Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dying Under Government Protection

Alex Tabarrok's entry at Marginal Revolution (hat tip: Chicago Boyz) examines the latest DC Circuit Court ruling that would prevent the FDA from interfering with a dying patients' access to life-saving drugs. I'm having trouble finding the part in the Constitution that permits the government to deny dying patients access to life-saving drugs that are not yet government approved, but apparently someone along the line thought that power was granted to them.

I wonder how many doctors or hospitals fail to recommend life-saving treatments because lack of government approval leaves them vulnerable to expensive malpractice litigation? I also wonder what the relationship is between the FDA and pharmaceutical companies? I guess it would take a little more research than I am willing to do... but I can't help myself (PDF):

The Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs (“the Alliance”) seeks to enjoin the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) from continuing to enforce a policy barring the sale of new drugs that the FDA has determined, after Phase I trials on human beings, are sufficiently safe for expanded human testing (hereafter “post-Phase I investigational new drugs”). More specifically, the Alliance seeks access to potentially life-saving post-Phase I investigational new drugs on behalf of mentally competent, terminally ill adult patients who have no alternative government- approved treatment options (hereafter “terminally ill patients”).

Are you kidding me? So, the Alliance is not trying to prevent the government from initiating a policy barring terminal patients from potentially life-saving drugs, it's attempting to get the government to discontinue its existing policy! As bad as that sounds, its not the scariest part of the court document. How about this little gem in the ruling from the bench:

Despite the FDA’s claims to the contrary, therefore, it cannot be said that government control of access to potentially life-saving medication “is now firmly ingrained in our understanding of the appropriate role of government,”...

"It cannot be said"? What in the hell is that supposed to mean? Are you telling me if it could be said that government interference in life-saving medical care was ingrained in our understanding that it suddenly becomes law of the land? God save us all, lawyers truly are the modern day cannibals of the Western world, devouring first a finger, next the hand, then an arm and a leg.

Is that how it works now? Initiate a government sheme or policy to get a toe-hold in our understanding and keep the pressure on until it becomes firmly ingrained?

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