Blank-slatism: against humanity again

Blank-slatism can be hazardous to public health. In response to the recent race-specific drug approval:

More worrisome, bioethicists warn that greenlighting a drug for only one race sets a dangerous precedent. "This can fuel social conceptions that there are meaningful genetic differences between races," says Jonathan D. Kahn, assistant professor of law at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. [emphasis mine]

Science ought to be subordinated to social engineering, then? The rate of heart disease among blacks is higher, and it seems to be an awful disservice not to allow this fact—got that? fact—to be addressed by pharmaceutical companies.

At least one critic attempts to dress it up in medical terms:

"This development with BiDil is a foot in the door -- the first step of what could be seen as racialized medicine,'' said Troy Duster, a New York University sociologist. "Race is too crude a measure. We should be looking at the individual and his and her biochemical makeup -- not whether he or she is black or white.'' [emphasis mine]

This would be nice, except that there aren't enough resources for each individual person to be served with individually-tailored drugs by drug companies.

Opposition to the drug doesn't seem to be based on science at all. That would be a perfectly acceptable criticism. No, it's driven by anti-scientific ideology. People's lives are at stake; it's cruel to let blank-slatism in the way of health.

Share this

So, Randall, do you think

So, Randall, do you think that white people who want to take BiDil ought to be stopped or discouraged from doing so by the federal government?

I mean, that's what "race-specific drug approval" means, y'know.

I believe the objectors

I believe the objectors correctly identify this as the starting fall of a long line of dominoes -- dominoes they perceive as providing a necessary 'steam control' that holds our society together. Whether they are correct or not will be seen...

Classic neo-Luddite

Classic neo-Luddite political correctness, how I love it so.

Rad Geek, I doubt you'll

Rad Geek,
I doubt you'll find anyone on this site advocating the government restricting access to drugs. The fact is that in this situation, thanks to the FDA, you have only undesirable options to choose from. The decision of whether a drug is beneficial for a particular patient isn't up to that patient and his physician. The FDA won't approve a drug unless it can show benefit in clinical trials, and so far the only benefit that the drug company has been able to demonstrate for BiDil is in African Americans. So you get your choice: either you get behind race-specific drug approval, the drug goes on the market, and at least some people who could benefit from the drug get access to it (including possible off-label use, I assume), or you oppose race-specific drug approval, the drug doesn't go on the market at all, and no one who could possibly benefit from the drug gets it. Unfortunately, such are the choices you get when the nanny state controls people's access to medicines.

Rad Geek, Perhaps I was not

Rad Geek,
Perhaps I was not clear. As I understand it, the outcomes we were discussin are the only possible ones given the way the FDA works. Say you're ill and you volunteer for a clinical trial, and the drug is an amazing success for you. It's a miracle, the best thing you've ever tried, it comepletely transforms your life, which before that had been ruined by illness. However, when the drug company analyzes the data, there's no significant difference between the drug group and the control group. For whatever reason, the wonderful effect you got didn't happen for enough people in the drug group to bring the difference from the control group to the level of statistical significance. When FDA looks at the data, they don't say "well, this drug was great for a few people. Let's put it on the market so it can help these few." They look at the whole trial, and say "this drug does not have enough benefit to justify approving it. Denied." As I understand, this is what happened with BiDil in large trials including people of all races. It was not until the trials focused on African-Americans that they achieved the visible benefit the FDA wants to see. I completely agree that approval of BiDil for everyone would be the best outcome, with the decision between the patient and doctor (keeping in mind that I oppose the existence of the FDA in the first place). But because of the way the drug approval process works, it's not among the outcomes that the FDA will consider. Consequently, you kind of have to take what you can get in this situation.

Lisa: The fact is that in

Lisa:

The fact is that in this situation, thanks to the FDA, you have only undesirable options to choose from. The decision of whether a drug is beneficial for a particular patient isn’t up to that patient and his physician. The FDA won’t approve a drug unless it can show benefit in clinical trials, and so far the only benefit that the drug company has been able to demonstrate for BiDil is in African Americans.

The FDA approves lots of drugs that work well for some groups of people but not for others. Sometimes contraindicators are known and sometimes they aren't. This includes everything from oral contraceptives to mood stabilizers.

So why not come out for "approving" BiDil for everybody, without regard to race? If questions about race and medicine need to be mooted, let them be mooted in the doctor's office instead of the regulatory agencies.

"Race-specific approval" means restricting the liberty of a race of people to choose their own medications. The best solution is to abolish the FDA, but until that happens, why dicker about race politics when the obvious solution is more permissiveness rather than selective permissiveness?