From: email@example.com (Steve Harris sbharris@ROMAN9.netcom.com)
Subject: Re: drugs that don't kill: a moral issue
Date: 27 Nov 2004 20:21:52 -0800
"outrider" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
> You Want a Moral Issue? How about Drugs that Don't Kill?
> Author: Arianna Huffington
> Published on Nov 24, 2004, 08:12
> "And if any of this sounds familiar, it should. It's certainly giving
> me a profound sense of drug company deja vu, with the tragic stories of
> Baycol, Rezulin and Duract still fresh in my mind. How many times do we
> have to travel down this deadly path - the side of the road littered
> with bodies and the empty containers of drugs that were approved
> despite serious questions, and left on the market despite growing
> evidence of innocent lives being lost?"
Yo, Arianna. Believe or not, not all the bad things in the world are
due to liberal or conservative conspiracies, or the selfishness of
people with lots of money (not high on your personal list of evils, I
know), or even to human error.
No, here's a shock for you: many of the world's problems are due to
the fact that the problems themselves are inherently difficult. The
difficulty of designing totally safe pharmaceuticals, for example, is
related to the complexity of physiology, and physiology is fiendishly
complex. And it's also related to the extreme difficulty and expense
and aggravation of doing controlled animal and then human trials. If
you've never studied advanced physiology or written a scientific paper
or done a human or animal drug trial, you'll just have to take the
word of those of us who have. Sorry. Social problems are only small
subset of the problems inherent in the human condition.
Now, with enough money, we could go faster and do better. But the
government and pharm industry together only spend about $40 billion or
maybe (at the outside) $50 billion a year in the US on biomedical
research. The Iraq war was equal to 10 years of that.
Of course, there's a limit on how fast science can find things out or
engineer things out, no matter how much money it's given. But we're so
far away from that limit (which was something like the speed of the
Manhattan Project or the 60's race to the moon), that we can forget
it. Medical science is now hobbled by lack of research money. It would
be entirely possible to double the pace of medical knowledge gained,
and cram 20 years of research into 10 years, if we had 20 years' worth
of money to do it, instead of 10. And we could do it, if we wanted to.
But we don't want to. Not really. It's not nearly as fun as blowing
people up, or finding bad guys. You remember Bush started out in
office planning to double the NIH budget. But his heart wasn't really
in it. Only when it came to stuff like baseball clubs and jets, did
Bush's heart really get pumping. Which is to say, he's a typical human
We all act as though we're immortal until we get sick, and then we
want the cure now! And when we don't get it, we look for a witch to
blame, because witch-hunting is something the human brain does
naturally. Certainly it naturally sucks at doing science; much
unnatural training is required for that. But gossiping and
witch-finding and crime-solving and conspiracy-theories -- that really
gets the heart going. I see it has yours going, when the science was
really boring! Which is to you say, you're a typical human female.
So forget it. We're destined to spend our national money finding
witches and blowing stuff up, because that's what our brains do best.
It's going to take science to keep us from dying of disease and age,
but we're not so good at that. So it's gunna hurt when you personally
get old, because the stuff you want can't be gotten by killing
somebody (the male tack), or by finding somebody to blame for why it
doesn't exist (the female tack). It can only be gotten by years of
patient scientific research. Which is *boring* compared with
Republican macho bombs and Democratic mommy-liberal blame-games.
Lots of luck to you. You probably think that when you need advanced
medicine, like stem cell transplants or something, you'll be able to
buy it at some extravagant price, immediately, off the shelf. But
you're wrong. Politics sometimes works that way. Nature generally