The murdering FDA

Using force to stop someone from getting potentially life-saving medicine sure seems like murder to me - and that is what the government does by regulating what medicines dying people can use, as in Brian White's sad current case.

You can make arguments that people are ignorant, and that regulation of drugs is good, and that it does more good than harm. I think that's wrong, but I admit that there is a plus-side to some drug regulations, and that we have to look at the facts to see whether plus outweighs minus.

But when someone is dying of a disease that does not naturally remiss, what the hell are you "protecting" them from? In gambling terms, its a pure freeroll - either the medicine works, and they live, or it doesn't, and they die anwyay. To prevent someone from trying a life-saving freeroll is not protection, and it is not oversight - it is murder.

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Patri, I agree with the

Patri,

I agree with the sentiment here. Technically, though, wouldn't it be murder only if the drug would have worked? If I prevent you from trying something that wouldn't actually have saved you, then I haven't made you any worse off.

...wouldn’t it be murder

...wouldn’t it be murder only if...

Surely there are many similar cases where the drug would in fact have worked, even if not in this case.

...then I haven’t made you any worse off...

In retrospect maybe not, but a chance of recovery has value initially even if in retrospect it has no value. Value is subjective, depends on people's preferences and decisions, and so someone who decides to take a drug shows that he values it, and so it has value to him. Or if you want to talk about market value, that also can exist initially for a drug which (a) may not work at all or (b) works but only sometimes.

Constant, Surely there are

Constant,

Surely there are many similar cases where the drug would in fact have worked, even if not in this case.

Yep, and in those cases, I might be inclined to agree with Patri that it's murder. That's a tricky line to walk though. Blurring the distinction between killing someone and letting them die raises all sorts of other related problems. See, for instance, Peter Singer and Peter Unger on famine relief.

In retrospect maybe not, but a chance of recovery has value initially even if in retrospect it has no value.

Point taken. I was too hasty. I should have said that if I prevent you from taking a drug that wouldn't have saved you, then I haven't _murdered_ you. I might have harmed you by, for instance, taking away a certain hope that you might otherwise have had. OTOH, I might also have given you a longer life when the drug didn't kill you faster than the disease. Evaluating counterfactuals is tricky business in consequentialist reasoning.

I prevent you from taking a

I prevent you from taking a drug that wouldn’t have saved you, then I haven’t murdered you.

Quite true. Beforehand you only knew that preventing me from taking the drug might or might not shorten my life. If after the fact it turns out that it did shorten my life (because the drug would have saved it), then you've commited murder. If after the fact it turns out that it did *not* shorten my life (because the drug would *not* have saved it), then you've only commited *attempted* murder.

Blurring the distinction

Blurring the distinction between killing someone and letting them die raises all sorts of other related problems.

I don't think Patri was doing that. The problem I see Patri as pointing out is not that the FDA lets people die, but that it forcibly prevents them from saving themselves. The FDA isn't being stingy, it's being intrusive. Your mention of Peter Singer might address this, but to my mind "famine relief" is about the issue of to give or not to give, which is the issue of stinginess/generosity, and the problem with the FDA isn't in that area.

I think we can avoid a

I think we can avoid a semantic debate of whether or not this is "murder" and simply agree that preventing someone from obtaining medical treatment is morally wrong. While murder is also morally wrong, something does not have to be murder to be morally wrong. Bank robbery is also morally wrong, and no one says that's murder.

Yep, what Constant said.

Yep, what Constant said. Now if the company that made the drug was withholding it, and I accused them of murder, that would be blurring the line.

But its a good point that as the chance of the drug working goes to zero, we start to need some lesser word than murder.

If the wrongness of the

If the wrongness of the action is dependent on whether the drug would have worked, doesn't that set up circular reasoning? You are sick, but cannot have this drug because we do not know if it will improve your condition. You get sicker, but since we don't know if the drug would have worked for you, we have not necessarily made you worse off. The only way to know if we have made you worse off is to know if the drug would have worked for you. The only way to know if the drug works for you is to let you try it. But, we cannot let you try it because we do not know if it would have worked. Therefore, you cannot prove that we have caused you any harm by denying you the drug!
Couldn't you justify witholding any drug from anyone on these grounds, or is there a flaw in my reasoning?

Murder, killing, and other

Murder, killing, and other things aside, whatever else a therapy does to a patient, it provides valuable information. It could be part of a clinical trial. It could even help by informing researchers that they're wasting time and money on a dead-end. Perhaps their time and money could be better spent on other promising therapies, if they only knew that this one was ineffective.

It's clearly wrong to test treatment on a healthy infant, less so for a consenting, healthy 97 year old, and not at all for someone who is terminally ill (and consenting).

It’s clearly wrong to test

It’s clearly wrong to test treatment on a healthy infant

Rather than abort healthy fetuses, we could remove them intact and keep them on life support for drug experiments.