Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Regulated Patient

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration started withdrawing its approval of Avastin, a drug used for slowing down the spread of breast cancer in the month of December. It had approved its use for various forms of cancer in the recent past. The drug itself will not be removed initially, but the breast cancer indication from the label will be taken off as the first phase. The excuse is that the potential benefits to the patients do not outweigh the risk incurred. The collectivist notion which runs through such policies is that voluntary preferences of individuals do not matter and our regulatory authorities are entitled to decide taking in “the highest science” in to account. This highest science, of course, should come from the all-knowing state, the agency of brutality and torture. Never mind the fact that we are trying to reconcile so incompatible two elements as that of force and mind! Or that individual desires give us a different picture!

Tom Bowden rightfully asks in Pajamas Media: “Can risks and benefits really be weighed at the level of society as a whole? A society is only a collection of individuals. A society doesn’t enjoy life, or suffer—only individuals do. Metaphors aside, a society doesn’t get sick and die—only individuals do. To appreciate the difference, consider how a rational patient with breast cancer decides whether to undergo drug treatment.”

Here science is being used against its right beneficiaries by the FDA irrespective of their wishes and the context of their lives. Needless to mention, it makes no sense to argue that the state knows better than the individual comprising it-Or that it has right to take decisions which have life and death control over them through coercive means. The unscrupulous sales of poor quality drugs will ensure that a drug manufacturing company will fall by the wayside in no time. What purpose is served by substituting the preferences of the authorities with that of individuals and weakening that process of healthy market correction?

As Alex Epstein informs us: "To prevent patients from choosing their own risks is to prevent the rational, contextual judgments that their lives require--which often means to condemn them to suffering and death. The history of the FDA is filled with bans or delays of drugs like Interleukin-2, TPa, and various beta-blockers that many would have benefited from had they been free to take them. The death toll from such bans is, according to conservative estimates, in the hundreds of thousands."

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