Online Program

Addiction vaccines: Constitutional, ethical, and practical implications of addressing drug use through immunization

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 11:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Kellen Russoniello, J.D., M.P.H, American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties, San Diego, CA
Could society eradicate drug addiction through immunization? If so, would we implement policies to mandate inoculation, and if so, for what populations? With several pharmaceutical companies currently testing vaccines to address addiction to cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and even tobacco, public health professionals need to evaluate the circumstances in which use of addiction vaccines is appropriate. As we consider how to include health in policies around addiction vaccines, we must take into account the constitutional, ethical, and practical implications that widespread use of addiction vaccines may have.

This presentation will explain the mechanics and clinical successes of addiction vaccines. The presenter will explore the implications of these vaccines for the treatment of addiction, including which populations may be targeted for immunization. The presenter will discuss the constitutional issues pertaining to use of addiction vaccines, such as search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, due process, and equal protection. This will include a discussion of whether existing case law (e.g., Jacobson v. Massachusetts) would apply. Ethical considerations, including whether administration of a vaccine to prevent a non-communicable disease and to prevent an action that can have potential benefits is appropriate, will be examined.  The presenter will discuss practical implications, including whether addiction vaccines could hinder medical interventions, whether addiction vaccines can truly address underlying causes of addiction, and what mandates for these vaccines could signify for development of immunotherapies for other behaviors. In conclusion, the presenter will argue that the only acceptable use for addiction vaccines is when it is completely consensual.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Explain the mechanics and clinical successes of addiction vaccines Discuss the implications of these vaccines for the treatment of addiction, including which populations may be targeted for immunization Analyze the various constitutional, ethical, and practical issues pertaining to use of addiction vaccines

Keyword(s): Drug Abuse, Ethics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My background blends public health, law, and drug policy. I have five years of experience advocating for public health approaches to drug policy, including drafting DC's Good Samaritan overdose prevention law. I currently work as an attorney to protect and advance civil liberties in the area of criminal justice and drug policy. I have been published in the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics writing about international public health approaches to drugs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.