AMA 2023 Interim: Highlights from Newly Adopted AMA Policies on Legislative Advocacy - Sperm Donor Eligibility

( During the 2023 Interim Meeting in National Harbor, MD, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association (AMA) approved several significant policy measures in the realms of science and public health. One notable resolution, entitled “Eliminating Eligibility Criteria for Sperm Donors Based on Sexual Orientation,” petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove the sexual orientation-based eligibility requirements for sperm donation.

Urologic cancer patients have been affected by ongoing shortages of both BCG, and more recently, platinum based systemic chemotherapy. These shortages were declared an urgent public health crisis, and members voted to direct the AMA to take action to mitigate and prevent further critical drug access issues. These actions included improving manufacturing quality, expediting regulatory reviews, and increasing investment in production capacity. The AMA supported giving the Secretary of DHHS authority to speed up facility inspections and drug application reviews, and advocated for manufacturers to establish plans for continuous supply of critical medications. They also urged the FTC and FDA to collaborate on pharmaceutical mergers and acquisitions, required more transparency in the supply chain, and promoted global guidelines and reporting for drug shortages.

A formal report from the Council on Science and Public Health was adopted regarding ways surgeons and surgeon-led teams can minimize waste through sustainable equipment. The report supported multi-use operating room (OR) equipment and attire, as opposed to single-use items, provided they have similar safety and efficacy. It specifically cited research indicating that healthcare, especially ORs, contribute significantly to waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. health sector generates 6 billion tons of waste annually, with ORs accounting for a substantial portion, leading to high costs and environmental damage. Strategies that were outlined to reduce waste included enhancing recycling, optimizing surgical kits, and reusing or reprocessing medical equipment and textiles, all of which have potential cost savings and waste reduction.

Another policy relevant to urologists called for a taskforce to be created to improve the research and care of patients with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). First, SCD was officially recognized as a chronic illness and promoting various initiatives, and the AMA endorsed newborn screening for SCD and advocates for genetic counseling for those affected by or at risk for the disease. They were also in favor of accelerating research for new SCD treatments, specifically including the African American community and patient advocacy groups in the planning stages of such research. The development of personalized emergency care plans for students with SCD and the education of school staff on supportive practices and policies were also supported by the AMA. Expanding the workforce in healthcare and research dedicated to SCD and collaborating to improve comprehensive care access were also designated as key efforts to improve the lives of those with SCD, marking an update to their current policy.

Written by: Ruchika Talwar, MD, Urologic Oncology Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center during the 2023 AMA Interim Meeting, Nov 10 to Nov 14