U-M Law student wins writing contest

By Lori Atherton

U-M Law

A paper focusing on the Food and Drug Administration's regulation of mobile health and medical applications has garnered University of Michigan Law School 3L Stephen McInerney the top prize in a Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI) writing contest.

McInerney's paper, "Can You Diagnose Me Now?", won first place in the short-paper category of the FDLI's H. Thomas Austern Memorial Writing Competition. McInerney will receive a $4,000 cash award, and his paper will be published in Volume 70 of the Food and Drug Law Journal. A subsequent version of the article also will appear as a Note in an upcoming issue of the Michigan Journal of Law Reform.

"It's very exciting to win," McInerney said. "I never expected this, so it was great to receive the news."

McInerney originally wrote "Can You Diagnose Me Now?" in fall 2013 for his FDA Law class, taught by Rebecca Eisenberg, the Robert and Barbara Luciano Professor of Law. While mobile health apps enable consumers and health care workers to access valuable information at the touch of a fingertip, McInerney said the question of how the government should intervene, particularly if apps are deemed harmful to one's health, is still evolving. "It's the tension between government regulation and innovation that I find intriguing," he said.

Prof. Eisenberg, who provided feedback on McInerney's final submission, said he picked a great topic, albeit a challenging one. "Medical mobile apps are taking off so quickly that it's hard to figure out how regulators can keep up," she said. "Stephen was fully aware of the risks of both over-regulation and under-regulation. He wrote and rewrote that paper, and really cared about getting it right."

McInerney will graduate from Michigan Law in December and will begin his career as an associate at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago. In addition to his win, 2014 Michigan Law graduate Greer Donley took second place in the Thomas Austern writing competition's long-paper category for "Encouraging Maternal Sacrifice: How Regulations Governing the Consumption of Pharmaceuticals in Pregnancy Prioritize Fetal Safety over Maternal Health and Autonomy."

Published: Mon, Nov 17, 2014