reach out to


This could be a nice way to spend a semester--apply now (MSRI loves company:)

Monday, November 7, 2022

Stanford Economics Ph.D. Job Market Candidates for the 2022-23 Economics Job Market.

 22 candidates for the 2022-23 Economics Job Market, from B to Z.

Stanford, Department of Economics Job Market Candidates

Available November 2022 for positions in Summer/Fall 2023

Placement Officers: Pete Klenow 650-725-2620 and Liran Einav 650-723-3704

Trevor Bakker

Aniket Baksy

Lukas Bolte

Yue Cao

Daniele Caratelli

Alex Chan

Fulya Ersoy

Tony Fan

Robin Han

Brian Higgins

Tingyan Jia

Matteo Leombroni

Gina Li

Negar Matoorian Pour

Agathe Pernoud

Beatriz Pousada

Maxwell Rong

Rachel Schuh

Martin Souchier

Reka Zempleni

Adam Zhang

Sally Zhang