Saturday, February 27, 2010

Misplaced Blame

Earlier this week the NY Times ran a feature on the difficulties of cancer patients accessing new combinations of experimental drugs. While the story was relatively informative and the patients’ plight decidedly real, conspicuous by its absence was any discussion of the central role the FDA plays in the whole problem. (Indeed the FDA is only even mentioned once in the entire 5 page article.)

If drug companies had the right to sell and market experimental drugs, and patients the right to take them, all of the (man-made) problems, and many of the costs and delays cited in the article would vanish.

Physicians and other specialists could advise patients of the various treatment possibilities, including their risks (to whatever extent these were known). Then those with the misfortune of having a difficult to treat disease would have the option to do what they deemed best given the particular circumstances of their lives.

As it stands now, the force of government compulsion, channeled through the FDA, is really all that counts. The life-stealing bureaucrats at the FDA decide what risks are “acceptable”, when a drug can be given to patients, etc. (And not incidentally they cost drug companies billions of dollars and years of relatively unproductive work in the process.)

We’ll know we’re making idealogical inroads when mainstream media sees fit to at least present this view along side their typical “big business is evil” storylines.

(I toyed with titling this post “Negligent Reporting” but I think the current worldview (aka philosophy) is so embedded in the culture that the capitalist alternative doesn’t even occur to these reporters, i.e. they don’t even get to the point of purposely neglecting it.)


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